What A Game

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

About Last Night

If last night’s thriller is any indication, baseball fans are in for a terrific October.  You really cannot beat baseball for the unscripted drama, whether it is Jim Thome hitting his 500th in walk-off fashion or last night’s back and forth, all-time saves leader blowing a two-run lead, loser goes home mega battle.  Good stuff.

I realize there are statistical arguments for Trevor Hoffman being one of, if not the, best closer in baseball history.  But my own personal experience, admittedly very limited, is of Aaron Rowand beating him with a home run in 2005, of the AL rallying to win the 2006 All-Star Game in Pittsburgh and of last night.  Of course, you remember the failures, in part because they are the abberations.

Reply To Palehose

I saw palehoses response to yesterday’s post and wanted to reply in turn.

On the point of scouting, development and the patience often required to see it through, I think my argument was misunderstood.

There are two paths here.  The first is for players you sign and develop through your system.  In those cases, you are relying on your amateur scouts, your player development personnel and your major league coaches to identify talent and then help players reach their potential.  Sometimes this takes time and rarely does a player come to the big leagues a finished project.  As a result, the organization (and fans) need patience to let the player grow.  Examples of this in my mind would be Joe Crede, Aaron Rowand and Jon Garland (although he arguably might fit both categories).

The second category is the player who your professional scouts identify while he is playing in another organization.  For whatever the reason, they feel this player will be more successful in our organization.  Our goal then is to acquire the player and allow our coaches (minor league or major league) to work with the player.  Sometimes this requires patience and time.  Examples of this are Bobby Jenks, Javier Vazquez, Jose Contreras.

As for the concept of players helping a team get its edge back, this certainly works in some cases, although my personal experience finds this chemistry to be very elusive.  Individuals certainly can bring an edge into the clubhouse, but this edge can cut many ways.  Also, it seems that guys with an edge tend to have this influence last only a limited time … how long is often the question.  In my experience, it’s never been as easy as saying this guy actually has this personality and will have this affect on a clubhouse.  Sometimes, players perceived by fans as "having an edge" actually don’t.  Sometimes, those who seem quiet and non-influencial, actually are.  I’ll leave it at that.


From the start of 2007, I didn’t understand why Kenny brought in all fireballers for the bullpen, rather than a pen that had a mix of different arms. Likewise, a team with all lead by example, easy-going guys just doesn’t seem to cut it, as nice as it is to be around those guys. And lastly, I don’t get it when Dye and Kenny say nobody saw this year coming, when the second half of 2006 was what we got in 2007, and Baseball Prospectus picked the team to finish EXACTLY where it did, at 90 losses. Funny how others did see it coming, but our own management did not.

On the edge thing you have a good point. AJ has an edge , obviously, and it seems to work fine here. Mostly an edge is gained when you have a lot of young eager hungry players. That is pretty much recognized as energizing a club. And it seems to work, diamondbacks, colorado, some of Marlins success. Also an edge is gained by speed , speed energizes a club, ex angels, taking the extra base and so on. Even Hawk says you need a play even if it is wrong, you can adjust it, but do the sox.

Edge, chemistry, heart…all important, all needed to certain degrees.

But you know what is absolutely needed more then anything else on a team?

TALENT. Major League talent. Proven talent, winners..not projects, prospects and maybe’s.

The Sox were far short of this is some key areas in the 2nd half of 2006 and the entire 2007 disaster. (Can you say BULLPEN, BULLPEN, BULLPEN? Sure…I knew you could!)

It’s up to Kenny and his associates to solve this major issue.

The clock is ticking I think with a lot of fans. Another year or two like the back half of 06 or 2007 and you’ll be back to the days of 18 thousand per game.

That would be catastrophic.

Let’s not even attempt to go down that path OK?

Solve the issues. Period. End of excuses.

Mark Liptak

Unless MAJOR changes happen with the Sox, the team will be just as awful next season. From the sounds of it, the Sox won’t be making major changes. I guess we all know what that means.

Thanks for the response Scott. It clarified some things. I certainly don’t envy our scouting and development personnel, they have terribly hard jobs to do and mistakes will be made regardless.

I guess the essence of my gripe boils down to performance. I assume that’s why Duane Schaffer was let go. Because we weren’t seeing much of anything substantial from the minors for awhile. And this year we saw nothing substantial from the majors.

What we saw on the field this season was unnecessary. It didn’t have to happen and it shouldn’t have happened. How we go from champions in ’05 to jockeying with Royals for position in ’07 boggles the mind, but wasn’t the most frustrating part of the season. It was the way the team went about losing that was the real killer. There seemed to be this apathy about the White Sox this year and the later part of the previous year.

Call it edge, call it heart call it whatever you will but it was sorely lacking. Look, I don’t need some super-edgy player with tats and a pack of smokes rolled up in his sleeve or something. But I would like to see some sort of reaction or emotion in the face of adversity instead of the flatline we saw this year.

But all that stuff is secondary to talent, like Mark said. If these guys would have performed like they were brought in to do lack of emotion and edge wouldn’t have been an issue. They could have been the baseball equivalent of paint drying on the wall and it wouldn’t have mattered one iota had they been winning. But they weren’t so the scrutiny increased, and flaws were magnified, real or embellished.

Ulimately it doesn’t matter because Kenny and the organization will do what they see fit and I’ll be supporting (and probably ***ching about) this team next year and the year after that. I just want some recognition that changes need to happen because this past season was not pleasant, not in the least.

I know I’m in the minority here, but I want to thank Scott, the players, and the organization. It wasn’t the year we all hoped for, or expected. But, it did what I want/need from a baseball team. An enjoyable, often very frustrating, diversion. Baseball is very important to me, but I can see it for what it is… and if it seems to be going downhill for reasons I don’t understand, or don’t always agree with, it’s still a pasttime…a “hobby” for me. If the players, front office, etc want to be upset at how things went..that’s fine..this is much more to them. However, as a fan, looking to while away some time, and follow the team. I’m certainly not is a position to complain, or second guess the powers that be. They are the experts, and I have to believe they are doing what they think is best, and what they, in their experience, trust to be right. Very often, things don’t go as planned, in any industry…but thank goodness no one is looking over my shoulder and picking apart my profession and my actions.
To Scott & Co…thank you for making the experience more personal and giving us the “behind the scenes” look. I’ll be here, ready and waiting for spring training. After all, isn’t that what spring is about? Hope, a new start? As I couldn’t have expected this year back in March, we can’t expect things to be as horrible as some are saying. Call me Pollyanna, but I can look at myself in the mirror and be happy. -Dawn

Scott, can you please address the bullpen from this season? Like what the thought process was behind it? I think that KW said once that power arms work best in the type of park we have, but it was clearly a disaster from early on. Why were bigger changes not made or more experienced arms/different kinds of arms not brought in?

I also think we were lacking edge this year…maybe that was not the situation in the clubhouse, but I can only go by what I saw on the field, and I didn’t see much of it.

Whoa, that was a heck of a game last night. It’s funny you should mention Rowand’s experience with Hoffman in ’05, as I was recalling that, too. So rarely does TH tank, and in such dramatic fashion. What got me most was watching the Rox’ fans despair turn to absolute jubilation. Gave me goosebumps.

Often times someone outside of the equation can see things that one inside the mix does not see. You can see more from the press box than from field level that type of thing. Pt. is KW seems overly conserned with how each player feels and worries about it , a lot. Is it even possible to make good decisions from such a point view? KW is probably too nice a guy in some ways, but the fun in the game is in winning, so I recommend KW take a long vacation clear his mind , get a plan, and then go about white sox business. granted noone asked my opinion, given anyway.

I enjoyed the games I watched this year, but even then, it gets old watching the same guys have the same problems all year. When I said there was no improvement before, it was meant as the bullpen kept faltering, guys couldn’t step up and get any kind of offense going against other challenging teams. You need to be able to do that in this business. While I saw guys front some good effort it just didn’t come together as a team this season. But the inclination of this organization looks to be to tweak the lineup. I just don’t see that changing things.

The costs I incur to see games involves money and time. It just isn’t like seeing the local minor league squad. I love my team, but seeing the way other teams are changing and that we would stand pat…. again, is disappointing. No one knows what the future holds and while going from 99 to 90 to 72 reg season wins can’t be foreseen, it can be said that we are due to change more from 2005. Because the 2005 squad played with fire, desire and heart does not make them realistically a team of superstars, even if you throw money at them, they aren’t the Yankees. This year that really caught up with them. If Ken is looking to recapture some magic from the 2005 vets, he may be in for some disappointment. These guys aren’t bad players, but something new should be the order for next year.

As far as the critism issue mentioned above, this is an entertainment business. You need to stay on top of these things and not squander opportunities, otherwise, folks will go to movies or out of town or to the north side rather than see a ball game on the South Side. Then we’re right back to the second tier teams in a two team town and attendance is down annually and the front office and media talk of ungrateful chicago fans. Would rather see a change in the way things are done than a reversion to the past….

Dleeun, I think of the AFLAC duck walking out of the barbershop after listening to Yogi, when I read your post. HUH? I’m not sure if you’re talking about Kenny Loggins or Kenny Williams, the Sox GM, when you mentioned “Kenny”. He didn’t let his feelings for Frank or Maggs get in the way, did he? Even more so, did he let his feelings for Rowand get in the way of the trade for Thome? I think you have the wrong guy.

I know he’s a gentlemen and it was probably the PC thing for him to say, but can you please tell Jim Thome that if he has any other supportive comments about the Cubs that he should just shut his mouth. Thank you.

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