In case you were fooled, these are still the 2011 White Sox. Or: The return of focusing on the good stuff.

So, the White Sox lost their 7th straight home game against the soft-tossing left from KC who can’t get a win against anyone, except the 2011 White Sox.

I present you the evidence, for your perusal:

Ugh.

So, that’s all I am going to say about that.

It’s been a while since I’ve added to my defense page. But, in an effort to say something positive (I’ve really got to learn to just embrace the pessimism – but no one wants to read a 5 page rant on Alex Rios and Adam Dunn (including me!) – so I’m back to focusing on things that do not completely suck.

Shockingly, this leads me to Brent Lillibridge. I can’t think of another team that has been as reliant on their 25th man this season as the White Sox have leaned on Brent Lillibridge. Defensive replacement for the 3 OF positions, filling in for non-hustling centerfielders, playing 2B late in games when the extra-innings shuffle meant there was no one else, and – more recently – learning to play 1B and becoming a late-innings defensive replacement for Adam Dunn.

And, most recently, platooning at 1B with Adam Dunn when the opposing team sends a LHP to the mound.

Which brings us to this. Which, while not spectacular, is not half bad for a kid who has been playing first base for approximately 3 and a half minutes. (As usual, click on the photo to watch the video at mlb.com)

With today’s hand injury to AJ Pierzynski, Brent Lillibridge should probably start trying on catcher’s gear.

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Hopefully the last mental health break I’ll need for a while. Or: The 2011 White Sox are still baffling on every level. And, I have stuff to say.

So, as you may or may not have heard, the White Sox were crushed, humiliated and put on display by the Yankees last week.

Which obviously meant that the next logical step was to go to Minnesota and squish the tar out of the Twins, who were previously 7-1 against the White Sox.

Seriously, when it comes to this team, I don’t even know anymore.

But, we’re into August and all I can do is take it one day at a time and enjoy the things that are worth enjoying, and stop worrying about the other things and just try to ignore the big picture.

And, hey, there were some good things this weekend. And some bad. To get it out of the way, let’s start there.

1) Adam Dunn continues to defy logic, time, space and several of the laws of physics while he continues to have pretty much the worst season in the history of all mankind.
2) After Paul Konerko took a pitch to his knee, he missed a few games and has been limping around the DH role for a few and he’s said that he’s not really feeling any better. This is why (other than Carlos Quentin, who has turned plunking into a sport), I never, ever want my players to “take a pitch”. The short-term gains of getting on first just aren’t worth the risks. Get well soon, Paulie.

But, onto the good!
1) Carlos Quentin, when streaking, can carry a team. A 2 HR day in Minnesota, followed by a random day on the bench, followed by a 2 double day seems to indicate that he’s on a hot streak. We’ll take it.
2)Alex Rios appears to have changed his wonky batting stance to something approaching normal – for the second time this season. It worked (temporarily) when he did it earlier this year. Let’s hope it sticks this time.
3) Brent Morel took a 4 pitch walk. AND worked a count to 3-2. In the same game. This is momentous, trust me.
4) Brent Lillibridge had started taking practice grounders at first base last week, just in case. And, well, with the other option at first being Adam Dunn while Konerko is injured, Lillibridge made his first appearance there on Saturday as a defensive replacement for Adam Dunn (and homered on his only at bat) and started there on Sunday (and homered on his first at bat) and was pleasantly adequate. Lillibridge just needs a catcher’s helmet and he can be the White Sox version of Don Kelly. (AND – momentously – he also singled in the same game. 2 HRs and he still remembered he doesn’t ALWAYS have to swing for the fences. Progress!)
5) Alejandro De Aza is a pleasant surprise so far. The Minnesota announcers would like to take him for themselves.
6) We met Zach Stewart, who was solid – not spectacular – but did exactly what we needed him to do. He pitched well enough to win and gave Jake Peavy a day of rest to be, well, the old Jake Peavy and own the game from start to finish.

Basically, the Twins/White Sox series was summed up perfectly by Jim Margalus at SouthSideSox.com.

In case you missed it, the White Sox didn’t just sweep the Minnesota Twins this weekend. The White Sox:

Beat them at Target Field.
Beat them with sellout crowds at Target Field.
Had better starting pitchers.
Had a better bullpen.
Had a better offense.
Played better defense.
Beat them with the long ball.
Beat them with the running game.
Let the Twins lose.

That was fun. Let’s do it again sometime.

Before I digress for a long moment, let’s pause to take a look at Brent Lillibridge and his shiny new first baseman’s glove.

And, on a different note, I didn’t say a ton about “the trade” around the time, but I read an article that sorta iked me, so now I have stuff to say.

Basically, the article implied that the whole trade was a ploy to get Tony LaRussa to the White Sox next year. Let’s ignore the fact that Ozzie’s option has been picked up for next year (since, yes, he could be fired).

What the White Sox had to do this trade deadline:
1. Dump salary.
2. Get *something* for one of those 6 starting pitchers. Hopefully one who is a free agent next year.

What the White Sox did:
1. Dumped salary.
2. Picked up a strongly-rated prospect (who fits right in on Redneck Row) and a quality right arm for the pen who was born in Chicago, so if he doesn’t go back to TOR, he might stick around. And, you know Ozzie always loves some good pitching.
3. Did not blow up their bullpen – which has been pretty much lights out since May – unlike TOR, which had almost no one essential and they could afford to send whoever it took.
4. Did not take on yet another OF. Cheap or not, there’s still nowhere to put him. And, if they had to move half their bullpen, who would they send? Bruney wasn’t going to cut it, Ohman probably wouldn’t either, Sale is supposed to be a starter next year, Santos is the cheapest closer in MLB and I’m pretty sure that Thornton and Crain are a little too pricey to replace – even with lesser options.

What the Cardinals needed:
1. Short term gains in pitching.
2. To get rid of a player your manager didn’t get along with.

What the Cardinals did:
1. See above.

What the Jays needed:
1. Alex Anthopoulos has had his eye on Colby Rasmus. And, AA gets what he wants.

What the Jays did:
1. Picked up a good pitcher they could fire to St. L (since the Jays don’t really have any established arms to send).
2. Handed over a few replaceable bullpen arms and an outfielder – none of whom were part of the future of the Jays.
3. Took on a relatively large contract they could easily afford for an INF they don’t really need.
4. Acquired Colby Rasmus.

So, Tony La Russa may or may not be coming to Chicago, but looking above, it doesn’t seem like the whole thing was a complicated conspiracy to get Colby Rasmus away from Chicago AND St L at the same time. It seems like everyone sort of got what they needed and – sure, AA probably won in the end – but, there’s no reason to think there was any more to this trade than there seems.

But, maybe I’m naive.

On to Baltimore!

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Almost no time for baseball right now. Or: Thank heavens for the web gems.

So, I’ve been working the night shift all week, which means: no baseball for me.

But, things have been going well this week. I’m psyched. I am beyond psyched that the good Gavin Floyd came back from the All-Star break. Even if he continues to stupefy me. 3-hit the OtherSox, but getting lit up by the equivalent of the Minnesota Twins triple A team.

Regarding “the trade” – Not a bad deal, considering it was pretty remarkable that the White Sox found someone to take on Mark Teahen’s salary (I’m pretty sure Mark Teahen might be the 3rd highest paid player on the Blue Jays right now). I was pretty sure that was an impossible task. I’m glad that Alex Anthopolous was willing to pocket Mark Teahen’s salary to buy low on Colby Rasmus, because that might have saved at least one other White Sox player from hitting the trade market. The entire trade was, obviously, a salary dump. But, at least they picked up a righty for Ozzie to potentially use a little bit so he can stop panicking that he’s wearing out Jesse Crain, even if Jason Frasor was sad to be leaving Toronto and grew up as a Cubs fan. :) And, Zach Stewart has the potential to turn into a nice little project for Don Cooper. Maybe he’ll end-up as a two-inning man, but at least is a potential option in case there’s some sort of injury to the injury-prone starter who-shall-remain-nameless.

And, now I can go back to dreading the remainder of the non-waiver trade period and hope the White Sox can stave off a fire sale.

I definitely had more that I wanted to say about the trade (also the Toronto aspect), but this week has sucked the life out of me and this is really all have the energy for. Really, I can probably summarize it as: I’m glad Mark Buehrle’s not a Cardinal right now.

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And, so it continues. Or: Yup, even when the White Sox can’t beat the Indians, the Indians beat themselves.

So, the Indians lost today. Fortunately for the White Sox, they were the ones wearing the visitor’s jerseys. Winning a game 4-2 with 3 unearned runs is pretty much the White Sox way. But, if the opposing team is dropping fly balls, throwing pick-off attempts into the outfield and throwing wild pitches, you have to take advantage of it.

There’s a lot of unrest in the White Sox camp right now. There are intermittent coaching meltdowns, the offense is still on vacation, there are trade rumors swirling left and right and it’s possible that (even with no money to spend) the White Sox could look entirely different in a couple of weeks, Phil Humber is taking a (temporary) trip back to the bullpen, and the entire (current) team is more or less playing below expectations, but because of the insanity of the AL Central, they’re not entirely out of the race.

So, sure, the White Sox won this game only because the Indians gave it away. But, it wasn’t all bad. Edwin Jackson pitched another solid outing, Omar Vizquel made a fantastic game-ending diving stop, Chris Sale is doing such a fantastic job out of the bullpen that he might just pitch himself out of a starting job next year, and even though he wasn’t his sharpest, Sergio Santos still managed to collect his 20th save of the year – not bad for a guy who has been a pitcher for about 15 minutes. And, not to mention, special mention of the ability of the White Sox to wear their sunglasses over their eyes and not on their hats.

And, at the end of the day, my team still likes each other – which makes watching the ridiculousness that is the 2011 White Sox a little bit more bearable.

And, just in case you had forgotten, Omar is awesome. And, this might be my favorite picture of the entire season so far.

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The White Sox still like to play the Indians. Or: The White Sox might just be the most mentally fragile team in the history of baseball.

So, the White Sox beat the Indians. They beat them earlier this season and they beat them again last night. Because the White Sox beat the Indians this year.

Last night’s game was another low-scoring affair with great starting and relief pitching, some pretty good defense and the White Sox runs coming off of the bat of a Quentin home run. That’s pretty much the story of this season. That seems to be the White Sox formula (with the Quentin home run sometimes being a Konerko home run). Fortunately, it held up last night. If the Indians had put on Minnesota Twins jerseys, the lead wouldn’t have held up. If they had put on KC jerseys, the game would have gone 12 innings.

It’s just somewhat incomprehensible that this line-up has turned into he 2011 White Sox I’ve been watching for the last few months. My (die-hard Blue Jays fan) brother said to me the other day that he looks at the White Sox roster sometimes and can’t believe how good it is and even the non-Whie Sox diehard fans are completely perplexed as to what happened to our offense.

But, back to last night’s game. To summarize, the pitching was stellar, the defense was good, and the offense was pleasantly adequate. I’m certainly not looking for a 15-0 bludgeoning of the opposing team every time they play, but a little more hitting with runners in scoring position would be really, really nice. Really nice and probably somewhat essential for any hope of contention this season.

And, of course, most notably, Gavin Floyd’s good twin showed up to pitch last night and I’m glad the offense was able to scrape together enough runs to support his effort.

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And, we’re back. Or: The optimism was nice while it lasted.

So, alas. There were some good times, and then there was more of the same. I’m a little ashamed to say that I actually didn’t make it to the end of last night’s game against the Royals.

Again, Johnny Danks. Brilliant. The White Sox utter absence of anything resembling offense or hustle? Not so brilliant.

It is entirely on the back of Paul Konerko (who has cooled off slightly) and both the starting and the relief pitching that we’re not in Houston Astros territory. But, man-oh-man, the last few games have been hard to watch.

Well, today is an off day and tomorrow we start a stint in Cleveland. The White Sox are about 24 hours removed from an Ozzie meltdown that was probably somewhat deserved and possibly even quite rational and I hope it spurred something. SOMEWHERE. I’m enjoying a bit of a mental health holiday, myself actually.

Since the Jays had a day game, I guess I’m going to settle in, try not to actually melt in the middle of this heat wave and watch the Rays take on the Yankees and just enjoy watching a game where I have only a moderate interest in the actual outcome and take a night off from having my heart stomped on.

I don’t have a baseball picture appropriate for this post, so I’ve decided to post a picture of my dog.

So see y’all tomorrow. Hopefully with everyone feeling a little more optimistic.

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Welcome back, White Sox. Or: So, the cure for what ails the White Sox is the future AL Cy Young winner?

So, it’s both very surprising and not-at-all surprising that the White Sox won the opener against Detroit. On one hand, Verlander has been unrelentingly brutal on hitters and it’s no secret that our offense has been somewhat… lacking. On the other hand, for some reason, the White Sox seem to do better against team over .500 and worse against sub-.500 teams. So, really, you never know what you are going to get.

Sure, I spent the first 3+ innings just praying SOMEONE would get a hit. I really didn’t want to watch a no-hitter. But, then when Gordon Beckham (!!!? I know, right) came through, followed by Mark Teahen (again, what??!), it was off to the races.

Firstly, and most importantly (other than Beckham initially calming my nerves and being my hero of the game by breaking up the no-no), was the return of the good Gavin Floyd. Gavin Floyd is as good as anyone else out there, but he’s so inconsistent (I think he probably needs to borrow Adam Dunn’s sports psychologist sometimes), you never know what you are going to get. But, last night, he out-pitched Justin Verlander and it made me a very happy sports fan (and, okay, a Gavin Floyd fan) and, aside from the one bad pitch, he was a pleasure to watch. I fully acknowledge the fact that he can have an utter meltdown any day of the week and he can be incredibly frustrating, but I’m still convinced that he has no-hitter stuff in there somewhere and I can keep hoping. :)

And, it was nice to see a happier mood around the White Sox camp after the game today. Rumor has it that ‘The Most Interesting Man in the World’ made it into Gordon Beckham’s locker after the game, but he moved it to Gavin’s locker. Both of those sound about right to me.

It was a good game. At the very least, I’m just happy that (almost) everyone got in on the action and there was actually offense. It’s definitely a step in the right direction. I would be thrilled if they didn’t feel like they had to rely so much on the home run to win ballgames.

There was a lot of good baseball last night: the Charlotte Knights won (White Sox AAA team) with John Danks on mound in a fantastic rehab start, the Jays won, the Rays won, KC made a late comeback against the Twins, and Juan Rivera hit a HR in his first at-bat as a Dodger.

It was good to be back.

Hopefully, it’s the start of a lot of good things for the second half.

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