The White Sox finished a disappointing 74-88 last year placing 4th in the division last year and will be looking to improve on that record. Although hope springs eternal this time of year, realistically the White Sox appear to be a .500 ball club at best.
The biggest shakeup on the team is the man making the lineups. Clint Hurdle was hired right before Spring Training when he suddenly became available. GM Jeff Copeland had this to say “We thought we were going to be standing pat on our manager situation, but when Clint became available, we decided to make a run at him. It’s not too often that a former Manager of the Year winner becomes available that close to the season starting.”
The south siders hope that Hurdle is able to get the most out of this lineup and bring them a few extra victories. The following lineups are what Hurdle has said he will use to start the season.
Ezequiel Carrera, CF
Carrera had a lackluster 2015 after being claimed off of waiver from Toronto in July. Mainly known for his speed and defense the White Sox are hoping he can get on base and cause some disruption on the base paths.
Adam Eaton, DH(LF)
Eaton hopes to pick up where his sophomore year left off slashing .286/.349/.412 with 13 Home Runs and 25 stolen bases. A 2.5 WAR player last year Eaton spent most of the year playing out of position in Center Field. Now the teams regular DH Eaton looks to improve on that 2.5 number.
Jose Abreu, 1B
Jose Abreu returns as the everyday 1B after playing most games as the DH last year. Abreu saw a significant sophomore slump, particularly in his power numbers. He hit 10 less Home Runs and 13 less doubles seeing his Slugging drop from a league leading .581 in 2014 all the way to .499 in 2015. The White Sox will need him to return to 2014 form if they are going to improve on last year’s record.
Avisail Garcia, RF
Avisail Garcia will continue to hold down the right fielder starting job and the organization hopes that he can improve his defensive numbers there. The 24 year old’s bat continued to impress last year and he should see improvement again this year.
Micah Johnson 2B
The switch hitting 2B has locked down the starting job out of Spring Training and the young speedster will look to avoid the sophomore slump and maintain or improve his .274/.344/.364 slash line.
Wilmer Flores, SS (acquired via trade with WAS)
Flores will be starting shortstop where he started 69 games last year between the Mets and the Nationals. Although naturally a 2B, Flores has decent range and a good arm. A good young bat, Flores will hope to improve on his .229/.259/.374 slash line and contribute something closer to what he did in Washington last year: .242/.274/.416.
Melky Cabrera, LF
Cabrera is back for another run as the starting Left Fielder. Not known for his power, Cabrera is an excellent contact hitter and should hit around .300 again this year.
Hank Conger, C (acquired via trade with Hou)
Conger had an excellent year in Houston last year and that led to the White Sox parting with pitching prospect Rodon in order to get him. The Catcher position was definitely a weakness last year both defensively and offensively and Conger looks to be a major improvement in both of those areas.
Matt Davidson, 3B
Davidson spent part of last season up with the big league club and looks to use that experience to lock down his place as the future 3B for the White Sox for years to come. At 25 with a strong arm and a good bat, Davidson has the tools to do just that, the question is can he put it all together at the Major League level.
Justin Morneau, 1B/DH
Kyle Skipworth, C (Free agent signing)
Conor Gillaspie, 1B/3B/LF
JB Shuck, OF
The White Sox Bench is pretty strong with some surprise names on the bench. Morneau was expecting to start at either 1B or DH, but was beat out of both positions according to Hurdle. Gillaspie was the starting 3B last year, but was displaced by the you up and comer Davidson. Shuck can play all of the Outfield positions and Skpworth is a good defensive Catching backup who can hit for power.
Jose Quintana, LHP
Currently the ace of the staff. Quintana needs to put it together this year and anchor the one spot for the White Sox. Is this the year that he is able to perform to the level that scouts and fans have expected him to?
Anibal Sanchez, RHP
Acquired in a trade with Detroit halfway through last season, Sanchez did not benefit from the change in scenery. The organization and Sanchez both hope that he can get back to his winning ways this year.
Drew Hutchison, RHP
This hard throwing young Right Hander was acquired in the offseason in a trade that saw superstar Chris Sale sent to Toronto. Hutchison has big shoes to fill, but looks to have the talent to be at least a #2 for years to come.
Hector Noesi, RHP
Noesi is a prototypical #4 with nice movement and a great ability to hit his spots. He pitched had a bit of a breakout year last year and will look to continue that success.
Jered Weaver, RHP
The crafty veteran spends his first year away from the Angel’s organization. A waiver pickup after he refused to be traded, the White Sox hope that he can continue to eat innings and put the team in a position to win. A solid starter and surprise in the #5 slot in Hurdle’s rotation.
Zach Putnam slides in to the Closer role this year after having duties as a setup man last year. Is he ready for the role? A nasty slider, a wicked splitter and a nasty attitude say yes. Jake Petricka and Erik Davis take on the setup roles with Daniel Webb, Nate Jones, Javy Guerra, and Zach Phillips filling out the rest of the bullpen.
DISABLED LIST NOTES:
Starting Pitcher Jeff Samardzija begins the year on the DL and will not see time until at least June 1. Can he recover from Tommy John surgery and be the kind of pitcher that his talent suggest he can be?
Shortstop Leury Garcia starts the year on the DL but will probably supplant Flores from the starting role when he gets healthy. Leury is a defensive whiz kid who can hit for average and has tremendous speed. He showed flashes of the kind of player that the Sox hope he can be in the future.
Will this young team respond to Clint Hurdle’s leadership and perform up to their expected talent level? This rebuild year will have its ups and downs, but the White Sox starting 9 have some decent talent and the rotation, though young, could be good. The bullpen definitely took a hit in the rebuilding/cost cutting that the team did, so it could be shaky.
ON THE RECORD
“We made some moves early last year when we felt we had a chance to compete that obviously didn’t work to our advantage. The organization obviously took an emotional hit when Jerry Sr. passed, but Jr. has been great to work with. Our rebuild efforts began in the second half of the year, and I think that we are headed down the right path. Do I think we will win a pennant? Only if everything breaks our way. I’m excited to see the young guys play though and I think this year will be a great stepping stone to the future. I do think we will surprise some people this year though.” – Copeland’s prediction on the team’s chances