Screw it, let's preview the Rangers

Screw it, let's preview the Rangers
Ventura, seen here refusing to submit to reporter requests to prove his face is real // Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

The White Sox refusal to name a closer has officially waned into odd territory.  Not that it's a problem they haven't named one--the longer we go on without an announcement, the more room to dream that the Sox won't name anyone and all.  Instead, perhaps they'll go game-to-game and play the match-ups with the relievers they trust.

But they're probably not doing that.  They're probably just being weirdos.

Cooper on closer: "Yeah, you still don't know that. We don't have to name it. There's no place we've seen or heard we have to name a guy.''

— Daryl Van Schouwen (@CST_soxvan) April 5, 2012

Uh, touche, Coop.

Some time in the next few weeks it will become clear whether this is just another part of furthering the tight-lipped style that exists elsewhere in the White Sox organization into the manager's office, or stalling brought on by genuine indecision.  In either case, the news is that there's pretty much no news, or announcement on that front.

So there's nothing really left to write about besides, oh hey, there's a baseball game Friday!

The White Sox will spend the Opening weekend facing the Texas Rangers, who return a massive amount of last year's team.  That's a good decision, since last year's team won the pennant.  Winning games against the Rangers should be difficult for everyone, and the White Sox don't figure to be exempt.

Pitching Matchups

April 6th - Colby Lewis vs. John Danks

April 7th - Derek Holland vs. Jake Peavy

April 8th - Matt Harrison vs. Gavin Floyd

The Sox will avoid Yu Darvish, and instead face the slate of unremarkable but solid average to above-average and durable Texas starters.  Colby Lewis has logged back-to-back 200 inning seasons for the Rangers since returning from Japan.  The first of which was quite good, while 2011 saw his home run rate explode and his ERA finish at 4.40.  The safe bet is the middle ground.

Holland and Harrison are both lefties who can touch the mid-90's with ease.  Harrison was able to avoid the pitfalls of pitching in a homer-den last season on the way to a 3.35 ERA in 185.2; Holland not so much, though he has a developmental higher-ceiling.

It's easy to think of players on the Sox who won't fair well against high-velocity (Beckham, Pierzynski), but also a couple for whom mashing lefties is one of the few things they're proven at (Viciedo, Morel, Rios).  Of course if Dunn can't hit lefties...well, then the season's over, so whatever then.

With the multiple lefties, I wouldn't be surprised to see Lillibridge or Flowers snag a start over the weekend

Opening Day Lineups

Thanks to a picture snapped by Scott Merkin, we know that the White Sox Opening Day lineup is thus:

CF De Aza

3B Morel

DH Dunn

1B Konerko

C Pierzynski

RF Rios

SS Ramirez

RF Viciedo

2B Beckham

 

While the Rangers will be sending out:

2B Ian Kinsler

SS Elvis Andrus

CF Josh Hamilton

3B Adrian Beltre

DH Michael Young

1B Mike Napoli

RF Nelson Cruz

Yorvit Torreabla

LF David Murphy

The Rangers have friggin' Mike Napoli and Nelson Cruz sitting in the 6 and 7 slots.  Even 5th century Rome thinks that's a little decadent.  Texas dealt in contact (league-leading .283 average) and power, and were the best in the league against the fastball last season (and hammered the change as well).  No one out of the three Sox hurlers is in a position to rely heavily on their four-seamer anyhow; they'll all need to mix things up.  Danks will need his cutter to be sharp.

None of the three Sox starters are groundball mavens--Peavy in particular has a profile indicative of someone dragged out of Petco Park against his will--but it's not the Ballpark in Arlington is hugely more prone to home runs than U.S. Cellular.  Mostly, it's worrisome that three pitchers who thrive thanks to good control are facing off against a lineup that swings aggressively and crushes the ball.  It's not like there's anyone who's a particularly good matchup with the Texas Rangers, though.

Texas is also one of the best baserunning teams in the majors, and any changes Ventura & Co. have been able to make to the Sox typically abysmal defense of the running game will show up really quickly.

 

This figures to be a tough series for the Sox, but since it's baseball, I'll take them for a game in this series.  In fact, since it's baseball, let's acknowledge the distinct possibility that the Sox could win two games this weekend, or slide into a really hot stretch and pull off a shocking three-game sweep.  It's not likely, but the probabilities only take us so far in this sport, especially when it's a half of a year since any White Sox players have been spotted in a real game, and our understanding of everyone's abilities are about to be re-calibrated.

If nothing else, all the personnel will be back in place from one of last year's greatest moments.

 

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