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Jay Cutler on White Sox Wears No. 44: Jake Peavy Also Victim of Unfair Criticism

Whether you’re a Bears fan or just a fan of football, you’re aware by now of the Jay Cutler saga from the NFC Championship Game.

How injured was he? Should he have played through it? Could he have played through it?

Those questions all fall within the bigger picture of Jay Cutler, which is he’s a big-name QB who has his own way of doing things, and that rubs people the wrong way. That’s why it’s no surprise that so many who disliked him before he hurt his knee are eagerly jumping on him now.

The Chicago baseball player that has recently experienced his own version of “Cutler bashing” is Jake Peavy.

The Cy Young Award winner arrived on the South Side after rejecting a trade to the White Sox earlier in the season. While his motives for that seemed pure enough—he wanted to win in San Diego, where he had played his entire career—it still left a bitter taste in many White Sox fans’ mouths.

When Peavy did finally put on a Sox jersey and take the mound, he was nothing short of marvelous. He went 3-0 in three starts while striking out 18 in 20 IP and only giving up 11 hits.

Everyone should be happy, right?


Peavy started the 2010 season out poorly—very, very poorly.

April/March 0-2 7.85 ERA 1.84 WHIP

May 4-2 5.09 ERA 1.10 WHIP

Those numbers from a guy who is making $15 million per year aren’t good enough, and the majority of White Sox nation started turning on the right-hander.

“He can’t get it done in the AL.”

“Have you seen the numbers Clayton Richard is putting up?”

“We gotta trade this guy even if we have to eat some of the salary.”

These critics were only further fueled when Peavy announced that if the White Sox were going into rebuilding mode, he wanted to be traded.

Now I was a huge fan of the White Sox getting Peavy, and I didn’t overreact to his struggling because a pitcher of his quality is only going to struggle for so long before he turns it around. But when I heard him say that about wanting to be traded…I was ready to join the angry mob with torches that already seemed to await his every start.

Peavy turned it around in June and posted a 3-2 record to go with a 1.75 ERA and a 0.91 WHIP.

Our Cy Young had arrived.

All was forgiven. I could listen to sports talk radio in Chicago again without getting frustrated by the constant stream of callers demanding the most talented pitcher on the White Sox be traded for a bag of balls.

Until he got hurt.

That seemed to reopen the illogical bottle of hatred that had finally been closed up.

Now as we approach spring training, there are still wisps of steam coming out of that bottle, as people that I generally regard as smart baseball fans swear to me that Peavy just doesn’t have what it takes to pitch in the AL Central. That if the Sox make the playoffs he won’t be of use in the postseason (he sports an 0-2 record with a 12.10 ERA in two postseason starts). That he’s a bust and the Sox should cut bait and use the money elsewhere.

It’s just like Cutler.

Maybe it’s just a Chicago thing, or maybe this goes on in other sport cities. It seems that in Chicago we treat the most talented of our players with the unreasonable expectations of a spoiled child on his or her birthday. Not everything is going to be perfect. Jay Cutler isn’t going to be Peyton Manning when it comes to handling the media, and Jake Peavy isn’t going to be Greg Maddux when it comes to being the ideal pitcher.

But these two athletes are at the top of their respective games when it comes to talent. Unfortunately for them, my fellow Chicago fans may never recognize that.

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Bobby Jenks Isn’t Completely Wrong in Criticizing The White Sox

The event I’ll remember Bobby Jenks for came during the 2005 World Series. Ozzie Guillen came out to the mound and made the motion for his closer. Ozzie didn’t just tap his right arm, he used both of his arms to signal that he wanted the “big guy”. The bullpen door opened and the young, rotund fireballer came sprinting towards the US Cellular field pitcher’s mound.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Now here we are, December 2010, and Ozzie Guillen might be using a much different and far less family appropriate sign to call Bobby Jenks.

After signing a two-year $12 million dollar deal with the Red Sox, Jenks had some comments about his former club.

“It was my first hope, and it hurt,” Jenks said of his Sox negotiations. “I felt I was a significant part of this organization and this team…I’m mad, but I’m not mad. I thought with the way I was part of the city and not just part of the team, they would make more of an effort to get me back. I wanted to be part of the White Sox a lot longer.”

Jenks went on to say “I’m looking forward to playing for a manager who knows how to run a bullpen.”

OK, where to start?

First off, Bobby Jenks has every right to be upset that the Sox had no intention of bringing him back. Why are so many White Sox fans offended by Jenks’ reaction?

Don’t we as fans want players to want to play for our team?

The White Sox gave Jenks a chance when seemingly no one else would. In return he performed very well overall and wanted to continue to be with the team and city he cared about. When that team/city spurned him he got upset. What’s wrong with that? Not a darn thing.

Now for Jenks’ second point about playing for a manager who knows how to run a bullpen, I’m not sure Bobby is accurately remembering last season.

Time and time again Ozzie trotted the “Large One” out there despite his struggles. When Jenks went down as well as Thornton, Ozzie made due with the bullpen equivalent of a t-shirt from the Dollar Store. Sure it’s technically a t-shirt but it’s lousy.

This isn’t to say that Ozzie is a perfect manager of his bullpen. More often than not I’ve been critical of how Ozzie handles his pitchers. But it seems odd for one of the guys that Ozzie showed the most faith in to now be critical of him as he heads out the door. Put another way, it would be like the Karate Kid telling Mi Miyagi “You never believed in me! I’ve proved you wrong!”

So while the big fella is out of line with the comments about Ozzie it seems to me he’s just lashing out at an easy target in the organization.

I hope White Sox fans can understand Jenks’ frustration and not hold it against him when he returns to the South Side in a Red Sox uniform. The hard throwing right hander was an integral part of a White Sox World Series championship and only wanted to be part of another one.

What more can we as fans ask for out of a player?

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MLB Free Agent Rumors: How Much Is Too Much for Paul Konerko?

Signing Adam Dunn was step one for the White Sox this off-season. However that signing doesn’t look nearly as good if the Sox don’t find a way to bring Paul Konerko back to the South Side.

The question is: how much is Paul Konerko worth? At what point do his salary demands become unrealistic for a first baseman who will be 35 by the time he reports to spring training next season?

The rumors surrounding Konerko’s negotiations with the White Sox and the Diamondbacks have him looking for $13 million for at least three years.

Keep in mind Paulie was making $12 million last season and like the rest of us hes only getting older. When you’re an everyday position player who’s value is partly based on his defense, reaching 35 is not a good thing.

Fielding aside, Konerko’s performance at the plate is hardly worth anything near $13 million.

Over the past four seasons Paulie has driven in over 100 RBIs ONE time.

Over the past four seasons Paulie has hit over .280 ONE time.

Over the past four seasons Paulie has slugged over .490 ONE time.

Can you guess which year he did these things? (hint: think contract year)

Now I’m not trying to say that Paul Konerko isn’t needed by the White Sox next season. He certainly is.

My point is that if he ties up $13 million of the White Sox payroll each of the next three to four season, he’ll need to be providing $13 million worth of production. What leads anyone to believe that last season is what he’ll do for the next three seasons when his production previous to that was consistently lower?

The Sox are not the Yankees. They can’t afford to pay a player based on his legacy with the club (ahem Derek Jeter). They need to get the best value out of every dollar they pay out and whatever contract they end up giving to Konerko needs to be based on his production as a whole, not what happened in a contract year.

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Chicago White Sox: Signing Dunn and Pierzynski Puts Youth Movement on Hold

When Kenny Williams and the White Sox locked up Adam Dunn for four years and $56 million as well as AJ Pierzynski for two years and $8 million, they admitted two things without actually having to say it.

1. Last years rotational DH was a mistake.

2. The youth movement isn’t happening this year.

The fact that Kenny opted not to commit to youngsters such as Tyler Flowers and Dayan Viciedo shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. The outspoken GM  has more often than not favored “older” answers to questions on his ball club.

When asked  what the Adam Dunn signing meant for the rest of this offseason Williams said, “I talked to [board chairman] Jerry [Reinsdorf] at the end of the year and usually there are four plans I give him. This year there were two. One was a young team and the other was we were going to add to the mix. We just didn’t want to be in the middle. If you’re going to be all in you go all in.”

Does “going all in” mean that Paul Konerko might be on his way back to US Cellular? It sure sounds that way.

Williams had said he was waiting to sign AJ until he knew it wouldn’t preclude the team from being able to afford Konerko. Well, AJ just signed. Which means either:

1. Konerko isn’t far behind in the line for the money train


2. Negotiations with Konerko are over and they know they can’t bring him back.

Kenny’s history says its option number one.

So What does this mean for the Sox going forward? Well it certainly address the biggest hole on last year’s team. A left handed bat who has hit more home runs since 2004 than anyone not named Albert Pujols is certainly an answer to a DH spot that saw more Mark Kotsay than I’ll ever be able to understand.

It also means that maybe a guy like Tyler Flowers might not be in the White Sox plans any longer. Kenny was outspoken about his desire to acquire Flowers years ago, but the young backstop had a poor year at the plate in AAA (.220 with 121 Ks), and with serious concerns about his ability to be a major league catcher the Sox may look elsewhere for a long term solution at catcher.

Kenny says the White Sox are going all in and as a White Sox fan I’m all for it. With the winter meetings on the horizon and a black hole at the end of the Sox bullpen, it will be interesting to see what Kenny has in store next.

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Chicago White Sox: Is Mark Buehrle the Weakest Link in the Rotation?

When it comes to likability, Mark Buehrle is at the top of the list.

From his sliding on the tarp during rain delays to the way errors never seem to bother him, Mark Buehrle is an easy guy to root for.

However, as we start to examine the 2011 White Sox and how they can be improved this offseason, the fan-friendly southpaw starts to stand out as a potential weakness in the rotation.

I know, I know. How dare I even suggest that the Buehrle is not the ace of the rotation?

Well, hear me out.

For his career, the 31-year-old lefty is 148-110 with a 3.85 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP.

Pretty solid numbers. Granted, they’re not “Ace” numbers, but they’re good enough for a middle-of-the-rotation starter.

My worry comes from a few factors, one of which is the fact that, in four out of the last six seasons, Buehlre has led the AL in hits allowed.

“But that’s not his fault; he throws so many innings!” Thank you, imaginary reader of this article.

While Buehrle does consistently pitch over 200 innings a season (he’s done it for 10 consecutive seasons), his league-leading number of hits allowed have come in recent seasons where his IP hasn’t exceeded 218.

For instance, this past season Buehrle gave up 246 hits in 210.1 IP. He ended up with a 1.40 WHIP.

That WHIP was the 75th best in all of baseball. Just below Randy Wells and just above Clayton Richard.

Having runners reach base at a high clip and not being a strikeout pitcher is a sure-fire recipe for giving up runs.

Speaking of strikeouts (or lack thereof), that is also a cause for concern. There’s no question that Buehrle has been successful throughout his career while not striking out many hitters (he struck out a career 149 in 2005, compared with 99 this season.)

However, as a finesse pitcher who gives up a lot of hits and plays in a hitter-friendly park, the lack of strikeouts is a concern going forward. When hitters are putting balls in play, sometimes those balls find a gap and or leave the yard.

As Buehrle continues to age, his stuff isn’t likely to get much better. At some point, it will begin to fall off.

What happens then? (Hint: WHIP + ERA will balloon.)

If Buehrle was only making a few million a year, this wouldn’t be so worrisome. But as a $14 million pitcher next season, a lot is expected of him in the rotation.

Looking at the other starters, I’m not sure he’s any better than Gavin Floyd or Edwin Jackson. That means, as the fifth-best starter, he’s eating up an important chunk of the payroll.

To be clear, I like Mark Buehrle and I like what he contributes as a veteran leader. But facts are facts, and at $14 million per season, he just might be the weakest part of the White Sox’s 2011 rotation.

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Why Isn’t Paul Konerko More Loved By White Sox Fans?

358 home runs and 1,127 RBIs over 12 seasons in a White Sox uniform ought to be enough for any player to be beloved by the entire White Sox Nation.

However, for reasons I can’t pin down, Paul Konerko is not revered universally by White Sox fans the way someone like Frank Thomas is.

With Konerko’s free agency on the horizon there has been a lot of talk about resigning the 34-year-old first baseman not because of his stellar 2010 season, rather because he is the “face of the White Sox.”

This got me to thinking about whether or not I’d miss Paulie if he signed elsewhere this winter. Sure I’d miss his reliability at first base and consistency at the plate. But can’t 29 HR and 96 RBI (his averages while on the South Side) be replaced? After all, that isn’t terribly far from the numbers that Carlos Quentin has produced at the plate. I’m not saying that Quentin is as good as Konerko – but he’s also not far off.

Aside from Konerko’s offensive ability there is also the fact that he’s been the White Sox captain for the past few seasons. How would his departure affect the clubhouse? 

First consider what lead him to become captain. When Paulie was asked by Ozzie to take over as team captain (there was no captain at the time) he initially declined. Konerko didn’t actually take on the captaincy until after Ozzie forced the title on him. The same way my mom forced me to wear glasses in my eighth grade yearbook photo. Thanks mom.

Now I don’t claim to know what kind of impact Paulie has in the clubhouse. But I wonder how effective he is as a captain when he never wanted that role. Sure he’d be valued in the clubhouse for his ability on the field. But as a leader?

Imagine going to work and all of a sudden your boss puts you in a position to pump up your coworkers daily, even though that’s not your strong suit. How well would you do?

As consistently solid as Konerko has been that doesn’t mean he’s irreplaceable. If the Sox were to acquire a young first baseman like Prince Fielder this offseason, that would more than take the place of Konerko.

It wouldn’t erase Konerko’s World Series grand slam or any of the other fond memories he’s formed in the mind’s of Sox fans. But it would be one of the preferable alternatives to bringing him back.

So, thanks for the memories Paulie. See you in Anaheim, Atlanta, or wherever else you end up.

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Chicago White Sox Don’t Plan on Rebuilding: Are They Wrong?

Before last night’s poor performance against the Red Sox, Kenny Williams assured fans that the White Sox would not be “rebuilding” next season.

“In our minds, it’s still with the mindset of trying to win. Once you start using the R word, you create a different kind of mindset. I think a part of what we’ve done here is making sure our players understand that whatever the composition of the team is, it’s designed to win.”

This is simultaneously one of the things I love about Williams and one of the things I loathe.

As a fan I love it because who doesn’t want their team to at least be competitive?

At the same time I loathe it because the majority of teams (everyone except the Yankees and Boston) have to rebuild at some point to be in a position to win a championship down the line. Put another way, if you refuse to cut ties with fan favorite veterans your team might not drop below third place but it’ll always be looking up at whoever is in first.

Going into next season the Sox are in a position to cut ties with guys like Paul Konerko and AJ Pierzynski. The fact of the matter is that they absolutely should. Both players currently project as Type A free agents. That means the Sox will get first round picks in return when those two sign elsewhere.

Getting younger doesn’t necessarily mean rebuilding, it means staying competitive for more than just the short term.

The tougher question for Kenny this winter will be whether or not to non-tender guys like Bobby Jenks and Tony Pena. Bother players have been useful, particularly Pena in his long relief role. However they might make more in arbitration than the White Sox want to pay them.

Before he left Kenny made sure to add “Jerry wants us to win. Figure it out and win. If somebody doesn’t want to be here and doesn’t want to go down the journey that we are on, then we have to make changes. But if everyone is on the same page and wants to win and get after it, let’s figure it out.”

Translation: Manny Ramirez won’t be in a White Sox uniform next season. I guess it’s ok to get rid of an old player as long as hes not Paul Konerko.

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Should the White Sox Keep Chris Sale in the Bullpen Next Season?

When the White Sox drafted Chris Sale with the 13th pick in the first round they knew they could use him in the bullpen immediately.

The reason the Sox were so sure of this was the fact that he already had two major league caliber pitches and a third one (his slider) that wasn’t far behind.

Clearly GM Kenny Williams and his scouts were right about Sale; he’s put up a 0.82 ERA since his call-up and has looked like Matt Thornton’s underfed twin.

Now the question is, do the White Sox send him to the minors at the beginning of next season and stretch him back out into a starting pitcher? In other words, should the Sox risk a sure thing in the bullpen and gamble on Sale translating just was well into a starter?

Sale’s scouting report coming out of college was:

“His fastball is a plus pitch that generally sits 91-94, touching 96, and he commands it with plus precision. He gets a lot of life on it due to his three-quarters release point, and it’s one of the best left-handed fastballs in this class. His best secondary pitch is a plus change up with excellent depth and fade, and it’s a major league-ready pitch. His third pitch is an average slider that isn’t commanded nearly as well, and there are concerns about his inability to spin a breaking ball.”

The part that jumps out at me in that report is “there are concerns about his inability to spin a breaking ball.” A hard throwing left hander like Sale, especially one with his release point, can get away with two very good pitches and one questionable one (just ask Matt Thornton).

A left-handed starter, on the other hand, won’t be anything more than a back of the rotation guy unless he has three pitches to get him through his days when one or two of his pitches aren’t working.

I don’t have the answer to whether or not the Sox should convert Sale back to a starter next season. Their top five starters are already in house, which would mean that Sale’s work would need to be done on the minor league level. Meanwhile, there would once again be a void in the bullpen where a guy like Sale has such immense value.

Neftali Feliz was in the bullpen for Texas last season but maintained his desire to be a starter. The Rangers stretched him out in spring training but ultimately started him back out in the bullpen with the intention of getting him into the rotation as soon as possible into the season.

Currently Feliz ranks fourth in the AL in saves with 34.

The point is that sometimes guys are suited to be shutdown guys out of the pen. Would Texas be playoff bound this season if they had sent Feliz down so he could be ready as a starter?

Will the Sox be playoff bound next season if they take Sale out of the bullpen?

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White Sox Reliever Matt Thornton Out With Injured Arm

The Chicago White Sox setup man and part time closer Matt Thornton has been shut down with a forearm injury.

“I’m not concerned with my overall health,” Thornton said. “I’m concerned about missing some time is what I’m concerned about.”

According to Thornton he’s been able to “warm-up through” the forearm pain all year, but now the pain has become too much. “Now warming up has turned into some pretty good soreness. I’ve got to take a step back”

This couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Sox. Going into today’s game Tony Pena is unavailable because he threw 90+ pitches, Thornton is unavailable because of injury, and J.J Putz has a bad knee.

That means the Sox only have an ineffective Bobby Jenks, an even more ineffective Scott Linebrink, and 21-year-old Chris Sale.

Oy vey.

Depending on Thornton’s condition, the Sox will be forced to make some kind of move to bring up a relief pitcher. On the bright side, September 1 is right around the corner and that means expanded rosters. However, by September 1 the Sox might not still be in playoff contention if their pitching doesn’t turn it around.

All year it has been the Twins and Sox 1-2 in bullpen ERA in the AL. Now the Twins have started to pull away as the top bullpen as the Sox are struggling.

Matt Thornton going down may be the straw that broke the camel’s back. Or it might be the point in the season where someone else in the pen steps up.

Side Note: The Sox team ERA is ninth in the AL for August. Conversely it’s their hitting that’s carrying the team. The South Siders lead the AL in batting average and runs, and are third in homers for August. Who would have thought that a lineup that routinely has Mark Kotsay in it could ever be clicking offensively. Not me.

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Is Ozzie Guillen to Blame for the White Sox’s 7-6 Loss to Minnesota?

As Jim Thome gave his post-game interview and wiped the shaving-cream from his face I felt as let down as an ugly girl at prom. I wanted to blame someone for this loss. Anyone. But as I gave it some thought I wasn’t sure exactly whom the blame should fall on.

The candidates appear to be:

  1. Ozzie Guillen
  2. Matt Thornton
  3. Bobby Jenks
  4. Kenny Williams
  5. Paul Konerko


So I’ll outline the suspects and you can decide for yourself. Because just like the ugly girl, I still want to go dancing, and if finding a scapegoat for this gut wrenching loss is the only way to move on then that’s what I’m going to do.

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