Saturday, April 30, 2011

An Embarrassment

Chicago is a city that boasts a semifinal football team, a basketball team with a legitimate to win the title, and a hockey team that's defending champs and almost pulled a 0-3 upset in round one this year.

It's also home to the sorriest team Major League Baseball has. The White Sox have now lost 4 in a row. They've also dropped 15 of the last 19. Over that time that have been shut out 3 times, they've scored 1 or 2 runs in another 8 of these games. That's 11 games out of 19 they scored 2 or fewer. And just 2 that they've eclipsed 5. TWO.

I honestly feel bad for each and every Sox fan. Myself included. Each an every night we keep coming back. My friend (Alex922107 from Twitter) said it best, "I get the feeling the White Sox are like that ex girlfriend you know is bad for you but you keep going back to"

I feel bad for the coaches who probably have to feel about as hopeless as the fans.

I feel horrible for Kenny Williams and Jerry Reinsdorf who have given their "All" to make this team competitive.

I feel bad for anyone who has to cover this team for a living. Actually I feel bad for anyone who has anything to do with this sorry team.

The White Sox are NOT a poorly run organization. They have a great owner. They have a star General Manager. The manager is a World Series Champ and a one-of-a-kind baseball mind. I can go on and on.

But right now, the product on the field is letting everyone down. Not one person can be proud of being a part of the White Sox organization. No one.

So what to do? Well, at this time, nothing. I've been vocal about saying we need to fire a coach. Or send a player down. Or do do something else radical. But right now, I really don't think any of it would help.

The Sox are pathetic at three out of the four phases of the game of baseball. Hitting, Fielding, and Bullpen, all would are receiving flunking grades.

So right now, the only thing to do is wait it out. Hope that the law of averages will even everything out. Because you can't change everything, so the best thing might actually just be to change nothing.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Help A Brother Out

Mark Buehrle was the 4th consecutive Sox starter to go out and throw an absolute gem against one of the most explosive offenses in the AL.

Yet not 1 of the starters has gotten more than 3 runs of support.

Even though the Sox have won 2 of those 4 games, they are going to need to start scoring some runs to relieve the pressure on these guys.

Hawk always talks about "pressure pitches" or a "pressure pitch count." When game are within 1 or 2 runs, every pitch is a pressure packed one. Same goes when your team is down.

Humber was awesome. But every single pitch he threw, he was in danger of losing the ballgame for his team. Same goes for Gavin.

For Buehrle and Danks, they doth threw a bad pitch early, and all of a sudden they have to be perfect from there on in, or else they have no chance (and in both their cases, even perfect wasn't enough).

Not hitting stinks. Obviously it's bad because it's hard to win games when you consistently put zeros on the board. But it's even worse because of the toll it puts on your pitching staff.

The Sox pitching is good. I mean real good. And they are going to be unbelievable when they can get some support. But if the offense keeps taxing them all like this, they are going to run out of gas soon...

And we all know what gas costs now a days.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Super Lilli

I asked for someone to step up. And it came from the absolute most unlikely of all places.

Not only from one of the most unlikely players, but also in the craziest way.

I cannot ever think of a time where the player of the game is unquestionable a pinch runner. And not for his pinch running. And not for coming up with a big hit 3 innings after running. But for his defense. IN RIGHT FIELD.

Brent Lillibridge made not 1, but 2 game saving catches in right field. Instead of the E7's and the blown saves we've grown so accustomed, turned straight on it's head.

2 magnificent plays, and 2 consecutive saves from the same guy.

But what I loved most about the way this game ended, were the reactions of the White Sox players. Lilli punched the ground in excitement, AJ jumped like a 9 year old, Konerko even gave a big fist pump.

You finally saw some life in the eyes of the Sox. On the Konerko HR it looked like Quentin was going to pull a muscle with his fist pump.

The Sox looked like a team. They looked like they cared. They looked like they could see the light at the end of this poor play tunnel.

And it came at the hands of 2 huge defensive plays, 1 massive HR, and a whale of a pitching performance from Gavin Floyd.

That's the kind of game Sox fans were hoping they would get to see all year. And hopefully it's the first of many great wins.

Oh yeah, and all of this came on the biggest stage in baseball, at Yankee Stadium.

Tonight was fun... now let's keep it going.

Build on Last Night

Tonight the Sox have a nice pitching match up. Gavin Floyd vs. Ivan Nova.

Nova has a 7.63 ERA this year and a 1-2 record.

The Sox have got to pick it up offensively if they want to win. Dunn looked much better last night, Konerko is still doing well, and Carlos is the best hitter on the team.

To start scoring more runs, the Sox are going to need one more guy to really step up. Pierre would be probably the perfect scenario, but I would really like to see Rios get going.

Alex is mired by a miserable 1 for 23 streak. But this is a guy who has the talent to have some success.

If Alex can somehow turn into a .300 hitter from this point forward, the Sox will finally have the potent middle of the lineup they had hoped for.

Tack on a bit more from Juan, Beckham, and Alexei, and the Sox will be right back on board where they were at the beginning of the year.

It seems to be slowly coming back. Dunn was the first one to get back on the horse, and now the rest need to get it going.

But if the offense doesn't come around, tonight's the night. Bulls Game 5 at 7, and I heard there's a big game another sport people care about around Chicago. I wouldn't know about it. But yeah, that's on at 9.

Go Sox, Go Bulls.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Wins A Win, But

Winner winner chicken dinner. The Sox are back in the right column. But look what it took to get there.

It took a near no hitter from your 5th starter.

It took a nerve-racking 8th and 9th innings as you tested your new closer.

It took a double that was nearly caught, followed by 2 ground outs that could have been line outs.

But it all added up to a win.

Finally someone stepped up for this team. And that someone was Phil Humber.

But there are still major problems.

The Sox have still only scored 15 runs over their past 8 games. 9 of the 15 came in 1 win. The Sox still only got 5 hits in their 30 AB's.

They need to start hitting. NEED.

We'll take this one. And it might go a long way in discovering the eventual closer of this team. But we can't get too excited, and cannot even come close to thinking we've turned it around.

The pitching was there tonight. The defense was there tonight. The hitting was not. 2 out of 3 will win a lot of games. But when 1 phase will ALWAYS not be there, it's incredibly difficult to sustain.

The hitters have got to come around. That's the only way this team can get going.

Nice win today, but the lack of hitting is still a real problem.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Learn From the Past

The White Sox are now 8-14. The record is a game worse than they were last year when they started off 8-13. Like last year, fans, blogs, and media called for the heads of everyone from Ozzie to Kenny, to Walk to Coop. And yet, nothing happened, the Sox got hot in the middle of June, and eventually climbed all the way into first.

But last year, the Sox ended up finishing the season in 2nd place with an 88-74 record and went into the offseason wanting to make changes.

A few changes were made. And the Sox declared themselves "All In" for the 2011 campaign.

Yet they have started out in a similar fashion, and will probably end up in the same place.

Unless... they do something about it.

The team is almost identical to last year. They couldn't hit, and the bullpen was shaky at best (though better last year than this one) Starting pitching is good, but no matter what they do, they can't get the help to win.

Game in and game out it's the same script. Give up a run, lose the game. the Sox are on a 20 inning scoreless streak. They have not held the lead AT ALL during 7 of the last 8 games.

Yet nothing changes. Ozzie is doing his best in mixing up the lineup. Pretty much everyone has had a shot, and yet nothing is happening.

So someone needs to step up. From a fan prospective, it would be nice to see something happen publicly. Send someone down, trade somebody, fire a coach, something.

But what is much more likely, and what really needs to happen, is someone needs to make a change behind the scenes. Someone has to step up.

The team needs something to hang their hats on. Everyone wear tighty whities instead of boxers. Show up to the building in suits. Bring in a prop that has some sort of meaning behind it, ridiculous or not. I don't know. JUST DO SOMETHING.

The Sox are now 5.5 games out of first. And just 4 games behind the team that just swept you. All is not lost. Sure the last 10 games have been crap. And yes, every single person's stats aren't where they'd like em.

So stop sitting back and taking like a (I'll hold off on the simile). And stand up and make a change.



Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Not So "All In"

The Sox slogan for 2011 is "All In." It means the Sox organization is going to give everything they have both monetarily and physically to bring the World Series back to Chicago.

But right now the Sox are playing the worst baseball in the league. They are actually playing some of the worst ball they've ever played under Ozzie Guillen.

Last season the Sox started off slow. They struggled from series to series, but the worst streak hey put together in the first 4 months was a 4 game losing streak.

They have currently dropped 7 straight. But as part of the 7 in a row, the Sox have not led in 5 straight. 49 straight innings without a lead.

All In? Got to make a change. I'm not talking about moving Adam Dunn to 5th in the lineup. I'm talking about something big. Something huge.

Obviously I'm calling for Greg Walker's head. But I would not be opposed to a trade, or a release of someone who most consider a part of the roster, or even as far as giving Guillen the axe.

I want something to shake things up. No, I don't want them to fire Ozzie, and nor have I ever. But they MUST do something. They cannot keep wilting away night in and night out.

Jerry Reinsdorf's pocket book is on the line right now. But what that really means, is that Kenny, Ozzie, and every guy wearing a Sox uniform is playing for their job this season.

"All In" means doing anything you can to win. ANYTHING. And as the Sox keep slipping, and doing nothing, the climb is getting tougher and tougher.

So prove you are really "All In" and do something. Or else this slogan will go down as the biggest sham since "These Kids Can Play."

**Note: They couldn't.**

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Weather The Storm

It's been a week since the Sox last won.

But unlike yesterday where I decided to spout off every sad stat I could find, today I'm going to talk about getting through this rough patch.

The Sox have been struggling in all phases of the game. But they have been able to put some phases together in certain situations. We've seen some good pitching, the bullpen has gotten better, and they are at least getting a few runs here and there.

The key right now is to try and weather this. Understand night in and night out that it's going to be a struggle. But that just 1 win can turn this thing around. If someone can come through with a big hit, or somebody can throw a gem even better than the one Danks put up tonight.

The Sox are only 7-10. They aren't 1-10. And they definitely aren't 40-60. The Sox are 5.5 games behind the streaking Indians. And 3.5 behind the Royals. But they are just a game back of the Tigers, and actually a game ahead of the Twinks.

So all is not lost right now. Adam Dunn has not been anything close to what he will eventually will be here. Jake Peavy still hasn't come back from Arizona. And the bullpen will NEVER have a stretch like that had in the first 12 games again (at least I hope).

Just get through this. The Rays are on fire. Just as they were cold as ice when these two teams met in Chicago. We took 3 out of 4 then, and let's just hope we can get 1 out of 4 here to even it up.

As I posted earlier, the Indians and Royals are not for real. It's all a figment of our imagination... well not really, but both will fall in the near future.

So the way the Central should look, and eventually will look, the Sox are right in the middle of the race. 1 behind the Tigers. 1 ahead of the Twinks. Just keep looking at that, and all will not be lost.

Oh yeah, they really do need to start hitting the ball.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Time For The Monthly Post


4 straight games the opposing starter has gotten the victory. 7 IP, 3R Friday, 7 IP, 1R Saturday, 6.1 IP 2R Sunday, 8 IP, 0R Monday.

The Sox have scored 2 runs in the first 6 innings of the past 4 games. They have 20 hits in the 28.1 innings the starters have pitched.

It's not just 1 or 2 guys that are struggling. It's 8. Only Carlos Quentin is doing anything at the plate. The rest of them look lost up there. Adam Dunn says, "I stink." And it wouldn't hurt the rest of the offense to go in on some deodorant with Dunn.

As is par for course with professional sports, you can't fire the players, you have to look at coaches and managers. And the first person to blame is, and has always been, Greg Walker.

The man preaches power to the pull side. The exact opposite of what the manager of the same team calls for. He obviously has ZERO idea how to teach players to bunt, as EVERY guy not only can't do it, but also bunts the ball the wrong way every time.

He also wants people to go after pitcher's early in counts. In a world in which 100 pitches pretty much automatically means the pitcher comes out, 6+ pitch AB's are at a premium in this league. The Sox did this the first 9 games of the year. Now they don't.

They are back to the solo HR or bust mentality. And the person to blame is the hitting coach.

It's time for this bum to go. He is handed heaps of talent year in and year out, and they under preform EVERY SINGLE YEAR.

So if you are truly "All-In", there's no more time to waste. Shed the crap, and bring in someone who has a clue. Greg Walker does not do his job, and hasn't for 8 years. So get him out of here. And then maybe this team can start winning.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Royals And Indians

These two teams are not good.

Yes, I know they have a combined 21-9 record. And I know that the Royals are the best hitting team in baseball and the Indians are 3rd (the Sox are 2nd). Oh yeah, and the Indians are 4th in the AL in pitching, Royals 6th.

But let's look at how they are doing this.

I'll start with Cleveland.

Justin Masterson and Josh Tomlin are a combined 6-0 with ERA's of 1.33 and 2.75. Closer Chris Perez has 5 saves in 5 opps and has allowed only 2 hits in 7.1 IP. Asdrubal Cabrera and Travis Hafner have 4 HR's a piece. And, Orlando Cabrera has 11 RBI.

Great start to the season for all of them. But if you project these numbers over 162 games, every single number I just posted is at least 30% better than any of their BEST year in the bigs.

Now to the Royals.

Wilson Betemit, Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, and Jeff Francoeur are all hitting better than .325. Only Billy Butler has ever had a season over .305 and Gordon and Francoeur have never eclipsed .300.

The Royals have 6 pitchers with a WHIP of 1.11 or lower. 2 of these are under 1.00. But the fact that 4 of the 6 are 1st or 2nd year pitchers with no more than 60 IP under their belt, would lead the normal prognosticator to expect the league to catch up, and those numbers to balloon in the near future.

I haven't even mentioned yet that Jeff Francis and Bruce Chen have ERA's at 3.00 or lower. Chen's career ERA is 4.59 and Francis' is 4.72.

Sure, both of these teams have had solid starts to the year. And yeah, they are both playing great ball right now. But I would still be willing to bet that neither makes it to 75 wins. And I would not find it to be a long shot bet to say that 1 doesn't even make it to 70.

The Twins are 5-10 and are hitting .235 as a team.

Things will change. Believe me... things WILL change.

Sox Woes Can Be Blamed On Many

The Sox have now lost 4 straight and 5 of 6 and it's been because of many varying reasons. There have been bullpen collapses, starting pitching problems, lack of hitting, fielding, and it goes on and on.

This is a tough scenario. Normally you can look at a team and say, if we just catch the ball we'll win. Or, if the starting pitching comes along a little bit, this will turn around.

But with this team, it doesn't look like that.

The Sox need to start over. Forget about the first 15 games. Forget about the bullpen problems or the multitude of E7's or the inability to get clutch hits late.

Think about the future and think about beating the Rays. We all know the Sox can beat the Rays. They've done it 3 out of 4 already. But the way the two teams were playing then is substantially different than now.

So the Sox have to regroup. Look at this series as the first one. I know it's tough to do, but it's really the only way to fix ALL the issues we've seen thus far.

The standings are in complete disarray right now. And a couple wins can take the Sox from 3rd place to first.

The Sox have seen all 4 pitchers the Rays are throwing at them this week. So go to work, and right this ship now.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

With Russell Clearly Out, Who is in?

Last night Mike Quade and Jim Hendry realized what the rest of us already knew, James Russell isn't a starting pitcher. Sure, it took a bullpen crippling outing, but the Cubs never were good about knowing their own personnel.

With that over, its time to figure out who is actually going to fill in the fifth starter slot while Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner heal from their injuries.

Sean Marshall

The Cubs' best setup man also happens to be a pretty decent starting pitcher. Marshall spent a good portion of his younger days (see 2007-2009) as a fill in starting pitcher, and always did a decent job. Of all the in house options, he's the best, but it isn't the no-brainer decision it appears to be.

If Marshall were to move to the rotation, the bullpen would take a big hit. Marshall is the team's best left handed setup guy, and also the second best relief pitcher on the team. John Grabow would become to go to lefty at the end of games, which is a disaster waiting to happen.

Marshall also had a tendency to get injured when he was starting, and the last thing the Cubs need is more injured pitchers.

Despite some concerns, Marshall is a somewhat proven commodity as a starter, with a 4.86 ERA in 59 career starts. Not numbers that will blow anyone away, but better than bringing in an over the hill body from AAA.

Ramon Ortiz and Doug Davis

These two will work in AAA Iowa for a couple of weeks in an attempt to see if there is anything less in the tank. Ortiz has thrown 30 innings since 2008, all of them last year with the Dodgers, and all of them bad. He has a career ERA+ of 91, and at age 37, isn't likely to leave Iowa this season.

Davis just signed two days ago, and probably won't be ready until mid-May. Better for the Cubs anyway, since Davis looked like he was done last season. Before multiple health issues last year, Davis did put together six decent seasons for the Brewers and Diamondbacks. He has a career ERA+ of 104, but his best days are clearly behind him.

Ortiz won't make it out of AAA this season, but I think Davis will eventually make a start or two for the Cubs. Just not anytime soon. For now, its best to forget these two are even around.

Jay Jackson

Perhaps the closest thing to a MLB ready prospect, Jackson would probably be in the Cubs rotation right now if he was healthy. Sadly, he is still in Mesa rehabbing a sore elbow. Once he gets healthy though, Jackson could move quickly to Chicago. He has youth and upside, which beats the heck out of watching Doug Davis eat innings.

Thomas Diamond

The guy we all know is going to join the rotation soon. Diamond made three starts last season for the Cubs, and predictably didn't fare so well. Still, he is stretched out, and has something resembling MLB experience.

In two starts this season for the I-Cubs, Diamond has allowed 11 earned runs in seven and a third innings. Good for a 13.50 ERA, which means he is still an upgrade over whatever James Russell did last night.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Cubs Travel to Houston

In theory, the Cubs series against the Astros should be one of the few times this season that the Cubs are the better team. For all their faults, the Cubs aren't close to the hot mess that Houston is. The Astros boast a terrible lineup, both on paper and in real life. To make matters worse, they will play this season without their young catcher Jason Castro, who tore his ACL in spring training.

The Cubs are coming off a tough series loss in Milwaukee, while the Astros just finished losing two of three to the Florida Marlins.

In game one, the Cubs will send Ryan Dempster out to face Houston's fifth starter Nelson Figueroa. Dempster will be making his third start of the season, and is still looking for his first quality outing. He couldn't command his pitches on opening day, and in his second start he gave up a number of extra base hits to a weak Diamondbacks lineup.

Considering the Cubs' current problems in the back of the rotation, they really need Dempster to have a long, quality outing tonight. The bullpen is going to be asked to do a lot tomorrow, and Mike Quade had to use four guys on Sunday after Casey Coleman went only five innings.

Against a weak lineup full of right handed hitters, Demspter shouldn't have too much trouble.

The Cubs offense should enjoy an easy night as well. The Reds lineup (admittedly, they are in a different class) scored six runs against Figueroa in his first start of the season. He's a fly-ball pitcher facing a team that tends to be feast or famine with the home run ball.

This would be a good night for Carlos Pena to get on track, and given the way Starlin Castro, Marlon Byrd, and Aramis have been hitting lately, there should be more than one chance for Pena to drive in some runs tonight. I wouldn't be surprised if Mike Quade found a place for Tyler Colvin as well, as this is the kind of pitcher he should have success against.

The next two days could be real problematic for the Cubs, so tonight's game is especially important. The Cubs' number one pitcher against the Astros' number five. Hopefully Ryan Dempster turns in his first quality start of the season tonight, and the Cubs get back to .500 (even if its just for one day).

Friday, April 8, 2011

Why 0-6 Scares Me

With the loss yesterday to the Sox, the Rays are now 0 for their first 6. Yet this team still scares me.

Why you may ask? And the answer is quite simple. They have to win sometime. And with a pitching staff as talented as the Rays have, they are going to be tough beat every night. No matter what their record is right now.

Tonight us James Shields and John Danks. On paper it's almost 100% even. But in reality I think the Sox are dogs.

In Vegas the Sox are -160. Which in baseball terms means you are solid favorite.

To win tonight the Sox are going too need to keep the bats going. Even better than yesterday. And this is a tall task against someone as solid as Shields.

Someday in the near future the Rays are going to bust out offensively. I just really hope it's later than sooner.

Unfortunately I have a feeling tonight might be that night. Let's just hope the Sox can counter with some solid offense of their own.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Bullpen Woes Must End

Though today Edwin Jackson handled the Rays almost completely by himself, the Sox bullpen will be a huge factor in the team's success moving forward.

Thus far the bullpen has lost 1 game, blown another that the offense gave to them, and took a 2-1 deficit to 7-1 in the blink of an eye.

Before today's scoreless inning by Sergio, the Sox were ranked 2nd to last in bullpen ERA. 6.95 was the damage. The Santos inning brought it down to 6.64, good for 27 in the league.

Pena, Ohman, and Humber have been the worst, but Sale, Thornton, and Crain won't be let off the hook. Without the dominance of Serg, the Sox bullpen ERA would be just a touch under 9.00.

I have no doubt that Crain, Thornton, and Sale will be alright. It's Ohman, Humber, and Pena that concern me.

None of these guys have even remotely looked good. Ohman claims it's a "funk." We'll have to see. Pena was brutal last year, and I highly doubt he gets any better. And Humber is young, inexperienced, and seemingly now lacking confidence.

The Sox called up Jeff Gray today, which may help, but they have got to get this turned around soon, or this is not going to be a fun year.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Lack of Fundamental Bunting Costing Sox

In 3 games, the Sox have attempted 2 sacrifice bunts. 1 went for a triple play, and the other went for a force out at third. In other words, both failed miserably.

And the sad thing is, both times the bunter (Morel and Ramirez) pushed the ball the wrong way.

There are two scenarios in which a player is called to sac bunt. The first is with a man only on first, the second is with a man on second or first and second.

Sacrifice bunting 101 goes as follows.

Man on first, trying to move him to second, you bunt the ball to first. Why? Because it makes the first baseman catch the ball, the second baseman have to cover first, leaving only the shortstop to cover second. If done properly, there is no way the first baseman can pick up the ball and throw it to the second baseman to force out the lead runner.

Man on second (or first on second), you bunt the ball to third. Why? Because it makes the third baseman field the ball and have to throw to the first baseman (or second baseman if both charge) leaving no one at third base to force out the lead runner. The "wheel play" is designed to have the shortstop cover third, but it is not commonly run, and when it is, it works maybe 1 out of 10.

You would think, with a bunt-happy manager, bunting fundamentals would be drilled into the heads of the White Sox. You would also think that players who have played baseball for 15+ years would know these fundamentals.

But the Sox seemingly don't.

And I don't get it. When I was a young buck, at age 16, as a freshman in high school, I was taught these fundamentals. They have stuck with me ever since, and after hearing the explanations (which I said earlier), it has really become a hot button item for me when major league players do not follow them.

The Sox has 2 chances to put more runs on the board in this series. Saturday it didn't matter. Today, it may have cost the Sox their third straight win. If Alexei gets the bunt down (to the third baseman), the Sox have men on second and third with 1 out. Vizquel (1 for 1 at the time, and eventually singled in the next AB), would have had a great chance to extend the Sox lead.

The game changes at 2-0 or 3-0. It probably gets Masterson out an inning earlier, and Danks is afforded a cushion of more than a run when he approached 100 pitches.

Not guaranteeing the Sox win this game if the bunt was successful, but I know they would have been in better shape. And I'm positive they will need to start bunting fundamentally if they want to win in the future.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

You Asked For A Hot Start

2 games into the season the Sox are 2-0. And 2 games into the season, we already have beat writers talking 5-0 or better.

With one more with the Indians (which very well might get rained out), and then a quick two gamer in Kansas City. It's not unlikely to think the South Siders can be 5-0.

Taking it one step further, the Sox have great pitching matchups in each game of the next 3.

John Danks vs. Justin Masterson
Gavin Floyd vs. Luke Hochevar
Mark Buehrle vs. Jeff Francis

All 3 are not only favorable, but VERY favorable.

Just keep hitting, and this team is easily 5-0 when returning home for the opener.

Ozzie wanted to sell tickets by winning, and winning early. They've done a great job of it thus far, but need to stay focused.

Even though it looks like the Sox should be able to keep on with the hot start, they have got to keep doing the things they have been. A problem in the past has been not being able to beat the Indians and the Royals. And that means every game, including the third one of a series.

Bear down tomorrow and let's get to 3-0. then we'll worry about 4,5,6 and hopefully many more on from there.

Stay Healthy Carlos

The Sox win again in large part due to the torrid pace Carlos Quentin has started the season on.

Quentin has 7 RBI on 3 doubles, 1 homerun and 1 single. His hitting .625 and his slugging percentage is 1.375.

Carlos was killing the baseball in Spring where he hit .328 with 5 homers.

Quentin is a streaky hitter, but many of the shifts in streak have been based on his health.

If Quentin can stay healthy, there is no reason why this guy can't be a key piece of the puzzle that is the 2011 Sox. With a healthy, hitting, Quentin, along with Dunn, Konerko, and the way Beckham has started, the 8 runs the Sox scored this afternoon may become more of a norm than a surprise.

This team has surprised many with the number of runs they've scored, and their near unbeatable look on the field. But the way the Sox are playing can easily continue as long as they keep working counts, using the entire field, and have a healthy Carlos Quentin.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Sox Hitting or Indians Pitching?

In the first 4 innings of baseball this afternoon the Sox dropped a 14 spot on the Indians. The question is, was this because of good Sox hitting or bad pitching from Carmona and Germano?

The answer for me is overwhelmingly good White Sox hitting.

In the past, the Sox have been a team that can put runs on the board. Crooked numbers have never been an anomaly on the South Side. But the way the Sox did it today was a little different.

Starting in the first inning. Pierre saw 5 pitches before singling on an 0-2 count. Beckham saw 7 pitches before doubling with a 1-2 count. Dunn struck out, but saw 6 pitches. Konerko singled after seeing 6 pitches and a 2 strike count. And finally Quentin singled after 6 pitches and a 2 strike count.

Four 2-strike hits. Two 2 strike RBI's. 36 pitches in the first inning. Carmona was not struggling. The Sox were just making him work.

The 3rd inning, the Sox did it again. By the end of the 3rd, Carmona had thrown 75 pitches.

That is what led to the explosive 8 run fourth. Carmona was far from bad today. And that's why he was in there for so long. The Sox just wore him out. And eventually got to him in a big way.

Eight 2-strike hits in total, and the Sox were 9 for 15 with RISP.

That's winning baseball, and a sign of an offense that might be potent.

2011 American League Predictions

With Opening Day officially upon us, there couldn't be a better day than today to give my predictions for the 2011 season. I will add W-L records on the teams, but I have not done the math to make sure they all check out.

So here they are...

American League Central

Chicago White Sox 91-71
Detroit Tigers - 84-78
Minnesota Twins 81-81
Cleveland Indians 74-88
Kansas City Royals 58-104

Hard to not be a homer here, but I really think the Sox have what it takes this year. The All-In strategy is a pressure-packed one, but also a very good one. The pitching staff is very good (and great with Peavy), the bullpen is solid, and the lineup should be able to put some runs on the board with consistency. 91 wins actually is a little lower than what I think this team is capable of, but with the way I see the season playing out, the Sox shouldn't need too many in late September, so the win total will not be where it could be.

I'm not a fan of the Twins this year. Yes they have a good lineup, but the pitching staff is not good. Liriano is always good, but hurt almost as often as Peavy. From there, Pavano is the next best. If Pavano was on the White Sox (with Peavy healthy), he's not in the starting rotation, and I'm not sure he's even on the Major League roster. The Tigers are good, but are not well-rounded enough to compete for 162. And the Royals are terrible.

American League West

Los Angeles Angels 93-69
Texas Rangers 88-74
Oakland A's 84-78
Seattle Mariners 70-92

I like the Angels a lot this season, but picking them to win is more based on the subtractions the Rangers have made. The two most valuable players on the Rangers last year were Vlad Guerrero and Cliff Lee. Lee is now in Philly and Vlad is in Baltimore. Quite frankly, the pitching is not good enough for Texas to hold off LA. Also, I love the Vernon Wells addition.

The A's are getting better. The Mariners are not.

American League East

Boston Red Sox 97-65
New York Yankees 97-65
Baltimore Orioles 84-78
Tampa Bay Rays 78-84
Toronto Blue Jays 64-98

Yeah, a tie. Is it a cop out? Maybe. But at least I put one team over the other. The Red Sox are better, but the Yankees are still really really good. Both teams are going to be incredibly tough to beat, but the Red Sox additions of Gonzalez and Crawford will make the difference.

AL Wild Card

Red Sox over White Sox
Yankees over Angels

AL Championship
Red Sox over Yankees

World Series
Red Sox over Phillies

Nothing too outrageous in the playoff predictions. There is a clear divide of good teams and bad teams in baseball this year. About 8 teams are good, and the rest are not. The Yankees, Red Sox, and Phillies are also in a class of their own above the teams I consider good.