I’m a realist; I call it like it is. The season ended far before the Sox were mathematically eliminated. We all knew it, the fight was never there. But, in typical White Sox fashion they kept you in it until the bitter end, by winning just enough to get you back into it and then going back on losing.
What went wrong? What can change for next year? I will look at your 2011 White Sox position by position and dissect the pluses and the minuses, the Humber’s (up’s) and the Dunn’s (down’s) of the season.
“Let’s go for it, Let’s hope if we spend the money, the attendance will pick up. And once we committed to Adam Dunn, then we had to be all in. Then it had to be Konerko, and we had to bring A.J. back.” — White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, prior to the 2011 season.
Following the 2010 season most Sox fans and team management thought we were going to have to endure another “The kids can play” period. “When I left after the season,” discussed Ozzie Guillen, “I thought we were going to go with the kids.” Then in December the team changed gears, signing Slugger Adam Dunn and re-signing Captain Paul Konerko and Catcher AJ Pierzynski and going “All In” a tagline that would haunt the team all season.
Also adding to the excitement was Gordon Beckham’s reported offseason strides and desire, “I can’t wait to prove people wrong,” Beckham said, “I’ve got a lot to prove, and I’m definitely not afraid of it, I don’t think I have to prove I can play here. I’ve proven that, but just not for a whole season.”
The only questions left unanswered were 3rd base and the Closer. Third base was a battle between incumbent Mark Teahen and rookie Brent Morel. Mark Teahen said coming into spring training, “I’ve prepared a lot better for this year, I feel like I did a good job this offseason to get as healthy as possible and get my body where I wanted it.” Brent Morel said, “We are both open to competition and trying to win the job, We got to become pretty good friends down at Charlotte and have a good relationship. We are kind of pulling for each other.”
After a rough Spring Training defensively for Teahen, the winner ended up being Morel, with Ozzie saying, “Teahen will be here just for his offense. Moving around to different positions, it’s hard for everyone. We don’t expect him to be a Gold Glove. We expect him to do the best he can.”
The Closer job was a four-way battle between Matt Thornton, Jesse Crain, Sergio Santos and Chris Sale. Coming out of Spring the Job was given to lefty Matt Thornton, with Ozzie Guillen opining, “A good percent of the time, he will be the guy [Thornton], In my opinion, with Sale, we have to put a lot of things on his shoulders, not because this kid pitched well last season, but we would put a lot of pressure on him to be the closer.”
As the season began, we all knew from the start the most important thing for 2011 success the Sox needed to improve on play vs. the AL Central. In 2010 the Sox went 32-40 vs. the AL Central, including a dismal 5-13 against the Twins. Kenny Williams stacked the ‘pen with lefthanders to compete with the lefty heavy Twins line-up. The 2011 White Sox were not much better in divisional play going 32-40.
Typically, a team has an advantage when playing at home, not the Sox. Normally a team expects to go .500 on the road and above .500 at home, whereas, the Sox finished 36-45 at home, not the sign of a winning team.
The other sign of a winning team is the ability to sustain a winning streak. The White Sox were able to win only string together 5 wins throughout the season.
At this point we all know what happened, Ozzie is the manager of the Marlins, Walker and Cora both left and the White Sox ended the season under .500, totally unexpected.
Look for the rest of the series:
Infield: released on 11.01.11
Outfield: released on 11.08.00
DH/ Bench: Released on 11.15.11
Bullpen: Released on 11.22.11
Starting Pitching Released on 11.29.11
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