Monday, April 6, 2009

5 reasons to believe in the Sox....5 reasons to worry

5 reasons to believe in the White Sox - Post-Tribune

Five reasons
to believe

1. Ken Williams wanted a new wave of talent in his starting rotation when he acquired the likes of John Danks, Gavin Floyd and Nick Masset, and while Masset may have failed out, Danks and Floyd are poised to become household names this season. Each has showed dominance this spring, knowing it's their time to shine.

2. Nicknamed the "King" from admiring a tape-measure home run of his in the early days, Paul Konerko, as Walker put it, "Is now at peace with himself,'' after a disappointing 2008. More importantly, they seem to have figured out a way to keep the pain in his chronic right thumb under control, which will only help.

3. Matt Thornton is even more confident, Bobby Jenks is an even better pitcher, and Octavio Dotel is even louder in the clubhouse. Now, if they can keep Scott Linebrink healthy, well, the Sox might have the most dominant bullpen in the American League, much like they did the first half of 2008 before Linebrink was hurt.

4. The nightmare for the Sox that is the Metrodome is still a place they have to visit this season -- the last with the Twins getting a new park in 2010 -- but they should at least thank Major League Baseball for the schedule help. Rather than having to travel there late in the year like '08, their last visit to Minnesota is Aug. 31-Sept. 2.

5. What gives Williams and the coaching staff some comfort at night is the fact that there is now at least some depth in the organization if there is a major injury. It's been a long time since the Sox could say that, and actually mean it.

Five reasons to worry

1. The Sox will need a lot to go right this year if they want to repeat, and the two biggest "ifs'' are pitchers Jose Contreras and Bartolo Colon. Both are coming off injuries -- Colon offseason elbow surgery and Contreras a ruptured Achilles tendon. Jeff Marquez and Clayton Richard are solid Plan Bs, but not Colon and Contreras.

2. Wise has a lot to prove, and seems determined to prove it, but 31-year-old career minor-leaguers are a scary thing. Maybe the Sox have caught lightning in a bottle with Wise, or maybe Williams will have to go shopping come June for a pure leadoff hitter.

3. Mark Buehrle has taken a Sun-Times story written about him this spring, in which it mentioned "รข€¦if it pitches like a duck,'' and run with it, often quacking in front of the media. But the fact that there is a cloud of mystery hanging over his health status has to leave the club at least a bit nervous. After all, he is the anchor of the staff.

4. The young Twins staff is a year older, and now the Sox have to see long-time third baseman Joe Crede playing for the enemy. On paper, the Sox always seem to be a better team than Minnesota. Problem is, that paper never really seems to matter much to the boys wearing the "TC.''

5. Josh Fields is not Crede. A point he knows all too well, and will hear every time an E-5 is flashed on the board. With a pitching staff that relies on defense more than the strikeout, not having Crede's Gold Glove over there means more work for the staff. Never a good thing.

-- Joe Cowley,

Sun-Times News Group

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