Additions: Bartolo Colon, Dayan Viciedo, Brent Lillibridge, Jeff Marquez, Wilson Betemit, Jayson Nix, Kelvin Jimenez, Ryan Braun, Franklyn German, John Van Benschoten, Tyler Flowers, Ben Broussard, Bryan Myrow, Josh Kroeger, Michael Restovich
Subtractions: Nick Swisher, Javier Vazquez, Boone Logan, Orlando Cabrera, Joe Crede, Juan Uribe, Ken Griffey Jr., Toby Hall, Pablo Ozuna. Midseason: Nick Masset, Danny Richar
The '09 squad will be appreciably different, especially the offense. How will they compare to the 4.98 runs per game scored last year? CHONE projections and the Baseball Musings lineup analysis tool suggest 5.07 runs per game, which would again rank 5th in the AL. This simulation has Chris Getz leading off and DeWayne Wise splitting time evenly with Brian Anderson. Gone are the 2,075 ABs given to Cabrera, Swisher, Crede, Uribe, Griffey, and Hall.
If the White Sox score 820 runs and hold steady at last year's 729 allowed, they'll be projected to win 90 games. Is that level of run prevention (7th in the AL) possible again?
Last year's rotation posted a 4.09 ERA in 998.3 innings, 4th in the league. Vazquez contributed 21% of those innings, but at a 4.67 ERA. Once again, the White Sox will have to prove projection systems wrong. CHONE sees a Buehrle/Danks/Floyd/Contreras/Colon/Richard/Marquez rotation posting a 4.91 ERA in 934 innings. There is a good case to be made that projection systems are selling the newly-locked up Floyd short by calling for a 5.00+ ERA. And based on gut feel it's hard to believe no one gets under Buehrle's projected 4.57 mark. Still, it would've been nice to see the Sox add more starting depth or hang on to Vazquez.
Logan's 5.95 ERA is gone from the bullpen; the core group returns. Projections suggest that as a whole, the pen is capable of repeating its 4.13 ERA.
Defensively, the White Sox ranked 12th of 14 AL teams according to The Fielding Bible II. The book says the poor fielding was spread across the diamond, with above-average work only at shortstop, third base, and left field. Fields can't match Crede at third, and the Getz/Ramirez middle infield is an unknown. Not having Swisher and Griffey in center should help.
GM Ken Williams took a gamble dealing Vazquez, as the '09 rotation is not necessarily a strength. As presently constructed, even with a quality offense, this team seems destined to win 84 games at best. The standard disclaimer: the Ken Williams' White Sox have never been predictable.
Bottom line: The White Sox will again need multiple unexpected performances to repeat their 89 wins of '08.