Starting off the AL Central season with three games against the White Sox. I’ve got tickets for Sunday’s game, so I’ll provide anyone who stops by with a review of that game early next week. For now I’ve got to try to control my natural reflex to bash the Sox.
The White Sox started off the season with a series loss at home against Cleveland. Meanwhile the Twins began with a sweep of the Orioles at home. This series will give us our first real glimpse of Sidney Ponson and hopefully we’ll be all the better for it. Unfortunately, as I live in Chicago, I’ll have to listen to Hawk Harrelson announce his start, so Sir Sidney is going to have to start with that ignominious distinction hanging over him.
On to the South Siders:
If [chairman] Jerry Reinsdorf or Kenny Williams believes that I didn’t do what I was supposed to do at the end of this year, they should fire me … We have high expectations this season. If we fall short, I deserve to be fired. And I’m not just saying it because it’s Ozzie talking again.
-Ozzie Guillen, maybe getting a little ahead of himself after an 0-2 start
You may have heard that the White Sox signed Darin Erstad and are giving him the starting centerfield job. Apparently everybody loves his grit. Well, maybe not everybody. In fact some people seem to think playing him every day would be a mistake. All right, who am I kidding? Nearly everybody is beginning to hate this guy.
Besides Erstad the outfield is rounded out by Podsednik and Dye, with Brian Anderson, Mackowiak, and Ozuna in reserve. The infield is pretty much unchanged with Crede, Uribe, Iguchi, Konerko, and A.J. Unfortunately Jim Thome has returned for another year as the Sox DH.
Not many free agent signings this offseason, but the ones that were made have been drama-filled. Case in point, Toby Hall was brought in as a backup catcher for A.J. Then he tore his labrum playing first base in the spring and the Sox had to scramble to find someone to fill in. They settled on Gustavo Molina (and his .084 spring training batting average) over Wiki Gonzalez. Hall has opted against surgery, so instead of missing the season, they are hoping that, with rehab, he’ll be ready to go in a couple months, which sounds awfully optimistic.
You kind of get the feeling that the Sox didn’t make any good moves this offseason.
The rotation features quite a few familiar faces, J. Contreras (got roughed up opening day by Cleveland. But there is still a silver lining to that cloud.) J. Garland, M. Buerhle, and J. Vazquez.
Last, and probably most interesting is John Danks, acquired in a trade with Texas for Brandon McCarthy, Danks (and his 5.91 spring ERA) won the starting spot in a spring competition with Gavin Floyd (9.00) and Charlie Haeger (8.10). There were other options considered, but the Sox went with the guy would give sportswriters the easiest time with headlines. Some say Danks gives up too many homers and walks too many batters, which, if true, may indicate rough times ahead. Keep in mind that with Contreras’ disaster on Monday and Buerhle getting drilled with a line drive on Thursday, the Sox have only got 7.2 IP from their starters in the first three games. So the bullpen has already been stretched a little thin.
The bullpen starts with Bobby Jenks as a solid closer but also includes lefties Matt Thornton and Andrew Sisco. Mike MacDougal, along with David Aardsma and Nick Masset (who played savior with 4.2 IP, 1 R in relief of Buerhle) round out the pen.
Remember the rookie pitcher who failed to bean Hank Blalock when Ozzie directed him to? The incident lead to an Ozzie tirade and the pitcher, Sean Tracey, fighting back tears. Anyway, Tracey got cut this spring. Somehow I’m not surprised. He was picked up by Baltimore and is starting the season with their AAA club.
One of the common themes that kept coming up was the Sox struggles last season against left handed pitching, and how they haven’t done anything to address the issue. (Note: The Sox faced lefty C. C. Sabathia on opening day and managed three runs in six innings on two homeruns. Ironically, Erstad hit one of them)
Finally, there’s some funny stuff over at Palehose 7. There are a couple links from this site interspersed above, but another mention is deserved. Everything is worth a look, but I especially recommend “Out of the Picture“