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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Sizing up these Sox

by Dave Schmitt

We have gone beyond the halfway point of this years Championship Season, and the Sox flirt with a .500 record and third place, catching and passing the Twins for the division lead a distant memory.† Many Sox fans expected them to be in second place, if not worse at this point in the season when spring training broke in April.† What they did not expect was the fact that this team was on top or near the top of the division out of the starting gates, and stayed there through the All Star break.

In spite of Ozzie's glaring rookie mistakes with both the starting pitchers and the bullpen, the South Side Lumber Co. refused to let that slow them down, they continued to hammer away at opponents till they led the league in double digit games, and were among the top in all offensive stats. Their performance prompted Kenny Williams to go and add a key that was lacking, a legitimate front line starter in Freddy Garcia, though he mortgaged a bit of the future to do it, trading catcher Miguel Olivo and OF prospect Jeremy Reed, and throwing in career minor leaguer Mike Morse to get catcher Ben Davis back in return.†

Kenny's was rewarded for this effort by having Magglio Ordonez go down to a knee injury, that after a brief return proved more serious than first thought, and was compounded by Frank Thomas suffer a stress fracture in his foot right at the All Star break. With the two best bats in the lineup gone, he makes a move at the trade deadline that I still can't figure out, he traded away a twenty one game winner from last years staff to the Yankees for a starting pitcher that has known mechanics problems, and has proven to be erratic over a season and a half.

Esteban Loiaza may not be having the year he had last year, but to trade him for Jose Contreras, who has never shown the ability to even think about winning twenty one games baffles me, mostly because the Sox need hitting, not pitching at this point.

Frank & Maggs Watch

It's a near certainty neither Magglio or Frank will be back this season, and an even bigger question mark on what the future is for Magglio in Chicago.† In a FA market that has gone soft for the last three years it may be difficult for he and his agent to demand the Vlad type money they are looking for after losing a serious portion of this season to injury. When you compound a questionable health issue to the fact that you are not worth the money you are looking make, it generally tends to a dismal scenario, that will be interesting to watch play out.

Frank Thomas will most likely be back next year, in an interesting comparison of a player that is underpaid contrasted to a player that is overpaid and looking for a bigger payday. If you want to be paid fifteen million a year, doesn't it make sense that you should provide twice the production of a player being paid half that? Magglio and his agent might want to take a long look at his numbers compared to Frank's numbers before deciding his value as a ballplayer, either that or he better become the defensive equivalent Of Vladimir Guerrero, before next season.

Ozzie Watch

I asked Ozzie Guillen to do one thing before this season started:† I asked him to prove me wrong.† So far he hasn't managed to accomplish that task.† He has shown no sign of knowing how to handle his pitching staff, or in using his bullpen, as weak as it is.†

His line-up's, even before the Frank/Maggs situation, reek of the throw the darts at the board and see what sticks style of his predecessor, what Ozzie calls a gut feeling we called tinkering under the old regime. I will give him credit for keeping his players in the game, and for keeping the attitude upbeat, but Jerry did that the first few years he was here too.

You can argue that Ozzie has only the cards he was handed when he took over, but I will tell you that a good manager overcomes the shortfalls of his roster by playing to his strengths, not by continuously trying to find a formula that works. Bobby Cox has written the book on using the talent you have, it must be a good book, as his teams have made the playoff's for 12 consecutive years. Even before his three and four hitters went down Ozzie was trotting out line-up's that were uglier than a mud fence, and it has gone downhill from there.

If this team wants to try and make the playoff's without their two best hitters, Ozzie better get them playing sound fundamental baseball, as well as pitching the ball, if he can't do that he will be sitting at home in October wondering what the chairman will do to this teams payroll for next year.

†††††††††††††††††††††† Daver


Dave Schmitt is a life-long resident of the Joliet area, with the exception of two years spent being the only Sox fan in the hell hole known as Baytown Texas, where the trucks are large and the alligators are hungry.† Plumber by trade, hunter by choice, and fisherman 'cause you canít hunt year round.† Married With Children, and four dogs that are confirmed Sox fans.† The kids have less sense.† You can send email to Daver at daver@whitesoxinteractive.com.

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