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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Gaping Holes in Our Sox!
by Hal Vickery

Perhaps something good can come from the loss of both Magglio Ordoñez and Frank Thomas.  To my mind, the most obvious benefit is that the gaping holes in the Sox roster have finally been exposed for all to see.  One side benefit of that is that we haven’t heard very many Sox fans calling sportsblab stations or posting on message boards that we don’t need Ordoñez or Thomas in this lineup.  It has become apparent for all to see that the Sox need them both. 

The good news for the Sox is that if Ordoñez comes back healthy from the bone marrow edema he has been sidelined with, other clubs may not want to risk paying him a salary comparable to Vlad Guerrero.  The bad news for everyone is that there are persistent rumors that Ordoñez will never recover from this injury. 

As for Thomas, the bad news for the Sox is that he is out for the rest of the season.  Considering the number of Bears going down with injuries in the past week, it looks like it will be a long fall and winter. 

And it will be one in which Kenny Williams will have to do more than apply band-aids like Carl Everett and Roberto Alomar.  It appears that Williams is becoming aware of that fact, and he alluded to this when he talked candidly about how he has changed the manager and coaching staff, and these guys still haven’t figured out how the game is supposed to be played. 

Which leads us back to those holes.   

Ordoñez left a gaping one in right field, one which “The Next Mickey Mantle” (as Ron Schueler, aka Clueless Schu, dubbed Joe Borchard) and Timo Perez have been unable to fill.  Perez is fine as a fifth outfielder.  Mickey II would probably tear up the Southern League.   

Borchard was proclaimed “ready” before he was called up in the wake of Ordoñez’s placement on the disabled list.  He doesn’t appear to be any more ready than he was in his previous call-ups. 

As for Perez, he was hired to be a fourth outfielder.  He’s played like one.  Could we expect any more than that? 

Then there is third base.  Joe Crede apparently has one swing, long.  He apparently has no eye.  He has no concept of situational hitting, something the entire club is lacking.  When the pressure was on him to start producing the way he has late in the past two seasons, he ended up getting himself benched. 

Shortstop is another problem.  Don’t get me wrong.  I absolutely love Jose Valentin, but he’s now on the far side of 35 and still can’t hit lefties.  This year more than ever when Jose bats it’s either a home run or a strike out.  There seems to be no middle ground for him. 

Does anyone thing Roberto Alomar is any more than a band-aid being used to stop a hemorrhage at second base?  Willie Harris, who has seen the centerfield option disappear with the emergence of Aaron Rowand, couldn’t hold down the position.  Harris appears to be a cocky kid, but hitting coach Greg Walker noted last month that Harris often lacks self confidence at the plate.  It shows. 

Juan Uribe, the other option at short or second has come back down to earth and shown that his 2002-2003 numbers with the Rockies were more indicative of his abilities than his fast start this spring.  In June, when many fans were proclaiming Uribe to be the next Sox superstar, manager Ozzie Guillen was saying, “If you’re a .275 hitter, you’re going to be a .275 hitter.  It all averages out.”  It did.  

The three-headed monster at catcher, created by the Freddy Garcia trade, isn’t working either.  Of Sandy Alomar, Jr., Jamie Burke, and Ben Davis, one can say with certainty thatnone of them is better than a second string catcher.  At least Davis has youth on his side, if you call 27 young for a ball player.  Burke has played in fifty major league games at the age of 33.  Alomar is 38 and looking exactly that age, which is old for a catcher. 

We won’t even go into the fact that the Sox are still lacking a fifth starter or the holes that still exist in the bullpen, since those weren’t affected directly by the loss of Thomas and Ordoñez (although the indirect effects could be huge). 

So you have to ask, “Why?”  The Sox a couple of weeks ago were in first place.  Then Thomas and Ordoñez both went down and they’ve dropped, as of this writing, to third place.  The reason is apparent.  It’s all of those holes, holes in the majority of defensive positions.  Why are there so many holes? 

Oh, yeah!  There was the little matter of the $52-million budget that The Chairman tried to stick Kenny Williams with during the off-season.  That might have had some effect on whom Williams could trade for or sign as free agents.  Somehow Williams, did manage to force The Chairman to accept a payroll of $63 million, but that still wasn’t enough to fill all those holes. 

So the Sox had to try to do it with the big guns, Thomas and Ordoñez.  With their injuries the roof fell in, and the Sox were exposed as having more holes than a slice of Swiss cheese. 

The challenge for Kenny Williams is going to be to use the off-season to fill as many of those holes as possible with quality players.  The even greater challenge will be to convince Jerry Reinsdorf (or is it his silent partners?) to come up with the bucks to do so. 

If he can’t do that, the next best option is to blow this team up and start stocking the minor league system with talent. 

Anybody ready for “The Kids Can Play, Part III”?


Editor's Note: Hal Vickery has been a White Sox fan since 1955 when he was five years old. For much of that time he also had a secondary rooting interest in the Cubs, which he has shown the good sense to abandon. When not cheering for or writing about the Sox, Hal teachers chemistry and physics at North Boone High School, in Poplar Grove, IL. Hal commutes there daily from Joliet, where he lives with his wife Lee, and their dog, Buster T. Beagle. Hal's opinions are not necessarily those of North Boone High School, his wife, or Buster T. Beagle. You can write Hal at hvickery@svs.com.

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