kiki loves baseball

i love baseball in general, the White Sox in particular, and if i could just hibernate through the off-season, i would.

25 January 2006

turnover


I'm not exactly surrounded by a lot of Sox fans out here in the desert southwest.


[Side note: Last night it rained in my city for the first time in 101 days. Yes, you read that right. I was so overjoyed that I ran outside and danced, while the desert-defining smell of wet creosote filled the air. Anyway --]

I do know a guy from Chicago who favors the Cubs slightly over the Sox, but likes watching both. But ChicagoGuy doesn't actually know that much about baseball, so I wasn't surprised when he commented recently that he was worried about the White Sox "dismantling" their championship team. Given, they made some changes, but my impression is that these were savvy moves that improved the team. So what do the stats say about the major changes?

DH Thome vs. Everett/Thomas

The White Sox picked up DH/1B Jim Thome from Philadelphia, and let Carl Everett (DH/LF/1B) and Frank Thomas (mostly DH anymore) walk. Assuming Paul Konerko stays at first and the older, more injury-prone Thome DHs, this is nothing but good news for the Sox. Thome only hit .207/.360/.352 with 7 home runs and 7 doubles in 29 games for the Phillies last year, but he is supposedly over his injury (and his 2004 line was .274/.396/.581, 28 doubles, 42 homers). Sure, he can't play left field, but I don't know anyone who would consider Everett (2005: .251/.311/.435, 42 XBHs) a truly viable option out there either. He lumbers around like...well, like those dinosaurs he doesn't believe in. As for Thomas, his career and recent numbers are similar to Thome's, but he's suffered more injuries and more problems with management. If Thome plays in two thirds or more of the games this season, the Sox will be sitting pretty.

SP Vazquez vs. Hernandez

The Sox shipped away SP Orlando Hernandez (5.12 ERA in 128.1 IP) and got SP Javier Vazquez (4.42 ERA, 215.2 IP) to take his place. Sure, Vazquez had a lousy 11-15 record last year, but come on, man -- he was on the Diamondbacks. He's lucky it wasn't worse than that. And he's a lot younger than Hernandez. Anyway this one is all roses for the Sox -- consider the 2005 ERAs of what projects to be their starting five:

-- Mark Buehrle: 3.12 ERA in 236.2 IP
-- Jon Garland: 3.50 ERA in 221.0 IP
-- Jose Contreras: 3.61 ERA in 204.2 IP
-- Freddy Garcia: 3.87 ERA in 228.0 IP
-- Javier Vazquez: 4.42 ERA in 215.2 IP

Scary McStarters, isn't it, when Vazquez is the weakest pitcher that opponents are likely to face? Hee! That said, I'm really happy that Hernandez got a ring with the Sox, not to mention saving our asses in the ALDS against Boston last year. I hope he does well going forward. !Muchas gracias, El Duque!

CF Anderson vs. Rowand

Now I'm feeling kind of sad. I loved CF Aaron "Crash" Rowand. He wasn't afraid of anything -- outfield walls be damned! And he hit .270/.329/.407. Totally blue collar; totally cool. But losing him was part of the price we paid to get Jim Thome. This means that Sox farmhand Brian Anderson is going to get a shot at center and the opportunity to prove himself in the bigs. Anderson turns 24 in March; this is his first real chance. I'm pulling for him, but this is the one spot where I think the Sox didn't upgrade. I'll miss you, Aaron! Good luck, Brian!

UT Mackowiak vs. Harris

This is a utility situation; Rob Mackowiak, formerly of the Pirates, is taking over from Willie Harris. Willie was a good guy but he wanted more playing time, and that wasn't going to happen with the Sox starting Tadahito Iguchi at second. Add to that the fact that Willie is a career .242/.309/.299 hitter with very little power. He might improve that line with regular playing time, but the Sox chose to go with Mackowiak instead. His career line is .258/.328/.414 (last year it was .272/.337/.389) and he can play pretty much any position other than catcher and pitcher, unlike Harris. The Sox upgraded on this one.

L-RP Cotts vs. Marte

A few people have been mourning the departure of lefty RP Damaso Marte, but his last excellent season was 2003, when his ERA was 1.58; it went up to 3.42 in 2004 and 3.77 in 2005. The Sox will instead be depending on 25-year-old lefty Neal Cotts, who really got it together last season, throwing 60.1 innings of 1.94 ERA baseball. Sweeeeet.


So...dismantled, no. Improved? Yeah, we're looking superfly at DH, amongst the starters, on the bench, and in the pen. CF is going to be a wait-and-see, but overall, the Sox look awfully sexy on paper. Of course, baseball isn't played on paper -- but I need something to do here in the dog days of January.

2 Comments:

  • At 9:46 AM, Blogger andi said…

    ok this is entirely too much information for a non-baseball-watching schlep like myself - but i'll try to keep up - and might possibly learn some shit that will blow my father's mind.

    although watching a game on tv is not at all the same as watching it in person, cold beer in one hand, nachos on the lap, ready to be poured on the person in front of me when my favorite hitter knocks one out.

     
  • At 10:29 AM, Anonymous chuck@ABQ said…

    I think only the first 3 of the "turnovers" you mentioned will make any detectable difference in the ChiSox (I can't just call them the Sox, as I've heard a few other folks say there is anohter Sox team farther east), and I'd have to say they're 2-1 on those changes (yes, Rowand will be missed a bit). I could have discussed this with you to the depths of my knowledge on the subject (whoops, I've already exhaused that)on my way up the freeway the other night, but I'll have to get back to you later.

     

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