Sep 27, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Fans hold up signs as Chicago White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko (14) gets ready in the batters box against the Kansas City Royals during the ninth inning at U.S Cellular Field. The Royals beat the Chicago White Sox 6-1. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

What Will 2014 Bring for the White Sox?

chris sale, chicago white sox

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The 114th season of Chicago White Sox Baseball was one of the more frustrating and disappointing seasons in the organization’s long history.  The Sox failed to win 70-plus games for the first time (in a non-strike influenced season) since the 1989 season, when they went 68-92 and finished 29 1/2 games out of the division lead. Finishing 63-99, the White Sox had the third-worst record in baseball last season (yes, even worse than their rivals on the North Side of Chicago).

Even through the struggles of a long, abysmal season on the South Side, March 31st brings a new season and a chance for the Sox to start fresh and compete in the competitive AL Central Division.

This season will most likely mark the end of Paul Konerko’s tenure in Chicago.  All signs point to Konerko retiring after the 2014 season.  “Paulie” (as he’s known on the South Side) will have a limited role with Adam Dunn and the signing of 6’3″, 255-pound Cuban powerhouse, Jose Abreu.  Konerko’s time in Chicago has been special for all Sox fans to witness.  In 15 years with the Sox, Konerko has hit 427 home runs with the White Sox (only Frank Thomas has more – 448), 398 doubles (3rd in Sox history) and has 2,249 hits (3rd in Sox history).  It took him a while to decide on playing this season, but the Sox welcomed Konerko back to the South Side with open arms.

Second-year general manager Rick Hahn began a “youth movement” last season in his first season by letting A,J. Pierzynski, Francisco Liriano and Kevin Youkilis go, along with trading outfielder Alex Rios to Texas and pitchers Jake Peavy, Matt Thornton and Jesse Crain to Boston and Tampa Bay respectively.  The three-team trade with Peavy brought Avisail Garcia from Detroit to the South Side.

But that’s the 2013 season.  What will 2014 bring for the Good Guys?  More wins would be a start.

The Sox can get off to a good start in 2014 with Chris Sale starting on Opening Day against Minnesota, according to reports from Monday.  Sale, 24, was the lone bright spot for the Sox last season and has somewhat become the face of the Sox organization.

One of the big question for the White Sox this season is, what’s the solution behind the dish?  Is Tyler Flowers capable of being “the guy” for the Sox moving forward?  In 84 games last season, Flowers hit just .195 (50-for-256)  with 10 home runs and 24 runs batted in.

What about the bullpen?  The Sox signed reliever Mitchell Boggs in the off-season, after sending 40-save closer Addison Reed to Arizona.  Nate Jones is the front-runner to take Reed’s closer role, while outfielder Adam Eaton was the main piece the Sox received in the Reed trade.

The Sox are seen by most experts as the team that will finish in the AL Central cellar (again).  The Sox surprised people with a 85-win season in 2012, along with just missing out on the division title.  A ton has changed for the South Siders since losing the Central lead late two seasons ago, but there’s only one direction the Sox can go now: up.

Tags: Chicago White Sox Chris Sale Paul Konerko

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