Speed, Pitching and Defense was the Kenny Williams blueprint of success for the 2010 Chicago White Sox. The plan seemed feasible. After all it worked in 2005.
He started acquiring the parts for “the project” at the end of the 2009 season and through a busy winter he acquired the best “materials” available within his budget to build a winner.
The material task list:
1. Add a former Cy Young winning pitcher to bolster rotation. Jake Peavy. Check.
2. Add perennial speed demon and leadoff hitter. Juan Pierre. Check
3. Bolster bullpen. J.J. Putz. Check
4. Improve athleticism. Alex Rios. Check
5. Improve defense and player attitudes to game. Mark Teahen, Omar Vizquel, Andruw Jones. Check.
25 games into the season, it appeared as though Williams’ success blueprint needed massive revision. The finished product was built with sub-standard materials and started to crumble:
Jake Peavy posted career highs..in WHIP and ERA.
Juan Pierre forgot how to get on base.
With the exception of Matt Thornton and Sergio Santos, the bullpen erratically pitched liked a bunch of Putzs (no offense JJ).
Omar Vizquel’s “mentoring” of Alexei Ramirez resulted in a .958 fielding percentage and five errors through April. Even defensive stalwart Mark Teahen has committed four errors a third.
With the exception of John Danks, the starting rotation tanks and the great “on base” minded offense ranks near the top of MLB in homeruns, but last in team batting average.
After an embarrassing loss to the New York Yankees, some Sox fans start trading in their white socks for white flags, wishing they could hit the reset button on the season and start over. Chants of “Fire (insert scapegoat of the moment here)” began echoing all over the southside, and rumors of another icon from the 2005 World Champions, A.J. Pierzynski, being traded before June, also began to swirl.
Then came game 26 against the Kansas City Royals…
Speed. The Sox steal three bases on four attempts. Juan Pierre swipes two.
Pitching. Jake Peavy took a no hitter into the 5th and threw seven innings of shutout baseball.
Defense. Two double plays are turned and no errors are committed.
Grinder ball! The Sox generated 11 hits and five runs, only one of which came from the long ball. Alex Rios hits a two-out bases loaded single.
And all that echoes the model of the 2005 World Champions, Scott Podsednik, hits a solo home run just a few seats away from the spot he launched his World Series game two walk-off…even though it was for another team.
One game does not give Kenny Williams the right to say” “I told you so.” However it is an indicator of what the 2005 White Sox are capable of, if they can put it all together. To date, more than 3 quarters of the Sox roster was performing well below their career averages. Simple history indicates the probability of improvement is a near certainty.
The answer to fixing the White Sox is not to cry over missing “Scotty Pods,” or to bring back an aging Jermaine Dye and masher ball. Seriously, by the time Dye would be in playing shape (whatever that means these days), it could easily be June and whose spot would he take?
The formula to success could simply be: “perform to blueprint specifications.”
Whether or not the White Sox can actually build on this momentum will unfold in the coming days. However, Sox fans were finally given a taste of what we were promised, and we now have that tingle in our veins, the hunger for more in our bellies. It only takes a few hits and a little hustle for the words “Sox” and fix to take on a whole new meaning.
Give us more! This team and its fans really needs it bad.