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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Kansas City Blues

Unholy Sox Roster Holes!

by
Guy Bacci
 

As if anyone needed another reminder that this White Sox bunch requires a massive overhaul, a pitiful showing at the Metrodome last week served as a painful red flag. Chicago dropped all three games by a combined score of 26-4. Tack on the most recent loss to the Angels, and the Southsiders posted a four-game losing streak with a combined score of 37-4. Most unsettling is that every starting pitcher from Kenny Williams’ revamped rotation was utterly rocked during the pathetic stretch. Williams should have so many alarms ringing in his office that he has a permanent migraine.

 

The lineup holes, lack of left-handed bats, low-OBPs and suspect relievers have been discussed ad nauseam. But now we see two other worrisome components of an already flimsy ballclub: Questionable arms at the top of the rotation, and the propensity to lie down and play dead.

 

Pondering the future of the rotation isn’t pleasant. What is Freddy Garcia, exactly? An ace? A number two? And how about Jose Contreras? A number three? A headcase? Is Jon Garland and his ballooning ERA anything more than a serviceable number five? The questions are as frustrating as the Sox overall performance in this decade.

 

Williams aggressively pursued Garcia this summer, forking over more than any other team was willing to surrender. There’s no doubt Williams was confident he could re-sign Garcia, thanks to Ozzie Guillen’s influence with the former Mariner ace, but Williams was also hoping Garcia would lead this year’s team to the playoffs. No such luck, which makes Sox fans wonder if Williams could have obtained Garcia in the off-season without relinquishing Miguel Olivo and Jeremy Reed. Regardless, Williams can’t be blamed for trying to win in 2004, but he can be blamed if yet another pitching acquisition fails to pan out. Will Garcia be a good fit for U.S. Cellular? The Chief has posted a 4.95 ERA since joining the Sox—not exactly an ace-like performance. In the end, Williams’ legacy will be attached to Garcia. If Garcia is a bust, following David Wells, Todd Ritchie, Everett & Alomar Part I and II, Williams is going to be remembered as a wildly aggressive GM who was simply in over his head.

 

Contreras is not nearly as vital as Garcia. Snatching up Contreras and dumping the whiny Esteban Loazia in New York was a delightfully sinister move by Williams. As long as Williams doesn’t count on Contreras to be anything more than a bottom-of-the-rotation contributor, and the Sox acquire a legit pitcher in free agency, the rotation should be in better shape than it has in years. But those are a lot of ifs. Without another starter, this team will be hard to watch again in 2005.

 

What will make them even harder to watch is maintaining the same lackluster starting nine. Instead of putting up a fight in the final showdown in Minnesota, Ozzie’s crew bemoaned the loss of Frank Thomas and Magglio Ordonez, and cried about Torii Hunter’s taunting ways. At least Hunter has something to chirp about. Wouldn’t it be nice to see a Chicago sports team talk and back it up for a change? Instead, we’re blessed with teams like the Bears, who dance and celebrate after every play, even when they’re trailing the lowly Detroit Lions. Thankfully, the Sox have never been a taunting team, but then, they haven’t had much to taunt about.

 

Joe Cowley of the Southtown quoted an anonymous Sox player as saying, “I think [the Twins] keep forgetting that we lost our two best players this year. We have Magglio and Frank, we're looking at a different story here.” That kind of attitude is self-defeating. As lousy as the Sox have played, Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle couldn’t have saved this season. But even without Frank and Maggs, there’s no reason the Sox couldn’t have provided a respectable challenge to Minnesota. The Sox have plenty of talent, but no fire.

 

Keep in mind, Cowley loves to provide a negative scoop, and he’s fond of anonymous sources. But in this instance, you have to believe that Sox players really were feeling defensive, especially after the whooping the Twins handed them. Our boys have certainly been playing as if they had no chance to win, anonymous source or not. Mark Buehrle practically said as much: “What dirt do they think they're still kicking on us? Our chances coming into this series were slim and none.”

 

Kudos to Buehrle for being practical, but it doesn’t excuse the Sox for playing like the season is over. When you’re a professional, it’s not over until it’s over, or at least it shouldn’t be, especially with a fiery manager like Guillen. Clearly, Ozzie’s attitude has failed to rub off, which is disconcerting in itself.

 

This off-season will help determine how supportive Sox fans are in 2005. In a fantasy world, Williams would add a starting pitcher, a closer, a new left side of the infield, and an outfielder to replace Ordonez, if not Ordonez himself. That, of course, is in the fantasy world. If at least half of those things happen in the real world, the Sox might have a prayer at contending.

 

If not, U.S. Cellular is going to be a lonely place.


Guy Bacci is from the north suburbs of Chicago, where he couldn't avoid growing up as a pampered and snotty Cubs fan. Luckily, he saw the light in 1985 and never looked back.  He loved the hard-working, old-school tactics of Carlton Fisk, who would become his all-time favorite player.  His most memorable moment was going to a Sox double-header with his grandfather, who insisted on staying all nine hours (including a long rain delay).  Guy is a journalism grad from Northwestern, currently residing in Seattle, where he works as a computer programmer and freelance writer. He can be reached at guybacci@yahoo.com.

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