Wednesday, December 14, 2005

A Trade Too Far

Most people who follow baseball closely from the outside (i.e. bloggers) tend to overvalue prospects. For those of us who follow the White Sox this is very unfortunate as Kenny Williams seems to give away prospects like an illegal alien passing out escort cards in Vegas.

To Kenny’s credit, none of the prospects he has traded has yet come back to haunt the Sox. But this offseason he seems to be pushing it. First, he traded the organizations two top lefty pitching prospects, Gio Gonzalaez and Daniel Haigwood. Now he seems intent on trading the crown jewel of the Sox system, Chris Young, to the Diamondbacks for Javier Vasquez.

Chris Young just had a dominant year at Birmingham, one of the toughest hitting parks in the minors. He put up a line of 277/377/545 with 26 homers and 41 doubles. The only black mark was his 129 K’s. But great hitters often have high K rates, and at age 21, he still has a lot of time to improve.

Let's compare Young to how some other Sox sluggers fared at Birmingham.

Chris Young Age 21: 277/377/545
Mike Cameron Age 22: 249/351/429
Mike Cameron Age 23: 300/400/600
Brian Anderson Age 23: 270/346/416 (half season)
Magglio Age 22: 263/323/476
Carlos Lee Age 22: 302/350/485
Rowand Age 22: 258/320/438

As you can see, the only person able to put up the same type of numbers at Birmingham is the player Young is most often compared to, Mike Cameron. Of course, it took Cameron two seasons at AA to put up those numbers and he was two years older than Young at the time.

I know Kenny likes to have his rotation filled in years in advance, but there is hardly a need to make this move. With the right players, it would certainly make sense, and it's great that he plans on unloading El Duque. But with Chris Young, I’m afraid he is giving away the farm. This is a trade that Sox fans will be regretting for a long time.

It's a shame that at a time Sox fans should be basking in the glow of a championship holiday we have to worry if the man at the wheel has had a bit too much egg nog.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Just Say Thank You

So Vince Carter wins a state title for his High School way back in the day and now generously agrees to donate $2.5 million for the construction of a new gym. And some assbag on the school board has the nerve to criticize the school for putting a statue (donated) of Vince in front it.

"There have been many students graduated from that school who have made wonderful contributions to their fellow man — in science, health, theater. Where are their statues?" Conte asked. "I think we're saying we value you if you can make a lot of money, and that troubles me."

Well Ms. Conte, how much money did these scientists, doctors and actors give back to their High School. Even for Vince Carter, $2.5 million is a significant chunk of change. Have any of your other more esteemed graduates given aproportionatee amount of their salaries? Do they ever even go back to Mainland High?

And is it really that odd that they would put a statue of the best athlete ever to walk their halls in front of the gym? Even, if he didn't give the $2.5, how could someone complain about putting a statue of Vince in front of the gym? It's not like they are plopping him in front of the library!

Ms. Conte, you should be thankful Vince Carter has continued to support his alma mater long after he graduated. Putting a statue of him in front of the gym is the least you can do to show your appreciation. Me, I would change the name of the school to Vince Carter High. That has a nice ring to it, much better than the ordinary "Mainland".

Marte for Mackowiak

ESPN Radio 1000 is reporting that the Sox have traded Marte to the Pirates for Oak Lawn Rob Mackowiak. Mackowiak has played a lot of 3B as well as the outfield. KW wanted a left handed 3B backup and he looks like he got one. A good move.

I won't be sad to see Marte go. There is nothing more frustrating than watching a relief pitcher with control problems.

Marte did pitch a scoreless 1 2/3 innings in Game 3 of the World Series. But those fives did not come easy. He would have had the save had Uribe not made error with two outs in the 14th. But I was very happy to Buerhle come on in relief in that game as I had lost all confidence in Marte to get the job done. I think KW must feel the same.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Twins Make Move

The Twins made a good move by picking up the Marlins 30 year old second baseman Luis Castillo for two mid-level pitching prospects. Castillo's career numbers and good, especially when you take the park effects of Pro Player Stadium into account. Player Stadium. He had an OBP of over 400 on the road last year and will fill a huge void at the top of the Twin's order. The Twins have received horrible production from the middle infield over the last couple of years making this move a definite upgrade.

The only silver lining for the Sox may be the added payroll Castillo brings as he is owed over $5 million in each of the next two years. This may suggest that the Twins not be able to make any more significant moves as their owner, Carl Pohlad, keeps a tight lid on the budget.

I think this move is a definite positive for the Twins, but not enough to make them favorites in the Central. The Sox won the division last year with great pitching and a below average offense. The Twins finished near 500 with great pitching and an awful offense. I think the Sox upgraded to above average while the Twins still hover a bit below. Regardless, the AL central may turn out to be quite an exciting three team race next year.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Comp Post

The White Sox signed Konerko to 5 year $60 million deal that is a great PR move for the club. Whether it will turn out to be a great baseball move is yet to be determined.

Konerko will turn 30 in March, so the Sox will have him for his age 30 through 34 seasons. According to Baseball Reference, players similar to Konerko through age 29 include Kent Hrbek, Jason Thompson, Fred McGriff, the Big Klu, Bobby Thomson, Carlos Delgado, Jack Clark, Lee May.

The comps aren't bad as some players did extremely well after age 29. The one thing you do notice is that the OPS+ of most of the players do decline sharply by age 34. The notable exceptions are Jack Clark who had an OPS+ of 167 at age 34 and Carlos Delgado who just put up a 161 OPS+ at age 33.

The five year average OPS+ of each player listed:

Hrbek: 117
J. Thompson: 102 (2 years; done at age 31)
McGriff: 122 (and solid seasons after age 34)
Kluzewski: 114 (tailed off quickly in after age 31 season)
B. Thomson: 92 (had solid age 34 year with Cubs, OPS+ 116)
Delgado: 151 (4 years through age 33 season)
Clark: 148
May: 113 (league average by age 34)

Paulie has had an OPS+ over 120 four of the last five seasons. His comps suggest that he can very well continue to produce these types of numbers over the next couple of years. It's more likely than not he will have a noticeable decline in his numbers by the end of his contract. But some players have continued to produce well after age 34. And we also need to keep in mind that many of these comps are from eras where players had radically different lifestyles and training habits (meaning they felt like I do at age 32).

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Big Trade

I guess I need to revise the table below. I have no problem dealing Rowand for Thome. What other position would the Sox be looking to fill? The only need is 1B/DH and Thome fills that role and brings much needed power from the left side. The only question that remains are the names of the two prospects that are being sent to Philly. I think you can send either Haigwood or Gonzalez, but not both, and come out ahead in the trade.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Salary Table

This is a little rough right now, but quite frankly, I can't waste any more time trying to pretty this thing up. Not a lot of analysis has gone into this other than assuming Rowand and Vizciano will not be playing for the Sox next year, and Paulie will. I think Rowand will be traded, Hernandez should be kept over Vizciano, and would like to see Paulie back at $13M/per year.

Now Konoerko doesn't put up the type of numbers to justify that amount of money. Although I happen to think they will in fact improve as his walk rate went up dramatically and he has a very simple swing that I think will age well. Even still, Ithink the Sox would be able to get more for their money by not signing him for $13m, but the "fan" in me wants see Paulie in a Sox uniform next year. Anything over that amount and the Sox will have to let him walk. I hope it doesn't come to that.

Salaries in RED are my best guess at the final free agent/arbitration numbers. I think the table shows that Sox do have some flexibilty to trade some salaries and fill some holes. The main thing missing from the roster below is a dependable backup for Uribe.


Position PlayersDH/BenchRotationBullpen
Pierzynski c
Thomas DH
Buehrle lhp
Jenks rhp
Konerko 1b
Borchard of
Contreras rhp
Hermanson rhp
Iguchi 2b
Ozuna if
Garland rhp
Cotts lhp
Crede 3b
Harris if
Garcia rhp
Politte rhp
Uribe ss
Widger c
McCarthy rhp
Marte lhp
Podesdnik lf
Gload DH
Hernandez rhp
Anderson cf
Dye rf

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

It Wasn't That Close

A lot has been made about the World Series being one of the closest sweeps in history. That's a somewhat fair assessment as all the games were close, but if you dig deeper into the stats you can see that the White Sox clearly outplayed the Astros.

The Sox cranked out 15 more hits in the 4 games and had 5 more extra base hits, including 3 more homers (4 if you don't count LaneÂ’s bogus home run). Sox batters hit the ball well, putting up a line of:


This was a much better line than what they posted in the regular season and came against the top pitching staff in the National League.

The Astros hit:


With that line, its surprising that they were able to score as many runs as they did (14). Just imagine what the 'Stros line would have been had the Sox not handed out 12 walks in Game 3.

The Sox championship has been compared to the Yanks sweep of the Phillies in 1950. There are similarities including the 6 run differential in total runs scored. Like the 2005 version of the Series, the Yanks also won Games 2 and 3 in the last inning. It featured on extra inning game (game 2 instead of game 3) and one 1-0 game (game 1 instead of game 4). The main difference is how the series ended with the Yanks taking Game 4 easily 5-2.

But looking at the hitting lines suggest the 1950 series was played a bit more evenly with the Yanks hitting 222/295/304 and the Phils 203/250/266.

I think we all remember the many scoring opportunities the Astros failed to take advantage of throughout the series and that leads you to believe the every game could have gone either way. But we often forget that the winning team also failed to take advantage of scoring opportunities. Numerous times the Sox failed to get key hits that would have put a game away. Fortunatelytely, in this series these missed opportunities evened out and the better team came out on top.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Last off-season the White Sox and Brewers turned a lot of heads by swapping outfielders. It was a questionable move by the White Sox at the time although I offered tepid support. No doubt, the Brewers got the best player in the deal. But the Sox got a useful outfielder who could take over the leadoff spot, a workhorse reliever, and most importantly, were able to dump salary. The salary dump gave Kenny Williams the payroll flexibility to make a number of other acquisitions that included signing El Duque, AJ, and Iguchi. My only question at the time was whether Williams could have gotten more for Lee, but I had no problem with the basic premise of trading him.

Looking back, this was the trade, a very bold one, that laid the groundwork for the 2005 Championship team. Williams must have known he was going to be criticized for this move and he was. Podsednik was being called “overrated” by every pundit across the blogosphere. William's reputation took another hit.

One season later I think it is safe to say that one of the outfielders traded was over-rated. Surprisingly, that player is “El Caballo” himself, Carlos Lee - not Scott Podsednik.

As I said, I’m not going to argue Pods is a more valuable player than Lee. But without a doubt, Pods has more value at $800,000 than Lee does for $8,000,000. Lee, a power hitter, has only one season where he slugged more than .500 (2004 in homer friendly US Cellular), has never cracked a .900 OPS, and this year, dubbed a “breakout year” by some, had an OPS of .811. His final 2005 line was:


That’s certainly not a bad line, but it's not much better than what Brady Clark, Lee’s Brewer teammate, put up for a bargain $1.1 million:


And his other Brewer teammate and outfielder, Geoff Jenkins ($7.3M) had a much better line:


As for Pods, his line for 2005:


Obviously, his OBP out of the leadoff spot was what he brought to the White Sox. It is not even great, but as a team the Sox only got on base 32% of the time, so his numbers out of the leadoff spot were critical to the Sox offense.

So what have we proven? Carlos Lee is a good hitter. But he’s certainly not an elite hitter, and at age 29, probably won’t turn into one. He is overpaid and the Sox were wise in moving him.

But now, through no fault his own, Lee has progressed firmly into over-rated territory. This year Lee was one of three NL Outfielders awarded the Silver Slugger. Lee has to be one of the worst outfielders to ever win this award. It's pretty hard to believe they gave it to him as he has the 27th highest OPS among outfielders in the majors. Even in a down year in the NL, there is no way he should have won this ahead of any of the following candidates:

Jason Bay (OPS 961 – should have won)
Ken Griffey Jr. (947)
Lance Berkman (934)
Adam Dunn (927)
Jim Edmonds (918)
Brian Giles (905 in Petco)
Geoff Jenkins (888)
Bobby Abreu (879)
Cliff Floyd (863)
Jose Guillen (817 in RFK Stadium)

In fact, since 1980 when MLB began awarding the Silver Slugger, I only found two NL outfield winners with a lower OPS than Carlos Lee. In 1981, Dusty Baker won with an OPS of 808 and in 1986 Dave Parker won with an OPS of 807. But both of these players had a higher OPS+, which takes into account the run scoring environment as well as park factors. Baker had an OPS+ of 133, Parker 117, and Carlos Lee had an OPS+ of 110. That's not much better tha league average (100).

I rooted for “El Caballo” when he was on the White Sox and I hope he continues to do well with the Brewers. But the myth that he is one of the games elite hitters needs to be put to rest.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Black Sox History

There was an interesting article in the WSJ Online yesterday covering new ground on the 1919 Black Sox scandal. Things were not as simple as Eight Men Out would lead you to believe. Give it a read here.

I Love Parades

The parade route ends right at my building at LaSalle and Wacker. It's 10:30 right now, 90 minutes beofre the parade starts, and there is already a large and loud crowd outside. I can hear them loud and clear on the 25th floor.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

World Champions

I don't have anything to add right now. Just enjoying the moment. A great game to end it, another 1-0 victory. And the Sox finish the year with their fifth 8 game winning streak. Unbelievable.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Blum Trail Blazer

So if the roof is closed Blum's liner doesn't make it out of the park, right? I think that is what all the Ass-Trolls were whining about.

Thankfully, Houston got all those walks, a bad call in their favor, and the benefit of an error on what should have been the last out of the game. If that would have happened to the Sox, we would be hearing even more bitching and moaning about how they get all the breaks. More importantly, the Ass-Trolls showed very clearly that its not the good breaks in themselves that put you over the top but rather how you respond to them. You can respond like Houston by popping out, striking out and hitting weak grounders, or you can respond like the Sox and hit grand slams and walk off homers.

As for Blum's heroics, they couldn't have come at a more opportune time. Marte was the last guy in the bullpen and he really can't be relied upon to throw many zeroes up there. If after Blum's homer, I was still plenty worried about marte coming out for the bottom of the 14th.

He started off great, getting Ensberg on three pitches. I was tired and I'm not even sure of the exact sequence, but how do you then walk Orlando Palmiero (or was it Vizcaino). I'll have to check the boxscore, but I remember way too many walks to very weak Houston batters. I guess there were way too many walks period.

But kudos to Ozzie for bringing out Buehrle. One inning of work (and it ended up being 1/3) isn't going to prevent him from starting Game 6 on Saturday. And more importantly, bringing him in for the save makes a game 6 seem unlikely.

One game away from being World Series Champs. I can't believe this.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Bring On The Astros

The White Sox certainly have their work cut out for them. They face 3 starting pitchers that all have a lower ERA than the Sox number one starter Mark Buerhle. But the Sox do have some things going in their favor.

According to the ESPN Stats page, the Sox hit power pitchers to a tune of 273/326/446 this season compared to 256/291/429 against finesse pitchers. This is a good sign going up against some of the best power pitchers in the game (and in Clemens case, baseball history).

Another good sign are the Sox career stats against the Astros top three pitchers.

They've banged around Ol' Roger pretty well: 280/351/518 including 10 home runs. Big Frank did a lot of that damage, but Crede, Dye and Konerko have hit him pretty hard as well.

Sox batters have a similar line against Pettitte: 305/369/500 including 5 home runs. Again, most of this damage was done by Big Frank, but he has also been hit hard by Konerko and Dye.

Only Pods has had over 20 ABs against Oswalt going 261 with a double. But AJ has gone 5/8 the few times he has faced him.

One thing that is overblown, and is not much of an advantage to the Sox, is the ineptitness of the Astros offense. In fact, the inept Astros offense scored more runs per game after the All Star break than the Sox (who had the benefit, or in the case of Carl Everett the detriment, of the DH). The Astros averaged 4.38 runs in the second half while the Sox scored 4.32.

What does all this mean? Probably not much. But I know this, if the Sox continue to limit their opposition to 3 runs per game they will win the World Series. And since they have limited two better offenses in the postseason to that so far (3 rpg to the Red Sox 2.2 to the Angels) they should be able to shut down the Astros.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Scoop Jackson: Bringing Incoherent Rambling to A New Level

I usually don't read the South Side's very own Scoop Jackson. His style of writing is a bit disjointed and rambling. But hey, when the Sox are in the World Series, you will read anything that mentions them.

Anyways, I don't want to write about how hard it was to drudge through Scoop's column. I just wanted to mention a couple things that didn't ring true to me. Actually, the whole thing doesn't ring true to me in a "he doesn't capture the feeling of a city" kind of way. But two statements he makes don't ring true in the "I doubt that actually happened" kind of way.

First he writes that "I knew it was serious when I heard little black kids walk past my house after they got out of school and pronounce Pierzynski's name right" Haha. Maybe this was just meant as a joke. But I just don't see little black kids getting out of school and talking about the exploits of A.J. Pierzynski. Actually, I don't see any kids getting out of school talking about A.J. Pierzynski.

Now, I don't live on the Southside, and I don't know if Scoop does either. Maybe he does, and maybe all the kids around there have bought into Sox fever. And maybe, just maybe, AJ is attracting some type of cult following among them. But I have to call total bullshit on this next example:

"I knew it was serious when I drove downtown to pick up my wife from work and heard someone in a group of white businessmen actually say: 'Even though he's not the prototype executive, Kenny Williams is the best general manager in Chicago sports history.'"

Now, I do work downtown, and I know what type of things come out of whitey's mouth. And this doesn't sound like one of them. This sounds like something a black sportswriter thinks a white businessman would say.

"Not the prototype executive". See, now this is Scoop's way of implying that the person speaking is prejudiced . And the sentence really doesn't make sense. "Even though...". Even though what? Even though he's not the prototypical executive. What does that even mean? How is he any different than the other GM's. Oh right, he's black. Whitey can't get over that fact. Racists. The things you overhear from your car when you pick up your wife from work.

And secondly, I've never heard anyone say anything like Williams is the best GM in Chicago sports history. I'm not saying no one believes it, or that there aren't a lot of Kenny Williams fans out there (I'm one of them). I'm just saying you hardly ever here anyone making blanket statements like that when it comes to discussing somthing like a GM. Especially one that is experieincing his first palyoff season after 5 years on the job.

Anyways, he has a few other anecdotes in there that also sound false but I'll let you try to make your way through his column on your own..

Now, I don't want to accuse Scoop of making things upand for all I know these were just slight embellishments. It just rings a bit false to me and that's one mans opinion.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Chicago Baseball

I don't want to go into too much of a rant here, but Cub fans sure are bugging me, as well as sportswriters.

For a long time I used to root for both teams but that has become more and more impossible over the past few years. There's too much bad blood out there and you end up being forced to choose sides.

Its basically the same way in politics. I really don't fit into either side. I guess I'm what you would call fiscally conservative and socially liberal. And I firmly believe that both parties are controlled by special interests, often the same special interests, and care little about doing what is best for their fellow Americans. But I always end up voting for Republicans.

Why is that you ask? Because the Democrats are always running around screaming how the Republicans are evil, corrupt, and controlled by special interests. I'd rather vote for an asshole than a hypocrite.

Its pretty much the same way with Cubs fans. All they talk about is how awful Sox fans are. "They are always insulting the Cubs", "Sox fans are obsessed with the the Cubs", blah, blah, blah. Well here's a newsflash: Cubs fans act the exact same way!

Now it true you won't see much talk about the Sox when the Cubs are in the playoffs as was the case in 2003. But that's because this its a Cubs town. Even when the Sox are winning it's hard to ignore the elephant in the living room. Believe me, I would be more than happy if the sports section was completely devoid of all things Cub. But when the biggest media presence in the city owns that Cubs, that will never happen.

For crying out loud, in Sunday's Trib sport section, the day after the Sox went up 3-1 against the Angels, the Trib's two main writers had columns on how Cub fans should be rooting for the Sox. The Sox just inched closer to their first pennant in 46 years, and these idiots are writing about Cubs fans? Who gives a crap who Cub fans are rooting for.

So for all you Cub fans bitching and whining about how insufferable Sox fans will be if they win the World Series, take it from me: there is nothing more insufferable than a hypocrite.

Ecstasy Can Wait

The Sox won the pennant in dominating fashion and capped it off with a come from behind late inning victory. The game was awesome and you could not ask for a better way to win it. I was psyched when they recorded the final out. I've been in a pretty good mood the last couple of days. But I haven't had the sense of jubilation that I though would come with winning the pennant.

I think its because we're so close now that anything less than a World Series victory would be a disappointment. We've come too far, and the journeys been too long, for us to come up short now.

This has been a great season - in fact the greatest season I've ever experienced. But man, I know I'll be in a world of hurt if they don't win four more games.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

ALCS Game 2: The Phantom Trap

Wow. I didn't see that one coming. It didn't look like the Sox would ever score against the Angels bullpen. But then it happened. The Sox got the biggest playoff break since Steve Bartman went souvenir hunting. Just like that this series is tied and we are off to California.

Now, the controversial third strike call without a doubt changed the course of this game. But just like the Bartman play, it did not cost a team the game. It put a runner on first with two outs. Not exactly a threatening situation for the Angels bullpen. The Angels then let Ozuna steal second without a throw. Then Escobar throws an 0-2 meatball to Joe Crede. Joe Crede, who wakes up in the middle of the night screaming from nightmares of 0-2 curveballs in the dirt. That's what cost the Angels the game.

The Sox caught a break and took advantage of it. Luckily, Mark Buerhle pitched a gem, and gave the Sox the opportunity to steal this one. This is the performance I've been waiting to get form Buerhle since they started to slide in August. That was an ace on the mound.

Looking ahead, I think the Sox would be in a great position if they could just split the next two games. If I were the Angels, I would not want to go into to games 5 and 6, tied 2-2, against Contreras and Buerhle.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

ALCS Game 1

This is usually the type of game that the Sox would win 2-1. Unfortunately, the Angels were able to score 2 runs in the third on a couple of weak grounders and that was difference in the ballgame.

Yes, the Sox had a couple of chances to rally late and failed to execute. But the bigger problem is that AJ was the only player to hit the ball well last night. Crede did hit a homer in the third, but didn't look that great in his other at bats. Sometimes your offense has an off night. Unfortunately, the Sox offense has a lot of off nights. The great thing about this team is that they are able to win a lot of these games anyways. It didn't happen last night, but if they continue to get pitching, I'm confident they will able to put together 4 wins.

The only thing that bothered me about this game was the decision-making by Guillen. While a lot of pundits made a big deal of Pods and Rowand failing to execute sacrifice bunts, I think the bigger problem was having them bunt in that situation in the first place. The Angels were expecting it and Figgins was playing 20 feet in front of third base. You have to take what the defense gives you. If they take away the bunt, don't try to force it. Try to shoot a ball past the drawn in third baseman. The Sox just gave away two outs, and in doing so, possibly the game.

Friday, October 07, 2005

And Oh Yeah...

What the hell was Chris Berman talking about the last couple of innings? The Red Sox were tired from being in so many important games the past couple of years? Please. They have 4 months off after the season. And as far as I know, Matt Clement and David Wells, Game 1 & 2 losers, weren't even on the Red Sox last year.

Sox Sweep!

I was optimistic going into this series, but anyone who has watched Chicago baseball the last 30 years can't help but have doubts linger in the back of their head. But this is the type of team that can win the World Series. They took three games from the Red Sox in three different ways. In Game 1 they pounded them. They stole Game 2 by taking advantage of Graffinino's big error. In Game 3 the bullpen came in (what an unbelievable performance by El Duque) and shutdown the Red Sox.

But I'm not going to worry about the LCS or Worlds Series right now. I'll just enjoy the first White Sox playoff series victory in my lifetime.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Game 2 Thoughts

I’m not quite sure why so many Red Sox fans are optimistic with David Wells taking the mound tonight. He has a pretty mediocre overall ERA of 4.45 and a Jose Lima like road ERA of 5.56. I don’t think the White Sox are going to have too many problems scoring tonight and I would be surprised if they got less than 4 runs off Wells.

I keep hearing that Wells is a “Big Game” pitcher. If they mean he’s the size of an elephant I know what they're talking baout. But if they are talking about his 10-3 post season record I think they need to live in the present. Orel Hershiser had a pretty good post season record too, but I wouldn’t want him taking the hill for me in the 2005 playoffs.

The big question Mark is Buehrle. Can he contain the Red Sox offense? He couldn’t in his two starts against them in the regular season. It’s odd considering Buehrle should be the White Sox best option against the lefty bats on the Red Sox.

I think Buehrle will pull through and pitch a solid game. And White Sox fans will spend the off day on Thursday daydreaming of ALCS matchups.

White Sox 14, Red Sox 2

Well, this playoff series is already more exciting than the last one we played in 2000. And its our first series lead since the Sox took Game One from the Orioles way back in 1983. I'm optimistic this one turns out differently.

I hope all the players are ready for tonight after pounding the Red Sox in Game 1. Going to Fenway tied 1-1 would be a major downer.

My thoughts on Game 1:

* Contreras didn’t look that sharp to start the game. He didn’t really take command until the fifth. Iguchi’s play throwing Millar out at third in the fourth inning was huge. If he throws that ball away the Red Sox probably score their third run of the game (making it 6-3) if not more. And if it’s closer they might have given Clement a quicker hook and we also wouldn’t get to tee off on the hapless Jeremi Gonzalez to make it a blowout.

* Just because we scored 5 in the first doesn’t mean having Iguchi lay down a bunt was smart.

* It's not that surprising Pods hit a home run. The surprise was that he went all season without one after hitting 12 last year.

* I have to agree with the Cheat, too many curtain calls. Only A.J. deserved one after hitting his second homer. Maybe Pods just for laughs.

* Speed doesn’t slump? I guess we can put an end to that cliché. I’m sorry, but a 50% success rate stealing bases just doesn’t cut it. If Pods can’t steal at a 80% rate, he should keep his ass planted on first base. I’m not sure if he’s injured, or just getting bad jumps, and I don’t care. I’m just tired of seeing him get thrown out.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

AL Central Champs

After nearly blowing a 15 game division lead I feel more a sense of relief than excitement. It looked like the players felt the same way as they took the field to celebrate. I'm sure I'll feel more excited when I get home and pop open the champagne (of beers, that is).

Anyways, the Sox have already won 96 games and deserve congratulations on a great 2005 regular season. I thought 3rd place in the divisiom was a real possibility (I never thought fo a second that they would finish 4th as some predicted)and they eserve a lot of credit for not only winning the division, but also for most likely finishing with the best record in the AL.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Did Gardenhire Hold Back Santana To Pitch Against Sox?

A couple of weeks back I looked through the schedule and was relieved to see that the Sox were scheduled to face Johan Santana only once in the home and away series the Sox and Twins began this past weekend. But then the series came and to my shock (and horror) realized that we would have to face him twice.

The funny thing is that he was scheduled to pitch on Wednesday, but Gardenhire started rookie Francisco Liriano instead. And Friday, Gardenhire opened the Sox series with Scott Baker. So he starts on Saturday, shuts down the Sox, and is scheduled to open up against the Sox in the series that starts Thursday at the Cell. Is this just coincidence or is Gardenhire trying to help out the Indians? If he starts either Wednesday or Friday, he pitches only once in the 7 games.

But I think the Sox may have a surprise ready for the Twins on Thursday when Brandon McCarthy takes the hill against the hapless Twins hitters.

Sox Wild Card Magic Number Is Actually 9

A couple of weeks ago as the Sox pushed their lead back up to 9.5 games I took a shot at those who seemed ready to jump off the bandwagon. But 10 games later, with the lead down to 3.5 games, I might be the one to end up looking foolish. The Sox need to at least split the six remaining games with Cleveland to hold on the division. Winning only two might not be enough as Cleveland gets to play TB and KC seven times down the stretch.

Of course even if they end up losing the division they should have no problem holding on to the Wild Card. In fact, for the Sox to lose the WC, they would need Cleveland, Boston, and the Yankees to pass them in the standings.

Top three make playoffs:

Team GB
CHW 90-58 -
CLE 87-62 3.5
BOS 87-62 3.5
NYY 85-63 5.0

It has been said that the Sox magic number for the WC is 10, but in reality it is only 9. If the Sox get to 99-63 there is no way both NY and Boston can pass the White Sox as NY/BOS have play each other three times. For example if the Yankees went 14-0, to match the White Sox at 99-63, the Red Sox would have to at least lose 3 games to the Yankees and their best potential record would be 97-65.

Best Possible Records for NY/BOS:

Red Sox Sweep: BOS 100-62, NYY 96-66
Red Sox take 2 of 3: BOS 99-63, NYY 97-65
Yanks Take 2 of 3: BOS 98-64, NYY 98-64
Yankis sweep: BOS 97-65, NYY 99-63

This is why the Sox still have a 97% chance of making the playoffs according to Baseball Prosepctus.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Oh Really

Funny reading this on Andrew Sullivan's blog: "One thing I keep thinking: there's still so much we don't know about what really went on in New Orleans."

That sure doesn't stop him from commenting on it(er, placing blame)!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Pitching Comes Through

I'm not going to say I wasn't a little bit worried as the Sox stumbled through August. But many Sox fans were actually expecting the Sox to blow their division lead. The fact that the Indians never got closer than 7 games back and the Sox are back on track to reach 100 wins makes these people look pretty foolish. I just don't think many people have faith in this team.

It's easy to understand. Offense always seems to impress people and the Sox are barely adequate in that department. But this is the best pitching staff the Sox have put together in my lifetime and pitching is what is needed in the playoffs.

If they can pitch in October the way they have pitched in September, the Sox have a great chance of bringing a World Series title to Chicage for the first time in 88 years. Here is what the staff has done so far in September:

1.57 ERA
.189 opponents batting average
.84 WHIP
58 K
10 BB (5 last night)


Monday, August 22, 2005


This can't be right. An item in the NY Daily News (via the Trib)stated the White Sox voted to forfeit their rained out game against the Red Sox instead of traveling to Boston on Labor Day to make it up.

If true, I can only assume the players voted on it before their 7 game losing streak. While they still have a healthy division lead, they are in no position to be giving games away.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

A Much Needed Day Off

After posting a 57-29 record at the All- Star break, the Sox have started the second half at 17-15. Of course before the recent five game skid they were at a not too shabby 17-10. I decided to look at some pre and post break numbers to see if anything stands out.

Runs per game pre: 4.81
Runs per game post: 4.63

ave/obp/slug pre: 262/323/420
ave/obp/slug post: 258/318/433

ERA pre: 3.62
ERA post: 3.81

unearned runs per game pre: .31
unearned runs per game post: .41

Runs allowed per game pre: 3.95
Runs allowed per game post: 4.32

As you can see, the Sox have begun to slip a little bit in every category. Runs scored decreased by .18/game while runs allowed increased by .37/game, narrowing their advantage from .86/game down to .31/game. Getting Podsednik back should help a little. However, their batting stats suggest they are not getting the clutch hits they were at the beginning of the year as their OPS is about the same. I'm not sure how much we can hope the offense to improve without making a trade.

Pitching and fielding have slipped a little, as both earned and unearned have increased in the second half. Buehrle is responsible for most of this drop as his post break ERA is 4.53 after finishing the first half at 2.58.

Hopefully Buehrle isn't injured and will be effective the remainder of the year. But maybe these poor outings are a blessing in disguise if he falls out of the Cy Young race and he can skip a few starts before the playoffs.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

No Need To Panic

A lot of Sox fans are in full panic mode with the Sox losing 4 in a row and playing 500 ball since the All-Star break. And yes, it has been depressing losing 2 straight to the Twins, and quite horrifyng watching Timo play every day(and bat lead-off!). I'm sure last night's 2-run double will keep him in the line-up until Pods get back.

The offense has been pathetic. But, when the playoffs come, Timo will be watching them from the bench (and Jon Adkins will be watching from home). And I have no doubt Kenny will pick up someone who can DH from the left side.

Actually, we already have someone who can DH from the left side and his name is Ross Gload. But for some reason he's playing in Charlotte. So while we wait to see if Ken Griffey Jr. makes his way to the Southside, maybe Kenny can send down Adkins and bring up Gload?

The offense has been mediocre most of the year and the Sox have been winning anyways. With Pods going down, we now have three sub-standard offensive positions at left, 3b and SS. Once we get a left fielder back things should be back to normal and the Sox should be set for the playoffs.

While we wait for pods to return, I think the best move would be for Jurassic to get some time in left while bringing up Gload to DH.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Sounds Like A Well Played Game

This game jumped out at me while I was checking scores. Through 4 innings of the KC/Boston game 14 runs have scored on only 6 hits. Yikes.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Frank Out for The Year

It's been a while since I blogged as I've been busy with moving and selling my condo. Farewell Chicago, hello suburbs (ugh).

Anyway, the big news is that Big Frank is most likely out for the year. Now this shouldn't hurt their chances to make the playoffs which, barring a complete collapse, are a sure thing. But it sure will hurt them in the playoffs when their mediocre offense will have to line up against good pitching every day.

So now is the time for Kenny Williams to stop worrying about AJ Burnett, or any other pitcher, and pick up another bat who can help the Sox score some runs this postseason. I'll take my chances with a starting rotation of Buerhle, Garland, Garcia and Hernandez (if a 4th starter is needed). But I don't think this offense can produce enough to take the Sox to the World Series.

Three names I would like to see in a Sox uniform:

Adam Dunn
Ken Griffey Jr.
Aubrey Huff

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Sox Are Not Like The 2003 Royals

I’ve read a few articles comparing the Sox to the 2003 KC Royals, including one in today’s Tribune, and a lot of smart people have blogged the same thing. But the two teams have very little in common.

- The 2003 Royals started the season at 17-4. That is where the Royal’s would peak as they would not reach 13 games above .500 again. The Sox are 49-22, 27 games above .500 after 71 games.

- The Royals were 37-34 after 71 games and in second place. Only a horrible three week stretch by both the Twins and White Sox left the Royals 7.5 games up at the All Star break with a 51-41 record.

- The Royals were outscored by their opponents in 2003, 867-836, even though they finished with a winning record (83-79). Now that’s luck. The Sox have outscored the opposition 344-271 so far in 2005.

- The Sox are built on pitching (3.56 ERA). The Royals were built with smoke and mirrors and they had a 5.03 ERA, third worst in the league.

So for all you Twins fans looking for a 2003 repeat, don’t bet on it.

Offensive Consistency

For awhile now I've been wanting to test the hypothesis that although the Sox scored way more runs last year, their offensive consistency this year was helping them win more ballgames. But it sounded like hard work! Anyway, I knew with all the great baseball minds out there someone would eventually run the numbers and tell us what's going on.

And here are two bits of information that help answer this hypothesis. First, this piece by John Dewan explains that while the Sox don't have the big games as often as last year's team (2 games above ten runs instead of 14 through 64 games - 14!) they have only scored less than 2 runs five times compared to ten times last year.

Studes then takes this discussion further (scroll down) to show that Sox offensive output is bunched around 2-7 runs per game, and is more highly concentrated around these numbers than the rest of the league.

As they say, read the whole thing. But the bottom line is if you combine an offense that consistently score 2-7 runs per game with a good pitching staff you are likely to win a bunch of games.

Finally, I think this clear headed analysis shows that it might be better if the Hardball Times had someone other than an avowed White Sox hater write about the best team in baseball.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Understatement of the Year

"Frank is one of the best on-base percentage people in baseball in the last 14 years" - White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen 6/19/05

Frank Thomas' .428 OBP ranks 11th best in major league history.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Durbin, Our Senate Embarrassment

For some reason our humble state is unable to produce many leaders that we can take much pride in. Our governor may have "testicular virility" but he is not the biggest Dick in the state. That would be our senior Senator Dick Durbin.

Dick Durbin is a moron for two reasons. Well, actually, he's a moron for a whole buncj of reasoms. But right now I'll focus on his use of the always ill-conceived use of a Nazi analogy on the Senate floor this week. (Note to politicians - do not make analogies to Nazi Germany unless your opponent is attemting to murder 6 million Jews - even if you have an apt analogy it will be lost in the frenzy that will surely follow). First, he’s a moron because he had know idea that comparing our interrogators and the Guantanamo detention center to Nazis, the Khmer Rouge, and a Soviet gulag would cause a political firestorm. Second, he’s a moron because it completely overstates the complaints being made at Guantanamo.

I don’t care how many Korans were tossed on the floor, that hardly makes it a Nazi death camp. Maybe we shouldn’t do it, but if you ask me it’s not a bad idea to exploit their religious fanaticism to our own benefit.

And for crying out loud, I’m supposed to get worked up because these terrorists have their personal space invaded by female interrogators? Well, holy shit, where do I sign up for these interrogations?

The main complaint Durbin seems to have was that one prisoner was chained up naked a got the shivers because the air conditioning was set too low. Not very nice, but far from the awful experience of a Soviet gulag.

Another complaint was that prisoners are forced to listen to loud rap music. Well, boo fucking hoo. Unless it was Vanilla Ice, I would have a hard time calling that torture. My wife deals with it. And have you listened to Pakistani music? If you have then you'll have a hard time believing a little Ludacris will drive these guys over the edge.

Now I want to make clear that I am not promoting the use of heavy handed torture techniques, or having any prisoners demeaned and humiliated in the way they were at Abu Ghraib. But what Durbin is complaining about at best comes to crossing a line that I would draw, but hardly justifies him comparing our methods (I’ll give him the benefit of doubt that he’s not comparing our troops) to those of the most murderous regimes in modern history.

The best editorial I read about Durbin appeared in the Investors Business Daily which ended:
Al-Qahtani is the so-called 20th hijacker of 9-11. Among the other "torture" techniques said to have been used in his interrogation is showing him pictures of the burning towers, the incinerated bodies and the deaths of 2,973 Americans.
It might not be a bad idea if Sen. Durbin and his brethren were forced to look at them again as well.

Pitching Wanes, Offense Waxes

It was great to see that touchdown the Giants scored on the Twins last night in the 9th. Even more encouraging is that Joe Nathan doesn't seem so unhittable this year.

Last year Joe Nathan gave up 13 ER runs in 73 appearances. This year he's given up 12 ER in 28 appearances.

And looking at his stats you can see that Gardenhire is not using his best reliever very efficiently or maybe Nathan doesn't have the "testicular virility", as our governor might say, to come in with runners on. So far this year he has not inherited a runner in any of his relief appearances.

But enough about those soon to be former Central Division champs. Let's talk about the Sox.

The Sox offense has arrived in June as they lead the AL in runs scored and home runs for the month (helped slightly by a 15 run game at Coors field). Even Joe Crede is getting into the mix in June, batting a very impressive 306/405/694. And if this past series against the D-Backs is any indication, the balls are going to be flying out of the Cell as in years past.

Unfortunately, that's bad news for our pitchers. As the offense has heated up, the pitching has slipped. This shouldn't be a suprise as many of the Sox pitchers were playing well above the career averages the first two months of the season. All the starting pitchers except for Buehrle have posted a high ERA this month:

June ERA
Buehrle 1.93
Garland 5.03
Garcia 5.14
Contreras 5.50
Hernandes 7.56

I would say both Garland and Garcia have pitched a little bit better this month than their stats suggest. Poor defense led to 4 of the 6 runs Garland gave up on Tuesday and his WHIP is 1.32 for the month. Not good, but good enough for a sub 5.00 ERA. Garcia's WHIP for the month is actually a miniscule .93, but he gave up a 3 run homer to inflate his ERA in both of his starts this month.

Playing in the Cell, there's no doubt that Sox pitchers are going to give up some dingers and have some rough nights. That's why it's so important for the pitchers to throw strikes and not give up any walks to keep these home runs solo shots. I'm not quite sure that all of these pitchers are up for the task. But I still feel good with Buerhle, Garcia and Garland taking the mound.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Oh Well, A 5-1 Road Trip's Not Bad

The Sox come home from a successful road trip to face the D-Backs tonight. Rowand's three run homer in the tenth yesterday helped soothe my pain after staying up late to watch Hermanson blow his first save as Sox lost 2-1 on Saturday night.

Everyone knows what happened, so I won't recap. But I will add my to voice to all the other Sox fans who cannot believe Guillen let Mark Buerhle bat with no outs, runners on the corners, in the 8th inning of an one run game!

But hey, the way the Padres were teeing off on Hermanson in the 9th, I doubt that would have stopped scoring at 2 runs anyway (at least that's what I was telling myself as I was trying to sleep after the game).

While it certainly has been frustrating watching Ozzieball the past 200+ games, I've come to the realization that the in- game tactics of a major league manager just aren't that important (at least in a 162 game season). It might cost a team a few games over a full season, but getting the team to play each and every day to its fullest potential is the hallmark of a great manager.

For crying out loud, Guillen's not even as bad as Dusty on the North Side, yet Baker continues to have his teams in the playoff hunt every year!

Anyway, the fact that the Sox have led in all but 4 games this year is a sign that the Sox come ready to play. And the amazing thing is, even though thay have baseball's best record, it's not that hard to imagine them with something like a 47-15 record instead of 42-20. The fact they have led in all but 4 games also means that they have blown 16 leads!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Sox Notes

The Sox have played in 20 series so far this year. They have won the first two games in 14 of the 20 series.

In Game 1 of a series the Sox are 15-5.
In Game 2 of a Series the Sox are 17-3.
In Game 3 of a series the Sox are 7-9.
In Game 4 of a series the Sox are 0-2.

The Sox have had 10 previous chances to finish a 3 game sweep but have only gone 3-7 in those games. They get their 11th opportunity tonight against the Rockies.

This year the Sox have scored two runs or less 14 times and are 6-8 in those games. Last year at this time the Sox had scored two runs or less 14 times and were 0-14 in those games.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Treading Water

Since going to a season high 19 games above 500 after two wins against the Cubs the Sox have been basically treading water. The shame of it is that ther have a lot of winnable games that let get away in the late innings (the Prior game against the Cubs, the Contreras game in Anaheim, the Contreras game on Wednesday). It seems that even thought the sox continue to enjoy the best record record in baseball a lot of people are down on them. Perhaps the persistent disrespect given to this team by the national media is starting to permeate the fan base.

But I'm not too worried. For me, the fact that the Sox have been playing like crap the last two weeks and are still 17 games above 500, 3.5 games ahead of the Twins, is a great sign. This team is going to turn things around offensively and the pitching should continue to shine.

Hopefully, with Walker being sent down and Vizcaino getting hit hard, it has become even obvious to Ozzie what the pecking order should be in the bullpen. It looks like he will need to stick with Marte, Politte and Hermanson. If he has to go to the pen early, go to Cotts. Vizcaino and Takatsu should only be used when they Sox are comfortably ahead or uncomfortably behind.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

6PM Weekday Start?

For the first time I can remember, the Cubs are playing a 6pm night game at Wrigley. That should make for a nice commute home!

Speaking of Wrigley, I'll be going to my first ballgame of the year tomorrow as the Cubs play the Rockies. It's pretty funny listening to Cub fans get excited over the prospect of reaching .500 after hearing them criticize the Sox for not beating any "good teams" (which I guess doesn't include the Twins, Blue Jays, Orioles, Rangers, Indians and of course the Cubs). Now that the Cubs have strung a few wins together against the likes of the Pirates and Astros they're all giddy about making some trades for a playoff run.

But here in the reality-based community, we have actual playoff tweaking to do, such as replacing Joe Crede at third. So here's my question: is Joe Randa a big enough step up to make it worth trading a prospect? Or more likely, would the Reds trade Randa for Crede straight-up, going with Crede's lower salary and slight upside?

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Condo For Sale

I'm selling my condo if anyone is interested in moving to the Lakeview area. I live 5 blocks directly north of Wrigley, description below:

Buena Park Gem!
Spacious, sunny vintage home with all the modern comforts, and deeded parking included! This top floor, 6 room (2 bed + den, 1 bath) unit features hardwood floors throughout, gorgeous moldings, original oak built-ins, 9'+ ceilings and lots of character. Kitchen has 42" white cabinets and a large bkfst. bar opens to the dining/great room. Living room has big bay windows and lovely French doors. Both bedrooms have closet organizer systems and custom painting. Den is the perfect space for an office or nursery. Huge south-facing deck, in-unit wash/dryer, central air/heat, and one deeded parking space make this home a true find! Private storage space in basement is a bonus. Building is a 3-story, brick six-flat on a quiet, tree-lined street. Walk to "el", lake, shops, parks, dining. Just move in and start enjoying this unique home!
LR. 17x14, DR. 19x12, KT. 14x9, MB. 12x11, B2. 12x10, DEN 10x8, DECK 18x8, STRG. 11x11.
Plus one additional shared guest parking space for the building.
Assmt. $159/month, taxes $2669 in '03, pets are welcome!

E-mail me for more info.

Idol Thoughts

I’ve been a huge fan of American Idol since its first season and always wanted to blog about it. Now that the contestants are down to a manageable five, I guess I’ll go ahead and do it. My comments from last nights show, in order of appearance:

Anthony “The Ballad King” Fedorov: Anthony has really limited range and only does well with slow ballads. His version of Poison Ivy was just horrible. But he usually picks songs with limited range and does decent enough for him to get by on his squeaky clean white boy looks.

Scott “Chief Wiggims” Savol:
Scott Savol has to be one of the ugliest contestants to ever appear on American Idol. What’s even more surprising about his success on the show is his complete inability to sing. And to hit the trifecta, he has an awful whiteboyghetto attitude that is absolutely grating. How he lasted longer than Nadia Turner or Nikko Smith is beyond me.

Oh, and did you here his comment last night about how its great to have a fashion consultant on the show to help him appear more appealing to America? Hey Scott, did she tell you to shave your thin-lined beard for the show? Because I must say, I don’t think it was such a hot idea to expose your fourth and fifth chins to America last night. Ick.

Anyway, about the performance. His version of On Broadway was actually not the bad. But the Brian McNight song he did deserves to get him booted off the show.

Vonzell Solomon: Vonzell brings so much energy to the stage that it makes up for some voice problems. But she sings alright and is beautiful to look at it. And she has a slightly ditzy personality that is also very attractive (don’t ask me why). That shout-out out to the US Postal Service was hilarious!

Carrie Underwood: Great singer, wonderful to look at, but stiffer than a mannequin. You need some type of stage presence to win American Idol and she just doesn’t have it.

Bo Bice: His Stand By Me was a copy of the original, not very creative. Pretty much the same thing with that Los Lonely Boys Song. But he has a niche that should carry him to the finals.

My Preference:
1. Vonzell Solomon
2. Bo Bice
3. Carrie Underwood
4. Anthony Federov
5. Scott Savol

General Thoughts: I think the contestants in previous years had much more talent. This year they all seem to have issues. And thank goodness Constantine got booted last week. His playing up to the cameras was unbearable. And what was up with all the eye liner! Are the Cure looking for a new lead singer?

I Know It's Early, But...

Okay, I know its early in the season, but I’m ready to drink the Kool-Aid and declare the Sox the best team in the AL Central. Everything I write from here on out will be with the expectation that the Sox will be division champs come October.

For the first few weeks of the season, the “experts” said that the Sox pitching would eventually falter. They said the Sox couldn’t continue to win with an offense that didn’t draw walks and had the worst OBP in baseball. Well, so far the experts have everything backwards.

It was the offense that was playing well below its potential. In the past two weeks the Sox have improved their OBP by over 20 points and they now stand 8th in the AL at .321. At the same time the pitching staff continues to dominate the AL with an ERA of 3.05. The next closest team are the Angels at 3.52.

Now I think we have two pitchers who will regress towards their career averages: Garland and Contreras. But I don’t think the regression will be as sharp as many people expect, as both, especially Garland, may be finally living up to expectations.

But even if that team ERA does drift closer to 4.00 than 3.00 as the season progresses, the offense should improve more than enough to keep the team atop the Central. Even now they are scoring as many runs as the Twins without significant contributions from the heart of the order. Their 4/5/6 hitters, Konerko, Rowand and Dye, have OPS percentages of .769/.663/.552, respectively, well off their career averages of .824/.804/.792. When these guys get going the pitching staff will be able give up a few more runs while still winning ballgames.

The bottom line is that Kenny Williams has built a nice solid team. And make no mistake,this is his team. His first four seasons at the helm were spent basically trying to tweak the 2000 division winners he inherited from Ron Schueler. For whatever reason, these teams were never able to duplicate its earlier success.

So Kenny finally gave up on Lee, Ordonez, and Valentin and decided to go in a new direction. So far that direction is up. The pitching staff consists of a solid starting five, if not an ace, and a strong bullpen. The offense is a nice mix of power and speed. As someone who has often criticized him in the past, I have to give Williams credit for a job well done.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Sox v. KC

Tonight the Sox look to continue their success against the AL Central (15-4) and KC (3-0) in particular as Mark Buehrle takes on Brian Anderson. Brian Anderson looked as if he was going to be a nice pick up for KC as they traded for him late in 2003. But he followed up a couple of decent starts for KC in 2003 with his worst year in the majors. Last year he went 6-12 with a 5.64 ERA. Of course two of his six wins came against the Sox. Both wins came in complete games (his only 2 in 2004) with one being a shut out.

Let hope the Sox can do better against him tonight. Mark Buehrle takes the mound trying to shake off his worst performance of the year. Buehrle couldn’t hold on to leads of 3-0 and 7-4 against the A's last Wednesday before leaving the game without a decision. Buerhle didn’t have his best stuff but managed to shut out the A’s through 4 innings. But things fell apart in the fifth after he failed to respond to Rich Harden’s deliberate beaning of Crazy Carl.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Streak Over

Last nights game was pretty hard to watch. The Sox basically gave away a game they should have won. They did a great job getting to Harden yet failed to break the game wide open. But still, taking a 7-4 lead in the sixth should have been enough to carry them home.

They lost this game for a number of reasons. Horrible defense, bad calls, injuries, you name it. But the biggest part of the blame has to go to Ozzie. It was clear all night that Buehrle didn’t have his best stuff. He wasn’t striking out anyone and needed 3 double plays to escape jams in the early innings. So it was no surprise that he gave up 4 in the 5th to let the A’s take a 4-3 lead.

So when the Sox got the lead back he needed to be on a short leash. This was especially true in the 7th as the top half of the inning took over 15 minutes to play. Uribe went down with an injury just standing in the batters box and the trainers were forced to come out again when Ozuna was hit in the forearm with a pitch.

I didn’t have a problem with Buehrle starting the inning as his pitch count was still in the 80s. But he needed to be pulled when Byrnes opened the inning with a single. He really needed to be pulled after Kendall followed with another single. How do you let him face Chavez in this situation? Marte was warmed up and ready to go. But Ozzie left Buehrle in, Chavez doubled, and the Sox went on to lose.

I shouldn’t be too upset as the Sox won a couple of games they had no business winning during this streak. But somehow that fails to make me feel better. Luckily there is a quick turnaround and I can erase this one from my memory with a Sox victory this afternoon.

And one final thing: Harden clearly threw at Everett, nailing him in the back in the 5th. It was really a punk ass move that required some sort of retaliation. The Cheat is right that something needs to be done today if Ozzie wants to back up all his smack with some actions.

Friday, April 22, 2005

The Sox are on to Kansas City to face the Royals. KC failed to help the Sox yesterday as they blew a couple of leads and fell 10-9 in ten innings against the Twins. Let's hope they continue playing bad ball against the Sox.

They Sox are starting to hit the ball and draw some walks. It’s about time the offense comes around as they aren’t going to win the division getting on base at a .285 clip. Especially since I don’t expect them to lead the AL in pitching all year.

Anyway, I’m not a believer in this team yet, preferring to wait until they finish up their road trip against Oakland. If they can finally win a series at the Coliseum I might start to take their playoff chances seriously.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Sox 5 Twins 4

The Sox have certainly had a strange start to the season. Any unbiased observer would admit that they are not exactly playing good baseball and yet they are 9-4. But they are 6-1 in one run games, a pretty good sign that they are catching some breaks. The question is whether the way they are playing now is indicative of their actual talent level. If it is, the good times will not last long.

But who knows. I've had a hard time figuring out this team the last few years so why should the 2005 version be any different.

As for the mini-controversy between Guillen and the Big Hurt, I would really like to know what Ozzie was thinking. Frank has been a good trooper, saying all the right things, and there is no reason for Ozzie to continue to take shots at him. Let the man be!

And everyone needs to chill a bit on Crazy Carl. Yes, he's off to a good start. But he's not doing anything that extraordinary. He's putting up numbers that would be considered par for the course for Big Frank. When Big Frank comes back, he will need to get most the at-bats at DH.

I will say this about Everett though, his second homer off Lohse, a monster shot, was a thing of beauty. Man, was he waiting for that fastball!

Thursday, April 14, 2005

So Far So Good

The Sox are 6-2, winning close games, and relying on their starting pitching. There were two big questions marks in the starting rotation to start the season: will Hernandez stay healthy and will Contreras stay consistent. Its way too early to make any judgments, but so far the results look good. We'll get another look at El Duque tonight as he takes the mound against the Indians.

I actually have more faith in Hernandez staying healthy than Contreras staying consistent. I really think it's a matter of time before Contreras gets knocked around. The key will be how he responds. Let's face it, for the last two years the Sox played with only four starting pitchers and basically forfeited games in the fifth slot of the rotation. So they can afford for Contreras to blow up every now and then. But if he can limit those blow up games and go six innings 80% of his starts, the Sox will have a chance to win 90+ games this year.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Sandy Berger Should Be Sent to Prison

I live life on a pretty even keel. I like to think of myself as an optimist but with a firm grasp on reality. What I’m trying to get at is that it takes a lot for me to feel outraged.

But today I sit here in disbelief reading about the criminal acts of Sandy Berger. For months everyone knew he took classified documents out of the national archives as he prepared to testify before the 9/11 commission. He claimed he took them out by accident and then when he got home he accidentally destroyed them. Oh boy, does this man have accidents. Former President Bill Clinton backed him up. The press didn’t pursue the story.

Now the Washington Post has a story saying Berger will plead guilty to a misdemeanor and goes on to shed some light on what actually happened:

The terms of Berger's agreement required him to acknowledge to the Justice Department the circumstances of the episode. Rather than misplacing or unintentionally throwing away three of the five copies he took from the archives, as the former national security adviser earlier maintained, he shredded them with a pair of scissors late one evening at the downtown offices of his international consulting business.

So here we have the 9/11 Commission trying to figure out how the attacks happened and what could be done to prevent new attacks in the future. It was a commission trying to answer questions vital to this nation. It was a commission that needed the full cooperation of all witnesses.

And here we have Sandy Berger committing criminal acts in order to cover his ass, or Bill Clinton’s ass, or someone’s ass. We’ll never know as these documents have been destroyed. And then he lied to investigators and tried to cover up what he had done.

I wish this was the only outrage to the story but there is so much more. The press ignored this story even though the basic facts were known. Why wasn’t it pursued? They pursued the Bush national guard story for five years, but couldn’t pursue this one for five days.

But the biggest outrage is the potential plea agreement that may be reached. According to the Post, “he has agreed to pay a $10,000 fine and accept a three-year suspension of his national security clearance”.

What? Are you kidding me? This man commits a crime in order to hide information from the 9/11 Commission and all he has to do is pay $10,000? And he will get his security clearance back! Please, this man belongs in jail.

We’ll see how this plays out but I can’t help but think we’ll be hearing plenty more about this story in the next few days.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Craps, Odds, and Expected Returns

I’ll be in Vegas this weekend and have been brushing up on some gambling strategies. One great resource that I like to use is the Wizard of Odds. It gives you the best play on all the basic casino games and allows you to play some of them for free.

But one strategy that has always struck me as intuitively wrong deals with taking the fullest odds allowed in craps. The wizard's craps guide, like other strategies I’ve seen, suggest taking the fullest odds possible after a pass line bet. The basic idea is that the house has an 1.41% on the pass line bet while there is no house edge on the odds bet. So every extra dollar on the odds bet reduces the average house edge:

House Edge – Pass Line Bet With Odds
Odds Edge
1X .848%
2X .606%
3X .471%
5X .326%
10X .184%
20X .099%
100X .021%

As the table shows this strategy seems to make sense. You can reduce the house edge all the way to .021% with 100X odds! But hold on. What’s the expected return on each of these bets? I’ll use a pass line bet of $100 (I wish!) to demonstrate:

Expected Return – Pass Line Bet With Odds
Odds Expected Return
1X -$1.41
2X -$1.41
3X -$1.41
5X -$1.41
10X -$1.41
20X -$1.41
100X -$1.41

As you can see, even though the house edge is reduced, the expected return remains unchanged. However, you now have a lot more cash on the table.

You can look at it another way to see the logic doesn’t hold. What if they weren’t "even money" odds? What if the odds bet actually had a .50% house edge. Well, again, every extra dollar bet on the odds would reduce the overall house edge. But every extra dollar is still a losing proposition and I don’t think many people would suggest betting 100X odds.

To make one more illustrative point, let’s take a car company that loses $5 dollars for every car they make. Because of this loss, they decide to make trucks that only lose $1 per vehicle. Now they can reduce the average loss per vehicle to $3! Does this sound like a good plan? Of course not. What should drive the investment decision is the marginal profit/loss not the average profit and loss.

Now of course the odds bet is still among the best you will find in the casino and anyone who gambles will want to take advantage of it. But the decision of how much to put down on the odds bet is completely independent of the house edge on the pass line bet. The pass line bet is a sunk cost and there is nothing you can do to change it. The marginal return of each bet should be the only factor in the decision making process, and of course the marginal return on the odds bet is zero.

So if your not a high roller don’t worry about only taking 1X or 2X odds on the pass line bet. There is not a valid economic reason to bet more. You will have the same expected return of the bettor who puts down 3x odds or 10x odds.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Thank Your Lucky Stars

Great seasons in college basketball are only validated by a trip to the final four. So it's easy to understand the jubilation shown by Illini fans after the remarkable comeback Saturday night. It was not only the joy of winning, but the relief of not watching another Illinois team fall short of expectations.

With four minutes left I had already started pondering how this team will be remembered. Overachievers? Chokers? A team that peaked too soon? But those questions will never have to be answered after a 4 minute run that remains too good to be true.

But for some reason, I can’t seem to fully share in the unbridled joy being displayed by players, coaches, fans and sportswriters. There is just something unsatisfying about how this game was won.

First, I need to say that this was not one of the "greatest college basketball games ever played", a statement made by more than one sportswriter in the past few days. Come on, was it really that great watching the Illini get their asses handed to them for most of the second half? I’ll give you that it was one of the greatest comebacks in tourney history. But game? I would never want to sit through the first 36 minutes again, that’s for sure.

Second, Illinois got beat in this game in every way except on the scoreboard. They were outplayed, outsmarted, and outcoached. A huge reason they are advancing to the final four is sheer luck. I know every team needs a few breaks to advance in the tourney. But if someone had scripted this ending for a movie the audience would walk out saying “bullshit”.

This is not to say that Illinois didn’t play great the last four minutes or show a lot of heart. Indeed they did, and they should be proud. My only point is that they could have played great and showed a lot of heart and still lost by 8.

I would rather Illinois win their games in the fashion of the 1985 Bears - not the 2001 Bears. I want them to beat their opponents not luck out at the end.

Of course, they wouldn’t be the first team to receive a few fortunate bounces on the way to a championship. But if they lose to Louisville on Saturday, I can’t help but think how I will remember the 2005 Illini: a team that was lucky to make it to the final four.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Friday Notes

My last post was premature as Mark Buehrle did not suffer a broken bone in his foot and is scheduled to start opening day.

The bad news of the week is that they brought Chloe back on 24. Is there a more annoying character on TV right now? I thought I had seen the last of her on 24 when she appeared on Fox's "The Sketch Show". I guess 24 decided to extend this year's torture theme beyond the storyline and to its viewers.

Speaking of 24, it's been very hard to take the President seriously in this year. The actor used play the father in the Married With Children take-off, Unhappily Ever After. I keep waiting for him to speak to Mr. Floppy.

But on the bright side of TV land, Mikalah Gordon was voted off American Idol. She was just plain awful (not to mention weird).

Monday, March 21, 2005

Buerhle Out

The Sox got their first bad break of the season as it looks like Mark Buerhle may be out up to six weeks with a fractured bone in his foot. Thankfully, Brandon McCarthy has been pitching great in spring training and looks like he will be a capable fill-in for a couple of starts before Buerhle comes back the end of April/early May. But even with McCarthy pitching well, the loss of Buehrle comes at a horrible time for the Sox as they start the season with a slate full of AL Central opponents.

On a personal note, I plan on blogging more after taking a couple of months off. There has been limited blogging for two reasons: first I was finishing up my MBA and my final two courses happened to be quite challenging; second, I don't follow the baseball offseason that closely.

Now that the season is approaching I plan on blogging more, although there will be a short interruption as I plan to celebrate finishing the MBA program by going out to Vegas for the final four and opening day.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Illini Fever

Today the Trib has a full page story on Illinois' trainer. It can only be a matter of days (and a big win against Wisconsin) before the student managers get their day in the sun.