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Preview: Nineteen Seventeen

Nineteen Seventeen

A Chicago White Sox blog featuring analysis of the White Sox and other things baseball-related.

Updated: 2015-09-16T17:11:55.409-05:00


Hey look, I'm back


I don't know if I'm going to be posting regularly ever again, but I thought I'd do those that still link to me the service of posting again.

The White Sox are now one win away from their first World Series since 1959. This is clearly the biggest month for the franchise in the past 40 years. Five more wins and they've broken the drought...not the curse, but the drought of 88 years. They have 10 games now to win those next five. The year in the name of this very blog will be the time before last, instead of the last time that we won the World Series. This is huge.

The White Sox, even if they win no more games, will never be the same as a franchise. For the first time in a long time, they are on the national scene for an extended time in October. This year is going to help the franchise for years to come. I don't think we can comprehend all of this year, but I'm sure if we revisit this in a few years, it will bear out.

So Go Sox! And on to the World Series...and through it!

Situational hitting leading to early success


Despite being 22nd in baseball in OPS, the White Sox are 14th in runs scored. What is the cause of this success? Situational hitting.

Now in the past, I've been one to downplay its importance, but the results have shown that it has been, in fact, vital to the White Sox success this year.

Two stats that demonstrate this are the number of times the Sox have rolled into a double play and the number of team Sac. Flies. The White Sox are the only team in baseball that has more sacrifice flies (12) than double plays (7). That's quite a large difference. They also lead the majors in most sac. flies and fewest double plays. Juan Uribe and Carl Everett are 1-2 in the majors with 5 and 4 sacrifice flies respectively. The major league leader in this category in 2004 was Mark Lorretta with 16. Uribe's nearly a third of the way there through about one ninth of the season.

These numbers have led to the White Sox being able to score runs, even when the hits are not falling and have contributed greatly to the team's early success.

Amazing times on the South Side


With the White Sox' 3-2 victory tonight in extra innings against the Kansas City Royals, they are now 14-4. Yes, that's correct, Fourteen and four.

Let's put this in perspective for just one moment:

This is the best record through 18 games in franchise history. All 105 years of it. Now, I don't know if that says more about this team or the pathetic history of this franchise, but still that is damn good.

Also, the White Sox are the only 14 win team in baseball. The next closest team only has 12 (Los Angeles Dodgers). The White Sox are already 6.5 games ahead of the Detroit Tigers, whom many people picked to win the division, 6 games ahead of Cleveland, whom more people picked to win the division and 3.5 games ahead of the Twins, whom many people picked to win the World Series, let alone the division. The White Sox have not been this far in front since the 2000 team ran away with the division. This whole thing is absolutely incredible.

Outside of the AL Central, the furthest team back is the Colorado Rockies who are 6 back of the Dodgers, yet the Kansas City Royals are already 9 games back. 9 games back 18 games in is not a pretty place to be in.

Now let's analyze what's brought the White Sox to this point. It's quite clear that the starting pitching staff has been the primary reason why the White Sox are in this position. The cumulative ERA is 2.88 right now. The worst on the team now is Contreras at 3.48. Everyone's been solid, almost day in and day out. Garland and Buehrle are already both at 3 wins. White Sox fans have to like what they're seeing so far out of this bunch.

Another large part of the equation are the contributions of various hitters. Podsednik, a guy whom I didnt think would have a great year, but left open the door due to his troubles at Miller Park in both 2003 and 2004, has a .327 AVG with a .393 OBP right now and 9 steals with only one caught stealing. This is exactly what you want out of your leadoff hitter. If he can keep any semblence of this up, then it doesnt matter what Carlos Lee does because the White Sox won this trade based on added depth. Also, Uribe's been hitting very well. .302 average, but a low OBP. Yet, he's had some important bunts and many sacrifice flies (5 already, to match his total from last year in the first 18 games) in close games when we needed him to come through. Crede's been excellent also, hitting .333 and in the midst of a 14 game hit streak. Finally, Iguchi has been surprisingly good early. Though I'm slightly dissapointed in the lack of power and the relatively few walks I've seen from him, it's hard to be too dissapointed in a .305 average from a guy coming over from Japan.

There have been a few worrisome parts of the bullpen. You really cant blame Vizcaino that much for his inflated ERA, he was running on empty and could not be replaced due to an empty bullpen. He's been fairly solid otherwise (he gave up the game tying hit tonight, but he's been a decent middle reliever). Takatsu has been shaky, like last year's start. Cotts has been Cotts-like, though he looked better tonight. But on the flip side, Marte looks a lot better than last year already. Politte looks like a whole new pitcher and is locating his fastball extremely well. Hermanson looks like the reliever he was before the end of the year blowup last year. On the whole, the relief corps has been good enough to win us 8 one run ballgames, and there's nothing wrong with that. Winning 1-run ballgames with a good bullpen is the only real way to outperform pythagorean record by a significant amount and the White Sox are doing just that.

The best part is that they're doing this in spite of Dye, Konerko, Rowand and Everett. If one part falters, there are other parts that could pick up the slack and keep us on this pace. All in all, it's just totally incredible that the White Sox have started this way. I can only hope that they can keep this up.

Buehrle's amazing game


9 Innings
3 Hits--All to Ichiro
1 BB
1 ER
the kicker:
Career high 12 K's
And it was all over in an Hour 39 minutes.

Mark Buehrle was amazing today. There's nothing else that can be said except maybe that he was outstanding or brilliant.

If the White Sox are going to win this year with pitching, it's all going to start at the top with Buehrle. I think he's on his way to a career year in 2005...if he can keep the ball down. So far only one home run allowed, which is why he's pitched so well so far this year. I like what I've seen so far from him...and the rest of the rotation on that note and it should be exciting to see what this team has in store for us on the pitching end of things for the rest of the year.

On another note, Paul Konerko is now the Major League Home Run leader after belting two out of the yard for a grand total of 6. He has four other non-Home Run hits. I don't think anyone really expects it, but wouldnt it be cool if Konerko actually managed to best his home run total of last year? It's not out of the question, especially if he can hit a few more out on the road, as 27 of his 41 came at home. He has three on the road and three at home so far this year.

Overall, I'm extremely happy that this team is 8-3 right now and tied for the Major League lead in wins with Minnesota at 8. It would be nice if we actually could be ahead of the Twins, but who knows? The wild card actually might come out of the AL Central this year.

If the pitching can keep something resembling this up, then I would probably revise my 85 win prediction to a much higher total as I feared the starting pitching might only be mediocre this year. We shall see, however. Only 11 games have been played so far and many of them have been relatively cold, so I won't put too much stock in 11 games, but I think that it's nice to see what every pitcher can do at their best (or close to their best).

I'm back


Sorry for the extra-long break. It was a combination of vacation and being ultra-busy, but I'm back in time to post my predicted standings for the upcoming season. I apologize for not having the time to post my predictions in more detail, but I'm going to try my best to make some fair comments on each team, but here we go:AL EastNew York-Additions of Randy Johnson, Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright will benefit this team, even if Wright and Pavano come down significantly from their career bests last year and dont pitch to their contracts. They bolstered their bullpen with Felix Rodriguez and it's much deeper now, so Gordon and Rivera will have more in them down the stretch. Their offense was never a question and wont be in 2005, especially if Giambi bounces back to a certain degree like I think he will. This team will probably win the most games in the AL by a significant margin, being the only team to win 100 or more. Boston-Many questions on the starting pitching staff. Schilling will be fine, but Wells is old and in the decline. Clement will struggle with his control more in the more offense-oriented American League. Some of their hitters will come off of their better season last year and we've got a team here which is still great, but not the best in the AL. I see them finishing closer to 90 wins than to 100.Baltimore-They can definitely score runs and that's what makes them the favorite in the race for third place in the AL East. Sosa, Palmeiro, Lopez, Mora and Tejada form one of the better power cores in baseball. The pitching is still a major concern, but it should be slightly improved over last year's group, but we're not talking by a lot. This team will end up on the right side of .500 this year, but the pitching will keep them from threating the Red Sox for second.Toronto-The return of Halladay for a full, healthy season and of Vernon Wells will help this team. So will the addition of Corey Koskie. It will be enough to propel them past the Devil Rays, but not that much further. Tampa Bay-After not finishing last in 2004, I see them returning to the basement of the AL East. They only finished three ahead of Toronto and I do not think that they have improved a whole lot. Player development could have a positive impact on this team, but I just don't see them avoiding the basement with Toronto's improvements.AL CentralMinnesota-In all likelihood, the Twins will remain atop the AL Central in 2005. The return of Joe Mauer and the use of Morneau for a whole season will be helpful, but there are some things to watch out for. They lost the left side of their infield and their new members are less than inspiring names (Cuddyer and Bartlett). 2B will still be occupied by Punto and Rivas. Overall the offense probably won't be all that great and there will be great reliance on the pitching staff. Santana might not regress a whole lot, but Radke will after having a career year. So too will Joe Nathan. They still win the division, but with less authority, coming in at about 87-88 wins, leaving the door open if Chicago or Cleveland gets inspired. After outperforming their expected for three straight years, they are a good candidate to underperform, but it's hard to pick against the 3-time reigning champs.Chicago-The hitting will be better than many expect, but the pitching won't live up to the least the projected pitching staff. Buehrle will pitch at a near Cy Young level, but Garcia will be good, but not great. His ERA will be in the 4-4.25 range. El Duque will stay relatively healthy, but will only be mediocre. Garland will be his average self but Contreras will be a disaster. McCarthy is called up by mid-June for some reason or another and competes for the ROY award. The bullpen will be decent, but not shut down. I see about 85-86 wins with a decent chance of winning the division, but they clearly will not be the favorites. Cleveland-Their hitting is excellent and will be in the upper tier of baseball, but[...]

Seismic shifts in the Baseball Blogging world


There have been a lot of changes in the past few days (and weeks) in the baseball blogging world:

The first thing to happen was the exodus of Rich's Baseball Beat and Wait 'Till Next Year from All Baseball to a new site that the two created called Baseball Analysts. The new site is of the highest quality and is probably one of the best blogs out there right now. I urge everyone to check it out.

The next major shift to occur was the consolidation of many blogs into the SportsBlogs network. This network doesnt really have a homepage, but it is headed by Blez from Athletics Nation and includes many team blogs and John Sickel's Minor League Ball. I really like how these blogs employ the diary feature, so that others can contribute in a way that doesnt require them to start a new blog.

Another huge shift was the consolidation of many blogs from All Baseball and other sources to Baseball Toaster, including Will Carroll, Mike's Baseball Rants, Bronx Banter and Dodger Thoughts. This new site instantly becomes one of the centers of the baseball blogging universe.

Now that All Baseball was essentially raided of the majority of its highest quality blogs, they merged with the Most Valuable Network. The details of their merge haven't really been worked out yet, but the first thing that happened was Exile in Wrigleyville moving over to All Baseball, which I like a lot. I wasn't a big fan of the old interface of Vince Galloro's site while it was on the Most Valuable Network, but I like the All Baseball interface. I'm also happy that Vince is on a baseball website, not just a generic sports website. He's the White Sox' lone representative of the bigger name bloggers.

The interesting part is that this all took place in the midst of Spring Training. I don't really know why all of this happen, but it's really important to note all of this. It seems as if there is a general consolidation of blogs, which is probably a good thing. I dont think it will compromise the blogs to be affiliated with one another. On the contrary, it might raise the visibility of all of them for them to all be located on one site or in one network.

All hail Brandon McCarthy


It seems as if McCarthy is finally getting his due praise from the national media.

His decent start (statistically it was awesome, but it wasn't the best he's done, which is really saying something) at one point was the first slide on the slideshow on yesterday.

John Sickels (whose Minor League Ball blog is excellent if you have not been there already) rated McCarthy the top White Sox prospect with an excellent (by Sickels standards) A- grade.

Dayn Perry, rated him the 14th best prospect in all of baseball (which is the highest I have seen him ranked), saying:

McCarthy led the minors with 202 strikeouts in 2004, and he also posted a sparkling 6.7 strikeout-to-walk ratio across three levels. Not bad for a 17th-rounder. He shows exceptional command of a two-seamer, four-seamer and excellent curve. McCarthy's changeup needs refinement, but he still made good progress with it last season. His mechanics are polished and efficient, and his height (6'7") gives him a good downward angle at hitters. Some scouts aren't wowed by his stuff, but the numbers thus far are tremendously impressive.

But we all know that scouts weren't exactly impressed with Buehrle at first, but look how he turned out. McCarthy is not in the same mold as Buehrle, however, in that he is probably going to rack up more K's than Buehrle. I've heard the comment that he's like a tall Zach Greinke, which sounds pretty fair to me in that he gets a lot of K's, pitches smart and has great control.

Hopefully we'll get to see him one more time this spring on television, but I have a feeling that we'll be seeing him a few more times before the season is over.

His being at a very good level puts the White Sox in a good position, in that if Garland isn't adequate, Hernandez isn't healthy or Contreras proves he isn't good enough to start, McCarthy is there and will be a more than reliable replacement. By sheer ability, he'll probably find his way into the rotation before the year's end.

The nature of US Cellular FIeld in 2005


One of the biggest stories to emerge from the White Sox in the 2004 season was the emergence of US Cellular Field as one of the top parks in baseball for yielding runs. The split between the home and road stats of White Sox players is exempified in Paul Konerko and Mark Buehrle. Konerko had a 1.079 OPS at home and a .708 OPS on the road. Buehrle, on the other hand, had a 5.02 ERA at home and a 2.63 ERA on the road. Konerko was Albert Pujols at home and Joe Crede on the road. Conversely, Buehrle was Ismael Valdez at home and Johan Santana on the road (yes the splits on these two players were really that big!).

The prevailing theory that has been proposed is that the changes in the Upper Deck changed the wind flow patterns and thus caused more home runs. This runs contrary to the information given to Kenny Williams before the renovations were made, but it seems like a logical theory for the most part. However, correlation does not always indicate causation.

Another interesting thing to note is that Wrigley Field, usually known as a pitchers' park, played as a hitter's park last year. We can use this as a control because the dimensions or upper deck wasn't changed there.

Given this, is it really the case that US Cellular Field has been permenantly changed to an extreme home run and hitter's park? I have my doubts and I'm calling that US Cellular Field returns to being less of an extreme hitter's park. I believe that the weather conditions in Chicago last year were the cause of the extreme hitters park nature of US Cellular FIeld last year. We'll know which is the case come October.

Spring Training games are here!


Finally, the purgatory known as "Spring Training games" is upon us! While the games are absolutely meaningless, they provide a lot more fodder than occasional articles and quotes coming out of Tucson. The White Sox so far have dropped 3 of their 4 Spring Training games (and are leading significantly in their fifth) and nobody could really care less about how they are doing.

The best thing by far that has happened this spring training is Podsednik starting off 6 for 7 with 2 leadoff triples, 2 steals and (I believe) 2 bunt base hits. This is very encouraging and reminds us about his potential. If he could surprise a lot of people, come back to where he was in 2003 and hit .300 with a .360ish OBP, that would be fantastic.

On the downside, the White Sox' starting pitching has been less than fantastic so far, with all five pitchers having some sort of trouble. The only one I'm really concerned about is El Duque. There have been very few encouraging signs about him this year from a performance perspective. His velocity is down and his location wasnt good in his one Spring Training start. We'll just have to wait and see about him, but I fear he might not be all that great for us, even if he is healthy, but I'm going to give him more of a chance than one ST start and a few reports.

The fun really begins when on March 7th, the first of 21 televised Spring Training games is shown on Comcast Sports Net. Supposedly, that is the most amount of ST games televised by any team in history. As much as I like listening to games on the radio, getting to see the White Sox in action is that much better. This also might help the organization build up interest in the White Sox this season, especially if they are winning a lot of those later games (they dont matter, but that doesnt mean that they wont sell tickets).

And in potentially positive White Sox media news....


The Tribune has a new White Sox beat writer. His name is Mark Gonzalez and he is coming in as an outsider who has no biases toward or against the White Sox (from CA originally, via AZ). This is definitely a positive development seeing that Bob Foltman was making up the position of White Sox management to make it appear that Frank Thomas was not going to be welcome to return after the 2005 season. Here's hoping he does a really good job and stays on the White Sox beat for a long time (assuming he does a good job)!

Phil Rogers morphing into second Jay Marriotti


When I read the morning papers, I noticed a similarity between the two: both had an article about Ozzie Guillen and how he is a hypocrite for criticizing Magglio. One was written by Phil Rogers and the other by the Moron: Jay Mariotti.

I have to say that I find the timing interesting seeing that there was a poll on about who was the leader of the White Sox and Ozzie won by a considerable margin.

Well this didn't surprise me that much from the Moron, though it was apparent that his personal vendetta against the White Sox has strengthened since being fired by ESPN 1000 for his really bad ratings (to which he claims he quit for not being able to criticize Jerry Reinsdorf).

But I have to say I was surprised by Phil Rogers' article today. Maybe I should not have been so surprised after that despicable attack article on Frank Thomas earlier. It seems that with this article he is further trying to stir up trouble. I really can't see any other purpose to this article.

Maybe he wants to be the White Sox's manager for life. Why else do you take on Jerry Reinsdorf's fights? And how else do you explain Guillen summoning righteous indignation toward recent comments by a confused Magglio Ordonez about his financially driven departure from the South Side?

First of all, Phil Rogers is in no position to call anyone a company man seeing that you work for the same company that Mark Prior, Kerry Wood and Dusty Baker work for. Now maybe if he had worked for the independent Sun-Times, this argument would have had more creedence, but coming from the company that owns the Cubs it does not.

No one says the Sox had to pay Ordonez $15 million a year indefinitely, especially in light of the serious knee injury that limited him to 52 games last season. In fact, given the club's spending limits—reasonable with their middle-market attendance and revenue—they made the right decision to let Ordonez walk.

But why keep beating him up? And why turn Guillen loose as an attack dog?

Come on. This is silly.

Now he's criticizing Ozzie for being pissed about Magglio bashing the organization to which he has devoted about 15 years of his life? Of course Ozzie's going to be pissed as hell. Magglio's comments were not, as Rogers says later, "less-than-explosive." The part which upset Ozzie the most was that Magglio seems to be unable to let this whole thing go and move on. The White Sox have moved on, but Magglio can't seem to let go of the whole thing which he created. Ozzie is basically trying to say to Magglio: "Move the [bleep] on and shut the [bleep] up." I'm totally with Ozzie on this.

Quite honestly, Phil Rogers is entering the territory of Jay Marriotti. I don't know if I can take him seriously anymore after these contemptible articles. He's lost a lot of my respect for needlessly bashing Ozzie and trying to push Frank out of town, all in the course of two weeks.

Predictions 2005: AL West


We'll start the first in a series of 6 divisional predictions with the AL West. Notables additions to the division:Adrian Beltre 3BRichie Sexson 1B Steve Finley CFRichard Hidalgo RFOrlando Cabrera SSJason Kendall CNotable subtractions:Mark Mulder SPTim Hudson SPJermaine Dye RFTroy Glaus 3BJose Guillen OFTroy Percival RPEdgar Martinez DHThe AL West is a division that, on the whole, is about as strong as it was last year. The team that has practically defined this division for the past few years, the Oakland A's traded away their two best pitchers in Mulder and Hudson, who also happened to be the two best in the division. However, to make up for that, the Mariners added Beltre and Sexson, which, in terms of divisional strength, counterbalances the departure of those two. Projected Order of Finish:AnaheimOaklandTexasSeattleAnaheimWhile Anaheim did lose Troy Percival, their longtime closer, their bullpen is not really all that much weaker because of the loss. Francisco Rodriguez will end up being a better closer than Percival could have been. The bullpen as a whole is still one of the absolute best in baseball. I dont think Finley is that much of a better player than Jose Guillen would have been, but he's not all that far behind. Cabrera is a fair upgrade over the overrated David Eckstein, but Cabrera is overrated as well. They're going to depend a lot on relatively young players in McPherson and Kotchman, though Kendry Morales is waiting if either of them falter. Their rotation isn't all that stellar. As far as the rotation goes, Colon will almost certainly be better and Kelvim Escobar is probably one of the most underrated pitchers in baseball; however, Lackey, Washburn and Byrd really dont strike me as better than average starting pitchers, so on the whole it's what I'd consider an average rotation, but in this divsion, that's not such a bad thing. The Angels should win this one easily by at least 5 games. 94-95 Wins should be their target.OaklandYes I do recognize that they traded away Mulder and Hudson, but their young pitching talent is as good as any in baseball. While the rotation wont be as good as it was in the past, Blanton, Haren and the best of Yabu/Meyer will be pretty darn good by the end of the year considering the low standards set by the AL and this division in particular in terms of starting pitching. Rich Harden is on the verge of a breakout season. The question is if Zito can return to his 2000-2003 form and conventional wisdom says that it will. On the offensive side, Jason Kendall will be a huge help. They still have Chavez, Durazo and Hatteberg, with other players who should be at least decent in 2005 like Kotsay, Byrnes, Swisher and Ellis. This might also be a great year for Nick Swisher, but his better years are more likely to be further down the line. Back to pitching, their bullpen is stellar. Dotel, Cruz, Calero, Bradford, Jaric, Street, Rincon, Duchscherer, etc, are all excellent bullpen candidates and any way they go, they can't go wrong. If they happen to be wrong, they will have plenty of other combos that they could toy with. The bullpen is going to carry this team to second place in the division and I predict 87-89 wins for the Oakland A's. TexasNow why did I put them below Oakland? Here's my reason: Their bullpen absolutely carried them to those 89 wins last year and I expect regression in three of the major members: Shouse, Mahay and Almanzar. Cordero, Francisco and Brocail will all probably keep it up, but the first three I don't like because they're all above the age of thirty and had career years last year. That's a warning sign for regression. I don't feel the Rangers would have been as successful if it weren't for their pen. Their rotation flat out sucks. Rogers wasn't great last year, de[...]

Backing Bonds


I'm a Barry Bonds fan and nothing he said yesterday changed that. I don't see how what he said yesterday was a big departure from what he has said in the past. Apparently, Joe Sheehan doesn't either: The fact is, Bonds was correct in much of what he said yesterday. The media does keep running back to the same stories over and over. There are larger problems in our society than athletes using performance-enhancing drugs. Whether steroids are cheating isn't the black-and-white question it's been presented as, not in a game that turns a blind eye to the kind of amphetamine use baseball has seen. His blanket accusation that everyone in the room had lied at one time or another was unfortunate, almost certainly erroneous, and provided an easy way to paint Bonds as a bad guy.I wrote this in December, but it's worth mentioning again: Bonds is facing these questions in part because he was betrayed by the system. His grand-jury testimony, and that of others, was leaked to the media. That is the biggest crime in this situation to date, and almost no one has addressed it with the same gusto as they have the connections between Bonds and his personal trainer. Where are the investigation and the indictments for that crime?As far as that testimony is concerned, I don't think you can have it both ways. I don't think it's fair to treat it as Grand Jury Testimony where the stories are good, but then decide that where the story isn't as good, the person is lying. That's what Bonds is facing here: not only was his testimony leaked, but people have effectively been accusing him of perjury for two months since then. His explanations for his use of the clear and the cream have been dismissed, his performance record seen as tainted.I agree wholeheartedly. There is definitely a double-standard when it comes to Bonds and it has a lot to do with the media's hatred of him. There is no shred of objectivity left from the media's perspective, which makes it seem like people like me, who aren't positive that Bonds did the 'roids or that they helped him even if he did take them, are in a very small minority. It seems as though one cannot suggest anymore that Bonds just might be telling the truth or say that you are on Bonds' side without being attacked for that position immensely and that is entirely unfair. The media hates Bonds. The media has made you connect Bonds with the steroid issues based on their reporting. The media wants to to be on their side of the Bonds issue. I know most White Sox fans should know that the media does not always reflect the truth. I have a lot respect for Bonds, taking a stand against the media who keeps rehashing the same friggin' story over and over and over a billion times because it's a lot easier to discuss than what acutally might happen on the field. Why is it that the media sinks so much time into this steroid issue, when a lot of the team previews aren't even researched thoroughly?The whole proportion of the steroid issue and the question of asterisks is a media invention. Are steroids a problem? Yes they certainly are, but there is a testing policy that will be given a chance for a year or two before anything is to happen. So why bother harping on this story continually? It's because the media is lazy and they can't write (seemingly) well on any other issue. Bonds is 100% correct on that part.I think Bonds overplays the race card sometimes and definitely is not the most diplomatic person in the world, but the content of what he's saying is for the most part accurate. It might not be what the media wants to hear, but that's too bad. Sometimes being candid and pleasing the media don't always match up and Bonds recongizes this.It's really time for this story to die. The story really isn't going[...]

No Playoffs for the Sawx


I don't see the Red Sox in the playoffs. I think one of the Twins or Rangers can bump them off. I see the Red Sox as significantly weaker this season than last. The pitching is significantly weaker, and the offense will probably regress. The Staff:
  1. Schilling has had mixed reports, with him himself saying in the current Sporting News that his ankle will be fine for opening day, but his arm may not be. Given that he is far and away the best pitcher, they need him badly.
  2. My real beef with the Red Sox supposedly being so good is the Matt Clement addition. Matt Clement has regressed for the past three seasons. I watched him pitch a lot last year, and he did not look good. His ERA last season was 3.7, and he placed in at a 36 VORP. Fairly decent, but that's not much compared to Pedro Martinez, who he has to replace. Moving into Fenway, his ERAa might rise half a run. Down the stretch though, he was brutal, and he lost his rotation spot to 1-12 Glendon Rusch. Is this really a number 2 starter on a World Series team?
  3. At 41, do you really expect David Wells to stay healthy, or even out of the bar fight? On the statistical side, he moves out of one of the best pitcher's parks in the National League into a hitter's park in the American League. That does not bode well.
  4. Wade Miller is coming off Labrum surgery. Tell me if I'm wrong, but Labrum surgery does not have anything like the success rate of TJ surgery. Counting on him to do much would not be wise.
  5. Arroyo, I got nothing. He had a 25 VORP in 179 innings, a very good fifth starter.
  6. Tim Wakefield had a 4.9 ERA in roughly 190 innings. He's 38, which I guess isn't that old for a knuckleballer. But his numbers just are not that good.
On the offensive side, there will be some regressions. Varitek is 33, when most catchers start to break down. Renteria, the big new shortstop, managed a .297 OBP against right handed pitchers last season. Mark Bellhorn was good last year, but the year before he managed no home runs in 110 at bats with the Rockies, in the best place to hit home runs. Damon is relatively young, but at 30 he might start slowing down, and his OPS jumped 110 points from the year before, something he probably cannot maintain.

I picked the Rangers over the Red Sox, but I probably should have picked the Twins. They've lost some, but Mauer did not play much, and he will add enough to ofset the loss of Koskie. Bottom line: The honeymoon should end soon for the Red Sox.

Konichiwa Tadahito Iguchi!



Say hello to the New Second baseman for the Chicago White Sox (hopefully for the next 3 years).



I'm not going to pretend this is scientific, but I'd like to put this out there. On October 2nd, 2005, I think the standings will be:

Red Sox
Devil Rays
Blue Jays

White Sox

Rangers (Wild Card)


Cubs (Wild Card)


Lavishing praise on Brandon McCarthy


If you didn't know about Brandon McCarthy before President's Day weekend, you probably knew a lot about him afterwards. The Sun Times, Tribune and all had articles about the 21 year old, 6'7" righty. If you're not familiar with the Brandon McCarthy story, here it is:Maybe you had known about him from before 2003. His 2003 Rookie league stats hinted at his potential greatness. In 101 innings at Great Falls, McCarthy posted a decent, but not special 3.66 ERA. However if you look inside the numbers you might have been able to foresee what happened in 2004 (which I'll get into later). He struck out 125 over this time period for a K/9 of 11.14 and walked only 15 for a K/BB of 8.33. He didn't give up all that many homers either, 7 is not a terrible number over that time period. An astute watcher of the minor leagues may have noticed this, but probably not too many others as this was not a ton to get excited about. After all, this was Rookie Ball. In 2004, however, he broke out and proved that those Rookie Ball numbers were not a fluke. He started the season at Low-A Kannapolis where he posted another good, not great ERA of 3.64 in 94 innings, but again some of his rate stats were excellent. His K/9 was excellent once again at 10.82 and his K/BB was also pretty good at 5.38. His record was 8-5 in 15 starts and the organization felt as though a promotion to High-A Winston Salem was due.So about halfway through the season he arrived at Winston-Salem. What did he do? In his 52 innings, he was absolutely brilliant. He posted a 2.08 ERA, had a K/9 of 10.38 and an astonishing K/BB of 20 even (60 strikeouts and only 3, yes 3 walks). On July 31st, in a game against Myrtle Beach, he struck out 16 batters in 7 innings or 16 out of the 18 outs he recorded, a ridiculously amazing performance that left many turning heads. Thus he earned a promotion to AA Birmingham after only 8 starts in High-A. Talk about moving quickly through the system. He only got 4 starts at Birmingham as it was near the end of the year. He went 3-1 in 26 innings with a 3.46 ERA. His K/9 again was extremely high at 10.04, but his K/BB decreased to 4.83. This was probably just a function of the little time he had to adjust to the more veteran hitters of the Southern League than any regression. The fact that he could maintain that K/9 of near 10 at every single level through the system demonstrates his excellence. When it was all said and done on the year, McCarthy led the minors with 202 strikeouts in 176 innings for a K/9 on the year of 10.57. His win total of 17 was good enough for second in the majors. It is pretty clear that he is among the top pitching prospects in baseball.Over the weekend, it appears that Ozzie finally got his first look at McCarthy. He thought enough of him to compare him to the great "Black" Jack McDowell, stating:He's not too far away from the big leagues," said Guillen of McCarthy, who will start a couple of Spring Training games. "Mentally, he's ready to pitch. He's focused and knows what he's doing."When you see a kid so young moving the catcher over and telling him what he wants to throw, that's pretty impressive," Guillen added. This is great stuff to be hearing out of someone who actually played with Jack McDowell. Like McDowell, McCarthy might also be ready to pitch on a high level from day one as he's never had problems adjusting between different levels. Obviously the majors is a whole different animal, but he's very close to being ready. Before McCarthy came on the scene, it was generally thought that Anderson and Sweeney were next in line to impact the White Sox from the farm system, but [...]

The Tribune's attempt to push Frank out of town continues


I told you the last time that it would just be the first of many mentioned of Thomas's 2006 status. Phil Rogers had a piece today about the case for getting rid of Thomas.This means it's highly likely he'll open the season on the disabled list, a first in his 16-year career. It probably means he will miss all of April and possibly May, as well.This part's true, though I'm not so sure that the chances of missing May are as likely as Phil Rogers does. He's putting it in this light to further his later point. But -- and here's the part I hope to be wrong about -- it looks as if 2005 could turn into a painful farewell for one of the best right-handed hitters in baseball history.And now the anti-White Sox and anti-Frank Thomas stuff starts...There's little doubt it will be his last year in Chicago, as general manager Ken Williams seems ready to hand him a $3.5 million severance rather than exercise a $10 million option after the season. But it would be nice if he could go out somewhat in style.There's little doubt? Maybe there's little doubt in the Tribune sports office and the premature celebration has begun, but I think there's a lot of doubt on whether or not he'll be back. I think it entirely depends on how he does this year. If he can come back in early May and produce well the whole year (a likely scenario), I think there's little doubt that he will be back at the 6.5 million that Kenny would have to pay for him (the scenario that the Tribune expects is that Thomas will excercize his 10 million dollar option and the White Sox will pay 3.5 million to buy him out leaving Kenny with an extra 6.5 million). I just dont see how the Tribune can be so sure in that. This is clearly an opinion and not establised fact. [Going out with style], of course, never happens with the White Sox. It didn't with Carlton Fisk, it didn't with Jack McDowell, it didn't with Robin Ventura or even Guillen. It certainly didn't with Ordonez. Why should Thomas be different?He should be different because he was with the club a lot longer than most of those players and he was/is better than all of them. It's not fair to compare Thomas with the players on this list, in my opinion. Thomas has been with the team 16 years and is the best hitter in team history. It's always fun to be right, but sometimes you wish you were wrong. That's the case with my take on how badly an even more one-dimensional Frank Thomas is likely to fit in on the White Sox, who have been renovated around a National League model.Two reasons why he's already wrong. First is that Thomas, while unable to play defense, is not a one-dimensional player. The absolute biggest thing that hitters are expected to do hit (obvious). Thomas's hitting ability is one of the best in baseball when he's healthy enough to play and he's not all about the Home Run ball. He also is one of the best players at getting on base in baseball. His average aint terrible either. He's not a speed threat, but I think it's unfair to call him one dimensional as offensively he's not one dimensional. If you want to argue that offense in itself is the one dimension, go ahead, but it won't get you far as it's the most important dimension by a huge margin. On the Second point, I actually heard Kenny Williams say that while he wants a National League feel to the club on the whole, that he likes having an American-League style middle of the order. Now we all know that these distinctions aren't very good anyways: they're quite vague. Thomas can easily fit in with the concept of an American League middle of the order. No, the Boston Red Sox couldn't have won wit[...]

The case for Shingo


Shingo Takatsu, or Mr. Zero as he is called by many, had an outstanding year last year in his "rookie" season for the Chicago White Sox. On June 12th, in a game against the Braves, he earned his first save for the team and promptly took over the closer's role on a full-time basis for the remainder of the year. Some of Takatsu's impressive accomplishments include going 19 for 20 in save opportunities, a scoreless inning streak of about 25 and a streak where he set down 29 batters in a row, a hidden perfect game as he exceeded the requisite 27 batters in a row (Hidden Perfect games just mean that you retire 27 in a row. It's entirely unofficial and does not have to happen in one game). It was quite an impressive rookie season. He has been annointed by Kenny Williams as the closer for 2005, but there seems to be some concern as he tailed off at the end of the year, or did he?ERAs by Month:April 3.86 (7 IP)May 0.00 (11.2 IP)June 0.77 (11.2 IP)July 0.96 (9.1 IP)August 7.36 (11 IP)September 1.86 (9.2 IP)October 0.00 (2 IP)That stretch from May to July was just incredible. 3 straight months under a 1 ERA? That's almost unheard of. In fact, in 2004, Takatsu was the only pitcher in baseball that could lay claim to such a streak. Not Eric Gagne. Not K-Rod, not Otsuka, Benitez, Nathan, Linebrink, Lidge, Rivera, Gordon or Foulke. Only Shingo Takatsu. (The actual ERA for all of those months combined was 0.55). This is truly impressive. Now you're probably thinking "He's trying to avoid that August ERA!" Well I'm not going to try to poo-poo it. He had a bad month in August. A pretty darned bad one at that which definitely prevented him from an amazing ERA to finish the year with. Some have stated that this was due to hitters figuring out his frisbee and just waiting for the 87 MPH fastball. The problem with this assessment is that his combined September/October ERA was 1.54, not exactly an awful way to close out the year. Here's my assessment of why Shingo faltered in August. It's not statistical in nature, but more of an observation. When Shingo was having success for most of the year, the key wasn't that he was just fooling everyone with his frisbee, but he had excellent location with the fastball on the outer half of the plate. It broke right over the corner of the plate and he was getting strikes with it. When he was having trouble in August, he wasn't throwing that fastball for strikes early in the count and thus had major trouble working behind in the count. When he got back on track again in September and October, the fastball was getting thrown for strikes again and he had success again. Shingo was unhappy with the way he was pitching to lefties last year and decided that he needed to develop a new pitch (at least that's what this thread says). Speculation is that it's a cutter as he spent a lot of time with Esteban Loaiza last year and Don Cooper loves the pitch. If Takatsu has developed a cutter, it would greatly improve his pitch selection. He has enough slow pitches with the 75 MPH slider (I guess) and the 60 mph changeup and an 82-84 MPH cutter will be good for changing speeds with the fastball at 87 MPH. It will definitely help him in 2005. I think he'll do very well again in 2005. Even though hitters might be more ready for him when they face him, he still represents a large departure from the normal MLB pitcher, so a hitter is still probably unaccustomed to him. Besides Jody Gerut with 7 at bats, no one has really had more than 3 or 4 against him anyways. He should do just fine as the full-time closer in 2005. Shingo-time is not going[...]

Iguchi's power translation to surprise many


Now I'm going to go out on a limb with this piece, but it's something that I firmly believe. The first thing is that I recommend that you watch this video showcasing Iguchi from the Official White Sox site before you read any further. Notice the park with the really high walls. That's Iguchi's home park (if you haven't figured it out already). Here are the park factors for all of the parks in the Japanese league, with the home park of Iguchi in bold (They're from 2000 and 2001, but I don't think they've changed much, at least Iguchi's home park):Team 2000 PF 2001 PF CommentsChunichi Dragons 976 888 Hanshin Tigers 959 978 Large dimensionsHiroshima Toyo Carp 1074 1004 Yakult Swallows 1027 1009 Very small dimensionsYokohama Bay Stars 1043 1031 Yomiuri (Tokyo) Giants 952 1081 Chiba Lotte Marines 973 1044 Fukuoka Daiei Hawks 971 969 Nippon Ham (Tokyo) Fighters 1034 1107 Shares with YomiuriOrix Blue Wave 1009 1036 Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes 1005 943 Seibu Lions 1003 998 Now what do you notice? Most of the parks are offensive parks, but this is not the case for the home park of the Daiei Hawks. It is among the minority of ballparks which play large in the Japan League. Allow me to remind you that Ichiro played for the Orix Blue Wave, Hideki Matsui for the Yomiuri Giants and Kaz Matsui for the Seibu Lions, all neutral or offensive parks. Somehow Iguchi has managed to put up lines of .340/.438/.573 and .333/.394/.549 in 2003 and 2004 respectively at this pitchers park with 27 and 24 homers respectively. Fairly impressive stats. Now we can expect a dip from those numbers certainly, but if Iguchi is going from a pitchers' park in the Japan League to one of the best hitters' parks in the Major Leagues, that will soften the drop by a significant degree. Aaron Gleeman recently did an article on what we can expect from Iguchi in 2005 and he crunched the following stat line: YEAR AVG OBP SLG IsoP IsoDTadahito Iguchi 2005 .300 .345 .425 .125 .045Now the way he did it was that he used Kaz Matsui, Hideki Matsui, Ichiro Suzuki and Tsuyoshi Shinjo's first year stats and compared them to the stats of their last year in Japan to make a projection. Now I have demonstrated how this methodology has some problems in that it doesn't at all account for the fact that Iguchi was playing in such a pitcher-friendly ballpark, though I think it gets decently close. I would project a slugging percentage a lot closer to .500 than Aaron Gleeman would, though the OBP might not be a whole lot better than that, but we shall see. I am going to go on record as saying that I believe that Iguchi will hit at least 20 home runs in 2005, assuming health. 17-25 homers is the range of reasonable possibilites that I'd guestimate. I think he's going to be a power/speed threat in the 2 hole of the lineup this year, especially if he ends up hitting in front of Thomas. I think the biggest part of his game that will suffer is the K/BB ratio, but that he'll still find a way to hit out a lot of homers. I'm pretty optimistic about Iguchi. There's not a ton to base an opinion on because he's not an established MLB player, so wild speculation can run rampant about his abilities, but the truth is that we can't know until the season starts. Spring Training is still too early to make a call on him because of what happened to Shingo with his 6.75 ERA in Spring Training and his 2.31 ERA in the regular season.[...]

Thomas to return in March??


Buried in the bottom of the White Sox article in the Tribune today is this bit about about Frank Thomas:

In past springs, any Sox controversy has centered around Frank Thomas. This spring, Williams expects peace, because Thomas' contract is running out and Williams seems determined not to push his DH into action after foot surgery last fall.

"I have not seen him," Williams said. "I'm sure I will on the 21st (when position players report)."

Will Thomas be recovered enough to go through drills next week?

"We won't gauge where he is until he shows up," Williams said. "A lot can happen in two weeks, and it has been two weeks since his last [rehabilitation] report."

That report put Thomas "on schedule for mid-March," Williams said. "During his rehab, he has not pushed himself for spring-training activities. But I think the most important person to listen to [about his health] is Frank."

This is absolutely excellent news. The White Sox' chances of winning the AL Central immediately got a huge boost with this news. Now I don't exactly when this means Frank will be back. Even if it turns out to be by the beginning of May, that's not the end of the world. I'm sure Carl Everett can do a fine job for one month. But this opens the door for Thomas to be in the lineup on Opening Day, a very encouraging development. If Thomas can come back and hit like he did before he went down last year, then the White Sox will be the clear favorites to win the AL Central in the book of any reasonable prognosticator. He was on track to lead the AL in OBP before he went down with the foot problem. His OBP was .434, while the eventualy title-winner's, Melvin Mora, was .419. Thomas was also on pace for about 40 homers once again.

When Ozzie made the remark that he thought Thomas wasn't going to be back until June, he made that remark without any medical information. Now, Kenny Williams has a lot of info about Frank's health status and it's definitely good news.

This brings up a question that I'm glad that we're able to ask: What do you do with the fact that we have 3 players for two positions with Everett, Dye and Podsednik all vying for a corner outfield spot? I think a platoon with Everett and Dye would be extremely sucessful.

Dye's 2004 stats vs Lefties
AB 161
AVG/OBP/SLG .280/.376/.491
HR 8
BB 26
K 28

Everett's 2003 stats (he hardly played last year) vs Righties
AB 388
AVG/OBP/SLG .299/.382/.557
HR 24
BB 44
K 56

That would be one really good platoon. It can only happen if Podsednik plays decently well and everyone stays healthy, but this is clearly the ideal situation here. If we end up being able to do this platoon then we have entirely and effectively replaced Magglio's bat. It would be one expensive platoon at about 8.5 million, but that's a lot less than what Magglio was asking and makes more sense than keeping one on the bench. It also might be the most talented platoon in baseball. I don't know if Ozzie or Kenny are thinking along these lines at all, but I hope the thought has at least entered their mind going into Spring Training

Springtime for White Sox Baseball


Well it's finally here: The Pitchers and Catchers have reported, and a few others in addition (*cough* Aaron Rowand *cough*). We also have our first quotes of the year (none from Ozzie that I've seen yet).

Aaron Rowand says:
"There is a little more excitement around here...It is a different feeling than having a group of guys on the team that is going in a different direction."

Indeed. With all of those roster changes since the beginning of last year, the sum total of them for the better, the excitement is justifiable and the team is certainly going in a new direction.

Here are the first spring training pictures of the year:


The excitement begins....

Extreme Makeover: Nineteen Seventeen Edition


A few changes to the site:

1. We now have an official banner. Many thanks go out to WinningUgly! at White Sox Interactive for taking some time out of his busy schedule to create the amazing new banner. He has come through in the past for me as well, creating a Schoe's Foes banner for my sig when I started the WSI Schoe's Foes group at the beginning of last year and a follow up sig banner when I abolished the group after Schoeneweis's great start.

2. The color scheme has been upgraded to reflect the fact that this is a White Sox blog and not a generic, random blog. If there are any suggestions for the color scheme or if anything looks out of whack, feel free to leave a comment or an E-mail. If you're asking why the links in the link section are blue, it is to reflect the fact that the White Sox' colors were not always black and white and if fact were red, white and blue back in 1917 and many other times in White Sox history. You would know this if you have read WSI's amazing White Sox Uniform Guide by George Bova.

Climbing aboard the "bash Canseco" bandwagon...


I too am one of those that does not have any respect for the Canseco allegations.

Just because someone says something that sounds like it could be true, doesn't make it true. You must bring a claim into question, regardless of how plausible it sounds, if the person make the claim is of a questionable personality. Jose Canseco fits this description. When Kem Caminiti broke the silence on steroids in Major League baseball a few years ago, everyone stopped and listened because everyone at least could trust him as a fairly credible source. A few days later, Jose Canseco made the claim that 85% of baseball players were on steroids, a wholly unbeliebable and implausible claim. No one listened to him because of the evident hyperbole and unreliability of Canseco.

We're not talking about a clean individual either. Jose Canseco freely admits to using steroids and embraces them. In fact, he was placed under house arrest in 2003 for using steroids as it was a violation of his probation. Why was he on probation? Because of the nightclub brawl that him and his brother were involved with. None of these incidents contribute to our ability to take him seriously as a trustworthy and honest individual. Freely admitting to cheating in baseball and trying to cheat the court doesn't help your case.

So why should we believe that he isn't really just trying to cheat the public out of 20 dollars or so to buy a book full of lies? I don't think that we really can. There may be some truthfulness to parts of what he is saying, but I have a feeling that his more outrageous claims were put in the book to sell a lot of copies when all things are considered.

Hawk Harrelson was on ESPN 1000 today and he freely on air called Canseco a "whore." I cannot say that I disagree with him. Canseco is tarnishing the game of baseball with his ludicrous, unsubstantiated and untrustworthy claims about some of the greatest players of our era. To compare this book to Ball Four is totally unfair to Ball Four. I have no plans to buy the book and waste my team reading through page after page of outrageous allegation after outrageous allegation. Canseco has managed one of the better PR jobs of all time for his new book, but that's where the praise ends from my perspective.

Canseco v. Rose


What has Jose Canseco done, exactly, to earn himself some semblance of respect? His book is not that much different than Pete Rose's My Prison Without Bars. Rose wrote his book because he wanted to get into the hall of fame, and did some highly publicized TV interviews. Canseco wrote his book, from what I've heard, to take down his bash-brother Big Mac. Mark got the glory of breaking the home run record, Canseco spent his career injured, playing only 150 games in a season once after 1991, as pointed out by Will Carroll.

Canseco is being hailed by some as a shmuck, as EVERYONE said about the way Pete Rose released his book. Others hail him as something of a whistleblower, as Skip Bayless has. My problem with that is, this information was already out there before. I feel that Barry Bonds saying that he took steroids but did not know it was much more damning than the allegations by Canseco.

The book will end up being compared to Ball Four instead of My Prison Without Bars, which to me sounds ridiculous. Does it really sound to you all as if he is trying to clean up the game? Maybe I'm wrong, but the only thing standing between Canseco and comparisons to Rose is, as Bayless succinctly stated, his better sense of timing.