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Chicago White Sox Redux: Fight To The Finish Edition
2008-09-15 13:03
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.
Untitled The Yankees haven't seen the White Sox since late April, when the Yankees took two of three from the Pale Hose in Chicago. Surprisingly little has changed for the Sox since then. The White Sox had a slim 2.5 game lead in the AL Central when the Yankees left the Windy City on April 24, and arrive in the Bronx tonight holding an even smaller 1.5 lead over the Minnesota Twins. The Sox briefly slipped down to third place in early May (though they were never more than 2.5 games out of first), but otherwise have been battling the Twins for the division lead all season long. The two teams haven't been more than three games apart since June 19, when the Sox had a four-game lead, and the White Sox haven't been more than a game behind since May 15.

A year ago, the White Sox stumbled to a surprising fourth-place finish with a mere 72 wins due largely to the impotence of their offense, which fell from third-best in the AL in 2006 (5.36 runs per game) to dead last in the league (4.28 R/G). It should come as no surprise, then, that the Sox's resurgence this year has been led by their resurgent offense, which has scored 5.05 runs per game, the fifth-best rate in the league.

Leading that charge, and thus throwing his had into the ring for league MVP, has been Carlos Quentin, who was acquired in the offseason from the Diamondbacks in exchange for minor league first-baseman Chris Carter, who was subsequently flipped to Oakland in the Dan Haren deal. Slotted in as the D'backs' starting right fielder last year, Quentin suffered through an injury-plagued season and struggled mightily in his major league stints, but crushed the ball when rehabbing in the minors. A career .313/.413/.527 hitter in the minor leagues, the 25-year-old Stanford product won the Chisox left field job out of camp this year and proceeded to set the junior circuit on fire with .288/.394/.571 rates and the league lead in home runs.

Unfortunately, the fragile Quentin broke his right wrist when punching his bat during an at-bat on September 1 and is out for the season. Similarly, first baseman Paul Konerko is out indefinitely after spraining a ligament in his right knee during a run-down on September 9. Konerko suffered a decline last year that was part of the offense's problem and has continued that decline this year. Still, his injury moves Nick Swisher to first base, creating a hole in the lineup filled by minor league veteran Dewayne Wise. The 30-year-old Wise has hit well for the Sox this year, but he's a career .220/.256/.389 hitter in the major leagues even with his solid 91 plate appearances as a White Sock mixed in. Quentin's injury makes room for deadline acquisition Ken Griffey Jr. to play full time despite his having hit just .245/.330/.347 since returning to the AL.

That all leaves the Chicago offense in the hands of the resurgent Jermaine Dye. Dye was the World Series MVP when the Sox won in 2005 and an MVP candidate in 2006 (.315/.385/.622), but last year he was one of the main reasons that the offense collapsed as he was barely above league average, and was far worse for most of the season prior to a hot August. This year he's back to bashing (.295/.348/.555), but with Quentin out, the only other man in the lineup who's meaningfully above average is 37-year-old Jim Thome, who has been healthier this year than last, but less productive on a game-to-game basis.

The Sox's postseason hopes are further imperiled by the season-ending Achilles' tendon rupture suffered by Jose Contreras, which has handed the fifth-starter's job to rookie Clayton Richard, who has a 7.09 ERA in seven major league starts.

Still, this year the Central has been one of those divisions that no one seems to want to win. The Indians came within a game of the World Series last year, but never got off the mat this year and cashed out early by flipping C.C. Sabathia to the Brewers three weeks before the deadline. The Tigers were the preseason favorites, but have traced a parabolic path this season, starting out poorly, looking unbeatable in June, and since falling back below even the Indians. The Twins have been in the fight all season but took an inexplicably long time to bring Francisco Liriano back up from the minors (he's gone 5-0 with a 1.57 ERA since returning). In fact, that could have been the difference in the division had Quentin not gotten hurt. Now things are back in flux, and the White Sox will arrive tonight desperate to keep their noses out in front.

They send reliable lefty Mark Buehrle to the mound tonight. Buehrle has made 30 starts in each of his eight full seasons in the major leagues and could pass 200 innings for the eighth-straight season with a strong outing tonight. Buehrle had a rough August (5.86 ERA), but has allowed just one run in 13 1/3 innings in September. He'll face off against Alfredo Aceves, who aced the Angels in his first major league start his last time out and will make his first start in the Bronx tonight.

Chicago White Sox

2008 Record: 83-65 (.561)
2008 Pythagorean Record: 84-64 (.565)

Manager: Ozzie Guillen
General Manager: Ken Williams

Home Ballpark (multi-year Park Factors): U.S. Cellular Field (104/105)

Who's Replaced Whom:

Ken Griffey Jr. has replaced Carlos Quentin (injury)
Dewayne Wise (minors) has replaced Paul Konerko (injury)
Alexei Ramirez has replaced Joe Crede in the lineup
Chris Getz (minors) has replaced Pablo Ozuna
Clayton Richard (minors) has replaced Jose Contreras (DL)
D.J. Carrasco has replaced Nick Masset
Horacio Ramirez and Adam Russell replaced Boone Logan and Mike MacDougal, both of whom have been brought back as a September call-ups

25-man Roster:

1B - Nick Swisher (S)
2B - Alexei Ramirez (R)
SS - Orlando Cabrera (R)
3B - Juan Uribe (R)
C - A.J. Pierzynski (L)
RF - Jermaine Dye (R)
CF - Ken Griffey Jr. (L)
LF - Dewayne Wise (L)
DH - Jim Thome (L)

Bench:

R - Joe Crede (3B)
R - Josh Fields (3B/OF)*
R - Brian Anderson (OF)
L - Chris Getz (IF)
R - Toby Hall (C)
L - Jerry Owens (OF)*
R - Jason Bourgeoise (UT)*
R - Paul Phillips (C)*
R - Paul Konerko (1B)**
R - Carlos Quentin (LF)***

Rotation:

L - Mark Buehrle
R - Gavin Floyd
R - Javier Vazquez
L - John Danks
L - Clayton Richard

Bullpen:

R - Bobby Jenks
R - Octavio Dotel
R - Scott Linebrink
L - Matt Thornton
L - Horacio Ramirez
R - D.J. Carrasco
R - Adam Russell
R - Mike MacDougal*
L - Boone Logan*
R - Ehren Wassermann*
R - Lance Broadway*

60-day DL: R - Jose Contreras, L - Andy Sisco

*September call-up; **out indefinitely with a knee injury; ***out for the season with a broken wrist

Typical Lineup:

R - Orlando Cabrera (SS)
L - Dewayne Wise (LF)
R - Jermaine Dye (RF)
L - Jim Thome (DH)
R - Alexei Ramirez (2B)
L - A.J. Pierzynski (C)
L - Ken Griffey Jr. (CF)
S - Nick Swisher (1B)
R - Juan Uribe (3B)

Comments
2008-09-15 15:14:10
1.   Mattpat11
Abraham has the lineup out. Its ugly.
2008-09-15 15:25:35
2.   Just fair
If anyone is interested I caught an article from a Lincoln Newspaper via RAB. It's about Joba's rarely mentioned mom.
http://tinyurl.com/64gzs9
2008-09-15 15:36:18
3.   Schteeve
Jorge Posada is shooting off his mouth, belive Joba is a reliever, not a starter.
2008-09-15 15:41:25
4.   Jeb
RIP Richard Wright -- not Yankee related I realize, but he did write some great music and he played with the Floyd at Yankee Stadium during the '94 tour.
2008-09-15 15:52:19
5.   Jeb
Jeter's OPS+ is up to 109 for 2008 after being 98-101 for a lot of the season. Hopefully that was just because of the Cabrera beaning and he'll be back to his usual 121 for at least 2-3 more years.
2008-09-15 16:14:16
6.   rbj
2 Yeah, I saw that article. Horrible writing. It sounds like she has had a host of problems over the years, but I can see why Joba doesn't want anything to do with her.
2008-09-15 16:56:57
7.   ms october
my man joba got caught up in some media bs today - none of it his own making.

still can't get over how hefty ken griffey has gotten.

2008-09-15 17:14:20
8.   Mr OK Jazz TOKYO
Brewers fired their manager with two weeks left? and replaced him with Dale Sveumn??
2008-09-15 17:31:17
9.   OldYanksFan
Gardner is sick fast. He comes out of the box like a bullet.
Boston just killing TB. 7-1 and more coming.
2008-09-15 17:44:10
10.   Mr OK Jazz TOKYO
9 11 - 1 now...
wow, is ANYone watching the game?? ChiSox got a lot to play for at least...
2008-09-15 18:16:07
11.   Mattpat11
Michael Kay thinks that nickname is much cooler than it really is.
2008-09-15 18:17:13
12.   Just fair
Jeter may have to wait another game.
9 His outfield catches the other day were semi-inspiring.
2008-09-15 18:17:53
13.   Mr OK Jazz TOKYO
11 which one?
can we break 20 comments today? where is OYF?
2008-09-15 18:19:56
14.   Just fair
Joba should come out and say that Posada should play 1st base. : ) Flaherty likes Joba as a reliever, too. Ugh.
2008-09-15 18:22:57
15.   ms october
14 flaherty's giving us his and jorge's cathcher logic. guess the tools of ignorance has several meanings

i really hope if anything comes of this discusssion it will be to not put joba in the pen to beging next year and try to manage his innings in a diffrent way

2008-09-15 18:27:04
16.   kdw
Sterling and Waldman are saying the same thing. Part of the discussion was that Joba is a team guy, he acknowledged that part of what happens next year will be dictated by what off-season moves are made for starting pitching. Then Sterling said that if the Yanks get a couple of good starting pitchers, Joba can go the bullpen, which would be the best plan, but if not, he could always start. I don't get it -- are we missing something? Everyone seems to think it's more important to have a shutdown 8th inning guy than a great starting pitcher.
2008-09-15 18:33:18
17.   OldYanksFan
When Joba started he did NOT go all out. He paced himself well, mixed up his pitches, and tried to not rely just on his fastball/slider. My ONLY problem was that he tried to nibble and therefore threw a lot of pitches. But that was part of his education and I admire his approach. I thought he was very mature ESPECIALLY for a guy with such a good FB.

So I'm not sure what the hell Flaherty and Leiter are talking about.

13 I'm here! Here I am am! Still breathing!

Red Sox up 13-1. Sending a message to TB?

2008-09-15 18:44:03
18.   Mr OK Jazz TOKYO
17 perplexing, this obsession with 8th inning-set up men...

Red Sox sending an ominous message...why didn't Maddon save David Price for the Sox series?

2008-09-15 18:52:07
19.   OldYanksFan
I do wonder though... Jorge has been catching a while and usually doesn't talk out of his ass. I can't help but wonder where that 'he will get injured' about Joba came from.
2008-09-15 18:52:29
20.   Mr OK Jazz TOKYO
there's always Mo to soothe the nerves on a windy, rainy Sept morning...wonder if he can pitch till he's 45?
2008-09-15 18:55:46
21.   OldYanksFan
I just hope Mo can pitch through 2010!
2008-09-15 18:58:37
22.   OldYanksFan
Oh crap. It looks like Jorge's comments have had some reprecussions.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/92472245@N00/2861380236/
2008-09-15 19:12:37
23.   Alex Belth
If the Yanks are out of the pennant race and win a game and nobody shows up in the comments section at the Banter, does the game count?

LOL

2008-09-15 19:13:54
24.   Alex Belth
Great to see Mo get the save, nice win. And pathetic to hear fans boo A Rod in his last two at bats for making outs. Sometimes I think people are just pathetic. Nice cheers for Jeter though. I'll be there tomorrow, likely for the final time, my bro and me way up in the upper deck somewhere.
2008-09-15 19:50:54
25.   Chyll Will
22 At least he didn't get spanked; he's already redassed... >;)

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