GLENDALE, Ariz. -- If Rick Hahn had a dollar for every time he was asked about revamping the White Sox while contending over the last three seasons, the general manager pretty much would have an unlimited budget for putting this team together."Now we are sitting here, and I think if
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- If Rick Hahn had a dollar for every time he was asked about revamping the White Sox while contending over the last three seasons, the general manager pretty much would have an unlimited budget for putting this team together.
"Now we are sitting here, and I think if anyone has any complaints, big complaints about us, it's that we haven't necessarily done the last finishing piece to put ourselves in a position to contend," Hahn said. "Is it easier to say, 'You know what? We are going to take a step back here and go all the way back down to the brass tacks and build this thing back up over the course of the next half decade.' There are challenges involved in that, as well.
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"We look at the roster, the players we have under control, one year into this process, looking at Chris Sale, [Jose] Quintana, [Jose] Abreu, [Adam] Eaton, at that point, as well as where our division was heading. We felt we are better off trying to maximize our chances with this group we have in place than going all the way back down and putting the target four or five or six years out."
Hahn's plan seems to have resonated with the prognosticators.
Some were impressed enough last offseason that they made the White Sox a World Series pick. That's right: From 63 wins in 2013 to 73 wins in 2014 to the top of the MLB charts in '15.
Those prognosticators were wrong, as the South Siders finished with 76 victories. But as White Sox pitchers and catchers get ready to officially report to Camelback Ranch on Friday, the team once again has been the recipient of some offseason love.
Earlier this week, USA Today picked the White Sox to emerge from a competitive but flawed American League Central. These same predictions had the White Sox tied with the Astros for an AL-best 90 victories.
It's understandable that there's confidence in the White Sox, but manager Robin Ventura's crew also learned last season that this confidence counts for very little. Their work begins in earnest Friday, behind a pitching staff that could lead them to the promised land.
Here are three questions to be answered in regard to the White Sox over the upcoming weeks.
1. Are the White Sox done making moves?
It's a question that Hahn might not even know the answer to at this point. The White Sox have been linked to both shortstop Ian Desmond and switch-hitting outfielder Dexter Fowler, but both free agents require Draft-pick compensation upon signing. The bottom line is the team needs some sort of option behind Avisail Garcia and Adam LaRoche, who are coming off rough 2015 campaigns.
2. Who is Avisail Garcia?
This whole revamping process for the White Sox began with a three-team deal in 2013 that sent Jake Peavy to Boston and the five-tool talent of Garcia to the White Sox. The organization's faith in Garcia has not been rewarded either offensively or defensively to date, although a left-shoulder injury slowed his development in an important 2014 season. If Garcia remains the primary right fielder, the time has come for the 24-year-old to produce consistently.
3. How strong is Carlos Rodon?
Sale stands as one of the top starting pitchers in the game. Quintana ranks as one of the most underrated starting talents. But with Rodon, who begins his first full season as a starting pitcher, the White Sox could have a 1-2-3 rotation punch that rivals most in baseball, as MLB.com's Phil Rogers wrote about this week. Rodon finished with 139 strikeouts over 139 1/3 innings with the White Sox in 2015, although he walked 71. One factor for Rodon is having the confidence to incorporate the changeup with his fastball/slider combination, an important step Sale took on the way to perennial All-Star status.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.