Tagged: Spring Training

Collected random thoughts

Random thoughts as I contemplate the clouds, rain, and wind outside my window:

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that Adam Russell had a good outing the other day. But one good outing and we’re ready to crown him the savior of White Sox pitching? Hang on just a second there, boys. He looks to have good stuff, but still is slightly erratic – the 6 ER and 14 hits in 10 innings of work isn’t exactly Cy Young material. Let’s see if he can duplicate Monday’s performance, and maybe last a little longer. I’m not sold yet – I need more.

I’m excited to see the final renovations done at U.S. Cellular. (For me, it’s always going to be Comiskey Park, but for argument’s sake I’ll just call it U.S. Cellular and deal with it) They finally finished replacing all the blue seats with green, except for two (and I like this idea) – the seat in left field where Konerko’s grand slam landed in Game 2 of the 2005 World Series, as well as the seat in right-center field where Podsednik’s walk-off shot landed in the same game. Neat little milestones in a park that needs a little character.

I do remember when it first opened – certainly, it was nice, and the sightlines were good, but it was so sterile. In the last five years, so much has been done to give the park character. I must applaud the White Sox organization for turning a boring, cookie-cutter park into a real icon of the south side of Chicago.

Chicagosports.com reports a possible interest in Rob Mackowiak by the Milwaukee Brewers. I don’t envision any move being made, but there are more than a few players which might just help the Sox in a few key areas…more to come on this one.

The regularly humble Jim Thome had a nice little taunt at Mark Buehrle (all in good fun, of course) after hitting a home run in an intrasquad game. Buehrle had retired Thome four times previously – the fifth time, not so much. After launching the home run, Thome pointed at it with his bat and smiled.

Twelve days to opening day!

Two weeks and counting!

We’re now just over two weeks away from opening day. The White Sox open on April 2 against the Indians…I’ve got the tickets, and I’m ready to go. Let’s hope the Sox are ready to go too.

I was quite happy to see Contreras’s effort yesterday…6 innings and 3 ER. He’s done quite well this spring, getting himself into shape, and I think we’ll see a return to form for him this year.

I caught a bit of the morning shows on my way to work today, and heard some of the issues that might cause the White Sox problems this year. There’s always the question of the fifth starter – and my worry here is that the Sox will endure the pitching problems that plagued them during 2004. They essentially had a revolving-door fifth starter, and it caused all sorts of problems for the team – to the point where it probably legitimately cost them wins and a true shot at the division title.

The outfield questions continue to endure as well – I’m in favor of letting Brian Anderson prove he can hit as well in the regular season as he does in spring training – but a lot of people are saying that Podsednik and Erstad should both start, and let Anderson gets his reps in AAA. This, in theory, would be a good idea – except that nobody in power believes that Erstad can stay healthy if he plays 162 games and that Podsednik’s consistency is still in question.  That’s one where we’ll just have to see.

Checking the live box score from today…John Danks has run into some problems. Now the word on the air is that Danks was the front-runner for the fifth starter position with Charlie Haeger and Gavin Floyd lagging behind, but Danks laid an egg today – 6 ER in 3 2/3 innings. Floyd has fared better in relief, with 1 ER and 2 hits in 2 1/3 innings. I will be interested to see how this complicates the competition for the fifth starter position.

And welcome back to the rest of my family, who unceremoniously went to Tucson and enjoyed spring training without me. How lovely. At least they enjoyed themselves. It’s a shame they couldn’t bring the weather back with them, though…

Halfway home, and maybe things are looking up?

Thoughts over my morning coffee and my recently-updated White Sox statistical listings…

Brian Anderson is batting .348? Maybe there’s hope yet. I was one of the few people who believed that Brian could turn it around last year, and it seemed toward the end of the season he started to put it together. We need to see more out of him this year – yes, the Erstad signing was nice but Kenny never, never intended for him to be an everyday guy. Now, if the Sox end up re-acquiring Aaron Rowand, then all bets are off – but for right now, I have to say stick with Anderson unless he falls off the map again.

Jose Contreras has a 5.06 ERA, but I think the most important stat right now is "0 HR". The fact that he hasn’t given up a home run in spring training could be telling for the rest of the year – he’s got control of his pitches, he seems to be hitting his spots more consistently, and he’s starting to get it together. Those 3 WP worry me a bit, but the 11/6 K/BB ratio is a good start…

On the flipside, Jon Garland has given up 3 home runs. This only gives me slight pause, as long as he can get the sinker-ball working come April 2. I know that Cooper has been working him a bit harder on his third and fourth pitches so the numbers don’t quite come to me as a surprise but I’d like to see him string together a few scoreless innings…11.25 ERA is not a nice number, even in the preseason.

Tadahito Iguchi is 2-24 in the spring so far? Somebody tell him it’s time to wake up. (That 1.000 FLD% almost makes up for it, though)

Am I the only one who is excited about the White Sox relieving corps? Last year, the prevailing thought through the later innings was roughly: "It doesn’t matter if we can get a lead, we’ll never be able to hold it." I think that question has been answered. A number of national sportscasters all said the same thing – if the Sox had kept Frank Thomas they would have won the division. I dispute this statement with prejudice. If the White Sox had been able to hold a late inning lead OR been able to get out of the first three innings without imploding, they would have won the division. As it was, they still won 90 games. I think the biggest question now is, "Can the White Sox get to the sixth inning with a lead or a close deficit?"

Mark Buehrle has also given up 3 home runs, but has struck out 7 while walking only 2. I think he might slowly, but surely, be getting back control of that changeup and sinking fastball. Now if he can just keep it down in the zone…

And in totally random news…I just received my opening day tickets in the mail. I had to order them from StubHub because the White Sox are not selling opening day tickets on their own, they much be bought as part of a larger package. While I go to thirty or forty games a year, I never buy a package only because I attend the vast majority of games on the spur of the moment – I usually don’t know if I’ll be able to get to a game until the day of the game, and then I just jump on the El to get to the park. I never have a problem getting good seats, either – especially if I go alone, there are usually odd lots available right at the ballpark. Since I’m going with my dad (a tradition) on opening day, however, I didn’t want to chance it so I bought those tickets in advance. See you at the park on April 2!

Day 3: Let me be very clear about something

OK. I’m already getting flak from people regarding my musings on the White Sox. I need to be very clear about something – I love the White Sox. But I also have to say that I will call it how I see it. If I think the White Sox are dogging it, I’m going to say so. I understand that we’re only three days into spring training games – but we’ve had four ****-poor performances from our starting four, and our fielding has been lackluster to say the least.

Do I believe it will turn around? Yes, I believe that. I also think, however, that while there was a sense of urgency last spring to return to the playoffs, I don’t get the sense that there’s any sense of urgency to improve this spring. I hope to high heaven that I’m wrong but we have yet to see.

Ask me if I care about what Ozzie Guillen and Brandon McCarthy are saying about each other. The Chicago media has been gunning for Ozzie Guillen since day 1. He speaks his mind, for better or for worse, and the media types jump all over it. There’s a reason Kenny Williams got rid of Brandon McCarthy – and whether or not we ever know what it really is, is irrelevant.

Quick, somebody point Jose Contreras in the way of home plate.

Starting today for the Sox is Gavin Floyd. I’ll be interested to see his stuff – I’ve heard good things about this kid, and we’ll see if he can deliver.

Day 2: Getting the kiddies some time in the sun

It’s good to see that the White Sox hitters have gotten off to a solid start. I have full faith and confidence that the pitchers will catch up…because if they don’t, look for a repeat of 2006.

Charlie Haeger’s knuckleball seemed to be knuckling quite well yesterday. With the right training, I think this kid could be the next Jamie Moyer. Don Cooper is definitely right guy to be training him – let’s not mess him up now.

Javier Vazquez and Lance Broadway better head back to the practice field for a few more reps. Vazquez especially – he didn’t even get the chance to screw up in the later innings, he had to go and do it early.

Today: Jose Contreras goes up against Livan Hernandez. Let’s see if we can string together some outs today.

This just in from the human interest file: Matt White, billionaire. Baseball is just what he’ll be doing for fun.

He’sa non-roster invitee to Los Angeles Dodgers camp, but what makes this
news is that he’s literally a multimillionaire/billionaire thanks to a
recently deceased aunt who willed to him a 50-acre property in
Massachusetts. This property contains, among other things,
approximately 24 million tons of decorative construction rock which
wholesales for about $100 a ton. If you do the math, that’s in the area
of $2.4 billion.

Look at it this way – if he ever gets really good, then he certainly won’t be doing it for the money.

Day 1: And he’s already up to his old tricks…again…

I am trying to remind myself that it’s not the regular season yet, but I still found myself text-messaging my brother yesterday with those familiar words:

"Buehrle is already at it again."

Iknow it’s just the first day of spring training. But when your line
reads "2.0 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 0 K" it annoys me. Perhaps it’s
just my knee-jerk reaction from last year’s collapse. Perhaps I’ll just
have to retrain myself and remember that two years ago Mark Buehrle was
the anchor to a very strong pitching rotation. Perhaps I’ll just remind
myself that Jon Garland had a worse day yesterday, and that despite one
bad day Garland is still the same man that has won 36 games over the
past two seasons.

Remember, it’s just the first day of spring training.

Ha. Yeah, right.

Bobby Jenks is feeling tightness in his shoulder. Ozzie Guillen and the rest of Chicago is currently feeling a bit of tightness a bit farther south on the body.

Yikes.
I just saw that the Rockies had six 2-out RBI in yesterday’s game. Just
remember to breathe…and it’s still only the first day of spring
training games…there’s always today…

In other news,
I just saw that the Cardinals nearly blew a final inning lead to
Florida Atlantic University. I’m glad to see that everyone in the
majors is up to their old tricks again, not just the White Sox.

The forecast
for Tucson today: 62 degrees and sunny. The weather currently on the
other side of the wall here in Chicago? 40 degrees, rain and wind. I
guess we know where the lion and the lamb are at currently.

Just remember, it’s still only March 1st…