Kenny Williams and the Sox are doing everything in their power to make a deep run into the playoffs in the 2011 season.
They signed Dunn, they resigned Konerko and AJ, they brought in some bullpen depth, they picked up Ozzie’s option, and now they’ve gone and locked up A.Ram for four years.
The only real question mark heading into the season is Peavy’s health, and with the strength that we have in the rotation without him, that is really a question that only impacts who the 5th starter will be. Which is not to say that Peavy would be the 5th in the Sox rotation; but with Buehrle, Danks, Floyd, and E Jax, you’ve got pitchers with the talent necessary to fill the one through four spots in your rotation.
It’s February, baby! Just a few more days until pitchers and catchers report!
The Sox beat the Tigers this afternoon with strong outings from Freddy Garcia, J.J. Putz and “gulp” the offensive combination of Juan Pierre, Alexei Ramirez, and Carlos Quentin.
One of the defining features of a not so good team is lack of consistency, and the Sox this year have certainly shown themselves to be inconsistent.
That said, it’s still May, and we are still within ten games of the Twins. If, if, IF we can get some consistent play from Juan, Alexei, and Carlos to match up with the play we have seen so far this year from Rios, Andruw, and Paulie….this could still be a team that wins the division.
We cannot, however, afford to keep digging a deeper hole. CAN NOT!
Ozzie made it official, Jayson Nix will replace Alexei Ramirez at short.
Good news at both ends of this. Nix has looked good in the short time that he has been up with the big club, and Alexei is clearly in the midst of a sophmore slump. In the time that he’s been with the Sox, he’s always been a free swinger, but recently its looked like he is swatting at flies when at the plate.
Makes Juan Uribe look disciplined.
Sox & Os are waiting out a rain delay as I write.
Important night tonight for Contreras and Ramirez. Contreras needs to begin to show some endurance beyond the fifth inning as he has not made it past the fifth in either of his two starts this year.
Alexei is struggling at the plate, just as he did early last year. While his history (short as it is) indicates that he will come out of this, the sooner he does the better, IMO.
Against the Sox tonight is the young right hander Brad Bergesen. Bergesen scares me if for no other reason than that the Sox have a bad history against young pitchers they’ve never seen before. Let’s hope they buck that trend tonight.
In other news, the Mike MacDougall era is over, again. MacDougall was designated for assignment, and the young righthander Jack Egbert was called up. MacDougall has extraordinary stuff when he can get it over the plate. Unfortunately he has not been able to do that with any consistency at all.
Three of four from the Rays, and the team as close to hitting on all cylinders as anyone could reasonably expect.
4/5 of the rotation is pitching well. The big hitters in the middle are starting to pound the ball, the “small ball” hitters on the ends are getting on base. The defense even looks strong.
Two worries, Contreras and Ramirez. Contreras needs to improve his endurance. He has generally been solid through four to five innings, then things start to unravel quickly for him.
Ramirez can’t hit his weight right now. He has always been a free swinger, but he is waving at flys up there right now. The positive is that his defense at short has been as good as advertised, and he has not allowed his offensive problems to affect the defensive side of the ball.
On to Baltimore for three!
Sox win on the power of a Thome three run homer, and four lockdown innings from Richard, Dotel, and Jenks out of the pen.
You knew we had a chance when the Royals lifted Gil Meche, who had a strong seven innings for Kyle “Gas Can” Farnsworth, and then left him in the game to face Thome!
Buerhle did not have his best stuff, but kept the team in the game through five.
Wise, Ramirez, and Quentin scuffled at the plate, but Fields had a strong game, as did Jimmy.
On to 162-0!
On-field preparations for the 2009 season begin in earnest tomorrow for the Sox.
Three major position battles are tee’d up to take place this spring in center, at second, and at the end of the pitching rotation.
At second the battle will between Sox farmhand Chris Getz, and offseason acquisitions Brent Lillibridge and Jayson Nix. I expect that the slot will go to the guy who shows the greatest aptitude at the plate, as that man may, by default, end up as our leadoff hitter. I am betting on Lillibridge here.
At the end of the rotation Sox farmhands Clay Richard, and Aaron Poreda will compete with new acquisition, Jeff Marquez. Richard has the most experience at the big league lever. Poreda, by all accounts has the best stuff (although he probably needs to improve his second and third pitches to have success as a major league starter), and Marquez has a good sinker (which KW loves). I suspect that the spot will go to Richard with Poreda in the pen, and Marquez down in Charlotte (although options could alter that decision).
Finally, the black hole at center will be filled by Brian Anderson, Jerry Owens, or Dewayne Wise. The relative deficiencies of these players are well documented. Anderson is a defensive standout, who struggles mightily at the plate. Owens has extraordinary speed, but does little else very well. Wise, is a gritty veteran who stand out in no particular area.
If Lillibridge grabs hold of the leadoff spot, I am hopeful that center will be filled by Anderson. If none of the second basemen seize the lead off spot, we could see Owens in center. Here’s to hoping that doesn’t have to happen.
All of that said, the most exciting thing that will occur in Glendale, Az. this spring is the arrival of Dayan Viciedo. He is a big, 19 year old third basemen who comes to the Sox from Cuba. As with A.Ram. last year, reports regarding Dayan’s talent are amazing, but overall he is something of a mystery to Sox fans. But we do hope that KW has caught lightning in a bottle for the second year in a row.