Monday, August 30, 2010

What Does Manny Mean For Sox Players?

I briefly touched on the Manny trade yesterday- kind of a generic story about what I hoped Manny would do for the team. What I failed to do was analyze his impact on his teammates.

For once, this isn’t a question about “Who will be sent back to Charlotte?” (The answer seems like it would have been Brent Lillibridge) As rosters expand this week, no one needs to be moved, but according to an article on the White Sox front page, this move essentially benches Andruw Jones and Mark Kotsay. Says the article, Jones will be a defensive replacement (in what world is Jones superior to ANYONE as a defensive replacement?) and Kotsay will be just a back-up first baseman. Worse yet, is the prospect for Mark Teahen. The only position he is adequate for is DH, and…. Well, in case you haven’t figured it out by now, that spot is taken.

Is Manny actually superior to any of these guys? Let’s make some projections happen. This chart predicts how these men would fare over 300 at-bats (Why 300? I don’t know, it just seemed like a nice round number. It’s just so we’re not comparing apples to porcupines.)

Current AVG
Manny Ramirez
Andruw Jones
Mark Kotsay
Mark Teahen
Brent Lillibridge

Overall, Manny’s projected numbers seem to be better than everyone’s. The only questionable one is Brent Lillibridge who has had the smallest sample size of at-bats by a large margin.

Honestly, I would rather Ozzie choose two of these yoo-hoos and send them to Charlotte and literally bring every single pitcher down there and see what we can do for the bullpen. Perhaps that is the magic of the Manny trade: the ability to get rid of the many DHs and bring in as many young arms as the cell can hold. It’s brilliant, Kenny. Really, you are a ninja.

If, on the other hand, the plan was to add Manny, but keep Jones, Kotsay, Teahen AND Lillibridge on the roster… well, he’s doing a great job of wasting Jerry Reinsdorf’s money.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Here's To Manny (Wins)

It’s almost 100% official: Manny Ramirez is coming to the White Sox. I’ve abstained because… well, with Kenny, you can’t ever think that a rumor is true. After all, he is the trade ninja. But, for once, Kenny delivered just as was rumored: The Manny Ramirez is heading to Chicago.
It was interesting watching this story develop, because KW and Ozzie were both tight-lipped and outspoken about the possibility. Ozzie has implied that he could handle Manny better than his former managers. Kenny never confirmed nor denied it, but later in the process hinted they may be looking at other players. Alas, the trade happened as foretold.
Of course, there is still a chance that The Manny Ramirez is the second coming of The Ken Griffey Junior- at a time when he is but a shadow of his former self. In the wake of injuries, steroid-use scandals, and after being labeled a clubhouse cancer, there is an undeniable downside to Manny as well as the potential for greatness.
This potential for greatness has me picturing his dreadlocks running the bases to the tune of fireworks, and the Sox winning every game by a touchdown! Of course, we’re going to need about 3 touchdowns’ worth of points to win with our bullpen in such a tattered state, but that’s a different story.
That, indeed, is a very, very, very sad story.  Thornton and Putz are both condemned to the DL due to various ailments. Scott Linebrink is also suffering from an ailment, but if anyone knew what that was, we’d be looking for a cure instead of sending him to the mound.  I predict a new campaign with black and white ribbons as the symbol and many, many telethons. “Pitch for the cure” or something. There must be something that keeps him from producing consistently, if ever. What’ worse is that I can’t bring myself to hate him more than I hate Tony Pena.
For more, we’ll have to stay tuned and watch him play. Let’s hope for the best!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Man With The World on His Shoulders

Because these last couple of games are unworthy of anyone’s patience and attention, I’ve decided to use today’s post as a sort of walk down memory lane. A “Where are they now?” for the recently departed players of the team. So, where are they now?

Jermaine Dye is the easiest: he’s sitting at home on his couch. Or perhaps he and Joe Crede are touring with Journey, singing backup.

Jayson Nix was claimed by the Indians earlier this year after being designated for assignment. After batting a deplorable .163 with the Sox, Jayson went on to hit .264 for the Indians. Quite an improvement. Plus, this time around he had one more hit (37) than SO (36)! Conclusion? Not a big loss.

D.J. Carrasco, a man I would have traded Tony Pena’s soul for, moved over to the National League. He posted a mediocre 3.88 ERA in 45 games with the Pirates, then moved to the Diamondbacks, where further atrophied to 5.63. Overall, on the year, he has a 4.10 ERA and 57 holds. Comparatively, in 2009 with the Sox, his ERA was 3.76 with 103 holds (although, he had 30 more innings under his belt, so when the numbers are reduced proportionally, he should still be at 70 holds on the year). Seems the choice here was a good one, unless he, like I assumed of our own Edwin Jackson, was suffering from a case of “being on a horrible team.”

Scott Podsednik, who I was more than upset to let go played for the Royals, then Dodgers this year. I often compared him to Juan Pierre this year. Pierre is leading the majors with 47 stolen bases, while Scott has 34. Still, Podsednik is hitting a much better .308 with a slightly better .354 OBP and 49 RBI over Pierre’s .273/.345/31. Pierre has turned out to be a pretty good player for the Sox as of late, but I’d still rather have Scotty. I guess this one’s a toss-up.

Finally, there’s Jim Thome. After hitting .249 with the Sox the previous year, Thome went on to hit .273 for the Twins this year. He’s had 17 HR so far. HOWEVER, his first half numbers looked a little different. He was hitting .255 with only 10 HR in 61 games. Recently, he’s had 7 in the last 20 and he’s hitting .313 with a .423 OBP. His numbers are even better against the Sox, with an overall .387 BA and .459 OBP. As for a conclusion on this one… well, I don’t have one. I loved Thome as a player, but he was often frustrating in terms of productivity. Do I wish we had another slugger on the team? Sure. But should it have been Jim Thome just so he wouldn’t be single-handedly making Sox fans cry every night as part of the Twins organization? That I can’t be sure about.

Overall, I think Kenny hasn’t made as many mistakes as I’d like to accuse him of making this past off-season. Has he lost his magic touch? Well, to some extent, I’ve been beginning to doubt him ever since the Griffey trade. But is our entire season doomed because of the simple decision not to pick up Jim Thome once again? Absolutely not. The failures of our season are not Jim Thome’s fault. Surely, he's not the nail in the coffin deciding that the Sox are 5 games behind the Twins. It is the Sox’ fault for not winning with the talent they do have.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Twins-Sox Game 1: An Illustrated Story

The Sox took on the Twins. The ending was so tragic, it left me speechless. Instead of a post, here is the illustrated story of last night's game:

First inning: John Danks sleeps, Sox put out batting cage machine on the mound instead. Machine throws slow-pitch baseballs...

Paul Konerko starts to put the Sox on the board
Hawk Drunkely talks about Danks being a Mongoose
Danks chooses to wake up and perform

Young punches AJ right in the face and misses home plate by about 6 feet.
Alexei's heroics get the Sox the lead
In a situation similar to 2008's game 163, Thome hits a walk-off homer. This time, for the wrong team.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Cherry Garcia

This loss could be blamed on many. Should it be Freddy Garcia for giving up 5 runs in 5 innings? Could it be JJ Putz who gave up 3 runs in the 8th, 2 earned? Could it be Tony Pena for giving up 4 runs in the 9th? Could it be Andruw Jones and his terrible defensive day in Center Field? I’ll tell you this much: It wasn’t the offense’s fault.

The clock seemed to be ticking in slow-motion. Between Freddy, Galarraga, and plenty of base runners, the game lasted 3:31. The score swung back and forth, but was mostly tipped in the direction of the Tigers. It was 5-1. Then the Sox took a 7-5 lead. The Tigers came back and won the game 13-8.

The fans booed during this game. But they did not boo enough. There were boos that deserved to be directed at JJ Putz for giving up the lead the same way he gave the game up yesterday. There were boos that Andruw Jones deserved when he played some iffy center field, then simply dropped a ball from his glove. And of course, the cherry on top of the cake, Tony Pena. But, then again, isn’t he always the cherry on top of a loss?

The bottom line is that the Sox are in terrible shape. And they are heading to Minnesota for a 3-game series. And while the offense has been fine, the pitchers seem to be back in the form they were in in April or May. Freddy is what I predicted: growing fatigued as the season rolls on. The bullpen is losing it, too. Putz is starting to look rickety at a time when Jenks is being considered for the DL.

Let’s focus on the positives if for just one paragraph. Chris Sale looks fairly decent. I don’t think he should be a permanent in the arm in the bullpen just yet, but it’s good to know that our farm system does occasionally run into talent. Hawk Harrelson was out for the day due to a family illness. Oddly enough, they didn’t bother to find Steve Stone a counterpart. He was at it solo. It was extremely awkward at first to hear a one-sided conversation during a sports commentary situation. As I tweeted, the situation grew on me. It was like being home alone when you have a big family. It was peaceful, it was free of references to Hawk’s career, and there were no cookies. It should have been a good game.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Pirahnas Meet The Great Whites

The Sox and Twins pulled a switcharoo yesterday. It was fun watching a game against the Twins-for once. The Twins made bonehead after bonehead move last night. From poor base running, to fielding errors, it was a comedy of errors. And for once, the Twins mere making all the mistakes, and the Sox were mercilessly taking advantage of the situation. It was a very piranha-like thing to do. But just for today, we’ll give them a cooler nickname: The Chicago Great White Sharks. Preying on wounded animals.

What’s more, John Danks and Ozzie dealt quite well with an unfair situation. When the umpires issued warnings to both dugouts when Carlos Quentin was hit for the second time that night (and for the 10,000th time in his career, it may seem), John Danks refused to be shy when it comes to the inside corner. He did his thing, and Ozzie seemed to back him up in case of a potential ejection. Overall, he kept the Twins to 1 run over 8 innings. He threw more pitches than I would have cared for, but he, of course, had to compensate for Freddy’s outing, when the bullpen was abused.

I personally think hitting players in retaliation is an obvious and an easy way to get ejected and pay a big fee. I’m sure the umpires are not goldfish, and their memories can last up to, if not more, than 30 seconds, and they will surely remember yesterday’s escapades in case one of the Twinkies does get plunked today. And Carlos, is just Carlos: a plate crowder.

Aside from Freddy’s hiccup, the pitching seems to be holding up. So, provided the offense keeps up its 6 run nights, this series will end with the Sox back in first. If Pierzynski and Viciedo continue to be quick outs, this feat won’t be so easy.

It will be a little easier, considering that many of the Twins players took a beating yesterday. One pitcher had to walk off the mount after racing Carlos Quentin to first. In the process, Carlos seemed to step on the first baseman’s glove. I’d say that’s enough blood to make the sharks attack.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Settling Into Second?

The pregame question on Comcast Sportsnet told fans that the Sox were to play the Twins 6 times in the next 10 days. What would be their record?

Well, the Sox started off on the wrong foot. The Sox dropped a game to the Twins in the worst fashion. I was at a restaurant and could only see the score from afar yesterday. “It’s either 2-1 or… 6-2” the person across from me concluded after some serious squinting. In reality, things were much, much worse. It was the 5th inning and Tony Pena was on the mound. On our way out, we realized that the score was 8-3. By the time I made my way home and turned on the TV, the score was a heartbreaking 12-5.

Normally, this wouldn’t be a tragedy. The offense rebounded from their bad weekend in Maryland, and scored 6 runs by the end of the game. And one bad outing from Freddy isn’t the worst thing that could happen among all his wins- many, many more wins than I had expected.

But the results are a tragedy because the Sox were bumped out of first place. And the next few days won’t be any easier, because their schedule is filled with their AL Central foes. 5 more with the Twins. The Tigers are coming to town. The Sox are not faring too well against their division rivals. They are 20-22 on the season. I feel like we are losing in the first round of the play-offs.

The key here is not to panic. The front end of the rotation is headed to the mound, and if the offense scores around 6 runs during every game, things should be fine. Of course, if the team as a whole hits the panic button, the Sox could easily slip back into their 2nd or 3rd place grave.

It seems that the Sox are hunting for a batter that they could claim off waivers. Chuck Garfien seems to be hinting toward Manny Ramirez. I wouldn’t hold my breath, but I do occasionally let myself daydream of what his bat could do for our lineup. I also still think Kenny might go back in time and revive Jermaine Dye from his sedentary grave. Any other predictions about what Kenny might do? What free agent could be headed our way? What does the future hold?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Pitchers Perform, Hitters Halt

This last game cemented my feeling on the series for me. Sure, there’s one more game to be played, but let’s look at the first three. The Sox are trailing 1-2. That ratio is about the same as the Orioles’ overall record (Which stands at a robust 37-74).

So why are the Sox treating a team that is almost 40 games under .500 like they are the New York Yankees in the first round of the playoffs? Why are the Sox having such a hard time winning?

Admittedly, the Sox pitching wasn’t at its best. John Danks started out shaky, Gavin Floyd gave up his first home run in a really long time. But between them, they only gave up 3 runs. And yet the Sox could overcome this “great” deficit only once. This last game, Buehrle gave up 4 runs. Not his best outing. But not exactly a momentous amount of runs to overcome. It was only when the Great and Powerful Ramon Castro hit a 2-run home run in the top of the 9th inning that the offense looked vaguely alive. The score ended at an anemic 3-4.

And the buck doesn’t stop there. The sox pick up two “souvenirs” (obviously not excuses. We’ve seen the promo plenty of times) from their previous two games. A.J. Pierzynski “tweaked” his ankle running the bases. He seems to be alright, but he was nevertheless taken out of the game and given a day of rest. Gordon Beckham pulled his groin. He’ll probably be out tomorrow, and for who knows how long. Mark Teahen’s voodoo doll must be working. (Because, coincidentally, this happened right after Kenny Williams said Teahen won’t be back for a “long time”.)

The Sox really need to do better than this. They should not be struggling to score on a team that needs to win all of the games left in the season just to reach .500 (Slight exaggeration, I know!) They need timely wins, and they REALLY need to beat the Twins when they come to the cell in a couple of days.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Bobby Blows, Santos Saves

Freddy Garcia only gave up one run in today’s 6-4 game against the Tigers. Bobby Jenks took care of the other 3 in the bottom of the ninth. I’m not going to speculate about how Ozzie feels, or what the Sox will do. I’m just going to say what I said at the beginning of the season, when Jenks was still struggling. He won’t be back next year. He’ll be asking for too much money, and now the Sox have an inexpensive alternative: Sergio Santos.

Speaking of Sergio Santos, Josh Fields recently drew my attention via Twitter to the fact that Brian Anderson graduated from Rookie Ball in the Royals organization with a 0.00 ERA over 5 innings with 6 strike outs. The odds that he will have the same success as Santos is having this year are slim, but it’s nevertheless funny to think of Brian Anderson, the pitcher. Who will make those graceful catches in center field? Perhaps Mark Kotsay.

Flawless transition, right? Mark Kotsay was the hero of the game today, picking up 4 RBI, and being just a double short of the cycle. The Sox were happy to have his 2-run insurance points heading into the night. And boy did they need them. And when the Sox needed to break the 4-4 tie, Mark Kotsay stepped up again with a triple. He’s really fighting for his roster spot. And perhaps he should, since several disgruntled Sox fans are making their opinions known about Kotsay’s below par average and production. How far can “unlucky” go? (You know, Kotsay has hit a bunch of balls REALLY hard, only to get robbed by a lucky catch or a strategically placed defensive player.)

Still, do I think Kotsay will be headed down to Charlotte? No. I still think that it’ll be Viciedo so that he can get that “regular playing time”. That he was supposed to get today, but didn’t. Who knows if there would have been any need for Kotsay’s heroics if he was in the lineup?

Overall, I’m glad the Detroit series is over. We’re not much better in terms of standings (Still 1.5 games ahead of those pesky Twins- not that the Rays haven’t tried their hardest to put the Twins down. But you just can’t stop a team that’s on fire.), but we did take 3 out of 4 (one of which was the Torres-driven loss in the second game of the double header), and stopped the Tigers from making any progress. Next, to Baltimore!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Jackson Performs, Don Cooper Looks Like A Genius

Today could have been one of the most embarrassing days of Williams’ career as a GM. He could have been forced to admit that his trade had failed. Edwin Jackson could have come out, given up 6 runs in two innings, and the Sox offense could have been desolate and sparkless without Adam Dunn. Instead, he looked like the trade ninja once again- like the guy that actually could see the emperor’s clothes. He was the guy that saw that Edwin Jackson was an exiled ace just waiting for someone to rescue him from his Arizonian prison.

But please. Let’s not get excited just yet. Edwin Jackson is not the White Sox ace because of today. But he won a game for us, so let’s give him the accolades he deserves. Although he gave up 9 hits, and in the 8th inning gave up one walk, he earned no runs, and refused to let the Tigers have their day.

Maybe he was born with it. Maybe it’s Don Cooper. Regardless, Jackson looked great today. Good enough to be the fifth starter I had hoped for: better to give up 5 runs over 7 innings than 5 runs over 4 innings. He did much more than that today, and I hope he can continue to do just that. We’ll see how this turns out in a few more games. 7 innings does not a season make.

Also notable is Chris Sale’s promotion from AAA. He’s been the fastest-ascending draft pick since 1990, and he will be here to take Threets’ spot in the bullpen. I’m looking forward to his debut, hopefully in a situation where he has a 12-run lead to play with. Good luck, 49!

Tomorrow, the Sox look to take their third win from the Tigers, and they send Freddy Garcia to the mound. Edwin Jackson, we’ll see you in 5 days!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Game 1 Of Detroit Double-Header: 12-2 Winner!

Today’s double header started with a win. But I can’t help wishing it had started with Carlos Torres. “Luckily”, Erick Threets (whose mother couldn’t decide if she wanted to name him Eric or Erik and chose both) went on the DL with “turf toe.” I say, this was lucky because that way, Torres could be recalled from Charlotte to start Game 2 of the Double Header and keep everyone on 6 days of rest.

Anyway. I said I wish the day would have started with Torres because the Sox managed to give their starting pitchers 12 runs’ worth of support. That’s a lot of room for error. Hindsight is 20-20 and such, I suppose.
Luckily, Torres will be facing Jeremy Bonderman, whose 5-6 record and 5.05 ERA is pretty encouraging. Plus, he’s 5-10 lifetime against the Sox. Unfortunately, Bonderman is known to give up lots of homers, which isn’t grindy enough for the Sox, if you ask me.

Speaking of home runs, Juan Pierre ended a 809 at-bat HR drought today. He wasn’t the only one to homer today. Among the lucky ones was Viciedo, who continues to fight for his roster spot.

After considering all of your opinions and taking a poll on my facebook page, I have realized most of the fans don’t want Teahen back. Most of you said, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, but it is quite unlikely that Teahen will just be indefinitely designated for assignment at Charlotte. Sure, he may spend a lot of quality time on the bench, but it’s just not realistic.

Realistically, either Viciedo or Lillibridge would be sent back down to make room for Marky Mark. In my opinion, this person will be Dayan Viciedo. Certainly not because he hasn’t been productive during his time with the Sox, but because everyone will consent that he needs regular playing time. Plus, if he’s being groomed to be the Sox’ future first baseman, he could use a few more games at first. (On a side note, does anyone remember when he was signed to be Joe Crede’s replacement? My, how times have changed.)
Tonight, the Sox try to pick up another win! Join them at 6:05 PM!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Things We're Not Sure We Want: Jackson & Teahen

Instead of writing a post, I’m just going to post two words: Edwin Jackson. He speaks for himself, doesn’t he?

No, not really. To quote an article from the Sun-Times, Jackson “is 1-4 with a 7.24 ERA in five starts since throwing a 149-pitch no-hitter against the Tampa Bay Rays on June 25.” His stats on the year are anything but great. Not to mention that he played in the National League, so, depending on your opinion on the matter, that is also a factor. This article seems to hint that Jackson was part of a failed two-way trade and that the Sox will try to cover their tracks by saying, “Coop’ll fix him.”

It seems very possible, especially if the source you quote is any newspaper or sports news outlet around. Then again, it could simply be that the Sox would rather have a veteran pitcher give up 5 runs over 7 innings than have a rookie pitcher give up 5 runs over 4 innings and overwork the bullpen. I would like to lean toward the latter because I hope Kenny is not dumb enough to go looking for a hitter when the rotation is missing a back leg.

Cooper told the Daily Herald Jackson was tipping his pitches, there was a mention of some “mechanical things”… It’s possible that Jackson was just falling victim to low morale in a clubhouse that was on a train to nowhere. I’d like to think optimistically. So, in order to see if it’s just the D.Backs, let’s take a look at the past.

Jackson started off his career as a regular starter (With more than 7 games a year, that is) with the Rays. It was not a good year, as he finished 5-15 with a 5.76 ERA. The next year, he improved to 14-11 with a decent 4.42 ERA. The next year, he was better yet with a 13-9 record and a 3.62 ERA with the Tigers. And then, there was this year. He does slightly better against righties than lefties, and slightly better away than at home.

But, there is good news. When he has 6+ runs of support, he is 4-0 on the season. So, all we have to do is make sure that every Jackson start is a 6+ run start. (Whatever "6+" means...)

I can’t form an opinion on the trade yet, I’ll just wait for his end of year stats to speak for me. As for the deal overall? I’m just glad we didn’t bet the farm on Adam Dunn.

But more interesting than this confusing trade will be the move Ozzie and Kenny will decide on once Mark Teahen- yes, that’s right, he’ll be back- returns from his rehab assignment. Viciedo and Lillibridge are both hitting above .300. Beckham is really turning it around. Who will be the expandable one? We’ll see, I suppose!