July 2007

Bristol Bound

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Your Bristol White Sox

So it’s Monday.  Ibis and Ozzie Guillen and I are in Bristol Va./Tenn. (the town literally straddles the state line).  The Guillens are in town to check on their son, Oney, while I am there as part traveling secretary, part media rep and part interested observer of our Rookie Ball team.

We all flew down to Bristol Sunday night as Jerry Reinsdorf loaned his plane to the Guillens.  Ozzie talked to me a month or so ago about arranging the trip.  He really wanted to use the off day to see his middle son play.  Ibis was much more concerned with making sure her son’s living conditions were good, that he was eating well, that the house actually was stocked with food for the kids — several players are living together in a place near the ballpark.  Think of your mom on her first visit to you in college.

"Seeing Oney play is a real thrill for us and for my wife," Guillen said.  "We’re very proud of him."

So while Ibis cleaned and shopped for the kids, Ozzie headed over the ballpark, Boyce Cox Field, early in the afternoon.  I found him at the batting cage beyond the left field wall, working with the hitters, Jerry Hairston (our hitting coach at Bristol) and Nick Capra, our roving hitting instructor.

It was typical Ozzie, non-stop chatter, laughter and instruction for the kids.

Around 3:30 pm, Bobby Thigpen (our Bristol manager), the coaches and Ozzie pulled the team together, and Guillen provided a pep talk to the young professional players.

"I told them to appreciate the support they receive from the people in Bristol, respect this country, respect themselves and respect the game," Guillen said afterward.  "And I told them to remember that someone is always watching.  You always have a chance to impress someone."

Then the rains came.  Thunderstorms and heavy downpours filled the afternoon, washed out batting practice and threatened the evening game.  With the rain falling, Guillen sat in the home clubhouse entertaining everyone with story after story.

"Someday in my career," Ozzie said.  "I would love to take a year and coach these kids in the minor leagues.  It would be a lot of fun."

The weather holds off and the ballgame begins.  After starting the summer off slowly, Bristol has been playing well as of late and entered the game on a four-game winning streak.

Behind very solid starting pitcher Po-Yu Lin (2 ER/5.2 IP, 6 SO), hitting by Sergio Morales (3-4, 3 RBI) and relief pitching by closer Wilmer Rojas (2 IP, 3 SO), the Sox won, 6-4.  A key play in the game came in the eighth inning when Oney Guillen started an inning-ending 4-6-3 doubleplay with the tying runs on base.  The play came just pitches after his dad whistled for him to move two steps to his right, closer to second base.  Give an assist to Ozzie.

"Oney’s a smart player," his dad said.  "He grew up in the game and watched it for years at the major-league level.  He’s been able to help the Latin kids here in Bristol, he communicates well and he’s made them more comfortable in a new country.  He has great enthusiasm and hunger for baseball.  I’m proud of him because he has chosen to be here.  It’s hard work, a hard road.  It’s not easy, but it’s what he has chosen to pursue.  My kids know I’ll support them whatever they chose to do in life, and Oney chose this. He’s living minor league baseball."

Boyce Cox Field, newly renamed after the March death of the longtime Bristol Sox GM, sits just behind a high school football field in a slight hollow.  It’s a nice, quaint facility, and fans sit in the seats, on bleachers or even bring their lawn chairs to sit on the hillsides overlooking the field.  It is a perfect setting for Rookie Ball games.  In between innings, one promotion was brought to you by Hamburger Helper.  Signs for Chick-fil-A and Southern Biscuit Flour grace the outfield wall.  The evening reminded me of how great a night of minor league baseball can be.

The experience brought back memories of Ozzie Guillen’s time in the Padres minor league system as he worked his way to the major leagues.

"It’s a flashback for me," Ozzie said, after watching the game with his wife from the first row of seats over the Bristol dugout.  "Comparing now to when I was playing, the facilities are better and you have more support."

Guillen confessed that as he advanced in the San Diego organization, he was often the only Latino player on the team.

"I remember my first year in pro ball.  I was homesick.  I missed my parents.  I missed my country.  Back then, you didn’t have cell phones or the internet.  I didn’t see my mom for seven months.  I remember when the season ended, I was counting days to get back to Venezuela."

Times have changed.  After the game, we hopped onto the plane and flew to New York, catching up with the rest of the major league White Sox at around 2 am.

I can’t say enough about the hospitality of Bristol GM Mahlon Luttrell and the rest of the staff in Bristol.  Mahlon bragged that the hot dogs were the best around, and he was absolutely correct.  Best in the Appalachian League.

Trade Deadline

Is 3 pm CT today.  Stay tuned if we are involved in any moves.

Blog Night

Our second annual Blog Night is scheduled for Sept. 27.  Space is tight, so order your tickets today by calling Dustin at 312-674-5186.

Sunday Pregame

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Today’s Lineup

Owens, CF; Cintron, 3B; Thome, DH; Dye, RF; Mackowiak, 1B; Uribe, SS; Pods, LF; Hall, C; Richar, 2B.  Vazquez pitching.

Picnic In The Park

Our annual Picnic In The Park, brought to you by LaSalle Bank, takes place tonight after the game.  The event sold out once again this summer.  If you have not had a chance to experience the evening on the outfield grass, fireworks, etc., I highly recommend it.  Proceeds from the event go to support Chicago White Sox Charities.

After the event, I am joining Ozzie and Ibis Guillen in a flight to Bristol, VA to watch Oney Guillen play for the Bristol White Sox on Monday night.  Following that game, we fly to New York and arrive at about the same time as the team does.

I’ll try to catch up and post on Tuesday about our day in Bristol on Monday.

Proud Papa

I happened to walk into the clubhouse with Mark Buehrle yesterday.  The new dad had driven up from St. Louis during the day and then of course, pitched his usual 2 hour, eight-minute game.  MB was showing off photos of his son to Ozzie and the coaching staff before the game.

"Good luck on the sleep," someone offered.

"So far, so good," Mark replied.

Tad

Best of luck to Tad over in Philadelphia.  Honestly, I have struggled a little understanding the response of some to the trade.  I will forever appreciate Tad for what he meant to our 2005 team, his willingness to change his role as a hitter when he arrived here, and the steady defense he played during his time here.  But he was going to be a free agent after this season, with no compensation to the club, and this deal gives him an opportunity to reach postseason again.  Rather than ripping the club, my guess is that he is happy and looking forward to his next two months.  For us, this trade was as much about opening playing time for Danny Richar so that we can see if he can compete at the major league level.  If he can, which we certainly hope, then that’s one less need going into 2008.  One thing I have learned, is that you should be very skeptical about players who come up in September, shine and are given major league jobs entering the next spring.  September baseball — often played against teams out of the race and featuring many new additions to the roster — just doesn’t give you the same read on a player as July and August.  Now, we will know.

Had we hung onto Tad through the end of the year, the end result likely would have been that … we would have paid him an additional $1 million, after September 1 he would have not played as much as Danny Richar played more and more, and then he would have left after the season to try free agency.  I understand the disappointment in seeing a favorite player leave, but I would argue he is in a better situation for August and September, and the White Sox are in a better situation vis-a-vis Richar.

The only other criticism is that we did not get enough for Tad.  To this, my response is that the market truly does set itself.  All 30 GMs are constantly on the phone this time of year, gauging the market for all of their players, looking at a myriad of possibilities.  According to KW, there wasn’t a market for Tad prior to Chase Utley’s getting hurt.  When he did, it gave us the opportunity to move Tad and clear the spot for Danny. 

The only other option I see for teams (and I certainly am no expert) is to wait until the very last minute on Tuesday in the hopes that some other team becomes deparate, through injury or a move by its competition, and is willing to overpay dramatically for a player.  Of course, the risk there is that the deadline passes with no deal.

Blog Night

Is set for September 27.  If you want to be a part of the evening (or maybe just want to come and yell at me to relieve frustration), contact Dustin Milliken at 312-674-5186.

Cheers

Comments on the Iguchi Trade

Friday, July 27, 2007

Comments, Quotes and Points Made This Afternoon Following the Trade of Tadahito Iguchi to the Phillies

Today’s trade accomplishes three things for the White Sox:  it opens a spot for Danny Richar to come up and play right away so that he can be evaluated at the major-league level against August competition; it clears close to $1 million dollars of payroll (which is what Tadahito is owed over the final two months of the season) … this savings can now be reallocated; and it gives us another minor-league pitcher.  From Tad’s standpoint, it gives him a chance to go to Philadelphia, try to win another ring, and then decide what his future holds after the season.

A couple of facts to keep in mind … we would not have received compensation draft picks for Tadahito had he played out the season with us, and this deal was not in the works until today when Ken Williams picked up the phone after Chase Utley was hurt last night.

Comments from those involved …

From Tadahito:

"I didn’t know Chase Utley had been hurt.  I actually wondered why they (the Phillies) had made the trade since they already had a third baseman.

When asked his fondest memory with the White Sox, he obviously talked about winning the World Series.

"And my chance to share 2 1/2 years with such great teammates."

Iguchi will return to Chicago with his new team on Monday, a fact that drew a chuckle.

"Chicago is the only American city where I have lived.  I like this city.  I’ll miss this city and the crowd cheering me with the ‘Gooch’ sound."

From Ozzie Guillen:

"Tadahito has been great for us from Day 1 to yesterday.  He’s been consistent and committed to our team.  He came here and we asked him to be a different ballplayer than he was in Japan.

"I appreciate the way he performed for us.  He was a class act on and off the field.  He gave us a lot of happiness.  One of the worst things about baseball are times like these when you have to trade your friends and people who mean a lot to you.

"Iguchi had a lot to do with the rings we are wearing.

"This is good for him.  He may have a better chance to be in the playoffs and maybe get another ring."

And on the arrival of Danny Richar tomorrow to play second base every day …

"He will play everyday if he’s ready.  The opportunity for him is there."

From KW:

"This is an opportunity to see Danny Richar play, to see him out there and evaluate him against major league teams that are competing for a playoff spot.  We need to have a good read on what we have in Danny Richar."

When asked to describe Richar’s game, KW replied:

"Just watch him play tomorrow.  If he answers the question, it’ll be one less thing for me to worry about."

On Tadahito:

"He was saddened he would be leaving Chicago, leaving this ballclub.

"We can’t say enough about what he meant to us, hitting in the second and playing defense everyday.  He’s been an outstanding player for the White Sox."

Toronto in Town

Friday, July 27, 2007

Tonight’s Lineup

Owens, CF; Cintron, 2B; Thome, DH; Dye, RF; AJ, C; Fields, 3B; Pods, LF; Uribe, SS; Mack, 1B.  Garland pitching.

More on the Iguchi trade to follow …

Tad Traded

Friday, July 27, 2007

This was announced at 3:45 pm today …

WHITE SOX ACQUIRE PITCHER MICHAEL DUBEE FROM PHILADELPHIA

IN EXCHANGE FOR TADAHITO IGUCHI

            CHICAGO – The Chicago White Sox have acquired right-handed pitcher Michael Dubee from the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for second baseman Tadahito Iguchi.

            Dubee, 21, is 4-4 with a 3.88 ERA (24 ER/55.2 IP), one save and 54 strikeouts in 30 relief appearances this season with Class A Lakewood of the South Atlantic League.  The 6-foot-2, 175-pounder has averaged 8.7 strikeouts per 9.0 IP and has allowed just two home runs.

            Dubee was selected by the Phillies in the 18th round of the June 2006 First-Year Player Draft.  He has gone 5-7 with a 4.05 ERA (45 ER/100.0 IP) and 82 strikeouts in 42 games (10 starts) over two minor-league seasons.

            Dubee is the son of Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee.

            Iguchi, 32, is batting .251 (82-327) with 17 doubles, four triples, six home runs and 31 RBI in 90 games with the White Sox this season.  He is a career .273 (380-1,393) hitter with 39 home runs, 169 RBI and 216 runs scored in three seasons with the White Sox.

Iguchi originally was signed by the White Sox as a free agent on January 27, 2005 after spending eight seasons with the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks in the Japanese Pacific League.

Thursday In the Park

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Today’s Lineup

Owens, CF; Iguchi, 2B; Thome, DH; PK, 1B; AJ, C; Dye, RF; Pods, LF; Fields, 3B; Cintron, SS; Danks LHP. 

Weather

I assume most of you in Chicago were awakened by last night’s storm, that according to Roger Bossard, dropped two inches of rain on the ballpark.  Roger, who was in here by 6 am yesterday, headed to the ballpark at 4 am today to make sure the field was OK.

According to Roger, we face a 35 percent chance of thunderstorms today after 1 pm, so if it rains on us, it should at least be quick.

Yesterday’s newsletter, White Sox Wire, included a great video story on Roger.  Check it out.  One of our goals this season has been to get more and more video onto the site and these newsletter stories are good examples.

Blog Night

Is September 27 (I talked to Joe Cowley about it again today) so call now to reserve your tickets.  Contact Dustin Millikin at 312-674-5186.

Tigers in Town

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Today’s Lineup

Gonzo, CF; Iguchi, 2B; Thome, DH; PK, 1B; Dye, RF: Fields, 3B; Pods, LF; Uribe, SS; Hall, C.  Contreras pitching.

After spending 14 hours at the ballpark yesterday, it sure was nice to win two.

Only Ozzie

Ozzie relayed this story about new reliever Ehren Wasserman.

Ozzie was in Venezuela last winter and saw that the winter ball team was using Ehren to do everything out of the pen, long man, set up, closer.  It seemed like he was pitching every day with his funky motion.

Ozzie met him and found out Ehren, who was at Class AA Birmingham in 2006, also was from our organization.

"I’ll make sure you pitch in a game this spring," Guillen told him.

So this spring comes.  Ozzie remembers his conversation but couldn’t recall the kid’s name (surprised?).  And he sends Joey around the minor league fields looking for a smaller, right-handed guy who threw from down below.

Joey finds Ehren and they make sure he comes over to big league camp for a game.

Now, Ozzie laughed, just six months later he’s pitching in the big leagues.

Split On Tuesday

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Today’s Game 1 Lineup

Owens, CF; Cintron, 2B; Thome, DH; PK, 1B; AJ, C; Dye, RF; Pods, LF; Fields, 3B; Uribe, SS.

Where to begin …

I enjoyed 2005 so much, I guess I just need to take my medicine in 2007.  You take the good with the bad and try to learn something about yourself from each.

The great thing about baseball is there is always a game tomorrow (in some cases two) and your spirit can rise or fall based on the bounce of the baseball.  It’s been a while since we found ourselves in this position ("The Dark Side of baseball," one clubhouse observor noted), but now our focus is on seeing how players like Jerry Owens, Josh Fields, Ehren Wasserman and others perform over the coming months.  You’d rather be fighting for a playoff spot, but there is some enjoyment from a baseball sense in seeing and learning about new players and their abilities.

KW continues to actively look for ways to make this team better moving forward.  You can’t talk to him for five minutes without his phone ringing or pinging with an email message.  Best way to describe the industry right now is that there are a lot of conversations and lots of jockeying but little action.  That likely will change over the next week.

Talk that we have made Duane Shaffer a "scapegoat" is tough for me to understand.  Both KW and Ozzie have repeatedly stepped up over the past weeks to shoulder blame.  No one, in my view, is running from responsibility.

Instead, we all are focused on turning this around as quickly as possible.

The Pierces

How great to see Bill and Gloria Pierce, surrounded by friends and family, unveiling the magnificent sculpture before last night’s game.  Bill is truly a great guy and certainly seemed to be enjoying the day (although as humble as he is, I think he likely would do without the attention).

This sculpture was the sixth of seven we have planned for now.  This was done by Julie Rotblatt-Amrany of the Rotblatt-Amrany Studio at Ft. Sheridan.  The resemblance is amazing.  Julie did a tremendous job.  She is also the artist working on the granite and white bronze sculpture that will be installed at Gate 4 next Opening Day as part of the Legacy Brick Plaza.

Bricks remain available.  To order, visit whitesox.com.

Author Contest

Rather than try to pick a "winner" among the submissions to write a story on attending a Sox game, we decided to ask each person who offered a nomination to take a shot at writing about a Sox game.  I’ll try to post the stories here or on our site and pick one for the last edition of our program.  Thanks to all for the interest and I look forward to reading the results.

Sympathies

Guys in the clubhouse were still talking about Mike Coolbaugh, the minor-league coach who was killed this weekend when hit by a batted ball.  The concensus was that coaches should wear batting helmets for protection.

"I was hit twice when I was coaching third," Ozzie Guillen said of his time in Florida.  "Once in the ankle and once right in the side, that one hurt.

"We were playing the Expos and Galaragga and Javier Vazquez were on me about rubbing it.  I was trying to not rub it, but it hurt.  They were hollering at me from the dugout.  Finally, there was a foul ball and I quickly reached down and rubbed it, thinking they weren’t watching.  But they saw me and were all over me.  It really hurt, though."

Blog Night

Finally is set (thanks for the patience) for September 27.  Sorry, I know this date late in the year isn’t great for the college students among the group, but it was the only remaining date that worked for the number of tickets we needed and the Conference & Learning Center.  So, we’ll have a get together in the Center before the game and then the group can head to the seats for the game (no patio this year, which will keep the cost down some).  I will put together a little pregame program for your entertainment.

If interest in tickets, please call Dustin at 312-674-5186.  I’ll look forward to seeing you there.

Finances

A poster last week seemed to indicate that our best solution to this year’s performance was to spend more money in 2008 but was concerned that lower attendance automatically meant we would have less to spend. 

First, it’s certainly a matter of opinion, but I don’t believe spending more automatically makes you better.  It is not that simple an equation.  I believe the evidence over the past decade shows that you need to spend at a certain level to be competitive, but that after that, many, many other factors come into play. 

In 2005, we spent in the mid 70s.  This year’s club is well above 100 M which ranks fourth in MLB (according to ESPN.com … please note, everyone seems to factor payrolls differently, so you see variations in numbers from one source to the other).  The ESPN website lists us behind the Yankees, Red Sox and Mets in payroll for 2007, just ahead of the Angels, Dodgers and Seattle.  I’m not sure spending more is the failsafe solution.

Veteran clubs almost automatically are more expensive, younger teams generally are less expensive. 

Also, we have long operated under the philosophy that any revenues we generate are turned back into the team.  Certainly ticket sales form a large part of those revenues, but so do broadcasting contracts, corporate sponsorships and even MLBAM (a growing source of revenue for all teams).

Hi To the Kids

Who are spending a few weeks in Connecticut with mom and checked the other night to see if I had written anything on my blog.  Miss you guys.

Sunday Sweat

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Today’s Lineup

Gonzo, LF; Iguchi, 2B; Thome, DH; PK, 1B; Dye, RF; Fields, 3B; Terrero, CF; Uribe, SS; Hall, C.  Jose on the mound.

Sox Fans

Lots and lots of Sox fans here this weekend.  I’ve seen Maria and her family, Rich Lindberg and friends, and all the ladies from the Windy City Sox fans, who staked out prime real estate in the hotel’s lobby.  The support’s been terrific from our fans all season, both at home and on the road.  Thank you.

Baltimore

Today dawned hot and steamy … imagine that.  The hottest I’ve ever been was a four-game series here in 1992 or 1993.  Only one of the game time temperatures was below 100 degrees, it was 99, and the humidity was thick.  As you sat through the game, puddles of sweat literally accumulated in your chair (nice).  It got to the point where I’d bring a change of clothing for after the game and before I climbed in the airplane to head to the next city.

Entries

I’ve seen two blog entries so far in my search for a willing author to describe her experience as a suburban mom in coming to a Sox game.  Scott Merkin of mlb.com also said something to me on the bus this morning, but I told him he wasn’t qualified.  I’ll give it a few more days and then pick an author.

Last Night

Was not pretty.  Not much to be said about that.  Obviously, we missed opportunities to score more runs and then our bullpen imploded again.  One of the things we need to find out over the coming weeks is who can get the job done.

A Positive

Eighth inning last night.  Two out.  None on.  Jerry Owens drags a bunt down the first base line and easily beats the pitcher to first base.  Bang, he steals second base.  Alex Cintron then laces a single into right field and Owens beats a strong throw how, sliding in a blur past Orioles catcher Ramon Hernandez for what appeared to be an insurance run.

That was Ozzie Guillen baseball at its best.  We need more of that.

I am bowing out for a few days and will re-join the team in Boston on Friday. 

Until then, keep the faith and let’s win some games.

From the Desk of Herm Schneider

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Happy Bastille Day, by the way …

These medical updates from Head Trainer Herm Schneider before today’s game:

  • Joe Crede – He is close to beginning his rehabilitation.  Will be in

    Phoenix

    early next week for a three-day course on his rehab then head to

    Missouri

    to continue his work.

  • Darin Erstad – Will leave tomorrow for

    Charlotte

    to begin his rehabilitation assignment with the Knights on Monday.

  • Mike MacDougal – Is currently in a long-toss program.  He will start throwing sides in the near future.

  • Pablo Ozuna – The screw in his right ankle was removed today.  He is off crutches and is weight-bearing, but wearing a boot.  Is scheduled to resume his rehabilitation in 3-4 days.

  • Scott Podsednik – Is progressing very well.  He is expected to begin a rehabilitation assignment with

    Charlotte

    in 3-4 days.

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