By Randy Satovitz
The last time the White Sox had a worse scoring pace than this year was 1986 when they scored 3.98 runs per game. The Sox are scoring 4.15 runs per game which is good for 12th in the American League. They were shutout in three games last week (2 vs. Oak, 1 vs. Cle). Ironically, the Sox play at one of the best hitter friendly ballparks and are doing exactly what they have been doing for years- hitting the long ball. The power numbers have never been a problem for the Sox, but getting a large number of runs across the plate certainly has been. Carlos Quentin should be back by the end of the week, but that will not necessarily help the Sox score runs.
Of course there will be more home runs, but if Podsednik can’t handle center field, the outfield will be jammed up. As much as I disliked Podsednik coming back to the Sox, he has become one of the lone bright spots in the lineup. He is getting on base and becoming the great leadoff hitter he once was back in 2005 when he finished 12th in the MVP voting.
The pitching has not been as bad as it could be with a possible six-man rotation going on. The Sox even decided to let Ozzie’s brother-in-law Freddy Garcia come back and give pitching one last try. It seems the Sox give a lot of players second and third chances- even when their first chance was not too spectacular. The hitting will come around, but scoring enough runs will still be a question mark. The Sox walked 12 times Tue night and should have scored many more runs than they did. When Ozzie Guillen came to the White Sox, he had them play a special style Sox fans called, ‘Ozzieball.’
Ozzieball was a way to generate runs by advancing players base by base as part of the run manufacturing process. Some of called it “smartball” because it’s built around taking advantage of little situations and mistakes made by your opponent. (Recall the Tony Grafaninno error in the ’05 ALDS? A.J.’s base-running adventure and the dropped third strike in the ’05 ALCS?)
Basically, it’s ‘smallball,’ but since Ozzie is in charge, you might as well give him credit in the name. You don’t want him to curse at you, do you? Anyways, this idea flew out the window a couple of years ago and the Sox have never been the same team. And nowhere near as successful.
The Sox need to score runs like they used to and get some wins on the board. Sounds easier said than done, but if Ozzieball returns, watch out. I don’t know how many times Ozzie has to lash out at his team and tell them to play better baseball. Things aren’t clicking until the Sox start stealing more bases and laying down more bunts. Even if it’s Jim Thome who’s trying to lay down that bunt for a base hit; because with the Thome shift, the third baseman is practically in the outfield almost every time. Somebody is going to have to step up their game and focus on the team instead of padding their stats. Once one person starts it, the others will follow in line.
The question is who?