by Steve Bogira
Neither the White Sox nor the Cubs should disappoint this season, given the low expectations for both. Baseball Prospectus forecasts a 77-85 season for both teams. BP has the Sox finishing third, 15 games behind the Detroit Tigers, and the Cubs last, 15 games behind the Cincinnati Reds.
Last year, however, BP pegged the south-siders for 78-84, and they finished 85-77. The north-siders also surprised: BP predicted a 74-88 season, and the Cubs managed 61-101, second-worst in the majors. (The hapless Houston Astros were 55-107.)
The Sox lost A.J. Pierzynski and Kevin Youkilis to free agency, but have added the immortal Jeff Keppinger. I haven't heard of him either. The big spring-training news for the Sox so far is that Adam Dunn plans to cut down on his strikeouts by being less selective at the plate. That is, he says he takes too many pitches, and needs to be more aggressive. He also said this in 2008; then, before the 2009 season, he reevaluated: "I wish I was a lot more aggressive, but I've tried that, and it didn't work."
The Cubs have added Edwin Jackson, whose lifetime 70-71 record and ERA of 4.40 should deepen the starting rotation's mediocrity. During the team's first live batting practice in Mesa yesterday, the staff's "ace," Matt Garza, grabbed his side, yelped, and left the field with a mild lat strain. No word on whether the team will continue to risk live practices.
As for Jordan: you may have heard that he turned 50 yesterday. His Airness has soared once again in the media, his birthday lifting him to the covers of both Sports Illustrated and AARP Magazine. "No one would be talking about it if they didn't know it would drive clicks and page views," Melissa Isaacson told the New York Times. (Isaacson covered the Bulls for the Tribune during Jordan's playing days.) The NYT also quoted page clickers Jesse Jackson and David Axelrod on Jordan, both of whom agreed that he'd been pretty darn good.