By S.C. Zuba
With baseball season just around the corner, I feel it is the perfect time for me to unveil my “Top five reasons the Chicago White Sox will win the AL Central Division in 2010” list.
In just a few short days, the long-awaited Opening Day will be here, and baseball fans will finally have the chance to see how their favorite ball clubs fare during the 2010 season.
It’s been a long time since most people have seen their baseball teams play—pitchers and catchers have reported, the monotonous inter-squad games have been played, and the irrelevant spring training games are almost over. Baseball is here.
So, following are my top five reasons why the Chicago White Sox will regain their title as champions of the AL Central.
5. Joe Nathan—The Minnesota Twins’ closer, Joe Nathan, recently went down with a season-ending elbow injury, which will cause him to miss the entire 2010 campaign. So, what does this mean for the White Sox?
Had Nathan not gone down, I would have had a very difficult time deciding between the Twins or the Sox for the AL Central crown as I believed their records would have been similar; however, without Nathan, the Twins will be less likely to close out key, close games, giving the Sox the advantage they will need to overtake the defending AL Central champions.
4. Outfield—The White Sox outfield is the X factor of the team. How those three players perform will ultimately determine how the rest of the team does.
As it stands now, Carlos Quentin, Andruw Jones and Alex Rios are slated to be the starters. Each of those three players has something special to offer; however, the question of whether those three players will live up to their capabilities still remains.
Quentin had an up-and-down season in 2009, partly because of injury. If he can return to his form of 2008—before his self-inflicted broken hand—the Sox’s chance at a title go up dramatically.
For Jones and Rios, the Sox need to get one more good year from Jones, and Rios needs to live up to the mega-contract the Blue Jays awarded him with.
3. Gordon Beckham—Gordon Beckham is the future of this ball club. He has more potential than any other player currently wearing a White Sox uniform. He is coming into his second season in the Big Leagues, and if he can avoid the sophomore slump, the Sox will be in good shape.
Beckham is a special player. Right out of college, scouts were touting him as “the next big thing in baseball.” Let’s see if they’re right.
2. Paul Konerko—This reason may be more nostalgic than anything else, but this is the last year of Paul Konerko’s contract, and most likely his last year with the White Sox. As one of the few remaining members from the 2005 World Series squad, it would be great to see the team succeed for him.
Konerko is a competitor, and if this year is anything like the last, he will leave it all on U.S. Cellular Field.
1. Starting rotation—Alas, we have reached No. 1. Mark Buehrle, Jake Peavy, John Danks, Gavin Floyd and Freddy Garcia make up the 2010 Chicago White Sox starting rotation. Those five names say enough. I would argue, from top to bottom, the Sox have the best rotation in the league.
When Garcia is No. 5 in a five-man rotation, you know you’re going to be all right.
Share your thoughts with S.C. Zuba via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the March 31-April 6, 2010 issue