What went wrong? The mediocre veterans in the Sox lineup, like Juan Pierre, Mark Kotsay and Omar Vizquel performed mostly up to expectations – but those expectations were modest to begin with. At 30.7, the White Sox lineup was among the oldest in the league; for the most part younger players saw few at-bats and did little with those they got. Manny Ramirez contributed nothing after his acquisition – at least Chicago didn’t have to give up prospects to get him. Gordon Beckham and Carlos Quentin countered most of their contributions at the plate with bad defense.
Looking Forward: The White Sox strengths from this year, an extremely deep rotation and an extremely deep bullpen, look to remain strengths well down the road – though if Putz signs elsewhere that would be a significant blow. On the offensive side, the picture looks different. Konerko is unlikely to ever hit that well again, and as a free agent may not be part of the team next year. The lineup this year was mostly old and below average, if the Sox run the same guys out there in 2011 there is little reason to expect better production. Chicago does have highly regarded young hitters waiting in the wings like Dayan Viciedo (.801 OPS in AAA this year at age 21) and Tyler Flowers (.874 MiLB OPS) that saw very little action in 2010, in 2011 they may be forced to turn the keys over once and for all. If they don’t resign Konerko, the Sox have a gaping hole at 1st to go with their gaping hole at DH. If they do sign Konerko they will have to prepare for his inevitable regression. There are plenty of potential free agent targets, starting with Adam Dunn, that could fill those holes but the Sox have a lot of money tied up in their pitching staff for 2011 and may have spent their payroll already.
Check back later today for the last two parts of the series, covering the Minnesota Twins and how we stack up against the cream of the AL Central.