Tuesday was my first chance to see the Chicago White Sox in person. Thankfully, it didn't cost me a penny, because if they did, who knows if I would've seen them this year know I'd have to pay to see them play at the mediocre rate they are performing. The hardest part about the game was that the team as a whole look as sad live as they do form on the couch.
The offense gives off a sense that the magnifying glass is in their face from the moment 'Thunderstruck' plays at the beginning of the game. As much as Juan Pierre can man the lead-off spot, he just can't hit. It's rare to see a guy hit so many fouls and get so many looks, but it's just as rare to see the same guy not connect less frequently than Pierre in that situation. Once he's on base it isn't as tough to watch, but a on-base percentage hovering around or below .300 shows he isn't contributing enough where he is needed.
Pierre isn't the only disappointing offensive player. Mark Teahan, Gordon Beckham, Alexei Ramirez and Carlos Quentin have all started well below expectations. The team as a whole has not played well, but more often than not, these guys are the ones fans and baseball minds say are the most disappointing. Short of a nice double steal involving Beckham Tuesday, the same guys didn't do much to make me think any differently about our lack of offense.
The main reason the offense is not clicking has to be based on another failed attempt by manager Ozzie Guillen to install a "small ball" system. Once again, the Pale Hose are top five in home runs to start the season. Alex Rios and Pierre have a combined 23 steals, but most of them have been at times when they didn't add much to a threat or help influence the outcome of a game. Until Guillen realizes the Sox live and die with the long ball as they have since he took over, the offense could be in for a lot more disappointments.
It doesn't help when the speedsters get into scoring position that we can't drive them in, but that's another article with some more research.
Never have I wanted to punch Gavin Floyd in the face more than in his last start. The first three innings of the game were tortureto my eyes and heart. He continuously managed to get the bases loaded before he decided to throw well. Floyd is turning into a classic "I got paid, I'll play well when I want" player. There have always been questions about his focus and ability to play as well as his talent, and his first half dozen starts showcase his downfalls. His contract compared to fellow young hurler John Danks looks atrocious for a team that cannot afford to waste money.
The entire staff minus Danks hasn't been anything to write home about. The bullpen has picked up the pieces of multiple bad starts by the combination of Floyd, Jake Peavy, Mark Buerhle, and Freddy Garcia. Buerhle can't locate, Garcia has velocity issues that he hasn't wanted to fix as his hits/innings pitched have started and will end lopsided, and Peavy has admitted to overcompensating when he struggles. Thankfully for all of them, pitching coach Don Cooper and his no b.s. attitude should help the staff. Cooper wouldn't be around as long as he has if he wasn't a great observer and teacher. He knows how to coach with good and not so good pitchers, unlike "great" coaches like Leo Mazzone (see Baltimore Orioles).
With Minnesota blazing through the Central and AL competition, it is hard to see the White Sox string along enough wins to compete with their division foes. Fortunately, the worst may be over. The weather continues to get warmer, Sox hitters and pitchers are showing life a little more consistently, and the team is winning a few series. Expect a lot of ups and downs...with more downs than ups. Thankfully the Blackhawks could possibly play until June.
Too bad I can't get their tickets for free.