Sunday, April 27, 2008


The White Sox took two out of three from the O's over the weekend, dropping the opener and then winning the nightcap in Saturday's day-night doubleheader, and triumphing over Baltimore in Sunday's game. They sliced their Magic Number to 136 and hold a 2.5 game lead over Cleveland in the A.L. Central (3.5 over Minnesota and KC and 4.0 over Detroit). They've done it on the strength of a league-leading average number of runs scored per game at 5.26. They're also first in home runs with 30 overall and an average of 1.3 per game, which projects to over 200 homers for the season. And, the Sox have the league's best RBI/game total at 5.17. What's so surprising is that the team has the worst batting average in the American League, a measly .244. Perhaps, that fact is not that surprising when you consider how many players aren't even hitting their weight -- a topic we touched upon in Friday's Update. Here's the Weight Watchers list:

  • Alexi Ramirez (.133 vs. 185 lbs.)
  • Juan Uribe (.155 vs. 225 lbs.)
  • Brian Anderson .174 vs. 220 lbs.)
  • Paul Konerko (.218 vs. 220 lbs.)
  • Jim Thome (.222 vs. 255 lbs.)
  • Toby Hall (.250 vs. 255)

Either these guys need to call Jenny Craig or channel the ghost of Charley Lau. Good thing we're in first place or there'd be a bunch of people calling for Kenny Williams's scalp. Wait, there are a lot of people doing that. Oh, well. Go Sox!

Friday, April 25, 2008


Raindrops kept falling on their head (two delays totaling 85 minutes) but just like a man whose feet are too big for his bed (does anybody really know what that means? does anybody really care?), the White Sox hung in there to hand Yankees phenom Joba "the Hutt" Chamberlain his first career loss. Bad Bobby Jenks picked up his first win of the season when Joe Crede drove in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth for a 7-6 victory.
Crede's hit was one of ten for the Sox, with every starter garnering at least one safety (Paul Konerko collected two). Only Juan Uribe (who took over second base after Alexi Ramirez moved to center to replace Nick Swisher, who moved to right to replace Jermaine Dye, who injured himself on a slide) failed to get a hit. But that's not too surprising since he's not even hitting his weight (225). Hell, at .164, he's not even hitting my weight (170). Jim Thome, who's also not hitting his weight (.236 vs. 255 lbs.) did hit his 513th career home run, breaking the tie with Banks and Matthews. And Thome has done it without ever being linked to steroid use. (Speaking of steroid-free sluggers, Update favorite, Frank Thomas, signed with the first-place A's and played last night. Welcome back, Big Hurt.)
The win last night kept the Sox from being swept in the series, a fate they have avoided all season. In fact, this was the team's first series loss since the opening set of games at Cleveland. The Sox now have a Magic Number of 139 over Cleveland and Minnesota, who are tied for second, 2.5 games back. Don't look now, but the Indians and the Tigers are starting to get hot. The Tribe has won three in a row and Detroit four. They're both too good to have played like they started out. It's going to be a dog fight, but we've got some big dogs of our own. Go Sox!

Sunday, April 20, 2008


The Update staff has been away on business since last Wednesday, so there's some catching up that needs to be done. During those five games, the White Sox have combined their three wins with KC's four losses to reduce the Magic Number from 149 to 142. The Sox continue to lead the A.L. Central but have stretched their lead to 2.5 games over the Royals, and don't look now, the Twins. The Indians are 4.5 games back and Detroit trails the pack, 5.5 games behind the Good Guys. The division doesn't look nearly as tough as expected, with only the Sox being above .500.
Most encouraging over this period? The starting pitching. Jose "Can You See" Contreras threw 7.0 innings of 4-hit, 1-run ball. Gavin Floyd "the Barber" pitched 6.0 innings without giving up an earned run or allowing more than 2 hits. Javy "Nagila" Vazquez went 6.1 innings and gave up only 2 earned runs. Mark "of Zero" Buehrle, however, did not live up to his nickname, allowing five runs in his 7.o inning stint. And John Danks "You, Danks You Very Much" threw 7.0 frames of shutout ball on just three hits. Except for Buehrle, the starters looked pretty darn good over this stretch. Keep this up and the Sox will be back in the postseason come October.
On the hitting front, Jim Thome has awakened a bit, smashing three home runs during the period. That leaves him at 512, in a tie with Hall of Famers Ernie Banks and Eddie Matthews. Ernie holds a special place in Chicago -- even White Sox fans liked him -- and Eddie was on the cover of the first issue of Sports Illustrated. Not bad company for Mr. Thome.
One guy who's ahead of him though is Update favorite, Frank Thomas, who has 516 dingers. Unfortunately, the Blue Jays released the Big Hurt on Sunday. While Frank has been a little slow out of the gate -- not unusual for him -- it seems to us like this was about the Benjamins. If Frank had logged 376 plate appearances this season, Toronto would have had to pick up his option for 2009 at a salary of $10 million. The Jays weren't giving him the at bats he needed to get there and appeared to be trying to prevent the option from kicking in. There's got to be a place for a future Hall of Famer who's got some gas left in the tank. After all, Frank is one of only four players in Major League history to have a .300 average, 500 home runs, 1500 RBI, 1000 runs, and 1500 walks. Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Mel Ott are the other three, so that's pretty heady company. Since Thome's presence means Thomas is not coming back to the Sox, we're hoping that he winds up with the O's so that we can make the drive up the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and watch Big Frank on a regular basis.
Go Sox! Go Big Hurt!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


The White Sox regained first place in the A.L. Central yesterday with a 4-1 win over Oakland on brilliant pitching by John Danks and a three-run homer by Carlos Quentin. Danks blanked the A's for 7.2 innings, yielding only five hits and two walks. Scott Linebrink gave up one run before Bobby Jenks came on to notch his fifth save (second in the A.L. behind Baltimore's George Sherrill) with a scoreless, hitless, walkless ninth inning. Update reader Les Reiter points out that Jenks got three outs on just two pitches! Meanwhile, Quentin provided all the offense the Sox would need with his second homer of the season and three RBI (giving him 13 on the year, just three behind league leader Joe Crede, who tacked one on to his total yesterday). The win allowed the Sox to leapfrog back into the division lead over the Royals, who lost to Seattle, and dropped the Magic Number to 149. At 8-5, the Sox own the best record in the American League.
Random Thoughts, Part I: The Chicago Tribune noted that Ozzie Guillen's lifetime batting average was .264. We never thought of Oz as a good hitter, but compare his average to the guys playing yesterday for the Sox. Seven of the 10 batters to come to the plate for the Good Guys are hitting below Ozzie's lifetime mark: Quentin and Orlando Cabrera are at least above .200, while Paul Konerko, Alexi Ramirez, Pablo Ozuna, Juan Uribe, and Toby Hall fall below that mark. In fact, among those with enough at bats to qualify at this point, there are 18 players in the A.L. hitting at or below .200 and three of them are White Sox (Konerko, Uribe, and Jim Thome, who was suspended yesterday as a result of his recent ejection). Interestingly, of the 23 players in the A.L. hitting at or above .300, three are Sox -- league leader A.J. Pierzynski, Jermaine Dye, and Crede.
Random Thoughts, Part II: Today is the 60th anniversary of WGN's first telecast of a baseball game. The Sox defeated the Cubs at Wrigley, 4-1 (the same score as yesterday's win). Jack "Hey Hey" Brickhouse was the announcer.
Random Thoughts, Part III: The attendance for yesterday afternoon's game at the Cell was only 18,254. The Cubs drew 39,130 for a night game at Wrigley. C'mon fans, we're in first place. Yes, Sox fans have jobs, but take an afternoon off and support the team. Go Sox!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

151 Day Two

Mark Buehrle's well-pitched game last night was for naught, as the White Sox nemesis, the Oakland A's, shut down the previously high-powered offense in a tight 2-1 game. Jim Thome and Paul Konerko continue to slump and drag down the middle of the order, but they weren't the only ones who had trouble last night. A.J. Pierzynski had two hits, and the rest of the team had only four. The trouble against lefties that has plagued the Sox for a while now was apparent against A's rookie Greg Smith. The Update doesn't get it. Statistical analysis shows that right-handed batters will do better against left-handed pitchers. See Jeffrey S. Hadden, The Lefty-Righty Percentage: Myth or Reality? (Virginia Junior Academy of Science First-Place Winner, 1992). The only lefties in the Sox lineup are A.J. and Thome. The heavily right-handed offense should do better than it has. That's only one of the many questions that need answers.
Questions brings to mind The Four Questions. No, they're not an old Motown group; they're part of the Passover Seder. For those of you attending one, we are linking the songs that we published last year: If Adam Sandler can do it, why can't we? Go Sox!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Since the last edition of The Update, the White Sox (with a little help from the Royals) have trimmed the Magic Number to 151, going 2-2, with losses to the Twins and Tigers, followed by two brilliant wins over Detroit to finish out the series. They lost, and then regained, the lead in the A.L. Central, currently atop K.C. by a half game. They're 2.5 up on the ballyhooed Indians and 5.5 games in front of everyone's favorite, Detroit. In fact, the Good Guys have the best record in the American League. The Sox are riding a two-game winning streak and a 19- inning streak of having shut out the opposition. Gavin Floyd toyed with a no-hitter and Javier Vazquez was dominating during the last two games. Joe Crede, who seems to have needed a few more at bats than spring training provided, has now hit two grand slams in this young season and leads everyone in RBI. Paul Konerko, who's having a bit of a tough time at the plate, added his own Grand Salami yesterday, and the Sox bats generally are alive and well. Ozzie is in midseason form, at least ejection-wise, and Jim Thome earned a rare ejection himself for arguing a call. For now, Sox fans should be happy. Go Sox!
(Speaking of fans being happy, is this the best week in sports or what? The men's and women's NCAA basketball finals, the NCAA hockey finals, the Sox home opener, the Masters, the Stanley Cup playoffs, the meaningful part of the NBA season, and the MLS for those who care. Even NFL junkies had college football intrasquad games and the Arena Football League as a sort of methadone. Life was good in the sports world these past seven days.)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


With a 7-4 win over the Twins yesterday before a sellout crowd on hand for the home opener, the White Sox exorcised two more demons from last year's nightmare season. The Sox won their fifth game in a row and secured first place alone atop the A.L. Central -- two feats they failed to accomplish anytime in 2007. Joe Crede's grand salami plated Paul Konerko, Jermaine Dye, and Carlos Quentin, each of whom had singled, to grab the lead from Minnesota. The comeback marked the third time already this season that the Sox have won after trailing.
Javier Vazquez was the beneficiary of Crede's blast, allowing Javy to even his record at 1-1. Vazquez earned the win with a quality start -- three runs on seven hits, eight strikeouts, and a walk in seven innings pitched. Scott Linebrink ended the bullpen's scoreless innings streak at 11.1 when he gave up a run, but Bobby Jenks picked up his fourth save in four chances.
Too bad Ozzie wasn't around to see it close up. He got tossed early for arguing balls and strikes and is preparing to make another charitable contribution to Major League Baseball from the $100,000 fund he claims to have set aside for that purpose.
The win chops the Sox's Magic Number to 156 over the Royals and establishes a half game lead over KC. Don't look now, but the Sox have a two game lead over Cleveland and are 4.5 up on Detroit. It's still early, but this is how good seasons start -- hot out of the box. Go Sox!

Monday, April 7, 2008


The first-place Chicago White Sox saw their Magic Number drop to 157 by winning 4 consecutive games (on the heels of 1 loss) since the last edition of The Update. The Sox used a couple of solid starting efforts, good relief pitching, and a potent offense to salvage the final game at Cleveland and then sweep Detroit to close out the road trip. John Danks and Mark Buehrle redeemed the starters' reputations, sullied in part by Buehrle himself. The bullpen has thrown 11.1 scoreless innings over the four wins, with Boone Logan becoming more than a lefty specialist, Scott Linebrink proving to be a reliable set-up man, and Bobby Jenks picking up where he left off last season -- 3 saves in 3 chances. Despite giving up 5 runs in 9.2 innings to start the season (all of them by Octavio Dotel, Matt Thornton, and Mike MacDougal), the relievers have cut their collective ERA to 2.57. The batters meanwhile have been putting up healthy per game numbers: 9.3 hits; 6.3 runs; 2.67 doubles; 1.67 homers; and 5.33 walks. The latter figure will help the team's on-base percentage, which was the worst in the league last year.
So before the Sox even play their home opener, the team has been in first place longer this season than it was last. We know, it's hard to believe that the Sox were ever in first place during the disaster that was 2007, but think back fondly to April 24 of last year, when the Good Guys were tied for the division lead. Maybe the best thing about this first week has been that the Sox played the supposed two best teams in the division, on the road, and came away in the top spot. Sure, Cleveland took 2 out of 3, but the Sox got to nemesis C.C. Sabathia in the opener and played the Tribe even the next two games. And sweeping the Tigers -- Sports Illustrated's pick to win the World Series -- to add to Detroit's winless start is very sweet. Let's keep it up at the Cell. Go Sox!
P.S. On the ex-Sox front, Frank Thomas is back in the groove, belting a grand slam for his second homer of the season, Jon Garland got rocked to even his record at 1-1, and Aaron Rowand bruised his ribs in the field.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Garland's Great, Orlando's Okay

The biggest deal the White Sox were involved in during the Hot Stove League was to ship Jon Garland off to the Angels for Orlando Cabrera. Just in case you missed it, The Update wants you to know that Garland threw a great game yesterday at Minnesota. He went 8 innings, gave up only 1 run (it was earned), 6 hits, and 1 walk. While he didn't strike out anyone -- he's never been a strikeout pitcher -- he did throw 64 strikes out of 95 pitches, and he did keep the ball down. Of the 24 batters he retired, 17 went down on ground balls. Just what you want everywhere but especially what you need when you pitch in a homer-friendly park like, oh, I don't know, THE CELL! Orlando Cabrera, on the other hand, was 1 for 4, with a walk, a strike out, a baserunning mistake, and a ball that handcuffed him in the field. The Update knows that 1 game is not enough to evaluate a trade, but hey, there was no Sox game yesterday, so we needed something to talk about. Go Sox!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


The White Sox started Mark Buehrle.
The Indians got to him early.
Dye and Thome home runs
Couldn't spoil the Tribe's fun
In a game that really was squirrely.
It was squirrely all right. Sox ace, Mark Buehrle, got pounded for 7 runs and 7 hits in only 1.2 innings, leaving him with an ERA of 37.80. Cleveland ace, C.C. Sabathia, gave up 5 runs and 6 hits, including 2 homers to Jim Thome, who before yesterday was 0 for 11 against him. The Sox blew a 2-0 lead, then the Indians reciprocated, giving up their 7-2 advantage, then the Sox politely allowed their hosts to put three more on the board before closing with a run of their own.
Nick Masset, who wound up with the last roster spot primarily because he was out of options and Ehrin Wasserman wasn't, turned out to be the best pitcher in the game, tossing 4.1 innings of scoreless relief. Boone Logan made it seem like the bullpen problems of last year were just a distant memory when he followed Masset with another scoreless inning. But newcomer Octavio Dotel brought us back to the future by allowing a bases-loaded double and 3 Indian runs, leaving him with a "better than Buehrle but not by much" ERA of 27.00.
Remember how Pablo Ozuna was going to start at second against Sabathia because Ozuna owned him? Well, Juan Uribe got the start instead, and he didn't own -- or even rent -- anyone, striking out 3 times and botching a sacrifice bunt attempt. Newcomer Alexi Ramirez, he of the lofty spring training batting average also struck out 3 times and was the only Sox batter not to get a hit. Hey, we had 13 of them, including 3 home runs (the other was by Jermaine Dye), as well as 5 walks, leading to our 8 runs, which is usually enough to win.
But on the other side of the ledger, there were the 11 men left on base and 11 strikeouts and newcomer Orlando Cabrera's being called out on interference at second base and the pitching. The same two teams go at it tomorrow, and at least it didn't snow this year in Cleveland. Go Sox!