By Soxman and Paul M. Banks
(SM) A 5-11 record, dead last in the rather weak American League Central, 2nd from last in the entire American League, and 3rd from last in MLB. This uninspiring play has life-long pessimists already trading in their play-off rally socks for white flags. The familiar chants associated with such negativity are also beginning to swirl amongst the U.S. Cellular Field winds: Fire Greg Walker, Why Did We let Pods Go? Bench Pierre! There have even been a couple subtle call-ins on radio shows indicating it’s time to cancel “The Ozzie Guillen Show.”
While these actions may appear to be a bit extreme, and most Sox fans still believe the 2010 season is salvageable, many bad habits have to be reversed and quickly or it will truly be a long season on the south side of Chicago.
(PMB) Mark Buehrle’s web-gem on opening day vs. Cleveland has been this year’s biggest highlight so far. The 2010 season has been all downhill since. Sums it up for me. Oh and Jake Peavy’s 7.76 ERA that says a whole lot! What a wonderful trade that has turned out to be so far!
(SM) It is too easy to be an “arm chair” manager and deliver a remedy to fix the White Sox when there are no guarantees of a sure fire fix. So how do the White Sox turn things around? There really is no one easy answer. Let’s explore some of the options:
Fire Greg Walker
(SM) Firing the hitting coach merely to “shake things up” doesn’t always have a guaranteed positive result. However, the Sox team batting average (.223) ranks 27th in MLB. While the majority of the team isn’t hitting anywhere near career norms, Alex Rios .269 batting average is credited in part to Greg Walker. As is Andruw Jones .323 batting average. While Walker is an easy fall guy for a slumping offense, a move such as this would not immediately result in the team hitting .300 anyway.
(PMB) Andrew Jones has been very impressive. Hiring/firing hitting coaches doesn’t make that much difference, like Head Coaches in the NBA. Look at the Cubs firing Gerald Perry, and how it saved their season….oh wait. Look at that big splash hire they made in the offseason with big name hitting coach Rudy Jaramanillo, and now they’re…oh wait never mind. Point is, hitting coaches don’t matter too much.
Fire Ozzie Guillen
(SM) Despite all of the pre-season distractions over Twitter, his kids, Jim Thome, etc., the fact remains that Ozzie Guillen is the only manager in franchise history to guide the team to more than one division\league title. Still, if the Sox have another down year and consistently fail to play the type of game Ozzie has promised, he will be vulnerable. However, the third week in April is not the time to make this decision.
(PMB) Agreed. This is just a stupid idea. Ok, say maybe his Ozzie Jr. is a worthless entity and a gigantic waste of a human life, but don’t take it out on Ozzie Sr.
Juggle the Line-up
(SM) Ozzie has promised this for the past couple of weeks and yet, with the exception of inter-changing people in and out of the DH role, and getting a start for his reserves, the batting order by and large has not really changed. If Alexei Ramirez makes a repeatable mental mistake, pull him. If Juan Pierre is not getting on base, drop him from the leadoff spot in the order. While there is no guarantee that moves such as this will motivate a struggling player to perform, playing the “hot hand” at least gives you the maximum opportunity to score runs.
Focus on the Little Things
(SM) This does not guarantee wins either, but there should be nothing wrong with Ozzie putting more restrictive hitting controls on his hitters. “Swing away” should not be a consistent option with a team that ranks 13th in the American League in batting average and even worse with runners in scoring position. The Sox ranking 8th in the AL in HRs combined with a free-swinging plate methodology translate to a “live and die” by the long ball methodology. It does not work.
(PMB) I was hoping we figured this out by getting rid of all those slow dinosaurs clogging the middle, or at least getting rid of two of the double plays waiting to happen. Now it’s like we have the worst of both worlds.
The Pods Watch
(SM) Finally, in the first two weeks of the season, it appears as though the White Sox made a bad judgment call letting Scott Podsednik walk in favor of Juan Pierre. While he has 6 stolen bases and remains the toughest hitter in the AL to strike out, Pierre is hitting .192. Podsednik leads the AL with a .457 BA and has one more stolen base on the season. While it is early to see how this decision will shake out, fans have to accept that Podsednik is not coming back to the White Sox, much the same as we did with Aaron Rowand after the 2005 Season.
(PMB) No comment.