“Wonder twin powers….Activate…”

“Form of:….”  the manager of an AL Central contender,

“Shape of:…” the guy responsible for returning a team back to the postseason

“Hey big guy, can you help me out with that?”

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We need a hero…

When exactly was the last time we were genuinely excited about the guys occupying space on our bench?  We’ve had our fair share of guys who could get the job done in limited appearances…names like Ross Gload, Pablo Ozuna, and back a few years…Warren Newsome came to mind as guys you were hopeful as soon as you saw their name in the lineup, or grabbing a bat to step out into the on-deck circle as a pinch hitter.  All too often though, the sight of our bench guys were met with a feeling of “well, we’ll be lucky to win with this lineup today…”  Guys like Brian Anderson (good glove), Willie Harris (could run), and a littany of others (who should remain nameless) were too much of the “one trick pony” variety that didn’t add enough to secure crucial wins in the long haul that is a 162-game season.

This year?  I have genuine hope that we will have the chance to NOT drop off in production (or hope) when our reserves get the call.  It will be Ozzie’s challenge to get these guys enough AB’s to keep them fresh and ready to contribute when needed.  We saw what the ageless wonder Omar Vizquel can do, even in extended duty…We saw what the young stud Dayan Viciedo can do (especially with the bat), so much so that he’s been shifted to the OF to add to his appeal/usefulness to our big club roster…We saw (though not quite enough due to injury) what Mark Teahen can do, mostly against us in the past, and in flashes last year with the bat, why KW coveted this guy…and if he (likely) loses the battle for the everyday 3B spot to young up & comer Brent Morel, Teahen will no doubt fill a variety of different spots around the diamond…and the newest breath of fresh air to potentially fill our sails looks like it comes in the size/shape of a still young, and obviously very talented OF asset by the name of: Lastings Milledge.  A guy who can fill LF AND CF for our crew, has demonstrated speed and pop this Spring, and you cannot argue (similarly to Teahen) with his resume of MLB success that comes with him. Toss a Ramon Castro into the mix to spell AJP at Catcher at least once a week, and this is as excited as I have been about our bench in quite a few years.  Whether this excitement will prove to be unfounded, or false, remains to be seen…but on an upgraded everyday roster like 2011 appears to be on paper, the upgrade (or perception of such) is also very noticeable, at least to this fan.  Last season, without doubt, our Hero award went to Omar Vizquel…this year? My early bet for “super sub” is:  wait for it…Lastings Milledge.  My only hope right now, is that Ozzie Guillen sees fit to give my prediction a fair chance of proving itself worthy…

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Whatever happened to whitesox.com comment boards?

This just in (and maybe it arrived weeks or even months ago, but I’ve been too busy to notice it earlier):  The douchebags have clearly taken over on the White Sox site.  Sad, really.  There is a total of about 10 guys (maybe) that even bother to post there anymore.  When gogoSox is one of the more positive posters these days, you know that the whole thing is just doomed.  It’s really a shell of what it used to be, when a good baseball debate was just a few lengthy posts away, and the tensions ran high because people actually defended their opinions, and the riff-raff was policed, and ran out quickly….Now?  It’s a cesspool of miscreant imposters, and trolls of the highest order.  And I was the one who used to be blamed for “loyal Sox fans” not wanting to post, for fear of being attacked by little old me?  That’s funny.  I do believe that I am going to have to invest my time in a much more rewarding way while in pursuit of my White Sox passion this season…

 

There WAS a gem posted not too long ago though, that I hadn’t yet acknowledged.  I felt it would have only taken away from the truth had I dared to side with it on that stank venue…but here, the truth can and shall be recognized:

“I am at a complete loss as to the reasons for finding Ozzie so despicable. Since 2004 the White Sox have had one losing season, have been to the playoffs twice, and won a World Series. How many managers have that on their resume.
True, he is outspoken, and at times says truly inane or ignorant things, but the fact remains he is upfront, honest, and always willing to face the media, good or bad.
And the most telling of all indicators in the abilities, or lack therof, in any manager, sports or otherwise, is the willingness of the team to put out 100% for that manager. Believe me, players don’t play if they do not like the manager. That has never been the case here.
Does anyone think the likes of PK, AJ, Buerhle or Thome would want to stay in Chicago if they thought Ozzie was a negative influence. And while not bringing thome back may have backfired (not all agree on THAT) it seems that Ozzie was upfront with Thome and that is all anyone can ask.
I grow weary of the numbskulls and naysayers who have nothing but criticism, but do not put forth solutions or constructive ideas.
Pitching changes, batting coaches, whatever, there are so many out there who think they know the game better than Ozzie or others who actually do it as a profession. All we can do is watch, enjoy, put in our humble opinions, then enjoy the game. The incessant sniping on the 2nd most successful manager in Sox history is petty, ignorant and tiresome.
Calling Ozzie out means you are also calling out Williams, Reinsdor, most of the national media and the players, all who believe in Ozzie.”

–posted by Slantman

Nice job Slant.  Again, had I responded, the message would have likely been diluted since I am after all, the lowly “defender of the franchise”…like somehow that is something that should be frowned upon????

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Is this the return of the “South Side Hitmen”???

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alex Rios (at least 20 (with 25-30 not a stretch) HR potential)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adam Dunn (anything less than 40 HR will unfortunately be deemed a disappointing season)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paul Konerko (a tough act to follow from his 5th place MVP season a year ago,

but less than 30 from a healthy PK would also be disappointing)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carlos Quentin (the wildcard in all of this again…barring injury,

no reason that I know of why this guy shouldn’t hit 30 HR’s)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Throw in: Alexei Ramirez (gimmee 20 more please), Gordon Beckham (15-20 is well within his ability when swinging it well), and AJ Pierzynski (15 should realistically be his total output)…plus the power that will come from the rest of the cast, and this could very well be another 200+ Homerun season for our boys in black.  

Will that equal a Division crown?  Not necessarily, but it will be exciting to watch, that much we should be able to count on.

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Step up, Mark Teahen!

I recently read where Mark Teahen was focused on reclaiming the starting third baseman’s job in Spring Training this season, and I thought to myself 2 things…First, with all that went on from his arrival in a controversial trade with Kansas City in the offseason immediately following the 2009 season, to date…I thought: good luck with that, Mark.  The fans have clearly never fully embraced this guy, from questioning his abilities as an everyday player, to questioning the quick announcement that Kenny Williams had anointed him the new starting 3B, forcing another position change for (then) “golden boy” Gordon Beckham, to questioning the contract extension that he was awarded…all of this before he even laced up the cleats for his new team for Game #1 as a member of the Chicago White Sox franchise…then, after his terrible start to the season with both bat and glove, he suffered an injury that cost him a couple of months just when he was starting to show real signs of why he was targeted in trade as an offensive asset.  Forget the notion that many fans attributed his injury and absence from the lineup to the team’s sudden rise from the ashes of a disappointing April/May that became a white-hot team that seemingly couldn’t lose…I hate to burst that bubble, but it was a combination of so many things that made the White Sox begin playing better as a team, namely a starting pitching staff that finally showed up to perform as advertised before the season began.  To this day that ludicrous idea remains an unfair chapter in the brief tenure of Mr. Teahen, but who ever said fans were fair?

The second thought that I had, was that: I hope he does.  As much as I love the idea of a youngster like Brent Morel winning the job out of Spring Training (with comparisons as “the next Robin Ventura” or “the next Joe Crede” already beginning), I can’t help but wonder IF the White Sox would/could be an even more potent offensive lineup WITH Mark Teahen’s proven, left-handed bat in the daily lineup???  What we can basically count on from Mark Teahen with the bat, is .270 12 & 60.  Not bad, and with  the power improvement from the addition of Adam Dunn, coupled with the return of Paul Konerko, and the potential of Carlos Quentin…being able to count on the average career numbers from Mark Teahen would be a real bonus in my eyes.  IF he wins the job, it will mean a significant defensive improvement from his poor showing of early last season.  We have seen the defensive slickness of Morel already( in albeit a  small sample of September games), but the potential ability to hold down the “hot corner” is clearly there.  What we do not know is if this Rookie can hit his way out of the proverbial paper sack…If Brent Morel were to post Mark Teahen’s career average numbers in his first season, we would be clamoring for Rookie of the Year consideration, just as we did when Gordon Beckham posted similar stats…but that’s a reach today…just as big of a reach as Mark Teahen being able to improve enough defensively to NOT be the liability he was last season.  It should be interesting to watch play out, that’s for sure.  And always nice to have options.

 

Best of luck, Mark Teahen…you aren’t my first choice, but I will still be rooting for you, because IF you succeed in your mission, it will be a sign of very good things to come for our 2011 season…and oh by the way, prove a whole bunch of people WRONG about you.  For me, I’d trade being wrong every day of the week, if it means more wins, and a chance to return to the postseason!

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Freddy still available?…KW is interested? Not enough left from the “ALL IN” spending spree?

These are just a few of the many questions that are on my mind these days…And fans, Freddy Garcia was very good for the Chicago White Sox last season, (at times you might argue he was great, that is if you are the sort that considers a combined 9-1 record in the months of April and May when the team struggled badly immediately following Opening Day, “great”) and we paid him peanuts in comparison to other starters in the league.  We specifically paid him peanuts in comparison to our own starting staff, and the mixed bag that was their production.  And here we are with February almost upon us, and Freddy Garcia is STILL available.  Now, I’m not saying trade a pitcher to make room in the rotation for Freddy to return as our solid #5, but what I AM saying is what I have always said from the beginning: What does it hurt to bring Freddy Garcia back on a low-budget ($1MM, and maybe plus incentives for number of IP?) to serve as an insurance policy in the event that Jake Peavy cannot return to his former self ?  He’d be a perfect candidate to slide into the long-reliever/spot starter role that Tony Pena was forced into last season.

With Spring Training looming, and still no clear picture on the prospects of Peavy’s health, it sure would seem a prudent move to go “back to the well”, and reach for the “wooby”(or woobie if you prefer)…the old and tattered, yet completely reliable known quantity.  For some, just the sight of him sweating profusely (“Sweaty Freddy”), and reducing the game to a downright crawl of a pace is not a savory or even a positive thought…but for others (myself included), he is your favorite comfort food.  That old sweatshirt that has been washed so many times that it is just too soft to throw away.  When it rips, you sew it, and you hate to sew.  You know what to expect from it, and even though it just reeks at times, and doesn’t look too great to the untrained public eye…the fact of the matter is: it still works.  More often than not, he is still: “Big Game Freddy”.

Sometimes that kind of feeling just can’t be ignored.  What do you have to lose anyway?  If it doesn’t work, no harm, you try a different plan.  If it really is the problem of not having the scratch on hand to give the man (maybe not as much as he deserves) at least as much as you can pull together so as not to insult him for his efforts to keep a marginal team competitive last season.  And if you REALLY don’t have it in the budget after all of the spending this off-season?  Well, I suggest you find it, before somebody else beats you to it, then you’ll only have yourselves to blame if he beats you on the field, and especially on the field pitching for a Division rival…

So, please Kenny Williams, do us all a favor, and pass the hat, start looking for coins in the couch cushions, look under a rock…just sign Freddy Garcia!  What could it harm?

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Stab #1 at “The ‘pen”…or…”Who ya gonna call?”

     By now, most every fan knows what this picture was supposed to mean…except this season, it will no longer have a reference to Bobby Jenks, who was non-tendered by the White Sox this off-season and (according to reports) decided to not accept the White Sox offer to return for a chance to compete for the club’s still vacant closer’s job, before accepting a set-up man role with Boston.  Thanks for the memories Bobby, but YOU GONE.  

The question is: Who’s Ozzie gonna call from the old bullpen this season?

(Hint: The answer is NOT Ghostbusters…)  Now, Twins-busters?  Okay, I’m listening…

Matt Thornton: The most dependable arm we have, and you can make a case that he is one of the elite late-inning relievers in all of the game right now.  The only question is: Is he ready to assume the (still) vacant closer role that was capably occupied by Bobby Jenks since 2005?  Some say “yes”, some say: “why mess with a good thing?” or better yet: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”…we know what we’ll be getting from Thornton.  Lights out, (usually in dominating fashion) relief 9 out of 10 times.  Does that mean he’ll duplicate that success as a closer?  This is where the risk comes in for me.  My wish would be to add a closer from the FA market (Rafael Soriano is the best available, and could still be had for the right price…but is that the direction that KW will go?  Should he, with several closer options (albeit none with a proven track record) already on the roster?  Can he, with the budget already near an all-time franchise high?  Inquiring (and impatient) fan’s minds want to know!

Chris Sale: The Rookie (not even officiallyone yet either) phenom who went from 1st Round Draft pick (13th overall) in June of 2010 to set-up/closer for the White Sox by September…he’s the wildcard in our bullpen, as to whether he’ll: 1) begin the season in the starting rotation (due to Jake Peavy’s uncertain timetable for a return from his season-ending surgery last year, then go to AAA to remain a starting pitcher,  2) remain a part of the starting rotation even after Peavy’s return (which would likely mean that one of the current starters would leave via trade), 3) start a few games (if necessary) until Peavy returns, then return to his role as flamethrower in the bullpen, possibly as the closer?, or 4) stay in his role as flamethrower (again, possibly as the closer) from the onset of the 2011 season?  Decisions, decisions…at least this one is a good one to have to make, as we are talking about what looks like a special arm for years to come.

Jesse Crain:  Had a great year last season for the arch-rival Twins (and most notably against us head-to-head), so the assumption can be made that we got stronger by not having to face a guy that literally dominated us in key late-inning situations.  Addition by subtraction?  And hopefully, he can duplicate that dominance for us against his old mates…that would be ideal.  His role has been middle to late inning roles, setting up for closer, but from early indications has the makeup and ability to be a possible closer.  His acquisition was especially key to replace the defection of FA J.J. Putz who siezed an opportunity to become the closer for the Arizona Diamondbacks.  Let’s hope Crain can help us forget all about the one year White Sox wonder that was JJP. 

Sergio Santos: Quite possibly the most under-rated arm that we have in our bullpen.  Considering that he is a converted position (Shortstop) player, and how short of a time that he has been a pitcher, his progress is remarkable.  If he continues to improve, add pitches to his arsenal, and keep the walks low…might very well be in a position to himself assume the closer’s role.

Tony Pena: Proved to be a valuable contributor, especially late last season as he made several spot starts and did surprisingly well for the club in that role.  He is a hard-throwing righty who can be used in mop-up, swingman, middle, and late-innings situations.  It’s both a shame and a blessing that he survived (and mostly thrived) while Scott Linebrink (traded to Atlanta) never lived up to his “set-up man extraordinaire” billing. 

Will Ohman: Newly acquired lefty whose arrival confused most of us.  Clouding the projected use of Chris Sale, as seemingly the 3rd lefty in the bullpen.  Regardless of his role (in place of Sale or in addition to Sale), he was clearly added to help neutralize those LHH in key spots of games, namely Morneau, Mauer, Kubel, and maybe one Jim Thome again…just as long as he is better than Randy Williams, that’s all I care about.

Another pitcher: (hopefully soon) to be named, or one that earns a spot with an impressive Spring Training showing (or one that at least shows a bunch of promise, since you couldn’t have been any more impressive than Greg Aquino last ST, who still has yet to get a call…) this list is a deep one of names ranging from unproven but promising minor league relievers, to former major leaguers who are trying to recapture former success.  If one of 10-12 names can be this year’s Sergio Santos/Boone Logan/Chris Sale (or better known as that guy that came out of nowhere to claim a roster spot)…there may not be a need to add a more expensive FA name to an already strong cast who will be our key to success ala 2005, and not our achilles heel, ala 2010.  Here’s hoping THIS ‘pen will be the former, as on paper, it looks to have the goods.

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