Monday, September 17, 2007


No, that's not the Magic Number. It's Jim Thome's home run total after yesterday's game. Thome reached the 500-mark in fine fashion too, with a walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth inning for a 9-7 win over the Angels. You've probably read the stats, but for those of you keeping score at home, Thome became the 23rd player and third this season (Frank Thomas, Alex Rodriguez being the other two) to join the 500 homer club. It was his 28th of the season, tying him for fifth in the American League. (He's also fifth in on-base percentage and sixth in walks in the A.L.) Thome, who had gone 11 at bats without a hit since banging out No. 499, connected off of Dustin Mosely on a 3-2 pitch, driving the ball into the left-center field stands and Darin Erstad home with the winning run. The White Sox DH was mobbed at the plate by his teammates, including Bobby Jenks and Jermaine Dye, who carried the burly Thome on their shoulders. (The way this season has gone, it's a wonder that they didn't drop him and injure themselves, winding up with all three players on the DL.) The heroics justified the Sox's promotion for the day -- Jim Thome bobbleheads. Good timing.
By all accounts, Thome is one of the best guys in the game and a real asset in the clubhouse. The only knocks on him are that he's not as durable as he once was and he strikes out a lot. Despite these flaws, the Update is willing to keep him on as the DH for next year. Even being out of the lineup a bit this year (only 400 at bats to date), he's managed to hit 28 homers, drive in 85 runs, and hit .268 -- nothing to write home about, but the highest average on the 2007 team. Moreover, his walks make up for his strikeouts in our eyes. So he joins Jenks as the second player we've looked at whose job would be secure if the Update were the GM. Go Thome! Go Sox!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

First to Worst
Two seasons ago, the White Sox had the best record in baseball and were World Series champs. After last night's loss to Cleveland, the Sox are now tied with Tampa Bay for the worst record in the game. Their opponent in the 2005 Series, the Houston Astros, has taken a similar tumble, but hasn't fallen quite as far -- perhaps because the 'Stros get to play so many games against the worst division in the majors, the N.L. Central.
But the reaction of the two teams to their falls from grace could not be more different. Houston recently fired GM Tim Purpura and manager Phil Garner. Yesterday the Sox extended Ozzie Guillen's contract through the 2012 season, and there is no indication that Kenny Williams, who put together this losing team's roster, is in any danger of losing his job either.
The Update doesn't get it. Is anyone in management being held responsible for what happened this year? Our belief that the 2005 season earned Ozzie and Kenny lifetime "Get Out of Jail Free" cards from Jerry Reinsdorf appears to be spot on. It's Reinsdorf's money and he gets to spend it how he wants, but who knows what this means for next year? It should make for an interesting offseason. Go Sox!

Monday, September 10, 2007


The White Sox, who have been a dead team walking for most of the season, are now officially dead in terms of the A.L. Central race. By losing their 82nd game over the weekend, they ensured themselves a losing season. And they are locked in a pitched (not well-pitched, just pitched) battle with Tampa Bay for worst record in the majors. (Good thing it's not like football where you can trade draft choices, otherwise Kenny Williams would have swapped the first pick in next year's draft for another fireballing relief pitcher who can't get anyone out.)
The only reason to watch the rest of the season -- unless you're one of those people who can't look away from the scene of an accident -- is Jim Thome. The big guy is only two homers shy of 500 and has 26 on the year. The Update predicted back in the Spring that Thome would follow Frank Thomas and ARod into the 500 Home Run Club, and we're sticking by that prediction. While 28 doesn't seem like a lot of homers to have expected, remember that roundtrippers are down across the board. The Sox, who as a team have crashed the 200 mark forever it seems, are 36 dingers away from doing it again this year. Joe Crede's absence didn't help, but Josh Fields, who is essentially his replacement even though he's undergoing on-the-job-training in left field, has chipped in 18, but the Sox could have had both of them in the lineup if Crede were healthy. Paul Konerko, with 28 now, and Jermaine Dye, currently at 26, both have a shot at hitting 30, but there aren't that many guys in baseball who will reach that mark this year.
Anyway, since there's no longer a Magic Number to keep track of, the Update will have to focus on something else. How about a position-by-position analysis of the team? It won't be every day, but we've got plenty of time to think about it until next April. Let's start with an easy one: closer. Bobby Jenks is really the only bright spot on the Sox this year. He tied the Major League record for consecutive batters retired earlier this season and was the sole representative on the All-Star team -- and the only one who deserved it. Yes, he has six blown saves this year, but he's gotten the job done 37 times. And that for a team that's won only 61 games. That works out to Jenks's saving about 61% of the White Sox's wins -- easily the best percentage in baseball. Bobby is a keeper. Next time, we'll tackle something a bit tougher. Go Sox!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007


My best Cub fan friend asked me the other day if Ozzie was safe. I told him I thought Reinsdorf is so grateful to Oz for the 2005 World Series championship that barring some Michael Vick-type incident, there would be no managerial change for the foreseeable future. I likened Ozzie to former Bull GM Jerry Krause, whom Reinsdorf refused to get rid of even after it was obvious to everyone else that "Crumbs" had to go. After I said it, though, I wasn't sure I was right.
But today's Tribune online has a story reporting that the White Sox are thinking about extending Ozzie's contract beyond the current team option through 2009. Yikes! I'm not saying that one bad season means the manager should be fired, but why in the world would you give him an extension now? Not firing Ozzie tells the players that management doesn't think this disaster is his fault and they'd better shape up. You don't have to saddle yourself with financial obligations like the new deal would likely entail to send that message.
Of course, I'm not a big Ozzie fan and wasn't even during 2005. I just don't like his small ball decisions or his overly blunt style of management (probably a reaction to his treatment of Frank Thomas). So take what I say about him with a grain of salt. But what do the Update readers think? Log on to the blog and let the world know.
In less important news, the Sox won last night behind a high-quality pitching performance from Jon Garland and another save for Bobby Jenks, who finally allowed a couple of base runners before putting out the fire. The win over the Tigers -- too bad the Sox don't play them all the time -- reduces the Magic Number to 46, but leaves the Sox with the second-worst record in all of baseball. Thanks Tampa Bay for sparing us that embarrassment.
The Update is still predicting elimination from the A.L. Central race before the Bears' first game, and with as hot as Cleveland is and a little bit of cooperation from the Sox, that prediction will come to pass -- no pun intended, Rex Grossman. The elimination number is 4, so a couple of Indian wins and Sox losses is all it takes. The Update isn't rooting for it, just predicting it. Go Sox!