Black Jack

Ask Black Jack: Volume 5

Got a question for me? Send it to askblackjack@yahoo.com.

As we know, Alexei Ramírez is playing SS but is that going to be his final position when the music stops in a 2011? I say 2011 because that is when Dayán Viciedo should be playing 3B full time and Gordon Beckham moves to his rightful position of SS. Will Ramírez end up in CF, 2B or left out?

Brian D. Schultz

My guess is that Beckham will move to short and it will depend on whether Getz is the guy of the future or not.

Jack


Hello Jack,

Obviously I'm a fan of yours and I am very suspicious the way Ozzie/Kenny handles white players. Here's my opinion: Brian Anderson better player than Wise will ever be in the field and at the plate plus younger. Ran out of town.

Ozzie ran Scotty Pods out of town and now he's back doing a great job. The only reason he is back is because Kenny was desperate.for an outfielder. Josh F is now in Ozzies Dog house and is in the minors..( I believe they couldn't wait to get rid of Crede..he's gone. Swisher decent player lot's of potential got in Ozzies's dog house..adios

ALL WHITE PLAYERS....

Quite franky it appears that white ballplayers have to be 10 times better than the Latino or black player to stay in the line up or on the club. Unless your kissing Reinsdorf butt like Thome and Konerko. What's your take on this racial pattern of who plays and goes. Thank you for your response.

Jim Clarke

I see how folks could assess things that way considering the moves you've spoken about, but playing devil's advocate works against you.

Brian Anderson has been well below expected and hitting closer to .200 than .300 ain't gonna cut it. Fields had an option and wasn't playing because of Beckham. They'll give Kotsay his aB's where Fields was getting them.

He still is an option at third if they move Beckham to SS. Crede's back was a major issue. You never know how a guy is gonna come out of those things, so they decided to move on. And I'm not a big fan of Swisher so I can't place that in the same category!

So I guess it goes both ways on all those thoughts. But again, Beckham is white and he basically replaced Fields. Nix and Getz are white and it's easy to find Latin back up infielders! In reality I've noticed a couple of organizations that have gone that way a lot stronger than the White Sox. The Angels and the Mets. But that's for another day.

Jack

Hey Black Jack,

I like what you bring to the booth when you filled in for DJ over the past couple of years. It'd be great to hear you doing Sox games, maybe when Hawk steps down Stone can slide over and you can take over the color duties. Any hopes for you to eventually get in a tv or radio booth providing color for baseball games? I enjoy your blog, it's not the typical writings from a former player that I would expect, you're very candid and fresh. Keep it up.

Mike

I like filling in occasionally in that realm, but right now I'm looking for something close to home. My oldest boy is starting High school next year where I coach, I have an 8th grader and a 7th grader, and a 3 1/2 year old and a 7 month old baby. So Maybe in a few years I'll get back to traveling...but it will be on the field. Just not sure quite yet what level.

Jack


Hi Jack! Loved it when you were on the Sox! Question: Does our hitting drive you nuts or is it just me? I love the Sox and try to be understanding, but what can you do?

Thanks,
Bill Clark

Sox hitting is crazy. Too much talent to go south all at once in games.


Hi Jack,

Your post about closers was right on the mark. My ten-year-old son, Graham, has a question for you: Do you think D. J. Carrasco would work as a closer? And should Jenks be used in mop-up relief? He and I both think all of the so-called closers (or set-up men) on the team are unreliable.

Kevin Gardner (and Graham, too!)

It's not about reliability, it's about overrating the job itself. Every closer has about the same numbers at the end of the year. They all save about 80 percent of their games and blow a few. No matter who they put in there, that's how it ends up. A great number of people can do the job successfully and show that every year.

Jack

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26 Comments

Ghost of Halas said:

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With Mark Prior probably ending his pitching career with the Padres releasing him the other day, I was wondering if you had any insights on his disappointing career arc, given your recent writings about hype/potential vs. actual performance and pitchcounts.

Jack McDowell said:

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I made my comments about Prior when he was going through the achilles heel injury with the Cubs. I took a ton of shit for it. Once again, I was correct and everyone who busted my chops can kiss my ass. How's that for insight?!

Jack McDowell said:

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Do you remember the flap?

Jimmy Greenfield said:

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All his injuries blend together now. Was it over whether it was his heel or his shoulder that was actually hurt?

Jack McDowell said:

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the heel injury. I thought it very odd AND very telling that a strained achilles tendon would not heal...on a 22 year old! Sorry for the speculation. Oh and just how many games has Prior won since testing?

bkelly said:

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I do remember, and found it hilarious that he got so angry.

I just re-read some articles on that event, and I completely forgot how much of a douche-bag Prior really was.

rustysurf83 said:

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I'd like to see Thorton get a few more opportunities to close if Jenks doesn't get back on track. Regarding whether Beckham will move to short, I agree that he probably will, but don't think it will have much to do with Viciedo. I think Dayan looks more like a corner OF, 1B, or DH type not an MLB 3B.

Ghost of Halas said:

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If I remember right, Prior was an All-American boy who had never heard of steroids and loved Jesus and you were tarred, feathered, run out of town on a rail and drawn and quartered for wondering why he had such persistent tendon issues.

Jack McDowell said:

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That's about right. Similar to the Beckham thing with Hawk and Ozzie earlier this year. i was an asshole for even thinking about calling the kid up. And then more of an asshole for commenting that they need no longer downplay the kid in the press to the point of ridicule. Once again, I was wrong. We really didn't need anyone to come up and hit .300 with a ton of doubles and RBI. Now Hawk and Stone just squeal every time the kid does well. Oh well.

john in cary said:

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hey now... point of accuracy here. hawk wasn't on you about what you said about beckham - it was what you said about guillen. since the day #13 was hired harrelson has been willing to take a bullet for that guy - and with morons like former lead suntimes columnist eddie munster ranting how ozzie was nothing more than a homophobic racist the hawk has had more than a few opportunities.

speaking of which, how can you not give ozzie a ton of credit with how the sox have hung in there this year?

Jack McDowell said:

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When have I not given Ozzie credit?

lesnessman said:

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I am so sick of the Sox (and Sox fan) 16 inch softball mentality with regard to defense. Meaning anyone can play the most important defensive positions on the field (see Nick Swisher in center...or Pods for that matter)
"Move Beckham to third..no short" "Ramirez 2nd, Short, Center." Just stick the players in their natural positions from the start and keep them there. I heard goofy fans talking about Konerko at 3rd a couple years ago (he can't play 1st anymore)...come on.
Viciedo, by the way, is the posterboy for my 16 inch softball theory. He is a DH at best.

Jack McDowell said:

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Sounds good, we'll move Konerko back to catcher.

Jimmymac120912 said:

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How can you say its not about reliablity, when it comes to relivers? Its all about reliablity, you don't think Ozzie's stomach turns when he has to give the ball to Linebrink or Jenks in key situations. Not every game can a Sox starting pitcher go the distance. I hate to go back to 2005, but was reliability overrated when Ozzie was handed the ball over to Polite or Cotts. I know as a fan it was satisfying watching the game, knowing that those two guys were gonna shut the opponent down. Jack, you can keep fighting the bullpen job all you want, but the fact is in late September into October, the team with the best bullpen usually wins.

Jimmy Greenfield said:

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If you're going to use 2005 as an example you can't overlook how many bullpen innings the Sox throw in the 2005 ALCS. 2/3 of an inning. Ozzie let his starters finish three games that, technically, were save situations. In that series, every Sox starter did go the distance in each of the four wins.

Jack McDowell said:

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My point with closers is that the "reliability factor" all falls to about the same level by year's end. Because the job is statistically rigged to be hard to screw up, the closers all line up in a row. They all save 80% of their games no matter how they get it done, quickly or ugly. Go look up the recent closer stats. The top ten all have 1-3 blown saves with Jenks having blown 4. It is all the same statistically! The reliability comes with the ease of the job. And the whole starter vs reliever thing comes down to chicken or the egg. The starters have been allowed to become 5 and 6 inning drones so of course the bullpen is needed. I'm saying that it makes more sense to train or allow your $10,000,00.00 starter to pitch late in the game rather than turning the ball over to 4 $500,000.00 guys. There's a reason for the pay difference!

lesnessman said:

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Dont't you think that "innings pitched" is the reason for the pay difference???
Interested point, however, about how the closer stats all line up. I do not have the numbers, but I would bet that the same could be said for #1 and #2 starters.

Jack McDowell said:

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No that is NOT true with #1 and #2 starters. Not even close. There are so many variables with starting pitching. Closing is a stat padding thing. Everyone is put into the SAME situation, and only that situation. Starting pitchers distance themselves from others during the season based on consistent sustained excellence. Think of it this way, a closer could realistically give up 2 runs in one inning and STILL get their magic "save" stat. If a starter gives up 2 runs in any one of his 7 or 8 innings, he'd better get zero's in most of the rest to be a stat leader. And if innings pitched was the reason for pay differences, then the mop up guys or middle relievers would be paid twice as much as the closers.

lesnessman said:

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You're right and I'm wrong on the innings piched issue. That is why you are "Black Jack" and I am "Les."
But I still believe that #1 and #2 pitchers all pretty much line up statistically with each other. Look at the AL top 25 in starts this year. Three guys under 3 in ERA and 5 over 5. The rest give up 3 or 4 runs a game.

Jack McDowell said:

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The thing you're missing about it is that the starters and ERA are not the only telling stat whereas "saves" is ALL it's about for closers. For a starter innings pitched and wins are more telling to me than ERA. Javier Vasquez is, yet again, having another great statistical year, tons of strikeouts, good ERA, yet as Ozzie so calmly pointed out last year...He doesn't win ballgames! There's so much more that goes into being a starting pitcher and that's why starting pitching is the most valuable commodity. I realize that the ERA will line up for pitchers in order, but the percentage of games started vs wins, or the number of games started vs innings pitched all relate to how dominant a pitcher is. Closing comes down to how many save opportunities you'll get because everyone saves about 80% of their games. Not every pitcher wins the same amount of games percentage wise. Winning games and eating innings depends on how good you actually throw the ball. Does that make sense?

part-time pariah said:

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it makes sense until you run into us sabre-nerds, LOL. then you have to look at FIP, BABIP, WAR, etc.

Jimmymac120912 said:

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How often does that happen? So many things have to go right for a conclusion like that in the ALCS. How about the Tampa series last year when none of the starters went past seven innings. A team has to have a bullpen they can rely on. Very few teams have ever had four starters as RELIABLE as the Sox did that year.

Jimmy Greenfield said:

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That's my point. It doesn't happen now because managers don't let it. Ozzie could easily have gone to the pen in those games and never been criticized because it's what managers do today. But he had faith in his starters and let them finish the job. Worked out fine, just as it did for a lot of pitchers during the first 100 or so years of Major League Baseball.

Bullpen is important. But if going to the pen is a rote move by the manager then what's the point of having a manager?

Jimmymac120912 said:

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Point well taken, however, managers don't let it happen because their jobs are on the line. The best team in Major League history is arguably the 98 Yankees. Joe Torre relied heavily on what many consider the best bullpen ever. It was Rivera to Wettland and good night. An argument could be that it all depends on how a team is constructed. The White Sox the last two years have paid and traded for bullpen help, because they rely heavily on late inning relief. The 2002 Angels did not win because of their starting pitching, it was because none of their starters outside of John Lackey could be effective more than six innings. I am all for starters finishing the game, because a rested bullpen is a better bullpen. I also beleive there are few better managers than Guillen in managing his starters and releivers.

part-time pariah said:

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wow you get questions almost as dumb as mark gonzalez gets.

soooooooooooooooo much of alexei's future depends on if getz consistently produces, and not much else. ramirez could even become a valuable trade chip in the offseason (offensively i mean, because let's face it, the guy is atrocious in the field).

for that reason, i cringe when i hear the 'let's put ramirez in CF' argument. i can only hope danks/shelby are ready to go by next year...

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