View Full Version : Rants and raves and hopes for the future

07-17-2002, 11:25 AM
I'm new to WSI and this is my first post so I hope you will grant me some latitude as I spew four years of pent-up frustration and give some props to those who deserve them.

Having moved to Dallas in early 1999 it is hard to get any good Sox info. The Trib on-line is accessible but it's frustrating not getting any real questions answered by Paul Sullivan, between his moratoriums and "therapy sessions." Is he really a Sox-hater like Mariotti or is all just schtick? The Sun Times sometimes has some good stories but little in-depth analysis.

Forget about getting anything on the Sox here in Dallas. Whenever I tell someone I'm from Chicago, they say "Hey, how 'bout Sammy!" or "All right, Cubs fan!" It's all I can do to keep from gagging before I politely tell them that there is another major league team in Chicago. Most Texans aren't malicious, they are just woefully uninformed.

The TV sports coverage here in Dallas is good for the Cowboys, Stars, Rangers and Mavs. Often they will give scores of select games, but invariably it is Yankees and Red Sox highlights. For crimeny sakes, there are lots more expatriated Chicagoans here in Dallas then former New Yorkers or Bostonians. I guess there just isn't enough time for other AL teams, they have to get back to kissing the silver spoon in favorite son George W.'s golden rear end.

As for Sammy, while I agree that we got stiffed in just getting one halfway decent season out of George Bell in exchange, I was on board with trading Sammy as far back as 1991. Where, exactly, have the Cubs gone, despite his (steroid-induced) 60+ homer seasons? Has he ever hit a cutoff man? Has he ever advanced a runner with a hit to the right side of the infield? Has he stopped striking out so much? Hasn't his head grown two full sizes in the last six years? I understand that working out and pumping iron will build your arms, legs, abs, back and even your neck, but what exercises, exactly, will make your head bigger? How many of his homers are hit to the obscenely short power alleys at that broken-down festering, piss-smelling, frat-boy filled hole called Wrigley? Sure, it's deep down the lines but it's painfully obvious that the walls curve back toward home plate at the power alleys, and then go straight back to center. How many homers are hit to straight away center or straight down the lines? And that basket is worth at least five homers a year, too. I know I am preaching to the choir here but it sickens me that Sammy likely is bound for Cooperstown in a Cubs hat.

Moving swiftly on, why the heck, other than the money that we are paying Valentin, is Crede sitting at Charlotte? Hasn't he been ready for two years? Aren't they going to run out of options on him?

Thomas. An enigma wrapped within a riddle inside a mystery. So much talent and such great vision but he's had but one great season in the last five (2000). For a long time I was in awe at his talent and the numbers he put up from 1991 to 1996 and was sure he was headed for the Hall and that the Sox would win three Series in the 90s. Well, thanks to some really boneheaded trades and a really pig-headed owner -- and our starting pitching going south -- we see what happened there. I hate so much to say this -- it pains me terribly, but I say exercise the diminished skills clause and cut your losses now with Big Frank.

Robin Ventura. What a shame. He was the heart and soul of this team and Reinsdorf (sp?) let him get away. He would have ratcheted down the defense at the hot corner, and along with Clayton, could have helped our pitching staff tremendously.

I have to give Schu and Reinsdorf their props though in not signing our pitchers from the early 90s to long term deals. Where are McDowell, Fernandez and Alvarez now? (rhetorical question) Too bad we couldn't have used them as trade bait for some other good pitchers. I wish they would have signed Roger Clemens instead of Jaime Navarro 1997 (or 98?) when everyone thought Clemens was washed up. Of course, if ifs and buts were candy and nuts we'd have a fruitcake.

Here's the most frustrating thing. How many former Sox or almost-Sox pitchers are successful now? Bob Wickman as a closer? Jeff Weaver at the top of the rotation? They sure would be helpful right about now. While I too mourn over the Kip Wells/Josh Fogg/Shawn Lowe for Todd Ritchie trade, I also have a hard time believing that Wells and Fogg could have put up such stellar numbers in the much-more difficult-to-pitch-in American League. However, the flip side to that is AL teams need to beware of signing or trading for pitchers who have had some success in the NL (Ritchie). (Chan Ho Park is a similar lesson for the Texas Rangers). On the other hand, many AL mediocre to above-average pitchers have gone to be successful in the much less difficult NL. This is the terrible dark downside of the designated hitter rule.

OK, on the the future. Although Clayton can't hit his way out of a paper bag, I think his defense at short really helps this team and our pitchers. Minnesota is proving that you can win with great defense even if you don't have the best hitting. I wish I knew the problem with Durham. See if we can get something for him in a trade. It might even behoove us to keep Lofton in center. Even if his hitting blows, his speed, arm and defense in center are valuable. Giving him a couple days off each week will get Rowand in the lineup more, too. See if we can get something -- anything -- for Valentin.

1B Obviously Konerko
2B Harris
SS Clayton
3B Crede
C platoon Josh Paul and Mark Johnson
utility IF Graffanino (sp?)

LF Borchard
CF Lofton (again, defense, speed and arm help this pitching staff; any offense is a bonus)
RF Maggs, of course
utility OF Rowand

DH platoon Lee and Liefer

Liefer has proven he can hit for power from the left side of the plate; let him bat against right-handed pitchers. He can also back up Maggs in right when he needs a day off. If Lee turns it around for real he also can help out in left if Borchard struggles. This also gives you a relatively inexpensive pinch hitter no matter who starts at DH. Each would get about 100 starts or 350-400 at bats in a season. There would be less pouting during inter-league games in NL parks.

Gone: Valentin ($5 million), Thomas ($9 million), Durham ($4 million?), Alomar ($3 million?).

Savings: Around $21 million but a better defensive team. Please keep Jerry Manuel as manager. He's the best manager we've had since Torborg, maybe even LaRussa. I know that doesn't say much but there are a lot of really bad managers out there and Manuel is one of the good ones.

Pitching: Lock up Mark Buherle now so he doesn't get pissed like McDowell did! Continue to work with Garland, Wright and Rauch, and guys in the minors like Corwin Malone, Jason Stumm, Ken Vining, Kris Honel, etc. There are good arms. If just two of them pan out it will be worth it. Don't trade any of them unless you are absolutely 100% sure they won't make it.

Continue to work with Keith Foulke. However, Howry, Wunsch, etc. likely have peaked. Don't count on Marte and Osuna to keep their good work up for the long-term. Glover is a keeper but keep him in the pen. Any team that thinks it's bullpen will be it's strength, especially in the AL, is asking for trouble. DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, SIGN OR TRADE FOR SPARE TO FAIR PITCHERS FROM THE NATIONAL LEAGUE. The only pitchers to target are absolute can't-miss guys like Mark Prior. Is there any way we can get him from the Cubs? LOL

The next year or even two years ought to be about letting the young pitchers pitch with a good defense behind them. They will struggle at times but it will separate the men from the boys and they will have the benefit of a defense that can bail them out of tight situations, increasing their confidence.

I don't know much about Nardi Contreras, but the results thus far -- other than Buherle, have been unimpressive to say the least. I say give him the rest of this season, but with a good defense behind the pitchers like I described above. If there is noticeable improvement in our youngsters, then keep him. If not, find someone else to light a fire under them.

As for hitting coach, I say consider bringing back Walt Hriniak (if he is still alive out there). Consider having two hitting coaches, even, and let the hitters choose who to work with.

Please place an emphasis on the fundamentals -- and base-running, and I think that this team can really go places. Add a top-of-the-line free agent AL pitcher to the rotation and you have the recipe for something very special.

Oh well. If you've read this far then thank you for putting up with my pontificating. I will now get down off my soap box.

07-17-2002, 11:34 AM
welcome to wsi :cool:

you made some good points, i think you'll fit right in

07-17-2002, 12:07 PM
I like the idea of two hitting coaches. Has anyone ever done that? Or are they limited on how many people they can have on the staff? Thomas has had most of his good seasons working with Walt. I think that they should put him on the staff for no other reason as to get the Hurt hitting. I am not ready to give up on Thomas. He still gets on base and has a decent amount of power numbers. He needs to get back to hitting doubles instead of trying to pull it out. As it has been said alot here he should open his stance more like he had in 2000.

07-17-2002, 12:10 PM
You make some excellent points. I'll point out the few that I disagree with.

I don't think you can have 4 guys in your lineup (Harris, Clayton, Paul/Johnson and Lofton) who are "defense only" guys, especially in the AL. Plus, there's no chance in all hell that the Sox bring back Clayton next year (his contract is up after this season). Also, there's no way to get rid of Frank, really. If he gets traded, the diminished skills clause is voided, and no team is going to want to pay him $10 mm per year at his current level of production. And even if you exercise the clause, I doubt he'd exercise his right to be a free agent. $10 mm per year for four more years (approx.), even if lots of it is deferred, is better than going out and getting a 2 year, $2.5 mm/year deal that he'd demand on the open market. Frank isn't going anywhere unless his contract is re-negotiated, and I sincerely doubt that will happen.

They need to use the money they'll save from the departures of Clayton, Alomar, Lofton and Durham (about $13 mm total, I think) to find a SS, CF or 2B that can be a spark plug to the offense and another starting pitcher. I have no clue who that person might be, however.

Welcome to WSI.

07-17-2002, 12:18 PM
Originally posted by Spiff
welcome to wsi :cool:

you made some good points, i think you'll fit right in

I second that.

Can't say I agree with you on the clayton and lofton fronts. Keeping one of them would be all right. But both? Maybe if clayton's price tag came down. He's great in the field, but I still think $4.5 million is too much to pay for a one-sided player. My goal isn't to start a royce debate here, as they tend to get heated really quick. So, I'll stop before I get too animated.

As spiff said, lots of good points made.

Here's to a new WSI member! :gulp:

07-17-2002, 01:45 PM
welcome aboard. :)


07-17-2002, 02:29 PM
Good Stuff and Welcome aboard!

I think it should be mandatory that all new members need to start off with a thread of ranting about all the misfortunes of being a true fan to our white sox :smile:

07-17-2002, 06:14 PM
Originally posted by BearSox
Good Stuff and Welcome aboard!

I think it should be mandatory that all new members need to start off with a thread of ranting about all the misfortunes of being a true fan to our white sox :smile:

yeah since there arent to much pluses to talk about!! :angry:

07-17-2002, 06:41 PM
Welcome aboard & great 1st post!

I agree with most of your points, especially placing an emphasis on the fundamentals. It has often seemed to me like once players reach the major league level in this organization, the fundamentals get thrown out the window. Guys reach a certain level, show flashes of greatness here & there, but we rarely see a player develop any kind of consistency...offensively or defensively.

07-18-2002, 01:25 AM
I printed out your post, I'll read Chapter 1 tonight in bed and finish the last 8 chapters up sometime in the morning...

hehe just messing, great post, welcome!

07-18-2002, 01:50 AM
The only real disagreements I have concern Keith Foulke and Manuel......

I don't see any upside to working with Keith Foulke.....this guy has continually let us down in crucial situations and I believe a change of scenery would do both Keith and the Sox well....he's a two pitch pitcher with no blazing heat, who looks like a dear in headlights out there....

Jerry Manuel says he stresses fundamentals, but under his regime, the Sox have ranked toward the bottom in defense and fundamentals...His teams consistently beat themselves more than any other Sox team I've ever seen......90% of his lineup tinkerings have been total flops...

07-18-2002, 02:08 AM
Welcome aboard! There are plenty of other Sox fans here in Dallas, believe it. We try to get together to go out to Arlington for Sox games occasionally. Whereabouts are you in Dallas?

07-18-2002, 09:09 AM
Originally posted by BearSox
Good Stuff and Welcome aboard!

I think it should be mandatory that all new members need to start off with a thread of ranting about all the misfortunes of being a true fan to our white sox :smile:

man when i first came here for the first time, i was on trail by fire. i had one very long debate with a poster named sonny. he tore me up. but imo i kinda held my own. there was no swearing in any post. whew. i still liked that day.

i think fwc came in and said something like, he did it to see if i was really a sox fan.

that was before the log in, i think.

07-18-2002, 09:23 AM
Originally posted by LongDistanceFan

i think fwc came in and said something like, he did it to see if i was really a sox fan.

Well, I think you've proven yourself on that one LDF :smile:

07-18-2002, 10:53 AM
Saracen (and others),

It's good to know that there are other White Sox fans in DFW. I have felt like I am all alone. My father-in-law also likes the Sox, but he's not die-hard like me (he's a baseball fan and traditionalist first).

I had my bachelor party at the in the home run porch of the Ballpark on Aug. 2, 2000, when John Garland made his major league debut (I think Mark Buehrle relieved him) in a loss to the Rangers. Thankfully it was not an omen for my marriage.

My wife and I live in Garland and I try to get to at least one Sox game per year in Arlington. The unbalanced schedule and the three-division format sure don't help when the Sox only come to town once or twice per year.

I sat in the center field bleachers at a Sox-Rangers game back in May when the Sox beat the Rangers behind a stellar offensive and defensive effort by Kenny Lofton. One game does not a season make, but I'm still sold on his defense in center and I think that with one or two off days per week to rest his aging bones he will be a more effective leadoff man, allowing us the luxury of keeping Clayton at short for his glove. I don't think they will keep him though, because they just don't place an emphasis on defense. I don't care for Royce Clayton as a person -- I think he is a whiner -- but he's a Gold Glove-caliber shortstop and you need a couple of guys like that on your team. I also think he might benefit from working with a hitting coach like Walt Hriniak, too.

Ozzie Guillen never hit very well -- and he hardly ever took a walk but his defense at short is what kept him on the field, even despite the fact that in the 80s we had very few legitimate hitters (Ivan Calderon led the Sox one year with, what, 14 home runs!) on the team.

Now we have really good clutch hitters at some of the corner positions in Maggs and Paulie, and I think that Crede and Borchard can contribute offensively right away (still wish we had Ventura). But we need to stress defense up the middle and take offensive punch as a bonus. While we may not average six runs a game with a more defensive-oriented lineup, our pitchers should have more confidence to throw strikes, lower their walk totals and attack hitters in the strike zone. This will increase their confidence and they should see their ERAs fall. This is especially important with young pitchers so that they don't learn bad habits and try to nibble at the corners of the plate.

Remember the early and mid 90's Sox teams, which generally had Ozzie at short, Joey Cora at 2B, Lance Johnson in center and Karkovice catching? That team was the winningest team in the majors from 1990 to 1996. Granted, we only won division title in 93 and had a World Series robbed from us by the 94 strike, but still the Sox had the highest winning percentage of all major league teams during those years. (No wonder attendance wasn't a problem!) When they tried to sacrifice defense for more hitting at 2B (Steve Sax), the experiment was much less successful (wasn't that 91 and/or 92 when Minnesota and then Oakland won the West?).

The best example of what happens when you don't have good defense and put too much emphasis on offense through free agency is the Texas Rangers. A huge payroll for a bunch of ill-fitting parts who (for the most part) play poor defense, swing for the fences and can't move the runner over, and have a much worse record than the White Sox.

In a perfect world, we could have signed A-Rod for $10 million per year. SS would have been set for the next decade. It just isn't going to happen. Most of the posts I see call for finding a SS/2B to lead off but can't think of anyone. The reason is they are very rare. They don't reach free agency because their teams sign them long-term. Who do we advocate letting go to free agency? Generally the players we don't want anymore, or those we feel we can adequately replace for less money with a younger player. Isn't it obvious that other teams follow the same principle? No wonder free agency isn't the way to build the nucleus of a winning team. Lofton and Clayton, while they aren't hitting very well, are not the problem with the White Sox.

The biggest problem is, and again I hate to say it because I grew up with Frank Thomas posters on my walls, Frank Thomas is earning $9 million per year and is hitting .245 with very mediocre power numbers. If he was hitting .245 with 50 homers, 100 walks and 150 RBI for the year, then I would be OK. If he was hitting .345 with only 20 dingers but 100 walks and 135 RBI, that would be OK too. But he's trying to pull the ball and ends up either striking out or popping up in the infield. It's embarrassing and he must be embarrassed too. If Williams and Reinsdorf keep him and don't exercise the diminished skills clause, then it will tie up the money that would better be spent on locking up, long-term, younger guys like Paulie and Maggs and Buehrle.

The other problems are that we aren't getting enough production from left field, third base and from left-handed bats. So, give Borchard a try in left field and let Liefer spend more time at DH against right-handed pitchers. Also, Valentin had a career year in 2000 and he hasn't duplicated that since. Crede is much less expensive and he's been tearing up the minors for what, four seasons now? He's also likely to be better defensively.

As for the catcher position, isn't Mark Johnson really strong defensively? And haven't there been comparisons between Josh Paul's on-field leadership and his management of the pitching staff and that of Carlton Fisk?

Williams needs to give Manuel free reign to bench players and to make them practice fundamentals like moving the runner over with a slap hit to the right side of the infield, going from first to third on a single, BUNTING successfully. A player doesn't have to be a great natural hitter to execute these fundamentals successfully and contribute to a winning team.

We get so wrapped up in batting average and the three run homer that we fail to realize that a team that executes these facets of "small ball" really could take the AL by surprise and be successful. Playing this way would put tremendous pressure on our other AL opponents who are not used to playing against this type of team.

You can't teach someone like Frank Thomas or Ted Williams to hit. You can't teach 20-10 vision. It is a natural ability. But you CAN teach youngsters like Willie Harris and even vets like Clayton and Lofton to execute a bunt. We have plenty of powerful hitters like Paulie, Maggs, Liefer and even Carlos Lee, and more on the way in Crede and Borchard. We don't need a team of power hitters, we need a balanced team that can hit the three run homer from time to time but can also keep an inning alive with timely situational hitting and excellent defense.