As the Crosstown Series opens another chapter tomorrow at Comiskey, here is my annual All-Chicago team:
Catcher: A.J. Pierzynski
This could be the toughest position to call, and one of the rare positions where the Cubs can compete with the White Sox. It is also a position where if you are a Cubs fan you will pick Michael Barrett, and if you are a Sox fan you will pick Pierzynski. A.J. has picked up his offense, and I’ll always take a .300 average over HRs, especially with Thome, Konerko, and Dye hitting before him. His 11 RBIs are low for that spot in the lineup, but you can’t blame him if the Big 3 are cleaning up the bases before he gets up. Pierzynski has ultimately become another leadoff hitter in the 6th spot, and his .339 average is the highest of all the starters. He doesn’t have the best arm, but his leadership and knowledge behind the plate could be the best in the American League.
Barrett has more RBIs, but a lower average, although .291 is not bad at all. Like I said, you could make an argument for both, but I think Pierzynski is more valuable to the Sox than Barrett is to the Cubs.
1st Base: Paul Konerko
Paulie is actually having a much better year than he did at this point last season, which might surprise some people. He has one less HR than he did a year ago, but in May of 2005 his average was barely above .200. I’ve been saying since opening day that I would be very happy with 30 HRs from Konerko if he hit .300. I think we’ll see a compromise of maybe 35 HRs and a .290 average. With Derrek Lee, out there is no competition in Chicago for him.
2nd Base: Todd Walker
This was a tough call too, especially because Walker has been filling in at 1st for Lee a lot. Walker’s and Tadahito Iguchi’s averages are mirror images, with Walker having an edge on RBIs and Iguchi having an edge with runs scored. So it comes down to defense, where Iguchi is having a rough year. Walker has only one error and that came at first base. Overall, he is the better 2nd baseman this season.
3rd Base: Joe Crede
Crede is not only emerging as the better second baseman in Chicago, he finally coming around to be one of the better players on the Sox team. His .316 average is second of all the starters, and he providing power as well with 8 HRs and 29 RBIs. Aramis Ramirez’s .218 average is no where close to Crede’s and he only has 6 HRs.
Shortstop: Ronny Cedeno
This isn’t an easy call either. Ronny Cedeno has a much better average than Uribe’s .203 average, but his runs are similar and RBIs are lower. Neither are tearing it up as far as run production goes, but Cedeno is actually getting on base. His defense is very questionable though, with 8 errors already this season. Uribe has a better arm, but while his defense his better, it is hard to say that a player with a .203 average is the best in Chicago
Left Field: Scott Podsednik
This is one position where numbers don’t need to be presented to show who is more valuable. Podsednik has proven that the Sox win when he gets on base. After a very rough start he has managed to get his average all the way back up to .297, and he has become a very big running threat once again now leading the AL in stolen bases again. Matt Murton will be a good player, but he isn’t nearly has good as Podsednik right now.
Center Field: Juan Pierre
I still think that Brian Anderson will be a great player in baseball. He has a great arm, good range, and the tools to be a productive hitter. His development will probably be a lot like Crede’s, frustrating but rewarding. For now, Pierre is the better player. He’s faster, a good lead-off hitter, and makes plenty of good plays in the outfield.
Right Field: Jermaine Dye
This isn’t very hard to explain. Jaque Jones = overrated. Unfortunately, he has had a knack for beating the Sox so we’ll see if he plays like an All-Star this weekend. For now, Dye is the consistent All-Star who very well could be playing in Pittsburgh this July. If Dye stays healthy, his numbers could be better than Konerko’s by the end of the year.
Jose Contreras– If he comes back healthy, he’ll be starting in the All-Star game and making a run at the Cy Young. Sunday’s game will tell.
Greg Maddux– Surprisingly, the 40 year old is Chicago’s second best pitcher so far.
Mark Buerhle– Has been inconsistent, but still winning.
Javier Vazquez– Has shown signs of brillance as long has he gets past his usual one bad inning a game.
Freddy Garcia– ERA high, but winning and getting stronger.
Closer: Bobby Jenks
Dempster and Jenks are both good closers. The only difference is that Jenks actually gets to close games.