Jim & Bob's Palatial Baseball Blog

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Chicago White Sox 2018 Preview: Hang On, Help Is Coming

First things first, The 2018 White Sox are not going to be good. The 2017 White Sox were 67-95. That's bad. I'll be the most surprised guy in the world if the 2018 team reaches 75-87. There are just far too many holes, too many spots filled by sub-optimal players, to expect more.

This does not mean that Sox management is doing a bad job. On the contrary, Executive VP Ken Williams, GM Rick Hahn, Manager Rick Renteria, and their staffs have done such a great job re-tooling a franchise that was going nowhere that I am more excited going into this season than I have been in a decade. The bad times have been bad, but good times are coming soon.

Yoan Moncada, 2B
Avisail Garcia, RF
Jose Abreu, 1B
Wellington Castillo, C
Nicky Delmonico, LF
Tim Anderson, SS
Matt Davidson, DH
Yolmer Sanchez, 3B
Adam Engel, CF

I love Moncado; I think that he will be every bit worthy of the hype and will be the best Sox second baseman since Ray Durham and maybe even Nellie Fox. He has already shown a solid eye at the plate; now he needs to be confident about going after pitches that he can drive. I'm not 100% sold that Garcia's leap forward in 2017 is for real, but there is a decent chance that it is. Abreu continues to be a devastating hitter. Castillo is decent both behind and at the plate, but I'd be much more comfortable with him hitting in the seventh slot rather than cleanup. Delmonico was an unexpected bright spot in 2017. He still projects more as a solid bench guy than a regular, and he's a placeholder here. I still like Anderson but he's going to have to move his walk rate from "abysmal" to "just kind of bad" to be successful.

The bottom of the order is terrible. Davidson smacked 26 homers in 2017; that was the extent of his positive contribution as he batted just .220 with a 19/165 BB/K ratio. Sanchez is a great guy to have around and would be a very solid bench player but he's stretched as an everyday third baseman. Engel is a wonderful defensive center fielder, the best the Sox have had since Aaron Rowand, but he batted .166 with no walks or power and that is not much worse than the best you can expect from him at the plate.

James Shields
Lucas Giolito
Reynaldo Lopez
Miguel Gonzalez
Carson Fullmer

James Shields. Ugh. That trade for him looked bad at the time and looks worse now. We really gave up Fernando Tatis Jr. for this guy? At least the Padres are still paying half his salary, and the Sox can buy him out after this season. While the trade for Shields is one of the worst in team history, the trade for Giolito may go down as one of the best. He's going to be a good pitcher for a long time. Lopez was acquired in the same trade as Giolito; he doesn't have the upside and may not be able to stick in the rotation, but he has a live arm with a good fastball and curve. If he adds a third pitch he might stick after all. Gonzalez is filler. The Sox keep deluding themselves that Fullmer can be a major league starter; I'm just not seeing it. His command is just not good enough. I do think that he would be effective out of the bullpen.

Joakim Soira
Nate Jones
Juan Minaya
A bunch of replaceable guys

The five guys who pitched the most relief innings for the Sox last year are all gone, not that there is any great loss there. Rentaria says that he will use Soira, Jones, and Minaya as needed rather than making one a true closer. I like that approach but I'm not crazy about the chances of these guys making it work. Soira's best days are behind him, Jones has great stuff but terrible command, and Minaya is a mediocrity. The other guys in the pen are nothing special.

Between drafting and the trades of Chris Sale, Adam Eaton, Carlos Quintana, and Tood Frazier, the Sox have built one of the best farm systems in the game. And we're not just talking about kids who can become major league regulars, which are good things to develop, we're talking about some major impact players. I'll do a separate post on them, because there are so many who are so impressive.

So it will be a year of development, but that's better than a year of mediocrity and disillusionment. It will be great fun to watch the great prospects start to infiltrate the lineup as the season moves on. By next year at this time we'll be ready to start talking about contending.


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