Will White Sox veterans boost or backfire?

Tim Brown
Yahoo! Sports

Editor's note: Yahoo! Sports will examine the offseason of every MLB team before spring training begins in mid-February. Our series continues at No. 15 with the Chicago White Sox.

2009 record: 79-83
2009 finish: Third place, American League Central
2009 final payroll: $105.3 million
Estimated 2010 opening-day payroll: $103 million


The Chicago White Sox don't ever feel done, you know? Maybe it's Kenny Williams' nature. Or Ozzie Guillen's chatter. Or the fact the best conversations in baseball have to be Williams and Guillen on their third beer after a White Sox loss. Or win. Or tie.

As it stands, the White Sox have become an interesting concoction of comeback candidates, some new and some their own. Williams added Juan Pierre(notes) and Andruw Jones(notes) to a roster that already had Alex Rios(notes), Carlos Quentin(notes), Freddy Garcia(notes), Jake Peavy(notes), J.J. Putz(notes) and Bobby Jenks(notes).

After a season in which the White Sox led the division in late July and were just two games out in mid-August before limping home, the focus became run prevention. That meant pitching. It meant Pierre in left, allowing them to move Rios to center and Quentin to right. It meant trading for Mark Teahen(notes) to play third so they could begin Gordon Beckham's(notes) transition to second. And signing Omar Vizquel(notes) to fill in behind their infielders.

Putz had a rough go with the New York Mets, getting hit around and finally grabbing his elbow, which required summertime surgery. He didn't throw a pitch after June 4. When Putz is healthy, he's nasty, and the White Sox got him for $3 million. If everybody stays upright, Guillen could go to Tony Pena(notes), Matt Thornton(notes), Putz and Jenks over the last two or three innings.

Course, all this talk about run prevention also meant they didn't go get the big, reliable run producer, which they might also need at some point. Jim Thome(notes) probably won't be available then.


Now that Peavy is through his ankle and elbow issues, a full, healthy season in Chicago would give the White Sox the best starting rotation in the division and one of the better staffs in the game. Even better if Garcia, who has made 23 starts over the past three seasons (12 over the past two), is over the shoulder problems which dampened his velocity and confidence in Philadelphia, Detroit and New York. Garcia is being regarded as only the fifth starter, so a setback wouldn't be disastrous.

Should Garcia falter, Daniel Hudson(notes) – a big, 22-year-old right-hander who flew through the minors and is a bullpen possibility out of spring training – could move into the rotation behind Peavy, Mark Buehrle(notes), John Danks(notes) and Gavin Floyd(notes).

The daily lineup will be a fluid nine, straight out of Guillen's instincts and mood. They passed on Thome, their stud left-handed bat, and Jermaine Dye(notes), second to Paul Konerko(notes) last season in home runs and runs batted in.

For the moment, Andruw Jones is first on the DH depth chart. In the best possible Ozzie world, Jones takes his new offseason commitment and in-season humiliation and becomes a good everyday hitter again. If not, Ozzie will rotate a handful through DH, resting Quentin, Konerko, Rios or Pierre there. The danger is if the injury/ability potentials still have legs and one of the worst offenses in the league gets even worse. Then all the pitching in the world won't save the White Sox, and they'll all need that third beer.

NEXT: Minnesota Twins

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