Watching the AL Central: Chicago White Sox

A team that has long been playing second fiddle, the Chicago White Sox just haven't been able to get over the hump and push the Minnesota Twins for the AL Central. They've once again spent the offseason tweaking the club in hopes of finally being able to get there.

One particular area of concern for many years has been the starting rotation. For years, the team made efforts to upgrade the pitching staff, but those strides never seemed to pay dividends as something always broke down. But unlike other years, the organization is confident that they have a solid group this time around.

They return their top two, who form a very strong 1-2 punch, in Mark Buehrle and Freddy Garcia. The team then went out and signed former Yankee Orlando Hernandez to a 2-year, $8 million deal to fill another spot. The final 2 spots are expected to go to another former Yankee, Jose Contreras, and young innings-eater Jon Garland.

Moving on to the bullpen, the team has a trio of relievers that give the club a strong group to finish out games. Shingo Takatsu returns as the closer, with Damaso Marte and Cliff Politte setting him up.

The team also acquired Luis Viscaino, to give the team another late inning reliever.

Viscaino came over from the Milwaukee Brewers, but he wasn't the centerpiece of the deal. The White Sox shipped out Tiger killer Carlos Lee, and in return received Viscaino and Centerfielder Scott Podsednik.

Not only did the team trade for Podsednik, but they also signed Oakland Outfielder Jermaine Dye, giving the team quite a few options in the Outfield. Besides Podsednik and Dye, the team also has returning starters Carl Everett and Aaron Rowand, plus highly-touted prospect Joe Borchard.

DH Frank Thomas has been battling injuries, but is still expected back to perform in the middle of the lineup. The team did lose Jose Valentin to the Los Angeles Dodgers, but expect to replace him by shifting 2B Juan Uribe to Shortstop, and bumping Willie Harris into the full time starting spot. Joe Crede and Paul Konerko will man the corners again.

Catcher was originally thought to be a problem position, with career underachiever Ben Davis projected to be the team's starter – up until just days ago, when they came to terms with former Twin and Giant A.J. Pierzynski. Pierzynski will take over the starting job, with Davis now expected to back him up.

So, once again we'll see a revamped White Sox lineup, but again, it remains to be seen if it will be enough to elevate the club to the level of the Minnesota Twins, and allow them to finally challenge for the division crown, which they haven't claimed since 2000.

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