Here’s an interesting stat. As bad as Randy Williams was as our “left-handed specialist” out of the White Sox bullpen last season…at no point during his 27 appearances before KW mercifully pulled his plug, did he give up more than 1 ER in back-to-back appearances. This season’s edition of LH “relief”, Will Ohman? Not so lucky. I won’t even post his stats, they are incredibly horrible, and I am afraid that I may become unnecessarily negative for actually typing those balloon-like, and freakishly-high numbers…so I won’t. Let’s just hope that it will get better before it get’s any worse, or actually costs us a game.
Tag Archives: Kenny Williams
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…
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!
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?
What a difference a few weeks can make. After the first week in June, the Chicago White Sox were left for dead. Pronounced “finished”, and that it was time to start selling off any/all valuable pieces/parts with an eye on rebuilding for next year and beyond. And then, something interesting happened. A very unexpected offensive outburst propelled a lethargic team into a complete 180-degree turnaround and before it was all said and done, the team had run off a string of 15 wins in its next 16 games before finally falling on Sunday from its meteoric streak across the MLB skies, back to baseball relevance and only a mere 1.5 games back from the Division leaders. When the streak began, it seemed an insurmountable 9.5 game chasm that separated the White Sox from the Minnesota Twins, but now a few days of continued winning baseball could actually return this team to the top of the mountain…
Then, another interesting thing happened. As the White Sox prepared for “life after the streak” by traveling to Division rival Kansas City for a 3-game series, having seemingly solved their early season inadequacies by regaining effective starting pitching and solving the mysteries of clutch hitting with runners in scoring position, as quickly as it appeared it all seemed to disappear. It started with a very ineffective starting effort by Mark “the enigma” Buehrle, who clearly did not bring his best stuff to the mound. A good hitting Kansas City lineup took advantage, while the once dangerous White Sox bats went back into slumber mode courtesy of the 3rd career start from unknown right hander Anthony Lerew…who? Exactly. Back were the days where the Sox bats again fell silent at the hands of an unfamiliar hurler doing his one-night impression of the ghost of Cy Young. An obviously poor Kansas City team, with bone-headed base running blunders, and sloppy defense were actually trying to give the game away. And for some strange reason, despite multiple opportunities to seize control of a game just begging to be won, the White Sox just wouldn’t, and looked at times as if it couldn’t.
Then after the sting of another ninth-inning gift rally (an error, a walk, and a hit batsman packed the sacks full of Sox with only 1 out) fell woefully short with two harmless infield pop-ups…it finally dawned on me. This is it. This is the end of an experiment. With first place in sight, thanks to an epic streak producing the baseball version of a mulligan, the White Sox teed up the rest of their season with visions of crushing a driver down the middle of the fairway, and absolutely shanked one into the trees. The answer should be obvious to all who watched the painful agony which was that 3-1 loss to the lowly Royals. The answer was now crystal clear. Instead of reching into the bag for a new ball to tee up, the White Sox needed to run back to the car and get the club that was missing from the bag. We need the DRIVER. What has been missing from this team offensively all season, and was subject of furious debate the entire off-season, a big bat was needed to supplement the others in a marginal lineup.
The DH by committee experiment has officially failed, and it took a now rare start by Andruw Jones, who had been banished to the bench for most of the streak due to “offensive offensiveness”. Jones, who had an unexpected torrid April with the bat, has been absolutely impotent ever since, seeing his average drop more than .100 points to its current level teetering barely above .200. And a failed pinch hit by Mark Kotsay late in the game under-scored his offensive inadequacy with half the share of DH duty with his less than impressive batting average and production numbers. Adding highlight to what should be an additional opportunity to add a stout bat to the lineup via the DH slot, the White Sox decided to occupy the position with light-hitting Juan Pierre, further adding insult to injury of a clear misjudgement by White Sox management in the decision to employ this merry-go-round of designated hitter participants.
So as was prescribed by Roy McAvoy in the movie “Tin Cup”, it is now an obvious time for fans of the Chicago White Sox to ask Kenny Williams to finally put aside the wishes of his manager Ozzie Guillen, and “let the big dog eat”. It’s clearly time for “the lumber” (aka the Number One, aka the Driver in golf parlance)…In other words, give this team what it has been lacking for the entire season, a left-handed power hitter that will again strike fear into the hearts of its opposition. For weeks they were able to pull together a marvelous run of winning baseball leaning primarily on stellar starting pitching, and sufficient clutch/timely hitting, but as we all know very well it is a long season. We will not always be fortunate enough to get a quality start every night, and when the clutch hits are absent as they were earlier in the season, good teams can still find other ways to win (especially winnable games wrought with opportunities)…At this critical point in time, it is apparent to me that this current team is lacking the necessary offense that will certainly be needed to compete for a Division Title. The question is: does anybody else see what I see? Hello Adam Dunn?
It becomes a useful exercise to read all of the comments on the White Sox website from fans of the Chicago White Sox. Some actually help to serve as inspiration for a blog post. This one comes from one of the more annyoying posters on the site I frequent so often. I find myself disagreeing most often with the views of a fan who seems to be obsessed with the idea that both Kenny Williams (White Sox GM) and Ozzie Guillen (Manager) are at all interested in his opinions/ideas…it is quite comical at times when he actually takes credit for certain things happening on the field or in relation to a roster move. I try to be fair and give him the benefit of the doubt that: surely he MUST be joking, but sometimes, I am not so sure that he isn’t serious to the point of being delusional.
In any event, after several comments were made about how “dumb” Ozzie Guillen was, and now since we are about to host a 3-game series with the Atlanta Braves, the focus has turned to a battle of smarts between Ozzie Guillen and legendary manager Bobby Cox who is in his last season at the helm of the Braves. cws1fanhawaii inspired me to see just how “smart”, and how much of a better manager ATL had in Bobby Cox. I will not argue the merit of his complete body of work (career). BUT, since Ozzie Guillen has become a manager in 2004 to date…OG= 546-495(Regular season only) .525 2 Division Titles (’05 & ’08), 1-World Series WIN (’05), Bobby Cox= 549-493 (Regular season only) .527 2 Division Titles (’04 & ’05), 0-World Series Appearances…interesting how smart Bobby Cox has been in the last several years in comparison to our dumb guy, but at least they have a “chance to win their division” every year…but, don’t we too?
The glaring similarity in record is quite striking actually. I mean to be only within 2-3 games in a span covering more than 6 years is remarkable. Of course, my bias will lead me toward the amount of time SINCE Atlanta has been relevant, and I define this as the last time they actually won a Division Title (’05). They DID have an absolutely amazing run of AL East Division Supremacy there for a good long while, but here lately? Not so good. Have you really accomplished anything of real merit and distinction if you haven’t even achieved a shot at a World Series, gained only by securing a post-season appearance? I don’t think so. So, to keep the conversation on an even playing field for the best chance at an apples to apples comparison, I did the best thing that I could think of, and that is to limit the statistical data to the same period of time (when they were both MLB managers at the same time). And in doing so, I confirmed my own suspicion that was immediately raised upon reading that comment. Ozzie Guillen may not be the best manager in MLB today, but in comparison to Bobby Cox, he not only holds a candle to his mentor’s record of achievement, he’s got him beat in better record in the post-season (12-4, or .750 for Ozzie to 3-6 or .333 for Bobby) AND with the biggest trump card there is in a baseball discussion: A World Series Championship. Sorry, cws1fanhawaii. But in this case (and in many others), your PERCEPTION is not consisent with REALITY!
Well, it’s been too long in between posts, that’s for sure. I’ve been spending my days duking it out with the geniuses on the WhiteSox.com comment boards and need a rest I guess. Actually, what I need is an unfiltered outlet, since I’ve been recently slowed down for content quantity with some sort of moderator limiting my number of words. As someone with as much to say as I obviously have on the subject of Chicago White Sox baseball, that’s just not a good thing. Where to begin? Let’s start with an under-achieving team that has slogged its way to an 18-25 start, g ood for 7.5 games behind the darlings of the AL Central, the Minnesota Twins. I knew that this team going into this 2010 season had a laundry list of “ifs” “maybes” and general question marks, so my prediction of 87 wins for the season was optimistic even by my rose-colored glasses standards. Of course, it is still very early, and the season hasn’t been a complete debacle as of yet, but man are these guys trying the patience of its fans, myself included.
The only guarantee in baseball is basically that there are none. Nobody can possibly be an expert on something so unpredictable, so when guys come out and make bold statements like: “This team is done, the 2010 season is over”…you just have to laugh out loud. If the season were 50 games long, I might be inclined to take heed, but with a slate that will include more than 4 months and 119 (that’s one hundred and nineteen) more games…well, let’s just say that it’s still pretty early and a lot can and certainly will happen to decide the outcome. Forget about injuries that always play a factor, let’s for now focus on what has and has not yet happened for the White Sox.
What has happened: Paul Konerko has absolutely shown himself as still a potentially dominant offensive force. In the last year of a 5-year contract, he decides to go out and set a franchise record for most home runs in April. Even while slowing the pace in May (inevitably a white hot fire will cool off), he still remains tied for the MLB lead with 14 dingers. Andruw Jones has shown flashes of brilliance, and reminds us of that All-Star/Gold Glover/MVP from days gone by in Atlanta. The biggest head-scratching, under the radar signing of the off-season has looked to be a stroke of GM genius at times considering the bargain-basement price tag associated with “the risk”. And although he too has cooled lately with the bat, a guy that has certainly been one of the biggest surprises in all of MLB this season, and will likely play an integral part of any future offensive success that this team might still experience. Juan Pierre has slowly but surely emerged as exactly the player that he had been in past days with the Marlins, Cubs, and in a very solid stint replacing Manny Ramirez in LA during his 50-game suspension last season. Brought in to replace the departed Scott Podsednik as the team’s new lead-off man, Pierre stumbled horribly out of the gate, and looked like the worst idea ever conceived by Kenny Williams. Benched for a game, and dropped down briefly to 9th in the batting order seemed to re-invent his game, and has since been absolutely on fire with the bat taking his average from the depths of the mid .150’s to a respectable .260 in the span of about 4 weeks. Stealing bases, and playing an inspired brand of left-field defense which has not been witnessed on the South Side of Chicago for more than a decade. And let us not forget the story of Alex Rios. Abandoned by the only team he had ever played for in the Toronto Blue Jays, claimed off of waivers in July of last season as a coveted 5-tool recent All-Star selection whose arrival with his new team absolutely coincided with the demise of both his feel for the game at the plate, and the inexplicable folding of the White Sox to close the season a dismal 79-83. Rios was roundly booed, and left for dead by a fan base that was already proclaiming him the biggest bust of the Kenny Williams era, and labeled as the guy who would eventually cost that embattled GM his job. Then, the off-season happened for the young man, and amidst reports from wildly unpopular hitting coach Greg Walker that he had proclaimed Rios’ swing “fixed” after witnessing only his first 5 swings, the fans in my neck of the woods couldn’t hold back the laughter and sarcasm. So, for a guy that was already counted on for nothing, he has only gone out and paced the team in hitting through the first 43 games. At one point his BA had ballooned to .333, before cooling just below .300, and then re-surfacing with a hot, clutch bat driving in several runs with 2-out RBI hits over the most recent home stand. In addition to a solid average, his unexpected claiming of the CF position and mastery of the outfield leather has been almost as impressive as his penchant to steal bases, making him by far the most complete current player on the team’s roster from a pure talent and performance standpoint.
Okay, now for what has not happened. This could get lengthy, so I will be less descriptive to limit this to a short novella. Starting pitching (with the exception of a very solid effort from John Danks) has been absolutely abysmal. Jake Peavy (who was widely expected to claim the “staff ace” status) has been completely and unpredictably wild and ineffective. The former NL Cy Young winner has been very hittable thus far. Mark Buehrle has shown flashes of his dominant and efficient old self but overall has been a major disappointment. Freddy Garcia had started slow to fuel the fire that he was the wrong choice to go with as the #5 starter with young gun Daniel Hudson annointed as the starter in waiting in AAA, then had rebounded to win 3 straight starts to become our most dependable starting option (which was a scary statement to make) until just today getting absolutely drummed by the Marlins to the tune of 7 runs in 3 innings (3 home runs allowed) to reclaim the ire of White Sox faithful. And then there is the slow start of Gavin Floyd. 1-4 with a fat 7.00 ERA out of the gate to match a similar alarming beginning of the 2009 season, and laying claim to the pitching version of the Alexei Ramirez “can’t hit until it gets warmer” MO. Added to the limping starting pitching (which was supposed to be this team’s strongest suit) has been an absolutely impotent offensive “attack”. Mired in a last-place showing in team batting, the worst part of the problem has been an absolute inability to hit with runners in scoring position. I’ve personally never witnessed a team that could put the ball in play, and be rewarded with so few hits than this team in 2010. While strikeouts are way down, number of base runners has not been the issue, but a flat-out allergy to collecting clutch hits has derailed this team losing several games in April by 2 or fewer runs. Shut-outs, and being dominated by opponents is one thing, but being in a position to win most games, and failing to seize opportunities is an altogether different prescription for fan insanity. The worst culprits to date have been Gordon Beckham, AJ Pierzynski, Omar Vizquel, Carlos Quentin, Mark Kotsay and Mark Teahen. I mention these 6 in particular since they represent the still-lowest of the batting averages, but you could add in slow starts from Juan Pierre, and Alexei Ramirez to contribute heavily to the team’s April struggles. With basically three-quarters of your roster under-performing from a career offensive standpoint, it is nearly a miracle that this team has managed to win 18 games at all.
As expected, the lightening rod for controversy Manager Ozzie Guillen has been targeted by fans as the head that should roll for this uninspired beginning of the 2010 season. Never one to hold back a thought or miss an opportunity to attempt to re-direct poor on-field play to himself, Guillen’s unpopularity seems to be at an all time high. He has not cow-towed to fans, nor sugar-coated the results, and the simmering feud between he and GM Kenny Williams inevitably becomes the focus when answers are requested for the morass of questions that plague this team. Better play resulting in more wins would conceivably solve all problems, but another passionless .500 (or worse) season will likely serve as the final chapter in the once Cinderella story that was the 2005 World Series Championship. What will soon be 5 years removed from the pinnacle of baseball success, this organization is dangerously approaching a complete overhaul from top to bottom, and re-building was definitely not something that was on the team’s menu when this roster was re-constructed to supposedly be shaped in the image of its Manager. This was billed as a return to “Ozzie Ball”, the exact kind of team that Ozzie had hoped for, and one that he claimed would challenge him to be a better Manager…the challenge is there, but has yet to be met by both players, and Manager alike.
Trying times, indeed. It IS still early, and no white flag will be raised, nor will a fire-sale ensue…at least not that I can forsee. But, baseball is an unpredictable game. The most interesting part is certainly ahead. Just HOW interesting of a story will unfold remains to be seen. Will it be a gagging, dry-cough agonizing story, or will it be an epic turn-around for the ages? The odds are decidedly for the former, and against the latter…but that is exactly why you have to “hide and watch”!