Another week, another name change. Welcome back to the "Voices from the South Side," once upon time known as the White Sox Weekly Roundtable. We've got a few important issues on our plate, from the most important series left this season to Jermaine Dye's vice-presidential qualities.
This week, we welcome "The Shaman of the South Side" Sam Brown to the panel, to add another insight to the inner workings of the White Sox. So without any further random words, let's talk Sox.
1. Which of the September call-ups do you see having a positive impact for the Sox as the season heads into the home stretch?
Collin Whitchurch: The most obvious candidate is Jerry Owens, as he was pegged as the starting center fielder in Spring Training before going down with an injury. His speed should help the team tremendously, as he'll fill the void left when the team released Pablo Ozuna.
However, with the news today that Joe Crede may miss the rest of the season, Josh Fields' role becomes more prominent then ever. Although it's likely that the more experienced and defensively-stronger Juan Uribe will get more playing time down the stretch, Fields' bat will be crucial in getting hot with Crede out.
Sam Brown: The first name that jumps to mind is the great phantom of 2008, UCLA’s own Jerry Owens. He instantly becomes Ozzie’s best option as a late game pinch-runner, and, if Griffey stays hurt and Swisher’s bat stays cold, he may be able to grab a start or two in center. But the biggest impact players come out of that bullpen.
If Linebrink can’t make it back to form, the bullpen remains a place where any pitcher that can come in and have success may be relied on to make big pitches down the stretch.
If the likes of Boone Logan (unlikely, considering his gutless effort Tuesday night) or Mike MacDougal can impress Ozzie in limited opportunities, you may just see them in important situations in the fifth and sixth innings, or late in games if the Sox go to extra innings.
Thomas Barbee: Mike MacDougal and Josh Fields. MacDougal, as everyone knows, has a ton to prove. That works in his favor though, as he'll likely start out in a mop-up role, based on the incredibly low expectations. If he gets going, I'd expect his confidence to be back, which should really be enough to put him over the top. Don't be surprised if he takes someone's bullpen spot come playoff time.
Josh Fields needs to have a big month more so than any of the other September call-ups. With Crede hurt once again, Fields will need to make the most of his playing time and prove to the front office that there was a reason that they guarded him so tightly during trade talks.
JJ Stankevitz: I'm not sure any of them will have a really positive impact, but out of them, I'd say Jerry Owens is the most likely to contribute, with Dewayne Wise on the disabled list. As long as Owens stays in that role and doesn't start—like he did the other night in Cleveland—he'll be a fairly important piece in the stretch run.
Chris Pennant: I'm interested to see what Jerry Owens can do. Hopefully, he's been thinking about this September since Spring Training and has been hungry to get the chance to prove himself. He's changed his stance up, but otherwise, I haven't seen any different plate approach. He will be important for the Sox as a late-inning pinch-runner or defensive replacement in the absence of DeWayne Wise.
Past that, Mike MacDougal has looked pretty good and could be a valuable asset out of the bullpen.
2. Other than the Minnesota series, what are the three biggest games for the Sox this month?
CW: Without a doubt the most important games aside from the Minnesota series are the next ones: three home games against the Angels. The Angels are one of the best teams in the American League, and the Twins will be playing AT HOME against THE TIGERS at the same time.
It is crucial for the White Sox to play well in an environment they have succeeded in (at home) against a premier team, because it's likely that the Twins will AT LEAST take two of three from Detroit.
SB: I will go ahead and say this weekend against the front-running Angels. Not only do the White Sox need to get back to their dominant home ways, but they also need to prove that they can win a series against a playoff contender. That is something they haven’t done for a long time.
TB: I'd say the series against the Yankees is just as important as the Twins matchup. That four-game series opens the road trip, and a solid series against the Yanks really builds some much-needed momentum to carry into KC and Minnesota.
The Yankees are fighting for pride and (possibly) a wild-card spot at this point, so playing in front of their home crowd will not be easy. But it will be a good test for the Sox.
JJ: The three games in Kansas City leading up to the series in Minnesota. It's looking more and more like the division will be decided by that three-game series, and I won't feel comfortable unless the Sox go into it with a four-game lead.
At the least, this team needs to build up an advantage before that series, because coming in tied or down could spell certain death in the Metrodome.
CP: I'm going to switch my vote up and say the four with the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. The cathedral is coming down a few weeks after that, which means fans will be out in force.
Also, I think the Yankees will still have a mathematical chance to make the postseason. Either way, it'll be a tough series, even with Joba out. The Yanks are in and out, but they can jump up any day of the week.
3. Do you see Ozzie shuffling the pitching rotation to set up his three best for the series at the Metrodome? If so, who should get the call?
CW: I would like to see Ozzie shuffle his rotation for the Twins series. But it's really hard to say who should get the nod. Just two weeks ago I would have said that John Danks should pitch the first game of that series, but after his last two starts, I'm really not sure.
The safe bet would be to go with Mark Buehrle, Gavin Floyd, and whoever's pitching better at the time between Danks and Javier Vazquez. Another factor in Ozzie's decision for that series should be whom the Twins run out there.
SB: With an off day that Monday, it is certainly possible that Ozzie will have that option. I think, at this point, the only two guys that you would want to go to any effort to get into that series are Gavin Floyd, (who has the only win in the dome this year) and the suddenly consistent Javy Vazquez.
I wouldn’t be shocked if Guillen stuck with a guy like Broadway or Richard instead of throwing a tired Danks or the up-and-down Buerhle.
Remember: They may still need to win a few games back home against Cleveland to close out the division. They can’t afford to go for broke in the dome.
TB: I wouldn't think so, only because it's been someone different stepping up every time. The only guarantee is that you won't see a fifth starter in any of those games (Richard, Broadway, etc.)
JJ: I think it would be a good idea, considering that after the series in Minnesota, there are only three games left in the season. If Clayton Richard/Lance Broadway's spot is slated to come up in the Twins series, Ozzie should push that spot back or just drop it from the rotation altogether, considering the Sox have an off-day the Monday before the Twins series.
If I had to pick three starters to go in that series, I'd have to say it should be Floyd, Vazquez, and Danks, but I'm not sure how much of a difference they'll make, considering where the series is being played.
CP: I hope he does. The leading margin in the AL Central hasn't been more than two games since July 28, and the three games in the Metrodome are going to be absolutely huge. You can't afford to trust even one of those games to the Richway tandem, not at this point in time.
I'd go with Vazquez, Floyd and Danks; no Buerhle, just because some of his groundballs might go for hits in the dome.
Bonus: In the wake of the vice-presidential choices, I was surprised to see that Jermaine Dye did not get the Democratic nod for veep. Just for fun, come up with a good "JD for VP" slogan.
CW: Man, I'm not really clever enough to come up with anything like that. The only thing I can think of is trying to play off of the 2005 World Series MVP and say something along the lines of "He's already conquered the World (Series), running the country should be a cinch."
SB: World Series MVPs don’t lie;
Come November: Vote Barack and Dye.
JJ: Why should JD be the VP? Because if Carlos Quentin (the MVP) were to get injured, Dye is more than capable of filling in for him.
CP: I've been working on this since mid-summer, and I think this might be a winner:
"What better man to have as your veep/than the six-five guy with the scar on his cheek.
Jermaine Dye: Barack-ing the vote since 2005."
Hope you enjoyed this week's Voices From the South Side. As always, leave your comments and kudos. If you want to get on the panel, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.