White Sox Week That Was 9/19-9/25 - Huh? What? Baseball?

White Sox Week That Was 9/19-9/25 - Huh?  What?  Baseball?
Think it's,...you think it's ok if I just....just lie down here // José M. Osorio, Chicago Tribune

The season lost most of its trappings of purpose weeks ago, and the games have really strove to match the appropriate tenor.  Good on them!

A sleepy offensive effort against Fausto Carmona was followed by two straight wins in Cleveland, including a sterling come from behind win in the second-half of Tuesday's doubleheader to save Dylan Axelrod from a loss he probably deserved.

As is the nature of 2011, the joy of those losses was darkened by the minor curiosity of the White Sox taking no action to retaliate for a wave of hit batsmen at the hands of the Indians.  There seemed to be no intent, so it's hard to be too disappointed, but as Jim Margalus examined, the White Sox never ever retaliate, and it would be nice to change anything about their reserved, demure, and underwhelming method of going about their business.

If that wasn't actually deflating enough, it was followed by two blowout losses to close out in Cleveland and to open the home set vs. Kansas City .  The mountain that is Everett Teaford was climbed on Saturday to send John Danks out with a win, but 10 K effort from Gavin Floyd was wasted as the White Sox scraped 1 run against tried-and-true AAAA pitcher Luis Mendoza in 7.2 IP.

So like that, they went 3-4, which is entirely appropriate for a sub-.500 team to rack up against middling divisional competition, and possibly a great preview for next season.

 

At this point, is anything relevant besides individual performances and their implications for next season?

Sure!-ish

Ozzie Guillen management crisis readies for the end

There's a slight chance that the Marlins are foolish enough to actually be willing to offer a player of meaning in exchange for a manager, clinching that the White Sox have nothing to gain by determining their manager situation prior to the close of the season, but something to lose.

As such, the inaction of the Sox front office can only be interpreted as...competence.

Williams refused to talk of a possible meeting with him, Guillen and Reinsdorf.

"I would rather do it privately," he said. "Whether or not we have plans to sit down or when, how, what the ultimate result is going to be is dangerous (speculation). And it's unnecessary. I know it hasn't been exactly private, but I think it's better served if it is.

There's neither a rush to eliminate the longtime manager who's taken the franchise to the highest heights, nor a kneejerk caving into his wishes for more security after possibly the worst performance of his tenure.

In response to being stonewalled, Guillen seems to be softening.

Guillen...was asked if he would give himself an extension after such a poor season.

"Nope. Because I'm part of this (disappointing) group," he said. "(But President Barack) Obama asked for an extension, why shouldn't I ask for one? Obama wants four more years. You always knock on the door to see what you get. I don't think they have to, but my job is just to make sure to ask, you know what I mean?

Or realizing that his demands outweigh his current clout.  Guillen is at least managing like he'll return next season with his ever-reliable defense of under-performing veterans Rios and Dunn.  He'd be stuck with them, after all.  Like the rest of us.

Same song in 2012?

With most of the unpleasantly expensive veterans locked in until the end of time, the decision on whether to try to step back and turn around from this point of being over-invested, overdrawn in the farm system, and overly mediocre is a difficult one.  As with most decisions of that type this season, it has yet to be made.

‘‘Do you account for it and account for the uncertainty and commit yourself to making sure we continue to build this young core so the next group can do something special?’’ he said. ‘‘Sometimes you have to take one step back to take two steps forward. That might be the point where we’re at, but it’s too early to make that decision.’’

Shiftless double-talk by Kenny Williams aside, with Brett Ballantini pointing out the lack of re-building talk going around, there seems to be a good chance of a similar cast returning with the hopes that a few less regulars go missing in action for the season.  That might actually happen, but it's a lot less razing and burning than this season would appear to demand.

One wonders what kind of slogan that approach will produce.  The year my alma mater was particularly dreadful at football, the phrases on the t-shirts stressed 'togetherness'.

About those under-performing veterans

With most of the fanbase eating paint just to feel something again and give themselves something to do, September would be a fine time to show some life and provide some encouragement for 2012.

Alex Rios heard the message!

Witness!  Alex Rios doing mean things to baseballs!

.311/.346/.541 with 5 HRs in September.  He does not take walks, he never did.

Witness!  Alex Rios dispelling accusations of nonchalance by disregarding the deleterious effects of a wall post!

Witness!  Adam Dunn not being to hear the message through his hobo beard!

.143/.321/.214, 28.3 K% for September, 103 PA's since his last HR.

OPS is a fatally flawed stat, and it's a small sample, but excuse me for getting excited for Rios posting his first month with an OPS over .800 since May of 2010.  With a neutral BABIP, no less!

Dunn on the other hand, is flashing a K-rate more in line with his normal badness, but still hasn't squared anything up in 7 weeks or so.

The pains of youth

Zach Stewart is now three starts removed from his near-perfect game at Minnesota.  He's also three starts removed from his last quality outing.  It's never good to give up four times as many HRs as strikeouts, and while Zach Stewart's variation of it in his latest start involved the least possible homers, he still gave 4 friggin' HRs on Friday.  He is not a starter.

Unlike his first start where he tiptoed around Detroit for 6 innings, Dylan Axelrod did not have everything working Tuesday night, walked 4 batters, and didn't make it through 5 innings.  He is not a starter.

Alejandro De Aza only hit .285 for the week, and only had one extra-base hit to lower his OPS to .900.  What a loser!  He also got on base at a .400 rate, he is totally a starter.

Dayan Viciedo has mostly shown painfully off-balance swings while struggling to make strong contact or square anything up.  As a result, his power numbers have been piddling, prompting me to glance at his career numbers and notice he's never put the ISO numbers you'd associate with his brute strength.  On the plus side, he's walking plenty, his strikeout rate is fine, and none of the red flags that existed for him as a prospect are flaring up.  On the down side, uuuugggggghhhhhhh.  Still a starter!

You've probably forgotten about monitoring Gordon Beckham for offensive improvement, and there's no reason to start now.  I'll let you know if something ever comes up.

Looking ahead for one last time

Monday brings about the final series of the season, a 3-game jaunt with the Blue Jays.  Both teams are approaching the contest with the intensity one brings to a dental appointment.  The Blue Jays' charter plane will be missing a score of starters, and fill-in starters will take the mound the first two games before Brandon Morrow hurls the finale.  The White Sox are offering what I imagine is one of the last 3 or 4 starts of Dylan Axelrod's career, possibly the last start for Mark Buehrle with the team, and then Philip Humber.

Considering the early part of the year was spent trying to hide Humber as much as possible, him pitching the finale is cute.  We've come so far!

 

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  • Fegan -

    Hate to say I told you so, but I told you so. And as Ozzie leaves for the Marlins, as I have left Chicago, my allegiance switches back to the Twins. I wish the Sox and their fine players all the best in their future endeavors. Maybe AJ will play one more for the Twinkies before he hangs up his cleats.

  • Ha, fair enough. So was Ozzie your primary tie to the organization or are you just disgusted with the general state of affairs? I imagine there must have always been some Twinkie affiliation for you to change, but any reason why you're switching over to the one team in the division with a bleaker future outlook?

  • My entire family is from Minnesota - both sides...although I was a military brat and never really lived there. Minnesota is always my second or third favorite team, at least the Viqueens and Twinkies.

    Over the years, I stayed in countless hotel rooms and gradually became a Cubs fan, met a few former players, etc. - then moved to Chicago and IMMEDIATELY became a Sox fan, for obvious reasons. Between the Bears and Vikings, the Sox and Twins, I was always conflicted.

    I went to Ga Tech in the 80's and used to go watch the Braves at Turner Stadium just to see Dale Murphy drill a dinger and the team lose 10-1. Then I left and they got good (if the Barber, Smoltz, and Glavine with no sticks counts as good).

    Bottom line, baseball was always the sport I played best and I will always love baseball the best. However, until they work out the DH thing, the AL is always going to have the edge. They get more at bats!

    Before college, it was DC and the Skins and Senators - now Nationals....and here I am being forced to root for Rex the Hex. What goes around comes around. However, I can say one thing about my time in Chicago - no matter who is playing whom, unless it's the Sox and Twinkies, I'm rooting for the Sox and whoever is playing the Cubs.

    At Ga Tech we always say we only care about two (football) teams - Tech and whoever is playing Georgia. College baseball is sort of pointless...

    I do love the men on the Sox and think they can do great things, but they still need to dump Kenny and hire another coach half as good as Ozzie was. I think he did all he could with what he had, although he made plenty of mistakes. He brought home a Series and so did the Twinkies and what the hell go AL Central! Although.......not the Tigers LOL. Brewers in 6! Pipe dreams there.

    I will still follow the Sox of course, just not as closely as in recent years. I love Chicago but now have moved on, but I have years invested in this Sox roster and hope they can make it happen for THEM - not Reinsdorf, not the city, themselves. And AJ is my favorite player in all baseball no matter what team he plays for.

    Regarding the Twins - I must disagree with your assessment about the future outlook. They have a nasty habit of bringing up talent and selling it off - but they HAVE a farm system. As long as the Sox operate on a get rich quick scheme they will fail.

    Looking back on Mayo's Top 50 from last January I see one Sox guy - Sale - and didn't they trade him already?

    I dunno I'm not a seamhead, more sports than time. But I see a LOT of Royals minor leaguers. I think everyone better watch out for Kansas City the next five years...their time is coming.

    I hope to see you on the other side and am very curious who they will get to replace Ozzie - but Williams has to go, IMHO.

    Keep up the good work, amigo! May we speak again...

  • In reply to Charlemagne:

    There are pictures of me as a tottler in my Grandfather's arms at old Comiskey, so I've literally been following the White Sox for longer than I can remember. Favoring the Sox was something I understood as soon as I understood the concept of baseball at all when I was 3 years old, I can still hear the fireworks when I'm in my parents' backyard. The loyalty to them as a franchise goes beyond the personnel. It's a very deeply ingrained and learned behavior. I don't know what it would take to end my allegiance, but it would have to be truly awful.

    I'm kind of loyal to all Chicago sports due to my upbringing, but with the way the Bears dominate the minds of everyone in a 100 mile radius, and the way the Bulls were in the 90's, loving the White Sox always seemed the most noble pursuit.

    I agree that if the Sox are going to rebuild like it seems like they have to at some point, Kenny's not on my top 10 to carry it out. From the way he talked about being on a set plan to turn things around, I can hope that he's been tasked to restock the farm system, but it remains to be seen.

    The Twins' problems are probably overstated due to injury, and some rebound years from guys who were pretty studly in 2010 could make things look a lot better, but Mauer and Morneau are almost comparable to Rios and Dunn in terms of money and years committed to them and question marks about their viability going forward. Kyle Gibson needing Tommy John surgery delays their best new hope for an impact starter.

    I think you hit the mark with the Royals. They're the scary team with what could really be a dominant offense.

    Every team has to ultimately win it for each other, if they became downhearted every time they surveyed the mercurial treatment the fans give them, or the coldness of ownership, it'd be impossible. The next retrospective interview I hear from an old player who that doesn't list 'being with my teammates' right near the top of the list of things they miss will be the first.

    I think I'll have to be pulling for the Brew Crew as well. They're local enough and I love Bob Eucker, but I'm betting the mere presence of Mark Kotsay will be enough to drag them down.

    Thanks for the kind words, I hope I can be interesting enough to keep you around.

  • I wish I could send you a few pictures I saved from this season - one was of Posada riding the pine, telling a teammate "I told Girardi I had a BAT sprain" and the other of Castro telling Pujols "Stay on first base. Next season we will give you a glove."

    Excelsior!

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