The White Sox have the pieces in place to make a playoff run in 2012. As it stands, at least.
That's not as insane or delusional of a statement as some may think.
Last week at the winter meetings, the White Sox didn't seem too serious about trading John Danks or Gavin Floyd, reportedly asking for multiple young players who could help them in 2012. Unless their demands go down or some team gets desperate for pitching, Danks and Floyd very well could return to the Sox next year.
Let's imagine a world in which they do, shaping next year's starting rotation to be Danks, Floyd, Jake Peavy, Chris Sale and Philip Humber. Top-to-bottom, that's an incredibly solid rotation -- not one that's better than Detroit's, but one that certainly would be competitive.
A good group of relievers, even sans Sergio Santos and Sale, shouldn't have any major problems finishing games.
The linchpin is in the starting rotation, though, and it's Peavy. Yes, he had a 4.92 ERA last year, and yes, he hasn't made more than 20 major-league starts in a season since 2008. But Peavy did a lot of things right last year, limiting walks and home runs while still posting an above-average strikeout rate. If Peavy can replicate his success in those important areas again in 2012, his results should be more in line with an ERA somewhere in the threes, not the high fours.
That's if he can stay healthy, obviously. And that's not just talking about trips to the disabled list -- Peavy needs to avoid another dead-arm period like the one he went through last season, which largely was responsible for his bloated ERA.
So there's hurdle No. 1 for the White Sox to contend: keep Jake Peavy healthy.
Next up: get either Alex Rios or Adam Dunn back to their career norms and see offensive improvement from either Gordon Beckham or Brent Morel.
Feeling any better about the Sox? Or does the thought of hanging a season's hopes on Jake Peavy make you concerned?