Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Where In The World Is Jerry Owens's Groin?

The Chicago Tribune today quoted White Sox outfielder Jerry Owens as saying, "My groin isn't where we want it to be." The Update is frustrated that the police are unwilling to do anything until his groin has been missing for at least 24 hours, but we're not volunteering to help search for that specific misplaced body part. Hopefully, it will turn up soon and Owens's stay on the Disabled List will be a short one. (Actually, he has Pods Disease, a problem with his abductor muscle, which if Scottie's track record is any guide, should keep Owens out of commission or ineffective for most of the season.) Owens and Danny Richar's being on the DL does temporarily open up two roster spots, so let's take a look at where things stand as of now.
  • DH: Jim Thome is set, and he's a good one. Just don't expect big things against lefties, like Cleveland's Opening Day starter, C.C. Sabathia.
  • Catcher: A.J. Pierzynski lost 15 pounds and is hoping to lead the Majors in games played at his position. Just don't expect big things against lefties. (Deja vu all over again). Toby Hall is recovering from an injury (Deja vu all over again), but swears he'll be ready, and he does bat right-handed.
  • 1st Base: Paul Konerko is firmly entrenched here unless Kenny Williams decides to trade him just for the fun of it. Thome and newcomer Nick Swisher can give Captain Crunch a breather.
  • 2nd Base: Where have you gone Tadahito Iguchi? White Sox Nation turns its lonely eyes to you. Well, you know from reading above that Richar is on the DL, so that leaves Juan Uribe, whom the Sox put on waivers a few days ago and then pulled back, as the starter. But not on Opening Day, because Pablo Ozuna hits .300 against Sabathia. Alexi "the Defector" Ramirez, who earned a roster spot with his versatility can play here as well.
  • Shortstop: The Sox gave up Jon Garland to get him, so Orlando Cabrera had better be the man at shortstop. Uribe, Ozuna, and Ramirez can all back up the Gold Glover.
  • 3rd Base: Tough call here by Kenny and Ozzie Guillen. They sent Josh Fields down to the minors along with his 23 homers in 100 games (that's a 35 homer pace if he plays 150 games). Joe Crede, a stellar fielder and clutch hitter with his own power in the past, gets the position so the Sox can showcase him for a trade. Let's hope he does so well that the Sox get plenty in return or decide to keep him long term. (Fat chance with Scott Boras as his agent.)
  • Outfield: We're lumping them all together because it's not clear who plays where except for Jermaine Dye, who's a fixture in right. Not a fixture like Greg Luzinski was a fixture in left, that is, he couldn't move, but a fixture like Ozzie just writes his name down every day on the lineup card. Swisher, will probably play some center and some left. Brian Anderson, who was everyone's favorite whipping boy last year, but is hitting .355 this Spring, makes the roster for now and plays a mean center field. Newcomer Carlos Quentin, who's hitting .321 in Arizona, will play left and will spell Dye in right when he needs a blow. The aforementioned Ramirez, Ozuna and Owens, if and when he comes back from the DL, can also play outfield.
  • Starting Pitching: Mark Buehrle, Javier Vazquez, Gavin Floyd, Jose Contreras, and John Danks comprise the rotation. The Update has faith in Buehrle and Vazquez (we admit to having bashed Javy in the past, but he looked good last year and has so far this Spring), hopes Contreras returns to his winning form, and is crossing its fingers when it comes to Floyd and Danks. (Does a blog have fingers? To paraphrase Jerry Owens, "Our fingers are not where we want them to be.")
  • Relief Pitching: Bobby Jenks is the best. Let's hope that Scott Linebrink and Octavio Dotel, the late inning set-up men can hold some leads so Jenks gets a chance to set the save record this year. Boone Logan, Mike MacDougal, and Matt Thornton have secured spots in the pen. And that leaves Nick Masset, who is out of options and may be lost to another team if the Sox send him down, and Ehren Wasserman, who seems to have out-pitched Masset, but has options remaining, in a battle for the final roster spot.

That, Ladies and Gentlemen, is your 2008 Chicago White Sox. Right now, we can say they are tied for first in the A.L. Central. We can also say that all 25 of them -- 26, if you count both Masset and Wasserman -- know where their groins are. Go Sox!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Back to the Future

Thomas Boswell, the great columnist for The Washington Post, inspired today's edition of The Update (hey, if they can use italics, why can't we?). Boz referred to's feature that correlates a player's statistical performance with other players' stats. We're using it today to look at White Sox players and their most similar players through the same age. What intrigues us -- though we freely admit that this is pretty unscientific -- is what the similar players did the following year.
For example, we looked at DH Jim Thome's most similar player through age 36 (Thome's age last season), who happens to be Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt. We then looked at how Schmidt performed at age 37, the age Thome will be this season. The 37 year-old Schmidt did pretty well. He played in 147 games, had 522 at bats, hit .293 with 35 homers and 113 RBI, and had on-base and slugging percentages of .388 and .548, respectively. Thome, and every Sox fan who roots for him, would take that no questions asked for 2008.
Let's look at the infield, or our best guess at what the infield will be when the season starts.
  • Catcher A.J. Pierzynski's similar player through age 30 is Todd Walker. At age 31, Walker's stats were 129 G, 372 AB, .274 BA, .352 OBP, .468 SLG, 15 HR, and 50 RBI. Nothing to write home about, but not too bad either.
  • !st Baseman Paul Konerko's similar player through age 31 is Kent Hrbek. Hrbek's stats at age 32 were 112 G, 394 AB, .244 BA, .357 OPS, .409 SLG, 15 HR, and 58 RBI. Not exactly the bounce back season we were looking for.
  • Juan Uribe (yes, we're awarding him the second base job for now) is similar to Darrell Porter through age 27. Porter's stats at age 28 were 118 G, 418 AB, .249 BA, .354 OPS, .342 SLG, 7 HR, and 51 RBI. The average looks good by comparison to last year, but not much else looks good at all.
  • New shortstop Orlando Cabrera through age 32 matches up with B.J. Surhoff. Surhoff's stats at 33 were 162 G, 573 AB, .279 BA, .332 OPS, .457 SLG, 22 HR, and 92 RBI. With Cabrera's Gold Glove at short, those offensive stats would be just fine.
  • Josh Fields is too new to have a similar player entry yet and Joe Crede's similar player through age 29, Fernando Tatis, didn't play as a 30 year old. So there's no comparison's to look at for the hot corner.

Well, that's it for today. We'll take a look at the outfield and pitchers later. Go Sox!