Thursday, July 31, 2008

Kenny Slides Under the Radar: Sox Acquire Griffey

I’ve been sitting quietly, waiting for the front page to refresh. I moved onto Yahoo. ESPN. You name it, I’ve refreshed it. There seems to be no news about the big news. “Just a few more minutes until the deadline is up and I can post this or make changes,” I’ve been thinking to myself.

The big news? Ken Griffey Jr. has been traded from the Cincinnati Reds to the White Sox in exchange for relief pitcher Nick Masset and Charlotte second baseman Danny Richar. I’ve been bombarded all morning by comments, questions, messages, texts, and the occasional email. “GRIFFEY TO WHITE SOX!”

So, there you go, that’s Kenny William’s (The Trade Ninja, as the fellas at LifeInTheCell call him) surprise move. He’s been quoted over and over saying he’s not looking to make a move, there’s nothing we need, no pitching that’s attainable. And, I’ll give it to him, this is definitely a surprise. Not what I expected. Not what anyone expected. And maybe not in a good way. When the news broke, before clicking on the article to back the headline, my thoughts immediately went to Crede, Fields, and Uribe, who were the big names thrown around in the great big bag ‘what we can move.’ My next thought, upon finding out about Masset’s departure, was how it was possible for the Sox to give up a pitcher when a pitcher was what we seemed to be shopping around for. And after reading the article, whose author suggested that Griffey would bump Swish toward more time on 1B, and Konerko toward more time on the bench, the accountant that lives in my brain started to tally something. “Carlos Quentin, Jermayne Dye, Nick Swisher, Ken Griffey Jr, Brian Anderson, Dewayne Wise.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but that adds up to 6 outfielders. Most teams have 4, and we have just acquired a 6th. Now, move on over to Griffey’s profile. 38 years old. Hitting .245, 15 HR, 50something RBI, 5 erorrs, etc. So what do we have so far? Gave up someone unexpected? Check. Gave up pitching while looking for pitching? Check. Overcrowding the OF? Check. Getting someone at the end of his career when Kenny is famous for finding untapped, budding talent? Check.

So, you must understand my hesitation to report anything. There must be something else. Another part of the deal that won’t be reported for another few minutes. Maybe this means Swish is being moved back to the A’s for Street. Why else would Williams look for another slugger when we have an entire team swinging for the fences? To replace a departing one, surely. If not, what are the changes that will be made? Will Wise be sent back to Charlotte (Again?) or will it be Anderson’s time to move on? After all, just a few days ago, when talking about the possibility of Konerko being benched, he said, “Who would I put in CF?... Brian? Hello?!” I’m sure that hurt Blondie’s feelings quite a bit. But, no. The trade line has officially passed and that is all. No new pitchers, no new utility infielders, Kenny dropped just one big bomb. Jerseys with “#17, Griffey” are being produced en-masse, ticket sales and mass happiness-induced chaos to ensue! Your thoughts?

Stay tuned for any updates due to any news lag. For now, Welcome Griffey!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Slaughter in the Fifth: Sox - Twins Game 2

A day late and a dollar short. That pretty much sums up today’s game. Or, at the very least, Nick Swisher’s home run in the very last inning, with two outs and a 3-2 count. He brought the score to 6-5. For a short few seconds, there was a glimmer of hope. Before Carlos Quentin ground out to the short stop. So, we find ourselves only .5 games ahead of Minnesota, on a 3-game losing streak, only half-way through our road-trip. Well, at least they put up a fight today.

Clayton Richard was the starting pitcher today. Only his second major league game, but I had high hopes. He had a great first inning, with an amazing catch by B.A., he had a great 2nd inning, and kept the Twins off the board through the end of the 4th. I felt like a little kid who found a stray kitten in his yard. You know your parents are going to say no, but you have to whine, “Can we keep him?” I would take him over Contreras any day. His fifth inning, though. It was just lethal. Two walks plus Mauer and Morneau (Morneau with the bases loaded only had to get a double to get the score quickly to 5-4) coming to bat quickly hammered nails into Clay’s coffin. Still, I have to admit, I would still take him over Contreras. He was changed for Carrasco, who was then switched for Thornton in the bottom of the 7th, who got 2 quick outs in a solid start for him. Dotel continued his streak of successful outings with a perfect inning.

I was excited even before this game started today, having found out that Swish would be sitting out and angry-gum-chewer B.A. would be taking over C.F. I was right to be excited. He showed off his great defense once again and picked up a solo home run. His first two at-bats weren’t great, but there was a balk in there that was as good as a bunt, or sacrificed fly. Of course, while I was excited to see Brian, I wasn’t too excited to see Toby Hall. His last two or three games were fine, but how could they sit A.J. when he was the only one to have hit well yesterday? He got himself a hit in there, a hit that got Ramirez (2 hits today for him) to third when Ramirez took it upon himself to overturn Cox’s sign. Other things that extinguished my excitement? Paul Konerko. Like I said yesterday, his place in the lineup isn’t working. He wasn’t all bad today. He didn’t put any K’s in Konerko and had himself a base hit.

It really shows the rest of the team how important it is for everyone to be in top form. Dye, Thome, and Quentin were all struggling today. Quentin only got on base because of a dropped ball. The worry here is that the last time Quentin went on a slump, it was long-term and if you look back, he hasn’t done a lot of base-hitting lately. Hopefully, Thome will be back in action tomorrow because he’s really been a consistent base-runner these past couple of weeks. His .255 average coming into today was a far-cry from where he was in June, and I don’t want that to go away. Dye usually slumps for two days, so he’ll be back soon. He carries our team most days, and deserves the recognition.

Now, I am going to do something drastic and dedicate a whole paragraph to Nick Swisher. Swish came in to hit for Anderson, which I found to be the definition of ridiculous. I figured it would just ruin his Mohawk with helmet hair. He could have come in to hit for Konerko, but you’re benching Anderson after he just hit a homer? Are you kidding? In his first at-bat (the second made a home-run happen), he must’ve seen about 11 pitches. Poor OC ran back and forth like crazy on every pitch only to see Nick fly out. Now, if you look at guys that draw more than 8 pitches from guys, it’s usually setting up for a homer, a big hit, or a walk. Even Konerko can do that. I concocted another theory in the “What Went Wrong” lab, and started thinking about Swish as a switch hitter. I really wish I could find stats somewhere about his performance on the two sides of the plate. My guess is that he’s about the same in both instances. Maybe he should stick to a side of the plate (Left, I’m guessing) and work on improving there. I know he switches to throw off the pitchers, but if he’s a good batter, he should be able to hit against them well regardless. [Ooh, and late edit, this just popped into my head!] If you take a trip through my time machine and remember my theory on Swish doing better at the plate when he's on first... well, this slump happens to coincide with the fact that he hasn't been so hot since Paulie's been back.

The Rivalries? Swish –v. Anderson today: A homer each, but Anderson is still a better fielder. Wise finally sits one out. Crede –v. Fields? 2 K’s and 2RBI on a hit bring Fields’s new tally to: 5K’s, 2RBI, 3H, 2BB, 2E. And while the RBI went up, his fielding is still sub-par. Someone tell Josh that when he’s fielding on third base, the third base coach is there to coach the runner, not to coach him. He just looks dumbfounded whenever a ball comes his way. On a lighter note, maybe I’ll add this rivalry to the tally: The English Language –v. Hawk & D.J. I know they didn’t go to school to become poets, but [warning: you might learn something!] good is an adjective, well is an adverb. As in, “he’s doing well” –v. “that was some good food.” Does bad grammar bother anyone else?

The bright side? This game was eight times better than yesterday. The bad news? Who knows what perils tomorrow will bring with Floyd pitching (I want to trust him, I really do!) and the division lead having been contracted to just .5 games.

And I have to give another plug to LifeInTheCell. "Catching Up With the Gimps" is the title of this article, and my favorite part is that it doesn't even brush on Jose Contreras- aside from the writing, of course. Well, the guys there happen to have opinions that I agree with. How do you feel about what is happening with the Sox and the series?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Like a Greek Tragedy: Sox -Twins Game 1

I almost wish I missed today’s game. I stuck through it to the end, but cringed at everything and everyone. Compared to today, our last game against Detroit was a glorified win! No, you can’t win them all, but this loss felt like a week’s worth of losses. A night of bad decisions, errors, and just awful performance at bat leads to a 7-0 Sox loss against the Twins. The division lead shrinks to 1.5 games. Get ready for a long one. And just as a warning, I couldn't think of anything nice to say.

Mark Buehrle was the starting pitcher. And while everyone was excited, you can’t expect a guy to have good outings every time. The first inning seemed indicative of a low-scoring day for the opposing team despite any batting hiccups for the Good Guys. The only part of that prediction that came true was the part about the batting hiccups. Well, Buehrle was fine. Not spectacular, but fine. If I had to guess, his actual earned runs for the day were 2 or 3, although 4 were put on him. He was followed up by Ehren Wasserman. We haven’t seen him in awhile. I liked his pitching, I was just always scared of his delivery. He’s extremely wild, but he’s the guy with the lowest ERA at AAA, so you know there’s something about him. Almost every pitch is underhand, it throws off batters, it throws me off, it works. Logan was warming up in the 6th despite being publicly “in trouble” with the bosses. Nick Masset went out there, essentially, as a closer in the 8th and pitched like a struggling starter rather than a closer, giving up two more runs. No help from the bullpen? Check.

The only man to find success against Slowey was Pierzynski. He had 2 hits, accounting for 1/3 of the hits of the night. The other hitters to make it on base were Cabrera, Ramirez, and Dye. Of course, those hits all went to waste. For 4 unvariable innings, the lead-off man made it on base only to be left stranded. The 5th and 6th innings had similar situations. What must be mentioned is Jermayne Dye’s foul-HR-foul in the 5th. He hit one (right size, wrong shape as Hawk says) that started foul at the top of the dome, but began to drift right. The cameras lost track of its final location as it hit the stands, but he was given the point. JD only ran the bases incredulously after encouragement from Jim Thome, thinking that he’d hit a foul ball. The HR was revoked shortly after some arguments between the Twins’ manager and the home plate umpire. JD walked away with a base hit, and the Sox walked away with another call turned against them. Needless to say, with so little to do, Slowey finished the game. With just 102 pitches. Batting like you’re desperate for sombreros? Check!

Tomorrow needs to be a fresh day, the guys should file this away and act like they won the first game. But for tonight, they know what they did, and I’m expecting some harsh words from Ozzie, that’s for sure. Cabrera barely dodged an error in the first, and later made a throw to Ramirez instead of first. The error was put on Ramirez, who dropped the ball, so make that 2 errors dodged. Fields, too, picked up another error today. The error was really a bad call by the first base umpire who missed a tag by Paulie because he focused on the location of his foot. Of course, he wouldn’t have had to run and tag the guy had Fields made the throw on the mark. Ok, so the error stays. He was also responsible for the two-run double that Masset incurred in the 8th. It may have been a hard ball to catch, but the least he could have done was pretend like he wanted to dive to get it. Fielding like you had runs to spare? Check!

Now, let’s talk about some bad decisions. New request: okay, don’t bench Konerko, I guess that’s too drastic and too much for me to ask, but at least drop him in the lineup, this is unreal! Ozzie says he’s not giving up on him just yet, he just doesn’t like his body language. I think that means that even HE thinks he can’t do it, so make a change. And another sight to behold: Nick Swisher dropped back in the .220s. And yet, they still won’t give him a day off. And when they do, they bring in Wise over Anderson. I’ve done my research on the two, and Ozzie seems to be making the wrong choice here. And speaking of bad choices regarding Anderson and Wise, Ozzie chose to throw that last inning away as if it was batting practice, letting Wise bat for Dye and Anderson for Thome (No, seriously!), then Konerko to put the cherry on top. Should’ve left Dye and Thome in. Anderson and Wise didn’t throw away the game, the starters did, and the damage should be done to their batting average, not these two. Poor decisions all night? Check, again!

Someone made Brian Anderson write this. Curious if anyone edits what he’s writing, and if I can give him props on no misusage of the word your/you’re. He DID get the college education… Said he was getting in a lot of batting practice. And that’s exactly what that boy needs. That and playing time.

Life in the Cell wrote an entire article previewing the Twins Series. There are three whole games left, so get your preview there. There is also an article there that addresses Konerko. He’s bad on paper, but still not as bad as he is in person.

Don Cooper isn’t expecting a pitching miracle. He seems to see the need for a replacement for Contreras, having no words of encouragement or support for him, just optimism about Clayton Richard. Read his little shpeal here.

The mandatory paragraph of incoherent note-taking and other nonsense! “O.C.’s AVG is amazing. It doesn’t move from .266. Ever.” “The Sox seriously hurt the Twins at U.S. Cellular. Sox are 7-4 against Twins this year.” “Hawk & DJ are going with Konerko & Fields for their picks to click. Really?!”

The Rivalries? Well, Swish and Paulie are neck-in-neck, racing to see who can be the first to batt under .200 again. Anderson and Wise both came in off the bench to no results. And finally: Crede –v. Fields: Crede is cheering again, knowing how much everyone misses him. It might be too early for me to reference what Crede did last time the Sox met the Twins, but let’s just say, our team really would’ve needed some of that in today’s outing. Fields made great strides today (not good, mind you), moving his count for the year to 2 hits, 2 errors, maintains 3 K’s, 1 BB, and lowers his average to .200. Impressive for a day’s work.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sox Can't Sweep: Sox - Tigers Game 3

No rally caps, no brilliant pitching, and no base hits were in sight to save the Sox in their last game against the Tigers. Today wasn’t the case for a strong outing for Javi, either. On a slow offensive day, Vazquez gave away the game as early as the third inning. The Sox are 7-5 overall with the Tigers this year, and only 2.5 games ahead of their division after a 6-4 loss.

After 11 hits and 6 runs in seven innings, Javi Vazquez gave the reigns of the sinking ship over to Matt Thornton. Javi threw a lot of balls today, allowing himself to get behind in the count more often than not. He even gave up back-to-back walks in the 3rd. Javi seemed to recover in the next innings, but the damage had been done. It didn’t help that the umpire was making some iffy calls. I’ll give that to Javi. He didn’t have the ump on his side. By the time Matt came in, I wasn’t expecting much. Thankfully, Thornton seemed to be back in his groove despite several weak starts in the last few weeks. Matt allowed one hit, but no runs. Some strong defense from Uribe helped Matt put the Tigers away in a fast inning.

And speaking of bad all-around, Nick Swisher, what are you doing? From one extreme to the other, really. He spent a couple of days refusing to swing, then today swung at everything he saw, showed no patience at the plate, and couldn’t manage a hit. Cabrera, Quentin, and Ramirez also failed to get hits all day. Konerko got himself a hit (After seeing about 8 pitches in one at-bat, who wouldn’t?), but rained on the Sox’ parade, ending the rally that had gotten the Sox within 2 runs of the Tigers. In an embarrassing 9th inning, Swisher, Ramirez, and Uribe invariably saw 6 pitches, then swung at a high fast-ball on the 7th, putting no runs on the board for the Sox. On a happier note, Jermayne Dye added to the double he obtained in his first at bat by extending his home run streak to three days. Helping out his effort was Pierzynsky, who picked up his 8th homer run of the year. Uribe had a double to start off the day, and in fact, he’s raised his average .031 since his return from the D.L.

The Rivalries: Just Crede –v. Fields today: While Fields didn’t add any strike-outs or hasn’t lowered his AVG today, we can still give Joe a reason to scoff at him: Fields was passed up for Uribe today. And it was a very good choice, as Uribe proved. Uribe made several good plays, including one very Crede-like dive paired with a long, but perfect throw to first base. That brighter-than-the-sun goatee must be good luck for Juan.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Keeping the Lead: Sox - Tigers Game 2

Don’t let the jammies fool you! The men on the field weren’t getting ready for bed-time, and, no, they hadn’t escaped from prison either. The men in those horrendous uniforms were getting ready to play baseball, no matter how silly or overweight they looked in the uniforms they wore. It was a battle down to the very last pitch, but the Sox did it, beating Detroit 7-6, winning their 7th game of the year against the Tigers.

The Sox batting lineup really came through today. (They weren’t as spectacular as the Twins, who demolished Cleveland 11-4 today, but they had the lead almost consistently throughout the game.) Ten hits and two walks materialized into seven runs for the Sox. Although each only had one hit, Cabrera and Thome both came through for the team with doubles (In Thome’s case, the double was an RBI), and Pierzynski, Quentin, and Dye each had two hits. The latter two contributed to the Sox’ early lead in the third inning with back-to-back home runs. (Dye’s 23rd, and Quentin’s 27th, still leading the division) Another moment to be proud of, and probably a first for Ramirez today: an intentional walk. Who would have thought this little guy whose bat often knocks him down while swinging would be so big of a threat that he’d be intentionally walked?

John Danks needs a shout-out today for picking up his 8th win of the year. While this wasn’t his most successful outing (8 hits and 5 runs materialized on his watch), Danks could take pride in 6 innings pitched, no walks, and for, once again, getting in the game. He, too, has the ability to get double plays when needed, and did not waste as many pitches as rival Verlander. Unfortunately, like the pitchers before him, Danks has fallen victim to the good-pitching-bad-fielding curse that has plagued the Sox this entire week. They’ve tallied 7 errors over 3 games. 9 over the last 5! Ramirez was the one that dug Danks’s hole today, with a bad throw to Swish. Other than bad fielding, some bad pitching is also to be blamed for our runs today. I’ve been overlooking Boone Logan’s bad days off a lot lately, but how in the world did his ERA get to 4.21?

And now, for the first time in The White Sox Blog’s history, I give you: The Rivalries. With all these guys fighting in the field, not just against the other team, but each other, it is time to look at some facts. The decision is all yours.

Battling today: Crede –v. Fields, Anderson –v. Wise, and Swish –v. Konerko. Don’t you think that I’ve given up the tally on Josh Fields for even a second! The only changes to his tally since yesterday were two strike outs, bringing his grand total to 3 K’s, 1BB, 1 E, and 1 H. I don’t want to say he was completely useless today, because he did make a catch for an out in foul territory, but did nothing at bat, and had no spectacular dives, saves, nor did he even participate in any regular plays in the infield. You know Brian Anderson wasn’t too happy to be passed up for Wise once again today. And if Brian didn’t care, then I’m upset enough for the both of us. Sure, Wise’s first day out this year proved a great success, but he hasn’t been able to replicate it since. In fact, since Konerko’s return, he has only produced one hit (tonight’s) in 9 ABs. Brian has 1 in 4. As for Konerko and Swish, Swish has won yet another day on 1B. Not a very productive day, but a day at 1B for Swish means another lost vote of confidence for Paulie. Can you see Crede, Anderson, and Konerko sitting together in the dug-out, all saying, "Can you believe that's the guy they think can replace me?"

Join the Sox tomorrow, when Javier Vazquez pitches in the closer against the Tigers.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Barely Winning Ugly: Sox - Tigers Game 1

Friday’s game against the Tigers was declared as “important” by the front page. Well, thank you, Captain Obvious! Yes, with the Twins on our tail, Detroit playing good baseball right behind, and a few offensive and defensive hiccups, plus a losing road record, this road trip would, indeed, be important. It was not deserved, it wasn’t pretty, and it was unexpected, but the Sox beat the Detroit Tigers 6-5 in the first game of their 10-game road trip. The Sox are now leading their division by 3.5 games.

With Gavin pitching, you always have to look to the first inning to foresee what is to come from him. His last two starts were big Sox losses, so I was hoping he’d start strong. Well, I couldn’t tell you what that first inning was. It wasn’t… awful, but it sure wasn’t the strongest inning I’ve seen from Gavin. Or our defensive set-up. But, true to form, that inning did set the tone, with errors robbing Floyd of easy-outs and inconsistent pitching. And While Gavin set up two separate double-plays, Cabrera and Fields couldn’t make anything of them until the third time the opportunity came along (this third time, at the hands of Nick Masset). Successful pitching came from Carrasco, Boone Logan (who stuck around to strike out just one), and Bobby Jenks picked up his 20th save for the year.

Now, let’s talk about these defensive slip-ups. First, there’s Cabrera picking up an error in the very first inning. After stepping on 2nd for the first out of the double play, he airmailed a ball to Konerko, and instead of another out, the ball produces a run. Fields, on the other hand lost the ball and couldn’t even get the easy out at first. Fields will be Crede’s replacement while he spends 15 days on the D.L. (You think I’m unhappy about this now? Just wait until we meet the Twins, and he’s not there!) Not just that, but he’s the guy some think would be good enough to take over his job permanently. His better counterpart, right? Well, it really depends on who you ask. Let’s start with the fact that his numbers from Charlotte weren’t anything impressive. Now, he’s had plenty of big league experience with the Sox, so shouldn’t he be a big fish in a little pond? Should be, but was batting a whopping .248 with 9 errors. But, there is the factor of an injury. Honestly, Uribe was the better third baseman today. We’ll see how he does once he settles in again. So far? He’s tallied a hit, a walk, and an error.

The great ones today were O.C., who ran to third on a pitch that got away, then ran home on a bad throw to tie the game, and had two singles for the night. Jermayne Dye came up empty all night, but a 2-run homer run brought the Sox a win in the ninth inning. Ramirez had two doubles and a single (aside from a double play in the 8th). The great disappointments were A.J., who hasn’t done much of anything (not just today, but in general) lately and Konerko, who continues on in his quest to see just how awful he has to be for the Twins to build a golden statue in his honor. I don’t remember Swish swinging his bat at all today. I’m sure he managed a walk at some point, but did a lot of looking, and not a lot of solid, productive contact. And, for the record, it’s okay to match a team run-for-run, but not when you’re the team batting in the top of the inning!

Join the Sox tomorrow, when John Danks meets the Tigers.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Quentin Rallies Over Rangers: Sox - Rangers Game 3

The Sox were trailing 8-5 in the bottom of the 8th, and I figured on a day like this, I shouldn’t even bother to put on my rally cap. We seemed to be working with our scraps and leftovers in the field and at bat, and the scoreboard showed it. Minor Leaguer Richard was our pitcher, Toby Hall was catching, and Crede was still out (and he may be out for awhile). Paired with questionable hitting, how were we going to pull off a win? But after 5 runners crossed home plate in the 8th, the Sox put another W on the board. The Twins get swept by the Yankees, the Sox win against the Rangers 10-8 and extend their lead over the division back to 2.5 games.

Clayton Richard was the starting pitcher for the Sox today. I know he was in the Futures game, got chosen for the Olympic game and that’s something, but with a guy from the minors, you don’t know if you should be excited for something new and good that no one’s had to deal with or if you’re dealing with someone that can’t handle big-league pressure and has no big-league mentality. I’d have to rely on what I saw: the man is built like a wall, throws in the mid 90’s, but his delivery is a little scary. He has this staccato movement that makes you think he’s gonna miss. Reminded me of Wasserman. You see him throw, and you’re like “well, that’s not gonna make it over the plate, he just tripped” and somehow it does. He works fast, his balls aren’t up in space like Floyd, and he had some fairly solid innings despite his pitch count getting really high pretty fast. He only made it four innings, then Carrasco took over. Despite picking up an error after a pickoff attempt at first, I still love that underhand fastball that he has. Logan came in the 7th and got the score to 8-4, Dotel came in the 8th and had another perfect inning, and closer Bobby Jenks picked up another save with a little help from Anderson, Uribe, and Quentin.

Until the 8th inning, my notes were all depressing about the offense. It was one of those days when you see the lineup once or twice through and you just think, “well, there’s no way that this is gonna work today,” a game where you really felt the need for a good day from Crede or Anderson because no one else seemed able to do it. I added that it was unbelievable how much farther 2 home runs had gone yesterday, and how little they’d achieved today. Tension was high in the Sox dugout, so Ozzie got thrown out in 7th after that umpire called the 3rd bad “strike” of the day. He got somewhat of a standing ovation from the crowd who finally saw their frustrations acted out. The fielders were not helping their cause either. Ramirez, Uribe, Carrasco, and Hall all picked up errors. Dye and Quentin got into double plays, Swish and Hall totaled 3 walks, but no hits,

No, not a proud day, but like Crede says, “A W is a W, and we’ll take it any way we can.” The batters seemed revived in the 8th, after Ozzie’s outburst, and Konerko left his Mexican hat behind, leading off with a double, ran home on a single from Ramirez. Ramirez got to second on a wild pitch to Uribe, whose single somehow got him to 2nd and Ramirez to third. On a sacrificed fly from Cabrera (Another one of those RIGHT by the fence shots), Ramirez got home, followed by a walk by Swish. With two on base, home run #26 (He’d already hit a solo shot. And was already hit by a pitch again.) from Carlos Quentin, the Sox brought the score to 10-8. The crowd went wild, my hands were shaking, somewhere Ozzie Guillen must have been doing cartwheels.

Random notes: What happened to Texas’s starting pitcher, Millwood? He was suddenly taken out in the second. Ramirez had a great play at first in the 7th and Paulie bare-hands it for an out. Like Crede, does a great play make up for adding another error? Speaking of Crede, because of his back, who knows when he'll be back? And, finally, Texas reliever Guardado looks like a compressed Carlos Quentin. While TCQ is 6’3”, this guy has to be 4’8”.

Well, the Sox have a day off tomorrow, a break they will need in their difficult upcoming road trip. The good news? Thome has become the cleanup hitter a DH should be. Carlos Quentin seems to have shaken off his slump (although, I wish he would have more base hits), and Bobby Jenks’s return means that the bullpen should go back to normal. Gavin Floyd will pitch in the opener against Detroit on Friday.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Alexei Slams the Rangers: Sox - Rangers Game 2

Take a page out of Buehrle’s book, Grandpa Jo! I’m already biased in liking Buehrle more than Contreras, but there is a reason why Mark Buehrle got a standing ovation when he exited the game in the 8th. Buehrle had one of his best outings despite having to attend his grandfather’s funeral tomorrow, yet we know Contreras couldn’t have done the same if something like his cat getting a cold had happened to cloud his day. Someone take Contreras’s man card away. (For that comment (or perhaps I said that it means Contreras is officially a woman), I was given 3 days’ ban from the WSI forum for insulting women. I apologize; even women aren’t as bad as Contreras. And trust me, I have years of experience as a woman, I know how we can be!) But, really, back to the game. The Sox finally get a win, and what a win it is! The Sox beat the Rangers 10-2, and extend their lead over the Twins back to 1.5 games.

Now, let’s give Buehrle the respect he deserves! He kept the Rangers from putting any runs on the board until the top of the eighth, pitched with great insight, and did it all after only a 3-day rest. As he did in every other successful outing, he got in the game, was the man on first for at least three outs, and when he was met with the threat of a no-out triple, he stranded him after three perfect outs. Nick Masset had a quick appearance until he deflected a hit off his chest, gave the reins up to Thornton, then Scott Linebrink closed out the game. The combined effort of the pitching staff only allowed two runners to cross home plate (despite ten hits) and only walked one.

So how did the Sox go about putting that number on the board? After a walk from Quentin (who went 0-for-3 for the rest of the game), a double from Dye got Carlos home in the first right as he was trying to steal 2nd, then Swisher’s 14th home run got 3 runs in. Pierzynski, too, got an RBI, and despite grounding into a double play, Konerko, too, got a player home. After a walk by Nick Swisher, with the bases loaded, Alexei “The Cuban Missile” Ramirez, who had been 0-for-3 until that point, got his first major league Grand Slam, bringing the score to 10-0 in the bottom of the seventh. I guess the bench does Uribe well, because he did well in Crede’s position and was 2-for-4 at bat with two doubles. Thome was also successful, going 2-for-2 with 2 walks. The bruised knee did not affect Dye, as he was 3-for-4 today. He continues to carry the team.

But it’s not all good, there’s a lot of bad. My little buddy, O.C. has been off his game for a very long time. The same goes for A.J., who went 1-for-5 today. Other than a walk and some hard running in the first, Quentin did a lot of nothing today. Konerko didn’t get a hit until the seventh, either. He almost got into a double play twice, but miraculously ran too fast for the throw and was only stuck with one. Guess not all your guys can do well every day.

Some interesting notes about today: A.J. bleached his hair to match Uribe’s goatee. In the eighth, maybe to give Dye a break, maybe because Carlos wasn’t doing anything, the outfield changed completely. Anderson took over in CF after Swish moved into right field and Wise took over in left field. I really like the way the Rangers’ first baseman (Davis) plays and bats. I’m totally jealous, and hope that Konerko still has it in him to be half the man Davis is. And Crede was out again because of back stiffness. Just a reminder: we’re 9 days away from the trade deadline. Depending on what Richard does, we might be in desperate need for a starter.

Join the Sox tomorrow when Clayton Richard makes his pitching debut against the Rangers.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Vazquez is not Enough: Sox - Rangers Game 1

Why is it that this team has it all wrong? When the bats are cracking, the pitching isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and when the pitchers are hot, the bats are not! Is it irony or is it just the team slipping? Well, to sum today, the Twins got spanked, the Sox got spanked, and despite the best pitching Vazquez had done in awhile, (Is anyone else having a bit of déjà vu when comparing this game to their first game at home against Oakland?) the Sox lost to the Texas Rangers 6-1.

Before I get to the game, let me plug, whose live blog matched my frustrations throughout the game. (And whose writer alerted me to the fact that Pablo Ozuna is a "player" (not as in a baseball player, but as in a ladies' man) and shares in my amusement at this fact!)

So, Javi. Poor, poor Javi. He was way off the last time he was out. And today, the man gets 10 strikeouts, only two walks, and only gives up four hits. He even got a great read on a hit and ran to first base in time for the 2nd out in the fourth inning. Unfortunately for him, there was no backup from his team on the field or at bat. His fielders got themselves 2 errors today, (I know what you’re thinking, but none for Crede! It was Cabrera and Ramirez. The one on Cabrera might have been underserved, but Alexei definitely messed up.) and Wise was completely useless on the field. And the hitting! It was just a train wreck! Now, excuse me for not having anything nice to say, but good grief! Crede’s been listening to some genius whose advice has been “stop popping out by getting into double plays,” Swisher has gone back to being a big ol’ mess, and so on and so on. The only guys to get hits were Quentin (make that HR #24), Thome, Konerko (who was close to a home run, that turned into a double, that could have easily been a triple had he not been, well, Konerko), and Pierzynski got himself two hits for the night.

I could go on with the painful details of the night, but let’s just skip to the part where I tell you what I think went wrong. Now, once again, am I right or am I right for hating the Konerko-Swish-Crede combination? Sure, everyone moved down a spot due to Dye’s injury, but it’s the same big black hole. Ramirez still hasn’t gotten a day off and it’s showing in his hitting and his fielding. Ditto with Cabrera. Now, usually, they’re the Dream Team. They bare-hand balls, make perfect throws, don’t miss a beat. But, they’re just tired and it’s time for a break. And if they're not tired (I mean, didn't we JUST have the All-Star break?) then they need to feel the need to fight for their job. Bring in Uribe. He’s plenty rested. Now, Wise. Quite honestly, I feel like he was out there today because they need to justify to themselves why they kept him over Ozuna. I think Wise’s role should be back up in CF the last couple of innings the way Brian was at the beginning of the year, but certainly not a full game. Clearly, being in CF today was a job for Anderson. And to make things worse, that home plate umpire was inconsistent, and sped up the rate at which the Sox players struck out. I even thought I’d see Crede get thrown out. I’m just hoping there weren’t kids sitting close to home plate, because I’m sure everyone got an earful.

Well, the Sox need to thank the baseball gods for Minnesota’s loss today so that they could keep their slight divisional lead. If the people making the decisions don’t wake up and realize that there are changes that need to be made, who knows what will happen to this lead in the upcoming series against Minnesota. Coming up, Mark Buehrle has been shifted in the lineup to tomorrow so that the intended starter for Wednesday, Clayton Richard, could have an adjustment day since being called up from Charlotte. (Adam Russell was sent back)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

One Comeback Too Few: Sox - Royals Game 3

I can’t explain how many times in this ballgame I cheered, only to have my excitement extinguished by the Royals. It was another in a chain of surprising losses for the White Sox. Surprising is the appropriate word because, like Gavin Floyd against the Royals, John Danks had an atypically unsuccessful outing, partaking in a 8-7 loss for the White Sox. And while the Sox could’ve taken advantage of a Twin loss today to get their division lead back to 1.5 games, the Sox are still only .5 games ahead.

John Danks came in as one of the most successful White Sox pitchers to date. His performance today, however, was quite shaky. While he is typically able to get out of tough spots, Danks allowed the Royals to score four runs in just the first inning. The only inning that seemed to go well for Danks was the third. To add to the odd nature of his outing, Danks only made it through the fourth inning. To add to the runs, Carrasco was brought out in the 5th, Dotel pitched in the 8th (and probably did the best in terms of pitching), but, then they brought out Thornton. Rare as it may be, Thornton was not successful at his job as a reliever today. He walked one, then two scored. Bobby Jenks was back in the 9th and had a nice inning despite being down one run.

Despite the pitching mishaps, I had nothing but good news. First of all, there was no giving up. There were comebacks every time the Royals scored (every time but the last time, I suppose) and the team was surprisingly successful at bat with 2 outs today. Most of the runs scored came from such situations. A.J. had a hot bat, going 3-for-5, Anderson deserves a shout-out for getting a great, solid base hit despite not having had any at-bats in (I think it’s safe to say) over a week. In fact, had Cox not waved A.J. around, Anderson’s hit may have lead to a different ballgame. Swisher got a two-run home run (the last to score for the day, and got an RBI walk as well), Crede had a 3-run homer, and Jim Thome celebrated his 2,000th career hit, drawing a standing ovation from the crowd, along with cheers of, “Thome! Thome!” He really deserves his moment of glory. Over a quarter of those hits have been home runs, and he is one of the few to have over 500 HRs, 2000 hits, and over 1500 walks. He’s had a slow start to the year, but lately he has been a great, consistent hitting for our team.

Let’s move on to another big subject today: injuries. Dye was hit by a pitch right on the kneecap. He was hit so badly, he was immediately escorted off the field, taken for X-Rays, and replaced with Brian Anderson. Jenks is back from the D.L. This is quite a happy occasion, and he had a very successful ninth inning. And now, on to Grandpa Jo. Jose Contreras was placed on the D.L. on July 18. I know this is a terrible thing to say, but I couldn’t be happier. Not that he’s injured, but that he’s out of the game. In fact, I think everyone is and that this stint on the D.L. might be a bit too convenient. Perhaps it is a paid vacation while they try out Carrasco as a starter? I’m not one for conspiracy theories, but I would not blame them one bit if this was the case.

And in the last category (the “I can’t find a good transition for this in any other paragraph” category), let me once again mention that I hate Mike Teahen, I hate the Konerko-Swisher-Crede combination at bat, and that Alexei Ramirez needs a day off to get his act together. While I won’t explain why I have such strong feelings against Teahen (Honestly, he irks me more than Grady Sizemore, and that’s saying something!), but I will say that the bottom of the ninth inning for the Sox proves my dislike of the Konerko-Swisher-Crede combination. Surely, you can’t RELY on them in the clutch. You can hope and pray, but nothing in the world can guarantee a hit from these three. But, I guess it’s always nice for the opposing pitchers to know there is a 1-2-3 inning coming up at the bottom of the order. And as for Ramirez, I don’t know. I think he may have a case of the B.A.s. I say this as a joke because I couldn’t care less what Anderson does as long as he’s winning, but Ramirez is already married, so he doesn’t need to impress the ladies. He doesn’t need to impress anyone, just go out there and play his best.

Tomorrow, Javi Vazquez is taking on the Rangers.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Is it a Rally if it's in the First?: Sox - Royals Game 1

It was a sad day to proclaim yourself a fan of KC’s Grienke. The first inning ended with A.J. Pierzynski. No, there was no change in the lineup, he was up to bat for the second time, after 9 consecutive Sox players had reached base and 6 crossed home plate safely. Grienke threw 28 pitches in what must have been the longest inning of his life. The Royals had a pitcher in the bullpen before the first inning was over. On the other hand, the inning was a dream come true for me and Sox fans everywhere. By the top second inning, someone asked me about Buehrle’s pitching and I honestly could not remember- I was that overwhelmed by the success the Sox had found at bat. In fact, the only Sox player to find no success at bat today was Alexei Ramirez. In a strong outing, the Sox defeated the Kansas City Royals 9-5.

To get back to the question I was asked, Buehrle had a good outing, backed up by Thorton and Dotel. Masset was out as well, but he had an unremarkable outing (typical as of late). Had his inning called for damage control, he would have failed. Thankfully for Masset, any damage done was held off by continued success at bat. As I wrote before, all the hitters but Ramirez had at least one hit. Even Ramirez contributed with a sacrificed fly. (As did Crede, but that’s just the norm for his at-bats. And if he’s not popping out in the infield, he’s just 2 inches away from a homer run.) Dye lead the hitters with three hits and walked after drawing 13 pitches from Grienke, and Crede and Quentin had two hits each. The latter’s first official at-bat resulted in home run #23 for the year after picking up another stat: the 13th time this year that he was hit by a pitch. Thome and Swisher were also walked after a torturous (To Grienke, that is) 7-8 pitches each. Swisher’s walk also meant Jermaine Dye would walk to home.

The offense today was surprising. Both in bad and good way. Alexei picked up another error (he’s getting a bit sloppy on the field and at bat), as did Crede. While Crede picked up his 18th error, he also made one of his trademark inning-ending dive-catch-tag combinations. So then, does a spectacular save make up for adding to a massive error total? Nick Swisher was surprising today. The batter hit the ball so far, I was ready to mark it off as a home run. It would be a double, at least, based on Swisher’s track record, but after a sprint and controlled catch, the ball landed safely in his glove! A good day overall for Nick.

Other notes about tonight’s game? I still don’t agree with the decision to keep Buehrle into the 7th. Sure, he had a good 7th inning, but he is often kept out in the field too long. He usually doesn’t cause the damage that Contreras would had he been in his place, but it’s important for starters to be just that: starters, not relievers, not closers. Continuing on that line of thought, Dotel made a pretty good closer, but I am glad to hear that Jenks is back from assignment/rehab/the DL. Today was another instance of the team getting another bases loaded-then stranded situation. No outs, then Konerko-Swish-Crede. When will someone realize that those three are too unreliable to be at bat consecutively? And just for the record, I hate everything about Mike Teahen! He’s going to be nothing but a pain for the rest of the weekend!

Join the Sox tomorrow at 6:05 with Gavin Floyd pitching against the Royals.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

My Top 5 Wishes for the Rest of the 2008 Season

My intention for my third editorial before the Sox resumed playing was to have a “Top 5” of the best moments so far this season. A few minutes into writing out the editorial, I realized that my own bias would make it so that it would inevitably become a written Joe Crede highlight reel with a bit of pitching thrown in and Nick Swisher’s sole shining moment, as well as a little bit of Alexei and his talent in the field. Really, I mentioned all those things enough, and realized that instead of looking behind, it might be more important to look forward. Sure, the team has been successful so far, but the next 68 games that will really decide the fate of the White Sox.

With that in mind, I give you the top five wishes on my list for the rest of the 2008 regular season.

5. Another hot streak from Joe Crede. It’s a known fact that he’s “streaky.” He’ll be a mess at bat for a whole month, then raise his average close to the .300s in just one week. Sadly, this particular low point in the season, especially so close to the trade deadline AND when there is need for a new starting pitcher, does not look good for Crede if he wishes to stay with the Sox. As a huge fan of Crede, it breaks my heart to see his average dip lower and lower day after day and to see an atypical amount of errors credited to his name. It’s about time for his bat to be heating up again, isn’t it? We've seen what he is capable of on a good day (both on the field and at bat) and a good week from Crede could be enough to bring a week's worth of W's.

4. The return of Bobby Jenks. Jenks was recently placed on the DL. Yes, the dreaded Disabled List. Without a strong closer, the Sox have been struggling in their late innings. While Jenks was did not always guarantee a score-free ninth inning, the Sox can’t rely on Linebrink and Dotel to handle the pressure the same way Jenks could. The men of the bullpen had their specific duties, and a disturbance in this order doesn’t seem to be working out well for the Sox.

3. A sweep of the Twins. The Sox will be headed to the Metrodome to face their fiercest division rivals very soon. What better way for the Sox to get ahead of their division than by beating the team that’s hot on their tail? Sure, I had my moment of weakness and rejoiced in seeing Justin Morneau cross home plate during the All-Star Game (even Carlos Quentin joined me in my excitement), but I hope that is the last time that he crosses home plate in such close proximity to any of the White Sox players.

Paul Konerko was once a pillar for the White Sox. His career batting average is .278, but this year has been a struggle. His average is a mere .217 as of today. Because he’s been battling with injuries and an unpleasant reputation as a slow runner, Konerko seems to be the weakest link. Even his position as a first baseman seems in trouble since Nick Swisher has stepped forward and made many winning plays on first. A strong comeback from the team captain is necessary if he is going to stay in the lineup during the next 68 games.

If Ozzie and Kenny can’t combine their powers to find a better starter, let’s hope and pray that Grandpa Jo gets his ERA under 4. Under 3 would be nice, but I’ll take what I can get. Strong starting pitchers are a key to a good team. Even if the offense continues to thrive, as we saw in the last game with the rangers, it is not enough to hold off another team. Above all, I want Jose Contreras to prove me wrong and to become the good pitcher his bosses seem to think he is.

As for the highlight reel, what are your favorite moments so far in the season? What do you think the Sox need in order to win their division and have a successful rest of the season?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

We Didn't Start the Fire (Just Yet): A Sox - Cubs World Series?

Those clever sports writers got me again! I admit, this is my own fault for being nosey and obsessive, but come on! Here I am, trying to get the scoop on Crede before the trade deadline (Will it be Josh Fields? Will it be Crede? Will they wait ‘till the offseason? Will they show him the money, or will I have to be loyal to two teams every year? I can’t take the pressure!) and instead of facts, helpful quotes, predictions, or even hints about whether Crede will be on the field at all tonight, I gets this lovely gem. Two paragraphs lodged between mindless chatter about the All-Star Game.

Third baseman Joe Crede was diplomatically answering questions about his future in Chicago while basking in the glow of his first All-Star appearance and dreaming of a World Series between his White Sox and the Cubs.

"It would definitely be really awesome," Crede said. "It would be great for the city and great for baseball in general. You can see the passion for the game in the intracity series during the season. It's always fun to play in a playoff atmosphere like that, a World Series atmosphere. I think it would be the neatest thing you could have in baseball."

-The Chicago Tribune

Well, to begin, this is completely misleading and tells me nothing about Crede’s future with the Sox. In fact, this is not even related to the All-Star Game! And as to what it says… No, thanks, Joe Crede! I don’t think that would be “the neatest thing.” Unless Joe is out of his mind and in fact planning to get the hell out of Chicago before the riots ensue, I’m sure he was pressured into giving a diplomatic answer about this nightmare of an idea.

There are a lot of things that make me cringe. Joe Crede at bat in July. Swisher in center field. Toby Hall in general. Lately, I’ve been flinching at the much-hinted-at idea of an All-Chicago World Series. Worse is the speculation. No one needs three months of this nervous anticipation for such an ominous event. Of all the awful ideas I’ve ever heard, this one takes the cake.

Cub fans know the sting of having “2005 World Series Champs” stamped on the shirts of our team, while they take pride in calling their team the Lovable Losers. Clearly, they’re out for revenge. They’re angry, they’re scorned, they’re bitter, and they’re looking for a chance to get bragging rights. Now, imagine these same fans faced with a win. Knock on wood, I know, but play along. It would be easy to deflect a WS win by the Cubs, by simply saying that we had the trophy in our case first this millennium. However, we’ve experienced a Cubs sweep this year and know how relentless Cubs fans are. That may not be enough.

If the Cubs were to –knock on wood again- win the WS against the Sox, you would have to imagine that Lou Pinella himself would pay for a golden trophy replica the size of the Sears Tower to be made and displayed at Wrigley in the honor of a WS win. Possibly paired with a statue of Ozzie crying as a companion. And have I mentioned that the Tribune owns the Cubs, therefore our news channels would be plagued by endless blue bears and red C’s? If the Cubs wouldn't make it, they'd get a pat on the back for having the first great season in quite some time. If the Sox would win, we would be deemed undeserving. I gotta go with Ozzie on this one; we get no respect! Could you imagine those 4-7 painful days in Chicago? Every house would have a different colored flag displayed, riots would happen during every one of the final games- not to mention the deciding match. Are you imagining Wrigley or U.S. Cellular on fire? Any victory parade in the honor of either team would be a reason for celebration and the bomb squad. Clearly, it would be the stuff of Nostradamus.

It wasn’t until we were swept by the Cubs that this began to be a problem. Then, the Sox swept the Cubs right back, only to aggravate the speculation. The Sox and Cubs may be worthy opponents, but a Sox-Cubs World Series certainly isn’t worth the tension and hate. And while I’m hoping that the Sox go to the World Series without their North Side counterparts, can we at least save the speculation for October? No use crying over spilt milk, right? Especially if the cow hasn’t even been milked. I call for a cease-fire and… cease-article on all things Sox – vs. Cubs. Let’s not worry about the Cubs just yet. After all, they’ll be Completely Useless By September.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Center Field of Dreams for Brian Anderson

Because we see more of him than any other bench player, Brian Anderson's role as a back-up Center Fielder is often debated. I, for one, happen to be on the Brian Anderson Band Wagon. WOO! WOO! (That was me tooting the horn or what have you. Do band wagons have horns or are they more of an Amish thing with nothing but wheels and room to stack your hay?) The reasons are simple: great center fielder (He’s tallied 3 career errors with the White Sox, none this year), he’s proven to be a good base runner in a team of, well, “slower” veterans, he has power at bat (He recorded a career-high .419 slugging average this far this year.), and I’m a big fan of young players in general (Floyd, Danks, Ramirez, Quentin, Logan).

The occupational hazard I’m running into is that for every person that agrees with me on something I write, I get a hundred reasons why I’m wrong from those that disagree. So, with that said, thanks to the internet’s abundance of blogs, forums, and news sources, I also understand why so many Sox fans aren’t Brian fans. To put it simply, as one fan has in this post in the WhiteSoxInteractive website forum, “Brian Anderson Sucks at Hitting.” If you want to try the strength of your migraine medication, you can try to follow the back-and-forth bickering and fact-swapping that occurs in that thread. I gave up on it and simply chose to skim, but picked up some interesting terms coined by those that are opposed to Brian, such as “FOBA,” and “FWOBA.” (That’s, ‘Fan of B.A.,’ and ‘Future Wife of B.A.,” respectively.)

So, according to everyone, what’s wrong with Anderson? For one, he’s a jerk for wanting to be transferred to get more playing time. To that, they add that he won’t get transferred because no one wants him. He chases bad pitches (He already has 32 strike-outs this year, just 7 shy of Crede who has had at least twice as many at-bats). He flies out too much in search of home runs. Dewayne Wise is so much better. (He’s batting .350, but has only 40 at-bats since being called up from AAA Charlotte and his career average is just .216. Hardly enough information here to really be able to judge.) He’s been in plenty of games in the previous years and hasn’t been spectacular. And, last, he puts on a show for the ladies. (I have to admit, this one ALMOST convinced me. Maybe a comment about his ears would have made this argument more convincing.)

A poll on this blog closed last week. The question asked was, "With the pending lineup change, which of these players deserves a spot as a starter?" Anderson was a clear leader with 40%, with Paul Konerko trailing at 27%, Dewayne Wise with 22%, Juan Uribe with 9%, while Pablo Ozuna gets a dunce cap and 0% of the votes. Clearly, there are enough "F.O.B.A."s out there willing to support Brian and defend his abilities as a player.

My take overall? Give the boy some at-bats and some serious batting practice. Feel free to disagree, but I think it was a slap in the face to Brian to have Swisher as a starter in center field when Swisher isn’t as good in CF and, really, they’re about the same at bat. (And I say this without the figures to prove it, because Brian certainly hasn’t had as many at bats, but statistically seems to be on track with what I’m saying.) Especially toward the beginning of the year, Swish looked an even bigger mess at bat. Only recently has Swish been distinguishing himself as a better batter than Brian. Admittedly, Brian has had about 3 career walks (I'm exaggerating, of course, but every time he does walk rather than fly out or strike out, it feels like a rarity), and that says something about him as a batter. What Brian needs (not that this is something realistic, but don’t you agree that it would help him?) is a batting battle against our best pitchers. Throw him about 100 pitches, show him everything. Surely, the debate over his talent or lack thereof can only be settled with solid proof that would come from big league batting experience. And as for him putting on a show, well, whatever works. Surely, the entire purpose of the baseball franchise is not to find the cure to cancer, but to entertain the masses that migrate to ballparks every summer. Plus, I’m sure experience has shown him that, “Hey, I’m Brian Anderson,” certainly won’t be a good pick-up line if it comes paired with a loss.

So, to B.A. or not to B.A.? That is the question you’ll have to wrestle with as the season goes on. Be sure leave comments with you opinions and to check back again for more editorials throughout the All-Star Break.

Picture Credit: Kelvinma

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Whole Nine Innings: Sox - Rangers Game 3

It took 4 hours and 4 minutes in the sweltering Texas heat for the Sox and Rangers to finally conclude their game. Even before the game started, I was willing to bet that the event would be sponsored by Murphy’s Law. Why was I terrified? Let me count the ways: A.J. was out because of the injury he incurred the previous day, Grandpa Jose was pitching, and Juan Uribe had been announced as taking over third base for Joe Crede (Who, unfortunately won't get as much rest as the others because of the All-Star Game). Despite all the things that could have gone wrong (and did), the White Sox put forth a great effort and came up just short in a 12-11 ballgame, unable to extend their 1.5 game lead over Minnesota.

Right away, everything I predicted as going wrong didn’t. The Sox lead off the game with three runs scored in the first inning (including a two-run homer from Carlos Quentin). Even Juan Uribe did well at bat today, accounting for a triple (that bounced off the top of the fence, just an inch away from being a home run!), and later, unexpectedly made a Joe Crede-like dive, catch, and save. In fact, even Mr. I Help the Other Team, Toby Hall was a consistent hitter today, going 3-for-4. Jermayne Dye accounted for another solo home run. Had this game been played against any other team, the Sox would have been clear winners. The men got 22 hits tonight and 5 walks. The only player not to get a hit today was Paul Konerko, who seems to have used all his hitting strength yesterday.

I expected the bullpen to be more solicited today, but Ozzie showed confidence in Contreras, only exchanging Grandpa Jose for Nick Masset in the bottom of the 5th, after earning seven runs. Masset was the only pitcher of the night to escape the rangers without a hit. Admittedly, he had happened to pitch in the two innings in which the defense worked the best. Logan and Russel, as well as Matt Thornton all made appearances, but could not keep the Rangers from taking the lead.

Despite this loss, I can’t complain today. The Sox really did put forth a great effort. We can’t say what might have happened had a better starting pitcher been out on the mound, but as Gavin Floyd and John Danks proved in the last two games, even the best had a hard time in Arlington. Although the day is marked as a loss, the Twins also lost today, there are four days of rest for the guys to breathe until their next game, and Texas really was a difficult team to defeat.

Check back often for editorials throughout the All-Star break and submit your ideas and commentary through the mailbag, on MySpace, or through comments. Good luck to Joe Crede and Carlos Quentin, who are headed for the All-Star game in New York!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Good Signs From Konerko: Sox - Rangers Game 2

The only term I can think of that can describe the opposite of a Golden Sombrero is perhaps a Silver Slugger. Don’t get ahead of me, I won’t suggest giving any award to Paul Konerko just yet, but I am hoping that his going 4-for-4 is the beginning of a great comeback. Even if it is not, it was the fluke that was the best thing that has happened to this team since about the time the Sox played the Twins. John Danks has another successful Sox outing, as the team defeats the Texas Rangers 9-7, maintaining their 1.5 game lead over Minnesota.

The first inning was anything but smooth. O.C. and A.J. both struck out, and Carlos Quentin left me wondering how he could lack hits so often, yet still bat at .273. John Danks had a great first inning, but got a preview of what was to come with Josh Hamilton. In case you were wondering, the hit machine that is Hamilton is batting .314 with 21 home runs and 95 RBI. Despite meeting good hitters, Danks made it into the eighth, when Dotel was brought in (then quickly traded for Boone Logan). Other worries early in the game came from A.J.’s second at-bat. A low pitch hit Pierzynski in what appeared to be the ankle (It later turned out to be his calf muscle) hard enough to knock him to the ground and badly enough that we got to see Toby Hall again. From what I understand, today is A.J.’s last game until after the All-Star break.

Thankfully, the Sox offense smoothed over the rough start. There were several cheer-inducing moments in tonight’s game. Jim Thome brought in Carlos Quentin with a two-run homer, followed by a solo run by Paul Konerko. Several of the players got two hits, including a triple by Dye, and a single followed by a two-base steal by Ramirez. Carlos had two doubles, and Cabrera picked up his fifteenth stolen base. Brian Anderson saved a very deep drive from bouncing off the wall and turning into another Ranger run, and there was a moment that can only be called miraculous to end the game. After catching what the announcers deemed and uncatchable ball, Ramirez made his own throw to Swisher, who dived backward and still caught the ball for the final out of the night.

While all those moments are wonderful and the men tallied a win, I’m not ready to write this game off as a success just yet. A 5-run lead was shortened with a close 2-run difference in scores. There were some disasters in the field, as well. I was ready to praise Joe Crede for starting off the day with a base hit “in the clutch,” but he was single-handedly responsible for at least one instance of being the one to make nothing of a bases-loaded situation. There were, in fact, three innings that ended with bases loaded, and only once did someone (Konerko) drive a run in, only to be stranded on base shortly afterward. If there's one smart thing that Hawk and D.J. have said today (and that's rare), it's that whenever such situations (men on base and two outs) occur, our hitters feel like they are in trouble, not the pitcher. Just one of the issues our team needs to overcome in the second half of the season...

Scattered quotes from my notes: “Texas uses ‘Nananana, hey hey, goodbye,’ when Boone Logan departed. That’s a nice move to steal, but not when the team you stole it from is in town,” and, “Hawk just pointed out that Joe Crede took first pitch outside. He’s not wrong. Joe must be, though, for wearing the number 14 and suddenly doing a very convincing Paul Konerko impression. Oh, wait a minute… That is Paul Konerko! If I had Hawk's nose full of nickels for every time I would have rather heard commentary on what was actually happening the game instead of stories about your career…”

Hopefully the Sox can win another game tomorrow. If everyone can stay consistent at bat tomorrow, even with Toby Hall catching and Jose Contreras pitching, the Sox can have a strong finish in their last game before the All-Star break.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

No Run Support for Buehrle: Sox - Royals Game 3

We had two consecutive games in which comebacks were needed and attained. What were the odds that we would get lucky three times? Of course, the irony comes in the differences between the three games. While in the first two, the pitchers were struggling and the Sox had plenty of time to even the score, in this third game, Buehrle had a great start, and the team had to pull together at least three runs in one inning. Lucky the Twins gave us that 3.5 game cushion before, because in a disappointing game, the White Sox lose to the Royals 1-4, taking us back to our 2.5 game divisional lead. So, what went wrong?

Buehrle is not to blame. He can get out of sticky situations, and can strand runners. Buehrle was a good pitcher and had the 8 strike-outs today to prove it. However, no one can win without backup. Two runs are by no means bad. Two runs are only bad if batters can’t perform. Other than the complete lack of offense, the problem started with the decision to keep Buehrle into the eighth. If you’re planning to win from one run, I thought before the seventh started that today was not a day to keep Buehrle late into the game. Sure, the bullpen was tired after being so solicited, but such a game needs a fresh pitcher to keep the home team from scoring. Instead of bringing Russel or Thorton in right away, Ozzie only brought in a new pitcher after two runs had been scored. And then, it was Dotel, not either of the aforementioned. You can’t expect three spectacular days from Dotel. As I suspected, though he pitched well, he didn’t perform as needed. Boone Logan couldn’t stop the team from scoring again, either. He gave up a hit and the final nail in the Sox coffin.

There was one error placed on the White Sox, but the defense was much too sloppy today. Ramirez was as spacey (Sophisticated choice of words, right?) on second as he was at bat. Unfortunately, it was the wrong day to feel tired or “off” in any way. I don’t remember Swisher catching ANY balls today. He was late to mobilize, off the mark, and made bad choices (about being deep or shallow) almost every time. Maybe I’ve gotten used to Swisher on first base, but Konerko, too, just seemed stiff today.

What went wrong offensively? Greinke was a great pitcher, to start. He matched Buehrle almost every inning. (His manager, on the other hand, pulled him out a full inning earlier.) Konerko, Swish, Cabrera, and Thome got hits, but didn’t have the support to get further than first base. JD had a double and a solo home run, but no one else could get past Greinke. Were the men fatigued or just no match for good pitching?

Well, losses happen. Hopefully, the players can shake it off. The biggest disappointment must be that despite a great game, Buehrle can’t pick up a win.

Tomorrow at 7:05, Gavin Floyd pitches in the opener against the Texas Rangers.

A Night of Bad Pitching: Sox - Royals Game 2

Today’s game can only be described as what I can imagine being on a bad trip with Hawk & DJ is like. Clearly, the baseball gods were drunk. Surely, Kenny and Ozzie were for letting Toby Hall behind home plate. First of all, Toby Hall proves my jinx theory once again. Can we just have a nice, simple game after battling it out yesterday? No, let’s bring in Mr. Error! In the end, to bring the Sox their fourth straight win, 3.5 game lead, and the score to a final 7-6, it was a game winning balk. No, really!

Tonight, TCQ was a superstar, Dotel pitched a perfect ninth inning, and Crede, Ramirez and Konerko/Swish combined for 3 double plays. Carlos had two 2-run homers (Bringing the season grand total to 21- just one behind professional thorn in my side, Grady Sizemore of the Indians.), and had the honor of stepping on home plate for the –I have to say this again, because how often do I get to?- game winning balk. Logan had a great outing for the second consecutive day, and so did Dotel, perhaps with some help from the umpires.

Vazquez and Konerko, though… well, they’re no prize and certainly didn’t make me proud today. Perhaps Konerko gets kudos for pointing at the pitcher during the balk fiasco. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the laws of math would indicate that, technically, 4 strikeouts tend to make AVGs lower, rather than higher. Javi was hot on the trail of Grandpa Jose and gave up 11 of the night’s 13 hits and all 6 of the runs. JD choked at bat for the second day in a row (0-10 this series), but Crede made things interesting today, only having a pop-out once. Don’t get me wrong, that’s NOT a compliment, just an observation. The man was 0-for-4, (I feel so proud to have to make announcements like these about him.) but it was an atypical day because he did so via two groundouts and one lineout.

In terms of miscellaneous observations, D.J. Carrasco was called up to fill out the bullpen in Jenks’s absence. This is foreign territory for me; the most I can tell you about him is what I have read recently in terms of stats. Good news from the Twins: they got swept by Boston. (And, boy did that broom hit them on the way out! The final score of game three was Twins 5 – 18 Boston. I assure you, that’s no typo!)

Some consistencies between yesterday’s game and today’s: the managerial decision to move Swish on first and bring Brian in CF toward the end of the game. There really was something good in that formula while Konerko was away, so I’m still trying to figure out if this had to do with Paulie’s strike-outs, if it was move that intended to ease Konerko back in from rehab and give him some rest, or to ease Konerko into the idea that Swish may be getting more playing time on first. Thoughts?

While I’m not particularly thrilled with this game, (Admittedly, it had it’s good elements, but I really expected this to be a much easier series. Was I really wrong to expect the Sox to have a smoother series considering that KC is near the bottom of the division?) I like that the offense can make a comeback. I remember a time when it was a miracle if the Sox came back from a 2-run deficit. Today, coming back after 5, and yesterday, making a comeback over and over really shows growth. I’m also a big fan of “winning ugly,” and like singles, doubles, and triples scoring more than home runs. I love the fireworks, but I’d be happier if we always had men on base and all the fly outs we see from Quentin and Crede would be “sacrificed flys” rather than outs and guys like Thome and Carlos would try to be double and triple instead of HR leaders.

Tomorrow, the Sox finish their away series against the Royals with Buehrle pitching.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Lucky Inning Number Thirteen: Sox - Royals Game 1

While normal people gave up on the game while the Sox were still trailing 2-5 (maybe 3-5 if you were patient, a die-hard fan, very optimistic, or had to cover the game for your own blog), I stuck through thirteen nerve-wrecking innings. Yes, right when you were naïve enough to think that we had done it, and the Royals were going to have to count their losses, our pitching staff would have none of it! To sum up the end of a stressful night, the Boston Red Sox come back from a three-run deficit to beat the Twins, while the Sox gain a 2.5-game lead by beating the Kansas City Royals 8-7 in extra innings.

Clearly, the downer of the night is, once again, Grandpa Jose. I swear, after the second batter in the bottom of the second (a record-breaking endless inning in a seemingly endless game), I was already praying for a pitching change. There was an error somewhere in there that was never stuck on anyone, but Konerko was in fact right to expect Contreras to mobilize to first base. The guy isn’t John Danks or Gavin Floyd, but from what my inside sources lead me to understand, he’s not paralyzed either. Inexplicably, the man made it all the way into the sixth. In fact, the only inning that was acceptable for him was the fourth. Insert similar derogatory remarks about pitching buddies Linebrink and Nick Masset. Honestly, the game was too long and too frustrating for me to waste more witty commentary.

In terms of pitching, there are some bright spots. Boone Logan had a fairly good outing, and Dotel proved to me that he’s quite good on occasion. Matt Thorton was my hero as a pitcher. No hits, no runs, no awful pitches. Quick question: why wasn’t Adam Russel out?

Because this game lasted so long, next thing you know, it’ll be time for the next game, so let’s move on to some bad batting. Jermayne Dye. Everyone’s allowed to have a bad day, but for such a good player to come up with nothing when he had six at-bats was very disappointing. Disappointment number two, Carlos Quentin lucked into a single, but tried too hard to get home runs, and popped out like the champ that he is.

Good batting? Hello, Jim Thome! Mr. Incredible really was incredible today! He went 4 for 5 and scored three times. He picked a good game to show everyone that he’s still got it. The Cuban Missile went 4 for 6 today, bringing his average up to .310, and Cabrera got two hits. Struggling slugger Joe Crede got himself two hits, tied the game with his “sacrificed fly,” and hit home run number 16 over the fence. He was my pick-to-click today, and the only one of our players to get a home run today. I could gloat in a million different ways right now, but hey, we won! That speaks for itself!

Alright, that’s about as much as my brain can handle. I’m going to leave you with whatever remains of my notes. “Give TCQ a day off. Bring Anderson in left field. Please? Cabrera got out of a double play by a miracle! Konerko’s back, but they don’t really want him. Brought out Swish and B.A. back. Why mess with a winning formula? If only Alexei, Cabrera, and Pierzynski were the only players in the game, the score would be way different right now. If I took a shot for every person they stranded on base, I’d have to use Uribe’s salary for an entire year just to get that much liquor.”

And a closing comment: Pablo Ozuna was sent back to Charlotte. Amen, hallelujah! In case you’re not a loyal reader, I think Crede’s left shoe would be a better third baseman than Ozuna is and I knew they were only keeping him for his pinch-running. (And did you just get an awesome mental image of a fly ball landing in Crede’s cleats? Or the shoe flinging the ball over to Konerko? Aren’t you glad you stuck around to the end of the blog just for that colorful comment?)

Join the Sox tomorrow on Comcast SportsNet Plus for game two with Javier Vazquez pitching!

Monday, July 7, 2008

A Love-Hate Relationship with Nick Swisher

If you ask me which one of the Sox is my favorite player, you know I’m going to yell out “Joe Crede!” and go on a twenty-minute spree of gushing and spewing facts about the guy, but the truth is that picking a favorite Sox player is like picking a favorite number. Are you supposed to have one? But, for reasons that cannot be explained, everyone has one (both a player and number). I say the reasons are unexplained because there isn’t anyone on the Sox that stands out in terms of average, home runs, or ERAs (if pitchers are the kind of thing you’re intro), you just have different clusters. It really comes down to personality on the field, in pictures, in interviews, or if you’ve ever stalked one of them on the streets (you see him, take a picture, he says something nice and he’s instantly your favorite, in case you didn’t catch my drift). In terms of personality, who don’t I love on that team? (Well, I could tell you who, but there would be an uprising of fans, and I have to bite my tongue until he has a bad week.) In terms of this, I have to say, I’m quite a big fan of Nick Swisher.

Ah, yes. Nick Swisher. Number 30. Batting around .236. Playing first base until Paulie gets back. Usually in center field. Oh, that guy! He has a heart of gold, in case you haven’t noticed. He grew his hair and cut it off and donated it in the memory of his grandmother, painted his goatee pink for breast cancer awareness during mother’s day, and heads Swish’s Wishes. Have you ever seen a commercial with Swisher in it? If he holds up a sign that says “To Dye For,” does the worm, shoots off imaginary guns, or holds up a sign that says “Vazkkkez,” you are watching Nick Swisher’s big personality. He even has personality in his sideburns (yup, sometimes he has lightning bolts hanging by his ears), hosts a radio show, and sometimes does T.V. Are you in love with him yet? Because, for the ladies, I accidentally discovered a shirtless picture of him, so that might help you out a little. He's so nice and lovable, I feel bad even thinking about what I have to write in the next paragraph.

So, here he is! Nick Swisher, up at bat, Crede on deck. One out, takes first pitch ball, second pitch is a strike, third pitch is a ball, fourth pitch he has contact, and the ball is… a high pop up to shortstop Whoever McOtherTeam. So, now, he is officially 0-for-4, setting the stage with two outs for Joe Crede. Yes, the man loves to break my heart whenever he’s up at bat. He and Crede struggled together, but when Crede shook off his slump, Swisher was still behind. He shakes his head in disbelief as he strikes out, you shake your head in disbelief, the other team rejoices because now morale is low and the pressure is even higher for Swish and for the next guys at bat. There were days where I would pray to see Brian Anderson in the field, so that we wouldn’t be forced to suffer through another 2-6 painful pitches to Swish. "Seriously, get that man away from any bats!" I would think.

One day, some guy pretending to be Nick Swisher comes up to bat and plays first base for Konerko (might I add, brilliantly), and brings up Swish’s average. That guy’s been batting .308 in the last 30 days. This same guy had 2 grand slams within 4 days, and doubled both his home runs and RBIs in June. He's even had a couple of days where he hit two home runs in one game- from both sides of the plate! Sure, it’s been on and off, but that average can only go up from where it was. So, do I love Nick Swisher, the batter, now? Is he going to break in a new era where I don’t cringe every time he’s up against a pitcher? Well, I sure hope so.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Floyd Strikes out the A's: Sox - Oakland Game 3

There’s was no better buzzkill for my excitement to see Gavin Floyd pitch than finding out that the Sox would have Toby Hall behind home plate. Apparently, the jinx is wearing off and despite having the worst catcher in the history, the Sox bring in another win and save face in the third game of the four in their home series against Oakland Athletics with a final score of 6-1.

Pitching tonight was 25-year-old prodigy Gavin Floyd. Maybe I give the boy too much credit, but I’m sure everyone agrees with me when I say that he had a great outing tonight. And unlike some of our older gentlemen pitchers, the boy can get in the game. He caught a straight shot for a great double play, adding to his effort of 6 strikeouts, and no earned runs. As a response to Hawk’s comment (No, not the one about loving Judge Judy…) about Gavin Floyd pitching as well as Vazquez, well, let’s not bestow such an “honor” on him. We don’t want to jinx him. To finish the game, Thorton and Linebrink were brought in. I’ll save my complaints about Linebrink for another time. You can’t always have perfect pitching.

Some excellent offensive moments came from Swish’s home run (Who is this guy? And what has he done to easy-out Nick? More on this topic Monday.), Anderson’s 2-run homer, Cabrera’s 2-RBI double, and Alexei’s solo home run. In terms of offense, I will say that the pressure that the managers are putting on Anderson and Wise (Letting them know they need to fight for their jobs. And speaking of, how about voicing your opinion on this matter in the poll? ) seems to be working. Both men are making great showings whenever they get the chance to play. O.C.’s been struggling a bit lately (Or, as my notes say, “What’s going on in that head of yours, little buddy?”), but seemed to have found his stride again.

But there are still parts of the offense that are anything but brilliant. When you have a team of sluggers, you’re taking a risk. But when you take this risk, wouldn’t you expect it to pay off? While today happened to be better than the last two games, there were still traces of the offensive struggles of the previous days. Today, Crede, Dye, Hall, Thome, and Quentin all fell short of the mark.

TCQ (That's THE Carlos Quentin) got a double, but the only way I can explain it is that he tripped and fell into it. Lately, he’s been an offensive mess. Like Crede, the only thing constant for Carlos is the rate at which his average is declining. (Ouch! It doesn't mean that I don't love them!) Thome is excused today because he’s been hitting well in the past few games, Dye has also been hot enough that he shouldn’t be held responsible for having an off day when everyone else had his back, and I don’t expect much from Hall anyway (He got on base on an error today. I think no one was more shocked than he.). And then there’s Joe. To his credit, he’s convinced me that he’s getting back on track. If you check out his hitting chart, he has a clear pattern. All his home runs and the majority of his doubles have been happening in left field. Sure, this might mean he doesn’t have range OR that he has a formula that works, and from what I saw today, he’s been working on aiming. Joe, are you reading this right now?

Friday, July 4, 2008

Ozzie doesn't manage: Sox - Oakland Game 2

I’m going to try to hold off my complaints as long as possible. Let’s start by saying that I’m glad the guys aren’t stuck wearing those uniforms every day. Some of them (Swish, especially) are looking like lumberjacks out there.

Some things I never thought I’d say: “I miss Konerko,” “Why is Buehrle Still up on the mound?” and, “Where’s Alexei?” Yup, all those things have been going on in my mind today. It was the seventh when I started thinking that I wanted to throw an Ozzie-sized tantrum. Why weren’t changes being made? Uribe (who was too slow out there today) was still in, Wise hadn’t been dropped for Brian Anderson, and the pitching was spotty from beginning to end.
The game was completely strange from beginning to end. The first batter up gets walked by Buehrle (And this weak moment was representative of his performance during the rest of the game), the home plate umpire is making some odd calls, the fourth run scored by the A’s was by someone that did not even touch the plate, A.J. had an atypical strikeout his first time out, and I couldn’t even count on the uniforms to look the same.

Well, I won’t give you the play-by-play. At the end of the day, the disappointing fact remains that the Sox lost 1-7, and are now only 1 game ahead of the Twins. Something needed to change when every pitcher gave up a run, when no hitter (Other than, perhaps, Jim Thome) was consistent (not even workhorse Cabera), and when the other team was consistently scoring points.

I can tell you exactly where Ozzie’s decision making skills went! Ozzie’s been putting his energy into figuring out who to send back to Charlotte, and instead of bringing in help, he’s been leaving Uribe and Wise out to the end to fight to the death on the field. This is the reason why Wise has been playing two days in a row: Ozzie wants to see what he can do. And the truth is that the boy’s batting average is OBVIOUSLY going to be high if he’s been up at bat as few times as he has been. He’s at a point in the season where one hit can lift his average by .050 every time. Ozzie trusted him so much after his home run yesterday, that he had Uribe throw away his at-bat for him.

Another breakthrough I had today: I figured out what Joe Crede is doing wrong. Well… not always. But, especially after seeing the path the ball leaving his bat had, I realized his problem: the man’s struggling with aim. He hits them far and hard, but right down the middle, where the distance to the edge of the diamond is the longest. A few times, he was two feet away from the fence- a problem that wouldn’t have been there had he aimed left or right.

Well… I’m upset. And I called it: the offense has been slipping again. Maybe it’s time for another break for Carlos Quentin (and look at that: you’d get B.A. and Wise in a side-by-side comparison!), time to bring Wasserman back for awhile, and for Ozzie to get aggressive again.
Tomorrow, Gavin Floyd is pitching, hoping to win in the last home game before the All-Star break.

Vazquez Still Wins Despite Loss: Sox - Oakland Game 1

I went to the Sox game today expecting a win. Of course, what I didn't realize was that their winning streak had hit "lucky number 7," a number that suggests that although we've won at least 70% of our last 10 games, the winning streak might not go on forever because you can't win 'em all. Even if the team loses tonight (Which they did. 2-3), that should be good enough. And while no one wants to see his/her team lose, I'll try to take this loss gracefully.

So, with that said, here are all the good things I could come up with about today's game: Vazquez has one of his best outings. There was only one walk (but, boy, did that walk cost us) and only a handful of hits. He finished the game and even got a little involved defensively. A.J. was the batting all-star for the second night in a row with at least one double (I don't know why I feel like he hit two, but who knows. There were people swearing, we had to make the cheer meter go all the way up to home run... it was complicated). Jermayne Dye also got two hits, one of which brought in the second and last run of the night. Other players that successfully got on base were Wise (Playing center field today and was the lead-off man while O.C. got a much-deserved day off), who hit the first home run of the game in the bottom of the first, Big Jim Thome, and the man with the haircut: Joe Crede.

I was listening to the radio on the way back from the game, and someone called in and said something that made my disappointment a little easier to handle: The Sox were up against 3 extremely good pitchers in the last 4 games and they won against 2 of the 3, plus managed to get out of 2 extremely unpleasant and sticky situations out of 3 says a lot about how much they've improved as a team this season. If they don't let this loss get them down, they'll be just fine. True enough. There has to be a reason why the team has kept its place leading the division. Every team and player has rough patches, right?

Another topic that the radio show touched upon was another sticky situation: the active roster's status once Paul Konerko is back. The “situation” is that Ozzie/Kenny want Paulie back, but to keep Anderson AND Wise as backups for CF (which will then have Swisher back). But considering that Uribe is a backup for second base, short stop, and third base, unless they send back one of the two, the other option of trading Uribe to a place where he would get more playing time and will feel more… “useful” will leave only Ozuna as a backup infielder in the lineup. Confused? So are they. We all know that, at least this year, no matter how badly Konerko is doing, he’s not the one that’s going to lose his job. Assuming they still want Swish out on the field, that leaves… everyone else. Now, I will say this flat out: no matter how well he does, what people say, what his nickname is ("Secret Weapon," my ass!), I will NEVER like Pablo Ozuna. Yeah, I'm spoiled because he's not even as talented as Crede's left shoe out on third, but the guy needs a couple of more years of experience. Preferably on another team. So… if you could somehow do this bit of juggling while managing to send Ozuna back to Charlotte (Ooh! Or the Twins. They need a Secret Weapon that would work to our advantage, too), that would be just lovely.

Honestly, this is a bit over my head. I see no good ending to this situation. My only plan isn’t going to make Ozzie happy… I’m thinking of maybe trading Uribe for a good infielder, sending Wise back to Charlotte, getting B.A. some serious batting practice/advice/coaching/prayers/steroids, and keeping Ozuna someplace in a dusty corner of the active roster. Or how about those mean rumors Crede haters are starting about Josh Fields taking over for Crede next year? Although it won’t happen, why don’t they mail Ozuna back, bring this miracle third baseman here and shove him in the dugout for awhile, let him play with the big boys?

I guess the decision is in the hands of the managers and up to the performance of all of these men.

Tomorrow, the Sox taken on Oakland again with Buehrle pitching.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Pierzynski and the Fight for a High Average: Sox - Indians Game 3

It's been a great few days for the Sox. They just completed their second sweep in a row. First the Cubs, now the Indians. W's look good on the front page. The Sox are now 49-35, still 2.5 games ahead of the Twins, and have 414 runs scored for the year.

While, it is worth mentioning that Contreras was there, and Brian Anderson got a 2-RBI double, Swisher brought one in, Ozuna was on the field again (cue eye roll), and Crede got a new haircut (I'm sorry, I can't help myself!) the best thing I've seen today is A.J. Pierzynski.

The catcher made fireworks happen twice today. Most notable was his home run double in the tenth inning. He was 2 for 5 today, bringing his average to an even .300. If it's possible, I love A.J. even more.

Today, A.J. showed Sox fans range. If you remember, a few days ago, I wrote that I felt a little confused about Pierzynski's place in the lineup. Mostly a hit-man, he often found himself stranded on base while Quentin and Dye or Thome (or whichever slugger happened to walk himself into a flyout or strikeout position) became the third out.

A.J. is the type of player that you see playing for the Cubs: batting for hits, not home runs. You will find these guys (Ryan Theriot was my Cubs example) that have around 4 home runs, but massive .320 averages. That, to me, describes A.J. Pierzynski. He usually goes out to get on base, not to put the ball high and far in the air.

Tonight, though, A.J. showed what his biggest fans knew all along: he can do it all! He can call the pitches, he can step on bases, and he can set off the fireworks just like (or better than) the typical White Sox sluggers.

Now, this brings me to my gripe: Batting averages with the White Sox. You might disagree with me and feel that the Sox offense has picked up, but I feel like the team is sliding downward offensively again. The Sox are leading the American League in home runs with 113. (Maybe more now, it takes about a day for the site to update. Don't judge me for not keeping track!) They also have the third highest slugging average. Their batting average, while not as awful as it was before THE Tampa Bay Rant, is still not the strongest. I'm not saying it's unacceptable for guys to hit in the .260s. Fine by me. But it's not okay to be Jim Thome or Paul Konerko (And Brian Anderson, now that he's had a decent amount of playing time and can be held responsible for his batting actions) to barely cling to the .200 mark because they are relying on hitting home runs rather than doing real base running.

It is also unacceptable (This goes out to you, Joe Crede!) to have a .270ish average because of a single week a month where you're hitting in the .600s, while the rest of the month you're .160 at best. Carlos Quentin seems to fall in this category, too. Although... he can go either way. He might be a slugger, he might be just streaky, or he just might be mentally exhausted. (I imagine he gets picked on quite a lot for his batting stance/crotch grabbing tendencies and that is, indeed, difficult to deal with mentally)

So, my question is, does batting average stand for how many times in a season your talent can get you on base, or is it rather a euphemism for how many times blind luck can get you a home run if you swing your bat really, really, really hard?