Only four days until the Sox hit the field in Glendale, Arizona. Yes, it just so happens that the White Sox are the very last team in the league to officially open their camp this year!
Focus will be on the health of Jake Peavy, the battle for the closer spot, Chris Sale’s contribution to both of those issues, the battle at third between Morel & Teahen, and the battle for the fourth outfielder position.
My predictions are that Peavy will prove himself healthy enough to start the season as the fifth starter. With all of the two day breaks in the April schedule, he can go out and pitch five innings and let the pen carry the rest of the load. That will allow him to avoid too much early stress on his surgically repaired shoulder.
Having Jake in the rotation will allow Sale to start the year as the team’s closer. In admittedly limited work, Sale looked outstanding as the closer last September. Putting Sale at the back of the pen and leaving him there allows all of the pitchers in the pen to know their role. That consistency is critical. The idea of a closer by committee makes me queeezy.
When Jenks was the closer and was healthy it allowed all the other guys in the pen to know exactly what their role was. When Jenks was out or ineffective, it threw everyone’s game into flux, and the performance of the entire pen suffered. To tell Sale the same thing not only gives the kid some clarity in terms of his role, it locks everyone else in as well.
Teahen v. Morel – I hope that Morel proves to all of us that he can hit well enough to start in the majors. His play in the field toward the end of last year proved clearly that he has the glove for the majors. If he can do anything serviceable with his bat he can sit at the bottom of the lineup and give the Sox a vast improvement over Teahen.
Finally, for no other reason than that he has five tool skills, I think Milledge will get the early shot at the fourth outfielder position. If he fails, De Aza will be ready, but the early opportunity will be with Lastings.
The issue that not many folks are talking about is Carlos Quentin. With Konerko back, Rios clearly playing in his prime, and the arrival of Dunn, TCQ will likely hit no higher than 6th in the lineup. I think this could be a very good thing for the kid as the pressure to perform higher in the lineup had clearly stressed him out. Not thinking that he has to carry the team will clearly work to the benefit of the very earnest Mr. Quentin.
The ice is melting in Indianapolis, and the baseballs are being hit in earnest in Florida and Arizona. Baseball is coming, and it’s bringing summer with it.
You can almost smell the churros!
The Sox have turned inconsistency into consistency. The strength of the team that we projected in February – the starting pitching – has come through with extraordinary efforts. Even Freddy Garcia is pitching well. Combined with timely hitting from Andruw Jones, Alex Rios, and Konerko, the team is doing incredibly well. And this is occuring all while their offensive wunderkind Beckham & Quentin are scuffling.
I refuse to look beyond the next game, but this is certainly making for an entertaining June.
On a side note, I quietly mutter about the lack of attention that the Sox receive relative to their northside brethren. But when that attention revolves around the insanity of Carlos Zambrano, I am more than happy to sit quietly and continue to pile up wins.
LETS GO SOX!
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!
An 11-1 pounding of the Jays brings the Sox record to 4-5, and leaves them in a tie with the Royals and behind the Tigers and Twins who are both 6-3.
Through these first nine games the pitching has been the team’s strength (as expected) although there have been some troubling performances.
Jake Peavy has yet to hit his stride. I did not see his first outing, but in his second outing against the Jays he did not seem to have the velocity on his fastball, or the snap on his sinker. No one is willing to say that there is an injury at issue here, and he did not appear to be laboring against the Jays, so you have to hope that it is something that he will come out of.
Bobby Jenks has been inconsistent through these first games. He has had dominant performances and followed them up with outings where he couldn’t find the plate. Bobby nearly gave away the first victory against the Jays when he couldn’t pitch a strike.
On the other hand, Santos has look very strong, and Danks just got done slamming the door on the Jays….so overall you have to be pleased, if a bit concerned with the slow start of two very important members of the staff.
On the offensive side, Andruw Jones has proven that he wasn’t just talking about having a strong season this spring. He damn well meant it. As far as this Sox fan is concerned, he has to be in the lineup every night for so long as he is able to perform at this level.
Rios, by the numbers has had a slow start, but has hit the ball hard.
Finally, the two young lions in the lineup, Beckham and TCQ, are having strong starts to the season that will hopefully carry through the remainder of the year.
The Sox have two more in Toronto and then three in Cleveland before closing out the first month against three strong teams in Tampa, Seattle, and Texas.
It’s not over yet, but let me say this…….
Overall team speed looks very good.
Good outing from Carlos Torres. Great ABs from Carlos Quentin. Tyler Flowers looked good on the basepaths, but his defense still needs work, lots of work! Dayan Viciedo made a nice play at third. The kid shows an obscenely quick bat, but not much discipline.
….I guess I must have fallen asleep.
IMO, hopes should be very high for the Sox heading into the 2010 campaign.
We’ve got one of the strongest rotations in the American League led by Peavy and Buehrle.
We’ve got a real life leadoff hitter in Juan Pierre
TCQ has not broken or torn anything in the past several months
Beckham had a great ’09, and should only get better in in ’10.
We have some established veteran (and in the case of Omar V. I do mean veteran) presence on the bench in the form of Kotsay, Vizquel, and a renewed Andruw Jones.
Only five days til pitchers and catchers report. Let’s Go Sox
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!