Are the White Sox already left for dead?
Perhaps I'm experiencing a hangover from last week's nicknaming, but the version of the South Siders limping into Target Field for a two-game series starting tonight are quickly monikering themselves somewhere between the "Wet Sox," the "White Sux," or the "Waste Sox." Or, to more simply employ the type of lexicon you'll find on the South Side: these guys are brutal.
A popular choice (including herein) to battle the Twins for the Central crown, the ChiSox, at a woeful 13-19, make their Target Field debut arriving in markedly off-target fashion. Their untoward April/May beginnings mark the worst 32 game start in the oft-unstable but always-entertaining seven years of the Ozzie Era. With aggressive GM Kenny Williams rebuilding this bunch into a unit constructed upon speed and contact, the White Sox have evidenced little of the latter and are instead running nowhere fast.
With an American League worst .228 team average (following last season's A.L. tied for bottom-feeding .258) coupled with a sorry team On Base clip of .316, the '10 Wet Sox are again relying heavy upon their stellar staff to find the "W" column. Oh, except their pitching sucks, too. Of their five starters, only John Danks (who throws Wednesday) has more than two wins and an ERA below 4.96. Salvation in the 'pen? "Relief" doesn't appear an apt term, with these arms posting an ERA of 4.30. And if the "Rolaids Man" were inversely presented
to closers who provide managers occasion to buy more cases of the antacid, then Bobby Jenks is your guy. His ERA is 6.75 and he arrives in Minneapolis post a Mother's Day performance where my own mother (bless her slider) could have provided a better line: 0 I.P., 4 Hits, 3 Earned Runs in Chicago's 9-7 home loss to Toronto.
All this begs the question: Are the White Sox already done?
The short answer is -- Of course not. It remains early in the season; although with a fifth of the year in the books it's no longer mercifully early. What's more, the White Sox have historically performed with polar results under Ozzie, as evidenced by two first place finishes, one second, two thirds and one fourth. ChiSox fans will also find it alarming that under Guillen the Sox have never entered June out of first place and gone on to make the playoffs in his previous six seasons. Moreover: in that same span, Chicago has never improved their divisional standing when comparing their June 1 placement with that of the final season standing.
It would seem, however, that the more things are designed to change for the Waste Sox the more the muscle stays the same. Together, Paul Konerko (MLB-leading 13 HR's) and newcomer Andruw Jones (9 bombs) combine for more long balls than five entire MLB teams. But other than Alex Rios' stellar .324 clip, positivity is hard to find beyond these three, with
nary another Sock batting above .273. Active steals leaders Juan Pierre has added to his impressive career total with an MLB-best 15 swipes, but offers just a .292 On Base percentage atop the order. Keystone youngsters Alexei Ramirez and Gordon Beckman have followed impressive beginnings to their respective careers with .217 and .193 averages, respectively. After a 2008 that reaped 36 HR's and 100 RBI, Carlos Quentin has never rebounded from injury and comes to town with a barely visible .194 average and .388 Slugging percentage. And perhaps most tasty here in the Bread Basket is the descent of A.J. Pierzynski, a career .284 hitter who is batting just .204.
Championships aren't won in the first 50 ballgames, but they sure as hell can be lost. The White Sux are just 4-9 on the road this season, a trend which we no doubt hope portends a quick 2-0 mini-series sweep for our Boys.
A few weeks back, just before managing his 1,000th career game for the Sox, the irascible Ozzie told reporters that, "I'm not going to quit. I'm not a quitter. When I want to quit, I'll do a lot of stupid things and make sure they fire me and get paid." Espousing on why getting fired was better than quitting, Guillen continued:
"Because when you quit, it's hard for you to find another job. Because when you quit, a lot of teams out there call you a quitter or say you can't handle yourself or can't handle the heat or you can't handle losing.
"And that's tough to get a job. But everyone gets fired. I remember in 2004, my first day on the job, I say managers get hired to get fired. I'm lucky enough. I work my tail off to get a job and I'm lucky enough to still have a good club and good guys to manage."
If it merely took "good guys" to win titles, compact Target Field would require another wing to hold all the Twins hardware. This isn't typically the space to visit for reactionary takes, but I'm truly vibing that Ozzie doesn't last the season. I'm calling it now: if the White Sox don't eclipse .500 by mid-June, they're toast.
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