Big Moves coming from the South Side


Spencer Jones, Sports Editor

Fall of 2008 was the last time the Chicago White Sox were in the postseason. They finished first in the American League Central division behind the play of Paul Konerko, Nick Swisher, Jermaine Dye and newly inducted Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. Since then, Bulls guard Derrick Rose has gone from being arguably the best guard in the NBA, Lovie Smith is no longer the nonchalant coach of a playoff contending Bears team, and the Blackhawks are still doing Blackhawks-like things. The tides have shifted north as the Chicago Cubs have established themselves as the powerhouse ball club in Chicago.

The South Siders are ready to regain that 2005 World Series reputation. Their equipment trucks have been loaded and they’re off to Glendale, Ariz for the official start of Spring Training on Feb. 18h. After watching their cross town rival Cubs bring in quality major league players like Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist, Sox General Manager Rick Hahn also made significant transactions to help get this team back into elite status. He spoke on the team’s off season moves to the media at the annual SoxFest.

“We are pleased with where this team sits right now. As you all might recall last year around this time there was a fair amount of optimism, not only in the front office, but in the fan base, as well as the baseball community. Frankly as we see here today we feel we are a stronger team now than we were at that time” said Hahn.

Reestablishing a competitive team in this league can be difficult, but the front office is dedicated to giving Manager Robin Ventura a team that can win now and for years to come. Hahn and Ventura understand that they have to capitalize on the prime years of Jose Abreu and pitcher Chris Sales.
Though we lost Alexi Ramirez to the San Diego padres and Freddy “Sweaty” Garcia to retirement, this team still looks pretty good. The additions of third baseman Todd Frazier, infielder Brett Lawrie, right hand pitcher Mat Latos, catcher Alex Avila, catcher Dioner Navarro and right hand pitcher Jacob Turner should be enough to get this team into the postseason. Getting to the pennant is another story that won’t likely happen for another year or two. Sale’s raved about the accusations, and pointed out the pairing of Abreu with Frazier in the in-field.

“You can’t not be excited, you got one of the best guys in the business at what he does (Frazier), both offensively and defensively. If you look at our corners right now we got Abreu at first and Frazier at third. That’s a pretty good tandem to have” said Sale.

Hearing this from the franchise’s single-season strikeout holder should come as a sign of positivity. Surrounding Sale with infielders he can trust is key in the long run. This team was sub par defensively last year, finishing seventh in the league in errors at 101. With Lawrie projected to start at second, the only position that could potentially be up for grabs in the in-field is shortstop. Currently Tyler Saladino has the start, but things could change if Sox’s top prospect Tim Anderson impresses in camp. Saladino had an impressive defensive stretch to close out last season, but his 68 on-base plus slugging (OPS) are less than desirable.

Another area that we could see an improvement in with our off-season signings is in offensive contributions and depth. Last year we ranked 25th in runs and 17th in hits. Lawrie and Frazier do well with the power bat and everyone in the organization value the intense competitive edge that they possess. The only minor concern is Mat Latos. He was signed a one-year $3 million dollar deal to round out the bullpen. He’s considered to be a low-risk, high-reward type of player because of his lack of good judgment on and off the field.

A move off of the field that fans and members of the organization should love is the hiring of Hall of Famer, and White Sox Legend Frank “Big Hurt” Thomas. He will serve as Special Consultant for business operations. In a statement from Thomas he noted that he was happy to be back at a place that has been his home, in a role that allows him to help anywhere he possibly could.

This revamp is only into its third year, and things look to be going in the right direction. There’s a mix of veterans and youthfulness on this team that should add to an already interesting locker room.