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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Props for Don Cooper!

by Dave Schmitt

The Sox are off to there best start in franchise history, as of this writing they are 24-7 and have lead in every game they have played. They have won every series they have played save one, a series in Oakland notable for some of the worst umpiring seen in a long time. This has managed to get them ignored by the media, both national and local, and it seems like they like it that way.

A lot of credit for this hot start has been given to Kenny Williams for his off-season acquisitions, and deservedly so, he gambled a bit in the off-season and so far he is collecting on that gamble. What was once a power hitting team with indifferent defense has become a team based more and pitching and defense, the defense is still a bit erratic at times, but the pitching has been startling good. I would like to take a moment to give some credit to the reason behind the pitching efforts we have seen so far, to someone that seldom gets any credit,

Stand up and take a curtain call Don Cooper.

Don has with the Sox organization for over ten years, as a minor league pitching coach at every level, as the director of all minor league pitching, and is now on his second stint as the big league pitching coach. His pitching philosophy and approach to how to succeed can be seen best by looking at Mark Beuhrle, a pitcher he has worked with since he was in rookie ball, get it and throw it, keep the pace of the game quick. His teachings are reaping rewards for guys like Jose Contreas, who until this season was very slow on the mound. Sox starting pitching has the Sox sitting with the best ERA for starters in all of baseball, as well as the quickest average game length, and it is because of the work of Don Cooper. I would also give him credit for what he has managed to do with Jon Garland, by finally getting Jon to have confidence in his stuff he turned the fifth starter into a pitcher that has two complete game shutouts on the season as well as the best record of any starter in MLB.

When Don was brought in to replace Nardi Contreras as the pitching coach in 2003 I thought he would step down from the position at the end of the season, the way he did after his last stint as the big league pitching coach, I for one am damn glad he didnít. Kirk Champion assumed Donís job of director of minor league pitching, and he has some arms down on the farm that can step up if necessary, like Brandon McCarthy. Don has done an excellent job, and deserves a lot of the credit for the teams hot start.

It is still early May, and way to early to be projecting a playoff berth, but many are because of the start this team has gotten off to. Ozzie still makes way to many mistakes in how he handles his bullpen, as well as what he blurts out to the press, but he has made this team into a true team, that plays as a team, and has instilled a refuse to lose attitude. Pitching usually rules early in the season, but when the weather gets warmer the hitters usually catch up, it will be interesting to see if the Sox can continue this pace. A healthy Frank Thomas could be the boost needed to help out the offense, because you are not going to be able to rely on four walks and a HBP in the ninth to win very often.

Thatís it for now Sox fans, time to get my boat ready for fishing season.

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

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