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WSI News - Season Features

2001 Team Analysis, Part Two:

The Pitching Staff, Field Staff, & Front Office

Pitching:  Will David Wells be back?  If so, will he weigh less or somehow
get younger?  Will Jim Parque be at full strength when he returns?  Will Kip Wells ever be a starting pitcher?  Will Bill Simas be back at full strength?  Will Bob Howry regain his form?   How about Kelly Wunsch?  How about Lorenzo Barcelo?  How about...?

You get the point.  While pitching was a strong point in 2001, there are still a lot of questions, both about who will be back from injuries and who will mature enough to take a spot in the starting rotation or in the bullpen.  Right now the only sure bet is that Mark Buehrle has a spot in the rotation.  Jon Garland seems to be ready to pull his weight as a starter.  Dan Wright could be ready if he can learn to throw strikes and get batters out in the first inning.  Lots of question marks.

Coaching:  Gary Pettis was brought in as a base running coach.  How many
games did the Sox run themselves out of rallies?  How many times did Sox
players get thrown out attempting to steal?  Jerry Manuel talked near the end of the season about stupid base running on the part of the players.  How much does their coaching have to do with that?

Lots of outs on the base paths were due to Sox players trying to take third base when they should have stopped at second.  How many times were the first and third outs made at third base?  How much of this is the responsibility of Wallace Johnson?

I must praise Gary Ward, however.  After he joined the team, Sox hitters actually started taking ball four.  Unfortunately, 2001 will still go down in team history as the year of the solo home run.  I don't know if you can pin this on Ward, though.  I'm not going to.

Nardi Contreras seems to come under fire from a lot of vocal fans who are
critical of his performance.  However, if anything kept the Sox anywhere near being in contention this year, it was the pitching.  Still, when you look at all those injuries, you have to wonder what's causing them.  By the way, when exactly did that study of the entire system get released to the public.  You know, the one that was going to analyze the injuries.  I seem to have missed it.

Manager:  Jerry Manuel has done some things that seem to be pretty bizarre, but we're used to that.  We lived through the Terry Bevington era.  The problem is that it seems that if a player is in Manuel's doghouse, he just doesn't get out, even if the punishment is detrimental to the team.  On the other hand, there also appear to be favorites, either of Manuel or of his sidekick Lenny (aka GM Kenny Williams) who are untouchable until they've played the Sox out of contention.  This has to change. 

Despite what Manuel says, players do need to know their roles, and it is up to the manager to communicate to the players exactly what those roles are.  If the manager can't to that, it's time to look for someone who can.

Front Office:  People who have had dealings with Lenny (aka Kenny Williams) when he was handling the Sox minor league operations have emailed me recently telling me that I was right in calling for his resignation.  I don't know how accurate their stories were, but I don't even need to look at performance that far back to know that Lenny must go.

Lenny knew David Wells had a herniated disc when he traded Mike Sirotka
for him, but was willing to take a chance.  Wells went down in less than half a season.  Lenny created a situation in which Jose Valentin became a man without a position by acquiring Royce Clayton.  He kept Julio Ramirez on the roster far too long.  He kept Harold Baines on the roster when it was obvious that Baines was through.  He signed Antonio Osuna to a two-year contract before Osuna even through a pitch, only to see him go on the DL in less than a month.

Lenny made enough blunders in a year to last most GM's for five.  Lenny
must go.

Ownership:  Jerry Reinsdorf hired these people.  Ultimately he is responsible.  Reinsdorf would like to say that it's the fans' fault for not coming to the ballpark that makes him tighten his purse strings, but you really have to take a look at history to see that this is a line of complete bull.

The main qualifications of every manager since Jeff Torborg have been that he must be a complete unknown and work cheap.  So we have gotten the likes of Gene Lamont, Terry Bevington, and Jerry Manuel.  The main qualification of every GM since Roland Hemond has been that he must have no experience in the position (and therefore will work cheap).  So we have gotten the likes of Ken Harrelson, Larry Himes (who was as good at drafting players as he was at alienating them), Ron Schueler, and now Lenny.  Here's a clue, Mr. Reinsdorf.  You get what you pay for.  So here's a question for you:  Just where exactly is Point C?  We've been waiting ten years to get to it.

Jerry Reinsdorf is good at blaming fans for not coming out to the ballpark.  Has he ever wondered why the Cubs succeed in marketing their bunch of losers where the Sox fail?  Could it be that the Cubs coddle their fans and go out of their way to make the Wrigley Field experience a pleasant one?  Could it be that John McDonough actually knows how to market the team whereas Rob Gallas doesn't have a clue?  I've talked to Sox employees who have told me that Gallas "isn't a people person."  Isn't that exactly what your marketing person should be?

The problems with the White Sox start at the very top.  What can you say about a team that is run by the person who drove Michael Jordan out of Chicago?  What else can you expect?  Jerry Reinsdorf has become an owner
in the tradition of Phil Wrigley, Mike McCaskey, and Bill Wirtz, a person who fosters incompetence by being incompetent himself. 

Chicago is the city of broad shoulders.  You have to have broad shoulders to put up with the kind of ownership our sports franchises have had through the years.

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 Buster T. Beagle.  The views expressed by Hal are not necessarily those of North Boone High School, wife Lee, or Buster T. Beagle.

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