The White Sox owned a three-game lead on the Detroit Tigers in the American League Central on Detroit Tigers and seemingly were in good shape. Turns out the lead wasn't big enough as the Tigers blew by them and finished three games ahead before advancing to the World Series.
Since then, the Tigers signed free agent Torii Hunter in November, and they'll get designated hitter Victor Martinez back next season.
"They're going to be tough, and we measure ourselves against how likely we are to compete with them,'' Sox general manager Rick Hahn said during an interview with the MLB Network on Tuesday morning. "We have some work to do but we feel pretty good about how we match up.''
Hahn does have work to do, including the task of settling on a third baseman and replacing catcher A,J. Pierzynski's left-handed bat should he leave in free agency. Those are bigger needs right now than the Tigers' needs.
"They're the defending AL champs,'' Hahn said Monday. "They've added a great player in [veteran outfielder] Torii Hunter and have Victor Martinez, another great player. We have to be aware of what we're chasing. It certainly factors into the team we want to build. We can't look at ourselves and say, as we look around our room and talk to our scouts and coaches and look at our clubs and say maybe we're an 80-82 win team. We can't think in good faith that's going to capture the Tigers, given what they've accomplished in the players they've added.''
The Sox were an 85-win team in 2012. Because of a starting rotation that features Chris Sale, Jake Peavy, John Danks, Jose Quintana and Gavin Floyd -- as of Tuesday morning barring a trade -- and a decent bullpen, Hahn doesn't view his team as an also-ran.
"Fortunately, we don't look at ourselves that way. We like our team,'' Hahn said. "We like the fact we're bringing back Jake Peavy. We like the fact Chris Sale will be a year deeper into our career. Our bullpen will have experience under their belt from last year, that we'll add our opening day starter [Danks] from last year who really didn't factor in much from last year. So we factor in ourselves much better. But we still have some areas we need to improve to compete with the Tigers."