Happy New Year

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Welcome Back

After a few month sabbatical and a couple of weeks off for the holidays, the time just seemed right to begin blogging again.  I hope everyone enjoyed a great holiday season, regardless of what holiday you celebrate.  Thanks to all the patient readers, who I hope will come back to this site after my "vacation."

We supposedly had something like 126,000 unique visitors in 2006, which speaks to the devotion of Sox fans, bloggers and/or both.

A few things coming up this month of note:

Jan. 6 — Scout Foundation dinner in Los Angeles.  See Scott Merkin’s article about the Scout’s Foundation on the main website, but three members of the White Sox front office, Dennis Gilbert, Dave Yoakam and Roland Hemond, played key roles in creating this foundation, which annually supports scouts and families of scouts in need.  A great cause and a great evening in LA featuring many of the game’s biggest stars.

Jan. 9 — Individual day tickets to SoxFest go on sale at whitesox.com or via phone (see release on main site).  Tickets are limited and we expect them to go quickly, so be ready to click or call right at 10 am next Tuesday.

Jan. 13 — Tickets go on sale for spring training games.  For those of you who like to spend March bathed in sunshine, call or click on Saturday.

I think the Bears play a football game in here somewhere … Go Bears.

Jan. 20 — Jim Thome hosts the Joyce Thome Memorial Dinner in Peoria for a great cause.  Several of us are headed that way to support Jim and his annual fund-raising efforts.

Jan. 26-28 — SoxFest at the beautiful Palmer House Hilton in downtown Chicago.  A weekend of White Sox fun, action and autographs.

Jan. 28 — Annual Pitch & Hit Club dinner at Rosemont (you can bet Roland will be there).

Feb. 5 — Our trunks leave fo Tucson.

Feb. 15 — I leave for Tucson.

Busy next six weeks.

Bullpen

Lost in some of the reaction to our two offseason trades has been the improvement of our bullpen.  Entering this offseason, improving the bullpen was a big goal.  As much as our starting pitching struggled in 2006 to replicate 2005, last year we also missed the lights-out Cliff Politte and Neal Cotts of 2005.  Kenny Williams and Rick Hahn re-built the bullpen on the fly during the year … adding David Riske and Mike MacDougal (who could close for many teams).  This offseason, we have added hard throwers in David Aardsma, Andrew Sisco (potentially a starter as well) and Nick Masset to a pen that already included Bobby Jenks and Matt Thornton.  We will bring some heat from out of the pen.

Ho Ho Ho

Living in Chicago this offseason has given Jenks a chance to enjoy the holidays.  He and his two kids were the celebrity tree lighters at The Sears Tower in late November, and Jenks, Brandon McCarthy and Jim Thome played "Santa" to hundreds of area kids who came by the ballpark to celebrate our annual Holiday Party in early December.

The players delivered food to the kids with Jenks firing hot dogs across the room to waiting children.  Some flew right out of the tin foil.

AJ

Think he has a career in wrestling once his MLB career is done?

Gavin Floyd

I realize it’s tough to get excited about a player when all you really know about him at this point are statistics.

Just after our trade with the Phillies was announced at the Winter Meetings, we were eating lunch in the hotel’s restaurant when an old scout tapped Kenny on the elbow.

"You made a great trade," he said.  "I’ve been watching that kid, and he is ready to turn the corner.  He just needed a change of scenery and a chance."

Don’t Wait … Buy A Brick

Sales of our commemorative bricks are brisk so don’t delay in ordering now.  To refresh memories, we are building a brick plaza outside Gate 4 (scheduled Opening Day 2008) that will surround a monument to the 2005 Championship team.  You can purchase a brick on-line.  As part of your order, you do receive a replica brick for your home or office.  Prices vary depending on location and brick size.  Proceeds support Chicago White Sox Charities.

16 Comments

As small of a commentary as you just provided on Floyd, I think a lot of your blog readers will feel slightly better and even a bit excited about him. I’m simply looking forward to a real sport to be on its way back into season soon. The White Sox are delicious.

So do we go back to the last blog for a little bit just to get to the even 200?

welcome back and happy new year!

Good to hear from you again, Scott. Hope you had a wonderful holiday season. All I can say is that once the holidays are over, it’s baseball-on-the-brain for me. (Some would argue I have that affliction year round.) We’re making plans for AZ now, and should be there from 3/8 – 3/11. Can’t wait!

Welcome back Scott.

Scott:

First off, thanks for the Christmas card…much appreciated.

Hope you and your family had a nice break.

Regarding the off season, I think it would take a comment about as long as ‘War and Peace’ to go into my feelings, thoughts, concerns and so forth so I’ll simply try to summerize.

1. Kenny Williams is taking a major gamble. He’s obviously looked at the farm system, the trend that MLB is now going through regarding pitching and the chances of re-signing his own and concluded it is worth the risk. For the sake of the franchise and Sox fans I sincerely hope he’s right.

2. A sobering thought. I think it was Baseball America, a few years ago that published the results of a long term study on minor league players. It concluded that only 1% of ALL players in the minor leaguers EVER spend a single day on a big league roster. It also concluded that the odds of a minor league player sticking around long enought to make an “impact” on a big league club is even smaller.

I have always believed that a ‘bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.’ (Meaning I’ll take the guy who has shown he can perform at the big league level every single time over a prospect or potential.) Kenny obviously feels differently. Again I hope he’s right.

3. Much has been made about Phil Rogers comments on what he thinks the organization has concluded (based in part on direct quotes attributed to Kenny as recently as November.) I don’t think the Sox have closed the door on any of their remaining starting pitchers but I also think the odds are not good on keeping them around based on a 20 year history of dealings with pitchers under current ownership and the new market for them.

4. Kenny may also be concluding that the market and the current high rates for pitchers will eventually come back to Earth and the Sox may be in a position to scoop up talent with those clubs paying a part of the contract (a la Contreras and Thome). It’s certainly possible but all indications are the free agent class next year is going to get even MORE money then this season’s did. In fact the market may not come down for a few years. MLB teams a rolling in money and they are spending it liberally That, in fact, may be the new base line and the Sox are going to have to take a serious look at it and decide if they are going to join it or not. I hope they do. Pitching is the toughest commodity to get in MLB, you can never have enough of it and as recently as 2003-2004 the Sox couldn’t even beg, borrow or steal a reliable 5th starter from their own system. Yes, the odds of minor league players making it is that long.

5. To me the bullpen is still lacking two reliable arms. Again the Sox have added ‘potential’ but nothing more then that. Certainly at this point. Much has been make of Don Cooper turning guys around and helping guys realize their potential. Coop is very, very, very good…but he’s not God.

If he was, Cotts wouldn’t have had his mental issues (i.e. a newspaper story reporting that he was ‘near tears’ in the club house after another bad outing and being booed) and Politte three different times wouldn’t have talked about his lack of confidence. (So much so that Ozzie ripped him over those comments.)

The name of the game is talent….I simply don’t think the Sox have enough ‘proven’ talent in the pen at this point. They need guys in the middle to keep them in the game and give them a fighting chance to come back and win.

The Central is a brutal division, I fear the Sox don’t have enough at this point to win it. With a lot of time left before opening day I am hopeful Kenny still has a deal or two up his sleeve to improve the chances in 2007. I’ll worry about 2009 when it comes.

Mark Liptak

It sure will be interesting to compare the players the Sox got for Garcia to the players the yankees got for Johnson. Garcia should have gotten much more in return than Johnson but it does not appear that way (on paper, anyway). http://chicago.whitesox.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/news/article.jsp?ymd=20070104&content_id=1773253&vkey=hotstove2006&fext=.jsp

Welcome Back Scott! We have truly missed you around here. I hope you had a relaxing vacation but it’s time to get back to work! Just seeing a new post from you is thrilling, for that means that Spring Training is right around the corner…Can’t wait!
Lisa

Happy New Year, Scott!!! It’s so great to hear from you!

Mr.Reifert,is this REALLY you?
Did your lovely wife Amy and your kids finally get so fed up with having you around all the time that they told you to “get out and work again for a living?”…Or,is it the case that you,like the rest of us,are preparing for the ’07 season…SoxFest tickets around the corner,then the winter caravan to meet and greet,and publicize the team…Before you know it,Vince Fresso and the boys have all the trunks packed up to ship out to Tucson,where jklein and Pat will PERSONALLY greet everybody and everyting…Conditioning then begins,the 28th of February rolls by,the rockies come in to TEP…and another year begins…

Then the team scores a lot of runs,but gives up way too many as well,and the critics and cranks come out to “gloom and doom” us all the way throught the month…

Spring training…you can’t beat it with a stick…

Can’t wait for Spring Training TQ. And that was one **** of a post mark, especially #4.

I just read on SI.com that Juan might be sitting out the ’07 season due to legal troubles back in the DR, that worries me. Cintron’s good but I don’t know if he’s the answer for the entire season.

I thought he was cleared of wrongdoing like 2 months ago. THis is could be a big problem for our depth.

Good to hear from you, Mr. Reifert!
And that Holiday Party sounded like so much fun.

Yeah, a little worried about Juan, but glad to hear that everyone else is well!

if worst case scenario comes to pass, and Juan isn’t able to play this coming year, Alex is a VERY capable replacement. i watched him as a starter for az for a couple of years and there is no loss there except in the home run catagory, but he puts the ball in play, not striking out as Juan does. my only concern is the next back-up for Alex. we will see…. j.k. looking forward to seeing a few of you this spring!….. and as TQ suggested, my wife (Pat) and i’d be happy to greet our team on arrival. let me know Scott…..

It sure is great to have you back, Scott!
The foul taste from ’06 is now officially out of my mouth and I am definitely ready for spring training and a new season to begin. I should be back in AZ for the week during our spring break and will definitely be making it to several games. I can’t wait for it and am entirely too excited to be back with all you posters. Let’s all have a great ’07!

Phil

i think this whole ordeal with uribe stems from the judge wanting uribe to pay him off to make this thing go away. hopefully that gets taken care of as alex is a good player, but doesnt have the defensive ability of uribe.

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