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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Some 2002 Predictions

†Temperatures are below freezing and snow is in the air; yes, itís time for baseball.† Will 2002 be a year to remember or will it be 86 and
counting?† The New Kids on the Sox will be bringing you plenty of predictions and analysis all season long at WSI.† To get the ball rolling we are
establishing some full season outlooks and thoughts.

Brent Davis (KempersRS)

Final Record: 90-72, First in the Central

Biggest Surprise: Ray Durham gets his act together at the plate and in the field.† Feeling the pressure of two upcoming prospects (Harris and Hummel), on the verge of a new contract, and out of the lead off spot, Ray-Ray hits over .300, puts up 80 runs and knocks 20+ homers.

Biggest Flop: Frank Thomas falls apart again.† The Big Hurt canít get his game back that was reborn in 2000.† Injuries plague him, heíll put up decent numbers, but not what one might expect from such a big name player.

Awards: No award winners for the Sox in 2002.† The offense will be well balanced, but it will really be the lack of competition that leads them to the top of the Central.

Summary: The Sox will win 90 games and it will be enough.† The Twins will put up a fight and try to hang tough, but the Baggy Dome luck will run out late in the season for the Twinkies.† The top of the order will be fairly solid. †Lofton wonít amaze, but heíll get on base enough for Durham, Ordonez, Konerko, and yes, even Thomas to knock him in quite a few times.† Rowand will take over the duties in center around the All-Star break due to Loftonís fatigue and old age catching up with him.† Royce ďThe ChoiceĒ will do nothing spectacular.† Expect an average season from him at the plate and his usual lack of range in the field.† Lee will be back to 2000 form, taking a leap up from a disappointing 2001.† Jose Valentin will find a permanent spot at third base for the most part until his hamstrings act up; Crede will be of little when taking over.

†As far as the pitching, it will be very suspect all year long.† Buehrle will take a step back, but wonít be a bust.† Parque surprisingly does well in his return to the rotation and posts an ERA around 4.00 with 10-15 wins.† Foulke canít match last yearís performance, but remains in the top 5 for closers.† Injuries pop up again, who the victims will be is still a mystery, but it will come out of an overworked bullpen. Even with all the downs in the rotation, the bullpen will be average. It will still be enough for this Sox squad to take first, but don't expect a long run into the post-season.

Ian Martin (Jerry_Manuel)

Final Record: 88-74, Second in the Central

Biggest Surprise: Dan Wright. At the end of the 2001 season Wright showed that if he can overcome his first inning wildness, he could be successful. Now, granted this prediction means squat if Wright ends up in the bullpen. Itís a little difficult to overcome first inning wildness, if you only pitch one inning.

Biggest Flop: Ray Durham. Usually when a player is in a contract year they perform very well. I donít believe that will be the case with Durham. As we all know, Ray loves to swing for the fences. Some would argue he does that a little to often, now that heís not hitting lead off I look for him to swing for the fences more then usual, and hurt the team.

Awards: Frank Thomas wins comeback player of the year.

Summary: Iíve been on the record for the past few months as saying that I donít believe the Sox will win the Central. My feelings have changed a little, but Iím still going to stick with that prediction. I look for the Twins to win the division this year. I think the Sox pitching staff has way to many question marks, to win the division. Minnesota needs a boost on the offensive side of the ball but I believe their pitching will carry them. Iíd love to be proven wrong on both accounts, hopefully Iíll have to eat crow come October.

John Daly (Wh1tesox00)

Final Record: 99-63, First in the Central

Biggest Surprise: Carlos Lee. Granted he struggled during the second half last year, but I think he will bust out from the beginning in 2002. He is a very good young hitter, though he does have some holes in his swings. If he ties up his loose batting ends he will be fine, I think. And to those who complain about his defense, shaddap.

Biggest Flop: Kenny Lofton. I didnít really want to say anyone would fail, and a few were too obvious (Royce, whoever is catchingÖ) but I think Lofton will be the biggest disappointment. He is old, and though he can still run, I donít think he can be a terror at the top of the lineup like he was for Cleveland in the mid-90ís.

Awards: Keith Foulke wins fireman of the year. And that is that.

Summary: The Sox will win the division this year, whether it is by default or not. They really only have to worry about the Twins and their starting rotation. The Indians do not concern me. Finley-Colon-Sabathia, please. They are nothing to be afraid of. The Tigers have a big ballpark. And the Royals got new uniforms. Sorta.

This team will coast through the regular season. The lineup is solid, lots of power and a little more speed now that Lofton is here. I still hate Royce. The rotation will hold together, I think, and Buehrle might not be as spectacular as last year but I donít think there will be a huge dropoff. Ritchie wonít win no Cy Young but I think he will be consistent. The bullpen is good, and though everyone is down on Howry (check that, way down) I donít think he is all that awful. They will win the division and advance to the ALCS against the Red Sox. Beyond that, who knows. I donít like counting a team out in April, especially one with this much talent. Now itís only a matter of Jerry managing that talent. And that is no given.

Matt Michel (Doublem23)

Final Record: 88-74, 2002 American League Central Division Champions

Biggest Surprise: JON GARLAND >> With the hype surrounding him finding new victims such as Jon Rauch and Corwin Malone, Garland will take major steps in 2002.† While he may still be a few years away from his prime and while his 2002 numbers wonít be worthy of an All-Star berth, the young gun will solidy himself as the #3 man in the rotation.

Biggest Flop:† TODD RITCHIE >>† Throughout the season, Sox fans will be scratching their heads wondering what Kenny Williams was thinking when he dealt Kip Wells, Sean Lowe, and Josh Fogg for this guy.† While he wonít be horrendous, he will not be the guy the Sox expect to take pressure off Buehrle, and if his ERA stays below 4.50 for the season, I think we should consider ourselves blessed.

Awards: Outside of a few All-Star selections, nothing big.† Magglio Ordonez is a lock, and expect voting love to go to Ray Durham thanks to the departure of Roberto Alomar.† Depending on other circumstances, expect the names Mark Buehrle, Keith Foulke, and Frank Thomas to be thrown around in July.† Also, Frank Thomas will make a run for the Comeback Player of the Year.

Summary: The Sox will win the division more by default, and their record will be a bit bloated because of numerous inter-division games against Kansas City, Detroit, and Cleveland.† On the offensive side of the ball, Kenny Lofton will be an improvement over Ray Durham, but will not put up numbers like he did in his prime.† Thomasís numbers, while they may not be 2000esque, will still be enough to anchor a dominant offense.† Carlos Lee should bust out of the second half slump he was in.† Maggs is, well, Maggs.† Paul Konerko will continue to make strides at the plate, while Jose Valentin, healthy and in a permanent position, will put up numbers like he did in 2000.

The less that is said about the defense, the better.

Pitching-wise, the rotation will shore up a bit more than last year.† Buerhle will come back to Earth, but will continue to establish himself as one of the best young lefties in the game.† Garland will take strides towards becoming a solid #2, while Todd Ritchie, Gary Glover, Jim Parque, Jon Rauch, and Danny Wright will, more or less, be in and out of the rotation, but all will do an admirable job.† The bullpen will once again become the strength of the team.† Closer Keith Foulke will continue to dominate, while guys like Gary Glover, Bobby Howry, Kelly Wunsch, Jim Parque, Lorenzo Barcelo, Danny Wright, and Antonio Osuna will make the Sox bullpen the envy of the division, if not the American League.† Take that, Yankees!

However, the Sox will fall short of their goal of winning the World Series.† Expect a first round exit again at the hands of the American League West Division Champion Oakland Athletics.† While the Sox may win a game in the series, this year will be a big step in making the Sox a powerhouse in the American League.† 2002 may go down as being a year that foreshadowed bigger and better things to comeÖ.

Logan Cody (Chisox_cali)

Final Record: 93-69 AL Central Champions

Biggest Surprise: Jon Garland. After a strong showing towards the end of the 2001, Jon continues his upswing into this season putting up an impressive 17-10 record with an ERA in the high 3's once again finishing up strong in the second half of the season and heads into the playoffs as the number 3 starter.

Biggest Flop: Tie, Sandy Alomar Jr. and Jim Parque.† Sandy won't even make it through the first half of the season before going under the knife for his 9th and possibly last knee operation. †Mark Johnson slips into the starter's role quite easily. †Jim struggles in the start of the season, some question why he was even placed in the starting rotation, by late May early June he is demoted to the bullpen and does well as the lefty specialist, leaving a spot in the rotation for a top pitching prospect.

Awards: Magglio Ordonez will finish in the top 3 in AL MVP voting, where in that top 3 he'll be is yet to be determined.† Mark Buehrle will garner some Cy Young votes but wont win despite his 20 win season, he'll put up a serious fight in 2003 and 2004 that may very well win him the Cy Young.

Summary: All in all I foresee a pretty good season on the South Side this year. There will be plenty of good, competitive games with the big boys in the AL to go along with some dramatic comebacks and top it all off with a sweep of the Flubbies at Comiskey in June. As far as the All-Star Team goes Magglio will be the only White Sox player to be voted to the team and start in the OF.Keith Foulke will finally get the All-Star selection he deserves along with Mark Buehrle. The real surprise will be Paul Konerko getting on the team as a back-up first basemen to Jason Giambi. Finally what will be considered one of the best moments in Chicago baseball history Magglio Ordonez will beat Shamme So-So in the All-Star Game Home Run Derby.

Once the 2002 season is under way, expect to see a more in depth look at everything revolving around your Sox.† The New Kids will be keeping you updated with monthly predictions for the team and taking shots at the players and key decisions that will make 2002 for the Chicago White

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