Friday, December 29, 2006

Kenny Williams: A Beane or a Krause? -- Part 1

To be honest, Kenny Williams reputation as a world class GM has taken a serious hit this off-season, especially in Chicago; the media, particularly, has been mercilessly ripping him ever since the Garcia trade. Going into the 2006 season, the prevailing thought (at least among Sox fans) was that Kenny was a genius. He created a World Series caliber team, capable of competing for another title; he may have slipped up with the Vazquez/Chris Young trade, but it was at least justifiable (with the chance of being a savvy trade) and a far cry from the disaster that was the Todd Ritchie trade.

It’s incredible to see so much of the media and so many fans, for that matter, forsake the fact the Sox won the ’05 title and the fact that the Sox had back-to-back 90-win seasons for the first time since ’65. Usually there’s a three-year grace period or so, after a championship, where the GM and the coach are relatively safe from being torn apart by the fans and the media, but apparently Kenny won’t be afforded that immunity.

Perhaps it’s due to our nature, as Chicago sports fans, to assume the worst and fear all is lost, that has led so many to lose confidence in Kenny. I haven’t given up my faith yet; I still feel he is undoubtedly one of the best GM’s in the majors. I agree that his moves were ballsy and risky, but I see the direction he’s trying to take and I can see his reasoning. It’s possible that I’m underestimating the radical-ness of Kenny’s moves and this season could very well end up being his downfall, but only time will tell; at this time and point, I’m willing to give KW the benefit of the doubt. He did after all help get the Sox into the position where fans could make legitimate gripes that he’s scuttling a shot at the ’07 championship in favor of taking multiple shots down the road. I’d much rather have those gripes than debating whether the Sox will finish second or third in the division.

As I got to thinking about Kenny, his recent moves reminded me of two other GM’s in particular. One is lauded by many as the best GM in baseball, an innovative GM who has changed the way people analyze baseball. The other constructed the supporting cast to create one of the greatest basketball dynasties of all time, but was later disgraced in the eyes of fans as he sought to create another dynasty, this time from the ground up, and gambled the team’s future on signing free agents and later a risky trade. I’m speaking of course of Billy Beane of the Oakland A’s and Jerry Krause formerly of the Chicago Bulls.

Like KW, both of Beane and Krause got their start as scouts. I think this is at least partially responsible for why Beane and Krause are usually such keen evaluators of talent. While all three have made their mistakes (more on Kenny’s in later parts of this series), you cannot argue the fact they possess an eye for talent. Having such an eye for talent helped both Beane and Krause establish a team that could consistently win. When Krause stepped into the GM position, he already had Michael Jordan, but he was able to twice craft a team around MJ that would win three straight championships. That’s no small feat; thanks to his acquisitions of Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant, Bill Cartwright, Ron Harper, Toni Kukoc, Dennis Rodman, etc. he brought Chicago 6 championships, with the high point being the 72-win squad. Likewise, since Beane took over the A’s, Oakland has averaged 89 wins a season, while maintaining a super, tight budget. Although, Beane hasn’t won a championship, he’s hardly the one to be at fault, you can thank the “All-American Crapshoot” that is the MLB playoffs for that.

After runs of extended success, both Beane and Krause were faced with the prospect of overhauling their roster. Although neither move was technically, absolutely, 100% necessary, the terms at the time dictated that both Krause and Beane had to try and take a step forward for the good of their respective teams. Budget constraints forced Beane to surprisingly break up the “Big 3”, while the impending retirements of Phil Jackson and MJ as well as some bad blood with remaining players forced Krause to go into complete rebuilding mode. This is the point where the careers of Krause and Beane really start to deviate.

Krause sought free agency as the fix for the Bulls’ problems, and keyed in on freeing up cap space for the ballyhooed free agent crop of 2000 featuring the likes of Tim Duncan, Grant Hill, and Tracy McGrady. As we all know this plan failed miserable as Krause and the Bulls were spurned by even lower rung free agents like Tim Thomas and Eddie Jones. This led to the 2001 draft day disaster where Krause traded Elton Brand for Tyson Chandler. By most accounts, Chandler had a higher upside than Brand, and Krause banked on Chandler reaching said ceiling (keep this in mind for when the Brandon McCarthy trade is brought up, later on). Krause envisioned having Chandler and Eddy Curry team up and lead the Bulls to another period of dominance. His plan and his risk never took to fruition and eventually led to his resignation.

Beane, on the other hand, had a much more successful turn around, especially considering his team never had to sink as low as the Bulls did. After missing the playoffs for the first time in 4-years and realizing that budget constraints would cause the A’s to lose some of their star pitchers to free agency, Beane took the iniative to trade both Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder, 2/3 of the Big 3. There was talk at the time of Beane trading one of the three, but it came as a shock to many that he ended up trading two of them. Beane essentially sacrificed a few wins in 2005 (a year where they did not make the playoffs but remained very competitive) to ensure that his team would get some value in return and would not be sunk by the departure of Mulder and Hudson via free agency. (Keep this in mind when the Freddy Garcia trade is brought up, later on, as well as the thought of trading Mark Buehrle).

In my eyes, the stories of Beane’s and Krause’s career follow a similar arch until they diverge greatly at the end. They established winning organizations, and are faced with trying to secure continued success in the near future. Kenny is currently saddled with a similar situation. The Sox lose Javier Vazquez, Mark Buehrle, Jermaine Dye, and Tadahito Iguchi after ’07 and Jon Garland and AJ Pierzynski after ’08. Kenny could forsake the future and go broke for a championship in ’07, or try and preserve the Sox chances for winning a title now, while maximizing the team’s chances for prolonged success. In the coming years, we’ll get to see first hand whether Kenny’s methodology was a success or not. We’ll get to see if he’ll be a Krause or a Beane. Perhaps most importantly for baseball, we’ll get to see if Kenny’s plan of building around young, cheap pitchers (as Beane also did) takes hold, because that could cause a paradigm shift in the manner that teams build their rotations. We all know where I stand, but here’s hoping, again, that Kenny turns out to be a Beane.

In coming parts, I’ll compare Kenny’s recent trades to moves made by Krause and Beane and examine both the similarities and the departures to the moves and what that means to the future. Also, I’ll take a look at some of Kenny’s more noteworthy trades from over the years to see whether it affords Sox fans reasons to be optimistic or pessimistic about these recent changes.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Pass the Ci(n)tron

We've re-upped with Alex Cintron. It's a pretty good deal for the Sox; they signed him to a 1-year $1.9 million contract. He's a useful back-up considering the number of positions he can play, and he can hold his own at the plate.

I'm still working on the Kenny piece as we speak, so check out Jim's ranking of the top-40 individual season's in White Sox history; it'll help put JD's great season into perspective.

Coming Soon

I'm working on a two or three part series about Kenny Williams. It should be pretty interesting; I hope to have part one up by tomorow evening, so keep an eye out for that.

Monday, December 25, 2006

And A Happy Jesus' Birthday to you...

Merry Christmas everyone!

From everyone here at Chi-Sox Blog, I hope you have a great and safe Christmas!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

A White Elephant Gift or Not?

As I'm sure everyone has heard, the White Sox traded Brandon McCarthy and Rookie baller David Paisano to the Rangers for lefty John Danks and righties Nick Masset and Jacob Rasner.

Here's some background on the main players involved, before we take a look at the deal from the Sox side.

Over his career (151 innings), B-Mac has posted a 4.41 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP. Ever since his success down the stretch in 2005, he has been groomed to enter the Sox rotation. With the surplus of starters last year, though, he was relegated to the bullpen where he showed flashes of brilliance but seemed to struggle in such an ill-suited role. His career numbers only show part of the story. As a starter in 12 starts, he's 4-3 with a 4.16 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP, while often looking dominant. The two biggest knocks on B-Mac is his HR/9 rate and his apparent lack of potential. His HR/9 is 1.71 which is really high even when factoring in that he pitched at homer friendly, US Cellular Field. Because of that and other reasons, most people have Black Mac projected at best, as a third starter; I've heard a few comparisons to Eric Milton because of the homer rate. After seeing McCarthy, I'd say he could easily be a solid number 2 starter, but that's yet to be seen. McCarthy sports a sharp curve and a really good change. His fastball isn't overpowering in the low 90's, but with the threat of his change it's effective. He struggles when he leaves his fastball up and when he leans to heavily upon his change.

Danks on the other hand, still hasn't cracked the majors. If you take his stats at face value, it doesn't look like he's torn up the minors, but if you take a closer look, he's been pretty impressive. The most important thing to notice is that he's 21 years old, so he's consistently been among the youngest players in his league. Last year, he split time at AA and AAA and showed a knack for adjusting to his competition. He started out the year at AA Frisco and proceeded to post a 7.15 ERA for the month. After that he went 4-0 with a 2.70 ERA in his next eight starts before getting promoted to AAA Oklahoma. In his first 8 starts, he struggled posting a 5.90 ERA, but rebounded in his last 6 with a 2.32 ERA. If you take away his April and his first 8 starts in AAA, he looks really, really good. Danks has three plus pitches. His best pitch is his 1-7 curve. After getting drafted he also has added a good change, which he has developed extensively. He has been coached to not avoid throwing his curve too much, so that he doesn't hurt his arm. This tactic has expediated the development of his change. His fastball like McCarthy isn't particularly overpowering. He can get it up to 94 MPH. He added a 2-seamer last year, but I don't know much about its effectiveness.

Masset reminds me of Floyd in the sense that he has great stuff, but just hasn't made it big yet. He had Tommy John surgery his senior year, but recovered nicely from it. He has been up and down in the minors. In 8 starts at Frisco, he had a 2-2 record with a 2.06 ERA. At AAA, he made 7 starts and 17 appearances as a reliever. I can't find his splits anywhere, so I'm unsure as to wheter he struggled as a starter and was made a reliever or if it was the other way around or what. All I can definitively say is he had a 4.81 ERA and 1 complete game. He's been the closer for his Winter Ball team and been dominant, posting a 2.81 ERA with 15 saves.

As a Sox fan I'm torn over the trade. There are parts of me that like it and parts of me that hate it. I read one article and I'm happy about the trade, I read something else and I'm disgusted by it. I think I'm leaning toward liking this deal, but here's a negtive and a positive look at it.

Kenny = Jerry Krause = A fool for young talent

Kenny has sabataged the '07 squad in favor of trying to strengthen future teams. He has taken a team with the potential to win a World Series and effectively scuttled any hope. Last year the Sox had 6 good starters, now there are 4! The Sox strength was their surplus of pitching and now they have a deficit. We've all seen during this free agency period how nearly all teams are pitching hungry, which is how the likes of Gil Meche gets $55 mil. The only acceptable trade of McCarthy would be for an established pitching star. We need him or someone of comparable talent in the rotation. The whole reason the Sox were able to get rid of one of their starters was that they were able to plug McCarthy right into the rotation without seeing a drop off. Who's going to step in now? We're going to see the ridiculous 02-04 years all over again when the Sox couldn't buy a win out of the fifth spot in the rotation. Unless the Sox go to a 4-man rotation, they're going to be in a bunch of trouble.

What's the point in building so much for the future, when a championship is within reach this season. Kenny did well to strengthen the bullpen which was the big issue last season. Getting Toby Hall was a nice addition too, but the starting rotation, aside from jettisoning one pitcher, wasn't an issue. Scott Podsednik and to a slightly lesser extent Brian Anderson should have been priority number one after fixing the 'pen. Instead, the fifth starter is now the most glaring hole, a hole that didn't exist prior to this week.

Not only did Kenny sabotage the rotation, but he traded a sure thing for an unsure thing. By many account, Danks is a lefty version of McCarthy with simliar, albeit slightly better stuff. Danks has never pitched in the bigs; McCarthy has and has dominated at times as a starter. It's not as though Danks has torn up the minors, indicating that he'd make an easy transistion to the bigs.

Apparently, Kenny doesn't want to risk paying big bucks in free agency the next few years so he's mortgaged the team's immediate future.

Kenny = genius

My most account Danks is a yonger, lefty version of McCarthy with better stuff. Why wouldn't Kenny want to do this deal? Even straight up, the Sox would be getting a better pitcher. Danks has the potential to be a number 1 pitcher or a number 2 at best; Black Mac has been projected at best to be a 2, but more likely to be a number 3 or 4. There's a good chance he could even step up and fill the role of 5th starter. Last year, Baseball America thought he could very well get called up in '06 and pitch for the Rangers, but Texas wanted to bring him along slowly to protect his arm, so he remained in the minors. If the Sox want to bring him along slowly as well, they still have Haegar or Floyd to fill that 5th starter role.

Some people are pointing to the fact that Danks has struggled in the minors as a minus, but it's a positive when looked at carfully. He has merely taken time to adjust to the competition; once he's adjusted, he's been dominant. McCarthy wasn't all that dominant either. At AAA in '05 he had a 3.92 ERA, not bad but not lights out.

It's impressive that Kenny was able to commandeer Masset as well. He's another fireballer to put in the bullpen or another arm that could be worked on in the minors to become a starter. As long as Don Coop is around, the Sox are bound to have some of these arms pan out, and considering the amount of potential these two guys have as well as the others, the Sox are bound to have some stud pitchers.

The Sox also have the pieces to make an attractive offer for a good, young outfielder. Maybe they'll be able to pry loose Baldelli or Crawford from Tampa now.

There will be more coming on my views of Kenny's master plan. Keep your eyes peeled.

Edit: I keep reading about some issues of uncoachability with regards to McCarthy. Apparently it was brought up on the radio, and because of this Cooper "wasn't ready to assure him a spot in the rotation." This may have hastened this trade a bit.
Also, I realize it doesn't completely come out in the post, but I'm kinda on the fence about the trade, but I'm leaning toward liking it.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

B-Mac Traded to the Rangers

Yes, I've heard (and yes I've come out of my unplanned winter break hibernation); I'm doing som research so I can put out a good post with minimal bias.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

KW Gives Sox Fans an Early Christmas Present

We can officially put to rest the Sandy Alomar rumors! Finally, we have a back-up catcher, and thank goodness, it's a legitimate back-up! I think of all KW's moves this season, this one has made me the happiest. Seriously, if AJ were to go down with no legit back-up, the Sox would have been sunk; Sandy or Stewart behing the plate would not cut it.

We also needed a back-up that could effectively spell AJ every now and then, especially against lefties. We all saw how AJ struggled during the close of the season, as he tired. AJ only hit .228 and .280 in August and September. I think we'll see Toby against most lefties; over his career AJ has hit .248 against lefties, while Hall has hit them to the tune of a .274 average, with a .297 average over the past 3 years.

This is a great signing by Kenny, and I'm thoroughly pleased. I'm especially happy, because he's signed for more than one year. I figured Kenny would talk Hall into signing for one-year to raise his status for free agency next year, but instead the Sox are paying him $3.65 million for two years, with a club option for $2.25 million.

Now if only we can find a suitable left fielder.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Ross Gload Has Been Freed

James' wish has finally been granted, although not quite in the manner he meant. For a while, his rallying cry was "Free Ross Gload," in reference to freeing hm off from the bench, but good ol' Gload was freed completely from an organization that underestimated his ability to contribute to the team.

Gload was traded to the Royals for Andrew Sisco. Sisco is a big, big lefty to say the least, 6-9, 250; add a mullet and you've got a thicker Randy Johnson (at least in body type). He had a very good rookie season, two years ago, posting a 3.11 ERA in 67 games with 76 K's, but struggled last year. In 65 games, he had a 7.10 ERA and saw his K's drop down to 52.

Sisco still has options left, and Kenny Williams says he's going to talk to Sisco about whether he (Sisco) wants to make it as a reliever or a starter. So unless Boone Logan is terrible in spring training, I figure Sisco will start in the minors.

Sisco has pretty good stuff from what I remember; a good mid 90's fastball and a so-so changeup and a curve. From what I've been hearing, he's had some control problems, so you can add him to the list of players that Coop is going to fix this season. It's quite the laundry list with Floyd, Gio, Sisco, Vazquez, Boone, The Count, and Buehrle (if he needs fixing).

So farewell Gload! You served us well; no Sox fan will forget how you hit .321 in 110 games in '04. Seeing how loaded KC is at first base, maybe we'll reaquire you later on in the season.

Friday, December 15, 2006

It's Friday, so you know what that means...

...time for another Friday Five, care of DA Humber! Yours truly takes part in the weekly discussion for the second time. So go check it out.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

It's Thursday, so you know what that means...

...that's right, I'm going to be participating in DA Humber's Friday Five again! So come Friday, I recommend you go check it out. Hell, go check out the site now too, while you're at itl DA does some good stuff.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Time to See the Real Freddy Adu

Ok, apologies for the gratutious pun. I felt obliged to make a pun since I avoided the obvious Adu/adieu pun. Anyway...

As most of you haven't heard; DC United has shipped off Freddy Adu to Real Salt Lake. DC United gets a few bits and pieces, most notably the "major player allocation", but that's not the interesting thing about all of this.

I am a soccer fan, but I'm not going to say I'm big on the MLS. Frankly, it's much more boring than the international game, and I even have a hard time watching the Fire sometime. (If you're at a game, that's a whole different story; I looove going for Fire games.) This deal has me genuinely excited for the upcoming season. I'm curious, just as many are, whether or not Freddy Adu is really that good. There of course have been flashes of greatness, but no runs of prolonged genius.

A bulk of the blame for this can be blamed on Adu's former situation. DC was stacked at the attacking midfield position, which is Adu's preferred position. So instead, Adu was played at right mid-field. This position did not suit him as he has had difficulty with crossing with his right foot since he is a lefty. The other problem with his position is that DC playes with only three defenders across their back line, which forced Freddy to back track and play a lot more defense.

Real Salt Lake offers him a great opportunity. He'll be playing under his former U-17 National Team coach, so he'll likely be given the keys to the car, and will be featured at attacking mid. Just the trust situation between Freddy and his coach, I think, will boost his game a bunch. At times Adu looked restrained while playing; it looked like he would avoid riskier plays because of the fear of upsetting his Peter Nowak (his former coach, who he didn't get along with). That situation reminded me of Ben Gordon and Scott Skiles. Skiles at tiems has the quickest hook imaginable with Benny G.; one small mistake can result in a benching for him. Now that Freddy is with a coach he in on good terms with, he can play more freely and instinctively without having the fear of getting benched in the back of his mind.

Looking at the big picture, I don't think his performance in Utah is going to make or break his prospects of playing in Europe. I'd peg that more on his performance in the upcoming U-20 World Cup. Assuming the US qualifies, it will be his third such tourney, and it will pit him against the world's best and brightest prospects. If he dazzles there, or even just performs well, he will draw pretty heavy interest from European clubs.

This trade affords Freddy the chance to finally show the masses (at least in the States) what he can do. It won't necessarily make or break his chances in Europe, but it will go a long way to determining his star power in the US.

Dippin' Into the Asian Market

This is slightly old news, but it hasn't gotten much press. I was going to write about it earlier, but I've been in search of more info on this topic.

Taiwan Baseball posted that the White Sox signed 20 year-old Po-Yu Lin out of Taiwan with a sign on bonus of about $300,000. That isn't a huge bonus, but it is a pretty sizable amount. According to Ben at Taiwan Baseball, Lin was considered the ace of the staff during the 2004 World Junior Championships. He's also gained extra experience playing for the Anchorage Bucs in the ABL; in 6 games he had a 3.03 ERA. Here's a clip of him pitching

His breaking ball seems to have some pretty good movement on it. Reportedly he can reach the low 90's, and if he progresses like most young minor leaguers, I expect to see him add a couple MPH to his fastball.

For the most part he's an unknown commodity; I guess we'll have to wait until Spring Training to find out what we have on our hands.

Unfortunately, Ben from Taiwan Baseball isn't all that high on him. I e-mailed him, and this is what he said,
"Regarding Lin, the guy he is most comparable to is Blue Jays farmhand Po-Hsuan Keng. Based on their physical build and stuff-wise, these 2 are near carbon copies of each other. Lin can top out at 92 mph, but throws comfortably in the high 80's. With stuff like that, I can't imagine Lin being a starter in the Bigs unless he develops pinpoint control. So, we'll see if the Sox eventually convert Lin into a reliever like the Blue Jays have done with Keng. Physically, I think Lin has plateaud. He definitely does not have the ceiling of let's say a Tsao, Kuo, or Chien-Ming Wang."

Just for reference sake, in 32 games and 70 innings as a reliever with the Class A Lansing Lugnuts, Keng posted a 2.33 ERA with a 10:3 K:BB ratioand only 4 homers.

Kudos to The Cheat for the pic and the video.

Barry Bonds Sighting

Just thought I should point out that today at around 7:30 AM on my way to my math final, I passed Barry Bonds. What he was doing on the UCLA campus I have no idea. I wish I would have asked for an autograph, just to see if the media's portrayal of him as an asshole is true, but unfortunately I was too shocked and I didn't feel like bothering the guy.

Oh yes, his head is bigger in person.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Bears Have the Best Defense, Period.

(As Fornelli pointed out, I forgot to address the Bears' injuries; even without Mike Brown, the Bears have been the best defense this season. It's tough to say what the Tommie Harris situation will end up looking like; so, I'm saying on the whole this season, the Bears have been the best defense.)

I'm sick and tired of people saying team X has a better defense than the Bears. It's an exercise in futility. The latest wannabe ascendors to the Bears' throne are the Boys from Dallas, whom were championed by Sean Salisbury.
Salisbury said on SportsCenter Tuesday night that the Cowboys are, right now, the best team in the NFC. The 'Boys are playing a more complete game of football recently. But Salisbury went on to say that the Dallas defense is better than the Bears'.

Ok, it's one thing to say currently the Cowboys are the best team in the NFC; I don't think they are, but I'm not going to find fault with that, because it was defensible. Of course, Salisbury had to go ahead and stick his foot up his ass by saying that the Dallas D is better than the Bears'.

I waited 5 long days for Sunday to come, just so I could see the Cowboys exposed and Salisbury made to look like an even bigger idiot. So let's take a quick peak at the Dallas vs. New Orleans tilt, with regards to the defense.

The first thing a defense needs to do is prevent points, obviously. Let's look at the scoreboard, oh yes, 42 points for the Saints. Now, there sometimes can be extenuating circumstances. If your offense continually turns the ball over, giving your opponent a short field, even the best defense can be left helpless. Let's see, pick number 1 by Romo was returned to the Dallas 39, and pick number 2 was in the endzone, so you can't cut the defense any slack there. All those points were on the D.

Just taking a cursory glance at their past games, the Cowboys have had games where they've given up 24, 38, and 36 points. Hardly stellar performances.

One of the other criteria for a great defense, is a defense that forces a ton of turnovers. In this game Dallas had only one TO, and that was Terrell Owens. The defense had nary a pick nor a fumble recovery. On the season, the D has forced 26 turnovers. The Bears by comparison have 21 picks alone, to go with 18 FR, for 39 total Turnovers.

Also, on the game, Brees threw for 384 yards with 5 TD; Reggie Bush had 125 yards receiving; and Deuce had 111 yards rushing. This defense has certainly put the D in Dallas.

Some past poseurs...

The Denver Broncos - Early in the season, they were being compared to the '85 Bears (as all defenses, great and not so great) are. In their last game, they gave up 48 points to the Chargers, and have given 34 and 35 points in earlier games. '85 Bears, you better watch out, someone may knock you off your perch as best D ever...NOT (God bless Borat)

The Jacksonville Jaguars - They've had games of 36 and 3 games of 27. NEXT

The Chargers? Not so much - Games of 30, 41, and 27 with a 21, 24 and 25 mixed in.

The Baltimore Ravens - Not bad. Their high games have been 26, 20 and 22. I'd put them as second behind the Bears. They do lead the league in TO margin, but it's misleading because their offense masks the fact they only forced 28 TOs, again compared to the Bears 39.

DA Bears - They have a high game of 31, which as we all know, is not the D's fault. When your offense gives up a pick 6, a fumble on the 6, and a pick to inside the 20, you can't fault the D; that's 21 points right there. Besides that, the highest game was 23 (thanks to 6 TO's by the O against the Cards), 2o points, and 17.

I don't want to hear any more teams touted as the best D in the league, unless their name starts with a B-, and ends with an -ears. If you asked a coach or a player from any team, which D would you least like to face, they would respond Da Bears. The only way they could get anymore intimidating would be if they started doing the haka.

Some background on the Haka - The Haka originally was a dance done by the Maoris, the native people of New Zealand, to psyche themselves up before battle. About a hundred years ago, the New Zealand national sports teams (I think the All Blacks may have been the first) started doing the Haka before all sproting events. Other polynesian countries have their own war dances, the Tongans have their own, as do the Fijians, for examples. I bet Palomalu knows his native war dance.
The clip above shows a new version of the Haka that the rugby team made themselves a few years ago. The clip below as the traditional version that was actually done by the Maoris. I've seen the Haka in person, and can honestly say it is the most intimidating thing I have ever seen. Each time I've seen it, it has given me the chills.

In the second clip, France looks just about ready to surrender the game and their country.

Imagine Urlacher leading the Bears in the Haka, the other teams would shit themselves with fear.

UPDATE - As I'm watching the game, I'm gearing myself up to eat some nice crow.

UPDATE - I'm not disappointed with this performance. They Bears made adjustments in the second half, and only gave up more points once the game was in hand. At the end of the game they were in the prevent defense, and we all know my thoughts on that.

Friday, December 08, 2006

This is How We Do: Welcome!

I think the past couple days have brought the greatest influx of readers ever to Chi-Sox Blog, thank you Deadspin! The past two days alone we've seen over 1,500 visitiors and 2,000 page views, which made me realize we have a whole bunch of new readers out there. So to those of you unfamiliar with the site welcome!

Chi-Sox Blog started has solely a White Sox blog to chronicle what I thought was going to be the a World Series winning season. Over the season the writing style has evolved and picked up from more objective to more of a fan's perspective; also, along the way I picked up DickDaStick, James, and Pander who help contribute. After the season ended though, I realized I couldn't sit by and wait for Spring Training to hit, so I just up and started blogging about all things sports. So again, to those of you who are new here, welcome, and feel free to drop a comment, positive or negative or whatever.

Our Coach Will Not be 'Ze German'

(Yes, that was a reference to the movie Snatch, I couldn't resist)

After a months-long dance, negotiations between the Unites States Soccer Federation (USSF) and Jurgen Klinsmann finally fell through. It was long expected that the former Germany coach would fill the vacancy left after the Bruce Arena firing and take the US team to the next level. Had Jurgen come aboard as the US' coach, their style of play would definitely have shifted from a more defensive counter-attacking game that we saw under Arena to a freer, more fluid and offensive game.

It's a shame that we missed out on having such an aestetically pleasing style on the pitch, but it's an even bigger shame because securing Jurgen's services was the opportunity of a lifetime for the US. Signing Klinsmann would have immediately brought worldwide credibility to the team, and given the team a sense of stability.

Talks seem to have stalled over the question of how much power Klinsmann would have been given, especially with regards to the selection of players to the international squad. If that really is the case, that's pure arrogance on the USSF's part. Seriously, let the coach pick his players; he'll undoubtedly pick the players best suited for his system; so what if he's not choosing all thep players from the MLS that you want to get exposure. The point is to get the best possible team on the field, and by letting the coach pick his own players, he's bound to do that.

The biggest downside to all this is that countless opportunities have and will be wasted especially with regards to the younger players. As talks stretched on for the nearly 5 months, the US did not play any friendlies; normally those matches would have served as an opportunity for younger players to step up and get a few caps on the international stage. It would have been a prime opportunity to try and deepen the talent pool for the US, but since there was no coach, no games could be played.

You may be wondering now where this leaves the national team. Well, for the time being Bob Bradley will take over on an interim basis, with the opportunity to take over full time. Bob Bradely is a good coach, probably the best in the MLS, but I don't think he'll get nearly the same results that Klinsmann would have gotten the team. Bradley coached the expansion Fire to an MLS Cup win and turned Chivas USA into a playoff team after a last-place finish; he also has some international experience as an assistant on the '96 Olympic team, so he is indeed a good coach and a good choice on such short notice.

I don't mind having Bradley as a coach, but I don't like the terms that he's been granted. It would be one thing if he were handed the job with a four-year guarentee like Arena was, but Bradley could very well be fired the moment a more attractive coach shows interest. This fact alone is going to further hamper the US team. Bradley will be forced to play veteran heavy lineups to ensure that his team does well, so that he can earn the right to keep his job. He won't be able to play younger and more unknown players in games due to the fact that their performance could very well determine whether he stays on full time or not.

If Bradley were to get the boot, it would probably be in favor of Gérard Houllier, the current coach of Lyon (who is raping up the French League) and former coach of Liverpool; Carlos Queiroz, Alex Ferguson's right hand man at Manchester United; or Guus Hiddink. the current coach of Russia, who led the Socceroos to the knockout stages last time around and led Korea to a 4th place finish in '02.

Hopefully things will work out and when the 2010 World Cup comes around, we'll put up results closer to '02's performance than our flop in Germany in '06.

Spending Some of that Saved Money

I've been wondering where the money saved in the Freddy Garcia deal would go. I figured three possibilities, sign someone to an extension, bring in someone who has a pretty fat contract, or in Jerry Reinsdorf's pocket. This may not represent a lot of money, but the Sox gave Mike MacDougal an extension. I really like this deal. With this deal the Sox avoid arbitration with Mike Mac, and they lock him up to what I think is an under maket-value deal. Next year he makes $1.5 million; he then makes $1.95 and $2.65 million respectively in '08 and '09. The Sox hold an option for '10 worth $3.75 million. Other than the option year, this contract is great for the Sox, assuming MacDougal stays healthy, which is always questionable. If you don't believe me that this is a great move by KW, mull this over; Joe Borowski will make $4.25 million next year and Jaime Walker signed a 3-year $12 million contract.

Thoughts on '07 and Beyond: Defending Kenny Williams

After the Freddy Garcia trade yesterday and the apparent deal/no-deal with the Astros, Kenny Williams has taken a lot of flak from both the media and the fans. Writers like Rick Morrissey are calling KW and Reinsdorf cheap; I've heard fans say the Sox are wavin' the White Flag as they did in '97, but I don't think that's necessarily the case.

Yes, I will admit that I expected more for Freddy Garcia, but I think the onus for such high expectations came from the fans themselves, maybe a package of Milledge and Humber was a ridiculous pipe dream. I think we (myself, definitely included) got greedy when we saw the fat contracts getting tossed about; we figured Freddy is a proven pitcher and better than nearly all those jokers getting paid, so we should get a ridiculous package for him. We failed to realize that the fact Freddy would only be under control for one year could be a big time deal-breaker. It's one thing to give up a chunk of the farm for a player that you'll have signed for a few years, it's another thing to get the player for a year and then have nothing to show for it afterwards. Ask the Astros how the Randy Johnson trade worked out for them. Before you point out that we did the same thing for Freddy when he was with the Mariners, keep in mind we had Ozzie who had close ties with him, so the Sox had a the inside track to re-sign him.

I think Kenny's move was more of a lateral move with an eye to the future, than anything else. I really don't mind such a move. I'm even border-line in favor of that type of move as long as we're not taking a step back in '07. If you project McCarthy to put up similar number to what Freddy would have given us (which is a modest projection) we look as good as last year, and I mean as good as we looked coming into the season not when we ended it. Look at it from the organization's view; they thought they had themselves a team capable of winning 100 games and getting back to the World Series. Unfortunately, the Sox couldn't come close to replicating '05's pitching brilliance and they ran into two ridiculously good teams in the Twins and Tigers along the way. I don't think KW has weakened the squad we had in '06, so on paper they look pretty damn good, once again. If you subscribe to the thinking that last year's pitching was an anamoly, which I do, then the Sox can do no worse than improve. As much as we've dumped on Buehrle over the past year (thanks James, for leading the charge), he's been too damn consistent and too damn good over the years to suck it up again. I fully expect him and most of the rotation to rebound to some degree and that's not just because I'm a Sox fan.

The Sox are still in a good position for next year and in pretty good shape for '08. The Sox are only now starting to set themselves up for beyond '08. Think about it; the Sox are a veteran heavy team. If you think Joe Thome's back is creaky now, wait til the '09 season begins; Paulie, Iguchi, and Jose are no spring chickens either; Dye, Crede, Buehrle, and Garland could very well bolt during free agency. If Kenny didn't make any moves for the future, there would be a huge drop-off come '09. What if Kenny puts all his chips in for this two, three year span and inexplicably the Sox DON'T win another championship? Crazier things have happened, and afterall the baseball post-season is pretty much a crap-shoot. If Kenny did put all his chips in now and ignored the (now somewhat less) baren farm system, imagine where the team would be in '09 or '10. We'd be Cubs bad; we could even be Kansas City bad. It's one thing if the Sox pull off two more World Series titles and then crash and burn a la the Bulls, but those title are by no means even close to being guarenteed; we don't have a Michael Jordan that could almost single handedly lead us to the promised land. If the Sox come out empty handed and then crash and burn, all the goodwill and support that was earned in '05 would go right down the crapper. The Sox would once again be the second team in the second city.

Kenny deserves credit, not reprimand for trying to make the South Siders winners over the long term. Kenny has the prescience to build not only a top flight team, but also start building a top flight future for our team.

As The Cheat aptly put it, "Why are we holding 12 games from '05, 75% of which were against BAD offenses, in higher regard than the more recent 159 games from '06 that resulted in a third place finish?" As I said before, I think the rotation will bounce back, but beyond next year, I don't know. The rotation does have some mileage on it, so it's hard to project them properly.

Maybe Kenny could have waited a little while longer to explore a couple other deals for Freddy; I could see giving him some flak for that, but I say don't lump him among the other bad GM's in the league just yet. Hold judgement. See how the '07 season turns out, and keep in mind some of the absolute fleecings he's pulled (Freddy Garcia, Jenks, Thome, Dye, etc.). Before calling Reinsdorf cheap, wait and see if he reinvests some of that money he saved by offering Buehrle or Crede an extension, and keep in mind the way he opened the purse strings for Paulie and Thome the year before. Before bemoaning the Sox management as a whole, wait and see, don't overreact and remember these are the guys that brought us our first championship in close to 100 years. I know in the sports world, it's what have you done for me lately, but I still count that '05 championship as a pretty recent event.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Sox Finally Make a Deal

We all knew it was coming, it was just a matter of when. Kenny Williams finally pulled the trigger on a deal he likes. I will admit I'm surprised by the trade, by the fact that it happened so early and by whom he got in return.

Going to the Philadelphia Phillies is Freddy Garcia, and coming to the South Side is Gavin Floyd and Gio Gonzalez.

A lot of people were speculating that the Sox would pick up one of their former players from the Phillies, namely Aaron Rowand, but I don't think anyone foresaw Gio Gonzalez coming back. If you recall, Gio was sent over with Rowand and Haigwood for Jim Thome.

I'm not going to say I'm disappointed with this trade, or all that happy with it, especially considering some of the rumors I mentioned earlier(the one with the Mets and the one with the Angels). I don't want to pass judgement on this trade, because I have the sneaking suspicion that this is just move one in a two part chain of moves for KW. Kenny made a point of saying "The White Sox are still open for business," so take that for what it's worth.

My first impression of the trade was that I wasn't blown away by it, so I did some research to try and get a better grasp of the trade as a whole.

The rap on Floyd is that he has good potential, but his mechanics are holding him back. (Cue Don Cooper). He has a good fastball reaching 95 mph on the gun, but it isn't all that special; his money pitch is his curve. He also sports a decent changeup. Looks like Coop is going to very busy this summer. After straightening out Matt Thornton and Jose Contreras before him, Coop is set to go to work on Floyd as well as Aardsma who was acquired earlier.

Gio is the more interesting of the two, personally, and not just because he used to be one of our guys. He started last year well enough, but tailed off toward the end of the year. It's possible he was injured or just plain tired. As Jim from Sox Machine proposes, Gio could very well be put in the bullpen this coming season. The Sox are in need of a LOOGY, and putting Gio there would be one effective way of filling that role, although I'd rather see him get good work done in AAA or AA.

Gio's numbers don't look all that sparkling (7-12, 4.66), but he did put up 166 K's in 154 innings. Also keep in mind he was drafted out of high-school and is only 20 years-old, that's really young, AND he's a lefty, which is always a bonus.

I'll have to mull this trade over (especially if Kenny isn't done dealing) before I decide where I stand on this trade. I will say this though, Kenny got two young arms with high ceilings, he definitely could have done much worse, especially considering the rumblings we've heard about Freddy being traded straight up for a reliever.

Here's a question for the readers. Do you think KW and Reinsdorf will go a head and use that $10 million they saved by trading Freddy and trade for a higher priced player/sign a free-agent or will that money just be pocketed? And if you have any thoughts or insight on the trade (especially about the guys the Sox got from the Phillies) drop me a comment.

The Pixie is Back

Looks like the sprite, Pablo Ozuna, will be back working his magic in Chicago again. Pablo was signed to a 1-year, $800,000 contract. While he may not have gotten that much on the market, I don't fault KW for overpaying, if he did. Pablo was a very useful player for us off the bench, and he hit lefties pretty damn well (.315/.350/.423).

The Sox now have quite a few outfielders, Pablo, Mack, Pods, Dye, Anderson, Terrero, and Sweeney. It looks more and more doubtful that Gload will find time in the OF; he may be consigned to strictly backing up Paulie at first.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Here Come the Coco Crisp Rumors

J.D. Drew finally signed with the Red Sox, contingent on a physical, for a five-year, $70 million contract. It's been widely speculated that if/when this deal was completed, Coco Crisp would be available via trade, and the Sox would be a logical destination. As you all know, we're looking for a CF/LF and Crisp could fill that void.

Expect to hear a lot of rumors and rumblings about such a trade.

Just found out that Maddux has signed a 1-year, $10 million contract with the Padres.

There are two things about this contract that could benefit the Sox. First, this opens up another team, looking for pitching. I'm not sure what the Dodgers' pitching situation was, but they definitely have a hole in their rotation, now. Second, Maddux got a pretty fat contract; considering Maddux is in his 40's, the Sox pitchers suddenly look even more attractive by comparison.

Let the Rumors Flow: Day 1 of the GM Meetings

-Looks like Minaya is looing to focus on pitching. You know what that means, Sox fans, time to start praying Zito signs elsewhere. Minaya strikes me as the aggressive type (sort of like Kenny) that is willing to overpay a little bit to get what he feels will put his team over the top. The Mets also have some good young pitching that I wouldn't mind getting, so I think it will work out best for the Sox if Zito stays out of Queens.

For all you Vazquez haters, I bet this quote cheers you up...

"If I'm going to trade some of my young guys, I need to be able to get guys I'm going to control," Minaya said. "I don't think we're going to be trading our better young players for one year [of a pitcher]."

-The Rangers have all but locked up Padilla, which is one less pitcher on the market.

-Then there are the never ending Aaron Rowand and Vernon Wells rumors. Rowand isn't good enough; as much as I love him, there's no need for him back on the Sox. Wells is more likely, but still doubtful, seeing as he is going to cost a lot to trade for.

-I don't Kenny is going to make any big splashes during the winter meetings (watch him prove me wrong). I reckon he'll wait til Zito signs and then look to move one or more of our pitchers. I would like to see him get a back up catcher though, because it looks more and more like Ol' Creaky Knee, Sandy Alomar will be back unless we get someone else.

Monday, December 04, 2006

A Wave of Emotion

The UCLA-USC tilt was just pure emotion, and I'm not talking about the players on the field, but the folks in the stands. Momentum shifted back and forth all game long. The winner wasn't certain until the last minute of the game.

I tried to keep a running tab of my thoughts and emotions as they played out, and this is sort of the feel of the game, while trying to stay in tune with which team had the momentum.

For the events, the time corresponds to the video below. I reccommend you read and then watch the clip when prompted.


Event: Pre-Game fever
Thoughts: I was hopeful that UCLA could pull the upset, but the odds weren't stacked in our favor. My pre-game assessment was that UCLA would win a squeaker or get their asses handed to them by the Boys of Troy. I must say after watching USC vs. ND; there was definite possibility things could get ugly, and it would be eight straight years for the Trojans.
Momentum change:Trojans+1
Total momentum: Trojans = 1

1st Quarter

Event: UCLA goes three and out to start the game, gaining only two-yards.
Thoughts: How rusty could Ben Olson (the starting QB who had been hurt for the last six weeks) be?
Momentum: Trojans +1
Total momentum: Trojans = 2

Event: USC stopped on 4-1 at the UCLA 31, turnover on downs.
Thoughts: The dam is holding; it just better not break!
Momentum: Bruins +3
Total momentum: Bruins=1

Event: UCLA makes 17 yard completion from their 13 yard line.
Thoughts: Good, so I'm not a better QB than Pat Cowan.
Momentum: --
Total momentum: Bruins=1

Event: QB Pat Cowan scrambles 29 yards to the USC 41. (@ 16 seconds on clip)
Thoughts: If Michael Irvin were here, he'd say, "Damn, Cowan must have a little black in him."
Momentum: Bruins +1
Total momentum: Bruins=2

Event: Cowan scrambles 17 yards up the gut on first down to the USC 13. (@ 29 seconds)
Thoughts: Dorrell, time to start running the option with Cowan!
Momentum: Bruins +.5
Total momentum: Bruins=2.5

Event: Cowan sprints left for 8 yards to the USC 5.
Thoughts: Holy shit! We're going to score. Whatever you do, don't run it Pat; just tuck and run.
Momentum: Bruins +1.5
Total momentum: Bruins=4.0

Event: Cowan runs it in from the 1 on third down for a UCLA score! (@ 39 second)
Thoughts: Ben who? Pat Cowan you are a deity.
Momentum: Bruins +6
Total momentum: Bruins=10, score 7-0 Bruins

Second Quarter

Event: USC punts it to the UCLA 1.
Thoughts: I hate Lee Corso, but please, NO JUMP SHOTS!
Momentum: USC +3
Total momentum: Bruins=7

Event: 13 yard gain out of the endzone, but a flag is thrown.
Thoughts: You drunken idiots! Stop celebrating, obviously it's holding in the endzone. Two points for the Trojans; I thought I said no jump shots!
No, stop congratulating me for calling the play correctly; I would have rather gotten that penalty wrong.
Momentum: USC +7
Total momentum: Dead heat, score 7-2 Bruins

Event: 17 yard pass by Booty to Gable, to the UCLA 34 with 4:15 left in the half. (@49 seconds)
Thoughts: Crap, the damn is breaking. Hold 'em boys, you need to hold 'em!
Momentum:USC +2
Total momentum: Trojans=2

Event: Gable 1-yard TD run with 1:15 left in the half. (@ 1:00)
Thoughts: So much for going into the half with the lead; if we don't do well on defense to start the third, our goose is cooked.
Gable's an ass, he didn't need to dive there, who does he think he is, Reggie Bush?
Momentum: USC +6
Total momentum: Trojans=8, score 9-7 USC

Third Quarter

Event: Booty connects on back to back passes of 11 and 18 yard to the UCLA 43.
Thoughts: Where's the fight!?
Momentum: USC+1
Total momentum: Trojans=9

Event: UCLA punter, Perez, punts to the USC 7.
Thoughts: Good, great, super duper, filed position; just don't blow it D.
Momentum: UCLA+1
Total momentum: Trojans=8

Event: Graves returns a punt to the UCLA 44!
Thoughts: The USC punter is human afterall! We're winning the field position battle! Cowan, do your best Eric Crouch impression and run the ball yourself!
Momentum: UCLA +2
Total momentum: Trojans=6

Event: Back to back completions by Cowan for 16 and 11 yards to the USC 29. (@ 1:10)
Thoughts: Oh baby, we're going to score. I can feel it; here comes six, baby!
Sick spin move!
Momentum: UCLA +3
Total momentum: Trojans=3

Event: Cowan completes a 7 yard pass on 3-8 to the USC 5.
Thoughts: Shitty spot (that's me being biased)! He had the first down by a good few inches (more bias). Dorrell, time to man up and go for it. Medlock is all-world, but it's time to stick it to the Trojans. QB sneak Cowan, and then roll in for the TD.
Momentum: UCLA+1
Total momentum: Trojans=2

Event: Medlock kicks a 22-yard field goal.
Thoughts: You piece of crap Dorrell, where are you cojones? You gotta go for it there; I bet Pete Carrol would have gone for it.
Oh yeah, Medlock for Heisman!
Momentum: UCLA+6
Total momentum: Bruins=4

Event: John David trips for a "sack" (@ 1:20)
Thoughts: HA! John David fell on his...ass! What did you think I was going to say, on his booty?

Event: Cowan throws a backward pass which is dropped by the 'back. He then proceeds to put his hands on his hips in disappointment, as USC alertly dives on the ball.
Thoughts: You lug! Why the hell did you give up on that ball? This is the biggest game of your career, and you're not making doubly sure that you keep possession, grab some bench kid.
Great, now we're going to lose, all because of YOU! I wish I knew your name so I could curse you.
Momentum: USC+10
Total momentum: Trojans=6

Fourth Quarter

Event: Gable gets raped on 4-2 for a 4-yard loss at the UCLA 40. (@1:28)
Thoughts: That's right Gable, how does it feel to get absolutely owned?
Momentum: Bruins +10
Total momentum: Bruins=4

Event: Cowan completes a 21 yarder to Everett on 3-15.
Thoughts: Keep that clock moving...
Momentum: Bruins +2
Total momentum: Bruins=6

Event: Cowan rushes it 11 yards to the USC 6.
Thoughts: Cowan, keep the ball in your hands. When you score a touchdown, this game will be over!
Momentum: Bruins+6
Total momentum: Bruins=12

Event: On 2-3 from the 3 yard line, Cowan gives up an almost unchallegened sack for -9 yards.
Thoughts: COWAN! *holding back tears* You're costing us the game!
Momentum: Bruins -11
Total momentum: Bruins=1

Event: Medlock makes a 31 yarder.
Thoughts: Medlock for Heisman! He's our MVP!
Momentum: Bruins +4
Total momentum: Bruins 5, score 13-9 Bruins

Event: USC is ready to snap the ball for a punt.
Thoughts: Christ, just don't pull a Glynn Milburn or a Bobby Wade. Just hold onto the damn football.

Event: Keyes muffs the punt.
Thoughts: You piece of talentless shit.

Event: Keyes recovers.
Thoughts: *blank stare*

Event: Cowan gets LIT UP! (@1:43)
Thoughts: He's one tough son of a bitch! He got right back up. I think I got whiplash from that hit, just watching.

Event: Dorrell calls timeout and calls full sqaud onto the field. USC feels left out so they reciprocate. Both teams start edging together. Looks like a brawl could break out. (@1:59)
Thoughts: Crap! We're going to win this!
The feeling in the stadium is unbelivable. That huddle and that passion gave me goosebumps.
Momentum: Bruins +2
Total momentum: Bruins +7

Event: Booty sacked on USC 24 with 5:52 left.
Thoughts: We're going to win this ish! Holy crap, defense, one more stop, that's all we need.
Momentum: Bruins +2
Total momentum: Bruins +9

Event: 13 yard pass by Booty, 7 yard pass, 5 yard pass, 17 yard pass, 6 yard pass with 1:50 left.
Thoughts: Deja vu? Notre Dame - USC?
Momentum: Trojans +3, +2, +2, +2, +4, +3
Total momentum: Trojans +6

Event: McNeal bats Booty's pass and then dives and intercepts the ball. (@2:27)
Thoughts: None. Absolute pandemonium.
Momentum: UCLA+ Infinity
Total momentum: Bruins 'the importance of Ditka to the '85 Bears'

Event: UCLA WINS!!!!
Thoughts: Best football game, ever!
That's the end of the 7-year streak!
First time in 63 games USC was held under 20!
Ov-er-ra-ted *clapclapclapclapclap*

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Season That Was: April

As the Biler, I'm smart enough to know that spring training records mean absolutely nothing, but as the Biler I'm still anal enough to cry about it. Now it's time to cry and mean it -- first because the White Sox raised a World Series championship banner for the first time in 87 years, secondly because the White Sox got off to a not-so-hot start the first week.

They started 1-4 and Freddy Garcia showed signs of wear and tear from his stint on the Venezuelan National Team. His fast ball lost quite a bit of velocity and the Indians opened up a can on his ass in game 2 of the season.

And let's not even get started on my favorite target, Mark Beuhrle. In the opener he lasted all of four innings, giving up 3 runs right away, and he too had serious velocity issues with his fastball. Even lefties were teeing off on Mark, the object of St. Louis' s affection.

Another problem facing the White Sox would be the pitching of Cliff Politte, a key contributor to the Championship run the previous season. During the month of April, Cliff would see his ERA rise to a height of 15.75 before settling at 9.39 for the month of April. Providng a preview for the rest of the season and maybe something to build on for the opposition, Politte would blow a save and take a loss to the lowly Kansas City Royals that first week, 4-3. As the season progresses the Royals will prove to be quite the pain in the ass for the White Sox.

After starting 1-4 on April 8th, however, the White Sox will lose only three more games the rest of the month finishing the month 17-7. Yes, there was plenty of reason to be optimistic. I distinctly remember thinking how great is was gonna be to be talked about as back-to-back champs, and dreams of Bulls-like dynasties for another Chicago team danced in my head. The Biler in his current constitution still wasn't a glint in my eye even with sluggish starts by Beuhrle and our newest White Sox re-signee, Scott Podsednik.

So week 2 goes three -game sweep in Detroit (one of the few time Jeeves would bring out the broom pic) and 2-1 against Toronto with newcomer Jim Thome hitting homers in 4 out of 6 games. The one loss to Toronto would be Javy Vazquez's doing, and he will be giving Sox fans their second bout of indigestion for the season, as he gives up 7 runs in 6 innings. The previously mentioned Cliff Politte will really put the Tums and Rolaids crowd to work as he gives up 4 runs in 1.2 innings of work in what was a winnable 13-7 loss. (The final 2 runs given up by Sox pitching were Neal Cotts doing, but we'll get to his bile-tastic ptiching in a later month.)

The best run of the season would be the 8 game win streak that started in Toronto and would culminate in two straight sweeps over divisional opponents Kansas City and Minnesota. In those sweeps, Sox pitching would give up a grand total of 7 runs in 6 games, and the bile would be safely stored where it belongs in the duct. The highlight of the week will be defeating Cy Young winner and White Sox killer Johan Santana, 7-1. Winning pitcher Mark Beuhrle, who earlier in the week would be given his do-not-slide-on-tarp orders, had this to say about Santana after the game:
"You see him coming in with an 0-2 (record) and a 5 (ERA) and you wonder, `How? How's that possible?'"
Also that week, AJ Pierzynski and Joe Crede would get Chicago's first taste of haircut/ headband-gate as they would be told from none other than Mr. Owner himself, Jerry Reinsdorf, to get their long lanks shorn or face the wrath of god.

But with Jim Thome swinging a hot bat (.327/ .513/ .873 9 homers) and a suddenly hot Pods (9 game hitting streak) the White Sox had no worries. No worries that is until they reach Seattle where they'll lose 2 of 3 including an 11th inning loss by Brandon McCarthy -- a game highlighted by a dramatic 9th inning two out home run by Brian Anderson. This game also marks the beginning of the second guessing of Ozzie Guillen and his curious line-up calls. Even Hawk Harrelson, a notrious homer and an Ozzie apologist, will decry the silliness of Ozuna, Mackowiak and Cintron all starting at once. The Biler would like to note that this is one of the few occasions that Mackowiak and Anderson actually share time in the outfield, a source of serious consternation as the season will progress.

Another curious note will be the yapping one dinasaur-disbelieving Carl Everett -- he subsequently was plunked in what cannot be mistaken as accidental.

The month will end on a very high note with the White Sox sweeping ALCS oppenent the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and if you know anything about the White Sox and the west coast, you'll know that the left side of the country hasn't treated the Sox very well in the recent past. The good game of note for the Biler was the 2-1 victory for the Count, Jose Contreras, over Kelvim Escobar, a masterpiece that would continue the filthy run for the Count. In this game, Jim Thome will be the fastest White Sox to reach 10 HRs.

Of course another season-long theme taking place in this game would be the booing by the fans and plunking by the opponent of AJ. Forget that he was involved in the most controversial play in recent playoff history against these Angels (how Kenny Rogers' mystery sludge didn't garner more, I'll never understand). He will be the second most hated man in baseball in 2006 behind Barry Bonds, but we'll get to that more as the season progresses.

The month will end, as I said, with the White Sox having a 17-7 record, and expectations at an all time high. The offense is clicking on all cylinders, where as the pitching good enough. Sox fans are smiling even if the team is not getting much press. Right now the Biler is quite content in utero, but there are dark clouds on the horizon and the birth of bad-mouth is not far away.

Oh, yeah, I almost forgot, another reason for all the optimism: check out this video replay. On April 15th (yes, tax day), Iguchi makes the defensive play of the year.

April Hot Sox:
  • Jim Thome: .300 10 hr, 23 rbi
  • Paul Konerko: .360, 6 hr, 20 rbi
  • Jose Contreras: 4-0, 1.45 era
April Cold Sox:
  • Brian Anderson: .161, 2 hr, 6 rbi
  • Juan Uribe: .167, 3 hr, 11 rbi
  • Cliff Politte: 1-1, 9.39 era

Why Not Take the Risk(e)?

Sorry, I apologize for the pun already, but it seems like it was my last chance to cash in on it.

Looks like David Riske is no longer a South Sider. Riske was not offered arbitration, which cuts him loose and makes him a relatively attractive target on the free agent market.

As much as I hate to doubt him, I think Kenny may have made a mistake here. As The Cheat brought up in the roundtable discussion, David Riske is a Type A free agent, meaning he would have netted us a compensation draft pick had he joined another club. In a worst case scenario, we would have offered Riske arbitration and re-signed him for somthing around $2.5 million; best case scenario he would have walked and we would have gotten another draft pick.

I don't see why Kenny didn't take the small calculated risk (I swear, that wasn't a pun); if worst came to worst, we'd have a serviceable right hander, who could give us some innings out of the 'pen. It's not as though the Sox are strapped financially; we did just set all sorts of attendence records this past year, so there should be some money in the bank. The only way this is permissable is if Kenny has some blockbuster trade in the works that requires us to pick up a lot of salary.

Head for the Hills, Podzilla is Back!

Look who reared his ugly head. That's right, Scott Podsednik.

Podzilla was resigned for 1-year and $2.9 million dollars.

Before you panic, though, or go off blindly into a fit of rage, please read on. This doesn't signify the continutaion of the S-Pod reign in left field, far be it. This is a lateral move if anything.

Pods was due up for arbitration and odds are he was going to get around $3 mill, maybe a touch more. KW did the right thing by signing Pods to a slightly smaller contract while avoiding abitration all together. The important thing to remember is the fact that just because he signed with us, doesn't mean he'll be playing out his contract with us.

The winter meetings are coming up, and this move probably increases his value in the eyes of potential pursuers. Think about it, would you rather trade for a guy with a known salary or would you rather trade for a guy and THEN worry about arbitration? Yah, I'd take the known commodity as well.

Also, keep in mind this is the year of the ridiculous contract for a lead-off man. See Soriano, Alfonso or Pierre, Juan. With a bargain basement contract (relatively speaking), Pods can only look more attractive now than he did yesterday. Kenny has to be able to parlay Pods into something, he's too good of a GM not to. I say by the end of the winter meetings Pods is wearing a new uni.
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