Chicago White Sox 1st Qtr Report Card: Position Players

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As Chicago White Sox trade rumors become more frequent than talk of LeBron James signing with the Chicago Bulls, it’s time to hand out first quarter grades to the Chicago White Sox.

As May draws to a close, the major league baseball season is 25% over.  Perhaps these grades will inspire our players to get a passing grade. Maybe they can optimize summer school, instead of continuing to “be schooled” by teams with worse records.

That’s right Sox fans, parent\teacher conferences are in session and first quarter report cards have been issued.  Sorry Sox position players, no bell curve will be used in this classroom.

By:  Soxman

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“Sinking” White Sox Exchange

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By Soxman and Paul M. Banks

“Iceberg dead ahead,” is the titanic analogy most White Sox fans are using to describe the Sox play-off chances as they’ve commenced their most difficult road trip of the year.  No sooner are the Minnesota Twins “ruled dead” that they are only a game behind the White Sox in the standings.  Can the Sox still win this division or will they end the season in third place?  Paul M. Banks and Soxman break it down in this week’s White Sox Exchange.

(PMB) Things are looking bleak, they now even have a losing record against the AL East on the season- that stat was my last beacon of hope heading into this monster road trip.


(SM) For Sox fans it is pretty hard to remain optimistic when the most positive thing you can say about your team is “underperforming.”  I’m often asked via e-mail or Facebook, why is there not more excitement about a team in the thick of the playoff hunt.  My answer?  THE TEAM IS ONE GAME ABOVE .500!  In EVERY other division in MLB the White Sox are a 4th place team.  Look it up.

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(PMB) Repeatedly seeing a half-empty U.S. Cellular Field for multiple games each homestand says it all. So did Ozzie. When asked earlier in the year, after they hosted the first place Los Angeles Dodgers to crowds of 40% or less capacity why the Cubs were drawing much better at the time. “Because our fans are smart- they know this team is horses#$t.” The Sox public and media relations teams may be horrible at their jobs, but having a very mediocre product to try and sell doesn’t help. This isn’t a pennant race, it’s a turtle race.

Oh and pardon the picture to the right, that has the wrong colored Sox name and logo on it.


(SM) Let’s talk about what’s keeping the Sox from grabbing the division lead for a minute.  The Sox are the WORST fielding team in the American League (.980 Fielding percentage), and the third worst team in major league baseball; only better than the Washington Nationals and the Arizona Diamondbacks, who are having contraction worthy seasons.  They have given up 65 unearned runs this season.  Hitting and pitching tend to be streaky, but fielding is a consistent indicator- not a positive sign for our play-off hopes.  If our luck does not turn around quickly, we could very well finish the season in third place.  Your thoughts?

(PMB) Hold on, this question reminded me of the 4th inning last night, and I’m about to lose my lunch. Ok, I’m back now, and need to take something for my upset stomach. It’s true this team beats itself more than any other team beats them, but your question at that .980 statistic reminds me of something. Everyone always talks about “hitting a baseball being the hardest thing to do in sports” or “baseball as a game of failure” because if you fail 2/3 of the time (i.e. have a career batting average of .333) you’re a legend, but what about looking at it from the other perspective (no one does that).

Look at the Sox fielding, they succeed 98 times out of 100, and they’re ABYSMAL. We should think about that once in awhile. Or think about girls, or music, or food or whatever to take your mind off a TERRIBLE defensive outfield when you have both Podsednik and Quentin in it. I really thought they were going to improve once they sent Josh Fields back down to AAA. But the problem was much bigger than him.

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(SM) Pitching? The Sox have the 7th best team ERA in the majors (4.13), and over the past month, are second only to the Texas Rangers in the AL (4.07).  Jake Peavy tossed five scoreless innings in his August 24th start with Triple-A Charlotte. He had three strikeouts with two walks, and 52 of his 80 pitches landed for strikes.  Will his return be too little to late?  Why didn’t the Sox make a waiver claim on Billy Wagner?  With Scott Linebrink struggling (8.53 ERA in his last 6 games), he could have helped.

(PMB) Aren’t the Sox lower on the waiver priority wire now after acquiring Alex Rios? I do love how Kenny is taking steps now to address the needs that he failed to address in the off-season. You would think adding a new Ace to your rotation would be make a difference of 4-5 games, which is what we need right now, but I think Peavy’s main impact will be in 2010. I still love the move, I just don’t think it’ll be enough.

(SM) Hitting?  Over the last 30 days, the White Sox are last in the AL with a .253 team batting average.  Luckily, the Tigers are second worst at .258.  The “dead” Twins are 4th at .288.  Jermaine Dye’s bat has vanished since the All-Star break.  He hasn’t homered in his last 16 games and is only hitting .190.  Did the Rios trade impact him?  Other offensive pennant push—overs?  Paul Konerko- .182 in his last 55 at bats, and your man-crush, Gordon Beckham, .233 over the last 19 games.  What do you think is going on here?

(PMB) I don’t know how to explain it, other than maybe they’re “hitting” the proverbial wall- like so many NBA rookies do down the stretch of their first seasons. That could definitely apply to man-crush. As for Dye, maybe his age is catching up to him. I was on the record saying Carlos Quentin’s 2008 was a fluke, so I won’t touch CQ. And yes, I get it, the Twinkies are not dead yet- even though I said they were last week.

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…

As Ozzie said, the 2009 White Sox are good enough to go to the World Series.

(SM)  Mirage.  They can’t even control an average AL Central.alexeicheshirt

(PMB) Ha ha ha ha!…Oh yeah. Mirage. All they have to improve is their defense, bullpen, starting pitching, and offense.


2009 will be the last we see of Jermaine Dye and Jim Thome in Chicago.

(SM)  Mirage, we’ll see a lot of Thome when he plays for the Indians in 2010.

(PMB) Mirage and Maybe, Dye can DH next year, Thome can get his option declined. Love your irony btw.


Gordon Beckham will be the AL Rookie of the Year

(SM)  Maybe, BUT Andrew Bailey, 6-3, 18 SV, 1.99 ERA with 75 Ks in 68 IP might disagree.

(PMB) Maybe. You hear him on The Score today with surprise guests, The Outfield? Creators of his theme music…”I don’t want to lose your love, toniiiiight”

Jake Peavy will pitch for the Sox in 2009.

(SM)  Maybe, he already is pitching for the Sox…at AAA.

(PMB) Definitely, he took a line drive off the elbow today, but it’s Minor. He looked Major in that start.



Alexei Ramirez is the reason the Sox defense stinks.

(SM)  Maybe, as he should be much better than he is.

(PMB) Maybe. He does a way better job at 2B, but there’s also blame to go around.

11 Reasons Alex Rios is Good for the Chicago White Sox

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By Soxman

The fans’ chief complaint about Chicago White Sox ownership is officially being retired.  Those who love to criticize White Sox moves, or lack thereof by saying “Jerry Reinsdorf is to cheap to spend money on what we need to win,” need to get a new soapbox.

For those who disagree I have two words for you: Rios and Peavy.

Jake Peavy, who was acquired at the 2009 MLB trade deadline is owed $48 million between 2010 and 2012 and Alex Rios, acquired via waivers Tuesday,  is owed nearly $60 million between 2010 and 2014. So what does this spending spree mean to the White Sox future? Well, those who think they will be seeing the last games of Jermaine Dye in a White Sox uniform should not carve his goodbye card in stone yet.  Those who believe these moves ensure Mark Buehrle will be pitching for his hometown St. Louis Cardinals after 2012 might want to hold off on ordering a  #56 Cardinal jersey.

Why?  Kenny Williams has a plan.  Develop a core group of talent from within, while staying competitive for years to come.  He’s doing it.  Besides DeWayne Wise, who will likely get his walking papers from this move, there aren’t many in Sox Nation who dislike this move. With that, I offer 11 reasons why the Alex Rios acquisition is good for the White Sox in both the short and long-term.  Why 11?  Well let’s break it down:

11- Represents the number of players who have patrolled CF since Aaron Rowand was traded to the Phillies: Brian Anderson, Jerry Owens, Rob Mackowiak, Ryan Sweeney, Luis Terrero, Darin Erstad, Alexei Ramirez, Nick Swisher, DeWayne Wise, Ken Griffey Jr., and Scott Podsednik.  Rios is a natural CF with exceptional range, an above-average arm, and a solid .285 career batting average.

10- The future is not compromised.  We gave up nothing in the process and at age 28, Rios should be entering his prime, bridging the outfield to the next generation of sluggers like Dayan Viciedo, Tyler Flowers and Jordan Danks.

9- It is like an early free-agent signing.  Picture it as the White Sox signing Alex Rios to a 5-year, $60 million contract.  No other CF free agents available this winter are of Rio’s caliber or age: Rick Ankiel (30), Rocco Baldelli (28) Marlon Byrd (32),  Mike Cameron (37) Reed Johnson (33), Andruw Jones (33).

8- While the move undoubtedly means we say goodbye to one fan favorite after the 2009 season, we still should have flexibility to add more pieces.  Theoretically, Rios can take the salary slot of designated hitter Jim Thome, who is earning $13 million. Peavy can take the slots of right-handers Jose Contreras and Octavio Dotel, who are earning a combined $16 million and are both free agents after this season.  If the fit is right, Dye could return as a DH.

7- Note to Ozzie: BREAK UP THE DOUBLE PLAY and hit him between base plodders  Thome, Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski.  Rios stole 30 bases last season and already has 19 in 2009.

6- Sure it’s a headache for Ozzie to juggle egos, but the Sox have a great insurance policy for the lingering foot injury of Carlos Quentin, and to rest aging stars.  Jermaine Dye is hitting .151 over his last 19 games and could use some rest.

5- He’s better than Brian Anderson!

4-  Lets Go Go Go White Sox can now be sung with meaning.  Assuming Rios plays everyday, only three players in any given line-up will not be a base-stealing threat.

3-  Rios comes with some risk.  His batting average has dropped in each of the last two seasons.  However, U.S. Cellular’s launching pad should offer him every chance to realize the 30-30 potential he’s had since entering the league in 2004.soxman-boys-small

2-  Rios offers flexibility; he’s capable of playing any OF position.  If Dye, Pods, and Thome do depart after the 2009 season, Williams could make a serious run at signing his last remaining obsession in speedster Chone Figgins, who is a free agent after this season.  He has is capable of playing any position besides catcher and first base and has stolen at least 33 bases a year since 2004.  Ozzie ball could return.

1-  Last verse is same as the first.  11 different players have patrolled CF since the start of the 2006 season.  When in doubt, go with fantasy baseball.  Rios was ranked the 6th best outfielder in most leagues going into the 2009 season.

So for now we will ignore the negatives: the .317 OBP in 2009, the likely 100+ Ks per season, and bask in the fact that our search for a true CF has finally come to an end.

The push to October just got a little more interesting.

Game on!