Tag Archives: optimism

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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It’s been a rough couple of weeks for the White Sox. Or: The AL Central is the ChiSox kryptonite.

So, my real life went kaboom and I’ve been running around like a crazy person. Tragically, I haven’t been busy enough to miss the slaughtering of the White Sox by the AL Central.

Oh, my team.

At least they (except for Paul and Carlos) have a couple of days off to recharge their batteries. I’m going to need the break to recharge mine, as well, in order to bring back my sparkly pompoms of optimism. They get two more series to get their act together until I give up on the concept of entertaining a division race and I will come up with a drinking game to get me through the rest of the season.

Because, post-season hopes or not, I still want to watch (hopefully) Brent Morel continue to grow into his big-boy shoes, wait for Ramon Castro’s hand to heal, keep hoping (in vain) for Gavin Floyd to throw a no-hitter (my constant wishing will make it possible, I swear!), watch Jesse Crain continue to be the best (IMHO) off-season addition to the White Sox, wait and see what else Sergio Santos and Philip Humber have up their sleeves, cheer on Paulie as he hopefully stays in the race for the triple crown (at least within shouthing distance) and watch and wait for the insanity of the September call-ups.

Because, why not? They’re still my boys, I’m not going anywhere.

In the meantime, here’s my fave fuzzy green dude at the All-Star Game. Probably just waiting to cheer on Paulie and Carlos, like the rest of us.

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There is no “I” in team. Or: It’s never dull on the South Side.

I ❤ the White Sox. They frustrate the snot out of me sometimes, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love ’em.

And, today was certainly a day on the South Side.

When your starter leaves the game after 1 2/3 innings of work, you have at least 2 problems. One: your starter is injured. Two: You have to make it through at least another 7 and 1/3 innings.

When it happens on a day after your entire bullpen was used in an epic 14-inning rollercoaster (and, not to mention that your traditional “long man” is on the DL), you have a whole extra set of problems.

Well, Brian Bruney (DFA’ed by Washington last year, coincidentally) came out and pitched 2 1/3 and then Jake Peavy made his first career relief appearance. His previous 238 appearances in the big leagues had all been starts. Anyone who follows the White Sox knows that when he was about to come off the DL, Peavy offered to take a place in the bullpen, if they wanted to disband the 6-man rotation and they felt that he could help from the pen. He’s an amazing competitor and, obviously, a real team player.

“We manage and coach big games, bad games, close games. But [I won’t forget] this one, just because the way the team stuck together at that particular time,” Guillen said. “When Danks went down, everyone knew much we were struggling in the pen. We couldn’t use a couple guys and all of a sudden three guys came up and said I’m ready to go just in case you need me. That’s class act. As a team, I hope this thing takes off to the next level and we start playing better.”

“I think Peavy jinxed it,” Guillen said. “He went to my office before the game and said, ‘[If] you need me, I’ll be available.’ I said, ‘[If] we need you, we’re in trouble.’ Well sometimes you’ve got to be careful what you say. All these games I’ve been managing in my career, I think this one I’m not going to forget.”
(Click here to watch Ozzie talk about the awesome team spirit attitude today in his post-game press conference)

Serendipitously, AJ Pierzynski was sitting out today (giving his knees a rest after the 14 inning Friday game) and had to catch for Peavy while he was warming up in the bullpen. Professionals and competitors, they appeared to have forgotten about their disagreement during Peavy’s last start, so we obviously all should as well.

I haven’t given out a gold star in a while, but I think today definitely deserves a gold star.

Peavy was dealing. 7K, 1H, 0BB and 0R in 4 innings of relief. If he hadn’t hadn’t had to sit so long on the bench while we grabbed a couple of insurance runs in the 8th, he wanted to come out and pitch the 9th. We were happy for the insurance runs and, hey, it’s always nice to watch Santos deal out a 3-out save.

And, since we’re focusing on the positive today and ignoring the nagging negative stuff: Brent Lillibridge continued his streak of diving in the outfield to save runs for John Danks (even when he’s not in the game anymore). Rios and Morel went 3-for-4 and Ramon Castro continues to be the best back-up catcher in the American League (and, I’m biased and I don’t care).

So, one more chance to eek closer to .500 tomorrow. But, win or lose. I still love my boys.

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A comeback that ends with sweep. Or: Maybe I should speak too early more often.

Well, when all was said and done, that ended up being a heck of a fun ballgame.

I’m glad I spoke too soon about Gavin Floyd. Anyone who has stopped by here before knows that I’m rather partial to him, even with his very unpredictable Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde pitching personality that can make him frustrating to watch – painful, when he’s having a bad day, but a pleasure to watch on a good one.

After he finally fumbled his way out of the 3-run, 7-hit 2nd inning, he came back and (including the last out of the second) retired 8 straight in short order. He totally got himself back into the ballgame sitting on the bench in the top of the 3rd, only allowing two more hits (one of those being the usual solo-HR that he gives up with relative frequency). So, good on him and I’m glad to see him continue his success against the Red Sox – sure it wasn’t a 10-K highlight reel, but it definitely got the job done. I don’t know if he needed a pep talk, a slap upside the head, a cup of coffee or a hug, but whatever worked, I’ll take it. And, likely, so will he.

Other highlights:

  • It’s quite amusing to watch how every team trots out a completely random – and significantly older – line-up when they face Wakefield and his knuckleball. 65mph and it puts on quite a show. I don’t think Quentin really knew what he was looking at. :)
  • Omar Vizquel leading off second and dancing behind Wakefield like he was going to try to steal 3rd. Not only is the concept rather comical, it felt like we suddenly woke up in 1994.
  • Alexei Ramirez continues to be *on fire*. He (and Paul Konerko) are probably the two position players on the ChiSox that really deserve significant all-star consideration.
  • Chris Sale, coming out of the bullpen for another 1 1/3 inning of relief. He keeps this up, Matt Thornton’s going to get booted out of his set-up man job, too.
  • Santos, for the win. A mildly-dramatic fly-out to Lillibridge in RF (man, the two of them make quite a pair), a non-dramatic pop-up to Rios (hanging out in CF for a half-inning) and a strike ’em out swinging to end the game. A nice little 3 up, 3 down and a sweep of the Red Sox and the White Sox go home 5-5 for the road trip.
  • And, of course, what’s a game these days without something about Brent Lillibridge? Yesterday, he missed a HR over the monster by about 2 inches (and ended up with a single), and in the top of the 4th, the same thing, but at least he ended up with a double and an RBI for his troubles today, putting us on the board for the first time. However, the moment he (clearly) had been waiting for came at the top of the 6th when he SLAMMED one over the AAA sign and into the parking lot.

    It’s funny. For a back-up position-player, it really seemed like that HR was completely inevitable this series. He just had that air about him from the first time he stepped up to the plate at Fenway. And, it was a beauty.

I would like to draw your attention to the graphic at the top of this post (from the front page of chicagowhitesox.com). It made me grin when I saw it and it is definitely one thing that I’d like to file it under “awesome things you never could have predicted on opening day”.

Go (White) Sox!

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A little optimism on a sunny Monday. Or: Today is a new day.

So, yesterday happened (and, unfortunately, due to some of the on-and-off-the-field actions and interactions, it is still happening in some respects). But, today is a new day and it’s time to fill up the glass again, since it was far less than half full after yesterday.

So, in order to do that, I am going to do a few things:

1. I am adding Carlos Quentin’s awesome sliding grab from yesterday’s epic-smushing of the ChiSox in T.O. to my ❤ defense page. Because, down 13-2 in the bottom of the 8th and he’s still running down a play like that? I don’t know about the lot of you, but this is a guy I want on my team 10 times out of 10.

2. I am going to post links to three great moments from this season, chosen in a completely random and biased fashion. Because, the emotional rollercoaster goes up and down and round and round, but baseball is a great game.

CWS @ NYY – April 26, 2011

  • Just what the recap says: Gavin Floyd struck out 10 and Paul Konerko went yard, but Brent Lillibridge sealed the win with back-to-back stunning grabs. Probably my favorite game of the year so far.
  • ~

    CWS @ OAK – May 13, 2011

  • Enter Jesse Crain in what has become his typical scenario: Bottom 7th, 0 out, runner on 1st and 3rd and the lead has just been sliced from 4-0 to 4-2 and, finally, after a whole season of coming up short, we manage to pick off someone, and catch someone stealing – home, no less – in the same game. Wacky happenings, but definitely a fun day at the ballpark.
  • ~

    CWS v. TB – May 7, 2011

  • Short and sweet. Sergio Santos practicing his little-used fielding skills and ending a sweet 3-6-1 double play. I should probably add this to the ❤ defense page. It’s not Sergio’s fault that I didn’t start this page until after he nearly split himself in two to make this play.
  • ~

    3. I am also going to link to an article I read this morning on another blog. Putting things into perspective – with a few laughs thrown in – always soothes the sting a little. Just a little advice for anyone else who is having trouble keeping the glass half full. – 8 Simple Ways to Enjoy Baseball

    Go Sox!

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    Toronto, Part Two. Or: Let’s not do that again sometime.

    Trapped at the ballpark today, surrounded by 18,000 Jays fans and not being able to change the channel…

    Instead, I am going to post a link to a video from yesterday – the first time in his 23 year career that Omar has played first base.


    “We talked about it in Spring Training. [Guillen] said I might have to play some first base this year, and I was like ‘Come on, you’ve got too many guys out there that can play first,'” Vizquel said. “I never thought I was actually going to have a chance.”

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