Friday, April 30, 2010


When is winning one game of a three game series a good thing?  When you've already lost the first two.  That's the situation the White Sox found themselves in yesterday.  On the verge of being swept by the Rangers, the Sox came from behind (down 2-0, 2-1, and 3-1) to win 7-5.  The "hit multiple homers and win" approach had a new twist yesterday.  This time the multiple homers came off the bat of one player -- Paul Konerko.

Captain Crunch spanked a solo shot in the eighth and a two-run blast in the ninth to power the Sox to the win and to become the first in the Majors to reach 10 homers this year.  He also tied Jim Thome's team record for home runs in April, with a game left to play tonight.  Pau-lie, Pau-lie drove in four runs (giving him 18 for the season) and raised his average to .292 by going 2 for 3 with a walk.  Gordon Beckham showed some signs of breaking out of his slump by collecting a single, a double and a walk.  Mark Teahen, Alex Rios, A.J. Pierzynski, and Alexei Ramirez each chipped in a single.

Gavin Floyd pitched well, but was betrayed a bit by leaky defense.  Floyd lasted seven innings and gave up three runs, but only one of them earned, on just five hits and no walks, while striking out five Rangers.  Matt Thornton pitched a scoreless eighth, but Bobby Jenks struggled in the ninth.  Jenks faced seven men in the inning, allowing three hits and two runs.  He did strike out three men, though Vlad Guerrero struck out on a wild pitch and wound up on first.

It doesn't matter how you win it, so long as you win it.  The victory moves the Sox back to 5.0 games behind the first-place Twins, who have now lost two in a row.  The Sox need to get hot against the Yankees, who are 5-1 in The House That A Billion Dollars Built.  Go Sox!

Thursday, April 29, 2010


We were worried last year when the White Sox traded for Jake Peavy.  Not so much because of his injuries, but because his success had come in the National League.  So we were encouraged when he pitched well in his limited appearances at the end of the season.  But this year, he's not Jake Peavy; he's Fake Peavy.  And last night he was Joke Peavy.  The supposed ace of the staff (don't be fooled by Mark Buehrle's getting the Opening Day start -- that was so he could break the record) lasted only 6.1 innings and gave up six runs on six hits and five walks, which caused his ERA to balloon to 7.85.  When you put your club in a 5-0 hole in the first inning, you can't expect to win.

But the Sox made a game of it.  Carlos Quentin broke out of his slump with a three-run home run (his fourth) in the sixth inning and a ninth inning double.  A.J. Pierzynski and Alexei Ramirez, also in slumps, each drove in a run in the ninth.  But the rally fizzled when Juan Pierre grounded out to end the game.  Pierre, who piled up his .300 batting average while playing in the National League, also grounded into two double plays for the first time in his career and was caught stealing.  Ouch.

The Twins lost last night, so the Sox remain 6.0 games behind, mired in a tie for fourth with Kansas City.  The Good Guys have one more in Texas before heading to New York to face the Yankees, who are 13-7 overall and 5-1 at home.  Just what we needed.  Go Sox!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Let's talk about Texas Ranger catchers.  Matt Treanor personally drove in more runs than the White Sox team last night, as the Good Guys went down to defeat 4-2.  Treanor, who doubled and homered in three at-bats, drove in three runs to grab the headlines.  That's a rare occurrence for Matt, a life-long backup who is not even the most famous athlete in his immediate family.  That honor goes to his wife, Misty May-Treanor, the gold-medal winning Olympic beach volleyballer.  (Misty has a new partner these days, since long-time teammate, Kerri Walsh, is pregnant again, just months after the birth of her first child.  Who needs People when you've got The Update?) 

Treanor was starting because the Rangers just sent two catchers to the minors, including former starter Jarrod Saltalamacchia.  Salty is famous for having the longest last name in Major League history and is tied for longest first and last name combined, with former Giants pitcher William Van Landingham.  We don't know for sure, but we'd guess that former Sox pitcher Cal McLish had the longest name when you include all of his middle names: Calvin Coolidge Julius Caesar Tuskahoma McLish.  How about Ed Ott and Ed Hug for shortest combined first and last names?

Oh, you want to read more about last night's game?  You might think you do, but trust us, you don't.  Mark Buehrle was ordinary -- 7 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 2 K -- on a night when extraordinary was needed.  The  Sox scored in the fifth on an Alex Rios double and stolen base, followed by a Carlos Quentin single.  They matched that in the sixth on a bases-loaded Alexei Ramirez single.  And that was it.  The team was a meager 2 for 8 (.250) with runners in scoring position, but as Mark Gonzalez reports, there are only four players on the team who are batting better than .250 with RISP: Andruw Jones, 3 for 9; Q, 5 for 19; Alexei, 4 for 12; and Mark Teahen, 3 for 9.  Not exactly clutch.

The Sox fall back to 6.0 games behind the Twins.  Now it's Jake Peavy's turn to try to get untracked.  Go Sox!

Sunday, April 25, 2010


The streak is finally over.  On Sunday, the White Sox managed to win a game without hitting multiple home runs, although they did rely on the longball for the winning margin.  For the third game in a row, the Sox got a late-inning blast to power a win over Seattle.  This time, Paul Konerko supplied the heroics, smashing his eighth tater of the season in the eighth inning to give the Sox a 3-2 lead that held up for the win.  Konerko previously had (ground-rule) doubled Andruw Jones (on first with a single) to third, where Carlos Quentin knocked him in with a grounder to short.  Small ball accounted for the Good Guys' first run:  Juan Pierre led off the game for the Sox, was hit by a pitch, moved to second on Gordon Beckham's single, stole third (his 9th swipe of the year), and scored on a past ball.  That should have made Ozzie happy.  And we know it made John Danks happy.  Danks, 8.0 IP, 2 R, 2 H, 0 BB, and 5 K, improved to 3-0 and lowered his ERA to 1.55.  Bobby Jenks pitched a scoreless ninth (though he did give up a hit and a walk) to earn his fourth save.

Saturday's game was even more exciting.  The Sox got another walk-off homer, this one from Alex Rios, to beat Seattle, this time 5-4.  Earlier in the ninth inning, Konerko clubbed his seventh dinger of the season to draw the Sox within one run.  And this all followed a fifth inning double by Alexei Ramirez, which scored Rios and Mark TeahenRios's blast wouldn't have been necessary if Jenks hadn't given up two runs in the ninth.  Somehow it doesn't seem fair that he gets the win after having pitched so poorly.  The good news is that the prior eight innings were well pitched.  Freddy Garcia (not so fast on making those flight reservations from Charlotte, Mr. Hudson) had a nice line: 7 IP, 2 R, 2H, 5 K, 2 BB.  And Sergio Santos continued to be perfect, throwing another inning of scoreless ball to keep his ERA at 0.00.  Maybe he should be the closer instead of Jenks.

This all was on the heels of the walk-off win on Friday night -- see the post below this one -- and gave the Sox a sweep of the Mariners.  The Sox are now only three games below .500, are 5.0 games back of the Twins, and have a Magic Number of 149.  It's on to Texas for a showdown with the Rangers.  Go Sox!

Saturday, April 24, 2010


You can put it on the board -- yes!  Hawk Harrelson wore out his signature home-run call Friday night, as the White Sox deposited four balls over the fence, including a two-out, walk-off, solo shot by Andruw Jones, in a 7-6 win over Seattle.  Jones celebrated his birthday with two round-trippers (his fifth and sixth of the year), and Carlos Quentin (his third) and Paul Konerko (his sixth) also brought longball gifts to the party.  All six Sox wins this season have featured multiple homers for the South Siders.  (As part of our renewed efforts to remain positive, we'll refrain from making any comments about small ball -- for now.)

The game was a seesaw affair.  The Sox jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning, increased it to 2-0 in the second, but then allowed the Mariners to tie it up, 2-2, in the third.  The Good Guys immediately regained the lead at 3-2 in the bottom half of the frame, improved it to 4-2 and then 5-2 in the sixth, but watched it quickly slip away in the seventh.  Gavin Floyd, who was pitching fairly well until then, could retire only one batter in the inning before J.J. Putz came in with the bags loaded.  Putz got the second out, but then grooved one to Jose Lopez, who connected for a Grand Slam to give the M's a 6-5 edge.  Matt Thornton came on to get the last out, and in the Sox half of the seventh, Alex Rios doubled home the tying run.  Thornton held Seattle in check through the eighth and ninth innings -- about the upper limit for the normally short reliever -- striking out five, throwing 20 of 28 pitches for strikes, and setting the stage for Jones ninth-inning game-winner.

The win allowed the Sox to remain six games behind the Twins, who won again last night.  Looks like the loss of Joe Nathan hasn't hurt Minnesota too much so far.  The victory also reduced the Magic Number to 152.  The Sox try for the team's second two-game winning streak of the season today against the Mariners.  Go Sox!

Friday, April 23, 2010


We received a comment yesterday complaining that The Update has been too grim recently.  While it seems to us like a case of shooting the messenger, we aim to please, so today's post will accentuate the positive in the White Sox's 10-2 loss to Tampa Bay last night.

  • Juan Pierre singled, stole a base, and raised his batting average above the Mendoza Line.

  • Omar Vizquel, a lifetime shortstop and one of the best ever to play the position, displayed his versatility by playing second base.

  • Andruw Jones drew a walk.

  • Paul Konerko singled and did not leave a runner on base.

  • A.J. Pierzynski earned a base on balls and drove in a run, doubling his RBI total for the season.

  • Carlos Quentin also garnered a free pass.

  • Mark Kotsay singled.

  • Mark Teahen led the team with two hits -- his second home run of the season and a single -- and raised his batting average to .250, a remarkable achievement after starting the season 0 for 10.

  • Alexei Ramirez had a base hit.

  • Jake Peavy struck out five batters in only 4.1 innings.

  • Randy Williams also struck out a batter.

  • Matt Thornton gave up no runs and no hits in two-thirds of an inning and did not allow the runner he inherited to score.

  • Sergio Santos continued his season-long streak of not allowing any earned runs, throwing one inning of scoreless ball.

  • The team's Magic Number dropped to 153, courtesy of a Minnesota loss.

  • The Good Guys are only 6.0 games out of first place in the division, a not-insurmountable deficit.
That's it for silver linings from last night's game.  Go Sox!

Thursday, April 22, 2010


The last time Mark Buehrle faced the Rays, he was perfect.  Well, with Tampa Bay back in town, Buehrle achieved perfection again last night -- he was perfectly horrible.  Buehrle, who failed to get the last out in the fifth inning, gave up six runs on nine hits and a walk before yielding (he did a lot of yielding during the game) to what turned out to be a shaky bullpen.  Tony Pena and Randy Williams poured gasoline on the fire by allowing a total of six runs in only two-thirds of an inning between them.   But it wouldn't have mattered if Buehrle and the "relievers" had limited the Rays to one run for the game because the White Sox were shut out.

The "offense" was offensive.  Juan Pierre had two hits (but still wound up hitting below the Mendoza Line on the season).  Gordon Beckham had one (to break out of a terrible slump).  And Jayson Nix had a single in his only trip to the plate (after taking over for Alexei Ramirez).  There were four walks, but no threat to speak of, let alone a run.

By the way, after the Sox ended their relationship with 7-11 (no more 7:11 pm starts for night games at the Cell), we wondered if they'd try to hook up with another retailer as a promotion.  Given the team's 5 and 10 record this season, it looks like they're trying to get something going with Woolworth's.  (For our younger readers, we should explain that Woolworth's was what used to be known as a Five and Ten, a variety store that originally sold its merchandise for either a nickel or a dime.)  Go Sox!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Necessary, but not sufficient.  We're talking about multi-homer games and White Sox wins, of course.  After last night, the Sox have five wins on the season, and have hit more than one home run in all five of them.  (They did lose the other game where they had two dingers, hence the "not sufficient" part.)  Paul Konerko (his fifth) and Andruw Jones (his fourth) both went deep in support of John Danks (2-0), who was the real story in yesterday's 4-1 win over Tampa Bay. 

Danks lasted eight innings and gave up only one run on two hits and a couple of walks.  He struck out nine Rays while throwing 74 of his 113 pitches for strikes.  Bobby Jenks pitched a scoreless ninth inning to pick up his third save.

Konerko also chipped in an RBI double, as well as a single, in a 3 for 4 night.  Jones added a single to his blast to go 2 for 4.  But the rest of the team mangaged just two hits -- an A.J. Pierzynski single and an Alex Rios triple -- so declaring an offensive revival seems a bit premature.  By the way, you'd better get used to last night's lineup.  Ozzie now says he's going to stick with one batting order against lefties and one against righties because changing things up all the team wasn't working.

But a win's a win, and a win that ends a four-game losing streak for the Sox seems like even more than that.  The victory ended the Rays' seven-game winning streak and knocked them out of first place in the too-talented A.L. East.  The Sox meanwhile moved up to fourth place in the A.L. Central, but still trail the Twins by five games.  Again, let's hope that playing good teams brings out the best in the South Siders.  Phil Rogers reports that Kenny Williams is counseling patience: "Long season, good team.  Everybody relax."  Okay, we'll chill and just say, Go Sox!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


So I'm watching Baseball Tonight and I see Scott Podsednik make a diving catch in left field and say to myself, "I miss Pods.  I wonder how he's doing."  Pretty damn well, I must say.  He's got the best batting average in the Major Leagues at .457.  His on-base percentage is a remarkable .528.  His slugging percentage is a respectable .478.  And, oh yeah, he's got seven stolen bases.  Of course, that made me look at Juan Pierre's stats: .208 batting average; .283 on-base percentage; .208 slugging percentage (same as his batting average means no extra-base hits); and six stolen bases.  He's not even Podsednik-lite.  Besides all this, we had a history with Scottie Pods and he was on Saturday Night Live.

Not to pour salt on the wound, but the White Sox are about to face the Tampa Bay Rays, the team with the best record in baseball at 10-3.  The Rays are fresh off a four-game sweep of the Bosox in Fenway and are riding a seven-game winning streak overall.  Just what the Good Guys didn't need.  Hell, we just got swept by Cleveland, which is an other-worldly 5-1 against the Sox and a pathetic 1-5 against the rest of the league.  Let's hope the best brings out the best in the Pale Hose.  Go Sox!

Monday, April 19, 2010


It pains us to write this, but you pay us a lot of money for your subscription to The Update, so the show must go on.  Wait, you don't pay anything.  We don't have to do this.  So this is going to be a quickie.

The White Sox lost all three games over the weekend (four in a row overall) to fall to 4-9, 5.0 games behind the Twins and their worst start since 1997.  Only the Orioles have a worse record in the American League. 

The hitting stinks, with seven players batting below the Mendoza Line (.215, Mario Mendoza'a lifetime average):  Paul Konerko, .214; Juan Pierre, .208 ; Carlos Quentin, .200 ; A.J. Pierzynski, .171; Jayson Nix, .167; Omar Vizquel, .125; and Mark Kotsay, .120.

The pitching's not a whole lot better.  The starting rotation that we thought so much of just hasn't gelled yet.  Gavin Floyd, yesterday's loser, is 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA. Jake Peavy, the "Ace" of the staff, is 0-0 with a 6.00 ERA.  Freddy Garcia, who may be just keeping a spot warm for Daniel Hudson, is 0-2 with a 8.10 ERA.  The bullpen is a combined 1-4 with only two saves.

It has to get better, doesn't it?  Go Sox!

Friday, April 16, 2010


The perfect correlation between multi-homer games and White Sox victories is no more.  Last night, despite home runs from Alexei Ramirez and Donny "I like Pierzynski, but I love" Lucy, the Good Guys lost 7-3 to the Blue Jays in the finale of the four-game series in Toronto.  Frankly, if you'd told us in advance that the Sox would split the series with the Jays, we'd have signed up for that, but once they'd won two, we wanted that third W bad.  (That should not be confused with a third term of W, which would be bad.)

The problems were a shortage of other hits -- singles by Juan Pierre, Gordon Beckham, and Alex Rios were the only other safeties -- and a horrible outing by Freddy Garcia.  Sweaty Freddy couldn't retire a batter in the fourth inning and by the time he gave way to Randy Williams, Garcia had allowed seven runs on eight hits and three walks.  He did strike out three Blue Jays, as did each of the four relievers who followed him.  Thankfully, the bullpen guys -- Williams, two innings; Sergio Santos, one inning; J.J. Putz, one inning; and Scott Linebrink, one inning -- didn't follow his lead on giving up runs.  Instead, they shut out Toronto the rest of the way.

Some thoughts on the pitching:  Santos struck out everyone he faced, and Putz and Linebrink got all of their outs by way of the K, as well.  Santos kept his ERA at 0.00, which is slightly better than Garcia's 8.10.  Daniel Hudson, you'd better keep a bag packed.  You might be up here as the fifth starter before you know it.

Tonight, Mark Buehrle (2-0) takes the mound against the Indians.  Hopefully, the Mark of Zero can keep his early season success going, but he doesn't really like pitching in Cleveland where he has a 4.18 ERA for his career.  Go Buehrle, Go Sox!

Thursday, April 15, 2010


The White Sox played their most complete game of the season and came away with an 11-1 win over the Blue Jays in Toronto.  John Danks was masterly (yes, that's the right word), pitching seven innings of one-run, two-hit ball to improve his record to 1-0 for the season.  Danks struck out twice as many (6) as he walked (3), and Tony Pena took advantage of the low-leverage situation (a 10-run lead) by working two innings without giving up a hit, run, or walk, while striking out two.  Both pitchers were finding the plate: Danks threw 65 of his 103 pitches for strikes, while Pena zeroed in on 13 of his 20 tosses.

The Sox had all the runs they'd need to win by the third inning, but never took their collective foot off the gas.  One night after nearly being no-hit, nine Sox batters notched safeties, with five of them getting more than one.  Juan Pierre was 2 for 5 and scored two runs.  Gordon Beckham matched those stats, incuded a double in his total, and added a hit by pitch and two RBI.  Carlos Quentin also went 2 for 5 with two runs scored, but racked up a Grand Salami, a double, and six RBI (giving him 10 on the year).  Andruw Jones crushed a home run to center field -- his third of the series and the season and 391st of his career, giving him sole possession of 50th place on the all-time list.  Alex Rios continued to be booed by his former fans, but managed to join the hit parade with (small ball alert) a two-out single and a steal of second that allowed him to come home on A.J. Pierzyski's base hit.  A.J. added another hit to finish 2 for 3 before giving way to Donny "You got some 'splainin' to do" Lucy (no, it never gets old to us), who doubled to raise his average to .667.  Mark Teahen singled, coaxed two walks in three trips to the plate, and scored three times before taking the rest of the night off so that Jayson Nix could get in a couple of at-bats and a hit in the process.

For those of you whose calculators shorted out trying to add all that up, the Good Guys established a new season high with 15 hits, bettering the mark of 14 from the first game in the series.  Add in the four walks and hit batsman, and that adds up to 20 times reaching base.  Subtract the two double plays the Sox hit into and the seven men left on base, and you wind up with 11 runs.  Remember, when doing math problems, you must show your work.

And for those of you following the trend we pointed out earlier this season, there still is a perfect correleation between multi-homer games and wins.  All four times the Sox have had more than one home run, they've won; they've lost every time that they've failed to hit more than one bomb. Stroking two or more dingers per game has proven to be just what the doctor (Dr. Longball, that is) ordered.

After last night, the Sox have now won three of their last four and are only two games back of the Tigers and Twins, both of which lost last night.  Let's win the last game of the series against the Jays, get back to .500, and move forward from there.  Go Sox!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


There's really not that much to say.  In a 4-2 loss in Toronto last night, the White Sox managed a grand total of one hit off Blue Jays' pitcher Ricky Romero.  (Wasn't that the name of Lucy's husband in I Love Lucy?  Ricky Ricardo, you say?  Nevertheless, Ozzie, you got some 'splainin' to do.)  Alex Rios, Romero's former teammate, homered with two out in the eighth inning to break up the no-hitter.  The dinger scored A.J. Pierzynski, who was awarded first base after allegedly being hit on the foot by a pitch.  Although A.J. limped on down to first base, the Tribune is reporting that replays show the pitch missed him.  We couldn't see it since we were listening on the radio, but that performance earned A.J. yesterday's nomination for Best Supporting Actor in a sitcom, or whatever you want to call yesterday's "game."

We had thought that the starting pitchers would be the strength of the team, but for the second night in a row, the Sox starter -- this time, Gavin Floyd -- was ineffective.  In six innings, Floyd gave up four runs on nine hits and two walks.  The only bright spot, aside from Rios's homer and A.J.'s acting, was Scott Linebrink.  Liner pitched two innings of scoreless ball.  That's good to see since Ozzie says he's the key to the bullpen.  We're not sure why, but who are we to argue with the Wizard of Ozzie?

And speaking of ineffective starters, Jake Peavy's comments on his performance on Monday night bear repeating:  "I mean giving up a lead – there's no other way to say it — that just makes me want to puke, I want to vomit on the mound."  We all feel that way right now, Jake.  Pass the Pepto-Bismal and Go Sox!

Monday, April 12, 2010


Now that's more like it!  The White Sox broke out of a season-long slump Monday, racking up new highs in runs (8), hits (14), and home runs (3), en route to an 8-7 win over the Blue Jays.  It was the third 11-inning game of the year for the Good Guys, but their first extra-inning victory.  It also marked the first time in 2010 that the Sox won back-to-back games or won on the road (of course, it was the first game away from the Cell).  However, one thing wasn't new: The Sox have hit multiple homers in each of their three wins and none of their four losses..

Four Sox players racked up multi-hit games: Gordon Beckham, 2 for 5; Andruw Jones, 3 for 4, with two homers and a single (along with a walk and four RBI); Alex Rios, 3 for 5; and surprise, surprise, surprise, Sgt. Carter (never thought I'd be quoting Gomer Pyle), Mark Teahen, 3 for 5 (with three RBI).

Let's review the scoring: In the second inning, Paul Konerko walked and scored on Jones's first homer of the game.  In the third, Juan Pierre singled and stole second; Beckham walked; and Carlos Quentin singled, scoring Pierre and advancing Becks, who scored from second on Jones's single.  In the sixth, Jones struck again, homering with the bases emplty, followed by a Rios single and stolen base; Teahen's single plated Rios.  In the ninth, Teahen continued the longball fireworks by smashing a home run to tie the game.  Finally, in the eleventh, Kotsay pinch hit for Alexei Ramirez (0 for 4 on the night) and singled; Omar Vizquel pinch ran for Kotsay and scored on Teahen's triple, which proved to be the winning run.

The batting heroics were necessary because Jake Peavy struggled in his five and two-thirds inning pitched, giving up seven runs (all earned) on eight hits and three walks.  Fortunately, the bull pen was superb, holding Toronto scoreless over the next five and one third innings.  After Randy Williams walked the only man he faced, Sergio Santos threw one and one-third of an inning, striking out two.  J.J. Putz tossed one inning of no hit, no run, two strikout ball.  Matt Thornton improved on that, striking out four men in two innnings, without giving up a hit or run.  And Bobby Jenks picked up his second save of the year by pitching a scoreless 11th, though he did allow two walks.

With the win, the Sox improve to 3-4, which leaves the team 2.5 games behind Minnesota.  The Twins won the first game played in brand new, open air, Target Field -- "expect more, pay less."  The Magic Number drops by two to 158, and there's joy in Mudville.  Go Sox!

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Lest you think I post only after a White Sox victory, let me explain the spotty publication lately.  Last Thursday and Friday, I was out of town on business and away from my computer.  (Posting by blackberry just doesn't cut it.)  And on Friday, my second grandson, Jackson Elliott Andrews, was born to daughter Allison and son-in-law Chas -- four weeks early, but healthy.  The back of his baseball card lists him at "6 lbs. 4 oz., 18", bats ? throws?"  Given his size, he's definitely a small ball kind of player.

And speaking of small ball, I have to point out that the only time the Sox have won this season is when they've hit multiple home runs in a game -- two on Opening Day (Konerko and Rios) and three in Sunday's game (Konerko 3rd, Kotsay 1st, and Beckham 1st).  On the other hand, the team is 0 for 4 when they have to manufacture runs.  They lost 5-3 in the second and third games, 4-3 in the fourth game, and 2-1 in the fifth game.

Like I said in the preview post, you can't play small ball if you can't get on base, and the Sox just aren't hitting -- yet.  Their team average of .203 is below the Mendoza line and dead last in the American League.  Five starters aren't even hitting .200: Teahen, .071; Pierre, .125; Kotsay, .154; Rios, .174; and Ramirez, .182.  Sorry if that bums you out, but it shouldn't hurt any more than the 2-4 record does.  (Also, sorry if I sound defensive about that preview post, but I took a lot of grief for telling it like I saw it.)  The good news is that there's plenty of time to turn things around.

The pitching did live up to predictions.  At 2.95, Sox pitchers have the second lowest ERA in the A.L., behind only the Blue Jays.  They've given up only one home run on the season, the lowest total in the league.  And Mark Buehle, after Sunday's win, is 2-0.

Finally, I did manage to squeeze in a game while traveling on business.  Update reader Mike Sehr invited yours truly to join him for Thurday night's game, an invitation I gladly accepted.  When I left D.C on Wednesday,  it was 90 degrees.  When I arrived in Chicago, it was 50 degrees cooler.  By game time on Thursday, it was in the 30s.  A huge corned beef sandwich at Manny's kept me warm for a while, and hot chocolate did the trick later, but folks, it hailed during the game, which was only better than the rain and snow we had earlier in the day.  By the way, Mike presciently called Carlos Quentin's home run before it happened.  Mike failed to predict that any other Sox would homer, so I attribute the 11-inning loss to him.  Thanks, Mike, and Go Sox! 

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Well, I guess this means the White Sox are going to be in first place the entire 2010 season and win the World Series.  Just like 2005, Mark Buehrle faced off against Cleveland's Jake Westbrook and shut out the Indians on Opening Day.  Is that optimistic enough for those of you who hated yesterday's post because I'm not drinking the small-ball Kool Aid that Ozzie "Jim Jones" Guillen is serving?  The Mark of Zero proved true to his name, blanking the Tribe for seven innings, giving up only three hits and a walk, and striking out three, while finding the strike zone 63 times in 95 pitches

Buehrle also proved he deserved the Gold Glove he won last year by making one of the most incredible plays I've ever seen.  After deflecting a hard-hit ball off his left shin (like a hockey goalie), Buehrle chased the ball to the first base line, narrowly avoided a collision with the baserunner, used his glove to flip it backwards between his legs (like a football center) to nip the runner, and tumbled to the ground.  Mere words don't do it justice, so take a look at the video -- it's worth putting up with the commercial that precedes it.

The bullpen didn't let Buehrle's heroics go for naught, instead giving up naught to the Indians.  J.J. Putz didn't pitch like one (okay, I got that one out of the way early in the season), allowing no runs on one hit.  Matt Thornton was even better, throwing 10 pitches, all of them for strikes, yielding two Ks on his way to a three up-three down inning.

On the offensive side, the Sox weren't.  Oh, sure, everyone's favorite leadoff man, Juan Pierre, was 0 for 4 with a strikeout; the rotating DH experiment largely failed as Mark Kotsay and Andruw Jones were a combined 0 for 3 with a walk and one run batted in, which shouldn't even count as a RBI since it came on a double play; Mark Teahen and notoriously slow starter Alexei Ramirez took the collar -- but there was a lot to like.  Gordon Beckham singled, doubled, had a RBI, and scored a run (and looked decent turning a double play).  Paul Konerko homered to right in the first inning, also driving in Carlos Quentin with what proved to be the winning run, and drew two walks.  Q was on base with a double and also two other times after being hit by a pitch.  Hey, try getting out of the way -- it's a long season and we need you in the lineup.  Alex Rios also dialed 8 for long distance, homering in the eighth inning (and made a diving catch to end the game).  And A.J. Pierzynski singled (and called a brilliant game).

Small ball update: Teahen was caught stealing to end an inning..  Now, it's not unprecedented for him to be running or for him to be thrown out.  Prior to yesterday, Teahen was 42 for 54 in stolen base attempts.  Not as good as the 27 for 30 record of Chris Getz -- the man he essentially replaced in the Sox infield -- but not so bad that he should never attempt to steal.

In other Sox news, President Obama threw out the first ball at the Nats game yesterday.  He was wearing a Nats' warmup jacket, but pulled out his Sox cap when he got to the mound -- to a rousing chorus of boos.  The pitch was high and inside to the invisible lefty batter, but no worse than those thrown by the Nats pitchers who followed the POTUS and gave up 11 runs.  Maybe it's a good thing that work made me miss my first opener since baseball (so to speak) returned to D.C.  Go Sox!

Sunday, April 4, 2010


It's the best week in sports.  College basketball holds its championship on Monday -- here's a shout-out to my alma mater, Michigan State, for making it to the Final Four for the sixth time in the last 12 years.  The Masters begins on Thursday.  Everybody is wondering if Tiger will be able to come back without having played in a tournament.  The Update is wondering if he'll be any good without having the amount of sex he apparently was having when he was on top (of the golf world, that is).  The NHL season finishes up and the teams vying for Lord Stanley's Cup will be sorted out -- Go Hawks (my old team) and go Caps (my "new" team).  Teams are fighting to make the playoffs in the NBA.  And most important of all, baseball starts up again.  Let's take a quick look at our Chicago White Sox, who currently are tied for first with the rest of the division and have a Magic Number of 163.

The Update is not a big fan of small ball.  We actually favor the Earl Weaver three-run homer school of thought, especially in a park that is as homer friendly as the Cell.  But Ozzie convinced Kenny Williams to turn the Sox into a National League team.  The only problem with that strategy is the Sox are still in the American League.  We're skeptics, but will be happy to be proven wrong.  At least we picked up the right guys to implement the small ball strategy, or maybe not.

Juan Pierre batting leadoff makes very little sense to us.  Small ball requires base runners, especially at the top of the order, so you want a guy with a high on-base percentage filling that role.  Pierre ranked 127th in OBP last year, which by the way placed him three spots behind Jim Thome.  No, we're not suggesting Thome should bat leadoff; just pointing out how bad an OBP guy Pierre is.  Well at least as a corner outfielder, he has power right?  Not so much.  He had no homers last year, one the year before that, and none the year before that.  He makes Scottie Pods look like he was on steroids.

How about Gordon Beckham batting second?  His OBP in his rookie year was even worse than Pierre's: .347, which is good for 204th place.  Now, we love Becks, but he's not the right fit for small ball either.  Also, how much will he be disrupted by having to learn a new position again this year.  Is it smart baseball to take a kid who plays shortstop his whole life and convert him to a third baseman last year, and when he gets semi-decent at that, move him over to the other side of the infield, where he's never played before?  We don't think so.

And why did Becks move to second?  So Mark Teahen could play third base (which in our view, he's not all that good at).  The best thing about picking up Teahen is that he no longer will be able to bat against the Sox, whom he seemed to own when he was in Kansas City.  The bad news is that his already not-so-gaudy offensive stats are likely to suffer now that he doesn't get to hit our pitching.  At least his OBP can't suffer too much -- at .325 (326th place) in 2009, it was even lower than Beckham's.  Hopefully, Ozzie won't put Teahen anywhere near the top of the order.

How about that other newcomer, Andruw Jones?  He's slated to be part of Ozzie's rotating DH squadron.  Well it sure ain't because of his OBP last year, which at .323 (333rd place) is even lower than Teahen's or for his batting average, which at .214 was even lower than his weight, even after showing up for spring training in supposedly great shape.

Alex Rios?  We know how that worked out after Kenny got suckered into taking on his huge salary on waivers last year: an OBP of .220, which would have been good for 628th place had he put up those numbers all year long.  His actual season-long number, .296, allowed him to finish in 466th place.  His batting average with the Sox at .199 was below the Mendoza line and below the Jenny Craig line since he weighs 205.  Let's see what happens this year, but at his salary, we can't even imagine what he'd have to do to justify what he's paid.

At least we'll have Mark Kotsay for a full year.  Just kidding.  Kotsay got on base at a .327 clip, which made him the 326th best player in baseball in that category.  But Ozzie seems to love him.  We don't.

And we don't like Omar Vizquel either, at least not as a DH like Ozzie has threatened.  You're going to take one of the best fielders of all time and let him hit but not use his glove?  That would make sense only if Vizquel were an even better hitter than he is a fielder, but we're not sure Babe Ruth was a better hitter than Vizquel is a fielder.  And Omar is no Babe Ruth.  His .316 OBP ranked him 363rd in baseball last season, with no power either -- just 10 extra base hits, only one of which was a homer.  He's got that part of small ball down pat.

The rest of the guys were all here last year.  Paul Konerko, A.J. Pierzynski, Alexei Ramirez, Carlos Quentin, and Jayson Nix.  In the case of Paulie and A.J., we're not sure that being another year older is a good thing; in the case of the others, a little more seasoning might be just what the doctor ordered.  But none of them is the high OBP player that small ball works best with.  We don't hate these guys,  We just hate these guys for Ozzie's system.  Even with the right guys, the numbers show that stolen bases and bunting go against the percentages.  And don't make us repeat the fact that the Cell is a home run haven. 

By the way, the last position player is back-up catcher, Donny Lucy, who is on the team only because Ramon Castro is starting the season on the DL.  Now somebody explain to me why Ramon Castro is on the team at all.  The 240 lb. backstop didn't hit his weight (.184) and his OBP at .262 barely exceeded his poundage.  Lucy has a total of 15 at bats in the majors, all with the Sox in 2007, so he's clearly a non-factor here.  What does that say about Tyler Flowers, catcher of the future?  According to our sources, in this case a scout who's a friend of Bob Koza, Flowers has wilted as a prospect and likely will not help the Sox anytime soon, if ever.

It's a good thing that the pitching looks so good.   We love Jake Peavey and think he makes the rest of the starters better by taking the pressure off of them to lead the staff.  Mark Buehrle will get the opening day nod, which will give him the record over Billy Pierce, but think of Buehrle as the number two starter and he'll get re-aligned there soon enough.  Gavin Floyd at the three spot will have an advantage over most team's third starters, and John Danks (who some day may be known as Jordan Danks's brother) has an even bigger advantage over virtually all fourth starters in baseball.  Sweaty Freddy Garcia could be serviceable at the back end of the rotation, but if he's not, it won't take them long to promote Daniel Hudson.  The rookie earned a spot on the 25-man roster, but there was no place to put him, so he's in Triple-A Charlotte for now.

The bullpen could be pretty good as well.  We love Bobby Jenks and are glad to see that he seems to have worked out his calf problems.  When he's healthy, Jenks is one of the best.  But you know who might be even better?  Matt Thornton, that's who, at least according to Sports Illustrated.  In their review of the Sox (whom they pick to finish behind the Twins and Tigers in the A.L. Central), they suggest that Thornton has suprassed Jenks, comparing Matt's 2.71 ERA over the past two seasons, with a fantastic 164/39 strikeout to walk ratio to Bobby's 3.13 ERA and 87/33 K/BB ratio.  Behind these two, you've got newcomer J.J. Putz and Scott Linebrink, both former closers, although the only thing Liner seemed to be able to shut down last year was the Sox's chances of winning.  Randy Williams and Tony Pena return to toss middle relief, and Sergio Santos, the former shortstop turned pitcher who throws 97 MPH heat, nailed down the last bullpen spot.  By the way, former Sox center fielder Brian Anderson is trying his hand at pitching as well.  He already hits like a pitcher, so maybe this is his calling.

In our view, the pitching is going to have to carry the Sox since we don't see much hitting -- especially given Ozzie's preferred strategy.  It wouldn't surprise us if the Good Guys have a better road record this year, when their pitchers get a break from the Cell.  We're not sold on the Twins now that Joe Nathan is our for the season, and the Tigers don't move us either.  So maybe the Sox pitching can get the team to the playoffs in what we think will be a weak division.  Go Sox!