Today we look at the White Sox
2015 Finish: 76-86, 4th place in the AL Central
So Long: Gordon Beckham, Jeff Samardzija, Geovany Soto, Alexei Ramirez, Tyler Colvin, Jesse Crain, Dayan Viciedo
Welcome: Alex Avila, BRETT LAWRIE, Todd Frazier, Mat Latos, Jimmy Rollins
Projected Lineup via Rotochamp.com:
1. Adam Eaton, RF
2. Jose Abreu, DH
3. Melky Cabrera, LF
4. Todd Frazier, 3B
5. Brett Lawrie, 2B
6. Adam LaRoche, 1B SURPRISE RETIREMENT!
7. Dioner Navarro, C
8. Austin Jackson, CF
9. Jimmy Rollins, SS
Starting Rotation: Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Carlos Rodon, Mat Latos, John Danks
Setup: Jake Petricka, Zach Duke
Closer: David Robertson
Rap Lyric That Sums Up Their 2015 Season:
"I can see right through your flower ass"
- 2Pac, Fake Ass Bitches
It seems like around this time every year, baseball talking heads who don't have to fear anything coming close to being held accountable for the garbage that comes out of their mouths all run out of things to say. The "PLAYER XXXX IS IN THE BEST SHAPE OF HIS LIFE" stories have all been told but we're still stuck firmly in the time when minor leaguers make up the majority of each Spring Training lineup by the 5th inning. That's when baseball pundits get really creative, trying to out-HOT TAKE the others and spouting the dumbest things they possibly can, knowing that if what they spew doesn't happen, no one will remember, but if they do hit on one single prediction, they can hold it over everyone else's heads for the next 10 seasons. Honestly, I think that's the highest honor when it comes to working in baseball media, to be the one guy that can follow up everything they say with "But what do I know? I'm only the guy that told everyone that the Kansas City Royals would break out in 2014 when no one else was talking about them!" for a solid decade. It's like your frat brother that never hesitates to break out the "BRO! Remember when I totally called that hole in one that time when we were golfing? EPIC!" Yes, technically that happened, but you also say "Dude I'm about to crush a hole in one" before EVERY drive. Eventually you might be right, but it doesn't mean you're a goddamn genius.
It's during this time of alcohol and Arizona sun induced haze that someone pipes up with something along the lines of "If you really want to find a sleeper team, look no further than the White Sox! That division could go to anyone!"
And it never happens. The White Sox are the ultimate kings of making a splashy move and hoping it distracts the fans from the festering roster problems beneath. For every Jose Abreu signing, there's an Adam LaRoche signing. For every Todd Frazier trade, there's a Jeff Samardzija trade. They constantly have just enough bad pieces to counteract the good pieces.
So where does that leave the 2016 White Sox? In the exact same position. The front office wants to distract you with the flashy top of the lineup. "Man, if that Adam Eaton stays healthy, he's gonna be great! And Jose Abreu hitting second with Frazier at cleanup? In this ballpark? So much scoring!"
That's all well and good, but you seem to forget that Brett Lawrie is now your 2B and your SS is 49 years old and so bad that the Dodgers actually tried to poison him last season? Expect not to get much of anything from LaRoche and Navarro either. Oh, and shiny new toy Todd Frazier is a career .239 hitter in the second half with enough games backing up a trend rather than a fluke. So there's a good chance that the 5-9 positions in your lineup will be a giant windmill factory come July. And you're in the league with a DH. And Melky Cabrera sucks, so you're down to what, 3 actual hitters with any talent?
(UPDATE: After this was written and before it was published, we've received word that, rather than watch the White Sox every day this summer, Adam LaRoche is retiring. Good move by him.)
The pitching staff is in the same boat. Now Chris Sale and Jose Quintana are no Arrieta/Lester, but there are definitely worse guys to have leading your rotation. After that is Carlos Rodon, who never met a batter he couldn't walk and the Serial Killer Currently Known as Mat Latos. Remember Samardzija's season in 2015 White Sox fans? Think of Mat Latos as his dirtier and even more prone to give up 6 ER in a start cousin. Seriously, he's really bad.
Reason to Watch: Only when the Cubs come down to play.
Reason to Drink: Kenny Williams. No one is ever safe when your team is run by the GM equivalent of the one guy in your fantasy baseball league that is constantly making trades that don't make his team any better or worse, but just likes to 'shake things up!'
The Fans: There's a lot of bad things I can say about certain subsets of White Sox fans, just as they could say the same about certain Cubs fans. One thing I will share is that I think deep down in a place that they refuse to admit exists, all White Sox fans secretly want to be Cubs fans. You cannot convince me otherwise. There's no other reason they would try to hold this air of superiority over the Cubs. Oh, our last World Series win came in 1908 you (constantly and drunkenly) say? You know that until you stumbled into a World Series win on the back of a botched call against Garrett Anderson in the ALDS that was one of the worst calls I've seen in my life your last one came in the almost-just-as-distant year of 1917, right? And that the White Sox have a total of 3 World Series wins to the Cubs 2? And that both teams have finished in first place in their divisions 3 times since 2000? So why do I run into so many White Sox fans that think their team is so much superior to the Cubs both historically and in modern times? At least when I get that kind of attitude from Cardinals fans, I can understand it since they go to the playoffs every stupid year and have a crapload of World Series wins. No, it's because Sox fans are in denial that they want to bask in the glory of the Cubs but will never let themselves. Whenever you meet someone that says they "root for all Chicago teams" I GUARANTEE that person will follow it up with "but if I had to choose, I like the Sox more than the Cubs." EVERY time. No Cubs fans will ever also root for the Sox, but I hear about it happening the other way around all the time. It's the reason they keep bringing in guys like Samardzija and Geovanny Soto year after year like a creepy ex who steals shit from you so they can be close to your smell.
Their Worst Contract: The highest paid player on the White Sox this season is John Danks. He is making $14.25 million this season, or about $5 million for every quality start he'll post in 2016.
Fantasy Standout: Todd Frazier, if you can trade him at the All Star Break.
Fantasy Bust: Everyone is in a hizzy about the awesome last 6-7 starts that Carlos Rodon made last season. Sorry to geyser Jeff Samardzija-style all over your parade, but even when he had his awesome streak, he was still walking 3.5 batters per 9 innings. That's...a lot. And with Jimmy Rollins at SS and Brett "always a danger of pulling a hamstring or oblique" Lawrie at second, that infield defense ain't going to be very good either.
The Quirk Of Human Behavior Equivalent To This Team Is: People who live in Naperville or Skokie or Elgin that tell people they're from Chicago. You can get away with that if you live on one of the coasts since no one will know where Elgin or Woodstock are, but even then the proper response is to say you're from the "Chicago area". Don't do this. Unless you want to call them the Milwaukee Bears of Chicago too.