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At least it's better than last year.

The White Sox put the finishing touches on its 2005 rotation with the signing of Orlando Hernandez to a two year, $8 million contract.

I'm not overly enthusiastic about this, but El Duque didn't cost the White Sox very much, and he'll be pretty good if he's healthy. My main concern is his age--Baseball Reference says he's already 38, while the White Sox have him listed at 35. Whatever the case, Hernandez is old. I have to wonder if he's still capable of playing a full season. But I'm trying to see the positives here, and the contract is only for two years. If Hernandez can give the ChiSox a full season in 2005 and put up an ERA near his career average (3.96), I'll be ecstatic.

The addition also gives the White Sox a considerably deeper rotation:

2004 Rotation
1) Mark Buehrle
2) Esteban Loaiza/Garcia
3) Jon Garland
4) Scott Shoeneweis
5) Danny Wright/Insert-Minor-League-Call-Up-Here

2005 Rotation
1) Buehrle
2) Freddy Garcia
3) El Duque
4) Jose Contreras
5) Jon Garland

So it isn't great, but it is quite preferable to what the Sox began the 2004 season with. While Scott Shoeneweis got off to a nice start to the 2004 season, he was subpar most of the year (and finished with a 5.59 ERA). Danny Wright and whoever else the Sox threw in at #5 was just plain awful. And Esteban Loaiza fell back to earth in predictable fashion. Garland ate innings in the mediocre fashion we've come to expect (and that's not necessarily a bad thing).

Garland's likely move from #3 to #5 is indicative of the improvements ... Garland is unspectacular but relatively consistent and dependable, and that's something the White Sox have needed at the end of the rotation. I expect Contreras to be off and on just like 2004, and I'm hoping that El Duque can be above average. Buehrle and Garcia will have to be the anchors.

Will the Sox staff prevent enough extra runs to compensate for the departing offense? Frank Thomas's health means everything. With him in the lineup, the White Sox shouldn't see too significant of a downturn in runs scored. If he's gone, though, well, I'd rather not think about it...

The latter half of this lineup is garbage even with Thomas.

1) Podsednik OF
2) Rowand OF
3) Thomas DH
4) Konerko 1B
5) Dye OF
6) Juan Uribe (David Eckstein?) SS/2B (.307)
7) Joe Crede 3B (.304)
8) Willie Harris 2B (.305)
9) Ben Davis C (.306)

Those numbers in parenthesis? Career OBPs. These guys are going to eat outs like Cartman downs Cheesy Poofs. (Although, in fairness to my man Willie, his career number is skewed a bit by his young career. Last season was the first time in his career that Harris came anywhere near playing full time, and he managed a career best AVG/OBP. I don't think he's necessarily a guy you toss to the bottom of the order, and I thought he should have been the only leadoff alternative to Aaron Rowand in 2004.)

[If they add Eckstein, I figure Uribe and Harris will split time at 2B most of the year. If Crede totally bottoms out, they could probably go with Uribe at 3B and Harris at 2B full time--but that's unlikely considering how the club has stuck with Crede to date. Presumably Carl Everett would fill the DH role in Big Frank's absense, which I guess would set up some combination of Dye/Konerko in the 3-4 spots with Everett hitting 5th. The thought of which makes me want to hurl.]

Okay, that's enough rambling.