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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Time for Kenny to go.

The "Lenny" era must end!

You have to say one thing about the White Sox:† If you write a column, there is never a lack of topics that you can write about.† This week is no exception.† The Losing Streak has uncovered so many things that are wrong with the 2002 Sox, that oneís head is left spinning.† What to write about?†

Suddenly as I finished the preceding paragraph, it struck me.† The person who put together this mess is none other than our old buddy Lenny (aka GM Kenny Williams).† The reasoning is simple.† He put together this mess.† Heís the responsible party.

The list of Lennyís crimes against Sox fandom is extensive, but letís just look at the ones that directly affect the Soxí performance in 2002:

ē† The 2001 trade for Royce Clayton:† Jose Valentin is not the greatest defensive wizard ever to play shortstop.† However, heís a better shortstop than third baseman, and his batter is infinitely better than Claytonís, even when heís struggling, as he has so far this year.† Clayton went below the Mendoza Line Monday and hasnít come back yet.† Donít tell me about the key hits heís gotten.† Most of the time heís an automatic out, even in clutch situations.

To make matters worse, as long as Clayton remains a member of the White Sox, a real third baseman is languishing in Charlotte.† Whatever happened to Joe Crede?† Well, heís hitting well and playing good defense.† Heís been ready to play since last September, but hasnít been given a chance.† For this alone, Lenny, and everyone underneath him, should be fired.

ē† The three-for-one trade for Todd Ritchie:† The primary justification for the Ritchie trade was that he ďeats up innings, and is the veteran starter we need.Ē† If thatís the case, why did he blow up after an error by Jose Valentin Saturday?† A veteran starter is supposed to provide leadership for a young pitching staff.† One quality of a leader is to show inner toughness in the face of adversity.† Ritchie showed the world Saturday that he isnít the veteran leader this staff needs.† Granted, all eight runs scored after the error were unearned, but look at it another way.† Ritchie leads the staff in unearned runs.† This means that he doesnít possess the toughness to get past mistakes by his defense.

Meanwhile, the change of scenery appears to have done a world of good for Kip Wells and Josh Fogg who have become co-aces of the Pirates pitching staff.† The only question remaining now as to whether this was a good trade is, ďWhatís the earliest date where you can actually say out loud that it was a lousy trade and that the only pitchers in the major leagues who are worth three other pitchers are Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling, and Randy Johnson?Ē† My answer is that itís late enough in the season, and that this trade could go down as one of the worst trades in club history.

ē† The coaching staff:† It starts with Jerry Manuel.† Last year he didnít find a set lineup to go with until it was almost June.† This year he has shown complete ineptitude in handling the pitching staff.

Manuel does learn from his mistakes, but itís the wrong lesson.† He was criticized last year for not having a set lineup until nearly June.† He learned from that that a lineup should be set in February before spring training starts, even if a top prospect like Joe Crede gets sent to the minors when he is obviously ready. †(Or was that Lennyís doing?)† He learned that you donít pinch hit for the guys you go with, even when they are hitting below the Mendoza line.

Last week when he let Jon Garland start the eighth inning against the Yankees, he learned a lesson when Garland let the first three batters on and the relievers he used blew the Soxí two run lead, and it only took him one night to show heíd learned his lesson.† Mark Buehrle was coasting through seven, so Jerry showed Buehrle that he wouldnít let him suffer the same fate as Garland.† He went to his bullpen, but he didnít risk the tenuous lead by using the middle relievers or set-up men.† Oh, no!† Jerry had learned.† So he went to his closer Keith Foulke, despite the fact that Foulkeís record when he has to go two innings is abysmal.† The result was predictable to anyone but Manuel.† Foulke struggled in the eighth and was shelled for five runs in the ninth.

It doesnít stop with Manuel, though.† There is ample reason to blame Lenny for not doing something about pitching coach Nardi Contreras.† Last May when the hitters were struggling, Lenny didnít hesitate to fire hitting coach Ron Jackson.† This year the pitching is nowhere near where it should be.† Todd Ritchie is a failure so far.† The young arms, the guys who should be acting like gunslingers because of their stuff, continue to nibble at the plate.† Pitchers who are traded suddenly become world beaters when they leave the Sox.† Nardi, who leads both leagues in strolls out to the mound, seems to bring the worst out of his pitchers when he does visit.† How many times have pitchers given up a run-producing hit immediately after one of those little chats?

Something is wrong.† If firing was good enough for Ron Jackson, itís good enough for Nardi.† Maybe a new person telling the pitchers to throw strikes is what they need.†

Then there is the base running.† Our runners continue to make stupid mistakes on the basepaths.† Gary Pettis was supposed to do something about that.† Whatever he is doing apparently isnít working.† Wallace Johnsonís decisions as to who should be waved in and who shouldnít border on the bizarre.† Both of them should be replaced.

There you have it.† Two lousy trades and an uninspired coaching staff.† Thatís three strikes against Lenny.† In baseball three strikes means youíre out.† So why is Lenny still here?


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 necessarily those of North Boone High School, his wife, or Buster T. Beagle. You can write Hal at nsmf@aol.com.

More features from Hal Vickery here!

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