(The author is hoping that this article is like Log, that it is better than bad, it’s good.)
Well it is that time again boys and girls. Football is in the rear window, the NHL and NBA are in the dog days.
I am talking about America’s pastime.
No, I am not talking about filling out brackets for your office pool (that will be soon enough). I am talking about the opening of spring training camps and the coming of baseball season. If you close your eyes you can almost hear the sound of cleats on cement, the crack of the bat and the pop of baseballs hitting leather, or the popping sound might be the hamstrings of players who came into camp out of shape. You can imagine the smell of the fresh-cut grass and the stench of Scott Boras. This is a time where hope springs eternal, even at the Pirates’ camp.
So please sit back (or recoil in horror, it’s up to you) as I try to provide for you, the nice people of the Q, a preview of my beloved White Sox.
*Please be warned that this preview may contain dangerous levels of run-on sentences and odd pop-culture references.*
Even with a 79-83 record to end the decade the Aughts were a golden age of baseball on the South Side. It was a decade that saw three 90+ win seasons, two division titles and a magical 87-year-drought-ending World Series title. Many may say that sounds pretty sad, but as the pamphlet said, “Being a White Sox fan was never going to be easy”.
So what does the new decade hold for the South Siders? Well, the Magic Eight Ball has been reluctant to offer up that info, so I think all I can do now is hazard the best guess I can for 2010, but first we must look back.
The Season Past
Even in this blahingly-blah season there were some high points:
- Mark Buehrle’s perfect game and record for most consecutive outs (45) without allowing a base runner.
- Jermaine Dye and Paul Konerko hitting their 300 career home runs not only on the same day, but doing it back to back.
- The emergence of Gordon Beckham.
- Going 34-40 in the second half.
- A slow, inconsistent offense that lost 2008 MVP candidate Carlos Quentin early in the year.
- Shoddy bullpen work.
- Inconsistency from the end of the rotation.
- The Twins continuing to be the Sox primary tormentors.
Comings and Goings
Jake Peavy – SP (Trade 2009) – The White Sox landed the Padre All-Star after what seemed like years. Peavy finally accepted Kenny Williams’s Facebook friend request. The Sox are gambling that Peavy can bounce back and be more like the All-Star he was in San Diego. Even if completely healthy this is still a gamble because he now moves from the pitcher-friendly Petco to the hitters haven that is the Cell.
Alex Rios – OF (Waivers claim 2009) – Here is another giant Yahtzee roll of the dice for the White Sox. The White Sox felt that Alex Rios was worth nabbing off the waiver wire, even with the $80 million price tag. GM Kenny Williams felt he had too much upside to pass on.
Mark Teahan – 3B/OF (Off-season trade from Kansas City) – Teahan was acquired not too long after the season. The Sox wanted to find someone to man the hot corner, so they could move their prized rookie back to a middle infield spot. Since Teahan had been in the outfield last season, will it be a smooth transition?
Omar Vizquel – SS/3B (Free Agent) - The Fort-Knox-worth-of-gold-gloves-winning shortstop comes to the organization that every great Venezuelan shortstop should play for at least once in their career. The Sox are looking to have Vizquel be more of a mentoring presence on the squad, for if he is asked to play 162 games he will look like an Old Glove winner.
Mark Kotsay – OF/1B/DH (Trade 2009) – Acquired before the trade deadline. He apparently won over Ozzie and the Sox in 2009, since they have brought the CSUF great back.
Tony Pena – RP (Trade 2009) – Hard throwing but inconsistent right hand reliever who the Sox hope can figure things out.
J.J. Putz – RP (Free Agent) – Over the winter the Sox obtained the former Mariners closer, who is looking to rebound from his one-year visit to the Senior Circuit. He will be expected to shore up the end-of-game group that looks to get the ball into Jenks’s hands in the ninth.
Andruw Jones – OF/DH (Free Agent) –The Sox took a flyer on Jones, who has been trying to eat his way out of the game. The Sox are hoping Andruw can provide them some pop. Note to Ozzie, if you see him trying to eat the batting donut, or if Carlos Zambrano starts looking thin next to him, then it means you got problems. I know the Sox are not paying him a big contract; I just hope they are not going to get killed on meal money.
Jim Thome – DH (Trade 2009 to Los Angeles, now Free Agent Minnesota) – A fan favorite was sent away late last year. After the season the White Sox passed on resigning Thome. The organization felt he would not be a good fit this season since his inability to play defense was going to hamstring the roster. The Sox will miss having the power bat from the left side, but Thome’s skills had been sliding and he just could not stay healthy. Since the Twins signed him, the “Gentleman Masher” and his tender hamstrings will haunt the Sox this season.
Jermaine Dye – OF (Free Agent) – The former World Series MVP’s time with the club came to an end. JD gave the Sox four great seasons but one could see he was not the same player he was even two seasons ago, and the Sox just did not want to pick up that option. That plus the addition of Rios and the return of Quentin meant the Dye had been cast; well, cast aside that is.
(I wish not to think how things would have been different if the D-Backs had signed him instead)
Scott Podsednik – OF (Free Agent Kansas City) – The Sox pulled Pods off the scrap heap and Pods actually did a decent job in the leadoff spot, well better than what the Sox had tried earlier. Pods was not the table setter he was in ’05 or even ’06. He managed to swipe 30 bases but was caught 18 times. The Sox felt if they wanted a light-throwing speedster, they would try the Juan Pierre version instead.
D.J. Carasco – RP (Free Agent Pittsburgh) – The rubber-armed reliever and spot starter was spotty to say the least. He was given his certificate of participation and an orange wedge and then shown the door.
Chris Getz – 2B (Traded to Kansas City) – Sent to Kansas City in the Teahan trade, Getz will try to make his name with the Royals. The Sox will miss his speed, but Getz just did not show enough to the Sox to make them want to keep him as part of their longer-term plans.