Continuing our series previewing the AL Central, here's theSB Nation AL Central Roundtable: White Sox Edition. Personally, I think the White Sox got better in the offseason, while the Indians got worse. Of course, the White Sox themselves proved that anything can happen, even over 162 games.
Here's a tease:
Beyond the Box Score: Can the White Sox repeat as AL Central champions in 2006?.
The Cheat: Absolutely. They acknowledged that they were a bit lucky in `05. That's why you saw Williams be as active as he was.
The pitching will come back to earth some in `06, but Williams tried to offset that by trading for Vazquez, who should be a significant upgrade over El Duque. I also expect the offense to be much better in `06, specifically the left side of the infield.
I would bet money on them beating their run-differential from last season. Whether that translates in the win colum remains to be seen, however.
Mark of Bless You Boys: The Sox are the favorites coming into the season, so they can definitely repeat as Central Champs. As I said earlier, they have done nothing to harm their shot at a repeat this offseason, and I believe they have strengthened their team with some of the additions. If Thome can stay healthy, I expect a solid year out of the guy in that ballpark.
Jesse of Twinkietown: Absolutely the White Sox can repeat. Do they have a better chance of it than past champions-probably not. But they've been there, and that experience is priceless. If it comes down to the wire the last 2 weeks of the season the Vegas money will be on Chicago...but I never was a fan of vegas and their "odds makers" and "sharks" and "bookies". Besides, I'm pretty sure the season won't boil down to the last couple weeks this year.
Mostly I'd be wary of the bullpen. Last season they were brilliant, shutting teams down and closing the door whenever they needed to. This year they'll look for repeat performances from guys like Neil Cotts and Cliff Politte-performances that have a better chance of not happening than happening. Marte needs to continue to be himself, Bobby Jenks needs to stay great...it's the soft spot in Chi-Town if I had to pick one.
Jay of Let's Go Tribe: Absolutely, they can repeat. Of course their run differential was beaten handily by the Indians last season. Who you pick to win in 2006 ultimately depends on what you take more seriously, the run differential, or whatever it was that allowed the White Sox to beat the hell out of Pythagoras in 2005. And I don't say that in jest, I think it's a serious question. Certainly Guillen's tactical instincts are a nice plus for them.
Looks like they're overlooking the Royals. Nobody makes that mistake twice. We have Doug Mientkiewicz. And Reggie Sanders. And Joe McEwing and Benji Gil.
You're on notice AL Central.