Fantasy Baseball Trade

I recently made a gutsy trade in my fantasy baseball league because I badly needed a pitcher.

I traded Albert Pujols straight up for Johan Santana. I had Garrett Atkins at 3rd, but he can also play 1st and I had Joe Crede on my bench.

So now I got Atkins at 1st instead of Pujols and Crede at 3rd, but I got Santana in my rotation. So far it’s been an even trade, but I was also worried that Pujols wouldn’t last the entire season with that bum elbow.

I guess we’ll see…

UW Spring Game Coverage

MADISON, Wis.–With my connections to Wisconsin I know some readers might be interested in some UW spring game coverage.

I was covering the game for the Big Ten Network. Here is my notebook from the game.

Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote a good story summarizing all the position battles.

And finally here is an interesting piece on Sports Illustrated’s web site about a California quarterback recruit’s experience with recruiting letters. Included in the piece is a Bret Bielema recruiting letter.

Back again

MADISON, Wis–It’s been a busy couple of weeks so I apoligize for the lack of a post for the past nine or 10 days. It’s been so busy that yesterday was my birthday and I spent most of the day working on a million stories.

Boo who, right?

Sox calendar curse

So before Thome hit a home run yesterday I was conviced that he was slumping because April is his month in the White Sox calendar handed out at Comiskey last week. His two home runs came on opening day, which was March 31. Since April started he hasn’t done anything.

Yesterday’s home run was long overdue and hopefully he breaks out of the April curse.

(He’s on the magnetic schedule too which has the entire season on it. Hopefully that’s not a curse.)

Big first week of games

Somehow I managed to go to three of the first four home games last week even though I’m not living in Chicago right now. And what a week it was…

Obviously the home opener was a blast. You can’t ask for anything more than a Crede grand slam on opening day.

Friday night’s game was unfortunately a loss, but it was my dad’s birthday and I know that there was no other place he wanted to be on his birthday than at the stadium (even if it was 45 degrees and raining).

Saturday it was still raining and even colder, but Gavin Floyd’s bid for a no hitter made the worth it. It’s just too bad Chris Rongey jinxed it. I don’t really believe in that jinx, but it was kind of funny to listen to Rongey’s call of the Tiger’s first hit (Chris was filling in for Ed Farmer): “Gavin Floyd, a no-hitter through seven and a third. And there’s the first Tiger hit.”

Even though I was sad Floyd didn’t get it, it made me laugh to hear that call on that post-game show when I was driving home.

Friday and Saturday’s games were also my girlfriend’s first two Sox games (and first two games in an outdoor-only stadium because she’s a Brewers fan). She already becoming a convert.

New site

If you haven’t seen it yet, check out this new forum for White Sox fans. It’s pretty cool.

Gig at WGN

Thought I would pass along that I was accepted for a summer internship at WGN Radio 720 this summer. Yeah, I guess it’s with the enemy, but it’s obviously an opportunity I’m excited to take on.

It would be nice to get the two game sweep of the Orioles and then take 2 of 3 from the Rays before coming home. Let’s see if they can get it done.

 

Streaking back to Chicago

CHICAGO– I feel the need to give these posts a dateline these days because I am always on the road. Just when I thought I was going to be home for a while because basketball season was over, I’ve spent this entire weekend in Milwaukee and am now in Chicago for tomorrow’s home opener. I couldn’t post without internet in Milly, but here’s my thoughts on the weekend:

4-game win streak

I think the most important thing about this weekend was what I saw in the dugout in the late innings of tonights 13-2 win over the Tigers. After Alexi Ramirez flied out to deep left (it definitely would have been a home run at Comiskey) the entire team congratulated him when he got back to the dugout and gave him a hard time. Ozzie spent more time the last two innings joking around than actually managing and I’m saying that this is a good thing.

Everyone looked like they were having fun and right in the middle of it all was Nick Swisher who has already shown that he fits perfectly on this team. I’ve already heard a number of comparisons between Swisher and Aaron Rowand and they really are similar. Rowand was obviously a better center fielder, but I have had no problems with Swisher out there and Nick is a switch hitter and even more outgoing in the clubhouse than Aaron is.

Speaking of Aaron…

Hanging out in Miller

While I was in Milwaukee I caught the Brewers-Giants game at Miller Park Saturday. I thought I was FINALLY going to get to see Rowand play in person for the first time since he was traded to the Phillies, but he was a scratch because of sore ribs.

Obviously I was a disappointed that he wasn’t playing, but I was even more mad that the roof was closed. BASEBALL IS MEANT TO BE PLAYED OUTDOORS*.

Now I put an asterisk after that because I am not against the idea of retractable roofs. Rain delays don’t help anyone so if it is raining then go ahead and close the roof. But Saturday we were tailgating outside and it was 60 degrees and sunny. Beautiful weather for an early April game in Wisconsin. Why would I want to go inside to watch a baseball game? Unbelievable.

I think that there should be a rule that if it is above 50 degrees and there is no rain in the forecast then the roof has to be open.

With that said, the Brewers would have swept the Giants whether or not the roof was opened, closed or if they played the game at now non-existent County Stadium. They certainly got it working with an underrated pitching staff and a great, young lineup. I like Manny Parra a lot and he looked great on the mound Saturday.

There will be more on the Brewers a lot this summer because I live in Wisconsin, but back to the team that really matters…

Sizing up the defense

Okay, I didn’t know what to expect from Carlos Quentin, but if he plays like this the whole season then I love him. That play he made Saturday doubling up Edgar Renteria at 1st base with a throw from left field was unbelievable. It was only No. 6 on SportsCenter Top 10, but if you see another left fielder do that again this season on a play where the runner does not make a huge running mistake (i.e. fall down, forget how many outs there were, etc) then call me up. It won’t happen. Renteria could have run harder, but no one expected Quentin to make that throw. It was an unbelievable play.

With that said, he can’t be dropping fly balls like he did today in the 9th. But he just took his eye off the ball so at least he got it out of his system when his team had an 11-run lead with one out in the ninth inning.

Swisher has looked more than comfortable in center field. He won’t be making the spectacular plays that Rowand or even Brian Anderson are capable of, but he has made some tough catches thus far.

I love Uribe at second base. I was trying to explain to my father tonight that Uribe is a great player when he is batting ninth and playing second base with Orlando Cabrera at shortstop. He sucks when he is batting seventh and is playing shortstop with Danny Richar at second. He has always been an above average fielder and he will be rock solid at second this season turning double plays with that cannon he has (which he showed tonight he will also use to throw out runners at third base and home plate on relays). I think he is a very valuable second baseman right now as long as he is in the No. 9 hole.

Saturday’s win was key

I really thought Saturday’s comeback win was huge. I thought the game in general was big because I did not like our chances Sunday night against Justin Verlander. All I wanted was to go 3-3 on this opening road trip and winning Saturday guaranteed at least that.

Winning that game also put the Tigers in an even bigger hole, which I think helped the Sox big time tonight. They are in a mental rut right now and the White Sox took advantage of that tonight.

I really do think that if the Tigers hold on and get that win yesterday then they would have played better tonight and won again. Remember that it was 1-1 tonight and even after the Sox squeezed in a couple of runs to make it 3-1 it was still a close game in their ballpark against a tough lineup. If the focus was better (like Carlos Guillen not dropping the ball at first which opened up the floodgates) then Sunday night’s game could have gone in a different direction.

So with the comeback Saturday the Sox are now 4-2 heading home instead of 2-4, or best case scenario, 3-3.

Ready to get to the ballpark

I love home openers and I can’t wait to be at the ballpark tomorrow. The Sox also have a great chance of winning. I like Javier Vazquez’s chances of getting his first win of the season against Nick Blackburn who lost his first start despite only giving up 1 run in seven innings.

The Sox are on a roll and will be juiced up in front of the home crowd. You worry about the guys being tired having to travel back to play a 3 p.m. game after a night game, but I think the adrenaline from playing at Comiskey will cancel that out.

Guys like Swisher, Cabrera and Quentin will be playing at home for the first time and it will be fun to welcome them. I expect Swisher to get a standing ovation in the first inning, but we’ll see.

I’m taking Memphis

Also, a quick National Championship Game prediction… I’m taking the Chi-town playa Derrick Rose and the Memphis Tigers over the other Chicago native Sherron Collins and the Jayhawks tomorrow. Both teams are playing great but no one can stop Rose and CDR right now.

Sox get one

Well the good news is that the White Sox can’t finish 0-162. Congrats to John Danks for a great game. It’s too bad he couldn’t get the win.

That was one of many good/bad observations I had watching today’s game. I’ll weigh them all.

The Good

  • John Danks looked great. He had all his pitches working and he was spotting them too, which was his main problem last season. Plus, he battled in a great pitcher’s duel against a veteran, Jake Westbrook, and gave his team a chance to win the game, which they did.
  • Joe “Clutch” Crede got it going again. He has always been key late in games (especially against the Indians) and he did it again today with the game winning solo home run in the 8th.
  • Jermaine Dye looked good at the plate the entire series. He started it Monday with a solo shot in the 9th and kept it going all the way through Thursday’s last at bat where he was robbed of a hit by David Dellucci.
  • Bobby Jenks looked great in the ninth inning. Always a good thing to convert your first save of the season. Can you believe that this is his third year of being the Sox closer on opening day? He has been so consistent and dominant that we have hardly noticed. That is such a good position to not have to worry about.

The Bad

  • The Sox got seven hits today in an old fashion pitcher’s duel and they won the game, but once again they were relying solely on solo home runs. I love the fact that Uribe and Crede got going with solo shots, but the Sox missed out on numerous opportunities today when they had men in scoring position–including after Crede’s 8th inning home run when there were two on and one out and Thome and Konerko failed to get them in. Sometimes all you need is a double.
  • Speed is very underrated and the White Sox have none of it. Speed at the top of the order is what got the Sox to the 2005 World Series and this could be the slowest team in franchise history. You hope Jerry Owens can get on base when he returns, but for now, Swisher is not a lead off hitter. He just isn’t. Unfortunately, Ozzie doesn’t have many other options, although I would love to see Pablo Ozuna get a chance to lead off in Detroit.
  • Jermaine Dye’s defense was awful in Cleveland. I thought he could have snagged the ball yesterday that led to the Indians pulling away and I thought he could have given a better effort on the ball today that allowed Travis Hafner of all people to score from first base. Then there was the mix up he had with Nick Swisher in center. The key word in that sentence was “center”. That was Swisher’s ball and not only was the kid there, Dye nearly tackled him and knocked the ball out of his glove. But I still have to make the argument that if Brian Anderson was out there, he would have gotten there a half-second earlier and Dye would have backed off. More on that later.
  • Thank goodness the Sox won this one because I think I would have thrown my computer out my window if I had to read another story about how the players are still happy with their effort even in a loss. The optimism is good, but the losing is still bad. I put this under “The Bad” for now because I think the Sox need to go 3-3 on this road trip and the 1-2 start means they must go 2-1 in Detroit now.

Put Anderson in center

I never thought I would be writing this but Brian Anderson should be the starting centerfielder. He is the best defensive outfielder on the entire team and he looked great at the plate during spring training. Quite frankly I have no idea why Carlos Quentin and Alexi Ramirez are even being considered.

If Anderson’s offense actually came around–and there are more than just signs right now that that is going to happen–he would be a phenomenal contributer to this team. As I said earlier, Dye would have let Anderson take that ball in center and even when the kid was terrible two years ago, he saved a number of runs with his outstanding defensive play.

Also, why the heck was Quentin batting ahead of Crede today? Here’s what my lineup would be right now:

  1. Nick Swisher, LF
  2. Orlando Cabrera, SS
  3. Jim Thome, DH
  4. Paul Konerko, 1B
  5. Jermaine Dye, RF
  6. A.J. Pierzynski, C
  7. Joe Crede, 3B
  8. Juan Uribe, 2B
  9. Brian Anderson, CF

And while I’m not sure Ozuna is better option at second base than Uribe on an everyday basis, I would love to see a lineup where Ozuna can be a true leadoff hitter. Here’s the lineup I would go with in that situation:

  1. Pablo Ozuna, 2B
  2. Orlando Cabrera, SS
  3. Jim Thome, DH
  4. Paul Konerko, 1B
  5. Jermaine Dye, RF
  6. A.J. Pierzynski, C
  7. Joe Crede, 3B
  8. Nick Swisher, LF
  9. Brian Anderson, CF

That looks like more of a baseball lineup than the first one, but I do like Uribe at second base. He has always been a good defensive player.

Well that’s all for me today. I’ll be in Milwaukee over the weekend so I’m not sure I will be able to post. I might be going to the Brewers game Saturday and I will be in Chicago by Sunday because the home opener awaits Monday afternoon.

LIVE BLOG: White Sox at Indians

I got the laptop on the couch and the game on the tube here in Madison, Wis. I’ll be posting periodically throughout tonight’s game:

Calling it a night

Cleveland 6, White Sox 1 – Top 7

Well it’s not looking good for the White Sox tonight. It is going to be tough to erase this deficit in the cold weather.

I going to keep the game on, but I’m closing up the blog for the night.

I’ll leave you with this new marking campaign I came up with: “Chicago Baseball: It is what it is.”

Mid-game links

Cleveland 2, White Sox 0 – Top 5

We knew this was going to be a pitcher’s duel. Vazquez has retired seven in a row and even though Carmona has allowed baserunners we all know that unless the Sox can get the ball out of the outfield, the Indians will get all the double-plays they need.

So this gives me a chance to throw out some links from the day:

  • First, here is my weekly column that comes out every Wednesday in the Daily Cardinal here in Madison. It’s about Indiana’s hiring of Tom Crean and how the Hoosiers are still going to struggle in an improved Big Ten next season.
  • For any other Badgers fans that come across this blog, Brian Lucas from UW Athletic Communications has a very in-depth post about the basketball team’s post-season travel. It’s pretty interesting.
  • Also enjoyed Leonard Shapiro’s column in the Washington Post detailing Chip Caray’s broadcasting career. Shapiro is currently teaching a sports writing class I am in here at Wisconsin.
  • I love this YouTube clip because it combines Gus Johnson and Stephen Curry. Having witnessed this layup in person, I can tell you that it was the most impressive layup I have ever seen live (and I have seen Michael Jordan in person).
  • This YouTube clip is horrible, but one of my buddies forwarded it to me and let me just say that you have wonder where the parents were. That’s all I will say.

Byrd provides some humor

Cleveland 2, White Sox 0 – Top 4

Because I’m watching the game on MLB Extra Innings, I am watching the Indians’ coverage of the game. The announcers were interviewing Paul Byrd during the bottom half of the 3rd and as Ryan Garko grounded out to Uribe to end the inning, they told Byrd to take them to the break.

“Garko hits a grounder to second and softly runs to first base just as I was talking about intensity,” Byrd said jokingly. “Get it going Ryan.”

Slowest team in baseball?

Cleveland 2, White Sox 0 — Bot 3

You know it’s bad when your roommate asks you if Joe Crede is your fastest player.

That really just happened.

Doubled up

Cleveland 2, White Sox 0 — Top 3

I’m pretty sure the White Sox are going to set a new record for double plays this season. The first thing I said when Paul Konerko walked to lead off the 2nd inning was: “Having Pauly on first is pretty much the same thing as having nobody on base.”

Of course the White Sox managed to hit into two double plays in one inning, which is pretty impressive when you consider that it’s not even possible. A.J. was bailed out on the first one by a generous “safe” call at first base and it only took one more pitch for Ramirez to hit into an actual double play.

Lead-off walk, hit, near double-play, actual double-play.

Sadly that won’t be the last time I have to watch that sequence of events this season.

Back for a new season

Well, I’m back. Finally, right?

I know some of you are already thinking of the excuses I will probably give and they are all probably right. Last year my postings tailed off right as things got bad for the White Sox, but if you have been reading this blog for the past three seasons then you know I’m certainly not a fair weather fan–I just got a lot on my plate.

And I should be more accurate. The postings did not just tail off… they literally stopped. My bad.

In all seriousness last summer was pretty crazy. I was working as much as I could at the Oak Street Beachstro in Chicago while traveling to Madison, Wis. every weekend to work an internship with NBC 15 Sports. Great experience, very time consuming, but it left me broke because of all the gas I had to buy.

Of course before I knew it Badger football was starting up and I was in Madison during the weeks as well covering fall camp. That led into the season, which led into basketball season and once basketball season starts my life is pretty much booked until UW loses in the NCAA Tournament.

Which brings us to last Friday. I was in Detroit covering the Sweet 16 loss to Davidson (yes, Stephen Curry is even better in person) and the first thing I said when the game was over was, “Well, at least opening day is Monday.” (The fact that beautiful Comerica Park was nextdoor to Ford Field was comforting.)

The timing could not have been perfect. It would have been great if the Badgers got a crack at Kansas on Sunday, but then I would have been driving back to Wisconsin in the middle of the night and would have been way too tired to enjoy the opening day festivities.

Anyway, I love the new MLBlog Network. Sox Pride looks better than ever and I don’t have to pay an annual fee anymore! Great news.

The other great news is that I’m here for good now. Basketball is over (well, at least for the Badgers) and my mind is completely turned to baseball.

OPENING DAY

Talk about a crazy game for the White Sox. I have a Slingbox on my computer to watch the games, but it was raining so hard in Chicago that my Dad’s satellite back home was cutting in and out. And obviously I didn’t realize that we get the first week of MLB Extra Innings FREE on our cable, so I was stuck listening to the radio.

“Stuck” is probably not the right word, however. Chris Singleton is gone, finally (you may remember this post  from a year ago), so listening to the games on the radio with Ed Farmer and Steve Stone is actually somewhat of a treat. Still, when the two of them are complaining about bad calls that are costing the Sox the game, I’m naturally going to want to see them myself.

I couldn’t see them, but there are three people in my life I trust the most: my mother, my girlfriend and Steve Stone. If Stoney says it’s a bad call then I believe it’s a bad call and I am naturally going to start throwing things around the room. Of course this gets all my roommates on their usual soapbox about how I overreact about bad calls (last month I nearly flipped the living room table over after the phantom foul that cost Stanford a win at UCLA that could have helped them win a share of the Pac 10 title. Note: I’m not even a Stanford fan and I watch about three Pac 10 games a year. It was bad call. Trust me.)

The truth is that they are right. What can I do from my room in Wisconsin? In my mind, however, that doesn’t change the fact that they were bad calls and instead of being up 10-7, the Sox ended up being down 10-7 and losing 10-8.

With that said, it was a pretty good opening day other than the performances of Mark Buerhle and Octavio Dotel. I feel like I haven’t seen that kind of offense since 2006. Oh wait, that’s because I haven’t seen that kind of offense since 2006.

Anyway, I have to cover a UW softball doubleheader against Loyola-Chicago tomorrow so I will probably miss the Sox game, but depending on the internet situation at Goodman Diamond I might be able to get it on my computer. Good reporting, right? I call it multi-tasking.

Hope you enjoyed the first post, I’ll be around all season and I will be at the home opener on Monday.