It’s Denver and It’s Gorgeous
The White Sox arrived in Denver last night (Sunday) for our three-game series against the Rockies, who have won four straight. Even though we seem to play them over and over again each spring in Tucson, this is the first time the White Sox and Rockies face each other in interleague play. Colorado is the only Major League team we have never played.
Guys are excited about seeing Coors Field and how it might impact the game. On the plane out, talk was about how our outfielders might have to adjust … that the tendency is to play too deep, allowing too many balls to fall in.
Going into this series, our bullpen is also very thin. Freddy Garcia, tonight’s starter, could help us by going deep into the game. Otherwise, we have quite a few relievers who have thrown 3-4 consecutive games.
Tomorrow is a big day in baseball with the First-Year Player Draft (officially, the Rule 4 Draft). Our Amateur scouts, who have focused on standout college and high school players since January, have all gathered in our war room in Chicago. Just like the other 29 teams, we have a board with more than 100 players our scouts have "turned in." In watching this event year after year, I am always amazed at how different boards are among teams. Sure, the first 50 or so players chosen are probably on everyone’s board, but then it always gets interesting. Teams pick names (in pretty high rounds) that aren’t even on the board. I have to assume we do the same. It shows how subjective the entire enterprise is, but then you see someone like Mark Buehrle, a draft and follow guy we took in the 38th round, become one of the game’s best pitchers, and you have to compliment the scouts.
As guys are picked, their names are peeled off the board. By the second day, we have a smaller list of guys our scouts came across and liked (for now or the future). These are often the diamonds in the rough …
One of the best things on draft day is speaking to your first rounder and hearing the excitement in his voice. Usually, I am in the room when Ken Williams, our general manager, calls him to welcome him to the organization. Ken then hands the phone to me so that I can arrange for the media to speak with the player. The excitement in his voice always reminds me of how special it is to be a professional baseball player and play (or work in) the major leagues.
The White Sox are the only team in baseball to not have a Top 10 pick in the draft since 1990 (when we took Alex Fernandez). This speaks to our on-field success from 1991-2004, but it also is a big challenge for our scouting department to find impact players with picks in the high teens to lower 20s.
One of my hopes with this blog is to try and offer a different opinion on some of the myths we battle. Every organization has them, and we know Sox fans sometimes (often) grow frustrated with how their team is portrayed by the mass media, so my hope is that I can confront some of these head-on and you can decide for yourself.
One example of this from early this year is the complaint (mainly by the local Chicago media) that the White Sox were not getting national attention. This just had not been true. The Sox have been featured on the covers of Sports Weekly and TSN (a great cover that reads, The Joy of Sox) and have been covered by Sports Illustrated, The New York Times, New York Post, Los Angeles Times, ESPN SportsCenter, Cold Pizza, Outside the Lines and many more.
Recently, one columnist in Chicago — a writer most of our fans know has a very personal bias against the organization — criticized the club’s new contract extension for Ozzie Guillen, saying we gave him a low-ball number. This is just not factual. Ozzie’s new deal, which runs through 2008 and includes an option for 2009, is really at the top of his class of managers. The financial numbers quoted by the columnist aren’t close to correct. There are many members of the media who work hard and get their information correct. We have a lot of respect for them. There are others who never come into the clubhouse and base much of their information on second-hand quotes. Their information is automatically out of context. Judging from the reaction of most of our fans, you can tell the difference.
Mark Buehrle is unlike any other major league pitcher in several ways. Saturday, during a brief pregame downpour, he ran around and dove on the tarp to cheers from the crowd. It probably was not the smartest thing he has ever done, but that is Mark. He is about as carefree as they come.