Tagged: Minnesota Twins

The Morning After

I saw some comments on both Inside the White Sox and the Sox Pride Forum that I wanted to address.

This one kind of sums it all up (franksbigdog on Reifert’s blog):

“Don’t need to wait for the end of today’s game to post. Jim Thome needs to go. Is anybody else as sick of watching this guy strikeout as I am. Yeah, ok once in a great while he hits one out but he is without a doubt, the WORST clutch hitter on the SOX, and he is without doubt way, and I mean way, past his prime. (BTW, Thome just struck out again for the third time today, after three yesterday). What is wrong with bringing Josh Fields up to DH and fill in once in a while ?
While I’m at it whatever happened to Jenks fastball ? In 05 he was routinely hitting 97-100. Now he routinely hits 92-93. He is very hittable these days. Like to see the SOX get a REAL closer because he is average at best. AND he should never, repeat never, be brought in to face the orioles.
Come on folks, this ain’t rocket science.”

I have to say that I almost agree with his view on Thome. Jim’s not doing much and even when he is, there are still signs that he is on a gradual decline. In my opinion, his years are numbered. I’m not sure there is a whole lot the Sox could get for him right now and it’s not like we need to dump his salary because aren’t the Phillies still paying a portion of his contract? (I could be wrong on that)

But I think the bigger issue here is that there are a number of players with low batting averages right now. In fact, the Sox are last in the league in BA despite leading the league in runs. It was only a matter of time before the clutch hits disappeared and in the last four games the Sox are 5-for-35 with runners in scoring position, including a 1-for-11 performance Monday.

Right now I keep seeing all these young studs around the majors that are hitting so well and I’m wondering why the Sox don’t have a guy like that. And then I remember, they do. His name is Josh Fields and he’s in the minors even though he hit 20 HRs last year. And while Fields is in the minors, Brian Anderson is failing miserably in his 109th chance in the big leagues and is hitting so poorly that they ask him to bunt on a squeeze play and he can’t even do that.

I don’t know if getting rid of Thome is an option, but why not use Fields in a platoon role where he DH’s, plays 1st or plays 3rd in a rotation where Konerko and Crede can get half-days off by DH’ing?

Right now Thome is batting .222 with 6 HRs and 18 RBI. And he’s struck out an astounding 25 times.

I don’t know if Fields would have 6 home runs yet, but I think he would have 18 RBIs and he definitely would be batting higher than .222. I should mention, however, that Fields has been prone to strikeouts as well. Also, replacing Thome with Fields also means one less left-handed bat.

I doubt the Sox would get rid of Thome and I’m not even sure I want them to, but I saw that comment and it got be thinking that a lineup with Fields could be better than the current one with Thome in it (and it certainly wouldn’t be worse).

Why pull Vazquez?

The other half of the above comment had to do with Jenks and his declining fastball. I will say that I have noticed it, but to call Bobby Jenks “average at best” is just plain wrong. His fastball has lost some velocity but he has still been dominate in all but two games this year. And entering the season, his 87 percent save conversion rate was comparable to Mariano Rivera’s 88 percent and Trevor Hoffman’s 89 percent. If he stays on this pace, he’s a Hall-of-Fame closer.

With that said, he should not have been in the game today. With closers, everything is mental. Fortunately for the White Sox, Jenks’ only “sike-out” is pitching against the Orioles. Five of his 14 career blown saves are against Baltimore.

Still, like Ozzie told the Chicago Tribune after the game, “I have one of the best closers in the game for the past three years,” Guillen said. “That’s his job. He didn’t do what he always does.”

He’s right and I would still put Jenks in against the Orioles the next time he has a save opportunity, with only one exception: IF THE STARTING PITCHER IS ONLY AT 100 PITCHES AND HE CRUISED THROUGH EIGHT INNINGS OF WORK.

Vazquez should have had the opportunity for the complete game today whether his closer was Bobby Jenks, Mariano Rivera or Billy Koch.

It would have been nice to see Ozzie actually takethe blame for that one. Instead, this game is still going.

Hoping this trip to Minnesota is not like last season’s

I think we all have a better feeling about this team right now than we did about last year’s team at this point. This team obviously has better team chemistry and they are more fun to watch.

But can we also keep in mind that the current 14-10 record is not that much better than last year’s 12-11 record at this point?

Also, the team is still dead last in batting average in the American League, a very worrysome stat for a team that is now in a two-year slump.

To me the “beginning of the end” for last year’s team came in Minnesota during a 3-game set May 8-10. Ironically, the Sox actually took 2 of 3 from the Twins, but Minnesota wasn’t that good and the wins were ugly. I was there for all three games and I saw first hand that something was just off about this team.

I guess I’m worried right now because the offensive woes have continued this season, but at the same time, I don’t have that feeling that something is off with this team. In fact, I think a lot of things are going right (Carlos Quentin, Joe Crede’s back, the starting pitching).

But we go to Minnesota tomorrow and I can’t help but think back to that series a year ago and compare that kind of play to how the Sox looked today against Baltimore. Hopefully they go into the dome and give a better effort.

Hopefully it’s the beginning of a good summer.