Art Berke, a lifelong White Sox fan, has worked at the highest levels of the sports industry with Major League Baseball, ABC Television and Sports Illustrated. He grew up in Northwest Indiana, in the shadow of old Comiskey Park, and proudly proclaims 2005 as the best year of his life. Art offers his glass half-full opinions and observations as he lives and dies with the Sox.
When the Mets selected outfielder Lastings Milledge as their No.1 pick in the 2003 draft, they expected him to be the club’s star of the future. Like so many major league draft picks, he was eventually deemed expendable and was traded to the Nationals after the 2007 season. Washington, in turn, dealt him to the Pirates in June of 2009.
After a season and a half in Pittsburgh, Milledge’s contract was declined by the Bucs after last season–presumably for a variety of reasons which include a history of average (at best) production, injuries and attitude problems. As a result, the one-time “can’t miss” prospect became a free agent at the tender age of 25.
A free agent, that is, until today when the White Sox signed him to a minor league deal. With Alejandro De Aza the only reserve outfielder listed on the roster, the Sox apparently think Milledge can be a contender for the fourth outfielder role (potential super-sub Mark Teahen, Brent Lillibridge and Dayan Viciedo arein the picture as well). A righthanded hitter, the newest signee batted .277 last year, but .320 with a .926 OPS against lefties.
Milledge certainly hasn’t come close to the expectations placed on him when he was drafted. But, in my opinion, the Sox have done the right thing in making this move. Hopefully somewhere within Milledge there’s a star waiting to break out.
My weekly offseason opinions and observations about the White Sox and more…
Is it Cora’s time?
Hahn isn’t the only member of the White Sox family in interview mode. Sox bench coach Joey Cora (pictured above), who has been mentioned for previous managerial openings, is reportedly a serious candidate for both the Toronto Blue Jays and Milwaukee Brewers jobs. Cora has been passed over more than once in the past. Wonder if the powers-that-be around baseball view him as a successful coach who doesn’t have what it takes to manage. We’ll see.
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
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.
In the city of Chicago, the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup hangover, the rumor than Lebron and Bosh are on their way to the Bulls and the Zambrano meltdown are overshadowing something pretty special brewing on the South Side. It was another day and another victory for the surging Pale Hose, making it 10 in a row–the club’s most consecutive wins since 1976–and 14 of 15.
It was simply a great day as…
Jake Peavy stymies Cubs in the 6-0 whitewash…Carlos Quentin hits a first inning three-run homer…Gordon Beckham slugs round-tripper and drives in two…Mets beat Twins…Braves defeat Tigers…The Sox move within a game and a half of the division-leading Twinkies and only a game behind Detroit.
We all know that preseason predictions mean nothing–nada, zilch, zero. And while we shouldn’t take them seriously, it’s still a lot of fun–especially when the so-called experts pick your team to win.
Historically, it’s very rare when the baseball media elite pick the White Sox to win their division, let alone the AL pennant or World Series. It’s not that much different this year as the Twins seem to be the most common pick to conquer the AL Central. That said, there are a few “big name” media types among those who have picked the South Siders:
* Hall of Fame electee Bill Madden of the New York Daily News and author of the forthcoming bio of George Steinbrenner.
* Fox Sports‘ Ken Rosenthal, who somewhat tongue-in-cheek picked the Sox to win the World Series while referring to them “Team Wacko.” Think that had anything to do with our Ozzie?
* ESPN‘s Tim Kurkjian, who doesn’t exactly wear a Sox jersey on the weekends.
* Jon Heyman, he of SI, SI.com and the MLB Network.
Since I’m drinking the prediction Kool-Aid, I might as well add my two cents. Here are my divisional picks for 2010: