If you read Sunday's Daily Herald -- or if you checked out dailyherald.com/sports -- you saw colleague Scot Gregor's White Sox story with the headline "Guillen finally has the team he wants."
My question is, does Ozzie have a team that can win? I was reading Joe Posnanski, America's Greatest Living Sportswriter, and he dropped a stat that boggled me: The team that put more runners on base won 83 percent of the time in 2009.
Have the White Sox taken the correct steps to be the team that puts more runners on base on a given night in 2010? I'm going to skip a monstrous analysis and just look at players' 2009 on-base percentages.
DH Jim Thome--.372 in 417 PA
OF Scott Podsednik--.353 in 587 PA
RF Jermaine Dye--.340 in 574 PA
2B Chris Getz--.324 in 415 PA
INF Josh Fields--.301 in 268 PA
CF Brian Anderson--.322 in 210 PA
OF Dewayne Wise--.262 in 153 PA
Using my elementary math skills, that's an OBP of .33549 over 2,624 plate appearances. Not great, but the team's collective OBP in 2009 was .329.
LF Juan Pierre--.365 in 425 PA
3B Mark Teahen--.325 in 571 PA
DH Mark Kotsay--.327 in 206 PA
DH Andruw Jones--.323 in 331 PA
INF Omar Vizquel--.316 in 195 PA
Again, my elementary math shows these guys posted a .33368 OBP last year.
So, on a basic level, it looks like the White Sox' changes from an OBP standpoint are negligible. And, yes, I know Juan Pierre had his best year in the last five and that he's regarded as an out machine, but I promised to stick to 2009.
The problem here? The White Sox ranked among the worst teams in the AL in on-base percentage last year, so they didn't correct a wrong. They also sacrificed some power to keep the same mediocre OBP.
Alas, there are two sides to the OBP argument. The White Sox might still stink offensively, but will they improve defensively?
Jose Contreras--1.448 WHIP in 114.2 IP
Clayton Richard--1.472 WHIP in 89.0 IP
D.J. Carrasco--1.414 WHIP in 93.1 IP
Octavio Dotel--1.444 WHIP in 62.1 IP
Jake Peavy--1.121 WHIP in 101.2 IP
Freddy Garcia--1.214 WHIP in 56 IP
J.J. Putz--1.636 WHIP in 29.1 IP
Sergio Santos--minor leagues only
I don't need to do the math to see the Sox improved their pitching. Besides, Putz' numbers are affected by his injury, so we should expect much better. His worst should be somewhere in Dotel's ballpark...but his best could be close to all-star form.
Lastly, let's check the defense. I'm not going to trot out UZR or anything like that. Let's just go with what our eyes tell us.
OF: It's going to be almost impossible to do worse than an outfield with Podsednik and Dye in it. Having Rios for a full year will help. Having Andruw Jones on a part-time basis should help, though I saw him look terrible on a ball against the Angels in a recent spring training game.
2B: Chris Getz wasn't great, but Beckham isn't comfortable yet with his switch. Should be a wash for a while.
3B: Teahen isn't anything special, but Fields/Beckham weren't either.
Overall: Should be no worse than slightly better defensively.
Armed with this "knowledge," how much better than 79-83 should we expect the White Sox to be? Are they 10 wins better? That sounds like a stretch.
Then again, it might not take 89 wins to get the AL Central crown.