Thursday, May 17, 2018

Reason for my absence ...

Just so everyone knows, this blog is not on hiatus because the White Sox stink.

I'm in the process of moving. Blogging will resume after I complete my move Memorial Day weekend.

Talk to you then,


Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Rare strong start by James Shields goes to waste

James Shields
Here's a sentence we rarely type on this blog: James Shields deserved better.

The veteran White Sox right-hander retired 15 St. Louis Cardinals batters in a row at one point Tuesday night. After giving up a leadoff homer to Tommy Pham, Shields did not allow another St. Louis base runner until the sixth inning.

He completed six innings, allowing only one run on two hits. He struck out four, and surprisingly, he did not walk anyone.

Too bad the Sox lost, 3-2, when the Cardinals scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth off another erstwhile veteran pitcher who has seen better days, Sox "closer" Joakim Soria.

The Sox took a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning on a two-out, two run double from Yoan Moncada. That stuck all the way until the ninth inning.

Soria gave up a home run to Matt Carpenter, a double to Marcell Ozuna and a game-deciding single to Yadier Molina.

The Cardinals weren't exactly hot coming into this series -- they had lost three in a row. But don't worry, St. Louis. The Sox are the cure for what ails every team not named the Kansas City Royals.

The South Siders are now 3-17 against teams not named the Royals, and 8-19 overall.

It's going to be a bad, long, boring season. What else can you say right now?

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Latest statistics for notable White Sox prospects

I haven't checked in on the farm lately, so with the calendar turning to May, perhaps the timing is right to see how some notable White Sox prospects have fared through the first month of the season.

There has been one notable promotion so far, with right-handed pitcher Dane Dunning moving up from High-A Winston-Salem to Double-AA Birmingham, where he won his first start.

Also of note, former first-round draft pick Zack Collins was just named the Southern League Player of the Week. Thank goodness, because Collins had been really struggling at Birmingham. He raised his overall batting average from .054 to .206 in week that saw him post a .438 average with a homer, a stolen base, six RBIs and six walks.

So, while we await Michael Kopech's call to the big leagues, here's a look at some numbers (through games of April 30):

Charlotte Knights (10-13, 3rd place in International League South)
Charlie Tilson, OF: .224/.283/.282, 0 HRs, 4 RBIs, 5 SBs, 14 Ks, 7 BBs, 85 ABs
Eddy Alvarez, SS: .353/.455/.697, 1 HR, 6 RBIs, 0 SBs, 3 Ks, 4 BBs, 17 ABs
Kevan Smith, C: .229/.308/.371, 1 HR, 4 RBIs, 0 SBs, 5 Ks, 2 BBs, 35 ABs
Michael Kopech, RHP: 0-1, 2.14 ERA, 21 IP, 14 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 29 Ks, 7 BBs, 1.00 WHIP
Thyago Vieira, RHP: 0-0, 6.55 ERA, 11 IP, 13 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 20 Ks, 9 BBs, 2.00 WHIP
Jace Fry, LHP: 0-1, 1.59 ERA, 5.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 8 Ks, 0 BBs, 0.53 WHIP

Birmingham Barons (12-13, 4th place in Southern League North)
Eloy Jimenez, OF: .234/.269/.532, 4 HRs, 14 RBIs, 0 SBs, 7 Ks, 3 BBs, 47 ABs
Zack Collins, C: .206/.393/.365, 2 HRs, 9 RBIs, 1 SB, 25 Ks, 19 BBs, 63 ABs
Seby Zavala, C: .315/.411/.616, 6 HRs, 19 RBIs, 0 SB, 28 Ks, 13 BBs, 73 ABs
Tito Polo, OF: .237/.304/.344, 0 HRs, 3 RBIs, 8 SBs, 22 Ks, 7 BBs, 93 ABs
Dane Dunning, RHP: 1-0, 4.50 ERA, 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 Ks, 2 BBs, 1.17 WHIP
Jordan Stephens, RHP: 2-3, 3.67 ERA, 27 IP, 27 H, 15 R, 11 ER, 24 Ks, 8 BBs, 1.30 WHIP
Ian Hamilton, RHP: 0-0, 0.96 ERA, 9.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 12 Ks, 3 BBs, 4 saves, 0.75 WHIP

Winston-Salem Dash (12-12, 3rd place in Carolina League South)
Luis Alexander Basabe, OF: .313/.400/.614, 4 HRs, 17 RBIs, 3 SB, 20 Ks, 12 BBs, 83 ABs
Blake Rutherford, OF: .338/.372/.437, 0 HRs, 11 RBIs, 3 SBs, 16 Ks, 5 BBs, 71 ABs
Micker Adolfo, DH: .308/.369/.549, 5 HRs, 21 RBIs, 0 SBs, 31 Ks, 8 BBs, 91 ABs
Joel Booker, OF: .353/.421/.515, 2 HRs, 5 RBIs, 7 SBs, 17 Ks, 6 BBs, 68 ABs
Gavin Sheets, 1B: .290/.430/.377, 0 HRs, 8 RBIs, 0 SBs, 11 Ks, 15 BBs, 69 ABs
Dylan Cease, RHP: 2-1, 2.79 ERA, 19.1 IP, 13 H, 12 R, 6 ER, 24 Ks, 12 BBs, 1.29 WHIP
Bernardo Flores, LHP: 1-2, 3.41 ERA, 29 IP, 31 H, 15 R, 11 ER, 20 Ks, 7 BBs, 1.31 WHIP

Kannapolis Intimidators (14-10, 3rd in South Atlantic League North)
Luis Gonzalez, OF: .310/.386/.448, 3 HRs, 9 RBIs, 3 SBs, 25 Ks, 12 BBs, 87 ABs
Carlos Perez, C: .281/.294/.438, 0 HRs, 5 RBIs, 0 SBs, 4 Ks, 1 BB, 32 ABs
Lincoln Henzman, RHP: 1-2, 2.88 ERA, 25 IP, 26 H, 16 R, 8 ER, 20 Ks, 3 BBs, 1.16 WHIP
John Parke, LHP: 3-1, 1.86  ERA, 29 IP, 22 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 23 K, 5 BBs, 0.93 WHIP

Monday, April 30, 2018

White Sox settle for three out of five vs. Kansas City Royals

When is it unsatisfying to win three out of five games in another team's ballpark? When you win the first three, then lose the last two.

Bruce Chen
That was the case this weekend for the White Sox against the Kansas City Royals, but given the Sox's 8-18 overall record, we probably should be happy they finally won a series -- regardless of circumstances or opponent.

Here's a look back at what has happened since we left off:

Friday, April 27
White Sox 7, Royals 4 (11 inn.): Once again, Matt Davidson won a game for the Sox in Kansas City. He went 2 for 5 with two home runs and three RBIs, including a two-run blast in the top of the 11th inning that gave the Sox the lead for good.

Davidson has hit seven home runs at Kauffman Stadium this season -- a new record for a Royals' opponent -- and it's only April 30.

For the season, Davidson is slashing .462/.563/1.308 with seven home runs and 12 RBIs in seven games and 32 plate appearances in the Royals' home ballpark.

I'm guessing Davidson will have the dates Sept. 10-12 circled on his calendar. Those are the remaining three games the Sox have in Kansas City this season.

For several years, the Royals had a mediocre-at-best pitcher named Bruce Chen who owned White Sox hitters. I see Davidson's mastery of the Royals as a sort of payback for Chen.

Davidson is a mediocre-at-best hitter, but he suddenly turns into a dominant force at the sight of Kansas City uniforms. The Sox and their fans have been on the wrong end of this kind of ownership in the past, so we'll take it.

Saturday, April 28
White Sox 8-2, Royals 0-5: Most doubleheaders are split, and this one was no exception.

Surprisingly, Carson Fulmer (2-1) became the first Sox pitcher to reach two wins by tossing seven shutout innings. He allowed four hits, struck out three and walked three. It was a nice display of competence by the right-hander, even if it came against a horrible Kansas City team.

Daniel Palka collected not only his first big-league hit but his first big-league home run, as well, as he went 4 for 5 with three runs scored and three RBIs in the Game 1 win. For the first time this season, the Sox won three in a row.

Naturally, that did not carry over into Game 2, as the Sox were baffled by Kansas City left-hander Eric Skoglund. After Tim Anderson's leadoff homer, Skoglund allowed only hit the rest of his outing as he got through seven innings with a 4-1 lead.

The erstwhile Dylan Covey (0-1) was called up from Triple-A Charlotte to pitch for the Sox, and predictably, he took the loss. Although, to be fair, he ate up six innings and only one of the four runs he allowed was earned.

Sunday, April 29
Royals 5, White Sox 4: This was the most disappointing game of the series, as the Sox squandered an early 2-0 lead that came courtesy of a two-run double by Palka in the fourth inning.

Hector Santiago and Chris Volstad both gave up home runs to Kansas City's Cheslor Cuthbert, who had not previously homered this season. Cuthbert hit a solo shot off Santiago in the fourth and a three-run blast off Volstad in the fifth that gave the Royals a 4-2 lead.

The Sox battled back to tie with a run in the sixth on a triple by Leury Garcia and a run in the seventh on a two-out RBI double by Nick Delmonico. The latter hit scored Jose Abreu, who was hit by a pitch and stole second base.

However, the Sox could not complete the comeback, as Bruce Rondon (1-1) hit the leadoff batter in the bottom of the eighth inning, and the Royals ended up scoring the go-ahead and eventually winning run on a single by Sox nemesis Whit Merrifield.

I guess we couldn't get through a five-game series in Kansas City without Merrifield doing something to beat the Sox at least once, huh?

Friday, April 27, 2018

Let's have some fun with small sample sizes (White Sox vs. Royals edition)

Matt Davidson
Sometimes, statistics can be funny in April. A few examples:

(All numbers are through games of April 26)

White Sox home runs this season: 30
White Sox home runs at Guaranteed Rate Field: 8
White Sox home runs at Kauffman Stadium: 12

White Sox wins this season: 6
White Sox wins at Guaranteed Rate Field: 2
White Sox wins at Kauffman Stadium: 3

Matt Davidson home runs this season: 7
Matt Davidson home runs at Guaranteed Rate Field: 1
Matt Davidson home runs at Kauffman Stadium: 5

White Sox runs scored this season: 83
White Sox runs scored at Guaranteed Rate Field: 34
White Sox runs scored at Kauffman Stadium: 24

Why is all this so ridiculous?

Well, the Sox have only played three games this season at Kauffman Stadium against the Royals, while they've played 12 games at Guaranteed Rate Field.

But the Sox have hit more home runs in Kansas City than they have in their home stadium; they've won more games in Kansas City than they have in their home stadium; and hell, almost all of Davidson's season production has occurred in the three games they've played in Kansas City.

Davidson hit three home runs in a 14-7 win on Opening Day, and he hit two more homers Thursday in a 6-3 Sox win.

Obviously, all of this will even out eventually. Perhaps the Royals will turn the tables on the Sox before the weekend is over, but for now, the whole thing is sort of amusing.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

White Sox drop another one-run game to the Mariners

Felix Hernandez
The White Sox don't seem capable of winning a series right now -- they've lost their past six series in a row -- but at least this latest three-game set against the Seattle Mariners was more competitive than some of the others.

After winning the first game, the Sox suffered two one-run losses, including a 4-3 defeat Wednesday afternoon.

The Sox got off to a good start. Yoan Moncada hit Felix Hernandez's first pitch of the game for a solo home run. Yolmer Sanchez hit Hernandez's second pitch of the game for a double, and he scored later in the inning on a broken-bat single by Tim Anderson.

But James Shields (1-3) couldn't hold the early 2-0 lead. Seattle tied it at 2 with two runs in the third. The Sox retook the lead, 3-2, in the bottom of the inning on a bases-loaded groundout by Daniel Palka, who went 0 for 4 in his major league debut.

The Mariners tied it in the fifth on an RBI single by Nelson Cruz and took the lead for good in the sixth when Mike Zunino homered off Shields. Hernandez (3-2) kept the Sox off the board in the middle innings, and the Seattle bullpen tossed three innings of shutout relief.

The Sox dropped to 3-5 in one-run games. They've already lost two 1-0 games this season, including one Tuesday against the Mariners. This is a Sox team that is hitting .198 with runners in scoring position. With two outs and runners in scoring position, they are hitting a meager .161.

For all the justifiable consternation about the pitching staff, the Sox would have a few more wins if they were hitting, say, .230 with runners in scoring position. The overall team batting average is .236, so that shouldn't be too much to ask.

I keep thinking a market correction is coming on this, and while the Sox will never be a winning team this season, they should be able to pull out a few more victories with even a modest increase in production with men on base.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

'Team marketing experiment' looks like a failure for White Sox

A lot of people are wondering why Tuesday's game between the White Sox and Seattle Mariners started at 4:10 p.m. at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Honestly, I have no idea of the details, but I read in a story from The Associated Press that the Sox were conducting a "team marketing experiment."

The story also notes that about 2,000 fans were in the seats for the first pitch, on a sunny day with the temperature hovering about 60 degrees. The announced attendance was 10,761.

So, that's about par for the course for an April day game involving a bad, rebuilding Sox team and an opponent that does not have a national following.

There were a bunch of weird shadows on the field during the game. Hitters couldn't see the ball, pitchers dominated and the Mariners squeezed out a 1-0 victory, dropping the Sox to 5-15 -- their worst start since 1950.

But I'm more interested in what the nature of this marketing experiment was. Did the Sox think people who work in the city would want to come to the ballpark at 4 p.m. once they left the office? Do they think the usual matinee start time, 1:10 p.m., deters people from attending because the game ends between 4 and 5 p.m., sending fans home in the thick of Chicago's rush hour?

Obviously, this unorthodox start time failed to move the needle at the gate, and I hope the Sox don't do it again. I suppose they had nothing to lose for trying, but the bottom line is this team is 2-9 at home entering Wednesday's play.

This is not an exciting time to be a Sox fan, no matter what anyone tells you. Rebuilding is tough. There is a lot of bad, boring baseball being played by mediocre and bad players who, God willing, will not be on the Sox roster in two years.

I think the Sox will have more people in the seats if a top prospect, such as Michael Kopech or Eloy Jimenez, gets called up later in the season. Until then, however, the team isn't going to draw. The Sox are paying the price for years of subpar play, and they will continue to do so until major league results improve.