It’s easy to poke fun of Baseball Prospectus when it projects the defending AL Central champion White Sox to finish last (73-89). But it correctly said the White Sox would drop from 90 wins to 72 in 2007 and picked Tampa Bay to improve by 22 games last year; the Rays improved by 31.

It’s easy to poke fun of Baseball Prospectus when it projects the defending AL Central champion White Sox to finish last (73-89). But it correctly said the White Sox would drop from 90 wins to 72 in 2007 and picked Tampa Bay to improve by 22 games last year; the Rays improved by 31.

There’s good reason to doubt both the Sox and their top rivals; the Twins are picked to drop nine games to 79 wins. Both teams had career-best years from a ton of young players (Quentin, Ramirez, Danks and Floyd for the Sox; Span, Casilla, Baker, Perkins, Slowey and Blackburn for the Twins). The Sox also rely on three aging sluggers. I’d pick Cleveland to win, too. Of those 10 young players, only Ramirez seems a cinch to be the real deal. But if Danks, Floyd and Quentin repeat their 2007 seasons, so will the Sox.

Lee’s power drop overblown

Derrek Lee and Lou Piniella sound unconcerned about Lee’s drop from 46 home runs in 2005 to 22 and 20 the last two years. Good. The better the hitters around you — and the Cubs look loaded — the less you need power. As long as Lee keeps hitting for average, he’s fine. If the Cubs want more power, just play Mike Fontenot at second base instead of slap-hitter Aaron Miles.

Bears safety choice not safe

Even most good GMs aren’t all that good; the low-budget Twins somehow contend every year, but they waived five of their nine highest-paid players last year. So one Super Bowl doesn’t give Jerry Angelo a pass with the Bears. One of his strangest decisions is to let go of oft-injured safety Mike Brown because Brown blocks the development of Danieal Manning. Actually, Manning finally found a home at nickel back last year. He’s been horrible at safety. Kicking the low-priced Brown out just opens room for Manning to fail again at something he can’t do.

IHSA multiplier works well

You don’t hear any more complaining about the IHSA’s 1.65 attendance multiplier, which moves some private schools up a class. With good reason. Seven of the final 16 teams in Class 2A girls basketball are private schools. All four local 2A regional champs were private schools. The multiplier is not onerous; it simply levels the playing field.

Bulls make memorable trade

John Paxson has now made 16 trades as the Bulls’ GM. Landing Brad Miller and, especially, John Salmons for Andres Nocioni, Drew Gooden and castoffs should be one we can actually remember.

Matt Trowbridge’s Quick Shots on Sports appear Sundays. He can be reached at (815) 987-1383 or mtrowbridge@rrstar.com.