I've been pretty confident at three out of the last five all-star breaks that the White Sox would make the playoffs: 2003, 2005 and 2006. But hey, they say 1 out of 3 is good in baseball so I;m not doing too bad.
Lately I've been trying to lower my own expectations so I can't say I expect the Sox to make the playoffs this year. But without a doubt a playoff spot is there for the taking. And it wouldn't take much for the Sox to take it.
Anyway, I won't predict the Sox winning the Central, but I will make some other predictions.
1. Jose Contreras will be out of the rotation by the end of the August. Jose looked great to start the season and it looked as if he got some velocity back on the fastball. But it's gone now and I have hard time believing it will come back. Unfortunately for Jose, he is no Freddy Garcia, who was to get by in his last year with the Sox by throwing a whole bunch of junk up to the plate. Not the case for Jose, who gets pounded like an incoming freshman at Lee High when he can't get a fast ball up to 93 mph.
I don't know who the Sox will replace Jose with, but the earlier they realize he needs replacing, the better the odds that they make the playoffs.
2. Carlos Quentin's second half will be much worse than his first half. Scary OPS trend for Quentin:
Not encouraging. I think he may settle into a 250/350/450 hitter which is still much better than the Sox got out of left field last year. But it certainly isn't good enough for the number 3 slot in the lineup.
I hope he doesn't continue to bat third because of a hot start to the season. Dye would be a better choice and I expect Swisher to also have a better second half.
3. Paul Konerko will continue sucking. I love Paulie (in a manly way). He hit three of the greatest home runs in White Sox history in the 2005 playoffs. I still watch the tapes. But Paulie has repeatedly shown the ability to stink for long periods of time. He might come back next year with a decent season but I don't hold out much hope for decent second half numbers.
I would be content so see Paulie share some DH duties with Thome and find a little extra bench time against righties. I won't even get into his awful defense.
So do I have any positive predictions? Yes.
4. Ozzie will not sit idly by and watch the above happen. He will make changes to the line-up and demand Kenny get him help for the rotation.
5. Javier Vazquez will shake off his mid-season slump and be the best pitcher on the staff in the second half.