(Former) White Sox Show Dedication to Pitching, Speed, and Defense

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As the Chicago White Sox look at their 2010 blueprint and question “what happened, fans chants of “Fire Ozzie” or “Wave the White Flag” grow another decibel as the losses pile one, but I challenge the following:

Soxman asks who is truly to blame? [Read more…]

Fixing the White Sox Part II, Infield and Catchers

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By Soxman

As the White Sox drop two of three to the lowly Royals and lose badly to the Twins, my hands can’t seem to type fast enough in publishing part II of our continuing series “fixing the White Sox” for 2010.

In this series, I’ll take stock of the players who will stay (”put ‘em on the board”) or those who need to move on (”He gone”), and look at possible trades, free agents and minor leaguers that could improve the team.

In our final edition, we’ll look at line-ups and rotations based on our newly found perspectives. Remember, this series is based on some semblance of reality.  For example, Alex Rios is one of our outfielders in 2010.  His contract is large, so his sub-200 batting average since coming to the south side pretty much assures he’ll be in the starting line-up in 2010.

Infield

I honestly don’t expect a lot of movement in our infield in the off-season as it appears as though Gordon Beckham will remain at third base.

Paul Konerko-  Put em on the Board.

As a ten and five player, Konerko has the right to veto any trade.  After an injury riddled 2008 campaign, he bounced back nicely hitting .287, 27 HR, 85 RBI.  He’ll be eligible for free agency after 2010 and the Sox will likely keep him around for his PR value as much as his HR power.  There would not be much of a market for Konerko in the off-season as the Angels, a team who has coveted Paulie in the past, have a fine first baseman in Kendry Morales.

Chris Getz- Put em on the Board

While this would be one spot that the White Sox could add a bat, the free agent market is slim and aside from injury problems, Getz put up a decent rookie campaign, hitting .263 and swiping 25 bases in just 364 ABs.  He needs to work on bunting in winter ball to be a catalyst of Ozzie Ball in 2010.

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Alexei Ramirez- Put em on the Board or He Gone?

If there is anywhere that the Sox could move a player, it would be here.  Ramirez comes cheap as he is under contract for two more seasons at $1 million per season.  Sure, he has hit at least 15 homers and stolen at least 13 bases in his first two seasons, and has made some spectacular plays defensively.  However, his play was lackadaisical in many games during the season and he is yet to add consistent execution to his game, choosing to swing for the fences rather than moving runners over.  He’s the one player who does not exceptionally thrill me.  Still, a power-hitting shortstop with a low price tag could command some top prospects in return.

Gordon Beckham- Put em on the Board

The 2009 AL Rookie of the Year Candidate is here to stay.  While I’d rather see him at shortstop, he will continue to master his craft defensively, develop his power and likely become the biggest stalwart at third base since Robin Ventura.alexeicheshirt1

Jason Nix- Put em on the Board

While his batting average is low and his strikeout rate his high, we should remember that Nix is officially in rookie status.  He is capable of playing any of the infield positions and can man the corners in the outfield.  In just under 250 Abs, he has hit 12 dingers and swiped 10 bases.  The ideal utility player, he should be back with the Sox in 2010.

Catchers

A.J Pierzynski- Put em on the Board

A.J. has been the team’s most consistent hitter all season long and has been one of the more passionate players in a rather lifeless clubhouse.  A free agent after 2010, A.J. knows he’s merely keeping the seat warm for top prospect Tyler Flowers.  Still, it’s safe to pencil AJ in as a starting catcher next season.

Ramon Castro- He Gone

Aside from catching Mark Buehrle’s perfect game, Castro hasn’t done much with the White Sox in 2009.  With AJ starting 75% to 85% of all games, back-up catcher is an area the Sox can trim a little payroll.  Castro made over $1 million this season. There are a host of free agent catchers out there who could act as serviceable back-ups at a much lower price tag.

Tyler Flowers- Put ‘em on the AAA Board

Flowers will benefit from a full season of AAA conditioning as he prepares to take over catching duties in 2011.

So to summarize the 2010 Roster thus far:

Carlos Quentin
Alex Rios (not by choice, by contract)
Scott Podsednik (4th outfielder/Super Sub)
Paul Konerko
Chris Getz
Jayson Nix
Alexei Ramirez (should explore trade market)
Gordon Beckham
A.J. Pierzynski

Na Na Na Hey Hey Hey Hey Goodbye

Jermaine Dye
Mark Kotsay
DeWayne Wise
Ramon Castro

Next edition we’ll look at pitching…then the free agent market.

Jake Peavy’s Debut Offers Sox Taste of 2010

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By Soxman

Coming from a lower-middle working class family, I’m no stranger to having to wait in order to get something you really want. One October during my childhood, I remember feeling excitement as my mom took me to K-Mart and picked out a brand new bicycle.  Man it was loaded.  Mag rims, free wheel and made of alloy instead of metal, so it was very light.  I got it off the rack and was even able to take it for a spin- about fifty feet past the blue light special icon.  Then I was reminded how I wasn’t actually getting the bike now, we were putting it on layaway for next spring.  Dreams of cruising past my jealous friends and being the coolest kid on the block would have to wait until after winter came and thawed.

This is what Jake Peavy’s long awaited White Sox debut against the Kansas City Royals is like for me, and probably for most Sox fans.

As Peavy himself admits that he’s not 100%, and still pitching in a game that has about as much meaning as that 50-foot spin down the aisle in Kmart, I’m excited.  But like all Sox fans, is anyone really thrilled?  It would have much more meaning if we were in the thick of a pennant race, or at the very least if we were seeing the true Jake Peavy.

As the winds of fall have the Sox playoff candle trickling out, I question what Peavy’s debut really means at this point.  He could be awesome, he could get shelled.  Worse, he could get hurt…AGAIN.  If it does not get us anywhere, does it really matter?

I’m not the only one raising this question either.  If you read behind Ozzie Guillen’s interview on Friday, he might feel the same way.

“We’ve been waiting for him for seven months,” said Guillen.  “Hopefully, when I take this guy out or he takes himself out of the game, he’s healthy.  That’s what I want.”

So what should Sox fans take from his start?  Aside from getting a look at one of the anchors of the 2010 rotation, don’t expect much.  Barring a horrific injury or another Williams blockbuster trade, we already know our starting rotation for next year:

Mark Buehrle

Jake Peavy

John Danks

Gavin Floyd

Freddy Garcia

So as the former Cy-Young award winning pitcher, with a career ERA of 3.29, and all the tools to be called ace takes the mound for the first time, enjoy the test drive.  He’ll soon be put on layaway until the spring.  Only then will we truly get to enjoy the ride.

Stop the White Sox are still Alive Nonsense

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By Paul M. Banks

Is it possible that White Sox fans have become entitled? I guess having one of your own as the president might do that to you. But with 3 division titles this decade (not exactly the Yankees or Red Sox by any means, but pretty good within the context of cumulative White Sox history) maybe Sox fans are beginning to have loftier expectations for the Sox Which is actually a good sign, legitimately longing for and realistically expecting a World Series title every season. The magic and wonder of 2005 has truly had a lasting effect. However, Sox fans need to realize that this sure as hell isn’t 2005, it’s certainly not 2000, and it’s still not even close to 2008.soxmanseats

Just because this division as a whole would struggle in a series with…well, instead of college basketball’s Big Ten/ACC Challenge, how about an AL Central/Pacific Coast League challenge. I seriously wonder how our boys would fare in that. The fact the White Sox were able to rise up and claim first place in mid-season despite looking like complete crapola from opening day till June, is the best testimony to how bad the division truly is. But that doesn’t mean the Sox are still alive. Seriously, how bad did Gavin Floyd look last night? Following what Ozzie called his worst start of the season.

Yes, he’s had hip problems and a bit of a hard luck season, but Sox fans need to quit bringing up the “we have six left against Detroit line and we’re only 6 ½ out” line.

Didn’t the Jim Thome white flag trade teach us something? That management knows it’s been over for some time. But maybe it’s because Jake Peavy starting Saturday, maybe it’s because Detroit is about to become the worst division champion in the history of sports.

I understand the comparisons between this team and 2000. Both teams consisted of young kids that played to their level of competition. The 2000 division champs played really well against good opponents and in must-have games, but also stumbled against the Royals and (then last place) Tigers. But the main way this team resembles 2000, is they would get equally destroyed in October.

White Sox Ready for Fall

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By Soxman

The Chicago White Sox are officially ready for fall after they waved a flag with a color that’s a fashion taboo to after labor day: white. The actual “fall” of the team occurred when they failed to dominate their easiest home stand of the year two weeks ago.

So,  Jim Thome is traded to the Dodgers for a player that doesn’t even rank among the Dodgers top prospects.

For all of the excitement that Mr. Incredible Jim Thome gave to the Sox in his four seasons on the southside, Kenny Williams said thanks by giving him a chance to achieve a milestone that has thus far eluded him in his Hall of Fame career: a World Series ring.

Less we never forget

-His 500th career home run, which also happened to be a walk-off winner in an otherwise miserable 2007 season

-His multitude of mammoth dingers, the largest of which made us 2008 Central Division Champions.

To a lesser extent, Jose Contreras was also given a similar gift for his 2005 play-off pitching heroics, a trade to the wild card seeking Colorado Rockies

When the flag was waved it was waved loudly.  Through a personal memo sent to contending teams, Williams announced his “everything must go” sale of aging inventory.

Among the items “for sale” were Paul Konerko, Jermaine Dye, Scott Linebrink, Octavio Dotel and Scott Podsednik.

With the exception of Konerko and Linebrink, who are under contract for at least one more season beyond 2009, player rentals could be had to a bidder willing to pay just pennies on the dollar.

So what does this mean to the 2010 and beyond Chicago White Sox?jose-contreras-2005-studio-plus-posters

Here are four quick points:

1. The Jim Thome trade identifies a need for a left handed hitter.

As Kenny Williams often has multiple plans, and has a history of bringing players back for multiple tours:

-Jim Thome could return at a reduced price.

– A free agent option that could make sense is Nick Johnson.  He has a career on-base percentage of .400 with good contact capability.  His injury history could bring him in at a reduced price and the allure of the DH spot could save miles on his body.  The launching pad of U.S. Cellular field could also help his power numbers.   He could rotate the DH spot with Paul Konerko reducing breakdown risk to Paulie as well.

2)      Absent from the “For Sale” List was Freddy Garcia.

Is this a hint that he could be a firm part of the Sox plans in 2010?  Your rotation would be set:

Jake Peavy
Mark Buehrle
John Danks
Gavin Floyd
Freddy Garcia

Assuming all players remain healthy, this would be a better than average rotation, surely among the strongest in the AL Central.


3)      Jermaine Dye and Paul Konerko might not return in 2010

See point one.  Depending on which of Kenny’s plans are activated, both could return.  Given Konerko’s contract and no trade clause, he’s the most likely of the two to be on the 2010 roster.  Along with Mark Buehrle, he’s the face of the organization, which is an intangible Kenny Williams values.

In the spirit of re-building and going with a youth movement:

Tyler Flowers, hitting a combined .297 with 15 homers between Double-A and Triple-A this season is one option, who we will see in the month of September.  While I hope they do not give up on him at catcher, an indicator could be whether or not he plays any first base in the Arizona Fall League.

Dayan Viciedo could be another.

Savings from letting Dye go could be used to add Chone Figgins, a versatile player with speed that Williams has coveted for years.  His style of play is conducive to “Ozzie Ball” as well.


4) Alexei Ramirez might not be the long-term answer at shortstop.

Sure the white flag trades have no nexus to this statement, but I had to make it anyway.  Alexei has the second lowest fielding percentage among White Sox regulars.  He could move back to second base where he was serviceable, or return to the outfield. alexeicheshirt

He’s only owed $2 million over the next two seasons and his offensive capability makes him a bargain, so he is not likely to be traded.

Gordon Beckham makes more sense at shortstop as a player to build around in the infield.

There are a host of possibilities in the off-season including bringing back Scott Podsednik, who could act as a speedy super-sub.

Here’s ONE possible line-up for 2009 if some of these moves were made.

Chone Figgins- 3B
Gordon Beckham- SS
Carlos Quentin- LF
Paul Konerko- 1B
Nick Johnson- DH
Alex Rios- RF
A.J. Pierzynski- C
Alexei Ramirez- CF
Chris Getz- 2B

Remember there are always options.

More posts as the off-season approaches.

“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.

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.

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!

The Sox Exchange

soxman

“Your Best in the Midwest Chicago White Sox Weekly Report”

By Soxman and SoxGirl

Paul M. Banks is on assignment scouting perspective in-laws, so sports super fan Soxman is joined this week by the newest member of the American League of Justice, SoxGirl, who is hotter than Gordon Beckham at the plate.

(SM) White Sox Nation rejoice!  This was a very exciting week for our franchise and fans.  After a humiliating sweep at the Metro”dump,” by the Twins, we are right back in the play-off hunt, acquired a Cy Young Award winner, had a perfect pitcher break a major league record and took three of four games from the New York Yankees!  SoxGirl care to start?

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(SG) How about Jake Peavy?  Talk about a surprise blockbuster!  The White Sox acquired a proven ace, with a career ERA of 3.29, solidified their rotation for the next two years at least, and have made themselves a stronger team for the stretch run.  What’s not to like about this trade?

(SM)  There was a belief not even a month ago that Peavy’s ankle injury was so severe, he could be shut down for the season.  This scared a lot of suitors away.  However, he threw off the mound Sunday.  The Sox now believe he will be ready to go before the end of the month!  People argued that we gave up a lot.  Clayton Richard has posted a 1.25 era over his last three starts including over five innings of two hit ball in his Padre’s debut.  Aaron Poreda should be solid as well.  Adam Russell has not shown much in his time with the Sox and Dexter Carter is very young.  Sure the move turns away from GM Kenny Williams vow to grow talent from within somewhat, but you can’t pass on the opportunity for a pitcher like Jake Peavy.

Still it leaves the open question of the fourth spot in the rotation and who occupies the fifth spot until Peavy returns?

(SG) Here’s where the gamble is on our season.  Providing we hit like we did against the Yankees, we should stay within striking distance until Peavy returns.  If he returns healthy, we will only really one question mark in our rotation.  By the end of August, I’m hoping to see starting five of Buehrle, Peavy, Danks, Floyd and then Contreras, Colon, or “Big Game” Freddy Garcia.  As far as “spot starts” for a fifth starter goes, I expect I Ozzie to turn to D.J. Carrasco or you’ll see a “one start” call-up of a hot minor leaguer as was the case with Carlos Torres a couple of weeks back.  Where I’m left scratching my head though is over who owns the fifth starter spot for the rest of the season?

(SM) Ozzie will go with the hot hand or I guess you could say “healthy arm.”  Contreras has a 5.94 ERA over his last three starts.  Control has been an issue for him.  Colon had a great start in his return from the disabled list but was immediately disabled again with elbow inflammation.  Freddy Garcia looked good in his first minor league start last week.  Garcia went three innings and did not allow a run on two hits and one walk. He also managed to strike out three and induce two double play balls.  Garcia could be ready in within two weeks.

(SG) Well pitching should be our strong suit down the stretch.  If anything positive came from our visit to the Metro “Dump” last week, it was once again Mark Buehrle.  In his first start since making history, he was perfect once again through  5.2 innings.  He set the major league record with 45 straight batters retired spanning his last two starts, surpassing fellow teammate Bobby Jenks who tied the record a couple of season back.

(SM) Those poor performances in twinkiville were quickly forgotten in our “bombing” of the Bronx bombers.  The exciting thing was to see a balanced offensive attack from this team extenuating the importance of Scott Podsednik and Gordon Beckham, who has looked great atop the batting order.  Beckham could very well be the 2009 Rookie of the Year.  He’s hit .407 over his last six games with a .311 average overall on the season.

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(SG) “The Savior” has been great I admit that, but lets not forget other players who have been clutch as well.  Chris Getz is getting little attention despite hitting .333 with 1 HR and 4 SB over his last 15 games.  And, how about my man, Mr. Controversy A.J. Pierzynski, who is raking with a .526 batting average over his last six games and a .393 batting average over his last 15 games!  I noticed he was booed loudly by the Twins fans.  As A.J. was drafted by Minnesota, why is he hated so much there?

(SM) Leave it to SoxGirl to find a way to work AJ into a Sox exchange!  I have no clue.  The Twins were forced to deal A.J., as they had perennial All-Star, Joe Mauer ready for the majors.  Before joining the White Sox in 2005, he was traded to the Giants for Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano, and Boof Bonser.  Nathan has emerged as one of he best closers in the game, so you would think Twins fans would be grateful to A.J.

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(SG)  I am every time I watch him play!

(SM) Well lets close this week’s exchange out 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…

Ladies first…

The Sox cannot beat the Twins.

(SG) Mirage.  The 2008 tiebreaker game.  Enough said.
(SM) Mirage.  SoxGirl, great minds think alike.

Brian Anderson will comeback to haunt the Sox.

(SG) Maybe.  He’ll haunt the Red Sox for acquiring him.

(SM) Maybe.  He already has for convincing the Sox he could replace Aaron Rowand.

Bobby Jenks will remain the White Sox Closer.

(SG)  Maybe.  He has huge stones…kidney stones that is.

(SM)  Maybe. I shutter at the thought of Linebrink or Dotel getting the ball in the ninth.

Mark Kotsay is this year’s Geoff Blum.

(SG) Mirage.  But he’s still better than Brian Anderson.

(SM) Maybe.  They both played with Jake Peavy…LOL.

Jake Peavy will play better than Jarrod Washburn.

(SG)  Maybe.  But Washburn will have a better ankle.

(SM)  Maybe…in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Great exchange SoxGirl!  Paul M. Banks returns next week!