72-90, fourth place in the American League Central
1. CF Jerry Owens:
.267 BA, .324 OBP, .312 SLG, 1 HR, 17 RBIs, 32 SB in 2007
2. SS Orlando Cabrera:
.301 BA, .345 OBP, .397 SLG, 101 R, 8 HR, 86 RBIs, 20 SB in 2007
3. DH Jim Thome:
.275 BA, .410 OBP, .563 SLG, 35 HR, 96 RBIs in 2007
4. 1B Paul Konerko:
.259 BA, .351 OBP, .490 SLG, 31 HR, 90 RBIs in 2007
5. RF Jermaine Dye:
.254 BA, .317 OBP, .486 SLG, 28 HR, 78 RBIs in 2007
6. LF Nick Swisher:
.262 BA, .381 OBP, .455 SLG, 22 HR, 78 RBIs in 2007
7. C A.J. Pierzynski:
.263 BA, .309 OBP, .403 SLG, 14 HR, 50 RBIs in 2007
8. 3B Josh Fields:
.244 BA, .308 OBP, .480 SLG, 23 HR, 67 RBIs in 2007
9. 2B Danny Richar:
.230 BA, .289 OBP, .406 SLG, 6 HR, 15 RBIs in 2007
1. Mark Buehrle, 10-9, 3.63 ERA in 2007
2. Javier Vazquez, 15-8, 3.74 in 2007
3. John Danks, 6-13, 5.50 in 2007
4. Jose Contreras, 10-17, 5.57 in 2007
5. Gavin Floyd, 1-5, 5.27 in 2007 Projected bullpen
Closer: Bobby Jenks, 40/46 saves, 2.77 ERA in 2007
RH setup man: Scott Linebrink, 3.71 ERA in 2007
LH setup man: Matt Thornton4.79 ERA in 2007 The new guys
Swisher: If at first you don't succeed, then pry loose a talented player who wasn't even available at the beginning of the offseason. The White Sox fell short in their pursuits of Torii Hunter, Aaron Rowand, Kosuke Fukudome and Miguel Cabrera, but they gave up three top prospects to Oakland in return for the switch-hitting outfielder. Swisher's on-base percentage and solid production against southpaws should provide a boost to the White Sox offense, while his energetic, gregarious personality will do the same in the clubhouse. Orlando Cabrera: The White Sox didn't need to acquire a shortstop, with Juan Uribe already in place. But they needed to pick up a player who makes everyone else better, such as Cabrera. Ozzie Guillen raves about Cabrera's on-field leadership ability, not to mention his Gold Glove abilities at shortstop and his skillful handling of the bat to perfectly fill the second spot in the White Sox attack. If Owens starts the season on the bench, Cabrera could assume the leadoff duties. Linebrink: From the start of the offseason, general manager Ken Williams identified the top setup man on the open market, and then went out and signed Linebrink to a four-year, $19 million deal. Linebrink will be making his first American League appearance after pitching eight years for four National League teams, and gave up a career-worst 12 home runs in 2007. But Linebrink has the dominant sinker that usually plays well at U.S. Cellular Field. Octavio Dotel: A late addition to the beleaguered White Sox bullpen, Dotel has electric stuff when healthy. The addition of Dotel and Linebrink not only strengthens the relief corps, but it also takes Mike MacDougal out of a late-inning role on the heels of last year's disastrous showing.
Carlos Quentin: Williams considers this pickup at the Winter Meetings the sleeper of his offseason moves. Although he never really caught on at the Major League level over 395 at-bats with Arizona, Quentin posted a career .427 on-base percentage as a Minor Leaguer. The right-handed hitter will compete with Owens for the final starting slot in the outfield.Alexei Ramirez: This one-time Cuban standout is said to have outstanding bat speed and a build similar to Alfonso Soriano. Ramirez can play shortstop, second base and the outfield, but he figures to challenge Danny Richar for the starting job at second. Ramirez could begin the season with Triple-A Charlotte in order to get acclimated to big league play. Prospects to watch
Lance Broadway: The right-hander made quite an impression during a late-September start, in which he struck out eight batters over six scoreless innings. Broadway had more fist pumps on the mound then hits allowed (two) during a home victory over the Royals. He would be considered a long shot to break camp with the White Sox, but he could be the first pitcher the team turns to if it needs help from within the system. Jack Egbert: According to Minor League director Alan Regier, nobody made greater strides during the 2007 season than Egbert. A Jon Garland in training, Egbert still managed to fan 165 over 161 2/3 innings for Double-A Birmingham, posting a 12-8 mark and 3.06 ERA. Egbert, who will be taking part in his first big league Spring Training, also made a strong showing during Arizona Fall League action. Nick Masset: Too much work might have cost Masset during a 2007 rookie season in which he finished with a 7.09 ERA in 27 games. Williams believes that Masset didn't give his arm time to recover after starting as a Texas Minor Leaguer in 2006 and then serving as a closer in winter ball before his first campaign in Chicago. Masset is out of options, so he will get a good look for the seventh and final relief spot, but he seems better suited as a starter. Chris Getz: One of the few Major League-ready position players in the system, the middle infielder finished with a .299 average for the Barons last year. Getz was hampered by a right shin injury, which limited him to 278 at-bats. Adam Russell: Russell burst on to the scene with a strong showing during Spring Training in 2007. The hard-throwing right-hander now finds himself in the mix for the final bullpen spot in 2008, after being converted to a reliever with the Barons. Oneli Perez: Led the Barons with 16 saves and a sparkling 2.10 ERA in 59 games. Perez continued his strong mound work for Licey in the Dominican Winter League, as the right-hander fanned 19 in 17 1/3 innings, picking up 12 saves and finishing with a 0.52 ERA. Returning from injury
Joe Crede: Back surgery finally relieved Crede of pain suffered for the past few years, but it also limited him to 167 at-bats and 47 games. The question for Crede is not whether he will bounce back to his previous top-notch form, as his recovery is said to be right on schedule. Instead, with Crede in his last year before becoming a free agent, the question is whether he will be bouncing back somewhere other than Chicago.
Pablo Ozuna: The sparkplug fractured his right fibula and tore his right deltoid ligament in a May 27 game against the Rays, costing him the season's final four months. Ozuna serves as an important roster presence, both as a leadoff hitter against tough lefties and with his ability to adeptly play in both the infield and outfield.Toby Hall: Coming back early from a dislocated right shoulder suffered during the final week of Spring Training, the backup catcher hit just .207 without a home run and produced only three RBIs in 116 at-bats. Hall should be far more productive in 2008 with his shoulder near 100 percent. Quentin: The new acquisition had surgery on Oct. 9 to repair a torn left labrum and torn left rotator cuff. But he remains on pace to be ready for Spring Training. On the rebound
White Sox offense: Konerko, Dye and Pierzynski all had seasons below their career numbers, an example of how almost everyone in the lineup went into a slump at the plate at the same time. Talented and proud professionals such as this trio figure to bounce back to form in 2008. MacDougal: According to Williams, MacDougal's electric stuff still is in place for a 2008 turnaround. It was hard to tell in 2007, when the right-hander gave up 82 baserunners over 42 1/3 innings. Andrew Sisco: The big left-hander had trouble finding the plate during his 19-game stint with the White Sox, leading to a horrendous 8.36 ERA. But the 6-foot-10 southpaw has an outside shot to earn the seventh spot in the South Siders' bullpen out of Spring Training. Uribe: Uribe's character and focus will be tested after being pushed into a reserve role with Cabrera's acquisition, after the shortstop watched his average drop for the fourth time in four years with the White Sox. Uribe will have a chance to challenge for a starting job at second base, but he needs to show better bat control than his .284 on-base percentage dictates. Hall: Playing at far less than 100 percent hurt Hall on the back of his baseball card more than anything else. A healthy Hall should get more at-bats against challenging southpaws such as C.C. Sabathia and Francisco Liriano. Long gone
Garland: It was hard for Williams to part with the biggest winner in the White Sox rotation over the past three years. But Garland's high trade value, coupled with doubts as to whether he would stay with the White Sox past the final year of his contract in 2008, made the sinkerball specialist expendable. Scott Podsednik: From World Series hero in 2005 to a couple more disabled list trips in 2007. Podsednik still is a leadoff force when healthy, but the fleet-footed left-handed hitter really wasn't healthy enough after the first half of the 2005 season. Ryan Sweeney: The one-time top outfield prospect never had an extended chance to strut his stuff at the Major League level and fell out of the picture for 2008. He was part of the package used to acquire Swisher. Darin Erstad: When asked to analyze what would turn out to be his only year with the White Sox, Erstad said he felt "cheated." The gritty outfielder basically lost two months to a left ankle injury, hitting .248 in 310 at-bats, and the White Sox opted against picking up his 2008 option. Alex Cintron: Family issues and nagging injuries led to a frustrating 2007 for the utility infielder. Uribe's return and the arrival of Cabrera and Ramirez made Cintron expendable. Mike Myers: Brought in on Aug. 20 as a possible left-handed specialist, the veteran produced an 11.20 ERA in 17 games for the White Sox. The team declined his 2008 option. Andy Gonzalez: Injuries forced Gonzalez into working all over the field, from left field to third base, but the right-handed hitter clearly was overmatched at the plate. Gonzalez now is a part of Cleveland's organization. David Aardsma: Serving as a perfect symbol for last year's bullpen, Aardsma allowed three earned runs over 20 2/3 innings for a miniscule 1.31 ERA through May 12, while striking out 26 and yielding 13 hits. The right-hander then gave up 26 hits and 20 earned runs over his final 11 2/3 innings pitched (15.43 ERA), fanning 10 and walking eight. After being designated for assignment, Aardsma was traded to the Red Sox for two pitching prospects. Ryan Bukvich: The right-hander appeared in a career-high 45 games but struggled at home (6.27 ERA) and during his last 10 games (17.47 ERA over 5 2/3 innings). Gio Gonzalez: He never has pitched at the Major League level. But the talented left-hander now has been involved in trades for Jim Thome, Freddy Garcia and Swisher.
2007 hitting leaders (min. 200 at-bats)
Avg.: Rob Mackowiak, .278
OBP: Thome, .410
SLG: Thome, .563
Runs: Thome, 79
RBIs: Thome, 95
Hits: Konerko, 142
2B: Dye and Konerko, 34
3B: Podsednik and Tadahito Iguchi, 4
HR: Thome, 35
SB: Owens, 32
2007 pitching leaders (min. 30 IP)
IP: Vazquez, 216 2/3
W: Vazquez, 15
L: Contreras, 17
Win %: Vazquez, .652 (15-8)
S: Jenks, 40
ERA: Jenks, 2.77
K: Vazquez, 213
K/9: Vazquez, 8.85
WHIP: Jenks, 0.89
1. Can Owens lead the way?
During his second callup with the White Sox last season, Owens hit .284, swiped 29 bases and proved to be a more-than-capable catalyst at the top of the White Sox order -- even surprising Guillen. Ideally, the White Sox would like a prototypical leadoff man, leaving Cabrera hitting second, but can Owens reach the same level of production on a team with playoff contention as its primary goal? The White Sox believed Owens eventually could do this very job when they acquired him shortly after picking up Podsednik three years ago.
Williams could have traveled a safe route and signed a veteran for the back end of the starting five, a pitcher who could produce 10 victories and an ERA in the 4.50 range. But the White Sox general manager believes youthful talents such as Danks and Floyd possess a higher ceiling, even if they are greater risks. 3. What a relief? Will Dotel and Linebrink make a difference?
Pitching coach Don Cooper said last September how two veteran relievers could help solidify the White Sox bullpen for 2008, and Williams picked up two of the best available. Last year's bullpen also was thought to be in good shape moving into the season, but its overall youth presented a problem. A stronger veteran relief presence also helps shorten games for the starters. The bottom line
Only a few roster battles exist for the White Sox in Tucson, with the starting second-base job, one outfield slot and one bullpen opening all to be decided on the field. Williams' top priority, though, is figuring out what to do with both Crede and Fields at third base, with the solution looking to be a trade of Crede once he proves his health.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.