Thursday, March 30, 2006

Outfield Preview

Left Fielder – Scott Podsednik

Podsednik is the pace setter for the Sox at the top of the order. Last year, when he was going, the Sox would score a good number of runs. When he was suffering through a groin injury, the Sox struggled. They struggled so much that they almost gave up the division to the Indians. This is what makes this new injury to Podsednik so worrisome; an injury to the groin can really hamper his ability to run. If he’s healthy he should put up slightly better numbers than last year. Look for a .300 AVG and close to 80 steals. If he struggles to shrug off this groin problem, all bets are off. If he isn't good to go at the start of the season look for Mackowiak and Ozuna to platoon for him.

Center Fielder – Brian Anderson

Anderson is a pretty big question mark. He struggled last year when he was called up, batting .176 in 34 AB, but this spring he is batting .333 in 54 AB with a solid .939 OPS. I think Anderson will put up numbers pretty comparable to what Rowand put up last year. I’m looking at .270 AVG with 15 or so HR. The only difference though, is I think Anderson will run really hot andreally cold. I think he’ll start the season hot, carrying with him the momentum that’s he’s built during spring, and then start to slump around the time of the All-Star break. In the field, he’ll be an adequate replacement for Rowand; he may not make as many spectacular plays but I think range-wise he’s pretty similar.

Right Fielder – Jermaine Dye

People seem to forget that JD has a history of injury problems. He amazingly made it through last year without suffering anything major. Hopefully his health will hold out. Losing Jermaine would be a big blow for the Sox. He’s the only Sox outfielder that puts up typical production for an outfielder in terms of power and avg. Look for JD to hit around .275 with 30 or so jacks and around 80 RBI.

Designated Hitter – Jim Thome

I know he’s not an outfielder, but this will be the shortest post of the preview section, so I put him in here.
Thome looks poised for a monster year. He changed his off-season workout this year, concentrating much more on strengthening his core, which should stop his balky back from keeping him out of the lineup. I’m curious to see if he’ll play any first base this year. If he’s hot, it may be to the Sox benefit to play him at first during interleague play, but Ozzie and Kenny may not want to risk his health. I think Thome will regain his old power, especially with the short porches at The Cell and Konerko hitting behind him and put up around 45 HR, with 100+ RBI and around a .300 AVG.

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