Tuesday, January 20, 2009

News in Soxtown

A colon is not just something that precedes a list. It's also the name of the Sox' new re-acquisition. I’ve been debating whether or not to write something up about the trade of Bartolo Colon. Honestly, as someone on the some forum said, this move might’ve happened just to give fans something –anything- to talk about. Well, this is certainly an important development. I am assuming that Colon is coming to the Sox to fill the 4th roster position. He’s the bargain version of adding a veteran to the club. The Sox aren’t disguising the trade as something spectacular either. Colon’s contract is clause-ridden and he will really have to earn his paycheck. In case you were wondering, Colon’s numbers weren’t the most impressive, and either was his time on the D.L. The Sox don’t have much to lose with this move, so what more can you say?

And, from new pitchers, to old, Jose Contreras was reported to have thrown off a mound. Great news for him, but still nothing earth-shattering for the Sox. Hopefully, he will regain his mobility and will still have command of his pitches. Hopefully, he will be able to perform well enough and long enough to earn at least part of his massive salary.

And, speaking of massive salaries, Bobby Jenks and the Sox settled on a 1-year, 5.6 million dollar salary. Well, if they hadn’t, who would’ve closed, right? But, in the long run, I could see how maintaining Jenks on the roster could be a problem of the budgetary persuasion.

In “Same Ol’, Same Ol’” news, Brian Anderson gave another interview. He’s smart enough (hey, he went to college, after all!) to realize the Sox seem to have Jerry Owens in mind for the starting position next year. At least, this time, he had the finesse to control himself from throwing blame on his bosses or to throw and tantrum in front of the press and demand to be traded.

And, while Anderson has reasons not to feel good about himself, other Sox players have received recognition in the form of Danks, Thornton, Pierzynski, and Quentin having been placed on the temporary World Baseball Classic roster. It’s nice of them to receive the accolades they deserve- after all, they all gave great performances this year, but I’m sure many agree the exertion may not be worth it.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

How would you feel if you were Lance Broadway?

Recently, [Coop gave another interview] about the 2009 starters, and that got me thinking. Sure, I was inspired to write about Clayton Richard, who was somewhat of a breakout star this year, but he’s not the one worrying at home. His biggest concern is making another embarrassing fielding error. The one who should worry is another whose name is often thrown out with the other prospects (Poreda, Marquez of course, etc.). Lance Broadway.

Let’s go back. Not to 2008, but 2007. Why was it Lance Broadway that they brought up to battle the Royals? He pitched a scoreless, unflawed game. But how was anyone to expect that? His numbers in Charlotte weren’t too encouraging. He finished out the year with an 8-9 record in Charlotte and a less than stellar 4.65 ERA over 155 innings. Certainly a far cry in contrast to the 2.75 ERA over 154 innings in 25 games in AA. And, yes, we are talking apples and… bigger apples, or whatever the case may be when moving from AA to AAA, but The difference between 4.65 and 2.75 earned runs can mean quite a bit more in a game. So, then, why Broadway? Is it his Mark-Buehrle-like groundball style? Whatever it was, in 2007 (perhaps it was the season as a whole), it was enough to get him a start.

His 2008 season wasn’t much better. If anything, he seemed to have regressed. In 10 less innings than the previous year, Broadway gave up 7 more home runs. Only his WHIP got slightly better, and I use the word slightly generously. And the guys upstairs seemed to notice, letting him “eat innings” rather than be allowed to start any time it really mattered. Not to mention that he did some big league pitching backed up by errors and iffy defense, so he was given more runs than he earned. This won’t help his case.

So, with that said, it would seem to me he wouldn’t have a spot in the rotation for the second year. But “wouldn’t” and “won’t” are two different words. First of all, the need for 2009 seems much more serious than last year. While Danks and Floyd held their own last season, they’re missing the salt and pepper Buehrle gathered over time and shouldn’t be treated as the solid spokes in the wheel. (Hopefully, they are, but, just last year, they were the question marks.) There may be need to carry Danks or Floyd through the season. Just because Broadway isn’t historically the “strongest” starter, he may not be out of the running. Richard, one of the strongest candidates, may not be a good fit for a starter position. First, this wasn’t just his first year making a major league appearance, it was his first year in AAA. And, in the majors, he seemed to do a much better job as a reliever than a starter. Plus, with the departure of Logan, and Massett, having a good, left handed arm in the bullpen would be a real asset. That would Leave Marquez and Poreda. Poreda, however, has been brought up in conversation reluctantly because he really has had no big league experience. He hasn’t even had AAA experience- despite posting great numbers. Hey, Lance Broadway’s numbers were pretty similar in the A+ and AA leagues, but moved on to AAA and got weaker, in case my previous paragraphs weren’t clear.

In case I wrote in a circle, I’m saying Lance Broadway’s numbers aren’t too impressive in the minors. They’re not much more impressive in the majors either, but he hasn’t been given enough of a chance with the big kids to date to be really judged on that. But those numbers weren’t enough to dispel rumors that he may still have a chance with the Sox. He’s still a definite possibility, especially if Clay Rich will be used where he has been most effective (in the bullpen), and the coaches still want to give Poreda time to mature. So, fret not, Lance Broadway. Short of some professional, veteran help through another surprise Kenny Williams trade, there is still a chance for you in the majors.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Is No News Good News? And Some Unkind Words for Swish, the Possible Departure of Floyd?

The lack of updates from the Sox have made me anxious. There isn't much to write about, and I've found myself cleaning up the layout and combing through old news, rather than looking up statistics and analyzing moves. But, this search for lost treasure among articles I've already read lead me to yet another look at Swish's departure.

I roll my eyes every time I’m forced to read another “beat article” by the real reporters over at the Times and Tribune just as much as I enjoy reading Chuck Garfein’s [Sox Drawer] tidbits. The guy went to journalism school for broadcasting, not writing, and his problematic use of the words “your” and “you’re” is often distracting, but I look forward to his sporadic updates. What his posts lack in generic reprint-ability (much like Scott Merkin’s repetitive Associated Press regurgitations usually are), they more than make up for in charisma. His back stage stories lack commentary and instead add color to our images of the Sox players. Except for his latest…

I figured Garfein would stop updating with the end of the season. Therefore, I didn’t bother to check November 14th, when he bid adieu to Ex-South Side Goofball, Nick Swisher (and briefly to Crede and Uribe). Only to stumble upon his post today. While he addressed Crede cordially, mentioning how painful it will be for all to part with the image of Crede in a black and white Sox uniform, he certainly had something to say of Uribe and Swish.

Though he made a jab or two at the polar nature of Uribe’s performance, Garfein admitted he would miss him. Of Swisher, his words were far less kind. “I can't say that I'm surprised [that Nick Swisher was traded], especially after witnessing the pity party Nick threw in Minnesota for 3 games in late-September. … instead of recognizing that his bat was as cold as a popsicle, Swisher acted like he needed one, regressing to a 6-year-old, pouting as if he was in Little League. … he walked past a seated Williams in the dugout with a frown and scowl on his face so obvious you would have thought he was Jason Priestley overacting on Beverly Hills 90210.” Ouch! Funny how the months of September and October transformed Swish from the most lovable guy in Chicago to the bratty kid that embarrasses his parents in a restaurant.

And there you have it, folks. I can’t say I disagree with anything. I will, indeed, miss Joe Crede. Rumors have floated about the Astros (who witnessed the type of pain Crede can bring during that faithful month of October, 2005), Indians (who are probably set. Didn't they sign Casey Blake?), and Giants showing interest in the third baseman. The Giants have gone as far as to say they have looked at his medical records, which seem promising, and are looking at a one-year “make-good” contract. I’m sure he’ll be just fine in the National League. Wish I could say we’ll be just as well-off with Josh Fields as a replacement.

And while nothing worthwhile has gone on in the organization since the big Vazquez swap, there are a few things to be mentioned. There were a few articles on the Sox front page. The first [made Bobby Jenks seem like the scariest guy since Scott Boras], and the next made [John Danks look like a great guy]. And then, there were the rumors of moving Floyd for second baseman Brian Roberts. I just want to go on record and say that if that happens, I will see it as the last and final sign that will indicate the Kenny Williams will look at 2009 entirely as a “rebuilding” year, rather than a year to compete for a trophy.