As we wait for the baseball playoffs to begin, we'll take one last look at the 2010 White Sox, assigning letter grades to each of the players on the roster:
Paul Konerko, 1B
.312 avg., 39 HRs, 111 RBIs
Comment: I really don't care if Konerko is going to be 35 years old on Opening Day next year. If this guy leaves via free agency, it will be hard to replace his production. The Sox can't afford to give Konerko a blank check by any means, but they have to do as much as possible to retain him.
Omar Vizquel, INF
.276, 2 HRs, 30 RBIs
Comment: Once Vizquel became the regular third baseman in June, ground balls to the left side of the infield started getting caught. Sox pitchers suddenly began pitching better and the team started winning. Coincidence? We think not. Vizquel is ancient, but he's still an elite defender and his bat was surprisingly good.
Chris Sale, LHP
2-1, 1.93 ERA, 4 Sv, 32 Ks in 23.1 innings
Comment: It will be interesting to see what the Sox do with Sale next season. He's already proven he can pitch effectively out of the bullpen. But is his future as a starter? And if so, how soon?
Matt Thornton, LHP
5-4, 2.67 ERA, 8 Sv, 81 Ks in 60.2 innings
Comment: Another consistent, solid campaign from one of the best left-handed relievers in baseball. The Sox have an club option on him. It's a no-brainer to pick that up.
J.J. Putz, RHP
7-5, 2.83 ERA, 3 Sv, 65 Ks in 54 innings
Comment: This guy was unhittable from mid-May until the end of July. He was unscored upon for 27 straight outings. A nagging knee injury bothered Putz late in the year, but he did more than enough to earn himself a contract for next year. Will it be with the Sox?
Sergio Santos, RHP
2-2, 2.96 ERA, 56 Ks in 51.2 innings
Comment: Who would have thought this guy would have been so solid so quickly after converting from shortstop to pitcher? He needs to work on his control, but he was still pretty damn effective despite his wildness.
Freddy Garcia, RHP
12-6, 4.64 ERA in 28 GS
Comment: Even manager Ozzie Guillen thought Garcia would break down by midseason. He did not. With any help from the bullpen at all, Garcia would have won 15 or 16 games. He was consistent from start to finish.
Alex Rios, CF
.284 avg., 21 HRs, 88 RBIs, 34 SB
Comment: Solid player, both offensively and defensively. The hole the Sox had in CF since the trade of Aaron Roward after the 2005 season is finally filled. Rios tapered off a bit in the second half, but the overall performance justifies his $14 million salary.
Alexei Ramirez, SS
.282 avg., 18 HRs, 70 RBIs, 13 SB
Comment: How good would this guy be if he would show up for the first two months of the season? From June to September, Ramirez was an elite player at his position. Too bad he takes April and May off every year.
Juan Pierre, LF
.275 avg., 1 HR, 47 RBIs, 68 SB
Comment: Pierre led the league in steals and played a surprisingly good LF. The guys shows up and plays hard every single day. He appeared in 160 games this season. But like Ramirez, he slumped badly early and that was part of the reason the Sox got off to a slow start.
Edwin Jackson, RHP
4-2, 3.24 ERA in 11 GS, 77 Ks in 75 IP
Comment: Nice midseason acquisition. His numbers in Arizona were poor, but his performance with the Sox was clearly above average. Coop will fix 'em, indeed.
John Danks, LHP
15-11, 3.72 ERA in 32 GS, 162 Ks in 213 IP
Comment: With 21 quality starts, he was the Sox best starting pitcher. I think this guy has "ace" stuff, but he hasn't reached that level yet. Perhaps I'm grading Danks down a bit, because I have such high standards for him.
Gordon Beckham, 2B
.252 avg., 9 HRs, 49 RBIs, 25 2Bs
Comment: Really, really struggled the first half, then came on to bat .310 the second half of the year. His defense at 2B improved as the year progressed. His slump didn't kill him, so it should make him stronger in the future.
Ramon Castro, C
.278 avg., 8 HRs, 21 RBIs in 128 plate appearances
Comment: No complaints about the backup catcher this year. Castro demonstrated competence both offensively and defensively. A couple of his home runs were clutch. Thank goodness we don't have to put up with Toby Hall anymore.
Tony Pena, RHP
5-3, 5.10 ERA, 56 Ks in 100.2 innings
Comment: Tough guy to grade. He ate up a ton of innings. He was a staff saver at times. I can think of no fewer than three games that were won this season because Pena came on in long relief and rescued the Sox. Other times, he was just an arsonist. He's arbitration-eligible, so the club has an interesting decision here.
Mark Buehrle, LHP
13-13, 4.28 ERA in 33 GS, 210 innings
Comment: Ho hum, another year, another 200-plus innings pitched. That said, it was a pretty average season for the leader of the Sox staff.
Andruw Jones, OF
.230 avg., 19 HRs, 48 RBIs, 9 SBs
Comment: Hey, he was only making $500,000 this year. He was a decent value for the money. He's still a good defender and has a little pop in his bat. Too many strikeouts to play every day anymore, however.
Gavin Floyd, RHP
10-13, 4.08 ERA in 31 GS, 151 Ks in 187.1 innings
Comment: Sigh ... the same old pattern from this talented, but underachieving pitcher. Terrible in April and May, dominant in June and July, runs out of gas at the end of the year. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Bobby Jenks, RHP
1-3, 4.44 ERA, 27 Sv, 61 Ks in 52.2 innings
Comment: For $7.5 million, you expect better. This is the second straight season Jenks' injuries have cost the Sox. He didn't pitch after Sept. 4. He's arbitration-eligible, and he's a classic non-tender candidate. I'd be stunned if he's back with the Sox next year.
Carlos Quentin, RF
.243 avg., 26 HRs, 87 RBIs
Comment: I'm disappointed. I was really hoping for more consistency out of Quentin this year. Instead, he was the streakiest player on the team. When he was hot, boy, did he kill the opposition. But when he was cold, he killed the Sox. This guy has the talent to do better.
A.J. Pierzynski, C
.270 avg., 9 HRs, 56 RBIs
Comment: His numbers are deceptively good. His average was hovering in the .230s into August. A late hot streak saved his season. Not exactly the way a player wants to enter free agency. Lucky for him, the Sox have no better option at the position and he can probably command a two- or three-year deal.
Mark Teahen, IF/OF
.258 avg. 4 HRs, 25 RBIs
Comment: Enough with the former Royals already. How the Sox thought this guy could be the long-term answer at 3B is beyond me. He's a utility player on his best day.
Brent Lillibridge, IF/OF
.224 avg., 2 HRs, 16 RBIs
Comment: No more than a bench player. He had a midseason hot streak, but his batting average plummeted quickly at the end of the season when he was filling in for the injured Beckham at 2B. Really a fringe player.
Scott Linebrink, RHP
3-2, 4.40 ERA, 52 Ks in 57.1 innings
Comment: Only one more year left on his awful contract. Can't be trusted in key situations. One of the most expensive mop-up men in baseball.
Jake Peavy, RHP
7-6, 4.63 ERA in 17 starts, 93 Ks in 107 IP
Comment: Like Danks, he's being graded harshly because of my extremely high expectations for him. He should be an ace. He was starting to pitch like one when he got injured in early July. But what good are you if you're hurt?
.261 avg., 1 HR, 2 RBIs in 88 plate appearances
Comment: It was a risk worth taking, but it didn't work out. Cut bait and move on.
.239 avg., 8 HR, 31 RBIs in 359 plate appearances
Comment: He was given way more responsibility than he can handle. 359 plate appearances? Seriously? Kotsay is lucky he's still in baseball.
There you have it. It will be an interesting offseason ahead...