December 2009

Sox-wise and Otherwise…Happy New Year!

My weekly offseason musings about the White Sox and more…

Good Vibes for 2010

I’m ending my year of blogging the same way I started in July–in glass half-full mode. The way I look at it, it doesn’t do any good to be cynical when you put so much of yourself in rooting for YOUR team. Do I get cranky? Sure. Do I agree with all the moves? No. But, all in all, the glass half-full approach has worked for me for nearly 60 years as a Sox fan and I’m not going to stop now.

Whether you’re upbeat, cynical or cautious, the reality is that we have a lot to look forward to in 2010. It’s the best starting staff in the division and one of the best in baseball, a revamped lineup with more speed, depth and versatility and an improved bullpen. And I’m sure there is a surprising tweak or two up Kenny Williams’ sleeve.

Loyal Following

I’m so appreciative of those who have taken time to follow Art of the Pale Hose and hope you’ll continue to do so. I’m not aware of everyone, but here’s to a few great old friends and a few new blogging buddies who have weighed in: Jeff Weiss, Stu Wade, Paul Jensen, Tim Clodjeaux, Tom Merritt, Rick Bozich, Todd Weiss, Gary Marks, Aimee Crawford, Kevin Sullivan, Tim Gardner, Tom Meehan, Mike Griffin, Sid Skolnik, Lee Weiss, myturntoblog, bklyntrolleyblogger, angels012, rays renegade and e-zmac71. I’m especially indebted to Sox communications chief Scott Reifert–a blogging pioneer and author of Inside the White Sox on whitesox.com–for his friendship, kindnesses over the years and for his support of my blog.

On the Mend

Another Sox fan who certainly would be a frequent reader is my dad, Seymour Berke. Unfortunately his sight isn’t what it used to be so I relay the Sox news of the day to him over the phone. He still has to endure dialysis three times a week, but is now out of rehab and back in his familiar recliner waiting for pitchers and catchers.

Sox-wise and Otherwise…Merry Christmas to All!

My Weekly Offseason Musings About the White Sox and More…

We Sox fans don’t expect much trade and free agent action between today and Christmas, but Kenny Williams always surprises so we probably shouldn’t be so sure. While we’re waiting for his next move, whether it’s before or after Christmas, here’s a few things to ponder:

One Man’s Garbage is Another Man’s Gold                                     

The Yankees’ acquisition of Javier Vazquez brought the number to three of Ozzie Guillen castoffs that are on the roster of the World Champs. Javy joins Damaso Marte and Nick Swisher who have gone from Oz’s doghouse to The Bronx.

BA on the Move Again

Once the heir apparent to Aaron Rowand in centerfield, Brian Anderson certainly hasn’t panned out the way many expected. After a failed few years with the Sox, BA was jettisoned this past season to the Red Sox for Mark Kotsay. Now he’s off to Kansas City where he just signed a one-year $700,000 contract in an effort to salvage his career.

Top Pitching Rotations? Don’t Forget About the White Sox

OK, the Yankees have C.C.Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte, Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes and now Vazquez.  And the Red Sox counter with Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, the newly-aquired John Lackey, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Clay Buchholz.

New York and Boston are all abuzz with excitement over their respective rotations–and, of course, those folks are ignoring the White Sox who have the best rotation in the AL Central. A starting rotation, by the way, that could eventually rank favorably with the more publicized staffs in the A.L. East.

I, for one, am really looking forward to watching Sox starters Jake Peavy, Mark Buehrle, John Danks, Gavin Floyd and Freddy Garcia in action next year.

Top Sox Moments Redux

In my last post, I went on record with my Top Sox Moments of the Decade. It was pretty excruciating to decide only 10, but because the 2005 postseason was the best time in my baseball life I went with seven moments from that year’s ALDS, ALCS and World Series. Hated to ignore the rest of the decade, but a guy’s gotta do what a guy’s gotta do.

I wanted to include one moment from the ’05 postseason, but felt it would be too personal for a list like this. But count it as my No.1 Sox moment of the decade–and of all-time.

The moment I’m referring to was being at Game 1 of the World Series with my 82-year-old Dad (please see the photo opposite my blog). Like so many other fathers and sons we went to countless White Sox games together at both Comiskey and the Cell and here I was with him, finally watching the South Siders play in the World Series. You see, he got two tickets for Game 1 in 1959, but couldn’t go because he had to work. I went instead with my older cousin. I had been hoping since then that the opportunity would arise that he and I could go to a Sox World Series game together.

I’ll never forget what my Dad said when the Sox finally reached the promised land when Bobby Jenks retired Orlando Palmiero on that great play by Juan Uribe.

“All those games, all those years, we finally did it.”

Amen.

My Top 10 White Sox Moments of the Decade

White Sox communications guru Scott Reifert has asked Sox fans, through Twitter, to weigh in on their Top 10 moments of the decade. Here are my my picks. I really had no other choice but to list seven of the 10 from the 2005 postseason.

10Dewayne Wise‘s spectacular catch to save Mark Buehrle‘s perfect game in July of
       2009.

  9.  Buehrle’s perfect game.

  8Jim Thome‘s home run and John Danks‘ gem against the Twins in Game 163
       to help the Sox clinch the 2008 A.L. Central crown.

  7El Duque Hernandez retired the side with the bases loaded and no outs in the
       sixth and pitched three scoreless innings in all in the deciding game of the ’05
       American League Division Series.            

  6.   Joe Crede’s two-out ninth inning double to left field in Game 2 of the ’05 American
        League Championship Series that scored Pablo Ozuna to give the Sox a 2-1
        victory to tie the Series at one. It capped off a miracle inning that started with
        A.J. Pierzynski‘s now-legendary sprint to first base on a dropped third
        strike.          

  5.   Paul Konerko‘s thrilling grand slam in Game 2 of the ’05 Series to put the Sox
        ahead  6-4.

  4.   Scott Podsednik‘s unimaginable game-winning homer off of Brad Lidge in the
        ninth inning of Game 2  to put the Sox up 2-0 in the ’05 Series.

  3.   Geoff Blum‘s line drive homer in the 14th inning of the longest Series game ever
        played broke a 5-5 tie. The Sox scored another and took a commanding 3-0 game
        lead in the ’05 Series.

  2.   Jermaine Dye, the eventual ’05 Series MVP, singled up the middle to score Willie
        Harris with the lone run in Game 4 of the Fall Classic.

  1.   Orlando Palmiero swings…past JenksUribe has it…throws to Konerko…
        Out, Out, the White Sox win the World Series!!

        What do you think? How do your lists compare?

Sox-wise, Otherwise…and DeWayne Wise

My weekly offseason musings about the White Sox and more…

                       
                      The Year of Buehrle’s Perfecto and an Unlikely Hero

The 2009 “This Year in Baseball” awards were announced yesterday and to no one’s surprise Mark Buehrle‘s perfect game was voted the Performance of the Year in the fan voting. I am also happy to report that former Sox outfielder DeWayne Wise won Play of the Year honors for The Catch in the Buehrle’s perfecto.

It’s always been interesting to me how fans pick out their favorite players. Often times it’s the star, but not always. Case in point, I’ve always liked Wise. I like the fact he persevered through a lot of tough times in his baseball career, I like the fact he was a big contributor in the South Siders’ successful run for the AL Central title in 2008 and I like his overall hustle and intensity

Wise, now with the Phillies, will never be a star. But it makes me happy to know that a guy who has worked hard and been through what he’s been through as a baseball player will always be remembered for one singular play he made on a warm July afternoon. A play that may very well be the greatest catch in the history of baseball.

                                              Remaining Questions        

It sure seems as if the Sox 2010 Opening Day roster is pretty well set (See Art of the Pale Hose, December 16),  but there is still the question of the backup catcher. Will it be Tyler Flowers or will the Sox go outside of the organization before spring training? Most of what you read is that the Sox want Flowers to get more experience at AAA Charlotte.

Another issue was brought up by a fellow Sox blogger. He was wondering if Jordan Danks will be in the mix this year. With Juan Pierre, Alex Rios, Carlos Quentin, Andruw Jones and Mark Kotsay, my guess is that he’ll spend the season at Charlotte with the possibility that he’ll be called up in September or perhaps before if there is an injury.

                                        KW Deserves Credit for Solid Job

The Yankees wrangled Curtis Granderson, the Mariners acquired Chone Figgins and Cliff Lee and the Red Sox lured John Lackey and Mike Cameron. While those deals made most of the national headlines, Kenny Williams‘ job of putting the pieces together this offseason ranks at the top of the Hot Stove moves. With a tight budget, he was able to fill all of our needs and has made the Sox a better, deeper and more versatile team.

                                                Sox Pluck Tigers’ Dolsi  

Williams has added another possible piece to the 25-man roster by picking up Tigers’ righthanded reliever Freddy Dolsi off of waivers. Dolsi spent seven years in the Detroit organization, mostly as a minor leaguer. In 2008 with the Tigers, he went 1-5 with a 3.97 ERA and a couple of saves in 42 appearances. This past season he was 1-0 with a 1.69 ERA in six Motown outings and was 4-3, 3.83 with 10 saves in ’09 for AAA Toledo. 
 

Sox Aim to Win AL Central with New and Exciting Personality

None of the offseason moves transacted by the Sox this offseason has gotten nearly as much attention as Roy Halladay, Jason Bay, Matt Holliday, Chone Figgins and John Lackey. But I have to be honest, I’m excited about what the Sox have done.

While we’ve lost some of our favorite sons in Jermaine Dye, Scott Podsednik and Jim Thome, it was really time to shake things up with some new energy. The 2010 version of the Sox is going to be exciting to watch and a much different team that we’ve seen in a while. The starting staff, led by Jake Peavy, is excellent and certainly the best in the division. The slow-footed Sox have been replaced with more speed and versatility, i.e. Juan Pierre, Mark Teahen and in-season acquisition Alex Rios. The bullpen is better with the addition of J.J. Putz and the bench is solid with Andruw Jones, Mark Kotsay and Omar Vizquel, who supposedly will all be part of the DH rotation as well.

It’s only December, but here’s a look at what the 25-man roster could look like on Opening Day:

Starting Pitching

Jake Peavy
Mark Buehrle
Gavin Floyd
John Danks
Freddy Garcia

Bullpen

Bobby Jenks
Matt Thornton
J.J. Putz
Tony Pena
Scott Linebrink
Randy Williams
Daniel Hudson

Catchers

A.J. Pierzynski
Tyler Flowers (might start at AAA Charlotte, which means there may be a need for a backup)

Infield

Paul Konerko
Mark Kotsay (will play the outfield as well)
Gordon Beckham
Alexei Ramirez
Omar Vizquel
Jayson Nix
Mark Teahen

Outfield

Juan Pierre
Alex Rios
Carlos Quentin
Andrew Jones

Time will tell whether or not it all comes together, but it’s a few days before Christmas and I’m predicting an AL Central crown in 2010.
 

Speedster Juan Pierre Latest Addition to “New Look” White Sox

It is now official. The Sox have acquired speedy outfielder Juan Pierre from the Dodgers for two minor league pitchers (rumored to be John Ely and Jon Link). The Sox will only be paying about half of the $18 million owed to Pierre over the next two seasons.

So the search for a leadoff man is over as the choice is Pierre over the likes of Scott Podsednik, Coco Crisp and Brett Gardner. The latest Sox addition, 32, hit .308, had a .365 on-base percentage with 30 stolen bases in 425 plate appearances last season.

The Sox certainly have a decidedly different–and much more speed-oriented and versatile–roster for 2010. More moves might be on the horizon with a DH perhaps in the offing, but with Pierre, Mark Teahen, Omar Vizquel, Andrew Jones and J.J. Putz added to recent additions Alex Rios and Jake Peavy, I already see us as the favorites in the A.L Central.

Sox-wise and Otherwise

My weekly offseason musings about the White Sox and more…

Wheeling and Dealing: Putz Joins Pale Hose, Sox Still Seeking Leadoff Man

Well, the Winter Meetings are now in the rear-view mirror and the hope of some blockbuster White Sox news went right along with it. But we knew that Kenny Williams had something up his sleeve and it’s just been announced, as rumored, that J.J. Putz has signed a one-year deal with the Sox for $3 million. He’s coming off an injury, but if he can get back to his previous form he’ll be a big asset. He’ll be reunited with his buddy, former Mariner Matt Thornton.

While the Hideki Matsui and Coco Crisp rumors are still out there, lo and behold a new name has surfaced–the Yankees’ 26-year-old centerfielder Brett Gardner. With the Yanks outfield pretty well set, it certainly is a possibility New York will deal Gardner under the right circumstances. Word is Kenny Williams likes him, he has dealt with Yanks GM Brian Cashman in the past and it does give us a leadoff hitter. With Scotty Pods holding out for a two-year pact and Crisp still a rumor, perhaps the Sox think this is the answer–though some feel it’s up in the air if he can be an everyday player. In 150 major league games Gardner has hit .270 with 26 stolen bases. He was chosen by the Yanks in the 2005 draft out of the College of Charleston.

GBeck to Lead Off? He Hopes Not

Speaking of the quest for a leadoff hitter, Gordon Beckham has gone on record that he hopes he doesn’t land in that spot. “I’ve heard the rumors,” he told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. “I kinda hope I don’t lead off. I’ve never lead off before.” After saying that, Beckham followed up with what you would expect out of him. “If I have to bat leadoff, I’ll make do. I’ll work at being good at it. I’m OK if they want me to bat there.”

Looking into the Future

The following are the Sox Top 10 prospects as determined by baseball analyst John Sickels:

Daniel Hudson, RHP
Jared Mitchell, OF
Tyler Flowers, C
Brent Morel, 3B
Jordan Danks, OF
Dayan Viciedo, 3B
David Holmberg, LHP
C.J. Retherford, 2B
Christian Marrero, 1B-OF
Santos Rodriguez, LHP

Hudson and Flowers spent time with the Sox at the end of 2009 and could be in the picture next year. The conventional wisdom is that the Sox want Flowers to get more experience at AAA Charlotte instead of serving as A.J.’s backup. Among the others, Danks probably has the best chance of playing in Chicago next season.

Tiger, Take Note

My non-Sox note of the week: If Tiger had only heeded the wisdom of the great John Wooden: “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”
 

Winter Meetings Hot Stove–Day 3

Zero, nada, nil, nothing Sox-wise to report.

Kenny Williams addressed the media and said he wished the info about trades and potential acquisitions could be kept quiet because there is a better chance of things happening if they are kept under the radar.

That said, just because he was a bit evasive doesn’t mean something won’t happen today, the final day of the Meetings. Wishful thinking? Probably, but a guy can hope, can’t he?

Winter Meetings Hot Stove–Day 2

A few White Sox tidbits emerged from Day 2 in Indy.

The Sox seem hot on the trail of DH Hideki Matsui, but it doesn’t appear that anything will happen this week. As mentioned here yesterday, Ozzie wants the World Series MVP healthy enough to play some in the outfield. It looks like the Angels are our most serious competition for the lefty slugger.

Another rumor resurfaced with Coco Crisp saying he likes playing in Chicago. He could be the option at leadoff that the Sox are looking for. Health is a main concern with Crisp, who has always been a Sox-killer.

Locking up Mark Teahen to a three-year, $14 million pact, has an added benefit. Since the contract is backloaded, the Sox may have some extra moolah to help acquire Matsui or another piece to the puzzle.

The Sox also are reportedly one of the teams interested in reliever J.J. Putz, who has been outstanding in the past but had his season cut short last year with the Mets because of injury.

Hoping for some REAL Sox action today.

Friend and White Sox Fan Bill Madden Wins J.G Taylor Spink Award, Joins Elite in Cooperstown

In a recent post, I mentioned that my friend of nearly 40 years, Bill Madden of the NY Daily News, was one of three finalists for the J.G. Taylor Spink Award, the baseball writers’ equivalent of being inducted into the Hall of Fame.

The happy news came today that Bill has indeed been selected for the award, a great day indeed for someone who loves the Hall of Fame and baseball as much as he does. And it will be a great year for Billy in ’10 as he steps on the podium in Cooperstown to accept the award as well as having his much-anticipated tome on George Steinbrenner published earlier in the year.

It is also relevant to mention that while Billy has been identified with New York baseball, he is a fan of the Pale Hose and looks forward to being alongside one of his heroes, Nellie Fox, in the upstate New York shrine.

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