You think that you have problems? Take a look for a moment at the Bobby Valentine Red Sox.
Although they just swept a three-game series from the Twins, the Bosox stand at 7-10 and are in the basement of the A.L. East as they invade the Cell starting tonight for a four-game series. And I’m sure they haven’t forgotten last Saturday’s debacle when they blew a 9-0 lead to the Yankees and lost to their bitter rivals, 15-9.
If that weren’t enough, they’ve lost two-thirds of their regular outfield with serious injuries to Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury, have a decimated bullpen that was severely weakened by an injury to new closer Andrew Bailey on the eve of Opening Day and the starting staff has been far from stellar. Add a little bit of smugness and unfortunate rhetoric from their new skipper and you have a team, as presently constituted, that will have trouble contending with the likes of the Yankees, Rays and even Blue Jays. That said, it will be interesting to see how the sweep in Minnesota has lifted their spirits.
Our Sox come in at 10-8 and in a virtual tie with the Tribe for the division lead after a 4-2 road trip to Seattle and Oakland. It’ll Philip Humber on the mound tonight, fresh off of his perfect game. He’ll be facing promising youngster Felix Doubront.
Friday night it will be John Danks vs. converted reliever Daniel Bard, unbeaten Jake Peavy vs. Jon Lester on Saturday and Gavin Floyd vs. Josh Beckett on Sunday.
It wasn’t an oversight: No, I didn’t overlook yesterday’s 14-inning loss to Oakland. Just didn’t have the heart to revisit the bad memories.
Jake Peavy did his best Philip Humber imitation, pitching a masterful three-hit, complete game shutout. The back-to-normal Adam Dunn and red-hot Paul Konerko hit back-to-back homers in the fourth inning, giving Peavy all the support he needed to offset the outstanding outing by the A’s Bartolo Colon. And, in the end, the Sox went on to win their fourth straight with a 4-0 victory last night in Oakland.
Furthermore, take a look at the standings this morning. The only American League team with a better record is Texas at 13-4. Right behind are the Sox and Tigers tied for the A.L. Central lead at 10-6 and the Yankees and Blue Jays knotted up for the A.L. East lead with the same record. Everyone else is behind these five leaders.
I know it’s early, but this is a lot of fun and I’m going to enjoy it.
Konerko on verge of 400th homer
Konerko’s homer last night was the 399th of his career, tying him for 48th place in major league history with Al Kaline and Andres Galarraga. One more and he joins the “400” club.
Paulie’s standing as one of the game’s Top 50 home run hitters brings to mind Tommy Lasorda‘s comment when the Dodgers traded Konerko to Cincinnati for reliever Jeff Shaw (the Sox acquired PK from the Reds for Mike Cameron). The Hall of Fame manager said, and I paraphrase, that he was comfortable making the deal because he didn’t see Konerko as a 20-homer guy in the major leagues.
As wrong as Lasorda was in judging Konerko’s home run prowess, he was right about one thing. Paulie isn’t a 20-homer slugger. From 1999-2011 in a White Sox uniform, No. 14 averaged 30 homers. He’s had 40 or more twice, 30 or more five times and 20 or more on five occasions.
So much for Lasorda as a talent evaluator.
Ozzie‘s recent mantra has been to take one day at a time. For a team trying to come back from the dead, I agree that it’s the way to go. I just wish I could walk the walk.
As the White Sox were in the process this weekend of completing a 5-2 homestand on the heels of of an encouraging 6-3 road trip, all I could think of was the upcoming 10-game road swing to Texas, Toronto and Boston.
As the Sox move toward the .500 mark with a 22-26 record, they are about to face a huge challenge while trying to continue their winning ways.
* The defending A.L. champion Rangers are formidable enough, but to make matters more difficult, Texas gets both last year’s MVP Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz back from injury just in time for the Pale Hose.
* Toronto has always been a tough place for us to play and among the issues to deal with up North will be neutralizing the outstanding Blue Jay pitching and home run machine Jose Bautista. Bautista, by the way, is also hitting .353 in addition to his major league-leading 18 homers.
* We all know that the Red Sox are the Red Sox–always tough–and Boston has the major league RBI leader in newly-acquired Adrian Gonzalez (41) plus top-flight pitching.
Sox Notes of Note: The Sox were able to win the rubber game of the Dodger series today on the strength of Alexei Ramirez‘s four hits, which included a two-run homer, and five RBI…Adam Dunn walked three times and had an RBI single while adding an eighth inning insurance run. WGN cameras caught him mouthing the words, “What was that?” after he got what amounted to his first hit of the series. At least he has a sense of humor…As a result of the Indians’ weekend sweep of the Reds, the South Siders remain nine games behind the Tribe.
My weekly offseason opinions and observations about the White Sox and more…
Mets short list
Pale Hose Assistant General Manager Rick Hahn is one of the leading
candidates for the New York Mets GM job along with the likes of long-time MLB
exec Sandy Alderson
and L.A. Dodger Assistant GM Logan
White. How valuable has Hahn been? Just listen to his boss, Kenny Williams: “I know I’m going to lose him
(at some point)
and it’s going to be a heavy blow.” An unnamed baseball exec told
the New York Post: “His
fingerprints are on everything Kenny does.”
Fall League report
While the Sox have six prospects with the AFL’s Peoria
Saguaros (a seventh, catcher Josh
Phegley, was set to play but was sent home with a health issue), the
main player to keep an eye on is centerfielder Jared
Mitchell. The MVP of the 2009 College World Series with LSU and the
No. 1 Sox draft choice just weeks later was injured in spring training and
missed the entire 2010 season. So his performance this fall is the first step
on his road to recovery. For the record, Mitchell knocked out three hits in his
first game and in his initial five
contests he boasted a .389 on base percentage.
magic of Herm Schneider
Year after year, the White Sox are at the top or among the
healthiest teams in the major leagues. Highly respected Herm Schneider is the reason why. During
the course of the 2010 season, the Sox tied the Arizona Diamondbacks for fewest
trips to the disabled list and had the fewest days spent on the DL.
offers his two cents
Viewers of the ESPN week-day show First Take are being treated to a pundit
better known around Chicago as the White Sox starting catcher. That’s right, A.J. Pierzynski,
appearing from an Orlando, FL studio, is offering his analysis of the
postseason–and he’s doing a pretty good job. Any Sox sighting in October is a
welcome addition to the universe, though it’s still up in the air whether A.J., a free agent, will be in the Sox fold come 2011.
update (sort of)
Speaking of free agency, it would be a shocker if news concerning Paul Konerko‘s status would come out before the end of the World Series. But, just for
the record, he hasn’t gone anywhere yet.
There’s no doubting the resiliency of these White Sox. And it was evident again last night as Mark Buehrle observed the first anniversary of his perfecto by snapping his personal Oakland jinx in a sparkling 5-1 complete game victory.