Chicago White Sox turn on power for 2011

Adam Dunn photo taken from Google Images

The Chicago White Sox went into this off-season with plenty of work to do. They head toward spring training with a job well Dunn.

Plenty of questions surrounded the offense heading into the fall and winter. Would catcher A.J. Pierzynski remain? Could they find a left-handed power hitter to compliment their line-up? And, most notably, could they keep the services of free agent slugger Paul Konerko? The Sox start their packing for spring training with all those questions answered – and all answered in the affirmative.

In their biggest acquisitions, the White Sox went out and got Adam Dunn to give them the left-handed line-up pop that has been missing since Jim Thome’s departure and they kept Konerko.

It seemed as if the move for Dunn was to cover their losses in case Konerko opted for greener pastures. But even before the ink on Dunn’s contract was dry, the White Sox were saying their top priority was signing Konerko and Dunn was saying he would be glad to take the designated hitter role if that kept Konerko in Chicago.

The Sox were able to keep Konerko in the fold and having him and Dunn back to back give the South Siders as potent a 1-2 power punch as anyone in the American League. However, the dynamic duo will need some dynamics from the duo in front of them – Juan Pierre and Gordon Beckham – to get off to  much better starts than their awful beginnings of 2010 to increase the power boys’ opportunities for runs batted in.

Third base will be an interesting battle with veteran Mark Teahen, youngster Brett Morel and possibly utility man extraordinaire Omar Vizquel all vying for the post.

The bench will not have the veteran faces of last year, except for Vizquel. Gone are Mark Kotsay (free agent), Manny Ramirez (Tampa Bay Rays) and Andrew Jones (New York Yankees). A young, unproven lot could include back-up catchers Ramon Castro and Tyler Flowers; third baseman Dallas McPherson, who has just 18 home runs in four seasons with three different teams; and outfielders Alejandro DeAza and Stefan Gartrell.

White Sox brass may want to pick up a veteran outfielder or two for the bench as DeAza and Gartrell have little experience. DeAza has appeared in just 19 Major League games; and Gartrell has yet to appear in a Major League contest. The current set-up provides little flexibility in outfield play and little rest for Pierre, Alex Rios and the injury-prone Carlos Quentin.

Pitching is again expected to be the White Sox’ strength with a five-man rotation with more potential than any in baseball. The five arms the Sox will rely on heavily are Mark Buerhle, John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Edwin Jackson and Jake Peavy.

The bullpen looks solid, despite a couple of its bigger names moving on. Bobby Jenks is now with Boston; and J.J. Putz has headed to Arizona. But the acquisition of former Minnesota Twins standout reliever Jesse Crain negates both those departures. Crain will team with hard-throwing youngsters Chris Sale and Sergio Santos and the unproven Kyle Cofeld, acquired in a trade with Atlanta for Scott Linebrink, to get the ball to closer Matt Thornton.

Prospects to keep an eye on include Austin Yount, nephew of baseball great Robin Yount, and pitcher Philip Hurber.

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