Bad Division Means Sox Can Be Patient

Sure, the team is mediocre, but so is the rest of the Central

2008 was a year of hope for Sox fans. Picked to struggle by most pundits, the White Sox actually had something of a rebound year, winning their division and riding a wave of late-season momentum to a tiebreaker win over the Minnesota Twins. It was a fun year, and it proved that occasionally, with a few tweaks and a pair of emerging stars, seemingly mediocre teams can still surprise us.

White Sox fans could be forgiven for maintaining that hope for 2009. Unfortunately, the same things most people thought would plague the Sox in 2008 have finally carried over: It's an old team, not a particularly agile one, and beyond Carlos Quentin and Alexei Ramirez it relies largely on unproven youngsters and declining veterans. It's just not a great baseball team. It's a pretty mediocre one. But here's the good news: so is the rest of the AL Central.

In fact, if White Sox fans should have hope (and why not, right?), that should be the leading cause. The AL Central is just bad. Zack Greinke and the Royals have built a slight early advantage, but who thinks that will hold up? The rest of the division is just as mediocre as the Sox. Minnesota, Cleveland, Detroit -- all teams with a few good pieces but nothing that will distinguish them from any of the other four teams in the division. It's just not a very good area this year.

So take heart, White Sox fans. It's a long season. The team is probably only OK this year. But this division ought to remain winnable for the larger part of the year, and if 2008 said anything, it's that just-OK baseball teams need only a few bounces to find themselves back in the playoffs. It could happen again. Why not?

Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, Follow him on Twitter.

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