The White Sox may now be considered the front-runners in the AL Central after acquiring 20-game-winner and erstwhile man without a ballclub, Bartolo Colon, but they have not done their bullpen any favors this offseason.
First they traded away closer Keith Foulke for Bill Koch. Then they traded right-handers Antonio Osuna and Rocky Biddle in the Colon deal. Yesterday they acquired Tom "Flash" Gordon for one year at $1.4 M to replace them. The White Sox bullpen had also lost longtime member Booby Howry to the Red Sox during 2002.
Foulke was a superior closer who fell into the White Sox doghouse early last year and was never redeemed. He did finish 15th in Baseball Prospectus' s reliever rankings by Adjusted Runs Prevented (with 17.5). Koch wasn't bad in 2002 (12.4 ARP), but is not Foulke's equal by a long shot. Foulke has had an ERA under 3.00 each of the last four seasons. Koch had a sub-3.00 ERA just once and also had a 4.80 ERA two years ago.
Osuna was a valuable setup guy (6.6 ARP) but Biddle was sub-par (-7.5 ARP). The White Sox bullpen was ranked 13th in the majors by BP with a 22.0 ARP. Gordon is still a good pitcher at 35 but hasn't thrown over 46 innings since his arm troubles in 1999. Osuna threw 67.2 innings last year and Biddle 77.2. Oh, and Gordon's ARP was an unimpressive 0.4 overall.
With these changes, expecting the White Sox bullpen to be better than mediocre may be unrealistic.