Monday, February 28, 2011

Spring Training Opener: Quick Thoughts

Of course this was just the first game of Spring, and it is still February, but baseball is officially back. And this guy couldn't be happier.

The Sox did fall in the Spring opener, but there was actually quite a bit of positive that came out of this two hour and 24 minute affair.

Here are some quick thoughts from the game.

  • Gavin Floyd was right on the money. 6 outs in 6 pitches. Pretty good.
  • Will Ohman, same. 3 pitches, 3 outs.
  • Have to like the way Jordan Danks kicked off Spring. For a guy who is unlikely to make it onto the team, it's nice to see him not wasting time to make an impression. (He doubled in his first AB)
  • Tony Pena got battered around. TCB is the leading site in the "Anyone but Pena" campaign for the long reliever spot on the 25-man roster. Today was a good start.
  • Only 1 error from the starters. It was Beckham on a throw. Camp Cora has hopefully done it's job. Usually teams tons of errors at the beginning of Spring. (LA had 4)
  • The Sox are running. Lillibridge stole a base, and Pierre tried to steal third. Love to see them on the move right from the get-go.
Though it was a loss, it was nice to see the South Siders back on the field, and they actually played pretty well, despite falling 6-5.

Buehrle, Santos, Thornton, Crain, and Sale will all pitch tomorrow. Don't you wish every game was on MLB Network. I know I do.

But just these 9 innings today has the smell of Spring in the air, and I cannot wait for 32 days from now.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sox The Team To Beat? Rios Thinks So

Alex Rios made a pretty strong declaration that he believed he Sox were the best in the division. And quite frankly, I think they are the team to beat as well.

The Sox offseason was highlighted by the addition of Adam Dunn, but was also incredibly well rounded as they return Pierzynski and Konerko as well as add Will Ohman and Jesse Crain.

Meanwhile the Twinks pretty much stood pat and the Tigers added Victor Martinez, but didn't do much else. Minnesota expects the return of Joe Nathan and Justin Morneau to take them to the next level. The Tigers did make their move, but adding a player like Martinez is not enough to lift a team like Detroit from where they were last year to a real contender this season.

The Sox have the best lineup they have had in many years, and the pitching staff (both starters and bullpen) is among the best in the American League.

The Twinks are going to continue being the team to beat in the Central because they always seem to find a way. But that's nit to say the Sox can't beat them. And if there is a team hat can do it, it's likely this one.

There's still a long way to go even before the season starts, but on paper, I really don't see how this team is not the best in the division.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Viciedo Should Play 3rd And Only 3rd

In an article by ESPN Ozzie claims he will try Dayan Viciedo in the outfield in order to try and get him more ABs.

Personally, I am not a fan of this idea. Much like they have done with Beckham and Alexei, the Sox are planning on jut moving this kid around randomly to wherever he can get he most at bats playing. But Dayan is not the same as Bacon or Ramirez. The latter pair are freak athletes who can play any position you stick them at on a baseball field. Viciedo is more of a hitting star. You can't simply stick this guy anywhere and expect him to succeed.

The thought process on him needs to be third base or bust. If Dayan cannot beat out Brent Morel, then theres no reason to worry about getting him extra at bats.

Spring Training should be quite simple. Its a three man race. Viciedo, Morel, and Teahan. The winner plays third, and Teahan is a utility defender/off ay replacement. This is of course assuming that Teahan will not win he battle, because we all know that he really is not very good.

Whoever is better plays third.

Players often make the personnel decisions themselves. One will come out victorious. They always do. And if it is truly a tie, then is a heck of a problem to have.

Just don't move guys around to make them fit. Even through it worked quite nicely with both Beckham and Ramirez, you can't kee pressing that luck.

Let them battle it out. And the best man will win.

Sox Say No Pujols

Albert Pujols will surely be the most prized commodity on the free agent market if he does indeed decide to hold off on negotiations wi the Cardinals. But the Sox and Kenny Williams say they will not be in on the bidding if Pujols is indeed available during the next offseason.

Kenny says he doesn't expect to have the money to pull Albert off anyway, but says if Jerry were indeed to give him the 30 million it may take, he would use it on a multitude of players rather than pursuing just one.

I can't say I disagree with Kenny on this. But, I just don't believe Kenny really means this. Now I don't think the Sox will be serious players in the Pujols sweepstakes, but I do think that if the right opportunity arose that Kenny would not shy away from spending a huge hunk of money on a single player.

When Williams, Reinsdorf, and Guillen get their minds set on something, it usually happens... no matter the cost.

If someone who was worth that much could take the Sox from a contender to a favorite, you better believe the Sox would make that move. But when it comes to Pujols he just doesn't fit. Konerko is the 1B Dunn is he DH, and neither of them are going anywhere anytime soon. Nor are either cheap.

So while I do think the Sox would be willing t dish out the cash on a single player if the shoe fits, I truely believe Kenny when he says the Sox will be no where near the possible frenzy that is sure to ensue this coming winter.

But dont think that means this blog is immune to "The Decision" part two. Cause the North Siders are definitely going to be a huge player if Pujols is indeed available.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

No Need To Rush Peavy

Jake Peavy's health will obviously be a critical part of he success of the White Sox this season. Most of the articles that I read on Peavy talk about his progress and his hope to return to the rotation in April. But what a lot of people think about the time able on Peavy's return is not right.

The Sox start the season on Friday April 1st in Cleveland. They play 3 there before traveling to Kansas City. But there is an off day between the first and second series of the year. What does this do? Well, it gives Peavy an extra 4 days before he is first needed. Here, let me spell it out.

April 1 - Buehrle
April 2 - Floyd
April 3 - Danks
April 4 - Off Day
April 5 - Jackson
April 6 - Buehrle
April 7 - Floyd
April 8 - Danks
April 9 - Peavy

Even if Peavy is ready to start for the 5th game of he season, I wouldn't do it. The Sox have to be very careful with him this whole year. Maybe skip a start here and there. But the easiest thing to do is work around off days. This season is slightly different than many as the Sox only have 2 off days in April. But there are two at the beginning of May. If you model the rotation correctly, there no harm in skipping Peavy when you see off days.

I'd love to see Jake back in the rotation as early as possible, but they have got to be smart about it. Chris Sale will benefit this team a lot more in the bullpen than he will rotation as the staff sits now. So Peavy's health has to be of utmost importance to Ozzie and Kenny.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Breaking Down the Alexei Deal

The Sox and Alexei Ramirez agreed to a 4 year deal worth $32.5 million with a team option of $10 million for the fifth year. Never are these deals broken down evenly over the 4 years, but for those of you who struggle with mathematics, it's around $8.1 million a year.

Now this is not cheap for a guy who is expected to hit 9th in the Sox lineup, but it also can look like a steal when you look at Alexei as the reigning Silver Slugger and a true candidate for a Gold Glove next year and beyond.

Let's take the time to compare him to some other players at his position.

Tigers Jhonny Perralta makes just short of $5 million per year.
Red Sox Marco Scutaro just over $5 million.
Phillies Jimmy Rollins makes $8.5 million.
Yankees Derek Jeter, $22.6 million.

Alexei is certainly more talented than the first two, and definitely more talented than most of the guys I left off this list that also make less than him.

Comparing him to Jimmy Rollins is tough. Rollins has won an MVP, 3 Gold Gloves, a Silver Slugger and has been to All Star Games. Meanwhile Alexei has just his Silver Slugger and a second place showing in the 2008 ROY running. But their career numbers are astoundingly similar. Rollins .272 AVG, 17HR, 72RBI, .328 OBP per year to Alexei's .283 AVG, 20HR, 79RBI, and .321 OBP.

Is Alexei going to turn into Jimmy Rollins? I don't know, but there's no doubt he's on pace to at least be close.

But the question remains, is your ninth place hitter worth $8+ million a year?

Alexei now ranks in as the 6th highest paid player on the White Sox, which seems a little high to be hitting that low in the order.

But the fact is, Alexei is the perfect fit for the projected White Sox style of baseball. He hits for power, average, has speed, unbelievable defensive ability, and he's a spark plug. He's everything Ozzie and Kenny can ask for in a ball player.

$8 million dollars worth? I think yes. And I can't wait to see him continue to prove how good he's going to be as he gains more and more big league experience.