Monday, April 02, 2007
Certainly not blogging a single post since September 2006 does not bode well for Black Betsy as a blog. I mean, after all, I've missed the Freddy Garcia trade (I thought it was bad but now it looks good) and the Brandon McCarthy trade (I think it stunk, as I voiced pretty vociferously on the White Sox e-mail list). But Opening Day is time for a fresh start for everything, right?
In thinking over this team, I think the Sox have tread water since the end of '06. I see them at about 90 wins again, which could be good enough for 1st place in the AL Central, or it could be good enough for 3rd (again). Here are the areas I see improving and declining:
- I think Mark Buehrle will be 20-30 runs better as a pitcher in '07. He had one minor bounce-back before, from '03 to '04 (4.14 ERA to 3.89 ERA - not really meaningful), and I cannot think of a reason why he would not improve. He is in his prime, he has had a good track record and, absent some unseen injury, he is about the same pitcher that posted a 3.12 ERA in '05. He may have pitched a ton of innings in his career, but we all know he is efficient with his pitches.
- I think Jose Contreras will be 10-20 runs better as a pitcher in '07. To me, he was pitching hurt almost all of last season. The Sox would have been better giving him a longer DL stint earlier in the year.
- Javier Vazquez and Jon Garland will be about the same, with Vazquez maybe being a touch better. I still think the guy is a loser, though. Call them a wash.
- John Danks is probably not going to cut it as a replacement for Freddy Garcia. I think he gives back 20-30 runs. Overall, that means the starters are probably 1-2 wins better this year than last.
- The bullpen is a bit stronger, but not by as much as people are talking about. I'd give them another 10-15 runs, for 1-2 wins as well.
- The offense is not going to be as good. Jermaine Dye will not repeat his stupendously good career year last year, and that will cost the Sox 20-25 runs.
- I think Konerko will probably do about the same, but Thome will be 20 runs worse, likely because of injury and natural decline. If the Sox get another 40 homer season from Thome, that will be a huge lift for the team.
- Joe Crede will probably be about the same Joe Crede we saw last year. Ditto for Pierzynski and Iguchi.
- That leaves three guys offensively: Podsednik, Erstad/Anderson, and Uribe. Podsednik I see as being about the same to maybe 5-10 runs better; for simplicity I'll call him a wash. As much as Erstad is a step in the wrong direction for the White Sox, I don't think that Erstad/Anderson is any worse than Anderson/Mackowiak in 2007. The problem is that I think Anderson would be 10-20 runs better than Erstad/Anderson on his own. I have the feeling, however, that Anderson will have the job full time by July.
- Uribe will be better this year. After an awful 2006 - the worst of his career - he'll bounce back to something like a .265/.300/.480 line. That will be, what, 10-15 runs better than '06.
Putting this all together, I guess I see the offense being down 30-40 runs this year, while the pitching staff will allow 30-40 fewer runs this year. That comes out pretty even in the wash.
One other thought -I see a midseason run on Andruw Jones to solve the White Sox's centerfield problems. I could see the Sox shipping Gio Gonzalez and Josh Fields for a half season of Andruw. That could really change the outlook for the '07 White Sox. Pray for a bad first half by the Braves.
On the blogging front, I hope to go to biweekly posts. I'm trying to calendar them for regular updates on things I like to know - who is walking in the minors, trade prospects, hidden performances, etc. If it doesn't work, and I don't post, I apologize in advance. I'll even give you a refund of whatever you paid to read this....
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