Thursday, July 16, 2009

Official Mid-Season Grades - White Sox Edition

Today is the final day off for the Sox before the second half of the season kicks off. Instead of doing grades by position like Justin did with the Cubs, I am going to grade them in 5 categories. Offense, Defense, Starting Pitching, and Bullpen. Each category will be graded A-F.

Offense - Mid-Term Grade - C
I give the offense such a poor grade because I expected much more out of a number of guys. I'll start with Konerko and Thome. While they have been doing much better as of late they were real cold at the beginning of the year. The middle 3 are the key to the Sox offense because they are the RBI guys and they set the tone for the rest of the lineup, they need to pick up the pace a little to get this offense going. Next is Alexei. He did not have a good half of baseball at all, but he has really come around quickly and I expect good things in the 2nd half. Now for the positives. Starting with Scott Podsednik. In my opinion, Scotty is the number one reason the Sox are as close to the leaders as they are. He has basically been the Podsednik of 05 and has been huge it setting the table for the offense as a whole. The youngsters have been real good for the Sox as well. Beckham has been huge for this team since the poor start, and Nix and Getz have been consistently solid this whole year. I expect good things out of the offense from here on out. With Quentin back in the lineup the middle becomes that much stronger and it takes Brian Anderson out of the everyday lineup.

Defense - Mid-Term Grade - B-
Overall the defense has not been bad, but it has not been great either. Alexei has made a number of big mistakes at short, but he's also made his share of plays that were spectacular. Beckham was shaky at third at first, he's getting much better but still has a long way to go. I expect good things out of the whole left side of the infield as we move forward. The outfield has been average. Nothing special, not too many mistakes. With Quentin going back into left and Podsednik over to center the defense will take a little bit of a hit, but not too much. Konerko has been the same as he always has, which is really good. As the season goes on, they need to make a few less mistakes on the easy plays if they want to make sure they have a strong chance of winning the division.

Starting Pitching - Mid-Term Grade - B+
I wanted to give the starters an A but there were too many bad starts from the staff as a whole to do that. Buehrle has been awesome, Floyd and Danks have both been solid, and have been getting better. But the bottom 2 were below average before the injuries, then with Richard and the new Contreras the pair has still only been about average (mostly Clayton's fault). With Colon on his way back, and Richard hopefully on his way out of the rotation, coupled with Buehrle, Danks, and Floyd I expect good things from the starters in the2nd half. I still think the staff is good enough that if the Sox score 4 or more runs they will win most games.

Bullpen - Mid-Term Grade - A
This has been the best part of the Sox so far this year. They have just been awesome out there. Jenks has nailed down 20 of his 22 chances and the Sox won one of the 2 he blew. Thornton is the best left handed middle reliever in my baseball, and if not for a few garbage hits against him he would be the best non-closer in the whole league. Dotel and Linebrink have both been really good on the whole. Of course Linebrink had his homecoming to the National League where he was terrible (and helped lose the most heartbreaking loss of the year), but as a whole it's hard to argue with his 1.93 ERA in 32 appearances. And then the long relief with Carrasco and Poreda. both have been terrific in long relief. They have been able to mop up games by eating innings and limiting the damage that has already been done. Both deserve a chance to start at some point. As we move forward one can only expect the pen to stay good, and with the addition of Tony Pena, I'd probably argue they will get better in the 2nd half. Bullpens are huge in the success of a ballclub, these guys could be the key to winning the division.

Overall Mid-Term Grade - B-
Good not great as a whole on the first half. In a way I think they are lucky to only be 3.5 out, but they also deserve being this close because if it wasn't for a great run they put together in the weeks leading into the break they could have been buried. I think with Alexei and Beckham continuing to improve offensively, Quentin's return to the lineup, and the back end of the rotation having more options the Sox are in a good spot to not only make a run at the division, but to actually win it. I'm not going to say I'm predicting the Sox to come out on top, but I think there's a really good possibility of it.

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