White Sox: Keys to Future Success

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Hello, my name is Louis, and this is my first post with On Base Talk. I just want to start by saying thanks to everybody who has read my work, and thanks to these guys here for trusting me to try and bring some additional news to their website. I’ve been thinking for almost a week about what my first article should be about, so I figured, why stray away from tradition? I’ve been writing about the White Sox for about a month straight on my blog, and I’ve been basically a lifetime fan. So I guess you can say I’m taking the easy way out here, but I’m going to try my hardest to convince everyone that the Sox are not a joke this year, and can at least keep up a .500 record throughout the whole year. I don’t know if they will be contenders come September, but I do know one thing is for sure, these boys just won’t quit.

So let me start with a few individuals who have stuck out so far this year that will need to continue their success in order for this team to have any chance at not just winning, but contending. Then, I will show a few players who have been less than stellar so far and will need to pick up the slack, or be in fear of losing a starting job, or even a spot on the roster.

John Danks LHP

So normally, I’m never one to defend Danks in any fashion because being a Sox fan, for the past 4 or 5 years I’ve absolutely hated this man. And I still don’t trust him as far as I can throw him. As for his numbers so far this year, they look pretty Danks-esque, 4.32 ERA, 8.4 H/9, and a 1.33 WHIP. But, check out his numbers from his past 3 appearances.

23 1/3 IP, 1.16 ERA, 0.72 WHIP, 13 K’s

This is the kind of stuff it would be nice to see Danks do consistently, which for me has been one of my biggest problems with him, how inconsistent he is. I’m not sure exactly what he’s done differently with his mechanics, but I don’t think I’ve seen a stretch where he’s been this good for this many starts in a row, ever. Obviously, these numbers are pretty unsustainable for him, but something of this caliber would be a pleasant surprise as he is going to be one of the guys we need in the rotation that has to succeed in order for this team to keep winning. Of course not everyone can be Chris Sale, but it’s also about the other 4 guys in the rotation in order to keep this team afloat.

This next guy is also not just fairly new to the Sox rotation, but new to the team as well.

Hector Noesi RHP

For some reason, when the Sox acquired Noesi from Texas this year, out of any Sox fan I know I was the only one excited. He had a rocky start in the bullpen for Texas but he looked pretty good against everyone except one team, the Sox. I took a leap of faith and thought that maybe that can be a sign of good things to come. In 3 appearances with Texas he left with an 11.81 ERA, giving up 7 earned in 5 1/3 IP. Since coming to Chicago, in 8 games (7 starts), he’s put up an impressive 3.92 ERA in 41 1/3 IP with a 33/17 K/BB ratio.

To me, pretty impressive for a guy the Rangers wanted out of their bullpen and moved into a starting 5 for a Chicago team plagued with injuries early, as well as some early season disappointments. Between Danks, Noesi, and Andre Rienzo(two of which weren’t even a starting 5 though at the beginning of this season), the White Sox are going to have to rely on these guys to get us through the days we don’t have Sale or Quintana on the mound. The better these three guys perform throughout the rest of the year, the better odds this team has of maintaining a decent record and who knows? Maybe a number 2 spot in the AL Central.

Gordon Beckham INF

Another man I haven’t liked for around 4 or 5 years, he’s gotten off to a hot start since starting the season on the DL. He still isn’t walking nearly as much as I’d like to see, but he really hasn’t since coming into the league. Through 40 games, Beckham has a .283/.325/.409 slash line, as well as already having 4 home runs, 1 less than 2013 in 63 less games.

As far as my opinion of Beckham goes, no comment. Coming from a Sox fan standpoint, I think this is the perfect scenario for the team. I don’t feel he was in their long term state of mind and now we can flip him for some (hopefully) decent prospects or pitching that we desperately need. The former Rookie of the Year finalist has impressed this year, yes, but I would honestly rather see him gone before Alexei and Dunn (not De Aza though). But, in the end, I think  at least 3 out of 4 of those guys will be gone. We will see how that turns out by July.

Now, let’s shift gears and look at a few players who have been, for lack of a better word, bad. Even though it’s still only June, if the Sox want to show they are a team that won’t quit, these are some of the guys that will have to start stepping it up in order for that to happen.

Alejandro De Aza OF

It’s really a shame about De Aza because I always liked him, especially last year. Even though he isn’t a traditional leadoff hitter, he did pretty well last year in the role he had to play in the wasted season of 2013. Now with Eaton here, he’s moved into the lower half of the order, which he says is allowing him to be more free at the plate, and swing at first pitch strikes instead of taking many pitches out of the leadoff spot. Even though he feels better batting lower in the order, it hasn’t translated well on the field, as De Aza has just a .191/.265/.319 slash line through 60 games this season.

I’m not ready to completely give up on De Aza yet, as he still shows signs of life with a .333 AVG his last 10 games (6-18), with a homer and 4 walks. Whether or not De Aza will still be in Chicago come the trade deadline is still up in the air, but I really don’t know what the best we can get for him will be after a year like this and already being 30 years old. I wish only the best for De Aza, whether he stays here or where ever he ends up. He’s been all hustle and hard work since he’s been in Chicago, and this year’s numbers should not reflect on him as a player.

Last but not least, we have another guy who is new to the team, out of the bullpen who I had high hopes on coming into this year.

Ronald Belisario RHP

It’s not that Belisario has been absolutely terrible or anything, but I guess seeing him in LA for a few years made me hype him up more than I probably should have right out of the gate. It’s no secret that the Chicago closer situation is pretty up in the air right now, and Belisario had a few rocky performances and blown saves but otherwise has been decent. Not a top reliever that we’ve had in our pen (see Webb, Patricka, Putnam), but started out as an okay setup man and now has taken the reigns as the closer due to injuries.

His ERA is at 4.78 right now, although his WHIP is only at 1.16. He also has a pretty great K/BB ratio right now of 24/8 in 32 IP. He has 5 saves at the moment, but has already blown 3. So really, who knows how long until we either see a new reliever attempt to close, or we just see a closer by committee instead. Overall, Belisario hasn’t been great, but hasn’t been awful either. He was thrown into the closer situation and even though he hasn’t been a shut down closer, he will do for now at least. As long as even our pitchers who are struggling can put up okay numbers along the lines of Belisario’s, and thrown in a few Webb’s and Putnam’s, then I don’t see why this team doesn’t have a chance to win every night.

Although I can’t get into every single detail, this is a huge majority of what this team has to do in order to stay from going under in the AL Central. In a year that was supposed to be a rebuild process, this team has come out and showed early on that they have a huge heart and will fight every game before they ever give up. With just a few more right pieces thrown in, this team can be a contender for years to come. Maybe not necessarily this year, but they have shown that they are ready to compete for this year, and for the foreseeable future.

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