Saturday, February 19, 2011

Spring Training: A Time To Grab the Bullpen By The Horns

Thornton says he doesn’t get recognized much. While it may be every little boy’s dream to grow up to be a famous baseball player, in today’s world, that would mean you’d have to be an A-Rod-sized egomaniac who philanders himself with one famous lady after another, all the while juicing up on steroids and being everything baseball shouldn’t be. It’s okay, Matt Thornton. You don’t have to be recognized. (And you certainly don’t want to be remembered as the guy who gave up the go-ahead run in the All-Star Game in 2010, but alas…)

Uh… what was I talking about? Oh yeah, Matt Thornton. The Sox front page features an article about him and how they will deliver him from anonymity by making him their closer. Yes, at the moment, he seems to be the prime candidate to fill Bobby Jenks’s oversized britches.

I’m not sure how I feel about this. First of all, I was Thornton’s biggest fan in 2009. Last year, though, it was appallingly difficult to tell if he was having a so-so year in the midst of the Sox driving themselves into a ditch or if he was having difficulties. That, or, maybe everyone figured him out. After all, the same article mentions that, “According to, Thornton threw his fastball 88.1 percent of the time among his 974 pitches last season.” I’m not exactly a mathematician, but my counting skills tell me that’s a lot of pitches that are the same. If you asked me a few years ago, I would say that’s all a closer is: a guy that throws really really really really really hard. If you asked me last year, while Jenks was struggling and complaining about his fast ball, I would stand behind that even more. In the ninth inning, Thornton isn’t coming on to cover Tony Pena’s ass after he got 12 men on base and allowed 45 runs to score (Pena often does that. Look it up…), he’s coming on with no one out, with arguably less pressure and more room for error. If there’s one thing Thornton’s proven is that he is the voice of reason. And if he thinks he’s ready to close, that may be reasonable enough.

Speaking of the bullpen, Kenny Williams said an interesting thing about Chris Sale. Sale was scheduled to train with the starters, but was announced to be a bullpen arm within a few days. What gives? Well, Kenny says Sale has prepared as a starter all his career and Kenny did not want to change the way he prepared for the season, for fear that it would change his game in any way. Uh… sure. I’ll buy that.

That’s my bullpen news of the day. It’s exciting to see footage crop up from Spring Training and I can’t wait to see the first game! Combined with the increasing puddles outside and the diminishing mounds of snow, I am ready for baseball season.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Good on Paper, Bad in Excel

"Someone mentioned to me how on paper, we look great and I said, 'Yeah, the '08 Tigers, on paper, they were the most feared team in the history of baseball.' I was terrified and thinking, 'This team is ridiculous and we have no chance.' We ended up winning the division, and the Tigers finished dead last. It can happen to us." –Matt Thornton

I feel like, in a strange way, Matt Thornton has been this team’s voice of reason this offseason. From his radio interview saying Oney should not have brought out clubhouse business, to admitting that looking good on paper doesn’t mean anything, Matt Thornton is a smart guy. But how good do the Sox really look on paper? Enter Microsoft Excel and the writer of The White Sox Blog. Phase one, pitching.

Pitching is really the backbone of any baseball team. If your starting pitching is good, you won’t need much. Sure, there are the likes of Wilson Betemit, Josh Fields, and Mark Teahen, who have single-handedly lost a game or two, but for the most part, pitching makes or breaks a team. So I laid out a spreadsheet of the ERAs and winning percentages of all the pitchers listed for the White Sox by Then, I took the average of both the ERAs and the percentages for both 2010 and for the entirety of their respective careers. To borrow from Top Gear, the results were STAGGERING. Well… not really.

Although I didn’t get weighted average (so the results are a bit biased because some pitchers pitched 500 innings, some pitched about 2), and some pitchers had no results to speak of, the number is still technically the White Sox “on paper.” The average ERA in 2010 for the 18 pitchers listed on is 4.44. This is a fair ERA, but nowhere near brilliant, or even good, considering that it is an improvement from the pitchers’ lifetime average ERA, 4.73. And while 2010 was somewhat of a disappointment, these pitchers had an average winning percentage of 56%, while their lifetime winning percentage was 53.2%. If we only win 53.2% of our games this year, we’d be no better than this year. Last year, we won 54.3% of our games.

Don’t despair, though. While the numbers are staggering with 2.00 ERAs and 77% winning percentages, last year’s World Series winners, the Giant only won 56.8% of their games. See, we’re not exactly in bad shape. But does the pitching look great on paper? Well, according to, you’d have to define “great” as “of exceptional talents or achievements; remarkable” or “impressive or striking.” How can you use any of those words in conjecture with a staff that refuses to relinquish itself of Tony Pena?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Things I've Heard...

It’s all over the newspapers. “I know it's bad to say, but there were times where we hope he gets hurt.” That would be Mark Buehrle on Michael Vick. Sure, it’s taken out of context. He [Buehrle] was saying he’s an animal lover, and that guys like Vick, who hurt animals, have something coming for them in terms of karma. But Holy Jesus Wearing Sandals! You can’t qualify something with “I know it’s bad to say” and then blurt it out in an interview! Way to shove your huge foot in your enormous mouth. I think Matt Thornton (talking about Oney’s twitter rampage against Bobby Jenks) sums my feelings up best: “The fact that anything was said at all is ridiculous,” Thornton said.

Now, I know you’re waiting with baited breath for me to deliver on the promise I made last post. More Mark Teahen bashing. Well, here it is. From the front-page itself: “Mark Teahen acknowledges his on-field performance, offensively and defensively, last season was subpar.” Don’t worry, Mark. No one thinks your performance was subpar. It was right on par with your crappy career-long performance. You were playing for the Royals, not the Red Sox, for a reason, honey. Because you are subpar compared with anyone else on your team. Or any other team for that matter. Let’s all face it. Teahen will be eating a lot of bench and using his frequent flier miles on flights to Charlotte this year. Even Peavy said he hears Brent Morel is the third baseman elect, and couldn’t be happier about it. God, I miss Josh Fields… At least he was arrogant about his abilities and I didn’t feel bad about making fun of his unshaven cleft.

One thing I didn’t talk about was Alexei’s extension. And by that, I mean, Dayan Viciedo’s enormous contract. Alexei’s extension finally gave him a contract that wasn’t, well, insulting. Viciedo’s contract makes me wonder if he’ll ever be a big league player and why we owe him so much money. I’m sure the Cuban well has not run dry, but is it possible for the Sox to have struck gold twice? With their luck, no. So, again I ask, for the 40th time, what’s the deal with Dayan Viciedo?

That’s all for today. Keep your eyes open for a post sometime this week that uses actual statistics!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

If You're "All In", Get Out!

Later that night: It's just been announced that the White Sox 2011 ad campaign is titled "All In." Oh dear lord!

It’s colder than a witch’s tit out there! And you know what that means! It’s time for the White Sox Blog to come back to life. No, that’s completely made up. But after computer malfunctions last December and a crazy January, I find myself in February, ready to pick up my typewriter and write to my adoring fans. Also, I have a new laptop on which to write my blog on.

First, let me just tell you that if I ever read the phrases “All In” and “White Sox” in a sentence (apart from this one) ever again, I might personally go to Jerry Reinsdorf’s house and steal his wallet. Now clearly, Jerry allowed the Sox to expand their budget a tad, but this “tad” is probably still on pace with average revenue growth. It’s not like he’s not going to get that money back and then some. “All-In” doesn’t even apply to this situation. Unless our payroll was double that of the Yankees and had half of their players, we are being duped into believing Jerry is making some great sacrifice and giving us the money his wife would otherwise use to buy dinner.

As for Jake Peavy being “All In”… yeah, well he better be. He’s getting paid and adding no value. On a more serious note, he seems determined to be our 5th starter by opening day. My hopes aren’t as high. Then again, if Jose Contreras did it, so can Jake Peavy. Oh, God. Let’s not make that analogy.

If Peavy isn’t ready, Freddy Garcia isn’t an option either. It turns out Freddy got picked up by the Yankees. That’s right. New York’s going to get a little wetter this summer. Freddy and Colon in a Yankees uniform. A sight to behold! You are one Jose Contreras away from the best team ever!

There’s always Chris Sale, according to the internet. And while my little “hole in the wall” blog is part of the internet nevertheless, I am going to respectfully disagree. Freakin’ idiots. Okay, forget the “respectfully” part. You’re not going to entrust your starting rotation to a kid in the year that you’re going balls to the walls (alternative #1 for “All-In”). Who knows what problems Sale will display when pitching for 7 innings at a time? And, not to agree with Don Cooper, but he shouldn’t be bounced around. Look at what it did to Beckham. At least in theory.

In minor league news, Joe Crede is back! He’s back baby! Crede has inked a minor league deal with the Rockies. That’s pretty much the worst thing I’ve ever heard, but at least it’s something! Show them what you’ve got, Joe!

In related news (if you define “related” and “news” loosely), Gordy Becks has decided he will no longer do things like endorsements, and focus on baseball. That’ll disappoint the Victoria’s Secret girls. And the Giordano’s manager. And anyone who counts on Beckham’s salary for that matter. And on that note, I’m sorry if you came to this website because you searched “Eva Longoria shirtless.” There were 18 of you. Thanks for that precious info, Google Analytics.

It’s good to be back. Join me Thursday, when I attempt to catch up on an entire offseason of baseball and I say more mean things about Mark Teahen.