May 2010

Sox Split with Rays; Jayson Delivers in Nix of Time

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A week ago, when the White Sox embarked on their seven-game road trip to Cleveland and Tampa Bay, it’s safe to say that we would have been happy with what now has happened–a series win over the Tribe and a split with the Rays. 
Of course more would have been better, but the way this season is going a 4-3 mark is satisfactory–with the hope that June will be the time for the turnaround.
The finale in Tampa Bay yesterday, an 8-5 triumph over baseball’s best team, had a lot of heroes. Jayson Nix, who replaced Mark Teahen (injury to right middle finger) at third in the middle of the game, gave the Sox the lead for good in the sixth with a grand slam (pictured above). Alex Rios went 3 for 5 with his 11th homer and a pair of RBI and Juan Pierre made two spectacular catches. 
On the pitching side Jake Peavy was nothing special, but got the win. Sergio Santos lowered his ERA to 0.48, Matt Thornton pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings and Tony Pena finished the game by retiring Evan Longoria and Carlos Pena.
Now it’s back to Chicago to face the Rangers, Indians and Tigers. No time to waste.
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Will Morales’ Fluke Injury Fuel a Sox Shakeup?

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You knew at some point a player would be injured in one of those walk-off celebrations at home plate. And it happened yesterday when Angels’ slugger Kendry Morales fractured his leg after hitting a grand slam in the 10th inning to defeat the Mariners.
Unfortunate for the Angels. Unfortunate for Morales. And maybe it’ll be the beginning of the long-awaited Sox shakeup.
It’s purely speculation on my part, but with the Sox in the doldrums, the Angels now in need of power at first base and Paul Konerko‘s contract expiring at season’s end, it’s not out of the question that a deal could be worked out. Considering Paulie almost signed with the Halos after the 2005 season, he lives in relatively nearby Scottsdale and has a good relationship with LA skipper Mike Scioscia, it makes even more sense.
I’m the last one to want to give up on the season before June 1, but it just seems like the handwriting is on the wall that some changes need to be made. The Sox have given no indication that they are going to be a contender, they’re on the old side and their top prospects have been disappointing–from Gordon Beckham with the Sox to Jordan Danks and Tyler Flowers at Charlotte.
Because of what he’s done for the franchise, Konerko’s No. 14 could very well be retired in the years to come. His contributions to the Sox through the years, especially in 2005, won’t be forgotten. But maybe it’s time. Time for the Sox to start thinking about an overhaul–beginning with Konerko.
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We Can’t Blame it on Rios…or Freddy…or Santos…or Thornton

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With the White Sox having the dubious distinction of a league-low team batting average of .235 and a comparable mark with runners in scoring position, their 21-27 won-loss mark is no surprise. In fact, you could make the argument that it should be worse.
Amid the underperforming hitters is Alex Rios, whose .309 batting average is about 60 points more than the next regular, Juan Pierre (.251), and 108 points higher than last year’s rookie sensation, Gordon Beckham. Paul Konerko, whose average has dwindled to under .250, has come through on the power side, but Rios has been the man overall adding 10 homers and 25 RBI. He did it again last night with the key two-run homer off of David Price in the 4-2 victory over the first-place Rays. He’s been a godsend.
That goes for Freddy Garcia as well, who bounced back from his horrendous outing against the Marlins to dominate Tampa Bay last night. He’s been pretty darn good for a fifth starter especially since his fellow starters, for the most part, have underperformed. While we’re at it, we have to add Sergio Santos, he of the 0.50 ERA, and Matt Thornton (1.77) to the mix of stalwarts.
The common denominator here is that all of the above have been significant contributors for the first two months of the season and each had a hand in the win last night.
I don’t know where we’d be without them.
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Monte Irvin’s #20 to be Retired by the Giants

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Readers of this blog may remember the 91st birthday tribute I wrote in February to my former Major League Baseball colleague and friend Monte Irvin.
Friends of Monte will be able to celebrate again on June 26 as Monte’s #20 will be retired by the San Francisco Giants.
Those unfamiliar with Monte should know that he was a star in the Negro Leagues, an outstanding player in the majors primarily with the then-New York Giants even though he was past his prime, a Hall of Famer, a mentor to Willie Mays and an advisor in the Baseball Commissioner’s Office for many years.
Monte is the finest gentleman I’ve ever known and a wonderful friend. This honor just adds to his legacy as a superior athlete and wonderful human being.

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We’re Well Aware of the Present, How About the Future?

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The spring training of 2009 offered something Sox fans hadn’t seen in a long time–bonafide position prospects. Gordon Beckham, Chris Getz, Brandon Allen, Dayan Viciedo (above), Jordan Danks and Tyler Flowers were among them and offered a glimpse of what appeared to be a bright future for the South Siders.
More than a year later, things have changed. That’s not to say all is lost, but right now the situation is very different and critics are questioning the Sox future.
* Beckham is hitting .194

* Getz, traded to the Royals in the Mark Teahen deal, is batting .188

* Allen, dealt to the D-backs for Tony Pena, is now at AAA Reno hitting .216 with three homers and 11 RBI.

* Viciedo, now 21 and moved to first base, is hitting .297 with 10 home runs and 23 RBI at AAA Charlotte. Certainly promising.

* Danks, who was so impressive in the Arizona Fall League and had a good spring, has a .218 BA with two homers and 19 RBI for the Knights.

* Flowers, the prize in the Javier Vazquez deal and the heir apparent to A.J. Pierzynski, has eight homers and 18 RBI, but is hitting .220 at Charlotte.
So, with the big league floundering with one of the oldest rosters in the majors and some of our top prospects failing to live up to expectations (plus the injury to ’09 top pick Jared Mitchell), where do the Sox go from here?
KW, any comment?
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Our Ozzie is at it Again

If it’s not one thing, it’s another for our unpredictable skipper.

Probably needing some distraction from his club’s disappointing start, Ozzie did a favor for a friend that is sure to get the “always-ready-for-an-Ozzie-story” national media all abuzz.
The favor? Guillen signed two baseballs that tweaked Cleveland about two very sensitive subjects–the city’s lack of championships and the possible loss of LeBron James. Here, see for yourself.
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Pena Makes Chicken Salad Out of Chicken &%$#



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The game got off to an awful start. After both Ozzie and Mark Buehrle were tossed early in the game by veteran umpire Cowboy Joe West–Guillen for arguing a balk call and Buehrle for tossing his glove in disgust after committing his second balk–things looked rather dim as Randy Williams jogged to the mound to relieve Mr. Perfect.
Williams didn’t last long, giving up a run and three hits in 2/3 of an inning. But the day was saved by Tony Pena (above), who pitched four scoreless frames while allowing only two hits. Offensively, Mark Kotsay smashed a homer with a man on and Mark Teahen clubbed a two-out, two-run double. The Sox needed every bit of it in the 5-4 win today against the Indians as Bobby Jenks imploded in the ninth by giving up three runs before getting out of a bases loaded, one-out jam.
Aside from being credited with the victory, Pena’s noble performance also saved the bullpen from work it didn’t need. The Buehrle ejection and the potential negative impact it could have had on the pen was the last thing we needed heading into a four-game series in St. Pete against the Rays. Hopefully Pena’s rescue effort will pay dividends this weekend.
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Watch the Up and Down Sox at Your Own Risk

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White Sox fans have found numerous ways to describe what has happened in the season’s first two months–some of which is inappropriate to post in a family blog.
Following yet another bump in the road last night in Cleveland, Our Ozzie pretty much summed it up:
“You know, every day we go out there and think we’re on a roll, and then all of a sudden we stop,” said Guillen after the Sox dropped a disappointing 7-3 decision to the Tribe. “That has been this team all year long.”
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Not Everybody Boos A.J.

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Infielder-Turned-Reliever Santos is the Sox Feel Good Story of the Young Season

Amid the disappointment of the Sox season, we haven’t gotten as excited as we probably should be about the positives. And make no mistake, there have been some things to cheer about–Alex Rios‘ bat and glove, Paul Konerko‘s home run prowess, the starting pitching at times and Matt Thornton in the pen to name a few.
The most pleasant surprise in the early going, though, has been the stunning conversion of Sergio Santos from a minor league infielder who never made the leap to the big leagues to an almost unhittable reliever.
Including his one-inning scoreless stint in the White Sox’ efficient 7-2 victory over the Indians tonight in Cleveland, Santos has made 18 appearances. He has given up only one run, 10 hits, seven walks and has struck out an impressive 21 batters. His ERA is a miniscule 0.52.
I don’t want to get ahead of myself–it’s only May–but from what I’ve seen Santos certainly gives the vibe that he’s tough-minded. If his mastery of A.L. hitters continues, I wouldn’t be surprised that if at some point down the road (not necessarily this year) he will be the successor to Bobby Jenks as the Sox closer.
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Santos before…

Santos after…
















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