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Know Your Enemy: Chicago White Sox

The final entry in this series profiles the Cubs' crosstown rivals.

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

At the risk of getting White Sox fans who read this site all riled up, I'm going to take a shot at how I view the South Siders.

There's really nowhere to go but up for the White Sox, who crashed and burned into a 99-loss flameout in 2013 after being in contention for most of 2012. Much of that was due to injuries to the pitching staff. Gavin Floyd missed almost the whole year, John Danks about half of it, and the replacements were... not good. That was especially true after Jake Peavy was traded to the Red Sox. The White Sox finished 10th in the league in runs allowed and 12th in home runs allowed, and that, along with an offense that was last in the league... well, you can see why the 99 losses happened.

The Sox have attempted to address the issue on offense by signing Cuban star Jose Abreu, who received a six-year, $68 million contract. For that, he'd better be good. He'll play first base with occasional relief from longtime incumbent Paul Konerko, who has announced he's retiring at the end of the season. Konerko will also likely DH against lefties, because Adam Dunn... just doesn't hit lefthanders, although he managed to hit .197/.296/.385 against them last year. That sounds bad, but it was actually an improvement over 2011, when he was 6-for-94 against LHP. (Not a misprint: six for ninety-four, with 39 strikeouts.)

The other change in the White Sox starting lineup this year is Adam Eaton in center field. Eaton came over from the Diamondbacks in a three-way deal that included the Angels. Eaton hit like a beast in the minor leagues, but in 250 at-bats for the D'backs in 2013, he hit .252/.314/.360. Speed was his game in the minors, but he stole only five bases in seven attempts in 66 games for Arizona. He'll have to do better than that.

Avisail Garcia is a player to watch. He came over from the Tigers in a late-season deal and the Sox hope his power stroke will develop. The Sox are also unsettled at catcher, where Tyler Flowers couldn't hit and was replaced by Josh Phegley. Phegley got off to a great start and wound up worse at the plate than Flowers. All told, White Sox catchers hit .196/.238/.325 with 26 walks and 162 strikeouts in 590 plate appearances.

These hitters will have to do well, because the pitching staff is still somewhat in shambles. Chris Sale is a true ace and Jose Quintana is a decent No. 2. After that, though...the Sox are hoping for a comeback from Danks, who has had a good start to his spring, and the rest are relatively unproven or mediocre (Erik Johnson, Felipe Paulino, Andre Rienzo).

The Sox sent closer Addison Reed to the D'backs in the deal in which they got Eaton. That's not a bad thing to do -- ship out a "proven" closer at the peak of his value before you have to pay him, and try someone else. In this case, "someone else" is likely Nate Jones, who has a funky arm motion and throws hard. Jones was really good for the Sox in 2012, not so much in 2013.

The teams will play back-to-back two-game series: at Wrigley May 5 and 6, and at the Cell May 7 and 8. For the first time in the 18 seasons these teams have played regular-season games against each other, all the games will be at night. It's really interesting how the two clubs have approached ticket pricing for these games. The Cubs, acknowledging the early dates for the two games and the fact that they're on weeknights, have priced them at "gold" level, the middle of the five pricing tiers. That, I think, means the two games at Wrigley will sell fairly well. The Sox, who have a dynamic pricing system for all games, have set the initial price for the two Cubs games at the top of their scale -- no other Sox home games are priced that high, not Yankees, not Red Sox, not the division rival Tigers.

The two games at the Cell are likely to fall far short of sellouts at those prices. We'll see if they come down as the dates get closer.

This concludes the "Know Your Enemy" series. Hope you've enjoyed it and learned a little bit about this year's 20 different Cub opponents.