The White Sox have been the bridesmaids of the Central division for the past three seasons and haven't made it to the postseason since 2000. This year with the addition of speed and a revamped bullpen, the Sox are geared up for a run at the title despite the prospect of losing franchise cornerstone Frank Thomas for an extended period.
Worth Every Penny
For years Paul Konerko appeared to be overhyped. As a Dodgers third base prospect, the sky was the limit. But in his first few years with the White Sox, Konerko was nothing more than an average player. All of that changed last season as he put up his career year when the White Sox needed him most with Thomas sidelined. If Konerko, 29, puts together another 40-homer, 110-RBI season, he'll be a keeper for years to come.
About to Blossom
He's an unknown and will be looked upon with a skeptical eye because of Kaz Matsui's struggles, but second baseman Tadahito Iguchi could challenge Alfonso Soriano and Bret Boone for the honors of best fantasy second baseman. In 2003, Iguchi stole 42 bases and hit 27 home runs for the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks in Japan. If he amasses just two-thirds of those stats for the White sox, he'll be a fantasy gem.
There's a good chance that The Big (and always) Hurt won't be in the White Sox lineup until June at the earliest. Thomas has produced when healthy, so it's not a bad play to pick him up. Just don't invest too heavily.
Do You Feel Lucky?
Orlando Hernandez was one of the main reasons the Yankees won the AL East last season. El Duque returned from a minor-league rehab assignment to post an 8-2 record. Hernandez may not have the best stuff in the world, but he relies on experience to get batters out and could win 12 to 15 games. However, he has zero career wins outside the Yankees organization.
Scott Podsednik led the major leagues last season with 70 steals for the Brewers. In the 103-year history of the White Sox, only one player, Rudy Law (77 in '83), stole more than 56 bases in a season, a number Podsednik should also obliterate this season. Aaron Rowand, Iguchi and utilityman Willie Harris will be threats on the basepaths.
If Something Should Happen To Shingo Takatsu
The White Sox have a ton of options at the end of games. Dustin Hermanson has pitched in every role during his career and saved 17 games for the Giants last season. Luis Vizcaino, acquired along with Podsednik in the trade for Carlos Lee, has long been considered a potential closer and has seven career saves. Lefty Damaso Marte has stepped in as the closer before, compiling 27 saves the past three seasons.
Don't Forget About
Freddy Garcia, Rowand, Jermaine Dye
Don't Bother With
Jon Garland, Cliff Politte, Carl Everett
David Sabino is the associate editor in charge of statistics at Sports Illustrated and the author of the book, Dominate Your Fantasy Baseball League (Muska & Lipman/Premier-Trade).