Saturday, May 16, 2009

How to Lose Baseball Games : Featuring the Chicago White Sox

2 posts ago I claimed I was "Officially Fed Up" with the Sox. Now I am just downright angry. The Sox have lost 10 of their last 13 games in route to a record of 4-10 in May. They have scored 4 or less runs in 10 of the 14 games and lost 2 of the games they scored more. The starting pitching has been bad, the hitting has been bad, and now with today's loss you can chuck the bullpen into the blender.

This team is an absolute trainwreck right now. There is not one consistant hitter on the team. The "sluggers" that make up for the middle of the lineup (Quentin, Dye, Thome,) are hitting .229, .275, and .234 respectively. The speedy supposedly good on-base guys are doing far from that as the leader on the team in OBP is Brian Anderson with a whopping .383. Last year's Rookie of the Year candidate (and one of my favorite players) Alexei Ramirez is hitting .218 with an OBP of .254. The pitching staff minus Buehrle have given up 96 earned runs in 136 innings for an ERA of 6.35.

But enough with me laying down stats about how bad they are. We all get it, they are awful and we hate it. So what needs to change. First and foremost I think it's time for Greg Walker to go. I know this will be hard for most Sox fans but harpen back to 2007 . The Sox were one of the worst hitting teams in baseball. Fundementally awful, bad at-bats, never looking to go the other way with pitches. Everyone tried to hit extra base hits every AB. Now to 2009, we are back in the same spot as 07. Quality AB's are incredibly rare. No one works counts, no one moves runners over, no one can get runners in. Mainly because the approach at the plate is wrong. People need to start working the count and having better at bats all around. Look to go the other way for a solid single, try to bunt for a base hit, foul some pitches off to get the pitch counts up. The Sox do none of these things. And who is responsible for this? Well, it's got to be either Ozzie or Greg Walker. If your going to tell me the king og garbage base-hits and bunt singles Ozzie Guillen is telling these guys to go try to hit homeruns I'm going to tell you that you are crazy. So I say, out goes Walker, in comes Mr. Outside-Hire.

Next, the pitching staff needs to find some consistancy. And I think the main problem that we are having is that there is no confidence in their own abilities. Everyone expects to need to go out there and give the offense 7 shut-out innings to get a win (and seeing from today even that's not enough). The pitching staff needs to relax. It's ok to give up a run here or there. But no huge innings. All 5 of these guys (maybe the exception of Contreras/other 5th starter) have the ability to get through 6/7/8 innings allowing 2/3/4 runs. It's very do-able, but when you pressure yourself into needing a shutout, bad things happen.

Fianlly, every as a whole needs to stop and look at where we are right now. Sure 10 of 13 is awful. Sure the hitting has been bad. Sure the pitching has not been good. But look at the division. Actually examine where we are at for just one second. As of 5 PM on May 16th (note that it is still May) the Sox are 3.5 games out of first place. Take a moment to realize what 3.5 games is. One series and one game. Not even 4 games. If the Sox were to win 5/6 games in a row starting tomorrow, I honestly think they would be either in first or right there. So this is no time to panic. It is a time to be mad and demand more out of the team (which I am doing and you should join), but is not time to throw in the towel.

So after we lose to Halladay tomorrow, let's reset and restart everything. It's not as bad as it feels. So stop feeling sorry for yourselves and start hitting the baseball and we will be fine.

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