Chicago White Sox: Selecting the All-Decade Team 2002-2012
It's the offseason, a month away from spring training. Like many of you, I'm a bored Sox fan. In my previous articles, I have come off as extremely pessimistic. It's a curse, what can I say.
It's a new year and a chance for me to change it up. Let's focus on the good. Introducing your Chicago White Sox all-decade team..
For those of you who wanted to recall the illustrious careers of Dan Wright, Billy Koch and Rob Mackowiak, you've come to the wrong place.
Maybe if I get enough positive feedback on this piece, I'll come up with the franchise's worst players of the decade next week. Enjoy.
Catcher: AJ Pierzynski
This one's a no-brainer. It starts and ends with the only and one Anthony John Pierzynski.
Over the course of his seven years with the Sox, AJ has hit a very solid .279 while calling the game behind the plate. His impact on the team lies beyond the box score, providing a sense of identity and spunk to a franchise that lacked character before his arrival in 2005.
I'm hardly calling the guy a saint. Who cares that the rest of the league despises this persistently annoying backstop? AJ might be a jerk, but he's our jerk.
While he might not be able to throw out a turtle on the basepaths, he still made the cut. Look at his competition—Ben Davis, Miguel Olivo and the unforgettable Mark Johnson.
First Base: Paul Konerko
Paulie. Paulie. Paulie. He's just the man.
Like an expensive bottle of wine, the slugger just gets better with age. Since age 30, the captain has bashed 151 long ones while improving his 40 yard dash time from 10.5 to a flat 10. Just kidding Paulie, we love you.
Over the course of the decade, there has turnover at every single position except for one. You guessed it—the classy professional has been a consistency in the organization that fans have come to know and cherish.
Keep it up Paulie and let's get you in Cooperstown one day.
Second Base: Tadahito Iguchi
Back in 2008, you'd have thought Gordon Beckham was the face of the franchise by now. Too bad, that hasn't happened.
Finally, a position up for debate. But if you really think about it, it can really only go to one man.
This 2005 World Series Champion and fellow countrymen of competitive eater Takeru Kobayashi served as the White Sox's second basemen from 2005 to 2007. His name is Tadahito Iguchi.
His addition and mastery of the two spot in the lineup were major reasons why our beloved White Sox won a ring in 2005. He always made the right play and always came up with a big hit.
Certainly, his short tenure with the team makes him somewhat overlooked. But Sox fans should forever revere the scrappy Iguchi.
Shortstop: Juan Uribe
At last, a true debate—Alexei Ramirez or Juan Uribe.
I'll make the case for both and then decide.
Over the course of the Cuban Missile's career with the White Sox, the twig-like Ramirez has slugged 69 home runs while maintaining a respectable .279 BA. He's definitely an above-average defender at a position where defense is essential. He's been remarkably consistent throughout his short time in MLB, but probably has plateaued in his development.
Meanwhile, Juan Uribe. While he only hit .251 for the club over the span of five seasons, it seemed as though Juan was either hitting .500 or .125. Many a time, it was feast or famine for the two-time World Series champion.
The guy's just a flat out winner who changed so many games with both his bat and his glove. He was so instrumental to the team's success in 2005, carrying the team on his back at times.
This is truly a toss-up. On paper, it seems like Ramirez should be on the squad. But baseball is more than just numbers.
Your All-Decade Chicago White Sox shortstop: Juan Uribe.
Third Base: Joe Crede
Joe Crede. This doesn't need much explanation. It's a shame that back injuries derailed the slick-fielding, power hitter's career. Life's not fair, Joe.
Nonetheless, ask Mark Buehrle how many runs Crede shaved off his ERA over the years. It was probably enough for the two of them to be friends.
I want to rant about other positions, so I'm going to stop writing this slide. Unless you think Josh Fields or Mark Teahen are more qualified candidates. In that case, God be with you.
Left Field: Scott Podsednik
Another tough decision. Ironically, these two heralded White Sox left fielders were swapped for each other in December 2004—Carlos Lee and Scott Podsednik.
Two completely opposite players. El Caballo slugged 152 HRs with a .288 BA in his time with the team. He might have been a goat in the field, but he was still sick. With the surplus of power in the Sox lineup, he was expendable and shipped out for the fleet-footed Podsednik.
From Opening Day in 2005, you could tell that Scotty changed the culture of the team. His OBP (.339) was a little low, but he changed the game on the bases. He set the tone for a lineup filled with sluggers. Hey, he won a World Series at a fraction of the price Lee would have cost the organization.
If Lee's first three years (1999-2001) were included in the time frame, this decision would be way more difficult. Scotty Pods is the easy choice.
P.S. If you think Carlos Quentin should get more of a look, you have somewhat of a legitimate gripe. His inconsistency combined with his untimely injuries put a damper on his days in a White Sox uniform.
Center Field: Aaron Rowand
Alex Rios. Haha, got you. He might be on the decade's worst White Sox team, a story that's looking like it air next week.
Anyways, let's look at the list of candidates of the past 10 years: Jerry Owens, Dewayne Wise, Alex Rios, Brian Anderson and Aaron Rowand. Slam Dunk.
Rowand was a boss for the White Sox, hitting .283 while gracefully patrolling center field. OK, maybe not gracefully. The center fielder would constantly chase down balls over his head with no regard for his body. He played with swagger and grit. Naturally once the Giants paid the man $60 million, he lost his grit and subsequently lost his game.
Nonetheless, Rowand's play during the 2002-2005 seasons makes him the obvious choice for this honor.
Right Field: Jermaine Dye
Another Toughy. Magglio Ordonez or Jermaine Dye?
But remember this is the all-decade team, not the two awesome seasons team. Magg's best years were 1999 and 2000, thus making him less of a candidate for this distinction.
Meanwhile, Dye resurrected his career in Chicago. He blasted 164 homers over five seasons with the team, slugging a career-high 44 in 2006. For the most part, he played a solid right field defensively.
Combined with Konerko and Thome, the threesome was one of the most productive 3-4-5 for a couple seasons. Good enough for me and definitely good enough for this list.
Designated Hitter: Jim Thome
My favorite ballplayer of all time is the Big Hurt or more commonly known as Frank Thomas.
He was epic in a White Sox uniform, hitting .307 with 448 HRs and 1465 RBIs in 16 seasons with the club. But, I can't put him on the all-decade team.
From 2002 to 2012, Jim Thome was a better DH than Frank Thomas. Heck, Carl Everett might have been a better option at the position.
After getting shipped from Philadelphia to the Sox after the World Series, Thome was the left-handed power hitter the lineup needed. During four seasons with the organization, he blasted 134 HRs while providing protection to Jermaine Dye, Paul Konerko and Carlos Quentin.
From the instant of his arrival on the South Side, the Peoria native was a fan favorite. While Big Frank might be my favorite of all time, there's no way to justify him being on this list.
Starting Rotation: Buehrle, Garcia, Garland, Contreras and Danks
Mark Buehrle, Freddy Garcia, Jon Garland and Jose Contreras are shoo-ins. But who rounds out the rotation?
Is it player A or player B?
Player A: 51-50 W-L 4.18 ERA 1.274 WHIP, logging 850.1 IP over five seasons
Player B: 54-56 W-L 4.03 ERA 1.304 WHIP, logging 917.2 IP over five seasons
It looks a coin-flip for the 5th spot? So who takes the title Player A or Player B?
Well, in case you haven't figured Player A is Gavin Floyd and Player B is John Danks.
The only legitimate difference between the two is that the Sox invested heavily in Danks and are trying to move Floyd. Based on the similarities in these statistics, it looks like Kenny Williams might have picked out of a hat.
Because of the lack of other worthy candidates, I too will pick out of a hat.
John Danks is the winner and hopefully he'll be on the 2012-2022 all-decade team. But God knows if I'll be writing that article...
Bullpen: Jenks and Thornton
As much as I wanted to put Shingo and his Frisbee ball on the list, he can't possibly make the cut. For this section of the article, I will choose one closer and two setup men.
In terms of the ninth inning, the discussion starts and ends with Bobby Jenks. He barely beat out Billy Koch and his 1000.00 ERA for the title. Seriously, Dustin Hermanson and Sergio Santos deserve honorable mention, but they really weren't close.
Before arriving in Chicago, Jenks was known for his erratic personality, his love for alcohol and his 100 MPH heater. Sounds like Kenny Powers to me. Nevertheless, the organization juiced out 173 saves of the man.
My left-handed reliever would have to be Matt Thornton. After swapping Joe Borchard for him, he has been very effective in a Sox uniform. Over the last six seasons, Thornton has maintained a 3.21 ERA coupled with a 1.18 WHIP.
Yeah, the guy can't close games (20 saves in his career) but he's definitely solid enough to stick on this squad. Hey, he's better than Damaso Marte or Andy Sisco.
My choice for right-handed setup man would probably no other than Mike McDougal.
Just kidding. But this a toughy, the team hasn't really had any good right-handed setup men over the course of the decade. Putz and Linebrink were expected to be dependable, but we all know that didn't happen.
I'm not making this stretch because I don't really wanted to get lambasted for allowing someone like Tony Pena on this team. So Jenks and Thornton it is.
Bench: Ozuna, Widger, Wise and Lillibridge
When it comes to a successful MLB bench, guys that are versatile and dependable are utterly essential. These are the guys that serve as defensive replacements in the ninth inning. Sometimes, they are asked to lay down a bunt or swipe a bag.
When it comes to the White Sox, the team has had a bunch of these guys in the last 10 years. Let's reminisce for old time's sake.
Every team needs a backup catcher. Just ask the Minnesota Twins who invested all their marbles in the oft-injured Joe Mauer. Who was my favorite Sox backup catcher? Chris Widger.
Widger might not have been the best-hitting catcher hitting .221 in his tenure, but keep in mind the Sox signed him out of a 16-inch softball league. He was steady behind the plate during 2005 and will always be remember as that guy Kenny Williams signed away from the community park.
Next, Pablo Ozuna. He always played like a madman, especially during the 2005 championship season. He could steal bases, slap singles and play a variety of positions. Remember that time he threw out Sean Casey from left field? I certainly do.
Dewayne Wise. Sox fans might not agree with this pick because he let us down so terribly when he was giving the Opening Day job in 2009. But he tracked down that long fly ball in Buerhle's perfect game so he gets brownie points. There's not much else on the table unless you want me to throw Wilson Betemit on the list. Am I starting to get lazy?
Currently, Brent Lillibridge would probably get the last spot due to his versatility, intensity and new found power. The guy hit more HRs than Adam Dunn this season, 13-11. But I guess that's not saying much.
Anyways, these are the guys that ride the pine on my all-decade team.
Final Thoughts and Wrap-Up
Although it looks like it, I wasn't trying to duplicate the 2005 team.
Facts are facts. This group of players played better than any other group of White Sox over the course of the decade and deserved recognition.
The point that I'm trying to prove from this piece is that one would expect to have a pretty stellar team over the course of 10 years. Unfortunately for Sox fans, this bunch is a good team, but not a great one.
I believe that many other franchises would be much more able to assemble a stronger all-decade team if they had a crazy fan-writer like me writing about them.
Kenny Williams has been the White Sox GM for the duration of this 10 year period. Thanks for the World Series, but the 2012-2022 all-decade team has to be a lot better for everybody's sake.
Next Up: The 10 Worst White Sox of the past 10 years. I'm open to suggestions.