The White Sox enter 2015 with high expectations, and with good reason.
With a core that consists of young, affordable talent like Chris Sale, Jose Abreu, and Adam Eaton, as well as veteran acquisitions in Melky Cabrera, David Robertson, Jeff Samardzija, and Adam LaRoche, the Southsiders appear to have a nice blend. It’s why multiple baseball “experts” predict the Sox to be in the thick of the playoff race, with some even going as far to say the team is a dark horse pick to represent the AL in late October.
Enter a season-opening series with the reigning AL Champion Kansas City Royals, and we have ourselves a great measuring stick for where this team is at heading into the season.
So, what did we learn? The White Sox have some work to do.
It was sloppy. Defensive miscues rampant in game one, bad location from Jose Quintana and the bullpen in game two, and no real feel for Edinson Volquez in game three. It didn’t help that Lorenzo Cain turned into Kirby Puckett in his prime out in the outfield, but the main takeaway is that this is going to take some time to gel the way we want and expect it to.
Let’s not forget about what the Royals represent either. This is a team who, despite making the World Series and taking the San Francisco Giants to seven games, has been written off by almost everyone nationally as a team who will take a step back and may even be an afterthought in an improved AL Central. Don’t think the Royals paid attention to that? Given that motivation and the natural charge of a home crowd after you just won a pennant, you can bet your bottom dollar the Royals were amped up to the extreme to take on a White Sox team with a ton of hype and who almost everyone has leap-frogging them.
The result was the Sox looking over-matched in practically every aspect of the game, but in a weird way, I am OK with this.
With players like Sale, Samardzija, Abreu, and Eaton serving as the team’s leaders, it’s safe to say this is going to be a pretty confident group in 2015. A series such this to start the season I don’t think shatters that, but rather gives this team a reason to check itself and realize what it has to do in order to compete with the best teams in the American League. You just saw what one looks like right in front of you.
So, Sox fans, let’s not throw away all of the optimism we had just four days ago. There’s a lot of new faces, and regardless who the opponent is, chemistry and cohesiveness takes time to develop. The good part about this week’s drubbing is the Sox got a wake-up call earlier than most, and I expect you’ll see this team get hungry pretty darn quick.
Post by Luke Stanczyk
Photo credit: Orlin Wagner, AP Photo