Chicago White Sox Enter 2014 Off-Season

The Chicago White Sox entered 2014 knowing very little about themselves and what they would be able to do in the upcoming season. They had just started a contract for a young player from Cuba giving Jose Abreu a 6 year $68 Million contract. That player is primarily considered to be front runner for the MLB Rookie of the Year. The last White Sox player to win Rookie of the Year was Ozzie Guillen back in 1985. He hit 36 home runs and 107 RBI's. He had a batting average of .317, an on base percentage of .383, a slugging percentage of .581, and an OPS of .964. He was near the top of all of Major League Baseball across the board statistically, and looks to be a star for the White Sox for several years to come. This comes especially after the White Sox traded several players away near the trade deadline, including Adam Dunn, Gordon Beckham, and Alejandro De Aza. Jose Abreu is certainly a building block of the future for the White Sox, especially since they have him under contract for at least 5 more years already.

Their other star of the season was pitcher Chris Sale. The southpaw ace from Florida Gulf Coast University has a delivery that looks a bit off, but his pitching is certainly beautiful. Only two people posted a lower earned run average in all of baseball this year, and that would be Felix Hernandez and Clayton Kershaw who beat his ERA of 2.17. His record says he only went 12-4, but that is largely due to a lack of offensive support. He had 208 strikeouts and only allowed 39 walks, with a batting average against of .205 and WHIP of 0.97. The White Sox have Sale locked up for quite some time as well, having him signed through the 2017 season and club options for both 2018 and 2019. It can be incredibly difficult to find an ace and difficult to find a power hitter, but the White Sox have both of them and just need to surround them with more talent to see how successful they can be in 2015.

Besides these two stars, the remaining players on guaranteed contracts for 2015 on the White Sox are starting pitcher John Danks, shortstop Alexei Ramirez, and starting pitcher Jose Quintana. Of these players Ramirez had the most impact for the White Sox this season, playing very well and was probably best remembered for being the player that came in for Derek Jeter in the 2014 MLB All-Star Game. Players eligible for arbitration this off-season are relief pitcher Ronald Belisario, right fielder Dayan Viciedo, catcher Tyler Flowers, relief pitcher Nate Jones, starting pitcher Hector Noesi, and relief pitcher Javy Guerra. Nothing terribly impressive to see from these players, but this writer hopes that Ronald Belisario does not return to the White Sox since he was awful in relief all season and was a certainty to give up runs. His season long ERA in 2014 was 5.56 with a WHIP of 1.45. The unrestricted costless agents from the White Sox this off-season are relief pitcher Matt Lindstrom, first baseman Paul Konerko, starting pitcher Felipe Paulino, and left fielder Michael Taylor. Konerko has been the veteran the White Sox have kept around for many years, and he accepted a lesser role with the team this past season but is retiring, so don't expect him to sign anywhere.

When it comes down to what the White Sox need to find this off-season in costless agency, there is one main thing that they will be looking for. That is pitching. Whether starting pitching or relief pitching, the White Sox were simply atrocious on the mound in 2014, giving up 758 runs on the season, which there were only 3 teams worse than that, the Rangers (773), Twins (777), and Rockies (818). It is difficult to post a solid record when the team is a -98 in run differential. The two contestants in the World Series this year gave up far less runs, with the Royals (624) and the Giants (614) relying much more on their pitching then the White Sox could hope, because Sale can not pitch every day.

It looks like the White Sox are still trying to find the right building blocks to put around Sale and Abreu so that they can be a power team later in the decade, but the 2015 season looks to still be a part of the rebuilding project. Finishing fourth in the division is going to be difficult to come up and pass the Royals and Tigers in the division, since they both had excellent seasons in 2014 and there is no reason to expect regression so soon. The White Sox will keep looking for young talent and will once again probably be sellers at the trade deadline in 2015. Because they want to have the roster to score runs and the staff to hold leads. Right now they don't really have either of those, so it's difficult to expect the White Sox to contend in the near future.

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