Final Home Game

Sunday, September 27, 2009

What A Difference A Year Makes

Driving into the ballpark this morning, I thought of how different the end of 2009 felt from last year at this time when we were finishing a crucial weekend series with a game looming on Monday with the Tigers and a possible playoff-game for that Tuesday.  Granted we still have a week of road games to conclude this year, but it just really struck me this morning how much I missed the excitement, energy and adrenaline we all experienced in 2008.  Perhaps by missing out on it in 2009, we’ll appreciate it even more in 2010!

Excitement

I am pleased by the number of Sox fans I speak to who already are excited about the 2010 season in the sense that they look forward to seeing Jake Peavy pitch every five days and are excited about how good our rotation will be.  Certainly we need to figure out why the middle of our lineup struggled so much for most of 2009 (especially the second half) and recreating your bullpen is an annual challenge for every team in baseball, but I do think people are excited.  I’d like to hear how you all feel as we start to close the book on 09 and look for 10.

No Football

Just to be clear, my television is not tuned to football this morning!  I actually watched the United States (with White Sox reps Kirk Champion, Ehren Wassermann, Lucas Harrell and Josh Kroger) win a gold medal at the IBAF World Championships in Italy, beating the Cubans.

I texted my congrats to Champ, who replied that our guys really stepped up and that he really missed buffalo wings!

Ah, I told him, in reply, I am sure the Chianti is tremendous, so everything balances out.

 

9 Comments

I just have to say… I am very glad that I did not witness that game last night. For once I am glad that I was without tv and internet.

Haha. This game just got a little bit better. Awesome hit by Scotty Pods!!

This team never fails to surprise. After the way we played yesterday, we do so well today, with all the hits we’ve gotten today, and now Q’s three-run homer. Not that winning or not-winning makes that much difference at this point in the season, if only in the win/loss totals.

Scott, thank you for a season of informative, often inspiring posts!

Since you ask how I feel as the season closes for the Sox, I feel a bit like Charlie Brown, when Lucy pulls the football away yet again. As a long-time Sox fan, I have experienced so many ups and downs. I guess it just makes the thrills even more thrilling.

I will choose to recall the highlights of this season, and as always, “wait till next year.” I think there is a lot to look forward to for next year. We definitely had our bright spots in 09: Pods’ comeback (his clutch hits and his important presence at the top of the order), Beckham’s amazing adjustment to the big leagues, and the acquisition of Peavy may well pay big dividends. Getz and Nix show promise, and I think the Sox have a good talent balance of veteran and new players. If Carlos Quentin can stay healthy, I think 2010 will be a fun year.

I will miss the posts from old and new friends here, and look forward to “seeing” you all back here next year. That said, I will follow the team till the very last out, because that’s just the kind of fan I am.

Go SOX!!!

Peggy

Like Scott, I’ve been thinking back to the bizarre finish of a year ago, the Twins outright refusing to win the division and us taking advantage in stirring, unforgettable fashion. It’s too bad that this year, with the same situation in front of us, we couldn’t take advantage, or at least play close until the last weekend. As much as you can rationalize that the Yankees will dismember whatever weak ballclub comes out of the Central, you play to get into the the postseason, and especially with our starting staff, who knows what can happen once there.

It’s interesting to me that the White Sox apparently will embrace a more fundamental approach in 2010. One, because every year of his tenure Ozzie has claimed the team will pay more attention to fundamentals, and come regular season, they simply don’t. Two, because in the past Ken Williams seemed to hold fast to the notion that the offense needed to be “big” in order to win at U.S. Cellular–I always detected a schism there between manager and GM.

I am optimistically realistic about next season. Let’s face it, this has been the toughest stretch of the Ozzie-Kenny tenure–72, 89, and 70-odd wins. While you might not argue with the White Sox’s “big” offense when it winning World Series and at worst missing the playoffs winning 90 games, things are different now. The Central is a division just waiting to be dominated by a strong team–are we it?

It goes without saying the pitching is in great shape. Honestly, with the surplus we could well go eight deep (Peavy, Danks, Floyd, Buerhle, Garcia, Hudson, Carrasco, Torres…) with our starters. Because our top four can go deep into many games, I’d like to see Ozzie throw out the SP/RP book and expect our horses to thrown seven-plus. That minimizes the number of moving parts in the bullpen (keep it simple, Thornton-Jenks or Nunez-Thornton to wrap up wins). Our bullpen (all bullpens?) seems to falter when one element is subpar (performance or health) and then drains all the other pieces–simplify the bullpen, and protect against breakdowns!

Jenks makes me nervous. His salary is going up, his durability and effectiveness is going down. The trend is not enough to make me wish to dump him, but if there’s a deal to make, I’m not averse to it. Jenks is a really big guy who’s had leg, shoulder, back, even internal (kidney) problems. This may sound crazy, but I don’t know if he has the edge (mentally or physically) to remain a top closer.

Forget counting on Quentin to be healthy. He’s proven he will not be. If we get a healthy, MVP season in 2010, wonderful, but to even expect him to be 100% by April is something we cannot count on. Rios is a given in center, and let’s hope the work ethic that dogged him in Toronto won’t surface. To me, Kotsay (and his flexibility) is our No. 3 OF priority. He must be brought back, assuming a fair price.

Dye cannot return at the same eight-figure price. With both him and Scotty, if the price is right for us, c’mon back. But at this juncture I’d probably rather give both Kotsay and Scotty $6 million over two years and cut Dye loose.

I can remember seeing at least a few WOW plays from Alexei at second last year that I had NEVER seen before, gems you could play back over and over again. I didn’t see that same spark from him at SS. He never looked settled there. Thus at the expense of Chris Getz I think we have to move Alexei back to 2B, where he was utterly brilliant. I wouldn’t object to an Alexei-Getz platoon and Ramirez seeing some time in the outfield. For such a naturally gifted fielder, Ramirez looked very average this season.

Beckham needs to assume SS to free Chone Figgins up at 3rd. If there’s one guy we need on this team, it’s Chone. With him leading off and Pods ninth, we’ve got a nice back-to-back leadoff capability, and if one player is nicked up (as often happens to speedy legs), we’re not scrambling for a leadoff man.

In the past I have been very critical of Paulie, but seeing him at first this season reminds me that for all the slumps he can fall into, nicks and bruises he seems to attract, speed he rather comically lacks, and leadership he as captain seems to shy from, he is a terrific first baseman and adds value there in ways too easy to overlook. If someone is beating the door down for Paulie, sure, let him move on, but otherwise, Paulie at first, with Kotsay spelling him against tough righties, is fine by me.

An A.J.-Flowers combination behind the plate seems ideal. Let Flowers apprentice at the big-league level, and if A.J. continues hitting and showing leadership, we’ll find a role (DH, 1B) for him beyond catching in the future. No reason why those two can’t find enough at-bats and flourish.

The money we save on Dye goes straight to Figgins, and other re-signings like Pods and Kotsay will be offset by losing Dotel and perhaps Linebrink (although I don’t really want to see Dotel go); surely the team can enter 2010 with an equal payroll or lower.

I’ve said before that Kenny’s record as GM is impeccable, and that’s not without him taking risks. From the coaching staff, I need to see the team truly learning from Ozzie–for him to continue promising “bunting stations” and such each spring starts to sound like he’s simply covering his hiney after one too many missed sacrifices come August. If a guy like Alexei can’t be trained to be a smart baserunner and dependable bunter, why is he on the team?

My patience is gone with Walker. It may be true he does everything right and the players aren’t doing the work, but if so, that’s still a coaching flaw. You have to get your hitters to want to do the work, want to improve, just like it’s on Ozzie to create a team that is more likely to discuss a heartbreaking loss (or in Ozzie’s case, take a bat to a TV in frustration) rather than run to the TV to watch college football after a game. The shutouts combined with the traditional futility against nobody pitchers tells me enough of the blame falls on Walker–we need a change there.

I want to see a team that plays hard and plays smart. I don’t need 200 HRs if we can execute all the basic plays and don’t have inexcusable mental lapses. Pitchers, throw strikes!

There’s a lot of talent on this team, and the future is very bright. As wonderful as the Ozzie-Kenny tenure has been, I’m a little gun-shy these days. I hope to see Ozzie follow through on his demands of the team, and I hope to see enough individual players show their Sox pride by stepping up and improving their play in every facet of the game. If those things happen, we’re all going to be in a lot better mood one year from now.

Thank God that I finally got to watch a game without the stupid “HAWK” sayings. Steve Stone called the game like a game should be called, no duck snorts, no he gone, no ERAS(its actually errors hawk!), no can of corn or the other garbage we have to listen to to watch a game. If I owned the Sox he would be the first one to get fired. I cannot understand why people like to listen to the way he calls a game and the and all the words he uses, oh, I know, he wants to make a name for himself. I have a name for him, its jerk. Again what a difference to hear a game called like it should be called, not that Steve Stone is a great announcer but at least he doesn’t use the DUMB sayings that the Jerk uses. What is a stone pony anyway, just another dumb saying by a jerk. I hope he stays off the air for good, but that won’t happen.

Congrats on another won tonight. Nice to know that we can actually do it once the pressure is off and there’s no hope for us. But on a more positive note, congrats to Danks on pitching a complete game and getting the win.

Haven’t read or commented in a couple of days because they had to be spent at the Cell, taking in the last couple before (sniff, sniff) the season ends.

Friday was fun (Thanks to Peavy and Beckham) and certainly had us looking forward to next year, missed Saturday because the husband took those tickets (hah-payback for him getting to go to the Perfect game), and Sunday was fun again. Beautiful weather for tailgating and a film crew even stopped by to ask if they could film us for possible commercials for next year (sure, go right ahead!). Didn’t win any giveaways and was surprised that there were no team posters being handed out this year. But I’ll always take a win in lieu of any geegaws!

Watched Danks bring in another win tonight and Beckham adding to his RBI total (can you say Rookie of the Year?).

Have to admit that I’m intrigued to see how the Central will play out these next few days (because I’m still a baseball fan through and through).

Can’t decide if I should start saving now for the next Soxfest or go for broke and start planning another trip to AZ for next spring?

Happy fall everyone!

As always, I remain hopeful for next year. 2007 was dismal and we made the playoffs in 2008, so I am hopeful the same thing will happen in 2010. I realize you can’t make the playoffs every year.

That being said, I think 2009 was a huge disappointment. The division was there for the taking and we did not step up like we did in 2008.

Much as I respect and like Dye, we should part with him. Splitting that money between Kotsay and Pods is a far better use of it. I would hope that KW realizes how much Pods brought to this team. We would have been far worse off without him.

I can only hope that Rios does better next year. As good as everyone says he is, if Toronto let him go on waivers, that is NOT a good sign. To me that says they could not figure out his problem, and it’s pretty clear he has many. I don’t have the words to express how disappointing he has been, and how disappointed I am in KW for getting him. I hope I am proven wrong next year.

The bullpen has been a disaster, as it is more often than not it seems. Linebrink and Pena especially. I realize it is a puzzle every year but the money used to get Rios maybe should have been put towards decent relief pitching. Pitching is 90% of baseball.

KW was recently quoted as saying this team “underachieved”. While some veterans certainly did, KW decided to field a team with some very young players in key positions. I don’t know how that many young players equals “World Series” in KW’s mind, but he seemed to think it did, or he was feeding us all a pack of lies. I’d rather he called it a rebuilding year rather than continuing to say otherwise.

I’d also like to see Beckham at his natural position of SS, and have us get a natural third baseman. Ramirez had a disappointing year, and maybe HE should be the utility infielder next year, or platoon him with Getz at second. He seemed more comfortable there in 2008. Nix at third full time might not be bad either, he seemed to do much better there than at second defensively.

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