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