CHICAGO -- Ken Williams believes the 2013 White Sox are playoff contenders, and the reason for his positive outlook stands squarely on the mound.
"Well, if you've got pitching, you have a chance," said the White Sox executive vice president, speaking after taking part in Tuesday's Youth Guidance B.A.M.--Sports Edition program, along with Chicago Bulls general manager Gar Forman, at Hyde Park High School. "And you know, we can be talking about 2013 or 1913 or 2030. That's still going to be the determining factor in baseball.
"What we need to do is expect some of the same performances from some of our guys last year, and some growth in some other guys. And I think we'll be in the mix. Because when you have pitching, it automatically puts you in the mix."
Going by Williams' philosophy, the White Sox biggest moves came early on during this current offseason, when they agreed to terms with Jake Peavy on a two-year, $29 million deal and picked up the $9.5 million option on Gavin Floyd the day before Halloween. Peavy sits at the top of the White Sox rotation, falling into the "same performance as last year" category spoken of by Williams, only with a bit more offensive support.
Floyd solidifies the White Sox starting five, while also presenting general manager Rick Hahn with a valuable trade chip. Chris Sale falls with Peavy in the same performance category as 2012, after producing Cy Young Award-caliber numbers at 17-8 with a 3.05 ERA and 192 strikeouts in 192 innings. Sale also has room for growth coming off just his first full year as a starter.
The same holds true for Jose Quintana and Hector Santiago, while John Danks might be the key with his recovery from August arthroscopic shoulder surgery. Even the bullpen seems pretty well set, with weekend reports of the White Sox bringing in free agent right-hander Matt Lindstrom, pending a physical.
There certainly have been key offseason losses for the team, none more significant than catcher A.J. Pierzynski. While Williams fully believes Tyler Flowers will become a capable replacement for Pierzynski, he also realizes Pierzynski will be missed.
"Listen, A.J. has got a lot of big hits for us over the years. We are going to miss his left-handed presence in our lineup, and his fight," Williams said. "He fouled off a lot of balls before sometimes he got into that hitter's count. I think those kind of things are infectious, and we'll miss a little bit of that.
"But in the guy that is replacing him, or at least has the chance to replace him, in Tyler Flowers ... I don't know ... Yes, we have Adam Dunn and [Paul] Konerko and [Dayan] Viciedo that can hit the ball a long way. None of them can hit the ball further than Tyler Flowers, so it will be interesting to see what he can do over the course of a season."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.