By Scott Barzilla

On a long enough timeline, the survival rate drops to zero. In a 162 game schedule, the cream almost always rises to the top. For much of the season last year, it seemed like the White Sox would win the AL Central. They had the pitching to get it done, but the Tigers were a better team overall. Come September, they finally rediscovered the magic and took the division from the White Sox.

Jerry Reinsdorf kicked Kenny Williams upstairs and replaced him with Rick Hahn. Like an underperforming football coach, Reinsdorf felt the best course of action was to make Williams his president of baseball operations rather than firing him. I suppose it makes sense given how close they came to making the playoffs. However, he has been begging to be fired for years now, so we get to see if Hahn is going to be any better.

   

TRIF

Rank

Comments
C

 

A.J. Pierzynski

-3.4

27th

He is all but gone as the Sox turn to Tyler Flowers and the future. Probably for the best.
1B

 

Paul Konerko

-7.4

29th

He is a great team leader and a quietly elite hitter, but he is only slightly better than Adam Dunn defensively.
2B

 

Gordon Beckham

-2.2

20th

He has been one of the biggest disappointments from the 2008 draft.
3B

 

Kevin Youkilis

-2.8

22nd

They signed Jeff Keppinger to man third, so Youkilis is either going to be a Yankee or Indian.
SS

 

Alexei Ramirez

9.1

6th

He is a bright spot in an otherwise desolate lineup defensively.
LF

 

Dayan Viciedo

-1.2

13th

He is reportedly on the trading block, but he turned in a very solid rookie campaign last season.
CF

 

Alejandro De Aza

-2.4

22nd

When you compare what he did last season to what Rios did in 2011 you gain a keen appreciation.
RF

 

Alex Rios

5.8

8th

He was the turnaround story of the year. He was infinitely better offensively and defensively.
Total

 

 

-4.5

22nd

It was remarkable that they came as close as they did to winning the AL Central

Catcher

If his handling of the catching situation is any indication, Hahn might actually be an improvement on Williams. Pierzynski had a career year and will get paid in free agency, but the White Sox aren’t going to do it. He has been substandard defensively for nearly a decade and has been average at best for most of his career offensively. He has been a gamer and he’s the kind of player you love having on your side, but Tyler Flowers should be able to do a similar job for much less.

First Base

Kenny Williams went out and signed Adam Dunn to a four year contract before the 2011 season. That season was a disaster and so was the season as a whole for the White Sox. The fortunes for both came back with a vengeance last year. Meanwhile, Williams considered hiring Paul Konerko as the first player manager in MLB since Pete Rose. He would have been as good a choice as any as far as that goes. Both players will continue to anchor the offensive attack, but neither is much of a defensive first baseman.

Second Baseman

Gordon Beckham was one of the first players from the 2008 draft to make it to the big leagues, but a quick start has given way to a general malaise. One of the great questions in sports is how long you give a young player before you move on. He was supposed to be a plus defender and a dynamic offensive player. He has shown flashes of both, but the consistency hasn’t been there. Is 2013 going to be the last chance he gets?

Third Baseman

Kevin Youkilis was decent enough last year, but Hahn also decided to let him walk without much of a resistance. Instead, he signed Jeff Keppinger to hold down the position. Keppinger is a very different as a player, but he might be a better fit for the White Sox. He hits for a higher average and has more defensive versatility. In terms of third base defense, he might not be much better than Youkilis.

Shortstop

What to do with Alexei Ramirez is going to be a huge question moving forward. The White Sox don’t have a better all around player on their roster. Do they pay him what the market will bear or do they trade him? He would probably bring more in return than any other player, but can they afford to deal him right now?

Left Field

Dayan Viciedo brings the questions on a lesser scale. Since he is so affordable now, a lot of teams would love to place him in one of their corner outfield slots. Considering that he is virtually average defensively he won’t bring a ton of value to the equation unless he takes another step or two offensively. Will he do that in 2013 or will he remain a solid, but not great offensive player. If he takes the next step forward in 2013 it might be enough to ease the White Sox into the wild card chase.

Centerfield

Alejandro De Aza has been a journeyman for much of his career, but he bailed the White Sox out of Alex Rios induced jail this past season. Rios was the worst all around regular centerfielder in baseball in 2011. Aza might not be an all-star, but being in the middle of the pack was enough to upgrade the position by leaps and bounds. It also helps that Rios took more to right field than anyone could have hoped.

Right Field

Call me crazy, but Rios would be my number one trade piece if I were the White Sox. He has a toxic contract and he is coming off of arguably his best all around season. It is what we would be calling selling high. With the other players on the possible trade list, there is the thought that they could improve, but Rios isn’t going to get any better. He likely won’t go back to being the worst regular outfielder in baseball, but he’ll likely start looking much more ordinary.

 

 

 

Scott Barzilla

Scott Barzilla is the editor in chief at hardballchat.com. He is also the author of four books, including The Hall of Fame Index. The Hall of Fame Index was nominated for the Sporting News Award for statistical innovation in 2011.

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