What promise does Chicago's baseball season hold?

Updated 4/1/2014 5:46 AM
  • While there was plenty of excitement in Pittsburgh for the start of the season, Mike North can't get excited about the prospects for Chicago's two MLB clubs.

    While there was plenty of excitement in Pittsburgh for the start of the season, Mike North can't get excited about the prospects for Chicago's two MLB clubs. Associated Press

As Major League Baseball opens its regular season, it's time to overrate our teams, which we can't help but do every time Opening Day comes around.

Sometimes the outlook is so dismal, however, it's tough to be positive, and I am faced with that problem this year on both sides of town.

With the Chicago White Sox, it's all about Jose Abreu, the 27-year-old Cuban sensation. Kenny Williams deemed him a can't-miss first baseman.

Williams never said it, of course, but the six-year $68 million deal he gave to Abreu does.

Beyond the young players, I'm also concerned about older players such as Paul Konerko, who probably shouldn't have been brought back if you are really serious about rebuilding.

Konerko represents a security blanket to fill the gaps left by the club's popular but somewhat ineffective manager, Robin Ventura. A manager and his coaching staff are judged not only by the improvement of the team as a whole, but by the growth of individual players.

Last season the Sox lacked leadership and fortitude -- just like a ship lost at sea and without a rudder. Year three of Ventura's term still looks to have the White Sox arrow pointing down. How long will Ventura last if we see more of the same?

The third in command of the White Sox hierarchy, general manager Rick Hahn, says the White Sox could surprise everyone.

Yes, anything is possible, and maybe star pitcher Chris Sale can lead this team to playoff baseball. The Detroit Tigers are the favorite, but the division is up in the air after them, even with Kansas City looking to be the predictable contender.

I see a fourth-place finish for the White Sox, though.

As for the Chicago Cubs, everything from manager Rick Renteria to the bat boy makes me think that underwhelming should be the word of the day.

Will Starlin Castro grow up? Can Anthony Rizzo up his average? Will Jeff Samardzija remain with the team the whole year?

When was the last time you heard of an opening-day pitcher being on the trading block before he even throws a pitch?

Look, surprises can happen and maybe things will get better, but with the White Sox still leaning on a 2005 World Series championship, it's time for them to step it up. One championship, dwindling attendance and an uninspired front office leaves Kenny Williams as a one-hit wonder.

And on the North Side, the more decorated Theo Epstein has to still prove he can build a team here. There are no Dustin Pedroia's, David Ortiz's or John Lester's walking through that Cubs clubhouse door anytime soon.

Hopefully, the Sox and Cubs can make this season somewhat competitive, but the other teams will have something to say about where our guys finish.

I know I sound the same as I did last year -- it looks like we will be eagerly anticipating Chicago Bears training camp starting in July.

Program notes:

Follow me on Twitter@north2north, and listen to Fox Sports Daybreak with Andy Furman and myself from 5-8 a.m. Monday through Friday on Fox Sports radio. Catch my show from 7-11 a.m. Sundays, and check me out on iHeart radio or Foxsportsradio.com.

• Mike North's column appears each Tuesday and Friday in the Daily Herald, and his video commentary can be found Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at dailyherald.com. For more, visit northtonorth.com.

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