White Sox Success and Chris Sale

Sale Away

9/18/12 in MLB   |   This_is_Rick   |   265 respect

If there was going to be an award for the surprise team this year in the A.L. it would have to be the Chicago White Sox. Currently, thanks to a four-game-winning-streak, the Sox hold a solid three-game lead in the division over, the experts pick, Detroit Tigers- a team they won't play head-to-head again until the playoffs, assuming the Tigers even get there. Their success is astonishing and it's amazing what they have done. But, even more amazing is what they didn't do.

Undoubtedly, rookie coach Robin Ventura will be in the discussion for Manager of the Year, and deservedly so. Although the team's outlook was not overwhelming following spring training - likened to more of a rebuilding-phase -  the rising success has quickly put Ventura on the coaching map and, more importantly, erased and buried the memories and culture provided by one, crazy Ozzie Guillen.
Blog Photo - White Sox Success and Chris Sale

Ventura's playing experience and the mind-set he brings to the club has shown; both Konerko and Rios are hitting extremely well - while the age-clock moves forward; Gordon Beckham is holding his own at second base, and continuing to show signs of power that he possessed in college; Pierzynski is hitting, and controlling the staff in his usual way; and lastly, the addition of Kevin Youkilis - a move approved by Ventura - has not only helped himself by leaving the Red Sox debacle for a fresh start, but also in assisting and developing a winning-attitude on his new team. 

All of the success the White Sox have endured should be credited, partially, to the new skipper for what he has done. However, as is the usual case for head coaches - carrying more weight than they should - it's what Ventura didn't do that has saved the White Sox season. A lesson that other coaches can learn from. 

While the trade deadline neared at the end of July, analysts clawed and scratched at the doors of team's front office's, hoping to get one glimpse of a hot rumor. Then it happened. Chris Sale, the young lefty for the White Sox, was put into the mix, and although he had just beaten the Texas Rangers, the trade-block was calling. The media reported his velocity was down below 90 mph, leaving the White Sox to believe what is every pitcher's worst two-worded fear, dead-arm -  thus leaving the front office shaking in their leather slippers. The summation was that trading Sale would bring enough decent value in return, allowing the team to rebuild for the future, or get a high-quality arm like Zach Greinke - and we all know how that worked out. Luckily for the Sox, Robin Ventura was not on board with the idea and he stuck with his guy - Sale. 

The move is quite possibly Ventura's finest this year - although he accomplished it by not moving - and should be credited towards his resume of success. Regardless if there were other factors, a busted deal, or not enough return quality, the choice made was a smart move. The benefit: A twenty-three year old lefty, with well above-average stuff, standing on the mound at 6'6, glaring at the Central Division for years to come. It's definitely not a bleak future. 
August 28, 2012; Baltimore, MD, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale (49) pitches in the third inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE

It's only fitting, on the day when the baseball world celebrates the forty-ninth anniversary commemorating the closing of the Polo Grounds - where Mays made "the catch" - that another older, history lesson is beginning to take shape in the MLB. In 1959, White Sox pitcher, Early Wynn, was crowned the A.L. Cy-Young award winner, the last pitcher to do so for the White Sox. Fifty-three years, and counting... no Cy-Young award winners since. 

Perhaps, until now?

Chris Sale, while not a shoe-in, is on the same level when compared to the other contenders this year -Verlander, Weaver and Price - and he may be on a level higher, yet. He ranks in the top-ten in most pitching categories - including e.r.a. and wins - and If he can lead his team to the playoffs, at the expense of the aforementioned names not making it, Cy-Young history may be taking a pit-stop for some deep-dish pizza.

And that, oddly enough, would be an early win.

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9/21/12   |   This_is_Rick   |   265 respect

Dan_B wrote:
I think the Baltimore Orioles and Oakland A's would argue with you on that biggest-surprise-in-the-AL prize.

I agree with you. But the A's always seem to find ways to hang around the West, and they have so enough times to make it seem normal - but that could be the west-coast bias . The Orioles are definitely on the same track - if not better - than the Sox, however, Robin is not Buck, and Baltimore had signs of life last year - at the down trends of the Yank's and Red Sox. The White Sox were in a transition; new coach, older talent, staff transition. The central - in both leagues - often gets overlooked, so it was no big surprise when the Tigers were on everyone's list to win the division. Now, Jim probably wishes he was Robin. It's a crazy twist.

9/18/12   |   Dan_B   |   1067 respect

I think the Baltimore Orioles and Oakland A's would argue with you on that biggest-surprise-in-the-AL prize.