GLENDALE, Ariz. — Vegas doesn’t share the same enthusiasm about the White Sox chances as the team’s front office.
The combination of a young, unproven club just one year removed from a 99-loss campaign hasn’t impressed oddsmakers.
Bovada predicted the White Sox would win 75 1/2 games this season, the sixth fewest in the majors. But players, coaches and general manager Rick Hahn think the projection is low and the additions of Jose Abreu, Adam Eaton, Matt Davidson and Avisail Garcia will ultimately lead to a better season. Last season the White Sox won 63 games in what equated to the fourth-worst season in franchise history.
“I’m not too concerned with Vegas odds on that or where I would lay the action,” Hahn said. “Seventy-five wins would be a 12-win improvement, which would be a nice amount, but it’s certainly not what we’re shooting for as we sit here right now. Obviously we’re going to have to have health and guys reaching their potential break our way to get more than that, but that’s what we’re shooting for.”
Only the Houston Astros (62 1/2), Miami Marlins (69 1/2), Cubs (69 1/2), Minnesota Twins (70 1/2) and New York Mets (73 1/2) are predicted to win fewer games than the White Sox in 2014.
Pitcher John Danks said he’s not surprised to hear those projections and thinks they’re largely based off last season when the White Sox couldn’t get out of their own way. He also understands people naturally have questions about a team full of unknown players but believes the White Sox can answer more of than people expect.
“We lost 99 games,” Danks said. “You’re not expected to win the thing the next year. I don’t get into that too much and that’s for the self-proclaimed experts. I’d like to think that’s a little low and we’re going to be a pleasant surprise.”
White Sox manager Robin Ventura gets it too.
Young teams are expected to experience ups and downs, and the White Sox fit that description. Eaton and Garcia have yet to play a full season in the majors and Abreu and Davidson are rookies. Erik Johnson has five major league starts under his belt and is expected to be part of the rotation.
The White Sox also head into the season with a question mark at closer and Nate Jones and Daniel Webb, who have just over two seasons combined service time, listed prominently among the candidates to fill the role.
So Ventura understands the prediction could be based on the unpredictable nature of youth.
“There’s a possibility for it,” Ventura said. “I’ve also been on (young teams) that just come together great and won a lot of games and were very competitive and a tough team to play. We’ll find out which won of those we are.”
One thing is clear: the White Sox don’t really care what outsiders believe they can or can’t do. Though they’re young, the White Sox like the direction they’re headed. They also have a veteran coaching staff on board to keep the group steady. And thus far the energy in camp has been good. Those factors mean more to Ventura than anything else.
“I’ve been on teams when they’ve predicted that and we’ve won a lot more games, and I’ve been on teams where they’ve predicted a lot more and you don’t win as much,” Ventura said. “It doesn’t mean anything.”