Friday, April 13, 2007

Friday Ramblings

Those Under Armour advertisements on the outfield wall at Wrigley look horrible. They would have been better off going with something more elegant rather than white paint on the green background. Now the Trib not only looks greedy for putting ads on the outfield walls, but also cheap for putting up ads that are plain and ugly. Of course, cheap and greedy is how the Trib has always run the club, with this last off-season being the exception.

This off-season they spent money recklessly knowing full well that it wouldn’t be their problem once the team was sold.

Some have argued that the Cubs spent money on free agents in order to make the club more attractive to buyers but that makes no sense. The Cubs just increased their liabilities thus driving down the value of the club. They’ll still sell for an ungodly amount of money but don’t think for a second that any potential buyer won’t take into account the fact he is going to have to pay Alfonso Soriano $18 million when he is 38 years old.

The Tribune has a responsibility to shareholders to maximize profitability which is why they shouldn’t have been running the Cubs in the first place. But the one time the Trib brass needed to hold the line on costs to increase the sale price of the franchise, they screw shareholders over by signing overrated players to foolish long term contracts.

But enough about that Chicago team. The White Sox have been exact opposite of what I expected this season. Except for the first two games against Cleveland, the Sox have had dominant pitching coupled with very poor hitting. I believe the offense will eventually get going but I’m unsure of how well the pitching will hold up.

Ozzie came under some fire for his moves (or lack thereof) in Wednesday night’s gut-punch 2-1 loss against the A’s. He had multiple chances to pinch-hit to get a lefty-righty matchup and failed to make a defensive replacement for Pods in left before the tying and winning hits went his way in the ninth.

These criticisms are certainly valid. But I thought the biggest mistake was giving Todd Walker two curves with two strikes on him. Bobby Jenks obviously didn’t have his best fastball, barely getting above 90mph. But Todd Walker is a) old and b) coming in as a pinch hitter. He didn’t look very sharp swinging at fastballs early in the at-bat and I think Bobby could have gotten a high fastball by him.

Why don’t they ever climb the ladder when Bobby Jenks is in? The pitch sequences are entirely predictable. Get two strikes and drop the hammer. When Bobby is on it doesn’t matter; he is unhittable. But when he doesn’t have his best stuff they need to call better pitch sequences.

Of course, the pitch sequence wasn’t the only problem as Bobby left the second curve over the plate. If your going to give a batter two curves to look at, the second one better be in the dirt.

Anyway, the Sox got the game back yesterday by scoring five runs off the Duscherer and Street in the eighth and ninth innings, so I guess you could say things evened out.

My only complaint is that I had to stay up until midnight to watch them blow Wednesday’s game while they made the impressive comeback while I was at work.

DePaul sophomore Wilson Chandler announced he was making himself available for the NBA draft. He could probably be a first round pick if he stayed in school another year. But he will definitley make money playing pro basketball either here or overseas. If he doesn't enjoy college life, nd not everone does,I see nothing wrong with his decision.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Sox Win! Salvage One Game

Well, it only took a three games but the Sox finally got a W. Nearly everyone places way too much emphasis on the start of the season, but it's only natural after waiting all winter for the season to start.

I went to today's game and the weather wasn't that bad. If you had a seat on the sun it was comfortable without gloves or a hat - even with cold beer in hand.

The Sox are now 1-2, the same record they had after three games last season. It would be foolhardy to try and divine what will happen in 2007 after 27 innings of baseball. Of course, that didn't stop the local idiot from already claiming the season a disaster:

What a snow job, huh? And I don't mean the matinee weather Wednesday, a wicked blitz of blowing flurries and swirling hot-dog wrappers that rendered the White Sox even more miserable to watch. All offseason, Ken Williams talked down his nose at media and fans, actually lecturing us in his booming Lou Rawls voice to relax, stop hyperventilating and believe in his bizarre pitching-staff manueverings.

When he was roundly doubted anyway, Williams whined to any national reporter who would listen about the mean cusses dogging him in Chicago. ''It's a little difficult to keep swallowing,'' he said of the second-guessing.
Well, swallow this: The starting rotation stinks. I can say that smirkily after watching a raggedy Jose Contreras, pitching much older than his press-guide birthdate, offer up the shortest Opening Day outing for a Sox pitcher since Claude Williams in 1917 -- the same Lefty Williams on the take during the Black Sox scandal. And I can say that snarkily after watching a wild Jon Garland, on a bitterly cold day made for a pitcher, blow a 3-0 lead to the walloping Cleveland Indians and allow five runs and four walks in barely five innings. I realize these are only two games. But if the performances are a hint of evils to come this season, as many suspect -- in an iffy rotation also involving a declining Mark Buehrle, an unreliable-past-the-fifth Javier Vazquez and mystery rookie John Danks -- I have just one thing to say to Williams.

We knew more than you knew.

Now, I don't want waste a lot of time this season on pointless rebuttals of ignorant criticisms. But I wanted to get a few things out of the way.

First, I hate how Mariotti uses "we" as if he is speaking for anyone other than himself.

Second, most valid criticisms of KW's off-season moves were for his failure to solidify the outfield, not for altering the rotation. The only people upset about the moves in the starting rotation were columnists, and fans like myself who wanted to see McCarthy get a chance in the rotation after following him for years in the minors (although admittedly I do have one friend who thought Garcia has some quality innings left in him).

Third, no matter what moves Kenny had made in the offseason, Garland and Contreras were going to be part of the rotation (unless Garland was traded, which Mariotti would surely have blasted). Despite their rough start, they will most likely be their two most dependable starters this year.

Fourth, Jay Mariotti does not know more than Kenny Williams. JAY MARIOTTI DOES NOT KNOW MORE THAN KENNY WILLIAMS! The fact that this moron would have the gall to write such a thing is infuriating.

I had no problems with William's offseason pitching moves. He tried to help the club long-term without damaging their short term prospects, and as far as the starting staff goes I think he succeeded.

The main criticism I have of Williams goes back to the Vasquez/Chris Young trade. I still think McCarthy could have started last year and that trading for Vazquez was unnecessary. Those dominoes continued to fall this offseason as McCarthy was shipped out and Vazquez was signed to an extension.

I would have a lot more respect for Mariotti if he would have criticized this move at the time it was made, but I honestly doubt he had ever heard of Chris Young before the trade. But of course that won't stop him from criticizing the trade if Chris Young ever becomes a great player and makes the Sox look bad.

Sorry for the rambling. Hopefully it will be the last time I write about Mariotti this year.

P.S. The misspelling of "manueverings" in the block quote was done by Mariotti and the Sun Times, not me.