Continuing the roundtable discussion from this morning, it is asked…
What are our expectations for the season? Thank God for the second wild card giving us a reason to take the hose off the exhaust pipe and drive to work every day, amirite?!
Matt Adams: Are the days when the AL Central can just forget about Wild Card considerations gone? I doubt it.
The pitching staff is the key. If Peavy and Sale can carry over their performances (without the end of season wear down for Sale), Danks can recover and be pre-surgery Danks, Floyd can, you know, be like, average, and Santiago, he’s got the chance to be a wild card of his own.
The Tigers still have that Verlander guy, Fister could possibly be for real, basically their pitching staff isn’t the Verlander Inc. joke that it once was, assuming that Porcello doesn’t die by grounders to the left side. Victor Martinez is back, Delmon Young has essentially turned into Torii Hunter, and he’s not a kid anymore but it really can’t be stressed any further that he is not Delmon.
It’s going to take the pitching staff to keep me from directly ingesting exhaust fumes. I’ll still probably sit in the garage with the car running by September, but that’s an improvement.
Kevin Wallace: Chris Rongey (for once) said something I agreed with on The Score today. He said how outside of 2006, when the Sox has sky-high expectations, the White Sox are annually one of the bigger question marks in baseball entering the season. Therefore, I have no idea.
The pitching staff has the potential to be really good, but would I be surprised if it completely fell apart? No. Ditto for the bullpen. I’m very interested to see how Keppinger works out in the two-hole and how Robin utilizes him.
Nick Schaefer: I think this is an 83-85 talent team with a lot of volatility and variance. If the pitching hits, it could be a really tough team. Say Sale & Peavy repeat last year/stay healthy, say Danks and Floyd bounce back to some degree, and Quintana holds his value…that’s a nice rotation. The problem is there’s just so much risk there.
The offense, as I have complained about for years, never gets on base. Ever. I suppose if Dunn hits .225, Rios doesn’t let his batting average slide below .260 again, Alexei recovers a bit, Carlos Sanchez comes up, Keppinger holds some of his value, Viciedo learns to hit righties even a little bit…? I suppose it’s not impossible. Once again though, the odds are against it.
I stand by the fact that by all objective measurements – even with the flashy additions of the Indians and Royals — the White Sox are probably the 2nd best team in the division. Vegas agrees with me, and Vegas is usually frighteningly accurate.
James Fegan: In a flight of optimistic fancy, where I assumed that old adages like “They always surprise us!”, “They always stay healthy!”, “Coop fixes things!”, and “They always are in the race!” as constant facts, and not just occasional things that happen, I punched the Sox for 86 wins.
86 on the strength of a starting rotation that finishes top three in the AL in WAR again, a bullpen that’s above-average because Addison Reed finds his slider, and a below-average offense that lacks last season’s magic with runners in scoring position. That’s enough to stay feisty in the Wild Card race, and to position to clean up the debris of the AL Central if something absurd like ‘The 2006 Cleveland Indians Season, Directed By Lars Von Trier’ befalls Detroit this year.