White Sox End Season on High Note, Brace for Key Off-Season Decisions as Fans Pay Emotional Tributes to Paulie and A.J.

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 White Sox captain Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski acknowledge fans in what might have been the last game for both in a Sox uniform. Sox topped the Tribe, 6-5, in season finale.



The 2010 White Sox season is ovah as the Good Guys finished 88-74 with a second place
finish, six games behind the Twins in the A.L. Central.

It was the “Year of
Schizophrenia” on the South Side–a horrific start, a  fantastic middle that vaulted the Sox into first place at
the All-Star break, an impressive resilience to keep coming back from deficits
and a loud thud as they were eliminated from contention on September 21. Then
the Pale Hose finished with a flourish, winning nine of their last 11 games.

Many issues face the White
Sox as they look ahead to 2011. The Sox as we have known them could be
drastically changed. Before I take a look at some of the question marks, here
are the best and most disappointing player performances from this season as I
see it.

 

THE
BEST

 

·     
Paul
Konerko –
Career
season in walk year

·     
Alex
Rios –
A
force from start to finish

·     
Omar
Vizquel –
A marvel at any age

·     
Juan
Pierre –
MLB
stolen base leader, ironman igniter

·     
Alexei
Ramirez –
Best
MLB season, shortstop extraordinaire

·     
Sergio
Santos –
Made
easy transition from the infield to relief role

·     
Chris
Sale –
From
college to a big-league stalwart in weeks

·     
Matt
Thornton –
All-Star,
closer of future?

·     
Ramon
Castro
-
Could be best backup catcher in the game

·     
A.J.
Pierzynski –
Fast
finish, stellar signal caller

·     
Freddy
Garcia
-
Surpassed all expectations

·     
Edwin
Jackson
-
All in all, a welcome addition

 

 THE
MOST DISAPPOINTING

 

·     
Mark
Teahen –
Flop
at bat and in field

·     
Bobby
Jenks –
Blown
saves, injury demoralizing to club

·     
Mark
Kotsay –
Started
slow, never could rebound

·     
Andrew
Jones –
Quick
out of box, but fizzled

·     
Gordon
Beckham –
Slow
start, injury hurt progress

·     
Gavin
Floyd –
Hoped
for more, needs to go to the next level

·     
Jake
Peavy –
Injury
really hurt Sox

·     
Manny
Ramirez –
Worth
the try, but not the same Manny

·     
J.J.
Putz –
Injury,
meltdowns were his downfall

 

 THE QUESTIONS

The Sox brass
certainly have a lot of decisions to make in the off-season. So, it’ll be
interesting to see how the ’11 Pale Hose will be constituted as they challenge
a formidable Twins club. Some questions:


 

·     
Will the
Sox sign free agents
Konerko
and
Pierzynski? If not, how will they replace two mainstays from the 2005
World Champs?

 

·     
Will the
South Siders bring back
Vizquel,
after his amazing season?

 

·     
Will the
intense, but brittle,
Carlos
Quentin
be back?

 

·     
Will
catcher
Tyler Flowers and outfielder Jordan Danks, who both seemed to take a step back
this season, be viable candidates for the major league roster?

 

·     
What will
become of
Garcia?

 

·     
Will Sale be in the starting rotation?

 

·     
Will Peavy be ready for spring training?

 

·     
Will Beckham fully return to his Rookie of the Year
form or even take a step forward and reach an All-Star level?

 

·     
I can’t
see
Manny Ramirez, Kotsay
or
Jones
returning, so who becomes the DH?
Dayan Viciedo? Quentin? Another platoon?

 

·     
All
indications are that
Jenks
is probably a goner, so who will close?
 Thornton?
Putz
?

 

·     
Despite
the fact he has two more years to go on his three-year deal, will the
disappointing
Teahen
still be in a Sox uniform as a utilityman? It’s obvious he’ll be
next-to-impossible to deal.

 

·     
Will Brent Morel win the third base job? His manager
says he’s in the driver’s seat going into spring training.


        ·     
Kenny Williams will be looking for a LH hitter. Hmm, who will it be? 

     

And a
somewhat sobering observation
: Depending on what transpires, it’s certainly
within the realm of possibility that four of the five holdovers from the ’05
World Champs will be gone: Konerko, Pierzynski, Jenks and Garcia. That would
leave only
Buehrle to
represent what was the most special Sox team in our lifetime.
 

Speaking of which, goose bumps were the order of the
day today during the season finale at the Cell as both Paulie and A.J. received
emotional standing ovations in anticipation of the reality that they may not
return.


Art of the Pale Hose will certainly not be hibernating during the off-season. Beginning with the playoffs, look for my weekly Sox-Wise and Otherwise report plus opinions and observations as the news warrants.


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