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Even Steve Perry Has Stopped Believin' in the White Sox
2007-06-08 23:50
by Scott Long

In another example of how fast a baseball team can fall-apart, the White Sox and Astros are facing each other in inner-league play this weekend. These 2 squads have went from playing each other in the 2005 World Series to appearing like Central division also-rans.


The past month for both teams has been brutal, with the Astros losing 16 of 21, while the White Sox have lost 11 of 13. If you thought the White Sox were going to be good or not in 2007, the way they are tanking has to be a surprise to you. The team's lack of offense is pretty remarkable, as only Jim Thome is a plus player this season at the plate. For almost the whole team to have career low type numbers at this point of the year is striking (out) for a veteran team.

The bullpen was a bit of mystery going into the year, but it has been a disaster since the beginning of May. The White Sox have had a major turnover in the pen, with only Bobby Jenks left from the World Championship team. With the downward direction the team has gone, you would think that GM Kenny Williams must have really whiffed in the past off-season. Amazingly, the moves he made look good.

  • Traded Brandon McCarthy for John Danks and Nick Masset. 21 year-old Danks has been solid so far, with a 4.35 ERA. Masset has had his moments, as well.
    McCarthy has been knocked around with a 6.35 ERA. He needs to pitch in a park where the fences are deep. (He's a solid 3 at PETCO). So far, his Ballpark in Arlington ERA is 7.80.
  • Sent Freddy Garcia to the Phillies for Gio Gonzalez and Gavin Floyd. Gonzalez is the Sox top minor league pitcher. Garcia has a 5.90 ERA.
  • David Aardsma has self-destructed with the rest of Sox bullpen since May, but he seems to have a bigger upside than Neal Cotts, who the Cubs got in return for him.
  • Andrew Sisco for Ross Gload. Sisco is one of those hard-throwing players that despite averaging a strikeout per inning, can't keep from walking batters. Considering he is only 24, I would still take him over a solid bench player in Gload.
  • Darin Erstad was signed as a free-agent. Erstad lacks the OBP skills to be a lead-off hitter. Just to give you an idea of how bad the Sox hitting has been, before he went on the DL, only Thome and Konerko had a better OBP in the team's regular lineup than Erstad. For the discount price that Williams paid, Erstad has been as good as they could of expected.

So far it would appear that the White Sox gave up little, whlle managing to dump a big contract (Garcia's) and in return picked up 40% of their 2008 starting rotation (Danks and Gonzalez). Signed a solid veteran centerfielder for 1 million bucks (Erstad) who has been the only true stolen base threat on the team. Dealt players who didn't fit into the Sox future for high potential power arms.

As bad as the offense has been, the White Sox real trouble is trying to get from their quality starting pitching to their top-notch closer in Jenks. This is where Williams made his biggest mistake, as he doesn't have one consistent veteran arm in the bullpen. In 2005, the Sox bullpen featured 4 relievers 30 year-old or better in Dustin Hermanson, Cliff Politte, Damaso Marte, and Luis Vizcaino. Unlike these 4 relievers, the only 2 veteran pitchers the Sox had on their 2007 staff are Matt Thornton and Mike MacDougal, who have both spent most of their careers struggling to find the plate.

The 2007 White Sox have needed a couple of solid veteran relievers to stabilize their pen, but there was no Orosco/Stanton types on the roster. Sure it is great to have young, low-cost bullpen like the Twins or A's, but even these teams have a Nathan or Embree who provide a real veteran presence. This point might not be very sabermetrical, but to be successful in the long-term, some veteran presence is needed most in the bullpen.


Update on Danica Patrick. While she is in the news for getting in a verbal tiff with Dan Wheldon, the real attention should be on an actual successful female athlete. I'm not talking about Justine Henin, who is set to win her 3rd straight French Open. I'm shallow. Who I am talking about honoring is her opponent, Ana Ivanovic. The Serbian Ivanovic dispatched of Maria Sharapova in the semis. If you haven't seen her, I recommend it, as she is the hottest quality female athlete I've seen since Katarina Witt. Yummy.


2007-06-09 06:06:05
1.   D4P
Never count out a team with Darin Erstad. His hard-nosed style of play is infectious. Plus, he used to be a punter...! For Nebraska...!

The White Sox record has them on pace for 74 wins, while their Pythagorean Record has them at 64. PECOTA tried to tell you, but you just wouldn't listen.

2007-06-09 09:16:11
2.   Scott Long
Pecota looks like they will be more right than swoboada for the white sox. Of course pecota thought starting pitching would be the reason for the sox drop, when that has been the reason for sox playing even close to 500.

The sox offense and bullpen are playing way below pecota expectations. The white sox continue to defy pecota projections, even if their overall record might wind up close to expected.

2007-06-09 09:30:16
3.   cephyn
I think a lot of people owe BP an apology. They were dead on. And pecota wasn't just about the pitching, only 2 of the 5 main points are thepitching:
"* 1. There is no star in the starting rotation. Mark Buehrle has a ton of mileage on his arm, and wasn't a guy who could afford to lose any stuff. Jose Contreras is old, and stunk in the second half. Jon Garland doesn't miss bats. Javier Vazquez is good, but his home run rates prevent him from being a star. Prognosis: reasonable.
* 2. The back end of the White Sox pitching staff is a mess. I'm pleased that the White Sox have decided to go with Danks, and I'm optimistic about what they're going to get out of him. Injury risk is a problem here-–I don't think that Gavin Floyd has any business in a major league uniform, and I don't know what to expect out of Charlie Haeger. But if the top four stay healthy and Danks holds down his spot, I expect passable results. Similarly, the back of the bullpen should be better than projected given Don Cooper's history. Prognosis: possibly unreasonable.
* 3. The White Sox are going to lose a ton of value from the LF and CF positions. Scott Podsednik's weaknesses are well-established, and leave the White Sox in a 3-4 win hole at his position. I suppose that Darin Erstad could be healthy again, but what are the White Sox expecting–-a return to his 2005 numbers? He hit a forgettable .273/.325/.371 that season. The best-case scenario is that Erstad is about average; the worst-case scenario is that he's the worst regular in the league. Prognosis: reasonable.
* 4. Jim Thome, Paul Konerko, and Jermaine Dye will decline. Dye is a fine athlete, but career seasons at 32 are usually just that. Paul Konerko has stayed remarkably healthy, but he's an old player's skills guy with bad knees. We've already discussed Thome. Prognosis: reasonable.
* 5. The White Sox will stick with their current roster. This is an implicit assumption of all the depth chart-based projections, since we don't try and account for potential trades. Nevertheless, Williams is an active trader, and the White Sox should have a bit of payroll left to spend. If they hang in the race through July, I expect some reshuffling. Prognosis: probably unreasonable.

I'm comfortable giving the White Sox +5 wins, for a 77-85 record. I'm not comfortable with more than that"

2007-06-10 16:12:28
4.   De Ruijter
"This is where Williams made his biggest mistake, as he doesn't have one consistent veteran arm in the bullpen. In 2005, the Sox bullpen featured 4 relievers 30 year-old or better in Dustin Hermanson, Cliff Politte, Damaso Marte, and Luis Vizcaino.

With the exception of Marte, I don't think any of those guys qualifies as being consistently good. Pollitte was two seasons removed from giving shelled in Toronto. Same goes for Vizcaino in Milwaukee. Hermanson was consistently mediocre to bad. Only Marte had a consistent track record of success prior to 2005.

2007-06-11 07:38:58
5.   Scott Long
Hermanson was the key pitcher the first half of the year. When you have a pen filled with young guys, there can be times when you have no one you can count on to throw strikes. I've seen it before with a lot of other teams. They might make you nervous, but when you have a Todd Jones or a Rod Beck, you know that they will not be walking the side. They also can be like a second pitching coach for the young pitchers.
2007-06-11 08:55:49
6.   alasky

Todd Jones, with the exception of last year's aberration, has had walk rates above the league average for a number of years, including the current one. Good relievers are good relievers...period. The key is that most relievers are so fungible overall, another sabermetric tenet. Thus, so few are good over a period of 3 or 4 years...

2007-06-11 09:07:26
7.   Todd S
The bullpen has been surprising. I thought they would get good work out of a couple of the guys they had in there (Aardsma, Sisco, Thornton, and MacDougal). I didn't know which ones, but I'm surprised all four have been so disappointing.
2007-06-11 10:32:12
8.   nick
yeah, ask the Yanks about the consistency and control possessed by their veteran arms Farnsworth and Vizcaino...

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