I must admit, as a relatively new Minnesota Twins fan who converted after years of cheering the White Sox, seeing Samardzija and Robertson join the
dark south side really stings.
Not only are Twins fans watching the rival White Sox get better, but we may be seeing them getting that much closer to contending for a playoff spot. To pour salt in the wound, we have yet to see the Twins do anything other than sign the soon to be 40-year-old,Torii Hunter, to a one-year, $10.5 million contract.
The White Sox adding Samardzija to slot in behind wunderkind lefty Chris Sale gives them one of the best one-two punches a Major League starting rotation has to offer. When you add in the fact that they have super-underrated Jose Quintana at number three, you are looking at a rotation that could, depending on what Detroit does this offseason, run away with the American League Central if not the pennant.
Samardzija loves Chicago, growing up a White Sox fan and coming up through the Cubs system, he is ready to take the South Side by storm. Since moving into the Cubs starting rotation in 2012, he has gone 26-42 with a 3.86 ERA as he continued to develop and learn to pitch as a starter. The “Shark” has a tendency to blow hitters away, and last year, at age 29, he seemed to put it all together with a 2.99 ERA between the Cubs and A’s, including a 3.14 ERA in 16 American League starts.
David Robertson came into the Winter Meetings touted as the top closer on the board. Taking over the Yankees closer role after the legendary Mariano Rivera retired, we saw Robertson save 39 games with a 3.08 ERA. Think about that for a second, 39 saves in the highest pressure market in baseball, taking over for the best closer to ever step on a mound. This guy is good, and his lifetime 2.81 ERA over seven seasons in New York proves that.
Robertson will obviously give a sudden boost to a White Sox bullpen that saw 21 blown saves with a 4.38 ERA, good for 28th in baseball, in 2014. He is taking the closer role from Matt Lindstrom… errr… Nate Jones? Maybe it’s from Jake Petricka or Zach Putnam. Wow, the White Sox bullpen was a mess last year.
As much as I hate to admit it, the White Sox are going to turn some heads (and win a lot of games) this year.
Adding Samardzija and Robertson to their pitching staff is going to help a team that finished with a 73-89 record immensely. When you include that they have already added Adam LaRoche to a batting lineup that touts AL Rookie of the Year Jose Abreu, a full year of stud 23-year-old Avisail Garcia, another year from a developing former top prospect Adam Eaton, and a guy like Alexei Ramirez, you have a team that is ready to make waves.
The AL Central will have the four-time defending division champion Detroit Tigers, the AL pennant winning Kansas City Royals, a team that nearly made the playoffs in the Cleveland Indians, a Chicago White Sox team that wants to be relevant again, and the lowly Minnesota Twins.
This will be a race worth watching come 2015.