Tag Archives: some people can do everything

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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Squeaking out a series win. Or: The Bullpen Olympics and the Utility-Player Hoedown.

For all intents and purposes, the Chicago White Sox played themselves this week.

There were runners stranded everywhere, sporadic (at best) offense, and failure to execute in the clutch. The fact that the White Sox squeaked out 2 wins in the last 3 games is, again, a testament to our pitching – and possibly the random nature of the universe.

However, kudos to the bullpen. I’m pretty sure that when we went into this series, no one was going to expect Ohman to grab a loss, followed by wins for Bruney and Crain. The deciding run came in the 13th inning, the 9th inning, and the 10th inning in each of these games.

I had the Colorado feed for the first 2 games of this series. I’d bet good money that the people who work for Roots Sports in Colorado haven’t been watching the White Sox this year. Firstly, they seemed surprised when we didn’t score with runners in scoring position, they were impressed with the number of double plays that the Rockies were able to turn, and seemed to not realize that Juan Pierre has been struggling of late.

However, it turns out that Juan Pierre really likes playing in Colorado, going .500 for the series and missing a grand slam by about a foot below the top of the RF wall (seriously. Juan Pierre. there aren’t even words for the surrealness of this.) – but still managing to drive in three clutch RBIs today.

Also of note, we started the game with a Sunday afternoon lineup on a Thursday. Aside from Omar, who has historically hit very well against Aaron Cook, it seemed as though the rest of the lineup was pulled out of a hat – with Quentin, Konerko and AJ (who combined for all of our RBIs and 3/4 runs from the win yesterday) on the bench.

Jake Peavy had a relatively good outing, aside from the first inning, but certainly not as good as his relief appearance the other day. Juan Pierre likes playing in Colorado, but Adam Dunn went from striking out to grounding into 2 double plays. And, when we were down by 4-1 in the 7th, it seemed like the lack of offense had the writing on the wall. However, when we squeaked up to 4-2 (Gordon Beckham finally had a good offensive day), the regulars started sneaking into the lineup and the day started looking up.

    Original Line-Up –> Final Line-up

  • 1. Juan Pierre LF
  • 2. Omar Vizquel 3B –> Mark Teahen 3B
  • 3. Adam Dunn 1B –> Mark Teahen 1B –> Paul Konerko 1B
  • 4. Alex Rios CF
  • 5. Mark Teahen RF –> Brent Lillibridge RF
  • 6. Alexei Ramirez SS
  • 7. Ramon Castro C –> AJ Pierzynski C
  • 8. Gordon Beckham 2B
  • 9. Jake Peavy P –> (Carlos Quentin) –> Will Ohman –> (Brent Morel) –> Chris Sale –> Jesse Crain –> Sergio Santos

What it boiled down to in a nutshell was: We used everyone on our bench and by the end of the day, our lineup looked more like a Friday night line-up. This series started out with the bullpen olympics followed by the utility-player hoedown and somehow, we ended up scraping wins 2 out of 3 days.

It was weird and it was messy, but we’re scuffling right now, so I’ll take it.

Now, back to the North Side and, well, at least the Cubs went extra-innings today, too. But, someone should probably send bottle of Aleve, a case of Red Bull and a massage therapist over to the White Sox bullpen, just in case.

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Happy Father’s Day. Or: Another non-White Sox post

So, for a change, I’m going to talk about a utility player today. :)

(Oh, stop laughing.)

So, this is one of the non-White Sox that holds a special place in my baseball life and is definitely worth a little attention on Father’s Day. This is John MacDonald.

Johnny Mac has played for the Blue Jays for the last 5 years (after a long stint in Cleveland with one Omar Vizquel). He’s your typical super-sub, with gold glove-worthy defense, but a bat that keeps him out of the line-up most days, barring injury to someone in the starting line-up. And, he’s definitely grown to be beloved in Toronto. He’s a generally all-around nice guy (Canadians love that!) and Blue Jays fans know that when he’s at 3rd or SS, it’s going to be an easy day for your left outfielder. And, it’s nice to see that, instead of leaving him on the bench for a possible defensive replacement move today, he gets to start the day at 3B.

In 2010, John MacDonald came back from bereavement leave 5 days after losing his dad to cancer. Before his dad passed away, his dad had told him that John was going to hit his next home run for him. John is not really known for his power-bat and he told his dad that it could happen quite a few years from then in a weekend softball game. He had only 13 home runs in 12 MLB seasons, and hadn’t hit one that year.

His first game back was on Father’s Day. In his first at-bat (a pinch-hit in the bottom of the 9th), he knocked a 2-run homer over the left field wall.

The Jays had too big of a deficit to overcome in that game, so they didn’t win that day, but that’s not the point of this story.

The radio announcers said it best: “We were all up here in the booth, blowing that one out.”

Happy Father’s Day for anyone with something and someone to celebrate or commemorate today.

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Defense! Or: Essentially the Brent Lillibridge Highlight Hour

So, the White Sox decided they were going to put together a compilation some of the best defensive moments of the first half of the season.

To the surprise of no one, it is essentially the Brent Lillibridge highlight reel. The awesome Paul Konerko/Matt Thornton behind-the-back running grab snuck in there at the beginning, and there was a John Danks catch in there that sort of snuck under my radar when it happened, but this video is pretty much a love letter to Brent Lillibridge. Click the photo to watch the awesomeness. :)

In other news, the White Sox start a stint in Arizona tonight and – since I’m a National League ignoraumus – I have really no idea what to expect and it still boggles my mind to see Edwin Jackson’s name in the batting order. All I have to say is that everyone in Arizona better keep their brooms in their closets and I don’t want to have to tip my hat to any more opposing pitchers at the end of a pitcher’s duel, capisce?

Well, here’s to the continuing quest for .500! Go White Sox! :)

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The White Sox have good utility players, too. Or: Fine, Brent Lillibridge, I will write a post about you, too.

First things first. We won today. It was a messy, messy game with a billion White Sox stranded on base and weird strike-outs and questionable calls (for both teams, from pretty much everyone but the guy at third), but we somehow pulled it out.

Brett Ballantini sums it up way better than I can:

We *still* can’t buy John Danks any run support, but between his quality outing, Jesse Crain forcefully closing the door (he didn’t get to slam it tonight, the strike zone that was randomly re-drawn for every pitch gave him some trouble), Ramon Castro continuing to be one of the best back-up catchers anywhere in the game, and Brent Lillibridge being, well, Brent Lillibridge, we didn’t get sucked back into the losing vaccuum. He legitimately robbed a go-ahead 2-run homer from Coco Crisp in the 8th.

Clearly, after my earlier post about the Blue Jays “super utility man”, Brent wanted to make sure that he wasn’t lost in the shuffle.

Another one for the highlight reel. As usual, click on the photo to watch the video.

I don’t want to speak too soon, but if he keeps this up (along with his speed on base and if he can cut down on the strikeouts a little), he’s going to be one of those guys that earns regular playing time by his ability to prevent runs, rather than score them.

But, again, a messy win is still a win. And, since Cleveland lost, but Minnesota and Detroit won, I’ll take it.

0.500, here we come! (Eventually!)

Go Sox!

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A Blue Jays interlude. Or: Some people really can (and will) do everything.

So, I have nothing to say about last night’s epic White Sox disappointment other than I am very glad that Detroit, Minnesota, and Cleveland all lost, too (only KC failed to lose, preventing the entire AL-Central from getting smoked yesterday).

And, in an effort to move on, I’m going to talk about something fun from the AL-East.

So, imagine that you are John Farrell – former pitching coach for the Boston Red Sox – and you are now the manager of the Blue Jays. And, it’s the top of the 9th and the Boston Red Sox are in Toronto and are leading your Jays 16 – 4 and they are beating the snot out of your pitchers: your starter only lasted 4 innings (giving up 9 runs), and you’ve breezed through pretty much the rest of your bullpen (giving up 7 more).

So, what do you do now? Obviously, you move your recently called up from triple-A utility infielder from second base to the mound.

(Clicking on the photo will take you to the clip @ MLB.com)

I have said it before and I will say it again. I love the utility players. I love watching someone busting their butt every time they get a chance to play, I love watching people show off what they can do when they’re put out in the action, I love watching people who are up for doing whatever they are asked to do, and, I have to admit, I also love when the entire game gets turned on its head like this – giving the devoted fans who stuck around to the bitter end, something to smile about today.

Way to go, Mike McCoy (who apparently only has to play 1B and catcher to hit every position on the field). Grabbing a double on a day where your team only managed 6 hits and you and your 60 mpH curveball & knuckleball threw the hot Red Sox lineup for a bit of a loop. 1.0 IP, 12 pitches with 9 for strikes, and a 0.0 ERA. You totally deserved that standing ovation.

This is one of the things I love about this game.

(Also: In other random highlights from today’s game:
My 2nd-fave Blue Jay (behind utilityman John MacDonald) Jose Molina showed off some awesome base-running as he slid into home with one of the smartest slides I’ve seen lately. You can tell that he’s always thinking like a catcher.

And, in other oddities from the game, if things weren’t going badly enough for the Jays, the home plate umpire started calling out people after 2 strikes. When things aren’t going your way, it’s hard to catch a break.)

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