There are a few questions going into this season as far as the outfield is concerned. Can Scott Podsednik return to his 1st half form of 2005? Can Jermaine Dye repeat last years great performance? Who will play centerfield? Scott Podsednik had sports hernia surgery, and is recovering much quicker than expected. He will start the season for the Sox which was not even thought of when he had the surgery. From what I have seen he looks pretty good. With Pods starting the season in left it looks like Darin Erstad will be the centerfielder. He was acquired to play left, but will take over for Brian Anderson. Jermaine Dye is without question the right fielder this year for the Sox. Here is a rundown of the players that will make up the outfield for this season:
Scott Podsednik- Last year he had a decent year, but it was not the game changing type that we saw in the first half of 2005. He would come into a game and make things happen. Last year he stole 40 bases, but was caught 19 times. He needs to get on base more and drop the strikeout total. He struck out 96 times last year, a lot of them. He only batted .261, with an on base percentage of .330. He was fifth on the team in runs scored. He is still a threat at the top of the order, but the White Sox need the guy who disrupts the game. If we can get him to walk, steal second, and then third we will be in good shape. Two of his 2005 highlights might have been his 2006 downfall. He hit a home run in game one of the ALDS, and won game 2 of the World Series with a home run. The Sox have marked where that ball landed with a blue seat. He had not hit a home run all year until the playoffs started. Last year he got away from the ‘small ball’ (bunts, ground balls, etc.), and hit a lot more balls in the air. With his speed we don’t need 3-4 home runs from him. We need him on base so that the real sluggers can knock him in.
Darin Erstad – Darin was signed to play left field while Pods recovered from his surgery. With the quick return of Scott, Erstad will play centerfield. Erstad missed 102 games with the Angels last year because of bone spurs in his right ankle. He seems to be a decent fielder. He made no errors last year in 27 games in center, and 13 at first base. I think Erstad is a good player, but the Sox will not find their winning form until Anderson is put into center.
Jermaine Dye – Dye was the MVP of the league during the first half of last season. He finished 5th in the voting, but was hurt because his team did not make the playoffs. He led the Sox in home runs with 44, RBI’s with 120, and batting average with .315. He also had a team high 335 total bases. He is a good fielder with a cannon for an arm in right. He will be a free agent after this season, so hopefully he will have the season that most players do in that situation.
Rob Mackowiak – Rob played in 112 games last year. He is a good utility man that can play both infield and outfield. Last year he played well in the corner outfield positions. It was center that he had some trouble with. He just does not get the jump that most centerfielders get. Hopefully we have a bench that would make it so that he doesn’t have to play center.
Brian Anderson – That bench would have to include Anderson for that to happen. Ozzie has said that if Anderson does not win the job in center he will be sent down so that he can play everyday. Lately though he has been getting tried out to be a bench player. It seems that his defense got him a spot on the club. He was one of the last position players to make the team. He will start the year on the bench, but if Erstad goes down he will be the man. Last year he had a rough start, and never really recovered from it. He ended the season batting .225 with 8 home runs, and 33 RBI’s. Believe it or not he actually improved his numbers. He stayed in the majors because of his glove. He makes some great plays in center, but then he will take a bad angle on a ball. He is a very good centerfielder though, and I hope he makes the team. All year long last year I kept waiting for him to have his breakout game. He would play well, then fall back into a slump. If he can put it all together he will be a great player.