Thursday, December 30, 2010

A look into the 2011 Season

Although the great city of Chicago is experiencing a mild moment in a normally brutal winter, spring training is still a couple of months away. With that in mind, it doesn't mean us South Side fans cannot speculate, comment, and criticize like only Chicago fans can do. The next few weeks, aside from week to week commentary, I'll focus on pitchers, infielders, outfielders, and catchers. As the season opener looms closer, I'll display my suggested line-up, rotation, and bullpen rolls.

Today I focus entirely on the pitching staff. When healthy, we have arguably one of the best rotations in the American League, thanks in fact to the Yankee fans for harassing Cliff Lee's wife, and Andy Pettitte's inevitable lean towards retirement. However, in order to fulfill our great on paper rotation, a couple of things need to happen.

Primarily, we need to see Jake Peavy humble his bull-dog attitude for a few months, get entirely healthy, and perform to at least the ghost of his 2007 season at which he won the NL Cy Young award. He's got the type of stuff to stop losing streaks and quite frankly, embarrass the best of opposing hitters.

Next, the West German native Edwin Jackson needs to remain effective despite his fly ball tendencies in the launch pad that is U.S. Cellular field. Don Coopers catch of the flaw in Jackson's mechanics was fundamental to his success in the latter part of the season. His strike out to walk ratio in Arizona wasn't even 2-1, but upon his arrival in the White City, it rose to above a staggering 3-1. Sure he'll give up hits and the frequent moon shot, but striking people out instead of walking them at a rate like that will assure his continued success.

Lastly, When does the post-perfecto hang over of Mark Buehrle stop being just that and start becoming simply a decline in production? I certainly hope its something that can be addressed in what very well may be Mark's last season with the club. I'd love to see his ERA somewhere around 3.50 again.

If these three things can swing our way, there's no doubt that our pitching staff will give the club a fantastic shot to win each and every day.

"A Bill Heywood must be able to speak his mind."

Happy New Year All.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Tie goes to the fielder

To paraphrase section 6.05 of the Major League Baseball rule book, when a fair ball is hit, a player is out when he or 1B is tagged before he touches 1B. Simply IMPLYING, but not distinctively stating that the tie would indeed go to the batter. We've all heard it a million times before, from little league to the show, "The tie goes to the runner."

But has this saying ever actually been put to practice? How many times have we seen runners get hosed when the ball is caught and the foot hit the bag simultaneously? Is it simply a judgement call? Are there ever actual "ties?"

Baseball sages everywhere ought to clear up the murky water. They should clearly dictate whether or not a "tie" results in the batter being safe or out. In the mean time, considering the MLB rule book is less malleable than glass, cut the tie goes to the runner stuff. All it is is one big judgement call depending entirely on if the ump had a great lunch that day.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Musical Chairs with Gordon Beckham

I watched Gordon Beckham tear up the 2008 College World Series. He would hit missile after missile after missile 20 rows up into the left field bleachers. He made play after play at his natural shortstop position. It was an impressive show put on by an impressive kid with impressive athletic ability. I could not have been more excited when the White Sox selected him with the 8th overall pick that year. Spending not even a year in the minors, Beckham was called upon to play 3B after an unproductive Josh Fields was ditched. Not without growing pains, Beckham made the transition.

Now one year later, another transition, this time to 2B, must be asked of the young Georgian. How many games will it take for him to get truly acclimated? How many errors, bases, runs, and games will be given to opposing teams before this occurs? Sure he's had a whole offseason to prepare but only nothing is as valuable as game reps. Wasn't he an All-American shortstop? I'm just playing devil's advocate here but I think Ozzie's got to find one spot for him and let him cultivate, most naturally that position ought to be shortstop.

To top it off, Alexei is statistically a better 2B anyways. In 2008, in 121 games, Ramirez committed only 11 errors and dawned a .981 fielding percentage. While in 2009, in 148 games, Ramirez committed 20 errors and merely dawned a .969 fielding percentage. To compare that to other MLB shortstops, Florida's Hanley Ramirez had a .983 fielding percentage (10 errors), Milwaukee's J.J. Hardy had a .983 (8 errors), and the Cubs' Ryan Theriot had a .976 fielding percentage (15 errors).

It makes the most sense to have Alexei Ramirez play 2B and Beckham to play SS, both statistically and psychologically. Give the kids a break and stick them in positions where they don't have to think and they can just play ball. In an age of virtual reality and instant entertainment, nobody, and I mean nobody, likes musical chairs Ozzie.