Chicago White Sox Season Lost Already? It's Too Early To Panic!
So, I was Jonesing (get it?) for some Sox news and decided to make my way to BleacherReport.
And by the looks of things, there is pandemonium, chaos, and a lost season on the South Side.
All of you in panic mode are fools, and I'm going to show you why.
Much has been said about the production—or lack thereof—from the Sox lineup. Let me sprinkle some reality into your lives.
Alexei Ramirez, A.J. Pierzynski, and Juan Pierre will not continue to sport sub-.500 OPS stats as they do now. Expect Pierre to, at the very least, achieve a .650 OPS. Pierzynski will have a .700-.750 OPS, and Ramirez will have an OPS in the mid-.700's as well.
Just to close your bladder valves a little more, I'd like to note some statistics as of April 13 regarding the primary scapegoats of the offense:
Mark Teahen sports an OPS of .911.
This will likely go down, but even in the first week when he was looking horrid at the plate, he still kept an OBP of .375. He seems to be seeing the strike zone really well, and I'm interested to see how his power translates at the Cell during the warm months.
He could have a very respectable year on par with his 2006. On the whole, for one of the rare instances in his career, he is showing why he was showcased in Moneyball .
This is the Mark Teahen that Billy Beane thought he was getting.
Andruw Jones, who many dismissed before he even showed up to camp, and continued to dismiss even after, has looked really good at the plate, though he didn't have the results to show for it until the past two games.
He currently has a slash line of .333/.500/.833. No, he won't finish the year with an OPS of 1.333, but if he stays sharp, he could lead the team in home runs and knock in 90+ RBI.
The Dreaded DH by Committee
Just so we're clear on something, the DH position has been manned by (in order of plate appearances): Juan Pierre (12), Mark Kotsay (11), Andruw Jones (6), and Paul Konerko (4).
I hope you notice that Omar Vizquel has not had a single at-bat out of the DH slot.
It certainly seems like Juan Pierre is becoming the primary DH. And that's how I'd like it to be, because his arm scares me in the field, but his role as a leadoff hitter is invaluable to the team.
A game like yesterday (4-12-10) against Toronto showed why Jones—and the DH situation—is valuable.
When Jones plays, he makes it possible for Carlos Quentin or Juan Pierre—both of whom are far inferior defenders—to DH. When Kotsay plays, he too gives Quentin, Pierre, or Konerko the opportunity to DH, and provides equal (if not better) quality defense than either of the outfielders as well.
Contrast this to the past few years, when Jim Thome was the everyday DH.
For one, Thome was no good against left-handed pitching. Jones is far better! Secondly, if Paul Konerko needed a break, either he or Thome had to be completely taken out of the lineup because the backup first baseman was Josh Fields or (shudder) Darin Erstad!
I don't know about you, but I'd rather have Mark Kotsay in the lineup than Josh Fields or Darin Erstad.
Hits Aren't Falling
Alex Rios has been the most consistently impressive hitter on the team. Almost every time he has been up there, he has had a good at bat.
He is hitting some really hard line drives, but unfortunately, many of them have been right at fielders. This is going to take care of itself, and the hits will start coming for him.
He seems to be really locked in at the plate, but has had a string of tough luck. I'm not worried about him.
Gordon Beckham is the other guy who people shouldn't get worried about. He has also been hitting the ball hard, but more importantly, he has shown a great eye for the strike zone.
The White Sox pitching staff has been, overall, stellar during this young season.
The staff currently has an ERA of 3.39. The only starting pitcher who has not been utterly impressive so far as been Jake Peavy, but I am not yet worried that this is to be the trend for the entire year.
In the case of Jenks, his ERA and 2/2 on saves do not tell the whole story.
Jenks has shown horrible control, and has not recorded a 1-2-3 inning since mid-August. Though he seems to have some velocity back on his fastball, things just don't seem to be working right for him.
His walks are really starting to concern me, and I hope it's only a mechanical flaw that he can fix with proper coaching.
However, if Santos and Jenks continue to pitch the way they are pitching now, Santos may take over the closer role.
Speaking of Santos, he may be the brightest spot so far on the team. With barely any experience pitching, he has shown the guts necessary of a late-innings reliever with devastating stuff.
That hard slider of his may be tougher on the left-handers than righties, because it cuts in on the hands and jams the hitter.
I am very excited to see how he rebounds after his inevitable first outing when he gets knocked around. If he can come back the next day and mow down hitters like he is now, he will prove to me that he is the real deal.
J.J. Putz has a lofty ERA, but that's the result of one bad outing. He will be fine.
Scott Linebrink looked absolutely awesome in his last outing, when he got out of a bases-loaded, no-outs jam against the Twins without allowing any runners to score, then pitched another perfect inning.
Even in his first outing, his stuff was there, but his command wasn't. If Linebrink has a strong year, he could be the key to the bullpen.
Who's Hot: All starters except Peavy, Matt Thornton, and Sergio Santos.
Who's Not: Jake Peavy, Randy Williams, and Bobby Jenks.
Mark Teahen is not a bad third baseman, but he has not had consistent time at the position since 2006. As he sinks back into the role, his play will improve.
The one guy whose defense has worried me has been Alexei Ramirez.
His problems are not from a lack of talent or even a lack of effort, but rather from a lack of concentration and focus. I have found myself wanting to reach into my TV screen and smack him upside the head a handful of times over the past seven games.
He has a strong responsibility in this infield right now, because Beckham is still learning his new position, and Teahen is settling into his. Alexei is the only guy who has had any consistency.
He is said to be a Gold Glove-caliber shortstop. It's time for him to get his head in the game.
By the way, can Joey Cora and Ozzie Guillen teach these two guys that you're supposed to throw through the first baseman, not in front of him?
It seems like almost every throw to Paulie has been in the dirt. It makes me realize how much we take Konerko's defense for granted. Most other first basemen would not be able to make those types of picks.
Beckham looked shaky in the first couple of games. but has since made some very good plays at second base. His double-play turn will only get better with more experience.
As a converted shortstop, he already knows how to avoid hard slides, but I haven't seen him take any like what John McDonald took yesterday. I want to see how he is able to deal with that.
All in All...
We're only seven games into the season. That's less than even 1/20.
Yes, the Twins are going to be tough. They might even be the best in the AL. If every team in the division plays like they should, it will be a three-way dog fight.
It's a fight I think the White Sox will win.
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