The White Sox had the same record as the Cubs in 2014. Both teams improved from 95-plus-loss seasons the previous year and had exciting new players debut, and both made significant free-agent acquisitions.
What does this mean for the White Sox trying to compete in the American League Central? A lot, actually. No one knows if the Royals can make another magical run and the Tigers are getting old. That might leave an opening for the Sox to sneak in.
They bolstered their rotation with the addition of ex-Cub Jeff Samardzija, who had the best year of his career in 2014, despite an ugly won-lost record. He's in a walk year and talks for a contract extension with the Sox appear to have stalled, so he'll be pitching for a big contract. Of course, he was doing that with the Cubs, too, only to ask for more than the Cubs thought he was worth, which was one of the big reasons he was traded. It'll be interesting to watch Shark on the South Side.
Former Yankee closer David Robertson shores up a bullpen that was, in a word, horrific in 2014. The Sox tried five different pitchers as closer last year (Matt Lindstrom, Ronald Belisario, Zach Putnam, Javy Guerra and Jake Petricka) and only Petricka was above "awful." Robertson will change all that, and the Sox brought in lefty Zach Duke to shore up that side of the pen.
The Sox added Melky Cabrera, Adam LaRoche and ex-Cub Emilio Bonifacio to an offense that struggled at times in 2014 despite the great year of Cuban rookie Jose Abreu. Abreu slipped a bit power-wise in the second half, though his batting average held up. It'll be interesting to see the adjustments the league makes to him and whether he can adjust himself.
If Geovany Soto sticks as the Sox' backup catcher, that will make four ex-Cubs on their 25-man roster (Samardzija, Bonifacio, Putnam, Soto). That ought to make the six Cubs/Sox games this year pretty interesting. The only former Sox with a chance to make the Cubs' 25-man roster are Ryan Sweeney and Edwin Jackson, and neither is guaranteed a spot.
The Cubs and White Sox will meet at Wrigley Field July 10-11-12, just before the All-Star break, and at the Cell August 14-15-16.