Will MLB Be Consistent With Soto?

So there you have it. Geovani Soto tests positive for marijuana at the idiotic World Baseball Classic (sorry Mr. Selig-that thing is a ridiculous, unnecessary showcase of nothing).

Marijuana is another substance that is on the long list of banned items within the SUBSTANCE ABUSE guidelines of MLB (it’s listed as a: cannabinoid). Manny Ramirez tested positive for an item on that list and was suspended 50 games (yes – there was one other player who’s name escapes me now but he also received a 50 game suspension).

I guess the question is: is any “item” on that list more serious than another or will MLB do what it SHOULD do and suspend Soto for 50 games? Simple question. So will they do what they should and suspend him or will they come up with some bogus “side-step” to not suspend him for 50 games?

If they do the latter, it would be a farce almost as large as the World Baseball Classic itself.

The Future Is Bright

Well Sox fans, we came up a bit short today. But, look at the positives. In spite of a tremendously slow start for the offense this season, they came through down the stretch when we needed them. They did just enough for us to win the AL Central. REMEMBER: The so-called “experts” picked us 4th in the division – just ahead of the Twins. We went as far as our pitching took us. If pitching and defense are the keys to winning – all of us as White Sox fans should be excited. There is no reason to expect that Mark Buehrle will be his usual self next year. The progress made by both Danks and Floyd this year into becoming solid #2 and #3 starters (on some teams – probably a #1 and #2) has been fantastic. Even Clayton Richard, who’s “numbers” don’t appear to be that good – is showing great promise and it would not surprise me one bit to see him as the #5 next season – and a solid #5 at that.

They say that you have to be solid up the middle – that starts behind the plate (A J isn’t going anywhere and he is SOLID). Whether Alexi winds up back at 2nd or moves to short, we are in pretty good shape.

Yes we could use a bit more speed (then again – we won the division without it). Of course it is disappointing that we couldn’t get past the first round of the playoffs – but then again – the Cubs supposedly had the best team in baseball – and they didn’t win a game in the playoffs and quite frankly – didn’t look very good at all losing.

And Sox fans, give credit where it is due. Joe Madden has done a great job with that Tampa Bay team and they flat out outplayed us. Let’s hope for a rematch next season (in the ALCS instead of the ALDS maybe?).

Don’t fret Sox fans — THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT!

Objects Are Closer Than They Appear

I find it interesting that in spite of the fact that both Chicago baseball teams have done well to this point, with the “usual” ups and downs that every team goes through in a season, that the fans of the team on the north side seem to think it is a foregone conclusion and a lock that they are headed to the post-season (many of them even extend it as a foregone conclusion that a World Series championship is “in the bag”). While it may indeed play out that that way, I’ll remind them that there are still 67 regular season games to play and nothing is a given. That is what makes the game so fascinating and is also why I have to remind those fans that you actually have to play the games before anything is decided. Those same fans like to talk about how much better they think their team is than our White Sox team. A comparison of the stats here at the All-star break will actually show that the 2 teams are a bit more evenly matched than you might think.

One of my favorite sayings out of Hawk Harrelson on our TV broadcast team is that defense is the most important aspect of putting a winning team together and that the first line of defense is pitching. While it is nice to have a high-scoring offense, it generally does hold true that the teams that come out on top in the end are the ones that have that good “defense and pitching” scenario. Case in point would be the Texas Rangers, who for years (and it looks like this year is no exception) thought the way to the “promised land” was outslugging their competition, even with a mediocre at best pitching staff.

I’ll preface the numbers that follow with this: it is pretty widely known throughout baseball (with the exception of northside team fans that won’t admit it to be true) that the northside team, while a good team, has a much easier schedule than the White Sox do due to the competition they play (or lack thereof) for most of the regular season.

Let’s start with the starting pitching to this point. The Cubs have the best ERA amongst starting pitchers in the National League at 3.88 (and remember also this is the league WITHOUT the designated hitter). The White Sox ERA amongst their starting pitchers is 3.87 and is only good for 5th in the American League (yes that means the Cubs are 6th in MLB in starting pitching and the White Sox 5th). Given the American League has the DH, I find it rather odd that 5 AL teams have better starting pitching than what is supposed to be the best of the NL (the 5 AL teams are: Oakland [3.41], Boston [3.73], Los Angeles [3.75], Toronto [3.81] and the aforementioned White Sox). Better starting pitching:  White Sox (by a slight margin but nonetheless a margin and is amplified a bit by the “DH” factor).

We hear a lot about both bullpens in Chicago and how good they both are.Try this on for size.The Cubs ERA amongst their relievers is 3.92 – 17th of 30 teams in MLB.  There are 9 AL and 7 NL teams who have better ERA’s in the bullpen than the Cubs. The White Sox are 2nd in MLB (following only the Phillies at 2.71) with a 2.96 bullpen ERA. That is just shy of a full run less than the Cubs. Since baseball has become a game of bullpens beyond the 6th inning, this is a glaring statistic. Better relief pitching: White Sox (and this is not even close).

Put the combined pitching numbers together and the White Sox are 2nd only to Oakland with overall pitching (3.39 for Oakland, 3.56 for the White Sox) in MLB. The Cubs are 9th at 3.89 with 6 of the 8 teams with better pitching being AL teams. Better overall pitching: White Sox

The Cubs get the edge with team batting average (.281), with only the Texas Rangers in MLB at .283 and Boston Red Sox at .282 being better. The White Sox are 9th with their .265. There are 5 AL and 3 NL teams ahead of the Sox in batting average. The next paragraph will show you why this number is a bit deceiving and lends credence to the statement “don’t tell me what you hit, tell me when you hit it”. Better team batting average: Cubs

The Cubs have scored the second most runs in MLB (507 — Texas Rangers have 538). That is an average of 5.34 per game (95 games). They have also given up 401 runs, the 9th least in MLB (6 AL and 2 NL teams have given up fewer), for an average of 4.22 runs per game allowed and a net run scored versus runs agains of +1.12. The White Sox have scored 465 runs, 5th in MLB (behind Texas, Cubs, Boston and Philadelphia in that order) for an average of 4.89 per game (95 games). The Sox have allowed 382 runs, 4th behind Oakland, Toronto and the Dodgers in that order) for an average of 4.02 and a differential of +0.87. Best run dfferential: Cubs (by a slight margin)

I recall back towards the end of May the local radio talk show hosts discussing whether there had been a “changing of the guard” with regards to the AL and NL. I thought then and still do believe the reason the numbers in a way reflected that was due to sub-par pitching in the NL. This was bluntly reiterated with the 149-103 edge the AL took out of interleague play (something I absolutely hate about today’s baseball but that is a subject for another day).

Anyway, the tally (for the record) on the things I’ve posted, Sox 3-Cubs 2. In a funny sort of way, I do rather hope that the Sox-Cubs meet in World Series. If pitching is the key factor to winning championships  – our players on the southside will have to make room for another ring.That is of course if they can get through the much tougher schedule that they play than our rivals on the northside do. We have to remember that games aren’t played on paper and also remember that no matter what transpired in the first half of the season, things can change in a hurry.

Interesting Question

Actually 2 questions. All Sox fans are familiar with the exaggerated “shift” that takes place with some left-handed hitters (in the White Sox case – Jim Thome) where the shortstop plays either straight up-the-middle behind second base or in some cases on the first-base side of second base and the 2nd baseman plays more towards first base.

The question got raised the other day when I was watching a game (don’t recall which game the question came up in) why it would not be more appropriate to actually move your third baseman over to that spot behind second or the first base side of second and leave your shortstop as the lone fielder between second and third. This actually seems to make sense given that generally your shortstop is the guy on the infield with the most range. I guess in order for this to really make much of a difference, the guy they are putting the shift on for would actually have to make a more concerted effort to “go the other way” a bit more often than they do. If he was doing that, I guess they wouldn’t put the shift on in the first place. Any thoughts on this?

The second part of my question is on the same lines. I don’t recall ever seeing this take place (doesn’t mean I haven’t seen it but I sure don’t remember it if I have or I just haven’t paid that much attention to it), but has anyone ever seen the exaggerated shift like that put on (the opposite way of course-3 fielders on the 3rd base side of the infield) for a right-handed hitter? Obviously this would most likely not happen if there was a runner on first but have any of you seen this?

Why and how MLB needs to change the All-star selection process

OK. I know the argument – “The game is for the fans and it’s only an exhibition game.” But wait, that is not the case anymore. While “the game is for the fans” holds true for the All-star game, that could be said about the entire season. The fact is, because it counts for home field in the World Series, the game is no longer an exhibition. That is why that game needs to be played by the best players from THIS YEAR.

While INITIALLY it would not be popular to do so, the staring lineup balloting needs to be totally eliminated. I use the word initially because, while it would take a year or two, I think the fans would much more appreciate the game if they knew that the best players were playing, and not the players that get there due to “stuffed” ballot boxes because they are popular among “big market” area fans. To take it a step further, the “reserves” would also not be decided by anything other than the “numbers”.

OK. How do you do that? Very easily actually. All of the teams (not just this year but in years past as well) have 81 games in by the All-Star break. A formula could be used, based on the statistics for the first 81 games for each team (and player), whereby position players are ranked within their own league based on both offensive and defensive numbers. Another formula could be used to determine the same type thing for pitchers, with there being a separation between starters and relievers. The bottom line is when the formula is applied, the top 2 position players at each position are sent to the All-star game, with the highest ranked one getting the nod for the starting role. For pitchers, the top 6 starters and the top 6 relievers go (from each league of course).

Using a system such as the one I am suggesting would eliminate ANY and ALL lobbying by managers, coaches and players for a certain player to “get there” and would also eliminate ANY and ALL feelings that a player was “snubbed”. The numbers would decide it all and their would be no justifiable argument out of anyone. Most importantly it would eliminate the “popularity contest” that decides many of the starting positions. Don’t get me wrong, in some instances, even in the case of this year, some of the players that were voted in would still get there, but they would have “earned it” with their performance.

Thanks for listening.

Hello Everyone and Nice Try JD!

First off, welcome to my blog everyone. I have been a White Sox fan ever since I knew what a baseball was. Any Sox fan has shared the many years of heartbreak that we went through even when we had “good” teams and every Sox fan around had to be totally thrilled with the end result in 2005 when not many of the so-called “experts”gave the White Sox a chance of winning their own division, let alone having the 2nd best regular season record in baseball and then ultimately a World Series win.

On another note, it really was a shame from the get-go that Jermaine Dye was not on this year’s All-Star team to start with and an unfortunate outcome that he finished a close 2nd in the vote for the final position. JD offensively is “right there” statistically with every right fielder in the American League and his numbers are better than most. This is not to mention that he is playing like a kid again defensively and it would not surprise me one bit to see him earn a gold glove out there. All I can say is THANKS JD!

Again all, welcome to my blog. This is my first crack at this and I hope to see a whole lot of activity here.

Chuck

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