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RKMeibalane
09-28-2003, 05:46 PM
It's official. The season is over. It is now time to look back on the season that was, and also look ahead to next March, when the Sox will return to the baseball field in the hopes of returning to the post-season.

The Good:

When the 2003 season began, many believed that the strength of the White Sox would be its offense. To a certain extent, that prediciton came true. Frank Thomas returned to form, challenging Alex Rodriguez for the American League Home Run Title, and proving that he is indeed the "Big Hurt." Magglio Ordonez turned in another excellent all-around season, challenging for the batting title. Only a late-season fizzle prevented that dream from becoming a reality. Carlos Lee finally became the player everyone believed that he could be, doing a little bit of everything in order to keep the Sox offensive machine rolling. Lee's play was so critical to the team's success that Jerry Manuel dubbed him the White Sox 2003 MVP.

Carl Everett and Roberto Alomar performed well after coming to the Sox in July. Everett in particular provided a great deal with his bat, including timely clutch-hitting, which the Sox had lacked until his arrival. Alomar helped on the defensive side of the ball, making difficult plays look easy. Jose Valentin credited his improved play at short to Alomar, saying that he took a lot of pressure of him.

Damaso Marte and Tom Gordon were a devestating duo in the bullpen. When one of them came into the game, another Sox victory was right around the corner. Gordon's status for next season is still up in the air, but "Flash" has indicated that he wants to return. The Sox would be unwise not to welcome him back.

But perhaps the most unexpected performance of the season turned out to be the best of all. Esteban Loaiza, who had to compete for a roster spot in Spring Training, won twenty one games and led the American League in strikeouts. If this man doesn't win the Cy Young Award, something's wrong.

The Bad:

Although he finished with eight complete games, and proved his worth as a staff ace, Bartolo Colon did not quite live up to expectations this season. Colon turned in a 15-13 record, which isn't what teams want from their number one or two starter. Too many times during the middle of the season, Colon seemed to be tired or uninterested, or both. Had the Sox not managed to make a run in July and August, Colon probably would have been sent packing.

Mark Buehrle had his worst season to date, finishing with fourteen wins against thirteen losses. He was, at one point, facing the possibility of losing twenty games, as opposed to winning twenty. This terrible irony wasn't lost on Sox fans, as they booed him mercilessly following a disasterous performance against the San Francisco Giants in June.

Jon Garland came on strong towards the end of the season, but he too didn't perform as well as expected. Many called his mental toughness into question, especially after he complained about being booed after a series of dissapointing starts in April and May.

The number five spot in the rotation... was a disaster. Danny Wright was really Danny Wrong, and Mike Porzio wasn't much better. In fact, he may have been even worse. And let's not get started on the Neal Cotts fiasco. Ughhh!

And then there's Paul Konerko. After a breakout season in 2002, many expected bigger and better things from the Sox first baseman. What they got was something else entirely. The first half of the season was a disaster for Paulie. His .185 average brought back memories of Julio Ramirez and Royce Clayton. Konerko came on in the second half, but finished with only a .234 average and eighteen home runs.

The Ugly:

This category is reserved for the man who did the most to prevent the Sox from winning their division. Everyone knows who that is, so without further ado... ladies and gentlemen, Jerry "The Tinkerer" Manuel.

(Audience boos.)

To say that Manuel made several mistakes this season doesn't even begin to describe the problems he created. For the first one hundred games of the season, Manuel insisted on tinkering with the lineup. And, as he has admitted several times in the past, the tinkering did not work. The Sox fell as far as eight games behind Kansas City and Minnesota, leaving many to call for Manuel's head.

Even after Manuel finally went with a set lineup in the second half, he still managed to screw several things up. He outright refused to play Frank Thomas at first base. Next, he started making lame excuses to justifty giving certain players playing time. Finally, he was responsible for the Neal Cotts and Jose Paniaqua disasters.

Kenny Williams said that Manuel would be fired if the Sox didn't make the playoffs. Well, they didn't, and all indications are that Manuel will be giving his walking papers as soon as tomorrow morning.

Looking Ahead:

There is much work to be done before next season. Several key players (Thomas, Colon, Loaiza, etc.) who must be re-signed. Carl Everett is not likely to return under any circumstances, so the Sox need to begin thinking about his eventual replacment. That role may be given to Jeremy Reed, once he is ready for the big leagues. Williams will probably try to find a taker for Konerko, but that is a longshot. The Alomar brothers have expressed interest in returning for 2004 as well.

The most daunting task will be to find a new manager. Several names have been mentioned as Manuel's replacement. Regardless of who is eventually hired, one thing is clear: the Sox MUST find a way to beat the teams they are supposed to beat. Their struggles against the Detroits and Tampa Bays of the world are one of the main reasons why the team did not reach the post-season. Five more wins would have made the difference this season.

A new manager will go a long way towards soliving some of the Sox problems, but more work must be done in order to improve the ballclub. Frank Thomas must return to first base, and someone must make it clear to the leaders of this team that playing solid, fandamental baseball is more important than trying to hit home runs. Are you listening guys?

In just over six months, a new baseball season will begin. The march to the 2004 World Series starts now.

JRIG
09-28-2003, 06:18 PM
Originally posted by RKMeibalane

The Bad:

Although he finished with eight complete games, and proved his worth as a staff ace, Bartolo Colon did not quite live up to expectations this season. Colon turned in a 15-13 record, which isn't what teams want from their number one or two starter. Too many times during the middle of the season, Colon seemed to be tired or uninterested, or both. Had the Sox not managed to make a run in July and August, Colon probably would have been sent packing.

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Colon finished with the 3rd lowest ERA of his career, the lowest WHIP of his career and the 3rd highest number of wins in his career. I think he met whatever expectations we should have had for him.

TDog
09-28-2003, 07:14 PM
Originally posted by JRIG
Colon finished with the 3rd lowest ERA of his career, the lowest WHIP of his career and the 3rd highest number of wins in his career. I think he met whatever expectations we should have had for him.

Still, there were games that he should have won that he didn't. Some people would prefer to blame the manager for not going to the bullpen against the Giants, but the one that immediately comes to mind is the game against the A's when Singleton (of all slow-batted hitters) beat him with two big hits.