They’re headed toward one of the worst seasons in franchise history but the White Sox remain optimistic about 2014.
The White Sox, who believed they would contend for the postseason, entered Monday on pace for 97 losses, which would equal the fifth most in franchise history.
Even so, whether its Adam Dunn’s “loser denial” or general manager Rick Hahn’s contention the team’s pitching could get the White Sox back in contention quickly, there is hope of a quick turnaround.
Still, Hahn knows he must fix a slew of problems and that the heavy lifting that with the trades of Jake Peavy and Alex Rios has only just begun if the White Sox are to contend in 2014.
“Unfortunately we have a number of areas that we need to upgrade,” Hahn said. “Where we have performed offensively obviously being at the bottom of the league in runs scored, how we’ve performed defensively and how we’ve performed on the bases has been well below our expectations and well below acceptable so we have a fair amount of work to do and we realize that.”
The stat sheet offers Hahn a bevy of reminders just how much repair is necessary.
-- The team is on pace to score 606 runs, which would stand as the sixth fewest in a 162-game season in franchise history. Its .303 on-base percentage currently ranks 100th in 113 seasons of play.
-- One season after they made the fewest errors in the majors, the White Sox own the worst fielding percentage in the American League (.980) and have made 104 errors.
-- The team’s 49 outs on the bases and 23 runners picked off are barely above the AL average, respectively, but those figures are hurt by the an OBP that’s 18 points lower than the AL average.
Hahn is open to all routes to fix his club’s inadequacies.
“We have work to do especially on the position-player side of things and the main avenues outside the farm system are free agency and trades and given our expectations and the amount of work we have to do I think we’ll be active in both,” Hahn said.
The White Sox should have some money to spend though how much remains to be seen. Hahn shed $27 million in payroll for next season previously allocated for the salaries of Rios and Peavy.
Several other big salaries are off the books as well and the White Sox could use some of the financial flexibility gained to acquire other team’s bad contracts or to sign free agents.
Asked about what is considered to be a weak free-agent class, Hahn isn’t ready to make a prediction.
“We will have to wait for the market to open and then we will see,” Hahn said.
Dunn, who leads the clubs with 31 homers and 82 RBIs, doesn’t think a fast turnaround is out of the question.
“There’s no doubt in my mind,” Dunn said. “You know, we know we have the talent obviously. We’ve got the pitching. We just need to figure it out offensively what the problem is. Is it that 10 or 12 guys had some down years or is it some guys don’t have anything left or is that we are just not very good? Maybe I’m in loser denial. … I’m definitely not thinking this is going to happen again.”
Hahn has found a few silver linings in a dismal season.
The White Sox have had ample time to evaluate the play of Avisail Garcia and other young players. They also had a longer window to listen to trade offers and know what might and might not exist this offseason.
In that sense, Hahn feels organized.
“It’s something that because of the way the season has gone, we have had a little extra time to prepare for what we wanted to do,” Hahn said. “We were able to do some of it at the trade deadline and hopefully come October and November we will continue down that path.”