Mar 10, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale (49) pitches against the Milwaukee Brewers at Maryvale Baseball Park. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
The Chicago White Sox are likely a long way from contending in the American League Central this season. In fact, it may be another couple of years before the White Sox can realistically compete for a playoff berth. However, that does not mean that there are not keys to the 2014 season. As the White Sox are building towards the future, there are still certain aspects of the roster that need to be determined.
1. Jose Abreu‘s transition to the major leagues
It is expected that Jose Abreu will step in and become the middle of the order bat that the White Sox will be able to build around. Abreu certainly has tremendous power potential, but is largely an unknown. As much as we can try to extrapolate how Abreu would perform in the majors given his Cuban League statistics, there is still a major difference in talent. Just ask Dayan Viciedo.
The White Sox are going to need to have Abreu not only perform at a reasonable level this season, but to give hope that he can be a cornerstone for the franchise over the next six years. If he can, then the White Sox will have the perfect piece to be able to build around.
2. Finding another starter behind Chris Sale
Since transitioning to the starting rotation in 2012, Sale has been a dominant force atop the rotation, going 28-22 with a 3.06 ERA and striking out over a batter per inning. At only 25 years old, Sale appears as though he will be set to anchor the White Sox rotation for years to come.
However, he cannot pitch the White Sox to victory by himself. Another starter will need to step up to give the White Sox a solid second starter to slot behind Sale. Perhaps it could be Jon Garland, who looked like he would be that pitcher three years ago before getting injured. Perhaps Erik Johnson can exceed expectations and become that second starter instead of a middle of the rotation workhorse. Either way, the White Sox need to see if that pitcher is presently on the major league staff.
3. Giving the kids a chance
Paul Konerko is on his farewell tour, and is likely to see his playing time decrease as the season goes on. Adam Dunn is at the end of his four year albatross of a contract, and is not a part of the White Sox future. As painful as it may be to see that type of financial investment sitting on the bench, the White Sox need to find out what they have in the young players on their roster. Giving that playing time to a veteran player who is not in their plans just does not make sense.
By finding out these three things, the White Sox could set themselves up for a nice run in the next couple of years. The rebuilding process is going to take some time, but getting answers to these questions could help expediate that process.