The Sox Exchange

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Your Best in the Midwest Chicago White Sox Week in Review

By Soxman and Paul M. Banks

(SM) Well the All-Star break is over and the White Sox came out of the gate swinging, taking two of three from the Baltimore Orioles this past weekend and creeping up in the standings.  While the Sox appeared to have paid their “power” bill in the HR department, our pitching -specifically our bullpen- looked vulnerable.  While the Orioles are last in the AL East standings, they are 4th in the American League in team batting average, so by no means were they a push over opponent.  While I would have liked to see a sweep, I think taking two of three was acceptable.  Your thoughts?

(PMB) Agreed. Some of the Sox’s biggest collapses in recent history have come against Baltimore so any time they can win a series over the O’s, it’s nice. And being in the bottom of the AL East, isn’t as bad as it sounds. The AL East is by far the most powerful division in baseball and reminiscent of the AL Eastern Division of the 1980s when you had Detroit, Baltimore, New York, Boston and sometimes Toronto all being powerhouses at the same time. Back to today, now that the first half is over, time for Sox midterms: I’d give the season a B- overall, with a B+ for pitching, and a C- for fielding.

(SM) Let’s talk about the bullpen for a minute.  Bobby Jenks has 9.00 ERA in his last four appearances and has looked very hittable. Scott Linebrink has a 6.00 ERA in his last four games, and Matt Thornton has a 5.40 ERA in his last 8 games, most of which came from his meltdown on Saturday.  DJ Carrasco has a 6.52 ERA in his last five appearances, Aaron Poreda a 5.40 ERA in his last four appearance, Tony Pena has been just awful posting an 11.81 ERA since joining the White Sox.  While I know ERA spikes and dips tend to be extreme for relievers based on the small number of innings pitched, it appears in the last month our entire bullpen has hit a spike.  Should we be at all concerned?

(PMB) Not really. Baseball is a game where eventually you’ll have statistical progression/regression back towards the norm every season. Numbers and stats even out over time and normalize. The teams with the high payrolls will eventually get the production they paid for. Slumps happen and multiple hitters can enter slumps at the same time just like multiple pitchers, but no one slumps all season. Everyone was concerned (deservedly so) about the hitters finally warming up once the weather did and the fact that the Cell is such a launching pad, watching the power numbers take off. Well done and done, except most people forgot the basic obvious truth: when opposing pitchers ERAs take off, so will the Sox pitchers. That’s what I think is truly at work here- nothing more.
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(SM) As the July 31st trade deadline approaches, things have been pretty quiet on the White Sox trade rumor front.  I’m sure Kenny Williams would have liked to have Carlos Quentin back for a week or two before evaluating the true needs of this team.  Do you see any moves that honestly make sense for the White Sox?  If there were one or two players whose performance will make or break the Sox chances, who are they and why?

For me, it’s Scott Podsednik and Jose Contreras.  Both of their “returns” have been a big part of the reason the Sox have climbed back into the division race.  Pods has been slumping in his last 35 ABs hitting just .229.  However his overall on-base percentage still stands at .361, 22 points higher than his career average.  He needs to keep getting on-base and getting into the heads of opposing pitchers.  Contreras had a rough outing Sunday, but has still been very effective, bringing his season ERA (4.75), closer in line with his career ERA (4.58).

(PMB) I’ve said it since March and I’ll say it again, the key to this season will be Gavin Floyd and John Danks, if they’re on then so is most of the starting rotation and therefore, the Sox have a chance to win most of their games down the stretch. Then it’s just a question of timely hitting and the bullpen doing its job. I’d really like to see Kenny go after a bat instead of an arm though. I wouldn’t mind another left-handed hitter in the lineup.

Good call on Contreras and Pods, I’d like to say that both are Comeback Player of the Year Candidates, but Jose has not really come back from anything expect just sucking royally. If Scotty truly stays healthy to the end of the season and finishes above .280 BA and .350 BA for the season, I’ll never doubt Kenny Williams again, because that pickup will be to this season what Carlos Quentin was to last year.quentin

(SM) Before we close with maybe or mirage, what do you think will be the White Sox keys to success in the second half of the season?  This is a very winnable division, but our second half schedule frightens me.  With home and away series against the Angels, Rays, Red Sox, and the Yankees, this is truly going to be a fight for the Sox, where they will need to take every series from beatable opponents.

(PMB) Yes, but every time I look at the schedule and do an assessment of what’s going to happen- it’s always all wrong. This team doesn’t seem to do that. I thought they could easily could have been in first place BEFORE the All-Star break, but of course things didn’t play out the way I envisioned. Perfect case in point for how this season has gone: losing a series at home to last place Cleveland then beating the best team in baseball (L.A. Dodgers two out of three). Of course, this is a very winnable division, but another “3 and out” (ok, four and out, unlike the Cubs we actually won one game) does nothing for me. at all. But who knows maybe this year’s postseason will be like the ’06 Cardinals where an 83 win team takes the flag.

(SM) Alright, let’s blare POD’s, “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…

Carlos Quentin will not amass 400 ABs in 2009.

(SM) Maybe.  He’s always been an injury prone player and plantar fascitis really never heals.

(PMB) Maybe. So much for that “steal” or “bargain deal” Kenny made to acquire him last year.


The Sox will not make a significant trade before the trade deadline.soxmansoxybacks

(SM) Maybe.  There’s no way the Sox give up Danks and Alexei for Doc Halladay.

(PMB) Maybe. How about acquiring a bat instead? We need that more.


Aaron Poreda will be a starter before the end of 2009.

(SM) Mirage.  He’s been effective in his role and sweaty Freddy is nearing a rehab assignment.

(PMB) Mirage. He’d have to leapfrog at least two or three people.

Gordon Beckham will have more RBIs than Carlos Quentin at the end of 2009.

(SM) Maybe.  Bacon has 22 and Carlos has 20 and a bad foot, shoulder, and wrist.

(PMB) Mirage. When CQ comes back, whenever that is, he hits at spot in the batting order more conducive to driving in runs.

Soxman will get killed at the Metrodome on July 29th.

(SM) Mirage.  I’m wearing my piranha proof Sox suit.

(PMB) Maybe. Best of luck to you my man, you’re quite brave!

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