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2014 Season Preview: Chicago White Sox

"Everybody needs somebody to love." --Jake Blues

Chris Sale away, sail away, sail away
Chris Sale away, sail away, sail away
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The White Sox are an interesting case to watch over the rest of this season. Specifically, they've got a decent infusion of young talent combined with a couple of intriguing reclamation projects that could, in theory, give them a quick boost in the standings without drastically affecting their bottom line.

Therein lies the rub. The AL Central, on the whole, is an improved division. Even the Twins, if they manage to keep their rotation out of the medic tent, are a better team on paper than they were a year ago. So, even a minor amount of improvement might be a zero-sum proposition for the South Siders. Which is a roundabout way to say that the parts might be improved, but the outlook for the team en masse is clouded and fairly shallow.

Notable Departures

SP Hector Santiago, RP Addison Reed, SP Gavin Floyd, 3B Brent Morel

Not necessarily a group of worldbeaters be they, but they had useful utility for what they were. Santiago has outperformed his peripherals for two seasons, both as a reliever and starter, and was moved for a complementary player in Adam Eaton, who struggled quite a bit in limited time for the Diamondbacks last year. The smart money is betting on Eaton to improve and for Santiago to deflate and that is what the White Sox more or less based their decision on.

They also managed to sell high on Addison Reed. So, bonus.

Notable Arrivals

1B Jose Abreu, RP Scott Downs, SP Felipe Paulino, RP Ronald Belisario, RP Javy Guerra, OF Adam Eaton, 3B Matt Davidson

An interesting bit of off-season for the White Sox, to say the least. Jose Abreu looks to be some form of Yoenis Cespedes 2.0, and is expected to step in immediately at first base and provide a premium bat somewhere in the middle of the order. Scott Downs is a cromulent reliever and has seen his strikeout rate trend in the right direction the last few years. It will be interesting to see how all of these new players fit, especially since most are expected to get consistent time.

Watch List

A majority of the focus will be placed on first baseman Jose Abreu, and with good reason. The worst outlook among the projection systems this year (ZiPS) is still pretty damn optimistic, slapping a .273/.364/.494 triple slash on him with 26 home runs and a projected 2.6 fWAR.

For my money, though, I'm going to be keeping my other eye on third baseman Matt Davidson. He's an intriguing, though not sterling, prospect, and it will be interesting to see how he shifts to a new team in a new league. ZiPS projects him for a .236/.312/.410 line and neutral to subpar defense. He's one to keep an eye on as well.

Others to take a look at every now and then are Felipe Paulino, and whether he has fully recovered from his injury and can manage to stay healthy, and how Matt Lindstrom adjusts to being The Guy following the Addison Reed trade.

Best-Case Scenario

Paulino finds new life and a comfortable home, Jose Abreu is as good as advertised and the White Sox put the fear of G-d into the rest of the teams in the division, as a once-thought flyover becomes a daily battle for victory. The White Sox manage to improve to a 70-plus win season with a bright future ahead of them.

Worst-Case Scenario

Abreu flops, Davidson flops, Paulino's seemingly impending injury keeps him out for a more extended period of time than assumed, and Adam Dunn finally has another one of those 2011 seasons (.159/.292/.277, -3.0 fWAR) that we've all been waiting for. Worst of all, Chris Sale blows his elbow out and has to undergo season-ending surgery. The White Sox scrape and claw (again) to not lose 100 games.