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!