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.