Happy 2014 everyone, we here at Chicitysports.com certainly hope that you had a great 2013 discussing and reading about sports here and we hope to make 2014 better for you all. However, we are not the only ones looking to improve the fan’s experience with us. Rick Hahn and the White Sox front office know that the 2013 is not what most fans were looking for out of the White Sox, especially after collapsing to relinquish an 2012 AL Central title to the Detroit Tigers. Through some shrewd moves, Rick Hahn has built a new core for the White Sox, who look to compete once again in 2014.
The first step toward making the Chicago White Sox a young, yet formidable team did not come over the offseason, but instead during the 2o13 season when the White Sox dealt Jake Peavy to Boston and acquired outfielder Avisail Garcia in a three way trade involving the Tigers as well. The trade brought in Garcia, who was known as “Little Miggy” in Detroit, the #2 prospect in the Tigers organization and #74 overall. Little Miggy spent 8 games with the White Sox AAA affiliate, Charlotte, before getting the call to the bigs and hitting a triple crown slash line of .304/5/21. Garcia will be a major piece for the White Sox in the coming years and will be a cog in the middle of the lineup. His addition is hopefully going to soften the transition out of the Paul Konerko era as he will be the new force to be reckoned with on the South Side.
Continuing the youth movement Hahn and the Sox signed Cuban first baseman Jose Abreu in October to a 6 yr./$68 million deal, the largest given to in terms of total money in White Sox history. The White Sox gave Abreu that kind of money because they know the potential that the kid has. At age 17 in the Cuban professional leagues Abreu hit .453 with 33 home runs, 93 runs batted in, and a .597 on-base percentage.Quite impressive at any level of baseball. If he can replicate those numbers in any way he would be a great addition to the middle of the order. Despite all the talk about Abreu’s bat, he is no slouch on defense either. There is no talk of him being an above average defender like Konerko, but there is also no talk about his inability to make defensive plays which should be reassuring for Sox fans and Sox infielders alike.
The next piece to the puzzle was acquiring outfielder Adam Eaton from the Diamondbacks in another three way trade involving shipping Hector Santiago to the Los Angeles Angels. However with this acquisition, the Sox obtained a guy who could be the leadoff hitter we have been looking for since Juan Pierre left. Eaton is still developing but according to scout Bernie Pickoff he is a speedy one, two, or nine hitter. His defense isn’t stellar, but it will do. Rick Hahn had something to add when Eaton was acquired as well, calling him a ‘dirtbag’ player, alluding to the hard way that Eaton plays the game. Eaton will be an exciting player to see develop.
Another Diamondback was added to the mix six days later when the White Sox traded closer Addison Reed straight up for third base prospect Matt Davidson. Davidson was ranked the fourth best prospect in the Diamondbacks system by Baseball America and also rated their fourth best power hitter in their system. To add to Davidson’s impressive resume he also won the Minor League All-Star Game MVP and Minor League home run derby. It is expected that Davidson will compete for the White Sox starting third base job and hopefully be a fixture there for years.
The White Sox add this talented young group of players to an already talented, young pitching staff that includes Chris Sale and Jose Quintana, which rounds out what looks to be the new core of the White Sox. While a new core of players to build around for years to come is good there are still some glaring issues that the White Sox must face. How will they split time between Jose Abreu, Adam Dunn, and Paul Konerko? Who will be the team’s starting catcher? Who will close? Will John Danks return to form? Will the bullpen be reliable? Who will take the two other spots on the bench? All of these questions must be answered before the White Sox can begin to contend for another AL Central title, and even then, they will still have to get past the Tigers and the ever improving other teams in the AL Central. The new White Sox of 2014 have set themselves up for success, but can they follow through?