In 1881 the future National League wanted to upgrade its image and target a more upscale fan base by doubling ticket prices, banning gambling, and outlawing alcohol sales. Several team owners who happened to be brewers refused to accept the new rules and banded together to form what would eventually become the American League. The National League attempted to discredit the new league by dubbing it the Beer and Whiskey League. This, of course only made the new league more popular. Duh!

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Pale Hose Outlooks

Bad news, good news and shouldn't-be news for the White Sox: 1) Willie Harris and Ozzie Guillen (bad); 2) Joe Crede (good); 3) Mark Buehrle (good); 4) Jose Valentine (duh); 543) the Sox (bad).

1. Two things come to mind when the name Ozzie Guillen comes up: he played hard and was a slick fielder; he talked a lot. Okay, maybe that's three things. At any rate, Ozzie's "National League style" of play seems to consist of more bunting and running; or, if you prefer, being "aggressive." That is, if Willie Harris is on base. That is, if Willie Harris manages to keep his starting spot at 2nd base, which he apparently earned by way of hitting .204 with 5 RBI last season in 137 at-bats. Okay, so your lead-off guy's not an RBI guy, so that's not fair, and 137 ABs is not a lot. But how about his .259 OBP?

It seems that Ozzie sees something in Willie Harris. Could it be his physical resemblance (in stature and speed) to Juan Pierre? That's all I can figure. With the proper guidance, perhaps Harris's incredible raw speed and mediocre defense could help the Sox out. According to Mr. Harris, Guillen "told me if I get thrown out, who cares? Be aggressive." Now that's a managerial style we can all get behind: "Who cares? Be aggressive." Somebody print the window decals and let's get this show on the road! It'll be like the Mariners' "Two Outs--So What?" campaign of a couple years ago, but with more aggression! What's that? Of course Scott Schoeneweis can bring his 5.08 career ERA with him! Hopefully, when Scott falls behind a batter, he'll be aggressive like Ozzie says and try to throw a fastball by the guy. If he hits a home run, who cares? Schoey will be out there all nine innings anyway, so he'll have plenty of time to make up for it.

2. In 2003, baby-faced Joe Crede hit .225 before the break, whiffing almost every other at-bat, almost always by swinging weakly at a breaking ball down and away. Think he was nervous about his first full season in The Show? Maybe, but he may have just been surprised that other teams had taken the time to scout him--or he may have also just fallen ill with the general funk that had infected the entire team through the first two months. After the break, during which he apparently watched those tapes his soon-to-be-fired hitting coach had given him, he hit .308 and cut his strikeouts down to roughly one every third at-bat. His OBP went from .277 to .349, his slugging went from .348 to .543 and he hit .352 for the month of August. Does this coincide with the emergence of "Crede's Crew," that bunch of shirtless waif boys in the bleachers? Does it matter? Look for Joe to hit in the .280 - .300 range this season and show another little bump in power. He's got a cannon for an arm and that strength should start to show up a bit more in his batting numbers now that he's more confident about when to take a bigger swing.

3. Yes, it was sad to see Bartolo Colon go. He's a quality pitcher. He built up his arm strength knocking coconuts out of trees with rocks (no, seriously, I think that's fucking rad). Last year for the White Sox he pitched right around his career ERA of 3.86 and ate up 242 innings (that wasn't all he ate). But could the White Sox really have afforded to keep him? They offered him roughly the same amount Anaheim did, per year ($12 million), but for fewer years. So Bart's off to SoCal and everybody's weeping their eyes out because the Bears suck and the writers at won't have any more colon (rhymes with "swollen") jokes to make in their headlines.

Luckily for the Southsiders, Kenny Williams did manage to sign Mark Buehrle--remember him?--to 3 yrs and $18 million. If Bartolo's worth $12 mil + per season, then Buehrle is a steal at this price. In 2003, he had an off year, in which he still managed to throw 230 innings, which is 18 and two-thirds more than the fellow with the calves everyone's talking about, Mark Prior (211.1). Buehrle's career ERA is better than Colon's, at 3.71, and while his strikeout ratio isn't that impressive (5.6 per 9 IP career), it's only about one strikeout less per 9 than Colon's over the past two seasons (6.7). Buehrle has also given up fewer home runs (71) than Colon (76) over the past three seasons. The fact that Colon throws 95-99 mph seems justification enough for people to think he's much better than he really is. I'm not arguing against his being talented and dominating at times, but over the long haul I don't think it would have behooved the White Sox to pay Versace money for a very durable pair of Levi's. By the way, that really was a paragraph about Mark Buehrle. It only seemed to be about Bartolo Colon.

4. Jose Valentin has announced that, in addition to looking more like Freddy Mercury than any other big-leaguer (well, he didn't announce that but it's true, and not because no one else resembles Freddy Mercury--Jeff Kent, anyone?), he's considering batting exclusively from the left side this season. Let's see, now: Valentin finished the 2003 season hitting .265 in 396 at-bats from the left side and .131 in 107 at-bats from the right. I just don't see it. I mean, why give up the statistical advantage of having that right-handed bat to go against lefty pitching? That would fly in the face of baseball logic.

543. As alluded to by Tommy in his posting of 9 March, it has indeed come to the point where the mainstream press refers to "the Sox" and everyone assumes they mean Boston. Fine. More on this business in my next, "supernatural" post. So, get out your talismans. Or is it talismen? Anyway.