Wow this took a bit more time than I expected. Here's my overview of the White Sox positioned players, I tried to take a quick look at each player with a shot to contribute in 2003. The links for players who spend most of last year in the majors lead to Baseball-Reference and for guys who played in the minors to Baseball America.
All in all I'm very happy with the Sox positioned players. There isn't a single glaring weakness in the lineup, which is tough to pull off. If thats not enough there's also depth and manuverability. Centerfield is my area of most concern, not because there isn't someone to handle it but because I think the Sox may go with the wrong guy, Aaron Rowand. Even so I don't think it would take them too long to figure out their mistake. This team could score 900 runs.
I'll have my analysis of the pitchers up as soon as possible but this week I have a paper due on Friday and test the same day. Wish me luck. I'll likely split up the starters and relievers so I get some more content up ASAP.
CatchersSandy Alomar Jr.
The White Sox got some surprising production (105 OPS+) out of Sandy Alomar last season. However when Alomar was dumped on the Rockies reality set in and his performance was comically bad (45 OPS+). Unfortunately Alomar's early season performance may have tricked GM Kenny Williams into thinking bringing back Alomar is a good idea. Over a full season Alomar is just going to be wasting plate appearances, even as a reserve. In the last three years his best full season OPS is 82. Alomar won't make it through the season without either retiring or being permanently placed on the DL.Miguel Olivo
Olivo is the best candidate to open the season as the Sox starting catcher. Frankly Olivo is the only option with the potential to be a decent major league starter. Last year Olivo rocked the Southern League to the tune of .306/.381/.479 in a great pitchers park. Olivo was the league's best player even though his teammate Aaron Miles, a non-prospect second baseman, walked away with the league MVP. On defense Olivo's arm has been compared to Ivan Rodriguez and his receiving skills are said to be solid. Olivo even has wheels, he stole 29 bases in 42 attempts and lead the SL in triples. With opportunity Olivo should be above average with his bat and his glove. There is star potential here.Josh Paul
I'm still not sure why this guy has gotten as many chances as he has. Paul is a weak hitter, isn't particularly good on defense and has become known for less-than-heads-up play. At his best Paul is a passable backup catcher. He can also fill in at third and in left and he has some speed for a catcher. For the 2003 season the Sox should make him the backup catcher and leave him alone. In this role he wouldn't do much damage and he is no longer taking playing time from Mark Johnson. At 28 he's older than most people think and only a year younger than Magglio Ordonez.
In 2002 Joe Crede was finally handed him the major league job upper management denied him for too long. Once in the the majors, he hit a respectable .285/.311./.515 in 209 plate appearances. Over a full season he'll need to be a little more patient at the plate. His minor league record says he'll make the necessary improvement. The Sox won't have to worry about third base for a while.Brian Daubach
Daubach is a useful spare part at the moment. He looks like Magglio Ordonez against righthanding pitching and Rey Ordonez against southpaws. Okay, maybe more like Paul Konerko against righties. Nonetheless he will be miscast on the bench, he's still useful as the lefthanded half of a platoon. Daubach can also play leftfield. His presence could facilitate a trade of Carlos Lee or Paul Konerko.Tony Graffanino
Graffanino is like that girl who you keep around as a safety blanket. You're never going to date her even though she's probably better than half the girls you do go out with. At the same time you're not going to just let her go. Graffanino isn't going to get a chance to start for the White Sox but he is one of the best reserve infielders in baseball. Jerry Manuel should be very happy to have him again this year after recovering from a torn ACL he suffered in August of last season.Willie Harris
Harris came over from Baltimore for centerfielder Chris Singleton. Many people, myself included, believed it was a coup for Kenny Williams to get anything for the mediocre and arbitration eligible Singleton. Harris is an exciting player, he's fast, he stole 54 bases in one AA season, he legs out an occasional triple and he does backflips a la Ozzie Smith. Despite the excitement he hasn't learned to get on base enough to be useful. Right now he projects as a utility player. It helps that he can also play the outfield.Tim Hummel
Hummel is a big guy for a middle infielder. He actually played most games at shortstop last year in AAA Charlotte but second base is his best position. He was a sleeper prospect going into the 2002 season and dissapointed many with his .260/.332/.346 showing in the Charlotte bandbox. He seemed to get things back in gear late in the year. Perhaps not coindently he was playing more second base at that point. Permanently moving to the less challenging position could help him. I still like him but he's getting old for a guy not yet seriously battling for a major league roster spot.D'Angelo Jimenez
I like this guy a lot. Jimenez has got a lot going for him. He's perceived as a dissapointment but if you look at his aggregate major league performance, which is well over 800 plate appearances, he's already been a solid major league middle infielder. He's also only 25 this season. Jimenez can get on base and should play second base solidly. He's certainly athletic enough, he played shortstop in the minor leagues with the Yankees. The only skill he hasn't shown at the major league level is hitting for power and his minor league record says he can do that a little bit too. Don't be surprised if he hits .280 with 75 walks and 45 extra base hits. Paul Konerko
Paul Konerko may be the most overrated White Sox player despite still being productive. Konerko had an electric first half of 2002, hitting .328/.379/.571 and finally looking like he'd fulfill the potential he had when he was minor league player of the year with the Dodgers organization. Unfortunately a mediocre second half brought Konerko's overall production back down to his established level. Now it looks as though Konerko will never take the next step and become a star.
In November Konerko capitalized on the publicity he received in-season and signed a 3 year 23 million dollar contract extenstion. For the duration of the contract he should remain a reliable yet unspectacular first baseman. There is value in the durability and year to year consistency Konerko brings to the table.Frank Thomas
He's here because he has to be somewhere and the potential for him to play first base does exist. Realistically he's not going to be the guy he was in the early to mid 90's or even in 2000. He can still be a very good 1B/DH type. The most comparable player to Thomas is Jeff Bagwell and he's still good. In fact Thomas's BA/OBP/SLG numbers over the last five years look a lot like Bagwell's performance in 2002. Look for Thomas to be healthy, post an OPS around 900 and provide the lineup with some well needed plate discipline. He'll be a bargain.Jose Valentin
The Sox are blockheaded for ever screwing with Valentin. He came in for the 2000 season, hit really well and played 90% of the team's games at shortstop. The team won 96 games, so what do they do? Move Valentin to third base to get Royce Clayton, an all-glove no-hit shortstop, on the field. Valentin kept hitting but his bat was wasted at third base. Two mediocre Sox seasons later Valentin will be back at shortstop where he belongs. E6 be damned. The decision to bring in Royce Clayton was one crippling decision in a series of them that kept the Sox from dominanting the AL Central over a period of several years. Right now the Twins are in a better position to do that.
Borchard is a major prospect. He's comparable to Jim Edmonds except with more power and less defensive prowess. Once he takes hold of centerfield he'll be productive for years to come. The Sox have taken their time with Borchard, similar to the way they handled Joe Crede. An offseason injury to Aaron Rowand may have opened the door for Borchard to start the season with the White Sox. He's a 30 home run threat immediately.Cliff Brumbaugh
Brumbaugh is a slick minor league signing by Kenny Williams. Brumbaugh is a right handed hitting corner outfielder who could be the other half of a platoon with Brian Daubach. Brumbaugh is 28 and has just 21 major league at-bats but his career line at AAA is .295/.385/.458. He could get on base enough to be valuable.Carlos Lee
Carlos Lee has confused the hell out of me. Just as I was ready to give up on him, he completely turned his game around. In the second half of last season Lee finally figured out how to take a walk and hit .283/.407/.521 in 266 plate appearances. That includes 45 walks for a guy who had walked 38 times in each of the last two full seasons. He was literally a different player. Ironically at the very same time trade rumors regarding Lee seemed to become serious. It would be a shame to trade Lee now that he seems ready to become one of the AL's better leftfielders. I did some reasearch on plate discipline leaps like Lee's and the results showed he's likely to keep his production up. Right now the Sox could use the plate discipline Lee brings to the table. Now there's something I never expected to write.Magglio Ordonez
Each year with Magglio Ordonez on the White Sox has been like getting a surprise gift. The surprise is how he improves his game in each particular season. Since his 1997 International League MVP season there have been analysts to reasonably argue that we've seen the best Magglio has to offer. Ordonez has continued to prove otherwise. He's been called an MVP candidate here and there, if he takes his game up another level he really will deserve the award.Armando Rios
Rios has a good career line of .276/.358/.461 and could be very useful off the bench, if healthy. It's a big risk for Rios who was plagued by a myriad of injuries below the belt last season. It's possible that the problems were caused by adjustments he made to rush back from an ACL tear. He's just as likely to be a non-factor as he is to help out.Aaron Rowand
I'm not entirely sure what to make of Rowand so I'll go with what I've said all along, he's no more than a fourth outfielder. In 2002 he saved being completely passed by in the organization with a good half season at AAA and some part time work with the Sox. In 2002 Rowand hit like I expected him to right when some people convinced me to reconsider my stance on his lack of usefulness. He'll be a good defensive replacement and passable bat off the bench.-Andrew Ritchie