Tuesday, February 23, 2010

News out of Training Camp

Suddenly, the White Sox frontpage is alive with updates. Just as I’d hoped, the start of baseball season is creeping up on us and the little tidbits of news are the breadcrumbs we get to follow. So, here’s what the Sox are updating us on this week:

First, Bobby Jenks has broken up with alcohol. It seems that, whether because of media attention, health, or family problems, Jenks has realized he had an unhealthy relationship with alcohol and he “quit cold turkey”. Now, I’m not an expert on these things, but I’m not sure that’s how it works. I don’t find this story to be appropriate for the White Sox frontpage, but good for him from a personal standpoint.

Speaking of pitchers doing better, Gavin Floyd says his hip is back in top shape, and that he’s been working on more than strength. It wasn’t until I read this article that I realized how terribly Gavin’s season has gone. He had a terrific June with a 1.28 ERA, but that was the only ray of sunshine between some very weak pitching months. I can only hope he’s back to form.

In other pitcher news, the Sox have converted Sergio Santos (WHO!?) into a reliever. Just last spring training, he was an infielder, and now he’s vying for the last bullpen spot. He seems to have a good fastball (98 MPH, supposedly) and he’s working on a couple more pitches, but we’ll have to see.

Finally, Andruw Jones has been named the DDHAL (Designated Designated Hitter Against Lefties). But what really stuck out to me from this article was the name Alex Rios. No developments about his progress so far. That’s one guy I’m looking forward to seeing. Well, not looking forward to, but curious about. I’d really like to know if Javi Vazquez’s look alike is also his twin in the performance arena.

That’s about all the news. If you want to read the full articles, WhiteSox.com is the place to go.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

In Honor of Pitchers and Catchers Reporting

It’s today! Finally, baseball is coming out of hibernation. Pitchers and catchers report to spring training. This year, it feels a little more special because of all the hype around our pitchers and catchers. Let’s start with number one, Mark Buehrle. He’s been chosen to be pitching on opening day for the record-breaking 8th year in a row. But despite a perfect game and a no-hitter, plus a gold glove on his trophy case, he’s not even the strongest pitcher in the bunch. There’s Jake Peavy, who I can’t tell you much about just yet. But I do know he’s an ace and we paid good money for him. Then, there’s Gavin “Curve Ball” Floyd, who didn’t have as successful of a 2009 as his 2008 was, but is nevertheless a terrific pitcher. There’s John Danks, who had some circulation issues last year, but nevertheless pitched more innings last year than ever before. And then there’s Freddy Garcia. Who I don’t have kind words for just yet. He may still have another strong year in him, but he’ll have to earn it.

There were other things going on this week, like the whole Johnny Damon fiasco, but I hate writing about rumors. It turns out Damon IS coming to the AL Central, but as a Tiger. There was also some news about a reality series featuring the office aspect of the White Sox on the MLB Network. Presumably, starting when baseball season starts?

In the meantime, keep the countdown to spring training in mind, and opening day is sooner than we think!

Monday, February 1, 2010

So Long, Slugger!

I was about as surprised when the Sox decided to “pass” on Jim Thome as I was when they decided to pass on Podsednik. What exactly kept them from jumping on the opportunity? Simply put, the fact that they didn’t want him. The news broke that Ozzie had chosen to pass on Thome sometime last week. About four minutes later, Thome had inked a deal with Sox rivals the Minnesota Twins. (The Twins also seem to be Thome’s personal rivals. Not only did he hit the infamous Game-163-Winning Home Run during the 2008 pre-offseason race, this was just one of his 57 homers against the Twins. Statistically, about one out of every home runs Thome has hit was dedicated to the Minnesotans.) For $1.5 million dollars. I’m not sure how else to put in perspective than to say that this is less than 10% of his 2008 salary. To reiterate, that is only 3 times as much as Dewayne “The Rock” Wise made last year. (On a side note, Baseball-Reference has Thome’s total salary since 1991 is about $137 million. I think that’s just a hair over the White Sox’ annual payroll.)

Now, if you want to hear all the reasons why I’m disappointed the White Sox didn’t resign Thome, you might as well be reading Jim Margalus’s article over at the Sox Machine. I don’t want to be repetitive, especially since I’m posting this with such a delay.

But let’s look on the flip side: Why SHOULD the White Sox have released Thome? Well, if I was to defend Ozzie on this one, I’d say that it shows growth and a desire to win. How many times have I griped that the Sox make moves that spare feelings. Let me take you back to 2008 when Paul Konerko’s bat was as cold as a polar bear’s nose. Even the likes of Nick Swisher were doing batter and the fans cried out, “BENCH PAULIE!” Well, Ozzie chose to let Paulie work himself out of it, even if that cost the Sox a game or two. At least this time around, Ozzie chose to make a move that wasn’t based on his consideration for Thome’s feelings and that was in, what I hope he sincerely believed, was the team’s best interest.

Now, whether or not that will turn out to be true is left to find out. There’s an article on the Sox front page that, infuriatingly enough is titled, “White Sox won’t close door on DH.” Well, who do they believe will be a better bargain? True, Thome was getting older, but as evidenced by his salary with the Twins, he was a bargain. This article, if I may paraphrase, states that if the Sox find themselves in June or July and their “DH by committee” has turned into a turd worthy of ridicule and critique, Kenny would consider going out and DH-shopping. So with that in mind, I just want to remind everyone that next year, when the Sox front page gives you some statistics about how well the DH position being played, remember that for every day Andruw Jones has, Paul Konerko and Carlos Quentin will have one as well. (This, at least, gives me hope. I can't express how frustrated this situation has made me every time I read the phrase "off the bench". It just reminds me too much of the Brian Anderson era.) A more accurate statistic would be the AVG of all out-of-position players or of players who have not played on consecutive days.

On a last note, I will miss Jim Thome. He seemed like a great guy and he’s given the Sox plenty of memorable moments and fashion trends. Cheers, Jim, and we’ll see you when the Sox bring you back for your “undisclosed staff position.”