2004-12-15T12:32:35.956-08:00Todays USA Today had a new article on Randy Johnson and it talked about the White Sox as a potential front-runner. The new found interest comes from reports that "Johnson's agents privately told the White Sox last week that he would accept a trade to the White Sox, sources close to the negotiations told Sports Weekly."
2004-12-14T19:37:22.736-08:00I'm a little late on this entry, but yesterday the White Sox acquired Scott Podsednik, Luis Vizcaino and a PTBNL (believed to be Mitch Stetter) for left fielder Carlos Lee. This deal was made for multiple reasons and talent wise its a deal the Brewers win. However, its a deal that is good for both teams. The Brewers get a run producer that they vastly needed in Lee, 28, who should only get better. However, Lee's numbers should take a drop now that he's being removed from one of the better offenses in baseball and one of the better hitting parks in baseball. But talent wise Lee has room to grow and is due to make 8 million this year and has a team option worth 8.5 mill in 2006. The White Sox on the other hand don't get a player as talented as Lee, but they get what Ozzie has wanted for quite a while, a leadoff hitter. Statistically we will have to see what Podsednik the Sox get, whether its the one who hit .314 with a .379 OBP in 2003 or the one that hit .244 with a .313 OBP and 70 stolen bases in 2004. Regardless we know one thing about Spod, if he's healthy he will steal 50 plus stolen bases and Ozzie will give him the green light on the paths. In fact, his average should go up from last season soley by moving from more of a pitchers park to a hitters park and it should only help that he'll find himself in a better offense, even without Carlos Lee. One encouraging stat was last seasons road split, where he hit .274 with a .330 OBP and very respectable (especially for a leadoff hitter) .741 OPS. You should expect to see these type of numbers at a minimal from Pod with the Sox next season. However, he could see his numbers jump more if the Sox can get him to shorten his swing. Regardless, his addition gives the Sox a better looking defensive lineup, one that will have good range between Pod, Rowand, and Dye. Power wise the Sox lineup takes a bit of a hit, but that doesn't mean the Sox lineup lacks power. Paul Konerko (30), Frank Thomas (20), Aaron Rowand (20), Juan Uribe (20), Joe Crede (20), and Jermaine Dye (25) all should hit 20 plus homers. In fact with conservative estimates (seen in parantheses in the previous sentence) those six would combine for 135 homers. But we all know Konerko is capable of 40, a healthy Frank 40, a healthy Dye 30, Uribe 25, Crede 25, and Rowand 25. That would give the Sox 185 homers between those six with Everett, Pod, Gload and Davis easily adding 20 homers. Now its unlikely Thomas will hit 40 Hr's, considering he's on the rehab path right now, but even if his average isn't where he'd like it to be, with at bats, Frank is going to hit the ball out of the park. For those curious, the 205 homers I mentioned would place the Sox 8th in the majors this past year, just behind St. Louis and ahead of Los Angeles. The little talked about portion of this deal is reliever Luis Vizcaino. His addition will be huge for the Sox. With Hermanson already on board in the back of the bullpen, joining closer Shingo Takatsu and stud set up guy Damaso Marte, the Sox now have what looks to be one of the better bullpens in baseball. Its also a serious step up to the pen they ran out last season. Vizcaino is a hard throwing righty who throws a mid 90's fastball, a slider, and a newly added split-change (no thats not a typo). And the most talked about part of the deal is that the Sox will save roughly 6-7 million in payroll. This means Kenny is now roughly 10 million under budget to add a starting pitcher and then potentially a catcher and infielder. The key to this deal is the Sox picking up a good pitcher. Ken Williams has already said they are interested in Matt Clement, but this isn't Kenny's style (at least not of late) which leads me to believe this is a ploy and that he's actually targeting someone else. Free Agent Odalis Perez doesn't seem to be getting the interest of Clement and is just as good of a pitcher and younger and would be a stabilizing factor in the rotation. Of course there is also the possibility that the Sox look at Vazquez, AJ B[...]
2004-12-10T00:19:20.780-08:00The moves started on Wednesday and continued into Thursday as Ken Williams and the White Sox announced it had come to terms with free agent RF Jermaine Dye. Dye signed a 2 year deal worth a guaranteed 10.15 million. The deal calls for 4 million in 2005, 5 million in 2006, and a team option in 2007 worth 6 million. There is a 1.15 million buyout.
2004-12-08T11:54:36.260-08:00Well, Kenny Williams flew under the radar just fine and the Sox inked the best closer on the market Dustin Hermanson to a 2yr 5+ million dollar deal. The move will bolster a bullpen that needs help.
2004-12-08T09:37:12.353-08:00Well, its been a rather dissapointing 24 hour window. It also has been like 3 weeks since my bold prediction of Randy Johnson pitching on the South Side of Chicago.
2004-11-17T13:30:53.483-08:00Thats it, I've made a verdict and Randy Johnson is going to be pitching for the SouthSiders this season. Sure, I may be going out on a limb here, but the Sox have the best offer on the table and I can't see any team matching it.
2004-10-28T21:51:01.890-07:00Magglio Ordonez was among 65 players who filed for free agency today (first player available) . This is pretty much the final step, minus him signing a contract to another team, to his depature from the SouthSide.
"Hearing everything second- and third- and in some cases fourth-hand, I think I have to wait until there is direct dialogue," Williams said. "From what I've heard, it doesn't give me any reason to have any optimism."
I think we all know my stance on Magglio, good riddance. Maggs, I loved you when you were on the field and playing baseball, but quite frankly, you had some bad baseball people giving you advice because you dont' deserve Vladdy money, you ended up getting Vladdy money offered to you and you turned it down and now you and Boras will be scrambling to get you anything near that 5 yr 70 million offer.
Now onto a new name, that of Kevin Millwood. Millwood also filed for free agency today, as did Beltran, Beltre, and Brad Radke, just to name a few. However, Kevin's name hasn't come up yet and I figured I'd go out and throw it out there.
While I think were all aware of Millwoods slide since the 2nd half of the 2003 season, you can't help but look past some of the good numbers he's put up. And it appears that part of the reason for his down-turn were health related.
Now he would have to take a substantial pay-cut and potentially a shorter term deal (its unclear whether he would do that) but at the right price he would be a good option for the White Sox. You can't look past his career numbers: 98-64, 3.89 ERA, 1367.1 INN, 1283 H (1.24 WHIP), 1134 K (7.46 K/9). He has also done a relatively good job limiting the long ball in his career.
Assuming he checks out physically, he's definately an option worth looking at, especially if teams look past him in the early part of free agency.
2004-10-28T21:18:36.996-07:00Today Carl Everett and Frank Thomas both announced that they will be accepting their player options for the upcoming 2005 season. This came as no surprise as both players had already given every indictation that they would be accepting this options.
This weekend the Daily Southown reported that White Sox General Manager Kenny Williams plans on contacting the Arizona Diamondbacks about the possibility of a deal that would send the Dbacks ace, Randy Johnson, to the South Side of Chicago.
At this point this rumor has to be taken as pure speculation, although it was widely reported that the White Sox were very interested in him at the trade deadline. At the time of the deadline reports were that the Sox package would have to start at Aaron Rowand, Jon Garland, and a prospect.
With one year and 16.5 million remaining on his contract, it is evident in my mind that a package along those lines would be damaging to the White Sox. There is no doubt that Randy Johnson at the top of the rotation would make the Sox pitching staff vastly superior to anyone else in the division, but at the same time, they would be creating numerous long term holes for a one year solution.
If the Sox are able and capable of adding payroll, they could target one of the A’s big three as it appears that one of Hudson, Zito, and Mulder will be on the block. The most likely to be dealt is Barry Zito, who had a down year in Oakland but has proven himself as an ace.
A package to acquire Zito should also be less costly (in terms of everyday players and quality of prospects) and is also a better long term solution. The Southtown article also went on to speculate that if the price was too steep for Johnson or if he wasn’t willing to accept a trade to the South Side, that Williams would target another ace, possibly via free agency.
However, like I’ve made mention on multiple occasions, at this point, while the FA market for starting pitching is strong, there are no sure-fire aces on the market. However, there are a few players with the potential to turn into aces (Carl Pavano, Matt Clement, Odalis Perez, etc) and one aging ace (Pedro Martinez).
Could this off-season have a similar fate to the 1996/1997 off-season. An off-season in which the White Sox thought long and hard about Roger Clemens, the Red Sox ace, but in the end felt he was past his prime, as did numerous other teams, when Clemens eventually landed in Toronto. Instead the Sox opted to get a “developing” ace in Jamie Navarro and offered him what was then the fattest contract ever offered to a pitcher (in White Sox history).
We all know what happened from their. Navarro literally got fat from his contract and reported to camp out of shape. Unlike one of his predecessors, Bartolo Colon, Navarro proved he was unable to pitch at that weight and turned into one of the biggest busts in the modern era of the White Sox. It ranks right their with the Todd Ritchie deal in my mind.
The only bright side in Jamie Navarro was the eventual trade out of Chicago, when he and RHP John Snyder were sent to Milwaukee for Jose Valentin and Carl Eldred. Those two pieces, along with a young nucleus of hitters, and James Baldwin, helped catapult the White Sox to the 2000 division title.
Could Pedro be the next Boston ace that appears to be on the downside of his career, but instead, an ace on the brink of re-inventing himself someplace else? Who knows, but is it a risk worth taking, considering the “Bosses” need for a few more able starters in New York?
2004-10-22T17:38:57.793-07:00The Arizona Fall League is upon us and the Mesa Solar Sox, whose roster is made up of 6 Sox farm-hands, have played 13 games (6-7) thus far. Lets take a look at a closer look at how the Sox farm hands are doing: Brian Anderson, OF – R/R – March 11, 1982 .206 AVG, .303 OBP, 6 R, 2 2B, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 7 BB, 6 K, 1 SB (0 CS) The good news is that Brian Anderson is playing. Anderson suffered from a hernia injury late in the 2004 season and is back getting at bats in the AFL. Anderson hasn’t put up great numbers thus far in the AFL, but is the White Sox top position prospect. The young outfielder has received glowing reviews from manager Ozzie Guillen and GM Ken Williams and will potentially get a shot to compete for a starting job this spring, although the odds are against him breaking camp as a starter. Anderson excelled in high A last year posting a .925 OPS with Winston Salem (High A) before being promoted to Birmingham (AA) where he hit .270 with 4 HR and 26 RBI’s while posting a .762 OPS in 48 games. Pedro Lopez, 2B/SS – R/R – April 28, 1984 .318 AVG, .308 OBP, 2 R, 0 2B, 0 HR, 5 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 0 SB Lopez, 20, replaced shortstop Andy Gonzalez on the AFL roster. This was a wise decision considering Lopez is more advanced with the bat and was less likely to struggle in the AFL. Thus far Lopez is putting up solid offensive numbers, although as usual he has an atrocious OBP (.328 with the Warthogs last year; .379 OBP in 7 games with Bham). One of the big weaknesses has been the lack of walks. And if he ever wants to be a top of an order guy, he’s going to have to improve on this, but he does still have time. Defensively Lopez has soft hands, a good arm, and good range. Him, Gonzalez and Valido have all the tools to be plus defensive middle infielders. The question with all three of them is the bat and at this point Lopez is the most advanced in that category. Casey Rogowksi, 1B/OF – L/L – May 1, 1981 .409 AVG, .536 OBP, 4 R, 2 2B, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 6 BB, 2 K, 1 SB (1 CS) Rogowski, 23, continues to rake the ball. He had an outstanding 2004 campaign with the Warthogs and has seen some development in the power aspect of the game (18 HR’s in 2004). Rogowski has a good eye and is able to work the counts (.401 OBP in 04, Career .380 OBP). He’s played 4 games in the OF and two at first base. Up until late last season Rogowski has only been thought of as a first baseman, but that appears to of changed and Rogowski could find himself in the Barons outfield next year, along with Ryan Sweeney. Rogowski runs well for a big man and uses all parts of the field. Jeff Bajenaru, Reliever – R/R – March 21, 1978 0-1, 10.80 ERA, 5.0 INN, 7 H, 6 R, 5 K, 1 BB Bajenaru has been mired in a mini slump ever since being called up to the big leagues. Baj pitched better then his numbers would indicate at the major league level, but is struggling again in the fall league. Baj should get a shot to compete in training camp for a position with the Sox, but with Politte signing a new contract, Takatsu’s option being picked up, and the persistent reports of the Sox looking to sign another set up man, the margin of error will be small as Felix Diaz, Arnie Munoz, Jon Adkins and him all compete for what could be the only open bullpen spot come spring training. Baj has a good fastball and slider (“slutter”) and does a nice job mixing his pitches. He had a tremendous season with Birmingham (1.34 ERA, .89 WHIP, 13.63 K/9) and Charlotte (1.80 ERA, .75 WHIP, 7.20 K/9) and is a favorite of FutureSox.com. Matt Smith, Reliever – RHP – August 14, 1978 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 8.1 INN, 11 H, 0 R, 4 K, 3 BB Smith has been sharp in Arizona, although his peripherals aren’t tremendous. Averaging about 4.5 strikeouts per 9 while giving up over a hit per inning pitch isn’t the way you succeed at the majors, [...]
2004-10-22T17:40:47.610-07:00For a couple weeks the White Sox have been rumored to be interested in Indians shortstop Omar Vizquel. Vizquel would bring something the Sox have lacked in a long time, both leadership and the ability to do the little things. The signing would also bring a future hall of famer and the greatest defensive shortstop of all time to the South Side of Chicago.
There is no doubt that Vizquel is on the downside of his career, but he posted his best numbers in a while in 2004 and is in excellent shape after suffering from a shoulder injury early in the 2004 season. Its unclear whether Vizquel could fit into the leadoff spot on the southside, because he’s a more aptly fit two hole hitter, but his presence would be a big improvement over that of “homer or whiff” Valentin.
Well, The Sox aren’t the only AL central team interested in Vizquel as the Twins are reportedly interested in him if they can’t come to terms with Christian Guzman. Vizquel would give the Twins yet another scrappy player that does all the little things that it takes to win. In fact, I’d fear the Twins getting Omar, because to me Christian Guzman is one of the few weak links on the Twins.
The Twins also suffered some bad news as RotoWorld is reporting that the Twins top outfield prospect Jason Kubel tore his ACL in the Arizona Fall League, the injury will sideline him past spring training, although he should be healthy near the start of the season. Kubel was expected to replace one of Jacque Jones or Torri Hunter, both of whom are reportedly on the block.
Even with Kubel’s injury the Twins have options. They still have 3 good outfielders in Hunter, Stewart, and Jones plus Lew Ford who played tremendous all season long.
We all know it will be an interesting off-season for the White Sox, but it appears the rival Twins are also going to be in for an exciting off-season. Expect both teams to have at different look when they meet in 2005.
2004-10-22T16:48:34.460-07:00The first three of my “Fix The White Sox” articles focused on the holes of the White Sox. They gave a little insight into some potential options, but not an in-depth insight. In this piece I will quickly summarize the holes I see and then give a few options at each hole, before giving my suggestions. Also want to make a quick note that I’ve pretty much finalized the format of this blog, minus the link section (which will grow). If anyone sees something they want to add, post a comment or shoot me an email at email@example.com The way I see it, the Chicago White Sox have 4 key holes to fill this off-season: shortstop or 2nd base, left handed hitting outfielder, starting pitcher, and a reliever. I think it’s realistic to expect the Sox to fill all but one of these needs, although I’ll hold out that they will fill all four needs. Shortstop/2nd Base This is the most likely position to be filled during the off-season. The Sox front office has already hinted that they will target Omar Vizquel, but a few other options are out their as well. What is clear is that the incumbent Jose Valentin will be gone. It appears more likely that they will add a shortstop with Willie Harris and Juan Uribe battling for 2nd base, but if the Sox opted to go with Placido Polanco who is another free agent possibility the Sox would opt with Uribe at shortstop. Omar Vizquel – Free Agent .291 AVG, .353 OBP, 28 2B, 3 3B, 7 HR, 59 RBI, 19 SB Vizquel would be a stop-gap solution to the infield, but he should be a very good stop gap. He is a savvy veteran who is still regarded as a good infielder. He also has an amazing ability to use the entire field, drop bunts and move runners over. Basically Omar does what the top of the lineup failed to do this year and that’s get on base and do the little things. Earlier in the week the Indians turned down the option on Vizquel, but may still make him an offer. Placido Polanco – Free Agent .298 AVG, .345 OBP, 21 2B, 0 3B, 17 HR, 55 RBI, 39 K, 7 SB (126 games) It is unclear whether the Phillies would let Polanco walk, but it wouldn’t be wise of them to let him get away without a fight. Polanco is a vastly underrated ballplayer. He needs to improve on his walk totals, but is very difficult to strike out and has surprising pop for a 2nd baseman. He doesn’t have the stolen bases of Vizquel and isn’t quite as good with the bat, but would be a good option. He is also a good defensive 2nd baseman and has the versatility to play 3rd base as well. Todd Walker – Free Agent .274 AVG, 19 2B, 4 3B, 15 HR, 50 RBI Walker joined the Cubs hoping to help them reach the promised land. The problem is he was the back up second baseman and eventually got upset over the playing time. Walker will look for a starting job elsewhere and isn’t the prototypical leadoff hitter, but does fit in the two hole. He isn’t exactly what you would call an Ozzie ball player, but he is a productive second baseman, although his defense is suspect. Walker has some pop (15 HR’s) and is typically a good OBP guy (.347 career OBP). Rafael Furcal – Atlanta Braves .279 AVG, .344 OBP, 24 2B, 5 3B, 14 HR, 59 RBI, 58 BB, 71 K, 29 SB (6 CS) Its unclear whether the Braves would deal Furcal, but there is no doubt that he’d fit in nicely in Chicago. Guillen is familiar with Furcal from his playing days with the Braves and Furcal’s recent run-ins with the law could push him out of Atlanta. The Braves have a need for a power bat, and that need will grow if JD Drew leaves via free agency. Both Konerko and Lee are on the trade block and each team has some guys that make sense. You could potentially see a deal with the Braves happen this offseason. The other player in Atlanta the Sox may have their eye on is reliever Juan Cruz. Luis C[...]
2004-10-15T23:25:47.433-07:00The Minnesota Twins may of gotten a bit weaker today, when they declined the option ($5.25 million) on starting shortstop Christian Guzman. However, don't think its a guarantee that the playoffs were the last time us Sox fans will see the speedy shortstop in a Twins uniform, because the Twins are still expected to try and sign him, possibly to a long term deal, just for less money.
2004-10-14T12:34:04.216-07:00The writing has been on the wall for some time in Chicago and to most Sox fans it appeared quite obvious that Ordonez would be playing elsewhere in 2005. The odds of him remaining a Sox are now miniscule now that Ordonez has switched agents to Scott Boras. If the Yankees are the evil empire of baseball, then Scott Boras is the evil dictator of the sports agent world. He does an outstanding job getting his players as much green as possible, but he also burns friendship, makes no commitments, and makes no mention of hometown discounts. To him, its all about the benajamins. Now that’s not a problem from an agent, but its already a given that the White Sox shy away from Boras clients. Many teams in baseball shy away from his clients. His demands are usually excess and he will do anything possible to get his clients as much money as possible (Its his job afterall). However, the Sox won’t meet his demands. Ordonez was already offered the largest contract in the history of the Sox (reportedly) and he turned it down. He demanded Vladdy money even though he doesn’t have a Vladdy like presence in the lineup. Don’t get me wrong, Magglio is a good player, but he is not a 14 million a year player. As much as I don’t like Frank Thomas, Thomas is much more productive, as judged by his high OBP and OPS throughout his career, including the healthy portion of this season. Ordonez has yet to eclipsed the elite status of a 1.000 OPS, one of the true signs of a super star. In fact his career is .978 and his career OPS is .889. In the 2004 campaign, Ordonez was posting a mediocre .836 OPS while hitting .292 with 9 HR and 37 RBI in 52 games. If he played in all 162 games, that would project to 28 HR’s, and 111 RBI’s. No doubt those would be good numbers, 6 million a year better then Carlos Lee or Paul Konerko?? Lee hit .305 with a .891 OPS (higher then Magglio’s) hitting 31 HR’s and knocking in 99. Konerko batted .277 with an .894 OPS, 41 HR’s, and 117 RBI’s. Now lets take a look at the much maligned Frank Thomas. In 74 games he had a .271 AVG, .997 OPS, 18 HR and 49 RBI. Projected over a full season, that’s 39 homers and 107 RBI’s. All three of these players posted better numbers on the season then Magglio, statistically. Albeit Magglio plays a more important position, but not 6 million a year more important. The 6 million figure is representing what Lee is expected to make next year, cause in fact he was paid 7.5 million less then Ordonez in 04. Realistically the only thing that differs him from Carlos Lee is consistency. I don’t think any of us would be bantering for the Sox to offer Carlos Lee 14 million a year. If the Sox are going to spend 14 million a year, it should be on a special player like Beltran. Carlos Beltran, another Boras client (although rumors have been going around that he may switch agents) would be the better option. Beltran is better defensively, is one of the best base-runners in the game, and percentage wise the most effective base-stealer of all time (89.3% success rate). He also has plus power, the ability to hit for average, and oh ya, he plays gold glover caliber defense in centerfield. He also provides a switch hitting presence in the middle of the lineup, which will break up the monotony of righties. To be fair, Beltran hasn’t posted a 1.000 OPS either. But he was 2 HR’s away from going 40/40 this year. Is it realistic the Sox will get Beltran, No…but if your going to pay 14-16 million a year, you better make sure you get a super-star and Magglio is not a super star. So Maggs, thanks for all the great years you had here, but good riddance. The Sox are better off with an extra 14 mill divide[...]
2004-10-13T09:23:00.986-07:00Last entry I told you how the Sox pitching staff is short a starter and that my thinking is the Sox will fill that opening via trade. I also told you that Jose Contreras and Jon Garland would be two guys to key in on to see if the Sox are winning or not. If the two of them have a strong year, then most likely, the 2005 Chicago White Sox will have a strong year. In today’s piece, I’ll focus my attention on the bullpen. First off, I want to state the importance of a good bullpen. A good bullpen not only enables you to win the close games, but it can be an insurance for when your starters faulter, which is inevitable. Once you have a good pen, you can start having your questionable starters go less innings, keep you in the game, and then turn it over to the pen knowing that most likely your bullpen will keep the game in check for a rally. I also think the bullpen, not the starting rotation, is one of the keys to getting to the post-season. A strong bullpen and a good offense help you win many games. If you have those two characteristics then you don’t need one ace on your staff, you just need 5 pitchers that will keep your team in the game. That philosophy won’t fair well once your in the playoffs, but it will get you to the playoffs. That’s why I’m a firm believer in the White Sox strengthening their bullpen. While their bullpen showed some improvement in key areas, most noteably the closers spot, where Shingo Takatsu converted 19 of 20 saves after replacing Billy Koch, it still isn’t good enough. The Sox had a difficult time getting the ball from the mid-relievers to closer Shingo Takatsu. . The Sox bullpen finished 19th in the majors. They went 21 and 21 with a 4.31 ERA, blowing 12 saves. The Sox bullpen was also the least worked pen in 2004, throwing 424.1 innings. Don’t expect this to happen again in 2005, although if their pitching staff is healthy, they should once again rank low in bullpen innings pitched. However, with another quality reliever (every indication is that the Sox are going to try and add another reliever) it means Ozzie will have one more guy that he can have faith in, which should increase the bullpen workload just a bit. This low IP is a nice stat because it tells you that the Sox starters are getting deep into games, but it also tells you that Ozzie Guillen has little faith in his bullpen and because of it the pitchers had to undergo more wear and tear then they should of. Of course itt also tells you that the Sox are able to keep their relievers fresh. The flaw is even with the relievers fresh for most of the year, the Sox bullpen failed to be anything more then mediocre. Despite being last in innings pitched, the White Sox bullpen was 12th in homers allowed with 61 in 424.1 innings of work. The scary thing is, of all the teams that ranked ahead of the White Sox in homers, the closest team to throwing as few innings as the Sox was Detroit’s bullpen which threw 56 more innings. Jon Adkins led all White Sox relievers with 13 homer runs allowed. However, Neal Cotts (11) and Damaso Marte (10) both gave up double digit homers as well. Sox closer Shingo Takatsu gave up 6 long balls in 62.1 innings while Jackson gave up 7 and Politte 6. Its obvious that the Sox, whose long ball numbers were inflated by pitching in a home-run park, need to put a focus on bringing in pitchers who don’t give up the long ball (DUH!!!). They also need to get at least one hard throwing reliever. It appears that the Sox are going to make a push at one good free agent reliever. This will make the Sox bullpen so much better. Troy Percival and Armando Benitez are the most attractive names on the m[...]
2004-10-12T15:16:15.966-07:00The Arizona Fall League started up roughly a week ago and the White Sox, like every other team, have sent five representatives out to Arizona. The White Sox players will be lumped with up prospects from 5 other teams (Cubs, Devil Rays) to make up the Mesa Solar Sox. This team has some very good non Sox prospects and I'm going to talk about the other prospects at a later date. Today I'm going to give a quick update on the 5 Sox farmhands (Brian Anderson, Pedro Lopez, Casey Rogowski, Matt Smith, and Dennis Ulacia). Brian Anderson - CF .154 AVG, .313 OBP, 2 H, 3 R, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 3 BB, 3 K Anderson ranks just ahead of Ryan Sweeney as the White Sox top outfield prospect. Anderson played exceptionally well between Winston Salem (High A), and Birmingham (AA) in his first full season. Anderson's season ended a little early due to a hernia. It is good news the Anderson is able to play in the fall league and the outfielder will start next year in Birmingham or Charlotte. Projection: Anderson will get plenty of at bats during spring training, but don't expect to see him till next September, barring injuries or an insane terror. Expect him to fight for a starting job in 2006. Pedro Lopez - SS/2B .200 AVG, .167 OBP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 0 BB, 0 K Lopez was a late addition to the AFL roster, replacing fellow infielder Andy Gonzalez. The idea is that Lopez is a little more advanced at the plate and should be more capable of handling the tough fall league pitching. Remember, the AFL is a spot designated for some of the best prospects in the game, so the competition is fierce. Lopez is a toolsy infielder who projects to be very good defensively but still has to work on consistency. Offensively he is capable of producing a good average, but must improve on drawing more walks if he ever wants to be a top of the order threat. Casey Rogowski - 1B/OF .250 AVG, .400 OBP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 1 BB, 0 K, 1 SB Rogowski had a monster year in 2004 for Winston Salem and late in the year shifted to play a little outfield after Thomas Brice joined Australia's olympic team. While Rogowksi creamed the ball all year, he was stuck repeating Winston Salem for the entire season, which has to be considered a set-back in his mind. However, Rogowski was invited to the AFL and is expected to get more outfield time, possibly grooming him for a position change. Rogo saw a power surge this year and has the kind of eye you love in a hitter. While some may consider him a little old, keep an eye on Rogo. Matt Smith - RHP, Reliever 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 4 G, 3.2 INN, 3 H, 2 BB, 2 K I'm sure many people are curious about Matt Smith, well from what I know, this spring you should get a little more familiar with him. Smith is expected to be invited to camp with the team and will have an outside shot at one of the bullpen spots. Of course its highly unlikely that he'd get a slot, barring injury, considering the Sox are hinting at signing at least one reliever via free agency and have already came to terms with Cliff Politte. This means one in house minor leaguer will probably get a job out of camp, two if Adkins doesn't make the roster. The most likely candidates would be Baj, Diaz, and Munoz. Now onto Smith. Smith was downright impressive for the Barons and should pitch for the Knights next season, setting up for Baj or closing if Baj makes the roster. 3-4, 1.83 ERA, 78.2 INN, 58 H, 50 K, 26 BB. Those numbers alone warrant a shot. Dennis Ulacia - LHP, Starter 0-0, 15.43 ERA, 1 GS, 2.1 INN, 3 H, 1 BB, 4 K Ulacia was the starter the Sox sent, opting out of sending Brandon McCarthy. The decision was wise. McCarthy had a full season and a spectacular one at th[...]
2004-10-12T15:00:57.890-07:00My last piece talked about the White Sox offense and how it wasn’t the problem. That puts the emphasis on pitching. In this piece, I will talk specifically about the starting pitching. When you take a look at the Sox earned run average, you get a quick glance at why the 2004 White Sox fell short. A 4.91 team ERA, which is good for 25th in the majors and 12th in the American League. Just divisional foes Detroit and Kansas City ranked worse. The starting rotation was even worse, posting a brutal 5.17 ERA. The bullpen had a 4.31 ERA. The rotations ERA is inflated due to the numerous poundings given up by the varying 5th starters. That list included Dan Wright, Arnie Munoz, Felix Diaz, Scott Schoeneweis, Jon Rauch, Jason Grilli, Neal Cotts and Josh Stewart. Their combined ERA’s is flat brutal. Truth be told though, the White Sox rotation was much worse after the trade deadline. This is a scary proposition, considering the Sox bolstered their rotation with Freddy Garcia and Jose Contreras. Part of the reason behind this was Jon Garland and Jose Contreras. Plus this is 4/5ths of next years starting rotation. Garland had a 5.44 ERA after the break, with a more alarming 1.46 WHIP. Contreras wasn’t much better with a 5.30 ERA and a 1.54 WHIP. These two are going to play an integral part on the 2005 season. While Buehrle and Garcia are the Sox aces, at this point and time they aren’t capable of carrying a team. Garcia has ace potential and some would say Buehrle is an ace, especially when you look at his VORP which ranks him as the 17th most valuable player, just behind Pedro Martinez. When adjusting his ERA for playing half of his games at the hitters paradise known as US Cellular, you get an even better sense of value for Mark Buehrle. The man may not have ace stuff, but he knows how to pitch and performs like an ace. But the focus of the White Sox rotation will be the back of the rotation, which contains a talented Garland/Contreras duo. The mystery 5th men is yet to be known and while this years free agent crop offers some attractive names. From the likes of Pedro Martinez, Carl Pavano, Matt Morris, and Matt Clement…just to name a few. But don’t expect those names to be mentioned on the South Side this year. In fact, what the Sox need is consistency from Contreras and Garland. The only thing consistent about them thus far in their careers is that they will put up average to below average numbers, while flashing signs of why you keep them in the rotation. Did I just knock you out of your chair???? I sure as hell hope not, because this is no revelation, I wish I could of came up with something more creative, but luckily that’s not the case, cause I don’t know if I have faith on Kenny being uber creative. I have faith on him being cheap and on him acquiring veterans in the deadline (sometimes the wrong ones), but creativity implies numerous moves and that’s not something the Sox will do. Garland looked incredibly comfortable in many starts this year, but early in the season (late in the games) he would get batted up and hit trouble. As the year went on he was harped by the big inning. To check out more on this, see Cheat’s ChiSox Blog. The bad news is, statistically Jon Garland didn’t grow, although he once again was able to get deep into games and in general keep the Sox in games. Jose Contreras on the other hand improved after being traded to the White Sox. But really, how much better was he? Contreras posted a 5.30 ERA on the southside. However, minus a string of two starts (Sept 7th and 12th) he was more then solid. His big flaw is working on not tipping his pitches [...]
2004-10-11T14:17:13.873-07:00The 2004 Chicago White Sox failed to make the playoffs, but with that being said the team did make strides in a number of areas. First off, they added a manager who intends to build an offense to help create runs and not rely on the homer. While that is a great plan, it is unclear whether it will be a sucessful plan, especially given the current pieces on the White Sox (ie...power). While the power has led to just one division title, you can't necessarily place blame on the Sox power for the fact that they haven't reached the division. This season the Sox offense ranked once again amongst the league leaders in homers (Tied for 1st with 242), and Runs (3rd with 865). However, they ranked in the middle of the pack in average (15th with a .268 BA, tied with the Northsiders) and OBP (15th with a .333). So while it seems popular to blame the Sox offense, I think that is far from the problem. If you want to blame the Sox offense, don't blame the power, ie Paul Konerko, Carlos Lee, Magglio Ordonez, Aaron Rowand, and Juan Uribe. Two power hitters, Joe Crede and Jose Valentin deserve some blame because their averages, and OBP's were absolutely horrendous but aside from that the power hitters did a good job not only hitting for power, but average. The flaws with the Sox offense weren't even the fact that they didn't execute, in fact, the only major flaws of the Sox offense stem from drastically right handed lineup and a very weak top of the order. The Sox slow offense ranked 18th in stolen bases, but obviously they had a number of guys running that shouldn't be running, based on their atrocious 60% sucess rate (28th in the majors). Heck, with a power offense the Sox ranked 18th in strikeouts, which is a huge stride considering Jose Valentin was basically strikeout or homer. The Yankees, by comparison, were 23rd in strikeouts...another tremendous feat considering their penchance for power. However, unlike the Yankees, the White Sox offense ranked low walks. And that can be expected from an offense with the amount of youngsters the Sox had. Its not an excuse though because this number should increase next year, especially with Frank Thomas back. Plus Carlos Lee and Paul Konerko have both made strides in this area, although one of those two is likely to be moved. Some of you may say, well great, now what are the White Sox supposed to do. Remember, I'm not saying this offense is perfect but wholesale changes aren't necessary. One hitter for the top of the lineup and a left handed bat to replace Magglio Ordonez are necessary. That can be done one of two ways, but the most likely option is Omar Vizquel of the Indians. Vizquel is a veteran, who fits nicely in the 2 hole, but can also work in the leadoff slot. While Omar has had some down years, this year was not one of them. Omar was healthy and still is a very good defensive shortstop (not as good as he once was, but still good) and his leadership is something un-measureable by stats. The harder thing to find is the left handed or switch hitting bat to break up the mix and replace Magglio Ordonez, who is expected to depart via free agency. The White Sox could offer him arbitration or an incentive laden contract, but his health status appears "in the air" and Ordonez' camp doesn't appear to happy with Ken Williams and the White Sox. This is based on comments made in an article in the tribune a week or so ago. What am I trying to get at here, don't get so down on the Sox offense and don't think it needs to undergo a major over-haul. Now I'm ready to hear the one counter-argument, that the Sox offense is an all or nothing off[...]
2004-10-10T16:19:28.120-07:00This blog will be written by Jason Gage and will ocassionally feature stories from my White Sox minor league website FutureSox.com, but will have a specific focus of the Chicago White Sox and ocassionally baseball in general.