The reigning AL Central champions head into 2009 with similar questions as last season: How is the back end of the rotation going to shape up? Who’s going to play center field? Who’s going to step up and break out this season? If some of those questions can be answered, the White Sox should be in the thick of a highly competitive AL Central division.
• For a closer look at the Chicago White Sox and the rest of the AL Central, be sure to check out the The Can of Corn AL Central Preview Podcast.
|C A.J. Pierzynski||.281||.312||.416||66||13||60||1||534|
|1B Paul Konerko||.240||.344||.438||59||22||62||2||438|
|2B Chris Getz||.286||.286||.286||2||0||1||1||7|
|SS Alexei Ramirez||.290||.317||.475||65||21||77||13||480|
|3B Josh Fields||.156||.229||.188||3||0||2||0||32|
|LF Carlos Quentin||.288||.394||.571||96||36||100||7||480|
|CF Brian Anderson||.232||.272||.436||24||8||26||5||181|
|RF Jermaine Dye||.292||.344||.541||96||34||96||3||590|
|DH Jim Thome||.245||.362||.503||93||34||90||1||503|
Unsettled: Center field. Jerry Owens is in the middle of a three-man weave for the starting center field job with Brian Anderson and Dewayne Wise. Out of the three, Owens clearly has the most fantasy potential. Over the past few seasons, Owens has been known more for his injuries than his blazing speed on the base paths. With the help from 1984 Olympic gold medalist and local track coach Sherri Howard, Owens is learning how to run properly for the first time in his life. Hopefully this will help him prevent further injury and he will be able to sustain himself throughout a full season of games. If the new training regime works out, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jerry Owens leading off for the White Sox this season and picking up some cheap steals for your fantasy team along the way.
Target: Paul Konerko. Konerko played half of the ’08 season with a nagging right hand injury. It wasn’t until he hurt his left oblique, which put him on the disabled list for the first time in his career, that he was able to fully recover from his hand injury. Konerko and his bat returned to the lineup after missing 20 games. In his final 246 plate appearances, he hit .267/.366/.514 to go along with 14 home runs and 32 RBI. Konerko should be a viable option to have as your starting corner infielder.
|Mark Buehrle (L)||15-12||3.79||1.34||140||52||218.2|
|John Danks (L)||12-9||3.32||1.23||159||57||195|
|Gavin Floyd (R)||17-8||3.84||1.26||145||70||206.1|
|Bartolo Colon (R)||4-2||3.92||1.39||27||10||39||w/Bos|
|Clayton Richard (L)||2-5||6.04||1.55||29||13||47.2|
Unsettled: Bartolo Colon and Clayton Richard. Mark Buehrle, John Danks, and Gavin Floyd are all locked into the rotation. The fourth and fifth spots are up for grabs. Colon returns to the south side for his second tour of duty. Jose Contreras, who suffered a ruptured Achilles last season, is making remarkable progress and could possibly be ready for opening day. At the moment, Richard is penciled in to be the fifth starter. Aaron Poreda, Lance Broadway, and Jeff Marquez could all make a few starts sometime in ’09, but none are viable fantasy options at this point.
Target: John Danks. Danks improved his strikeout rates and dramatically improved on his walk and home run rates from a year ago. He added speed to all of his pitches and developed a cut fastball. In addition, he became more of a ground ball pitcher, which could be attributed to the new pitch. Danks’ win total should increase from his ’08 total of 12 as his offensive counter-parts only gave him three or fewer runs in half of his starts. The offensive production should be there for Danks this season.
The 8th and 9th Innings
Chasing Saves: Bobby Jenks will get the lion’s share of the save opportunities. If he needs a day off or hits the disabled list, look for Octavio Dotel to get the nod. The lefty, Matt Thornton, could get a save or two if the matchups are right.
The White Sox relied heavily on one-year-wonders Carlos Quentin, Alexei Ramirez, Gavin Floyd, and John Danks to lead them to an AL Central crown last season. Fantasy managers should take caution when drafting one of them, as they could disappoint. The most reliable White Sox are Bobby Jenks and Jermaine Dye, who could very easily produce at the same level as Carlos Quentin, only 50 picks later. Paul Konerko and Jim Thome are both options to have if your team is hurting for power and can sustain their sub-par batting average. Jerry Owens, Chris Getz, and Josh Fields will all be looking to have breakout seasons and could be viable waiver wire options in deeper leagues.
Mike Reese is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Mike in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of Old_Style.
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