Tag:White Sox
Posted on: July 7, 2008 8:52 pm

First Half Review

AL East: Are the Rays for Real?

A year ago, Boston, Detroit, and Los Angeles were leading their divisions while Cleveland had the best record among the rest. The Red Sox and the Angels went on to win division titles, the Indians blew past the Tigers in the second half to capture the Central, and New York went to the whip and earned the wild card spot. Boston had the best record in baseball at the All-Star break and won the 2007 World Series by beating the Angels, Indians, and the Colorado Rockies in the postseason.

Tampa Bay owns the best win-loss mark this season. Can the Rays pull a repeat of what the Red Sox accomplished in 2007? By winning seven in a row and 11 of 12, the upstart Rays have now opened up a five-game lead in the East and are now the hottest – if not the best – team in baseball. A 200:1 shot to win it all before the season began, Tampa Bay's odds have dropped to about 11:1 behind only the Red Sox, Cubs and Angels.

In just one year, the Rays have gone from worst to first in the AL. Get this, Tampa Bay's run differential has improved by almost 200 runs or nearly 2.5 per game. It's taken time – a long time – to build this franchise but the average age of the major league team, the strength of the minor league system, and lots of flexibility in payroll suggest the turnaround is for real.

Spring Training picks: 1.Red Sox 2.Yankees 3.Blue Jays 4.Rays 5. Orioles

Current Standing: 1.Rays 2.Red Sox 3.Yankees 4. Orioles 5. Blue Jays

AL Central: Surprise, Surprise 

The two Chicago teams are leading their leagues in run differentials. A Windy City World Series may not be what 28 other cities would like to see but would be pretty good for baseball (or so says this lifelong New Yorker). I'm not as surprised by the Cubs as I am by the White Sox I figured them for third in the AL Central. But what do I know? I didn't see it in 2005 either.

Minnesota caught me off guard as well. I picked them for fourth. With a five-game winning streak and an overall record of 50-38, the Twins are only one back of the White Sox. In what appeared to be a rebuilding year, Minnesota finds itself in the thick of things after the July 4th weekend. To think that the Twins would be contending without Johan Santana and Francisco Liriano means the pitching staff is performing at or better than most expectations.

Cleveland has lost eight games in a row and management appears to have called it a season with the reported trade of C.C. Sabathia to the Milwaukee Brewers for 2007 first rounder Matt LaPorta, a former college home run champ at Florida, and three other minor league prospects. The Tribe's run differential is only minus six but when you are behind the Kansas City Royals in the standings and 14 games back of the division leader, it's time to reassess your club's chances. It's hard to fault Cleveland for trading Sabathia, who turned down a four-year, $72 million contract during the spring. Good luck to Milwaukee and/or the team that gives C.C. a five-year, $100 million deal.

Spring Training picks: 1.Indians 2.Tigers 3.White Sox 4.Twins 5. Royals

Current Standing: 1.White Sox 2.Twins 3.Tigers 4. Royals 5. Indians

AL West: Same Old

Six games in front of Oakland, the Angels have the biggest lead of any division leader and probably the clearest path to the postseason. However, the Halos may not be as good as their record indicates. The team has won six more games than what would be expected based on their runs scored and allowed. The pitching has been superb, while the hitting has been mediocre at best.

The A's have allowed the fewest runs (324) and the Texas Rangers have scored the most runs (511) in baseball. Each club benefits from favorable park environments but their success goes beyond that. Both teams are playing .500 on the road. Only the Angels and Yankees sport better than .500 records away from home.

Spring Training picks: 1.Angels 2.Mariners 3.Athletics 4.Rangers

Current Standing: 1.Angels 2.Athletics 3.Rangers 4. Mariners

NL East: Philly's Stake Looks Promising

Playing in a hitter's ballpark and Brett Myers having pitched his way to the minor leagues, who would have thought the Phillies would be third in the NL in runs allowed? And Cole Hamels didn't make the All-Star team? Philadelphia is one of two teams (the other being STL) in the league with a winning record on the road.

Florida has been an even bigger surprise than Tampa Bay, at least to me. The Marlins have been hanging tough all year and are in second place and only 2.5 games back of the Phillies. In a year in which Chipper Jones, Lance Berkman, and Chase Utley have gotten most of the press, Hanley Ramirez is doing his best to win his first Most Valuable Player award.

Spring Training picks: 1.Mets 2.Phillies 3.Braves 4.Nationals 5. Marlins

Current Standing: 1.Phillies 2.Marlins 3.Mets 4. Braves 5.Nationals

NL Central: Three Team Race

Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Louis own the three best records in the NL. That said, only two of these teams, at most, will reach the postseason. All three clubs have positive run differentials with the Cubs ranking first in the league in runs scored and fourth in runs allowed.

Cincinnati has won four in a row and would like to nothing better than to work its way into this race. Whether the Reds are buyers or sellers at the trade deadline will most likely determine their fate.

Spring Training picks: 1.Brewers 2.Cubs 3.Reds 4.Astros 5. Cardinals 6.Pirates

Current Standing: 1.Cubs 2.Brewers 3.Cardinals 4. Reds 5.Astros 6.Pirates

NL West: Wide Open

Just as it looked as if this division was looking like a powerhouse, all five teams out west have records under .500 and rank among the bottom ten in the majors in ESPN power index.

Arizona and Los Angeles, the first and second place teams, both have scored more runs than allowed. The Dodgers, in fact, have given up fewer runs than any defense in the NL. The problem is that LA ranks third-to-last in runs scored. Injuries have been a factor for sure but Rafael Furcal may not be back this season and Andruw Jones does not look like the $18 million man.

The Diamondbacks, all the rage in April, are 24-37 since the first month of the season. The good news for Arizona fans is that the D-Backs still sit atop the NL West. The bad news is that the club ranks 23rd in the Power Index. Nonetheless, one of these teams in the West will find itself playing in October and, remember, the Rockies were in fourth and clinging to a .500 record a year ago – so there is hope.

Spring Training picks: 1.Dodgers 2.Daimondbacks 3.Rockies 4.Padres 5. Giants

Current Standing: 1.Daimondbacks 2.Dodgers 3.Giants 4. Rockies 5.Padres

Posted on: May 30, 2008 12:23 pm

Did the White Sox Dump Another Injuried Player?

I will admit that so far in 2008, the Chicago White Sox have been better than I had them pegged to be, thanks to some very surprisingly effective pitching. And I should give the guy some credit for this. So Kenny, I underestimated you and your club.

upon hearing the news that A’s prospect Fautino De Los Santos had undergone Tommy John surgery this week, it reminded me of something.

You see, De Los Santos is a 22-year old pitcher who was traded by the Chicago White Sox to Oakland along with Gio Gonzalez and Ryan Sweeney in exchange for Nick Swisher during the winter. It was believed at the time that, while raw, his potential upside was higher than any of the other players involved in the deal. But the A’s shut him down in early May due to a sore elbow. And now it’s Tommy John, meaning that he’ll most certainly be out for the rest of the year, and may miss all of 2009 as well.

But this was reminiscent of another trade that the White Sox made back in 2001, when Mike Sirotka was sent packing as part of a deal that netted Kenny Williams David Wells from the Toronto Blue Jays. But Sirotka never threw a single pitch in a Toronto uniform, because his shoulder had been injured (torn labrum) before the deal ever happened. Kenny Williams (as first year GM) argued that Toronto was given all the medical reports they needed, and the Jays cried foul, claiming that vital information was withheld from them. The whole issue turned into a bit of a fiasco with the Jays appealing to Bud Selig to overturn the deal as a result.

Selig upheld the deal. essentially stating that while Chicago was very well aware of the poor state of Sirotka’s shoulder, that Toronto should have done their homework, which isn’t all that unreasonable, I suppose. As I understand it, the Jays front office did not make the trade pending a physical. It was only conducted after the trade was consummated. Oddly enough however, the first physical given by Toronto showed nothing irregular. It was only when they went for a second opinion to Dr. James Andrews that the problem was discovered. But Sirotka himself put it very nicely:

Sirotka said he was examined by White Sox doctors in early January and given a cortisone shot. He was told to let team doctors know if there was any discomfort after 10 days, but was traded.

“At the time I was getting examined, I didn’t think there was much to worry about because they didn’t seem too concerned,” Sirotka told the Sun-Times. “But one of my first reactions after being traded was I must really be hurt because I didn’t think the trade made much sense.”

It should also be noted that another player that went to Toronto in that deal, pitcher Mike Williams, was also injured before arriving in Canada, but Chicago argued ignorance on that one.

Believe it or not, there’s more. Back in 2006, the Philadelphia Phillies also received a pitcher that was injured prior to a trade. And yes, he came from Chicago’s South Side.

The acquisition of Freddy Garcia was initially considered a pretty good move for the Phils, who was in need of an “innings-eater”. And Garcia certainly fit the bill, making Philadelphia contenders going into 2007. But right at the onset of spring training, something was apparently wrong. By mid-March, there was talk of him starting the year on the disabled list.  Of course, the Phillies went on to win the NL East last year, but none of the credit went to Garcia, who made 11 starts, compiled a 5.90 ERA, and won 1 game. He made his final start on June 8th and underwent season ending surgery in August. It would come to light that Garcia had been receiving cortisone shots in his shoulder, although the pitcher denied this despite his own agent admitting it's veracity.

Again, it was a case of a team (this time, the Phillies) not doing their homework. They had relied on the White Sox’ own medical reports to inform them before pulling the trigger on the deal. It was really only after the injury became apparent that people inside the game talked openly about how Garcia’s fastball had lost velocity before the trade even happened. I’m not sure where these opinions were before his shoulder exploded as a Phil, but they were loud and clear by June of ‘07. Sure, in retrospect, the numbers posed a bunch of red flags, especially his strikeout rates in ‘05 and ‘06. But I can’t find one instance where a columnist or analyst pointed this out to be problematic at the time the deal went down. Either way, it was yet another situation where the Chicago White Sox were able to unload a pitcher with a pre-existing injury.

This is not to say that Fautino De Los Santos was damaged goods before he was traded. I have no idea if this was the case and am not making an accusation. But this is now the fourth incident in Kenny Williams’ tenure that something like this has happened. So you have to wonder - will front offices become far more hesitant to even deal with Kenny Williams? And why aren’t they taking more precautions than they do?

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com