The city of Chicago has a familiar face back in town. The White Sox traded Oakland for Jeff Samardzija, who once pitched on the North Side. It was one of the few specific upgrades the White made in order to compete in the AL Central.
Jose Abreu was the team MVP in 2014 and was even better than advertised. The team still only won 73 games and saw two teams from their division make the postseason. I’m sure they thought they could do what the Royals did last season with only a few roster tweaks.
Can Chicago’s bullpen get the job done?
Here is the 2015 MLB season preview for the Chicago White Sox.
2014 Win/Loss Record: 73-89
Key Additions: SP Jeff Samardzija, RP David Robertson, OF Melky Cabrera, 1B Adam LaRoche, OF J.B. Shuck, OF Emilio Bonifacio, SP Zach Duke, RP Dan Jennings, RP Matt Albers & C Geovany Soto
Key Losses: 1B Paul Konerko, OF Dayan Viciedo, 3B Marcus Semien, RP Matt Lindstrom, RP Ronald Belisario, OF Moises Sierra, OF Jordan Danks, C Josh Phegley & SP Andre Rienzo
Interleague Schedule: NL Central
Projected Starters: Tyler Flowers, Jose Abreu, Carlos Sanchez, Conor Gillaspie, Alexei Ramirez, Melky Cabrera, Adam Eaton, Avisail Garcia & Adam LaRoche
Projected Starting Rotation: Chris Sale, Jeff Samardzija, Jose Quintana, John Danks & Hector Noesi
Closer: David Robertson
Fantasy Sleeper: 3B Matt Davidson – Davidson was expected to join the White Sox at some point in 2014, but a poor showing in Triple-A made them wait. Chicago acquired him in the Addison Reed/Adam Eaton trade and thought he was nearly MLB-ready. No one expected him to regress as much as he did. His lowest batting average before last season was .261. I don’t expect another .199 season from him. Davidson will be called up this season and predict he will redeem himself. Gordon Beckham and Emilio Bonifacio are currently the third base options behind Conor Gillaspie. Neither have much playing time at that position.
Prospect To Keep Your Eye On: SP Carlos Rodon – Rondon was the third-overall pick in last year’s MLB amateur draft. He will be the first player from that draft to make his MLB debut. He jumped from Rookie ball to Hi-A and finally Triple-A in limited time after he was selected. He will start the season at Triple-A and I expect him to be called up before the All-Star break. The left-hander was the the most MLB-ready pitcher in last year’s draft. Many scouts compare him to David Price.
Team Analysis: The White Sox must have realized that if Kansas City can make the playoffs in the AL Central, they could make it as well. They just needed a few upgrades. They added Jeff Samardzija in a trade with Oakland and signed Melky Cabrera and Adam LaRoche in this offseason.
Chicago’s ace Chris Sale has an avulsion fracture in his right foot, but should only keep him away from baseball activity for three weeks. The long-term outlook on their starting rotation is that they are only behind the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central. It’s difficult to compare them with a rotation with two former Cy Young award winners. The biggest question mark is their bullpen. David Robertson, who only has one year of closing experience, will take over that role in Chicago. The rest of the bullpen is a bit shaky as well.
Jose Abreu turned out to be one of the best signings last offseason. He outperformed even the most loftiest of expectations. He will have help this season with the signing of Melky Cabrera. The White Sox will still play small ball since they have some speedsters on the roster. Adam Eatson and Emilio Bonifacio are sure to steal their fair share of bases.
Chicago upgraded their roster, but they are still behind Detroit in the AL Central. They will end the season a few games over .500, which will be good enough for second place in the division.
2015 Wins Over/Under Betting Line: 82 (Prediction: OVER)
2015 Projected Win/Loss Record: 84-68 (2nd in AL Central)
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.