With the New Year upon us, here’s a glimpse at the ’11 White Sox…
A — is for Alex Rios. A pleasant surprise in 2010, he will have even more protection in the lineup next season.
B — is for the Bullpen. With Bobby Jenks (Red Sox), J.J. Putz (Diamondbacks) and Scott Linebrink (Braves) now scattered around the majors, the Sox have to retool the pen with Matt Thornton, Jesse Crain, Sergio Santos, Tony Pena and perhaps Chris Sale as the core.
C — is for the Closer. Take your pick–Thornton or Sale seem to be the top candidates.
D — is for Adam Dunn. The “Big Donkey,” as he is affectionately called, is already salivating over the hitter-friendly Cell. And we’re pretty much salivating over him.
E — is for Edwin Jackson. All in all, he was a good addition to the rotation (Daniel Hudson‘s success aside). We need a repeat performance.
F — is for the Fans. How will they react at the box office to the new and improved Pale Hose–and help fill the coffers to make payroll? Early results are promising.
G — is for Gordon Beckham. Was his rookie season a mirage? Hopefully he’s over the sophomore jinx and the hand injury and will bust out as an All-Star caliber player.
H — is for the Hot Corner. Will Brent Morel, who impressed the skipper in September both at the plate and in the field, be the guy?
I — is for I’m convinced that I’ll have a lot of exciting things to write about for Art of the Pale Hose in 2011.
J — is for Juan Pierre. He was an effective igniter at the top of the lineup and played surprisingly good defense in left. He’ll be called upon to do the same in ’11.
K — is for Paul Konerko. Glad he’s back. Enough said.
L — is for Little, as in John Danks‘s little brother Jordan. While John will try to take yet another positive step in his career, the Sox hope that baby brother will turn around a disappointing ’10 season at Birmingham and join the big club some time next season.
M — is for Mr. Perfect, aka Mark Buehrle. In the final year of a four-year contract, he’s one of the three remaining White Sox with World Series rings from 2005 along with Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski. The popular workhorse will be looking to extend his Sox record for Opening Day starts and to enjoy another productive season at the top of the rotation.
N — is for the National League. A big reason for the 88-win season in ’10 was our major league best 15-3 interleague record against the NL. Can they do it again next year against the Cubs, Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Nationals and Rockies?
O — is for Ozzie (who else?), who is predicting good things ahead for the upcoming season.
P — is for Jake Peavy. His future is certainly in question and his fate will be tied closely to the Pale Hose fortunes in ’11. The latest reports say he’s well ahead of schedule.
Q — is for Carlos Quentin. When he is good, he’s very, very good. Can he stay healthy?
R — is for Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. Will somebody give him some credit for opening his wallet this offseason?
S — is for Spring Training, one of my favorite times of year. See you in Glendale.
T — is for the Tigers and Twins. Detroit has improved, the Twins, no matter what they do, give us fits. It should be quite a three-team race in the A.L. Central.
U — is for the Over/Under. I’m proclaiming it at 90 wins.
V — is for Dayan Viciedo, he of the electric bat. Can he improve enough on defense to make a bid for the third base job or become a valuable commodity on the big league bench at both first and third?
W — is for Kenny Williams and his tireless effort to make the Sox a perennial contender.
X — is for Ex-Sox like Magglio Ordonez, Jim Thome and now Jenks. Will they haunt, or in some cases, continue to haunt the South Siders?
Y — is for the Yankees, Red Sox and other A.L. contenders. Can our Sox match up with the heavyweights?
Z — is for Zero chance that the Sox brass is done tinkering with the 2011 roster–which hopefully means we’ll keep getting better.
Happy New Year!!