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oldcomiskey
10-07-2001, 12:21 PM
WHAT WENT RIGHT

After winning a league-high 95 games last season
before being swept by the Mariners in the first
round of the playoffs, the team was expecting
even better things in 2001. They never
materialized.

But after dropping into last place in the AL Central
on May 23 with a 14-29 record, the injury-ravaged
team stormed back and wound up making a mild
run at the first-place Indians.

Lefthander Mark Buehrle, 22, emerged as the
team's ace, which is a big surprise. In his first full
season in the majors, Buehrle was expected to play
a complimentary role to proven veterans David
Wells, Jim Parque, Cal Eldred and James Baldwin.
But after Wells (back), Parque (shoulder) and
Eldred (elbow) went down with season-ending
injuries and Baldwin was traded to the Dodgers, Buehrle was asked to step up and he delivered.

Heading into his final start of the season Friday night at Minnesota, Buehrle was a solid 15-8 with a 3.36
ERA. He is expected to be the team's opening day starter in 2002.

Two other young starters, Gary Glover and Jon Garland, made the most of the injury situation and
positioned themselves to win starting jobs next season. And Keith Foulke continued to prove that he's
one of the best closers in baseball.

The team had the top offense in the majors last season, but the loss of Frank Thomas (torn right
triceps) in late April was a big blow. Right fielder Magglio Ordonez picked up plenty of slack, though,
and delivered 30-plus home runs and 100-plus RBIs for the third year in a row. First baseman Paul
Konerko also stepped up and put up the best power numbers of his career.

The team took a very small gamble when it signed DH Jose Canseco on June 20. Canseco, 37, was
toiling with the Newark Bears in the independent Atlantic League before he signed. The team didn't have
great expectations, but Canseco hit with power and drove in some big runs before enduring a 1-for-31
slump at the end of the season.

Canseco has shown he can still play, but with Thomas coming back next year, Canseco will have to
catch on with another team.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Slow starts by Thomas, Wells, shortstop Royce Clayton, DH Harold Baines, Ordonez and centerfielder
Chris Singleton took the team out of the playoff race by May 1. Then, the injury bug hit.

Thomas' torn right triceps injury hurt the team the most, but losing key members of the pitching staff
was almost as devastating. In all, the team has lost 11 pitchers to major injuries dating back to the end
of last season.

When Wells was acquired in a trade from the Blue Jays, he was supposed to head the rotation and carry
the team into the playoffs. But Wells was a disappointing 5-7 (4.47 ERA) before having season-ending
back surgery on July 18. Wells also created a stir by openly questioning Thomas' "guts and glory"
before the seriousness of his triceps injury was determined.

Catcher Sandy Alomar Jr. missed the final two months of the season with a sore right knee, which was
operated on twice. Alomar produced very little (.245, 4 HR, 21 RBIs) when he was healthy.

Of the players that did manage to stay off the DL, second baseman Ray Durham was the biggest
disappointment. Durham did score 100 or more runs for the fifth straight season, but his numbers were
down across the board and his inability to consistently get on base from the leadoff spot dragged down
the team's offense during key periods.

Clayton was arguably the team's best all-around player over the final two months, but he was brutal at
the plate until mid-July.

Baines, 42, received a surprise invitation to spring training, and it was even more surprising when he
made the 25-man roster. Before going down with a torn left hip flexor muscle, Baines batted .133 and
did not hit a home run. He refuses to announce his retirement, but Baines won't return to the team next
season.

Left fielder Carlos Lee's power numbers dropped and so did his defensive play. Bigger things are
expected from him in 2002.

OFFSEASON GAME PLAN

Looking ahead to next season, the team feels it has three talented starters in Buehrle, Glover and
Garland. But GM Kenny Williams will be shopping for at least one veteran starter over the winter. The
price must be right.

If he's healthy, Wells could return. Wells has already expressed an interest in an incentive-filled
contract.

The team has a big decision to make on Clayton. The White Sox need his steady glove, but Clayton is a
notoriously slow starter with the bat, and that concerns manager Jerry Manuel. Because he came over
in a trade from the Rangers last January while in the midst of a multiyear contract, Clayton can demand
another trade at the end of the year. He said he wants to stay with the team.

If Clayton stays, where does Jose Valentin play? Valentin is a much better offensive player than Clayton
and he spent most of his time at third base in 2001. Valentin said he'd prefer moving back to shortstop.

The team needs to make a decision at third base. Top prospect Joe Crede deserves to get a long look,
but Jeff Liefer is going to winter ball to play the position. Liefer has a powerful lefthanded bat, which
the team covets. But he needs a lot of defensive polish.

The team also needs a proven No. 1 catcher. Alomar is signed through next season, and he is expected
to fill the role. But Alomar is getting older, and his knee problems are getting worse. If he can't answer
the bell, the team will probably go with Mark Johnson and Josh Paul. Johnson is a better defensive
player, but he can't hit. Paul is developing as a hitter but he can't throw out base stealers.

ROSTER ROUNDUP

Who'll be back: C Sandy Alomar Jr.; 3B Joe Crede; 2B Ray Durham; C Mark Johnson; 1B Paul
Konerko; LF Carlos Lee (arbitration eligible); IF/OF Jeff Liefer; RF Magglio Ordonez; C Josh Paul; OF
Aaron Rowand; DH Frank Thomas; IF Jose Valentin; RHP Lorenzo Barcelo; RHP Rocky Biddle; LHP
Mark Buehrle; RHP Josh Fogg; RHP Keith Foulke (arbitration eligible); RHP Jon Garland; RHP Matt
Ginter; RHP Gary Glover; RHP Bob Howry; RHP Antonio Osuna; LHP Jim Parque; RHP Kip Wells;
RHP Dan Wright; LHP Kelly Wunsch.

Who won't be back: DH Harold Baines (FA); DH Jose Canseco (FA); 3B Herbert Perry (arbitration
eligible); RHP Cal Eldred (FA, injured); LHP Alan Embree (FA, club option); LHP Bill Pulsipher
(arbitration eligible); RHP Bill Simas (arbitration eligible).

Who's in limbo: SS Royce Clayton (traded during multiyear contract, can demand another trade at the
end of the season); IF Tony Graffanino (arbitration eligible); CF Chris Singleton (arbitration eligible);
RHP Sean Lowe (arbitration eligible); LHP David Wells (FA, club option).

LongDistanceFan
10-07-2001, 12:27 PM
that was a well thought out analysis..... good post

oldcomiskey
10-07-2001, 12:29 PM
its not mine--it was plagerized from TSN