5.9.06

What Happened to the White Sox?

There is almost too much to say about the Chicago White Sox right now. They stink. They’re playing like a bunch of bums. If ya don’t believe me, Julian Tavarez just shut down the White Sox for 6.1 last night. Six-and-a-third innings from Julian Tavarez, spot starter, shuts down the mighty Chicago White Sox playing a reeling Red Sox team. And this is after getting their asses handed to them by the Kansas City Royals over the weekend… the Tigers are trying to give the AL Central away (9-17 over their last 26). The Twins played .720 baseball for two months, then predictably cooled off. And the White Sox; the best team in baseball according to just about everyone (even us here at VFLOAB) haven’t taken advantage. What is wrong with this team?

So that brings up five questions:

-- Why do the Sox look like shit?

I have no clue, none. The bats have started quieting down over the last six weeks, but Jermaine Dye has been there to save this team. But if Dye doesn’t go 3 for 4, this team is in trouble since it seems like no one else can get on base or get a big hit (though Thome has started hitting the ball well again).

Part of the problem is that Scott Podsednik has become a waste of space. He can’t field, he can’t throw, he can’t hit, and now he can’t run. He’s flat out killing this team right now, and having him lead off and play left has been a disaster this year. If I were to pick one player for the Sox to cut right now, it’d be Podsednik. And the real kicker is that since the All-Star break last year (2005) he hasn’t done anything besides hit the game winner in Game Two of the World Series. Big hit obviously, but he’s done nothing since.

-- Why do the starters stink?

Who knows. Nothing seems to be working. Contreras may be hurt. Garcia has been consistently bad. Buehrle still seems fragile after a July that was so bad, that Jose Lima looked good. And Vazquez seems like a loser, the type of guy with great stuff, but the mental make up of a fifteen year old girl. Just bad all around.

We’ve been charting the starting pitching since June 1st. It hasn’t been pretty. The monthly totals are pretty ugly:

Monthly Totals

ERA

Earned Runs

Innings Pitched

June




Jose Contreras

6.21

26

37.67

Mark Buehrle

3.89

16

37.00

Freddy Garcia

4.81

18

33.67

Jon Garland

4.50

19

38.00

Javier Vazquez

7.50

25

30.00

Total

5.31

104

176.33





July

ERA

Earned Runs

Innings Pitched

Jose Contreras

3.54

16

40.67

Mark Buehrle

11.48

34

26.67

Freddy Garcia

5.52

19

31.00

Jon Garland

2.89

9

28.00

Javier Vazquez

6.82

23

30.33

Total

5.80

101

156.67





August

ERA

Earned Runs

Innings Pitched

Jose Contreras

6.59

20

27.33

Mark Buehrle

5.10

17

30.00

Freddy Garcia

5.72

25

39.33

Jon Garland

2.52

10

35.67

Javier Vazquez

3.55

10

25.33

Total

4.68

82

157.67

Just not good, besides Garland the Sox starters have just been flat out bad, since June 1st. Sure Buehrle and Vazquez and Contreras all had a decent month thrown in there, but overall, the starting pitching just hasn’t been there.

Name

ERA

Earned Runs

Innings Pitched

Since June 1




Jose Contreras

5.20

64

110.67

Mark Buehrle

6.32

70

99.67

Freddy Garcia

5.43

67

111.00

Jon Garland

3.26

39

107.67

Javier Vazquez

6.09

58

85.67

Total

5.21

298

514.67





Since July 1

ERA

Earned Runs

Innings Pitched

Jose Contreras

4.68

38

73.00

Mark Buehrle

7.76

54

62.67

Freddy Garcia

5.70

49

77.33

Jon Garland

2.58

20

69.67

Javier Vazquez

5.34

33

55.67

Total

5.16

194

338.33

The starters ERA since June 1st is 5.21! That’s just brutal. And if you take Garland out of the equation, that ERA becomes 5.72 since June 1st. There really isn’t any sort of excuse for this.

-- What happened to that win at all costs, play like your pants are on fire, style go?

Well Podsednik stinks for starters. Add to that Juan Uribe being in Ozzie’s dog house, Aaron Rowand off in Philly, Iguchi who has had a some what disappointing season this year, and all that leaves is AJ Pierzynski doing AJ Pierzynski things. Plus the very nature of this team changed when Thome came aboard because they became an Earl Weaver “Wait for a three run home run” team just like in 2001 and 2002 and 2003 and 2004…

Plus Brian Anderson, who can play that way, hit about .175 in the first half, started platooning in center and even though he’s hitting better, isn’t getting consistent playing time.

-- Why this team is under .500 over the last two months (24-29)?

It’s becoming a theme but… bad starting pitching, Podsednick, and bad defense. And some real questionable decisions by Guillen.

-- And what happened to Ozzie Guillen, Manager of the Year?

Wouldn’t I like to know.

Quick history: I was against the hiring of Guillen. I thought it was another stupid stunt pulled by the White Sox to please five fans who threw enough of a shit fit to force the Sox hands (like the green seats, not going to games because of Rob Gallas, or retiring Harold Baines’ #3 before he even retired from baseball). I thought hiring Guillen was too much of a risk for a team, that going into 2004, seemed like they could make a run for something…

So 2004 comes and goes with the Sox disappointing (somewhat) and Guillen making some curious decisions over the course of the year. In other words, he wasn’t making anyone forget Jerry Manuel. Plus Ozzie picked random fights with random people (Buck Showalter being the weirdest) which foreshadowed what was to come.

Then 2005 hits and the team gets off to an amazing start playing great baseball called OzzieBall. And while they have a worrying month of August that is compounded by the fact that the Indians went something like 53-2 over the last two months of the season, the Sox make the playoffs. They then run off an 11-1 record in October capturing their first World Series since 1917. Chicago falls for Ozzie and Guillen becomes the Latino Ditka. (This is followed by a winter and spring of reporters getting Ozzie to say some border line stupid things; turning Ozzie himself into a side show).

OzzieBall was, in a nutshell, to play hard, steal bases, move runners over, play solid baseball, good defense, and let your starters pitch… in fact don’t even think about them until they reached 100 pitches. This is how the White Sox, with help from the long ball, won the World Series.

This year with a different team, Ozzie seems to be well, pressing the wrong buttons. The Sox have the type of offense to win a lot of games, and they have. Throw in the talent they have with those starters (and past history) and this should be a 100-110 win team. I’m not kidding, with the type of offense they’ve put up, their starting pitchers history… this team is sick.

But that’s not happening. Instead the Sox are barely even treading water at this point. In fact, their lucky the Twins stunk in the first half, the Red Sox fell apart, and that the Tigers have cooled off to the tune of 9-17 over the last month.

And part of that blame falls on Guillen. He finally decided to platoon the brutal Podsednick. He continues to platoon Anderson even though the kid is hitting about .300 since the All-Star break and is the Sox best centerfield by far. It’s gotten to the point where if I see Mackowiak starting in center, I just about lose it… nothing good ever comes from Mackowiak starting in center.

Ozzie’s also fallen in love with bullpen match ups and leaves the starters out to dry to go along with some questionable line up decisions. It’s as if he’s decided to just sit back and let the game come to the Sox instead of doing what they did last year… going out and taking the game in their own hands.

It’s to the point where this team looks and sounds like it doesn’t care, especially if they’re playing a bad team. In fact, the Sox are some how 11-8 against the Royals, clearly one of the worst teams in baseball. This is inexcusable. Just like in 2003 when they went 11-8 against the absolutely horrible Tigers, one of the worst teams in the history of baseball. And the Royals aren’t much better than that 2003 Tiger team. You can’t lose to the Royals 8 times in a season, three or four times, that’s okay, but you can’t do it 8 times and expect to win anything.

No, I can’t blame Ozzie for the starting pitching falling apart. But I’m not thrilled with his managerial job this year. Maybe Ozzie should check out some tape of last year when the entire attitude of this team was ‘go-and-get-‘em’ instead of this, “wait and see if Jermaine, Paulie, Crede, or Thome will bail us out” crap.

But here are the Sox, only a half game out of the Wild Card, and still within striking distance of the struggling Tigers. I’d say the Tigers will start playing better, but they’re got injury problems to go along with some tired arms all of a sudden, and they might limp into the playoffs. So can the Sox turn it on?

Of course they can turn it on and run off 8 straight wins (the fan in me says it starts tonight). The talent is there. Buehrle is pitching better, Garland has been great, and Contreras can be dominating. But as we’ve seen, all that talent isn’t winning too many games in this second half. Maybe they need a players only meeting. Maybe someone needs to start a fight or Ozzie needs to find a way to rip this team in a different manner. No matter what, there isn’t much time left. The Sox need to get busy winning now.

Final random thoughts and tid-bits:

If you were to ask me, best sound track… right now I’d say Magonila. I’m not sure if it’s Amiee Man’s amazing performance or if it’s because they throw on “Goodbye Stranger” by Supertramp… btw, I’m leaving my job on Friday and the odds that this is the ‘last’ song I listen to before I peace out is “Goodbye Stranger”. Juicebox” and “In God’s Country” are also under consideration.

1 comment:

Frank the Tank said...

I pretty much had the same initial thoughts about Ozzie when he was hired. My reaction at the time was that Jerry Reinsdorf was being cheap again by not bringing in a brand name manager such as (GASP!) Dusty Baker. We all see how that has turned out.

That being said, some of the lineup switches are certainly confusing. I understand that he wants to get Mackowiak and the rest of the bench some regular playing time, which is an acceptable strategy, but when we're playing teams such as the Twins and Tigers in must-win situations, we need to put the best defense possible out there. That means Brian Anderson needs to be out there as much as possible, particularly since the pitching hasn't been up to snuff.