StrategyFebruary 28, 2011

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30 Teams in 30 Days: Chicago White Sox

By R.J. White

One year after posting a losing season, the Chicago White Sox performed admirably in 2010 by winning 88 games. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to return to the playoffs, as the rival Twins took the division crown for the second straight season. Looking to make a splash, the White Sox signed Adam Dunn to fill the DH role in 2011. Dunn, who’s hit at least 38 HRs in seven consecutive seasons, will bring some more pop to a lineup that already ranked seventh in baseball in home runs last season. Will the addition of the slugger be enough to win the AL Central for the first time since 2008?

In “30 Teams in 30 Days,” the Fantasy Baseball Cafe will preview each team in Major League Baseball on a daily basis. In addition to projecting starting lineups, rotations and closing situations, the Cafe will identify potential targets for 2011 fantasy baseball drafts.
Offensive Starters

C A.J. Pierzynski.270.300.388439563474 
1B Paul Konerko.312.393.58489391110548 
2B Gordon Beckham.252.317.378589494444 
SS Alexei Ramirez.282.313.43183187013585 
3B Brent Morel.322.359.4806510648490in MiLB
LF Juan Pierre.275.341.3169614768651 
CF Alex Rios.284.334.45789218834567 
RF Carlos Quentin.243.342.4797326872453 
DH Adam Dunn.260.356.53685381030558w/WAS

Unsettled: Third base. Comments made by manager Ozzie Guillen suggest that Brent Morel will man third base on a semi-regular basis for the team this season. Incumbent Mark Teahan went from being mediocre in the batter’s box to being downright awful last season, so Morel, who hit for a high average across two levels in the minors last year, will get a crack at being the team’s starting third baseman. The pitching staff would appreciate Morel in the role, as he’s a plus fielder at his position. Morel, who including his Major League numbers last season posted double-digit figures in both homers and steals, is worth an end-game flier for owners in deeper leagues.
Target: Alexei Ramirez and Juan Pierre. Ramirez has become a fantasy contributor across the board in fantasy baseball, hitting between .277 and .290 while clubbing at least 15 HRs and stealing at least 13 bases in each of his three seasons in the majors. Yet he’s being selected lower than Derek Jeter, who’s on the downside of a stellar career, and Elvis Andrus, who hasn’t accomplished much in the big leagues yet. At his best Andrus could deliver as much fantasy value as Pierre, who’s still one of the best base-stealers in the game and comes at a very cheap mid-round price in drafts.
The Rotation
Mark Buehrle (L)13-134.281.409949210.1 
Edwin Jackson (R)10-124.471.3918178209.1w/2T
John Danks (L)15-113.721.2216270213 
Gavin Floyd (R)10-134.081.3715158187.1 
Jake Peavy (R)7-64.631.239334107 

Unsettled: Jake Peavy is still recovering from a shoulder injury, and even though he feels he’s progressing faster than expected in his recovery, there’s still a chance he’ll miss the early portion of the season. The White Sox are prepared to slot Jackson into the No. 2 rotational spot and figure out what to do about a fifth starter should Peavy not be ready in early April. Reliever Chris Sale was going to prepare as a starter in case the team wanted him to be the Peavy replacement, but he’s since shifted back to the bullpen and is in full reliever mode.
Target: Jake Peavy. Yes, the former Padre lands on both the Unsettled and Target portion of this article. The news that he’s ahead of where he expected to be at this point is great news for those buying low on his ace potential. He went for $2 in the recent Roto Arcade Pro-Am auction, and he’s a near lock to deliver profit on that price as well as on a mid-round draft price. Don’t forget about Jackson, who has ramped his K-rate to respectable levels over the last two seasons.
The 8th and 9th Innings
Matt Thornton (L)82.671.01812060.2 
Chris Sale (L)41.931.07321023.1 

Chasing Saves: Bobby Jenks has been run out of town, leaving the ninth inning to the electric arms of Matt Thornton and Chris Sale. Thornton has been one of baseball’s top setup men over the last three seasons while also performing admirably when called to close. Sale shined in his debut last season, posting tiny ratios and big strikeout numbers while also holding up under the pressure of the ninth inning. It’s anyone’s call as to who becomes the team’s closer, but Thornton is the safer bet for saves early on. Both certainly deserved to be owned in all mixed leagues.
Final Thoughts
The White Sox offer plenty to like in fantasy baseball both on the mound and at the plate. Paul Konerko is likely to regress from his career year in 2010, but if he can recapture even 80 percent of the magic he’ll be a value in 2011 drafts. Gordon Beckham is an intriguing young name that perfectly fits the mold of a post-hype sleeper. Both Ramirez and Pierre offer great value, as does Alex Rios, especially if he continues to post 20/30 seasons. Dunn and Carlos Quentin also will be drafted in all formats. All five starting pitchers and both closer candidates also make valuable pieces in most fantasy leagues, though the player that deserves the least amount of attention is actually staff “ace” Mark Buehrle. Even with his paltry strikeout numbers, Buehrle can be of service in deeper leagues.
Check back tomorrow for our look at the Cleveland Indians.

R.J. White is a fantasy blogger at the sports site FanHouse. Check out his work both here and there, and feel free to talk to him in the forums, where he posts under the name daullaz.
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