Stretch Run Sox Exchange

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By: Paul M Banks and Soxman

And then there were two. The AL Central pennant race -and I use that term loosely- is heating up as our hometown heroes are the only team left in the AL Central that could conceivably give the Detroit Tigers a run at the division crown. The Sox are currently in a holding pattern just two point five games off the division leading pace. But are they poised to take off and take control once their newly acquired ace, Jake Peavy gets here? Read on to find out…

(PMB) Well it looks like the two teams that are most hated by White Sox Nation, the Minnesota Twins and Chicago Cubs (I listed the Twins first for a reason) are essentially out of their respective races, while the White Sox will fight on into late August, what are your thoughts on our chances down the stretch? Do you think the recent acquisitions of Alex Rios and Jake Peavy make them “favorites?” Peavy did look phenomenal in his first rehab start.

(SM)  Out of their races?  Even if the Twins are only 3.5 games in back of the Chicago White Sox, I never count them out of a race.  NO SOX FAN SHOULD.  Our record at the dome against them is horrible and despite our 13-12 record against American League East opponents, our toughest road trip of the year awaits us as we travel to Boston, New York and then back to Minnesota, where we were swept on our last visit.soxman

I think the AL Central race will come down to the wire, but the next week could make or break us.  The Tigers have an easier schedule then the Sox in the last six weeks of the season as well, so this will remain an uphill battle.

While almost no sports enthusiast agrees with me, I liked both deals.  Rios is going to be an excellent CF for years to come unlike Brian Anderson who is “proving” he’s an everyday player in Boston hitting .167 and making errors.

While I know many fans feel we need Jake Peavy to win, we should not rush him back.  Even if he’s healthy and his confidence is not where it needs to be, his return would hurt us more than help us.

(PMB) One thing the Sox have going for them is their winning record against baseball’s toughest division by far, the AL East. No other team in the Central can boast of that. However, the flip side is a losing record against both the West and Central. What does Chicago need to do to take care of business, in their own time zone? And what are we going to do about Scott Linebrink…before he degenerates into Mike MacDougal part two.
(SM) Well, maybe Linebrink needs to become Mike MacDougal right now!  He’s the Nationals closer, posting a 2.20 ERA with 13 saves in 32 IP.

The Sox have to close games and execute.  It’s very simple.  The White Sox are hitting .246 as team from the 7th inning on.  Players are swinging for the fences in bunt situations, making mental mistakes on the bases, and Alexei?  Let’s just say his mental mistakes warranted AJ shoving him in Minneapolis the last time the two met in the dome.

(PMB) Great point about MacDougal. Time to talk individual awards. Mark Buerhle has certainly got some national recognition for his achievements, although nowhere near enough as he should. As you like to point out, he’s vastly underrated. Any chance he wins the Cy Young? If not him, who should grab it in the AL? Zach Greinke, Roy Halladay?

(SM) Buehrle is an awesome all-around player, but not outstanding in any one category therefore, he’s not likely to garner much Cy Young consideration.  He doesn’t even hit the top five in the American League in innings pitched, strikeouts, or ERA, yet he is capable of throwing a perfect game.

If the Sportsbank were given a vote on the Cy Young, my vote this year would go to Zack Greinke.  He’s first in the AL in ERA (2.44), 4th in innings pitched (173), and second in strikeouts (182), which translates to domination at his position.  Considering he was almost out of baseball two years ago with severe depression, his comeback is amazing.

(PMB) True. He’s “slowed down” over these last couple months, with an ERA of 3.51. Most pitchers would kill for those numbers. How about Rookie of the Year? Gordon Beckham may be my new man-crush. And Chris Getz is having himself a solid year as well. Who do you see as their chief competition?white_sox-old-school-logo

(SM) The things Gordon Beckham has done since getting called up have to make him a strong contender for Rookie of the Year.  In just 239 ABs, Beckham is hitting .297, 7 HR, 44 RBI and 5 SB.  He has more RBIs than Carlos Quentin.

In my opinion, is chief competition is Oakland’s Andrew Bailey.  He’s completely dominated as a closer, notching 22 saves and posting 2.01 ERA with 74Ks in just 67 IP.  Opponents are hitting just .173 against him.  He’s actually posted better numbers than Jonathan Papelbon.  Saves aside, he’s the third most dominating closer in the AL this season.  With 22 Saves and 5 wins, that means Bailey has factored into more than 50% of the A’s wins this season.

Even though Oakland is a horrible team, those numbers are hard to ignore.

(PMB) I agree. Good to see a former Kane County Cougar achieving big things. I was very glad to make it out to Elfstrom Stadium in Geneva last weekend.

Alright, let’s blare PODs, “BOOM” as we go to our “closer” feature, Maybe or Mirage, where we hit 5 quick points on the White Sox and offer our opinion whether it is a sign of things to come or something likely to fade quickly?  Remember, no answer can be longer than 20 words!  Let’s play ball…

The White Sox Will win the AL Central

(SM) Maybe.  What kind of Super hero would I be if I said no?

(PMB) Mirage. It’ll come down to the wire though

Freddy Garcia will stay in the Sox rotation.

(SM) Maybe, unless Bartolo Colon eats him.

(PMB) Mirage. But Ozzie said he’s a great golfer. So he’s got that going for him. Which is nice.

Alex Rios will go 20/20 in 2009

(SM) Maybe.  Definitely if Bartolo Colon doesn’t eat him.

(PMB) Maybe. If Colon can take down 20 White Castle Sliders in 20 minutes…he probably can


Bartolo Colon will pitch for the White Sox again in 2009

(SM) Mirage.  He’s “Where’s Waldo” at 400lbs.

(PMB) Mirage. Unless the Sox structure a new variable based pay contract for him filled with pizza and incentives

DeWayne Wise will make the 2009 Play-off roster

(SM) Mirage. Bartolo Colon will eat him.

(PMB) LOL! No way. He had his Al Bundy glory moment in Buerhle’s perfect game.

White Sox Get Jake Peavy

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By Soxman

What do you get when you combine Jake Peavy and Alexei Ramirez?  Answer: two of four healthy ankles.

Just minutes after the 4:00 p.m. Major League Baseball non-waiver trade deadline passed, the MLB network announced that Jake Peavy was headed to the Chicago White Sox…again, and this time its for real.

With the move, Kenny Williams once again proved the following:

1.    He always gets his man.
2.    He is not afraid to do whatever it takes to win now…and later.

For the most part, this trade involves the same names as version 1.0 did earlier in the season.

The difference?  Peavy is currently on the disabled list with a strained tendon in his ankle and won’t return until mid-August at the earliest.  Not more than two weeks ago, Padres’ GM Kevin Towers noted that Jake Peavy could be done for the remainder of the season, saying, “I think it’s 50-50 if Jake will pitch again this year.”

However, Kenny Williams told the MLB network minutes ago that he believes Peavy will begin a rehab assignment towards the middle of August and could return towards the end of the month possibly on-time for the Red Sox series.

The Padres did pretty well in this deal as they will receive Clayton Richard, Adam Russell, Dexter Carter and Aaron Poreda in return.  soxman1

Richard should immediately move into the Padre’s rotation.  While he is 4-3 with a 4.67 ERA, and a 1.47 WHIP on the season, he had a 1.12 ERA over his last two starts, helping the Sox get a crucial win over the Tigers on Sunday.

The key prospect in the trade for the Padres is likely southpaw Aaron Poreda.  In a limited bullpen stint with the White Sox, the 2007 first-round draft pick had a 2.45 ERA in ten IP.

For the White Sox, the move could be to win now, providing Peavy could return towards the end of August.  It could also be to solidify the Sox rotation for years to come. Peavy is under contract for at least three more years, with a club option for 2012.   In the economics of pitching, it could also be a long term bargain.  He’s due $15 million next year, $16 million in 2011 and $17 million in 2012 with a $4 million buyout on a $22 million club option.

Mark Buehrle is signed through 2011,and John Danks and Gavin Floyd are under the Sox control for at least three more seasons.

Even if he doesn’t throw another pitch in 2009, the White Sox get a proven 28-year old ace and Cy Young award winner (2007), who has a career ERA of 3.29. His ERA is likely to suffer somewhat moving to U.S. Cellular Field, but he should still pitch like a front of the rotation ace.

So why did Jake Peavy have a change of heart after turning down a trade in May?

“There’s no assurance that one of his (Peavy’s) prime target teams was going to take a shot at him in the offseason,” Barry Axelrod, Peavy’s agent said in an interview with Padres insider Tim Krasovic.

Peavy’s preferred teams were the Cubs and Dodgers.

In late May, he decided against accepting a trade to the White Sox.

Citing other factors, Axelrod told Krasovic that the White Sox (52-51 and 2.5 games behind the Tigers) are in better playoff contention than when Peavy nixed the deal in late May.

Should anyone be surprised?

Williams was somewhat forced to respond after the Detroit Tigers acquired Jarrod Washburn from the Mariners, and the Minnesota Twins solved their middle infield situation acquiring shortstop Orlando Cabrera.

He has admitted to coveting Peavy since July of last year, and has a proven track record of never giving up on his targets.  After almost acquiring Ken Griffey Jr. at the 2005 trade deadline, Williams finally got him in 2008.

In 2005 he almost traded Joe Crede to the Angels for Darin Erstad.  He later signed him as a free-agent before the start of the 2007 season.

While it somewhat edges away from Williams vow to develop his farm system, it is a good trade for both teams.

Providing the White Sox can stay in contention until Peavy returns healthy, he could easily add 2-3 wins down the stretch.  Did you hear that offense?  Now wake up…AGAIN.

Surging Sox Exchange

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By  Paul M. Banks and Soxman

Holy Above.500 record Soxman! Before the Southsiders recent winning streak was snapped, the Sox won seven in a row. When last we tuned into this Sox Channel at the same Sox time last week, I was wondering whether the Sox had a legitimate reason to consider themselves buyers at trading deadline. Now they’re just two little games out of first place, the starting pitching has been clicking and the hitting has been coming around. The White Sox runs scored to runs against differential is finally now in the black, 365-362. So what got into this team? Did it just take awhile for the lineup shakeups to take effect or is something else at work here?

(SM) Pitching!  The White Sox now have the second best team ERA in the American League (3.97), second only to Seattle.  Run production is starting to come around as well.  All-Star snub Jermaine Dye has hit .417 with 5 HR over the last 14 games and Scott Podsednik just continues to amaze leading the sox with a .417 batting average.  I think the true “x” factor though offensively has been Gordon Beckham, whose .341 BA in the same game stretch has brought production to the bottom of the Sox batting order.  Sometimes it only takes one guy to heat it up and it takes pressure off of everyone else. soxlogo

(PMB) As far into the season as late May, we had a lot of everyday regulars and subs with ABHORRENT batting averages, but check out how those previously unsightly batting averages shot up north in a hurry. Current BAs Alexei Ramirez (.273), Gordon Beckham (.263,) Chris Getz is actually flirting with the .250 mark and DeWayne Wise has even crossed the Mendoza line. To quote Pedro Cerrano in “Major League” “Must wake up bats!” well mission accomplished, but why? Perhaps hitting coach Greg Walker was feeling his seat getting very hot and he made some changes that are now paying off?

(SM) Remember, to a large extent, a hitting coach is really a non-factor at the major league level unless here is an obvious flaw an established hitter’s swing, or poor discipline the player has developed.  Walker has nothing to do with a player’s tendency to swing at bad pitches or even make contact.  In his short stint in the majors, Alexei has proven to be a streaky hitter.  Beckham and Getz are likely just making the adjustments needed to hit major league pitching.

There is a lot to the aphorism “hitting is contagious.”  As more players hit well, opposing pitchers tend to go at struggling hitters.  Translation: they see better pitches giving hem a greater opportunity to break out of their slump.  While Dye has been consistent all season, the surge by Scotty Pods was followed by Alexei’s breakout.  As Getz started to heat it up, Beckham followed.

(PMB) I’ve said since March this season will go as far Gavin Floyd and John Danks will take it. Last week we discussed Gavin finding himself, but how about John Danks? In his last 5 starts he’s surrendured just 6 ER, lowering his ERA from 5.10 on June 5th to 3.76 now. Your thoughts?

(SM) There may be nothing fancy in this analysis but Danks simply has had better control in this stretch.  When you reduce the number of walks through better control, you reduce the number of “get me over pitches” for hitters to drive.  He has a 0.81 WHIP in his last four starts vs. a 1.23 WHIP on the season.  I have not seen any statement from him indicating he has found a mechanical flaw in his delivery.  Sometimes, you hear pitchers say they just get a better feel for their pitches.  This is likely the case with Danks. danny

(PMB) In such a sports-crazy city like this and with such a team now in contention, why is attendance so poor this season? Kenny Williams stated that as attendance is down this season,, his hands are tied with trades in terms of taking on additional payroll.  I really begin to wonder if the PR and marketing departments have any clue what they’re doing. One story that was overlooked during inter-league was the visit by the Los Angeles Dodgers, the best team in MLB at the time, playing at the Cell, and it was HALF-EMPTY!

How can this be? What will it mean as the trade deadline draws near?

(SM) As a diehard Sox fan I can say this: we can be fickle.  We will not spend our hard earned dollars on a poor product when we can support them from the comfort of our own home with free parking and concessions 1/25 the cost at the Cell.  We still love our team, but pinch our pennies doing it.

I think there could have been greater promotional work done for the Dodgers series in terms of promoting the 50th anniversary of the Go Go White Sox. That said, the team’s excellent play as of late, makes it hard to determine exactly what Kenny Williams will do as the trade deadline approaches.

The Sox are obviously counting on the return of a healthy Carlos Quentin to the line-up.  They will then move Scott Podsednik to CF, where he will stay providing he remains consistent and healthy.  Brian Anderson will likely be kept around as a fourth outfielder defensive replacement type.  This is the role he’s best suited for.

Remember, Pods can be no worse defensively than Ken Griffey Jr. was in 2008. After the past two weeks, this really only leaves 2B as our questionable position where a platoon of Chris Getz and Jayson Nix appears to be serviceable. The Sox acquired right-handed pitcher Tony Pena from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for minor-league infielder Brandon Allen yesterday as well which could have several implications.  You can read those here.soxman_w_hof


Let’s close with Maybe or Mirage, where we hit 5 quick points on the White Sox and offer our opinion whether it is a sign of things to come or something likely to fade quickly?  Remember, no answer can be longer than 20 words!  Let’s play ball…

Roy Halladay will be in a Sox uniform by the trade deadline.

(SM) Mirage.  Kenny would not mortgage the future for now.

(PMB) Maybe. But dealing Becks and more is too high a price tag. How ’bout getting a bat instead?

Dewayne Wise is the odd man out when Carlos Quentin returns

(SM) Maybe.  Anderson is the better defender despite having options remaining.

(PMB) Maybe. BA’s BA is also right back where it usually is, despite the “hot” start

Bartolo Colon will pitch again for the White Sox in 2009.

(SM) Mirage.  He’s MIA.  Check the Old Country Buffet in Glendale.

(PMB) Mirage. How can we not find a guy who’s so easy to see? He looks pregnant- probably on maternity leave!

Scott Podsednik will end up a bust.

(SM) Mirage.  He’s making the major league minimum.  He’s paid for himself already.

(PMB) Mirage. If he gets hurt or finishes hitting

Mark Buehrle will one day pitch in St. Louis

(SM) Maybe.  Actually definitely.  The 2009 All-star game is in St. Louis and he’s on the AL team.

(PMB) Mirage. I know what you mean, Buerhle took the hometown discount last time, he will again next time