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.

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!