How are the White Sox this AWFUL?

SOXMAN AND BATBOY

By Soxman and Paul M. Banks

As we are now into week three of the 2010 MLB season, White Sox fans have to be asking at this point: “What the heck is going on?”

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Hold the Cheese: A Sox-Brewers Exchange

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By Soxman and Melissa S. Wollering

You have to reach back to years of California’s rolling blackouts, Mad Cow disease media-hype and the release of the very first Apple’s IPod for the last time the Chicago White Sox played the Milwaukee Brewers.  2001 was remarkable.  Fast-forward to 2009, as Soxman and Melissa cheese it up about the latest meeting between the two teams, sure to be as memorable as the smell of limburger left in a vehicle at 90 degrees for 8 hours.

(SM)  Nope, I’m not going to do it.  There will be absolutely no gloating by this White Sox super fan regarding our series sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers.  Why?  Well, I have two reasons.  One: our victories actually helped the Cubs in the standings.  Two: the Brewers are my second favorite team in the National League.  Yes, for Soxman, there are other teams in baseball beyond the boys who protect the diamond at 35th and Shields.

The Brewers franchise is the little engine that could.  The small market team, built from home-grown prospects and complemented, not defined by free agents. I love their park and their fans, so you will not hear me “drop a beat down” on this team.

That said, to quote the 70’s sensation Meatloaf, “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad.”  Any thoughts you would like to share overall on the competitive series that took place at Miller Park this weekend?

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(MW)  First off, I count a sweep as taking three of three.  Brewers won on Friday 7-2, so let’s say you ‘won the series’.  Your pitchers got it done when ours didn’t, your hardwood performance made our players appear to be using toothpicks, Pierzynski was ‘one to watch’ even though Paul M. Banks thought I was nuts for saying so last week.  To top it all off, you robbed Trevor Hoffman of a perfect ERA.  Robbing Hoffy made me feel as though the Sox had cursed death upon my future first-born child.  It left me that empty.

(SM) Okay, let’s look at each game in a little more detail.  The first game to me was not a loss by the White Sox as much as it was a loss to Ozzie Guillen.  He pulled Clayton Richard after pitching five solid innings and only giving up one earned run.  It  was also the start of a great series (and hopefully a hot streak) for Corey Hart.  A double, a triple, and 3 RBIs.  Our bullpen, which had been pretty automatic, gave up six earned runs.  For a final thought, where in the heck did former Cub, Casey McGehee come from?

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(MW) He came from Cubbie purgatory where if you vow to contribute to the Milwaukee Brewers after a life with the Cubs, then you reach heaven after your career is finished. Amen, brother! He got the leadoff spot in Sunday’s lineup and contributed to that game, too, before it took a Turnbow nosedive.

I also love pitchers that can get it done on both offense and defense. On Friday, Suppan retired the side in just 7 pitches in the 2nd inning. Then he stepped up to the plate in the 3rd and advanced Kendall to second with a nice Sac.   Richard doubled for his first major-league hit in the 5th, too. Ozzie pulled him for that error in the following inning, which I agree, wasn’t completely necessary. Still, Suppan and Richard impressed overall.

(SM) Game II.  Let’s just say your premonition regarding Manny Parra in last weeks exchange with Paul M. Banks was spot on.  Six earned runs in an inning and two-thirds pitched.  What is wrong with this guy?  With an ERA over seven, perhaps he’ll follow his opponent’s lead and figure everything out in the minors?  Did I mention that Jose Contreras appears to be back?  Eight innings of two-hit ball.  Bottom line, that was the story of this game.  Care to offer your perspective?

(MW) If you care to sweep Manny Parra’s glove and uniform under Miller Park’s bleachers, douse them with lighter fluid and start tailgating around them with a couple of Usinger’s famous bratwursts, then by all means SWEEP away. Let’s just say I awoke Sunday extremely unsurprised that he was sent down to AAA Nashville. 

What cracked me up though is that Macha is so disgusted, he currently does not give a rat’s rear-end about trying to replace him. We brought up the reliever Chris Narveson and will use Seth McClung to start if need be.  However, the next 8 games include two off days, so a 4-man rotation works until June 27th. Attanasio is probably doing some Father’s Day shopping in the starting pitching department, aisle better than a 7.52 ERA? You had to know this was coming.  It’s not IF, it’s WHEN with the Milwaukee Brewers and their pitching woes.

Contreras impressed with the number of innings pitched, copious amounts of strikeouts and no signs of returning ailments. That is a trifecta to me because those Achilles can take some time. Hey, come to think of it you know, we could use a starting pitcher…

(SM) Well, if we are going to tailgate, I’d prefer Johnsonville beer brats.  The series finale was like bizarro baseball world in my opinion.  Jim Thome attempts to bunt, Mark Buehrle homers and Trevor Hoffman gives up his first run of the season.  Corey Hart brought us back to reality by belting two homers and Casey McGehee appeared to be playing with Cubs ire as he went 3 for 4, falling a triple short of the cycle.  Thoughts ?

(MW) Hart does well in June, it’s his month.  It is the month of the harvest, when his ‘International Harvester’ as a batting song actually makes sense for 30 days.  JJ Hardy looked absolutely dismal.  He got shoved down the batting order to eighth on Monday as a direct result. He is something like 1 for 32 right now in at-bats.

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Buehrle surprised with his bat and I enjoyed watching White Sox fans cheer in utter shock!  I cheered with them.  Heck, who cares?  It was exciting. Looper didn’t deserve any cheering whatsoever, so…. 

Also, let’s describe how Melissa watched the 0.00 ERA on the gigantic wrap scoreboard flicker at status quo for the last time in Brewers history for Hoffman.  Let’s pause 30 seconds for silence.  Now let’s never speak of it again. I heard he was .8 innings away from making club history.  I said let’s never speak of it again! This is me, writing to myself in my alter ego.

(SM)  I actually did a Sox Exchange once with my alter ego Bruce Wayne Parker, so I know how these things go.  It will get better.  Earlier this season, I scouted the Brewers farm system, taking in Nashville Sounds game.  All the buzz surrounded super-prospect Mat Gamel and Alcides Escobar, yet most of the return on investment thus far seems to be coming from McGehee, who only hit .167 with the Cubs last year despite driving in 92 runs for AAA Iowa.  Former Brewer Scotty Podsednik has been that guy for us.  Left for dead by the Colorado Rockies, Pods was out of work until mid-April when the Sox took a chance on him.  The 2005 World Series hero has made the  most of his second chance with Sox, posting a .360 OBP, and hitting .311, 1 HR, 13 RBI, and 8 SB.  The Brewers and Sox both have a history of getting the most out of frugal signings.  Do you think its that Midwest mentality or dumb luck ?

(MW) It’s karma…we lose people like Richie Sexson and Geoff Jenkins who go on to semi-resurrect their careers with other organizations.  But we also give away people like Scott Linebrink to the White Sox and watch him implode on himself, like he did Saturday. 

You win some, you lose some.  So, somewhere smack in the middle of Midwest mentality and sheer dumb luck. That dances around your question like a circus performer on hot coals. Sorry, Soxman. But I agree, kudos to the Sox for picking up Scotty Po Po.  I cheered for him this weekend and I was in the vast majority!  You would have been proud of my Milwaukee Brethren.

(SM)  Finally, lets play Maybe or Mirage, where we hit 5 quick points on the White Sox (and Brewers) 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… 

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White Sox pitching was good for Corey Hart.
 

(SM) Maybe, He was in a 2 for 23 slump on Wednesday, looks like Ryan Braun against the Sox. 

 

(MW) Mirage, it had nothing to do with the pitching. In June 2007, Hart batted .336 with nine home runs and 21 RBIs from the leadoff spot. June of ’08 was decent, too.

 Jose Contreras is back.
 

(SM) Maybe, 2 starts, 16 IP, zero ER, and three hits allowed.  Enough said. 

(MW) Maybe, watch his health, keep stretching that achilles and I don’t see why not.

The Brewers will be buyers at the trade deadline.

(SM) Maybe, they need another solid starting pitcher and perhaps a hitter hat can get on base. 

(MW)  Strong Maybe if not Definitely. For the first time in years, more MLB teams are looking to trade for bats. It may give us an advantage when seeking pitchers. Starting pitcher = happening for us.

 The Sox will be buyers at the trade deadline.

 (SM) Mirage, who are they going to give up on?  Sellers are a possibility. 

(MW:) Mirage, they’ll be selling to teams like the Brewers and salvaging the future. My sincere apologies, but…

The Brewers and the Sox will meet in the 2009 World Series.
 

(SM) Mirage.  Not unless we start scoring more runs. 

(MW)  I like your thinking!  But probably not, so mirage it is. Bless what we have in common until then–our hatred for the Cubs!

(SM) Great exchange Melissa!  Good luck to you guys down the stretch.

White Sox Can’t Buy a Run

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By Randy Satovitz

The last time the White Sox had a worse scoring pace than this year was 1986 when they scored 3.98 runs per game.  The Sox are scoring 4.15 runs per game which is good for 12th in the American League.   They were shutout in three games last week (2 vs. Oak, 1 vs. Cle).  Ironically, the Sox play at one of the best hitter friendly ballparks and are doing exactly what they have been doing for years- hitting the long ball.  The power numbers have never been a problem for the Sox, but getting a large number of runs across the plate certainly has been.  Carlos Quentin should be back by the end of the week, but that will not necessarily help the Sox score runs.

Of course there will be more home runs, but if Podsednik can’t handle center field, the outfield will be jammed up.  As much as I disliked Podsednik coming back to the Sox, he has become one of the lone bright spots in the lineup.  He is getting on base and becoming the great leadoff hitter he once was back in 2005 when he finished 12th in the MVP voting.
The pitching has not been as bad as it could be with a possible six-man rotation going on.  The Sox even decided to let Ozzie’s brother-in-law Freddy Garcia come back and give pitching one last try.  It seems the Sox give a lot of players second and third chances- even when their first chance was not too spectacular.  The hitting will come around, but scoring enough runs will still be a question mark.  The Sox walked 12 times Tue night and should have scored many more runs than they did.  When Ozzie Guillen came to the White Sox, he had them play a special style Sox fans called, ‘Ozzieball.’

Ozzieball was a way to generate runs by advancing players base by base as part of the run manufacturing process.   Some of called it “smartball” because it’s built around taking advantage of little situations and mistakes made by your opponent. (Recall the Tony Grafaninno error in the ’05 ALDS? A.J.’s base-running adventure and the dropped third strike in the ’05 ALCS?)

Basically, it’s ‘smallball,’ but since Ozzie is in charge, you might as well give him credit in the name. You don’t want him to curse at you, do you? Anyways, this idea flew out the window a couple of years ago and the Sox have never been the same team. And nowhere near as successful.  ozziescorebaord
The Sox need to score runs like they used to and get some wins on the board.  Sounds easier said than done, but if Ozzieball returns, watch out.  I don’t know how many times Ozzie has to lash out at his team and tell them to play better baseball.  Things aren’t clicking until the Sox start stealing more bases and laying down more bunts.  Even if it’s Jim Thome who’s trying to lay down that bunt for a base hit; because with the Thome shift, the third baseman is practically in the outfield almost every time.  Somebody is going to have to step up their game and focus on the team instead of padding their stats.  Once one person starts it, the others will follow in line.

The question is who?

White Sox Exchange

By Paul M. Banks and Soxman

(PMB) About a month into the season, the AL Central is exactly like we said it would be: anybody’s for the taking. With all of the teams except last place Cleveland (ironically, my pick to win the division) all bunched up together.

And the Indians aren’t that far out, so this horserace is exceedingly difficult to handicap.

(SM)  While I did say “look out for KC” in many preseason interviews, it is interesting to see them on top of the pack right now.  Even with injuries to Alex Gordon, they are popping out enough offense to win.  Zack Greinke and Gil Meche are pitching like a legitimate 1-2 punch, and Joakim Soria is one of the most underrated closers in the game.

Still, all teams in the AL Central have at least 1-2 HUGE holes, leaving this division winnable for any team at his point.

(PMB) Let’s talk injuries, De Wayne Wise was already hurt, and then his replacement Brian Anderson goes down.  At least Dye was ok. Jerry Owens was still as awful at the plate now as he was in spring training, and last year and ’07 for that matter- opening the door for Scott Podsednik, who I think is washed up, and has been for a season or two. (His defense was terrible Monday night) Of course, he’s a sentimental favorite with Sox Nation, with World Series hero status, and there isn’t much else out there, so I totally understand the decision. Can you think of any better scenarios here?   Can the Lilliputian Brent Lillibridge roam the OF?

(SM) If this were a 60’s Batman episode, I would type, BIFF, ZAP, ZOW!!! In response to your rant there.  I think we’ve had some fairly freak injuries occur thus far.  Thome injured his heal running, Anderson hurt his ribcage swinging, and Jermaine Dye was hit by a pitch.  While I don’t think Scotty Pods is completely washed up, his days as an everyday player are behind him, and he was always just an average corner outfielder and never much of a centerfielder.  He’s a fourth or fifth outfielder at this point in his career.

Jerry Owens elected to become a free agent rather than return to the minors for the Sox and signed a minor league contract with the Seattle Mariners on May 4th.

Lillibridge is capable of playing CF, but is only hitting .167 on the season.

Brian Anderson was playing the best baseball of the bunch before his injury, essentially abandoning his homerun swing in favor of contact, and was truly beginning to earn my respect as a player.  His on-base percentage was also excellent at .383.

As the Sox have no plans to call on Jordan Danks or Gordon Beckham this season, this is really all we have to work with at this point.  My guess is the Sox will try to float until Anderson or Wise return.  Just beware, shoulder and ribcage injuries are the two worst injuries for a hitter, so the Sox will try to ensure they are fully recovered before rushing them back.

You know how I HATED the trade of Nick Swisher.  The answer?  Swisher could have played the same CF defense as Scotty Pods and is currently hitting: .300, 7 HR, 19 RBI, with a 1.122 OPS!  No use crying over soiled socks I guess.

(PMB)  Is Jose Contreras Contrarian to our cause? He’s been AWFUL!!!! In every start except one in this young season, and he was far from overwhelmingly impressive in that start. I guess we knew that between him and Bartolo Colon, we would only really get one decent pitcher at the back of the rotation, not two. Of course, no one will mistake Colon for Carlston Charles Sabathia, but he has looked like a Cy Young winner compared to Contreras, who’s likely washed up right?

(SM) Colon has made the adjustment from what I call pitching with his arm, to pitching with his head.  For the first part of his career, Colon had overpowering stuff where he could even get hitters out when he threw mistakes.  As weight, injuries, and miles accumulated on his body, he learned to pitch with his head.

Jose Contreras was lit up for seven earned runs on seven hits over a mere 3.1 innings of work on Saturday.  With an 8.31 ERA on the season, is he done?  Maybe, but it is too early in the season to make that judgment for sure.  Contreras is one of the tougher pitchers to coach because he has at least three different deliveries on his pitches, which means his mechanics are that much more difficult to correct.  With the injury he suffered last season, I believe it will be at least another month before the Sox truly know whether he’s done or not.  The question is, can they afford to wait that long?  At 12-12, and only 1.5 games out of first, I think they still have a little time.

(PMB)  Let’s talk about possible replacements.


What about Lance “Jazz Hands” Broadway? Let’s say it again with loud, musical accentuation…Lance….Broadway!!! I don’t think Cooper is legitimately going to consider him an option because his velocity is….impressive, if you’re pitching for the Schaumburg Flyers. I know you’ve spoken highly of Clayton Richard, the former University of Michigan quarterback with significant starting experience from last season. Any other ideas or free agents out there?

(SM) I don’t believe the neon lights are bright on Broadway from a starting pitching perspective, although he does have a 4.15 ERA since his call-up, which is respectable.  Clayton Richard would be a candidate as well, but my gut says he’ll stay in the bullpen because Ozzie likes having two lefties out there.

Freddy Garcia’s name has been thrown around after he was cut by the Mets last week, however, he’s been horrible in the minor leagues and might retire.

Pedro Martinez and Paul Byrd are trying to pull a Roger Clemens “rent a pitcher” deal with a contender, but Pedro’s asking price is far too high.  Byrd is intriguing but far from a sure thing as well.  That’s really all that’s out there now unless you wanted to take a chance on another pitcher released by another team for being just as bad as anybody on our current roster.

(PMB)  All these issues of depth make me think about the Sox farm system. We know the Sox minor league affiliates are collectively rated amongst the worst by baseball talent evaluators, but there has to be some diamonds in the rough somewhere.

Easter weekend, my girlfriend and I traveled to Charlotte. The “Knight” before the holiday we took in a game at Knights Stadium, home of the Sox AAA affiliate. It’s kind of like what happens when you combine a Medieval Times outing with MILB. It was a lot of fun, even though they’re not located in the Queen City, or even in North Carolina for that matter. They’re actually across the border in South Carolina, past the outskirts of the Charlotte suburbs. I saw by far, the most lopsided baseball game I’ve ever been at. Our Knights lost 19-3; and this was no fluke as the Knights were outscored 61-17 in their first ten. Currently, they’re 9-14 on the season and in last place.

Jeff Marquez (remember when he was considered to be a front-runner for the 5th starter position?) got bombed so badly that he didn’t survive the second inning. This was no aberration either as he’s currently 0-4 with a 14.15 ERA in AAA ball. You understand why I didn’t bring up his name as an option for replacing Contreras. What about Wes Whisler? He led the team in most pitching statistical categories last season and has a sub 2 ERA. Any prospects you have your eye on at this level? Or within the system at all. Scouts are high on Justin Cassell (brother of NFL QB Matt Cassell) and Jon Link. Are they MLB ready soon?

(SM)  Again I shutter at the Nick Swisher trade when I look at the numbers Marquez has put up thus far.

Justin Cassell has an ERA over 6 at AAA.  That does not earn him a roster spot in my opinion.  Whisler is looking good for sure and could earn a call if the Sox want to make a move from within.  Despite not being a top ranked prospect he’s held an ERA in the three’s for most of his career.

Link, who was acquired from the San Diego Padres for Rob Mackowiak, is a relief pitcher and would not be a candidate for the rotation.

Aaron Poreda could draw strong consideration also.  The Sox top pitching prospect has a 1.65 ERA in five starts for AA Birmingham this season. He pitched on Monday and threw a no hitter—sort of!  It was called after the top half of the fifth inning due to rain but it is still a no hitter in the record books!

We can’t forget about our 2009 tradition 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…
We cursed Scotty Pods and Danks featuring them in Maybe or Mirage.

(SM)  Maybe. Pods is playing CF, and Danks is 0-2 with a 9.64 ERA since I said he arrived here last week.


Jayson Nix will supplant Josh Fields at 3B.

(SM) Mirage.  Fields is doing a serviceable job and Nix is more of a natural second baseman.

(PMB) Mirage. Not even a mirage, if Nix is truly healthy then he’s just not ready for prime time yet, Charlotte calls.

Chris Getz will Hold the Lead-off Spot all season

(SM) Maybe.  He needs to stay healthy.  His .358 OBP is respectable.

(PMB) Maybe, especially when you consider “what else do we have?”

Alexei Ramirez was a one year wonder.

(SM) Mirage. He’s hitting .295 in his last 44 Abs and the weather’s heating up.

(PMB) Mirage. This producto de Cuba will start lighting up like a Cohiba soon.


Wilson Betemit has earned a starting job.

(SM) Mirage.  Sure he’s hitting .310 in 27 Abs. He’s a back-up for a reason.

(PMB) Maybe. We have injuries a plenty and it’s only May. Maybe that’s not “earning it” though.