2016 Record 78-84 (4th Place AL Central)
Next up in our previews is the Chicago White Sox, and we’ll get some insight from Josh Nelson from the South Side Sox Podcast! The White Sox underwent some major changes this offseason when they traded away Chris Sale and Adam Eaton for prospects on prospects on prospects. Some of those prospects seem to be major league ready, or pretty damn close, so it will be interesting to see when and where they’ll slot in, in 2017.
I still think the White Sox will have a good pitching staff in 2017 despite the loss of Chris Sale. As of now, Jose Quintana is still in place and some of the younger guys should be able to make a leap forward this year. I still like the bullpen too, although who knows if David Robertson will be there come opening day. I’ve got the staff overall as 11th in the AL, but they’re a lot closer to 5th than they are last in the league so they’ve got the potential to be better than I think.
I think the offense, however, will be the White Sox major weakness this season, as I’ve currently got them rated last in the American League. Much of that though can be attributed to unknowns. The South Siders should be counting on a lot of younger guys this year, and if they can step up they may be better than advertised, but I'll have to see it to believe it.
Let’s check in with Josh Nelson to see what he has to say about the upcoming White Sox season.
- What is the latest on Quintana and Robertson; any new rumors to track there?
"Nothing new on both fronts. The two deals that Rick Hahn has mentioned died at the ownership level is assumed to be about Quintana and Robertson. I don't believe either player will be traded before the season, and we'll be talking about these trade rumors til July. I do believe that both will be moved during the season, but we are still 4-5 months away from actually happening."
- What mindset do you think the organization has heading into 2017? Still looking to compete or looking more to try and trade more pieces?
"The White Sox are rebuilding and still in the beginning stages. Quintana, Robertson, Todd Frazier should be moved during the season. Out of those deals, the White Sox could use more positional players to add in their prospect pipeline. At the moment, maybe 2-3 position players would be on the White Sox Top 10 prospects (Yoan Moncada, Zack Collins, and Luis Basabe)."
- What do you expect out of newcomers like Moncada, Lopez, and Giolito?
"I think we'll see Moncada and Giolito called up in June. My expectations are not extremely high because I think this year is more about both players getting their feet wet in the majors. I would like to see Moncada start more than 50 games this season, and give Giolito at least 12 starts."
"Reynaldo Lopez is set on proving to the White Sox that he is a starter. If he performs well in Charlotte, he could force the White Sox hand and join Giolito on the staff. After cutting John Danks last year in May and eating $15.75 million, there is a precedent that the Sox could do the same to James Shields. Derek Holland is an injury risk and trying to prove he can handle a season's workload, which he hasn't since 2013. Add in a trade with Quintana, and Lopez could pick up several starts this season."
- How do you see the offense shaping up in 2017? Are you expecting any breakout performers?
"If the offense is league average through the months of April and May, I would be surprised. Without Adam Eaton, there is nobody in the lineup that will get on base consistently in front of Jose Abreu and Todd Frazier. I'm assuming Tim Anderson will replace Eaton as the lead-off hitter, and I think he is capable of hitting .290 during the season. The issue is he doesn't walk often, and that will limit how often he is on-base. After Abreu and Frazier, the White Sox have little to no power. I don't see Melky Cabrera, Avisail Garcia, Matt Davidson, Brett Lawrie, whoever is playing in CF to hit more than 20 home runs this season. That is a grave concern playing at Guaranteed Rate Field, but one that the Sox can address later during the rebuild."
- Finally, I know the White Sox brought over a great group of prospects in the Sale and Eaton trades. Do you see any other young guys stepping up this season that were already in place?
"Alec Hansen is on many people's radars, and for a good reason. Hansen is a pitcher who could have been selected first overall, but the University of Oklahoma jerked him around with his innings. Once he joined the White Sox, the player development staff told him that he's a starter with no threat of moving him to the bullpen. He had terrific Rookie ball season and performed well at A ball. I expect him to start the season at Winston-Salem (Advanced A) and continue to pitch well."
"Alex Call and Jameson Fisher were also part of the 2016 draft class, and represent an offensive philosophy change for the White Sox. For the longest of time, the Sox focused on developing position players that had high ceilings but were quite raw. Sometimes they have been successful, like Tim Anderson, but many, many times they have failed. That failure is a big reason why the White Sox are where they are today."
"With Call and Fisher, here are two players who have terrific contact skills (especially Fisher), take their walks, and with Call can steal a few bases."
I tend to agree with Josh that the White Sox don’t have a traditional on base table setter and will struggle to score runs this year.
I think the pitching can keep them in some games but I ultimately don’t think they’ll score enough to win that many games. Vegas has the White Sox with the 2nd fewest wins in the season projections at 68.5. I know that’s a low number but they’ll probably struggle to get many more than that. I think they’ll flirt pretty closely with that number.
In the end, I’ll take under 68.5 wins for the White Sox, but it’ll be pretty close. I probably won't touch this one, but for purposes of this exercise, under is the official pick. I think the White Sox will end up in the neighborhood of 68-94 (I told you it’s going to be close).