Monday, May 23, 2011

WHAT THE?!: A White Sox Season In Review

At the end of spring training, the White Sox looked great on paper. After a 7-4 start, they seemed to have the potential to give Minnesota a run for their money. Who would have thought that run would be a fight for their lives to stay out of the cellar, instead of for the division.
During the off-season, Kenny Williams and the White Sox made the decision to be “ALL IN” for 2011. This isn’t much different than the approach the Sox normally take from year to year, however, this year there were a few major differences. There was the question of the resigning of beloved first baseman, Paul Konerko, who was coming off an amazing season. There was also a seasoned slugger on the market that could possibly be just what the White Sox needed to push them past the dreaded current division champs, the Twins, in Adam Dunn. Luckily, and likely most relevant, was the fact that team owner, Jerry Reinsdorf was willing to open his wallet and truly go all in.

Carlos Quentin started hot, but got cold;
kind of like the White Sox.
The Sox not only signed Dunn, but also were able to strike a deal with Konerko and even brought back A.J. Pierzinski and Omar Vizquel. As the Twins seemed to lay low throughout the off-season, it was looking like 2011 was gearing up to be the year of the White Sox for the Central Division.
Even without Dunn playing to his ability, the White Sox still started off the season looking good. Carlos Quentin seemed to be out of the slump he’d been in since injuring himself just before the start of the 2008 post season, converting back to the slugger we’d originally become enamored with. Team captain, Paul Konerko, was proving that 2010 wasn’t a fluke and continued right into 2011 where he’d left off in the fall. Second baseman, Gordon Beckham, had a shaky sophomore season, but looked to be going steady as this new season got underway. Steady, however, wasn’t what we got.
With the season slightly more than a quarter of the way through, the Sox find themselves, as they do every season, duking it out with the Twins. This year, however, both teams are fighting to stay out of the bottom of the division, instead of competing to be on top. The Central Division’s perennial bottom dwellers, Kansas City and Cleveland, have bolted past the rest of the division and aren’t yet showing signs of slowing down. The Sox even hit an all time low on May 3rd, when they found themselves on the wrong end of a no hitter, by, of all teams, the Twins. As if the crumbling season and being no hit wasn’t bad enough, the Sox then faced the distressing West Coast road trip, which historically has not gone well for the Southsiders.
Surprisingly enough, the White Sox had a successful road trip, returning home having gone 6-3 while out west. Adam Dunn’s bat seemed to show signs of life, and they even swept the league’s top ranked team, the Indians, in a two game series at The Cell. On paper, the Sox have the potential to have a great season. Jake Peavy has returned looking almost unbeatable in his first two starts back with the team and Konerko, aside from a few base running mishaps, is still continuing with the pace he’d started last season. Omar Vizquel, the 44 year old veteran, is still working his magic, both for the offense and with his gold glove on defense, and his wisdom is nothing but a positive for Alexei Ramirez. Not to be left out, even Brent Lillibridge has been an immense asset this season with several amazing catches and timely hits, garnering him plenty of love from Sox fans.
I’m no Cubs fan, blindly following my team with thoughts of late October when my team has ABSOLUTELY no chance of getting there. The Sox do have plenty of issues to work out. Base running, Beckham’s offense, Pierre, A.J’s catching, Teahen, Thornton… I’ll stop there so I don’t run out of ink, but if they can keep winning while working out some of these pitfalls, they have a good shot at the division. The post season is a fresh start, where anything can happen. If the Sox can get a few of their issues under control, it’ll make a vast difference come October.

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