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About VAfan

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  1. I found my 17-page opus, 12 pages of which were almost a play-by-play of the playoffs. I could go into a lot, but I'll only add a few things I had forgotten. 1. The Sox had the lead in their first 37 games. 2. Jon Garland started the season 8-0. El Duque started 8-1. 3. Scott Podsednik gets voted to the All-Star team as the last guy by the fans. Mark Buehle starts and gets the win, securing home field for the WS. 4. Our 15-game lead over Cleveland got down to 1-1/2 games near the end of the year (after Cleveland went 24-4 in one stretch), but the Sox were saved by a clutch Joe Crede HR, and a Cleveland loss to KC when their outfielder lost a ball in the sun. 5. Freddie Garcia - Mr. Day Game and Mr. Road Win - wins the AL Central clinching game in Detroit, the ALDS clinching game in Boston, and the WS clinching win in Houston. 6. The Sox have 5-run rallies in game two against Boston and game 3 against Houston to take 5-4 leads, both times in the 5th inning. 7. Paul Konerko hit the biggest HR in Sox history - a grand slam in the 7th inning of the second game of the WS to take a 6-4 lead. But it was eclipsed 2 innings later when Scotty Pods hit a walk-off HR (he hit no HR in the regular season, but a 3-run bomb in the first game against Boston) off Brad Lidge, the Houston closer, after Houston had tied the game at 6. 8. In game 3 against Houston - both the longest in WS history by time, and tied for the longest by innings - Jason Lane got a hit for the Astros in the 8th to tie the game. It would be the last hit by an Astro even though 29 more Astros would come to the plate in that game! 9. Geoff Blum, who had 1 HR for the Sox in 95 bats after being acquired at the trade deadline - one of the Group 4 scrubs - hit the winning HR for the Sox in that game. The Sox also got an insurance run on a bases loaded walk by Chris Widger that inning, another Group 4 scrub. Pablo Ozuna stole second and scored the winning run against the Angels in game 2 of the ALCS. And Willie Harris pinch hit and later scored the only run in the 1-0 WS clincher. Now, let the 2020 White Sox create some new memories!!
  2. SOX HAIKUS from the middle of the 2005 season Ya gotta believe In this torrid White Sox team To go all the way! Great Ozzie man say Pitching and defense the way To World Series play Lee for Podsednik? Add AJ and El Duque Play Ozzie ball. Win! Little Boat afloat Sailing on to yonder shore Where White Sox are Champs Kenny man, he say Power ball is not the way Go-go Sox are best Garland, Buehrle pitch Fifteen and one and counting Sox duo kick a$$! Big Frank coming back Adds thunder to Sox attack Best team gets better Nineteen seventeen? White Sox fans can't wait to see Champs at Comiskey Thirty-fifth and Shields U.S. Cellular team fields Baseball's supreme team U.S. Cellular, Not Wrigley Field, is home to Chicago's best team McCarthy's the man Filling in for El Duque To mow the Cubs down All the way this year Eighty-eight year jinx over White Sox are World Champs Bosox won last year Now it's time for the ChiSox To wear Series crown
  3. I haven't pulled up my 17-page opus, but here's one that came back to me for Haikus. Great Ozzie man say Pitching and defense the way To World Series play! This was written early in the season, mind you. I wrote at least a dozen more. They were super fun to write. Another tidbit about 2005. Wire to wire. In first place from the first game to the last.
  4. Here's another little tidbit from that 2005 season. 1st game of the season won 1-0 by the Sox. 1st game after the All-Star break won 1-0 by the Sox. Last game of the World Series won 1-0 by the Sox. After the season was over, I typed out 17 single-spaced pages of all the amazing things I remembered from that year to preserve. If this thread goes on long enough, I'll pull out a few more tidbits, including some of the Haikus that we wrote on this site that year.
  5. The Sox finished the season and playoffs 16-1. Two 8-game winning streaks separated by the 3-2 loss to the Angels in the opener of the ALCS.
  6. With the Athletic articles about Frank Thomas making #74 on their 100 greatest list, and another article by James Fegan on Paul Konerko, it got me taking a trip down memory lane to that magical 2005 season. Frank started only 28 games, but hit 12 HRs and drove in 26 for a nice little burst early in that season. Paulie hit 5 HRs that postseason, including first inning homers against the Angels, and the grand slam that won game 2 of the World Series. But the record that will never be matched or broken from that postseason at any point - regular or postseason - was the 4 complete game wins in a row by the Sox' starters in the ALCS against the Angels. Mark Buehrle started it off with a 9-inning gem against the Angels, holding them to 1 run on 5 hits. The Sox won it in the bottom of the ninth on the infamous dropped third strike to AJ, who was then pinch run for by Pablo Ozuna, who stole second, and scored on a Joe Crede double into the left field corner. Buehrle was set to come out for the 10th, but it wasn't needed. Jon Garland was next up in Anaheim, because he hadn't been needed in the Boston series. He beat Jon Lackey 5-2, helped by a 2-run Konerko HR in the first. The Sox were up 5-0 when Garland gave up 2 in the 6th, but he finished out the game with a 4-hitter. Freddie Garcia was next up in Anaheim. Once again, Konerko came through with a HR in the first, this time a 3-run job, launching the Sox to an 8-2 win. The Angels managed 6 hits in this one. Jose Contreras, who had lost the opener 3-2 when he tried to start a double play instead of getting Kennedy at home plate, was not to be outdone. He actually fell behind 3-2 in the 5th, but the Sox rallied with 4 runs over the last 3 innings for a 6-3 win. The Angels managed 5 hits. Total - 4 consecutive complete game wins. Gave up 1, 2, 2, and 3 runs. 5, 4, 6, and 5 hits. Here was the Angels' hitting for the series (including game 1) - .177/.200/.266/.466. That's ridiculous!! It's quite clear that there will never again be 4 complete games in a row at any point in a season in baseball, much less the postseason against a team that won 95 games. Did the 2019 postseason have even a single complete game? Oh, and how about these innings totals for 2005 out of the Sox' starters. Buehle - 236.2 Garcia - 228 Garland - 221 Contreras - 204 The 2019 Sox didn't have anyone reach 200 innings. Nova 187, Lopez 184, Giolito 176. My memory of this is that Ozzie liked his starters to go 100 pitches each game that season, win or lose. It paid off well in the end.
  7. VAfan

    Frank Thomas; Baseball's 74th greatest player (The Athletic)

    Agreed that Frank is too low. But if you look at his stats, he wasn't the same player after he turned 30. While his OPS was INSANE from his rookie season through his age 29 season, he cracked 1.000 in OPS only once after that, in his 32nd year. https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/t/thomafr04.shtml If you only looked at that 7-year run, Frank was a top 5 hitter of ALL TIME. But injuries diminished his greatness in the latter half of his career. It was a little ironic the Sox would win the World Series in a year where he started only 28 games. But he still chipped in 12 HRs and 26 RBI. Clearly the best player the White Sox have ever had.
  8. How much more control of Rodon do the Sox have? Has their control been extended by his long stints on the DL?
  9. With the extension for Luis Robert, we now know all but the last bench players for the 2020 White Sox, and it's an impressive group. The young studs: Luis Robert, Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez, Tim Anderson, Nomar Mazara, and Nick Madrigal The elder statesmen: Yasmani Grandal, Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Abreu, James McCann, and Leury Garcia The subs: Adam Engel, Danny Mendick This team is going to score a lot of runs. The real question is the pitching. Lucas Giolito can't be the only dominant starter if the team wants to win the division and compete in the playoffs. Dallas Keuchel will eat innings and keep the team in games, but isn't a dominant post-season starter any longer. Gio Gonzalez is meant to just stabilize the end of the rotation. The Sox need something out of Reynaldo Lopez, Dylan Cease, Michael Kopech, and Carlos Rodon. At least one of those guys - most likely Kopech - needs to join Giolito at the front of the rotation. And the rest of the guys need to shave their ERAs by more than a run per game. As for the bullpen, this is now the most fluid part of the team. With winning will come much higher expectations and pressure. Will they be up to it, or will they implode like the Nationals bullpen did? More arms are needed before the season begins, and reinforcements will be needed before it ends. If the Sox want to win the AL Central, their offense looks good enough. Just stay healthy. The pitching is the biggest variable.
  10. VAfan

    Lead-off Man

    Tim Anderson hit lead off 4 games last year, hit .474 (6 for 19) with 2 doubles and a HR. OPS of 1.211. His second best slot was 6th, where in 12 games he hit .426 with OPS of 1.161. He mostly hit 2nd (65 games) or 7th (35 games), where he basically hit his seasonal averages. Here's one little tidbit. As the first batter of an inning, with 119 PAs, his slash line was .455/.470/.714/1.184. Based on those numbers, I would hit him lead off to begin the season. He also led the team with 17 SBs, so there's that. Even though he only walked 15 times, you have to see what he can do at the top of the lineup. If he fails, the Sox have options. Luis Robert would tend to be my pick to lead off once he's established. He didn't walk much either in the minors. 11 walks in 202 ABs in AAA. But the OBP was .341. And he can steal bases. But the key is that he's got power to drive in the bottom of the order guys, and he'll eventually be one of your best hitters, so give him the extra ABs. Nick Madrigal doesn't strike out, but that doesn't make him a great lead off batter. It makes him a great batter behind someone with speed who is on base, because you can hit and run, and he can get deep into counts without fear of striking out. This allows more pitches to steal a base. Madrigal posted a .398 OBP in AAA over 28 games. That's certainly excellent. But his OPS is .792 compared to Robert's .974. Who do you want having more ABs? Robert or Madrigal? It's no contest. Given this, here's my initial lineup to start the season, but only until Robert shows he's ready to hit better than Anderson. 1. R - Anderson 2, SW - Moncada 3. R - Abreu (whether he deserves to be here or not, this is where Renteria is going to keep him) 4. R - Jimenez (or could be Encarnacion). This is based off his ridiculous September when he mashed .340/.383/.710/1.093 5. SW - Grandal - he might hit 4th, but I keep him here for better R/L balance 6. R - Encarnacion (he hit better than Abreu last year - could be 3rd, 4th, or 6th) 7. L - Mazara (against lefties, I put Robert here, with Mazara's platoon partner 8th) 8. R - Robert - only until he shows he's ready to hit major league pitching, then he trades places with Tim Anderson 9. R - Madrigal - even though he should have a good OBP, his OPS will likely be the lowest in this lineup. This allows him to hit behind a speed guy where his bat control should have extra value. And if he gets on, he's poised to be driven in by the top of the lineup. The reason I put 8, 9 and 1 together is those are the 3 fastest players in the lineup, so you can play speed games with them. You can also play the hit-and-run game at the bottom of the lineup with Madrigal, and with either Anderson or Robert in the 8 hole, you can steal and have them score with a single by Madrigal.
  11. VAfan

    How good do YOU think we can be next season?

    Wow, there is some real optimism here. To win the division, or even to make the playoffs as a wild card, a few things will have to happen. 1. Starting pitching will need to take a huge leap forward. We all expect Giolito to repeat, or even get better. Keuchel and Gonzalez have been pretty reliable, so we can likely expect normal years out of them. After that, Lopez and Cease need to take leaps forward, or at least one of them does if Kopech steps up when he can return. Rodon will also most likely be needed for depth because you never get through a season with 6 starters. 2. The bullpen will need to be stronger. There will a lot more games where we will need our A pitchers to hold a lead or stay close, and fewer B games where we're so far behind it doesn't matter what the pen does. That can burn a pen out quickly if it's not deep enough or managed well enough. Just ask the Nationals. We all expect the Sox to make additions here. 3. Robert will need to hit the ground running. He's much more important to the offense than Madrigal, who is going to hit from the get go, but doesn't have the power to change a game. It would be great if he signed an extension and started Opening Day. What would hurt is if he has the growing pains Moncada had as a rookie. 4. We need pretty good health. Every team gets injuries, and we have more depth to cover than we did last year. But we can't lose one or more of our mashers or key starters for an extended period. 5. Renteria has to manage the team he has, with appropriate adjustments for the players hitting and pitching skills. On the offensive side, that likely means less bunting, for example. For the pitching, managing the bullpen will be critical. Managers do make a difference. I'm not going to predict a W-L number. But I think the team will have a shot at making the postseason.
  12. I've never thought of myself as a fair weather fan, but not living in or around Chicago has made it much easier to find other things to do during baseball season. I could have become a Nats fan, but I haven't, even though I did root for them on their World Series run. Moreover, my son is a Sox fan. I just hope he doesn't have to wait as long for another championship.
  13. I've been a Sox fan since 1970 (permanently left the Cubs after the 1969 collapse). I grew up in the Chicago area (Evanston), but I haven't lived in the Chicago area since I left to go to college. Lived 10 years out in Washington State, and since the mid-1980s in Northern Virginia. Thus my blog name VAfan. I was all-in on the Sox for many years, hanging on their every move year after year. That was true up through the glorious World Series year, which came almost out of nowhere. What a magical run 2005 was. (I wrote a 17-page recap of that season so I'd always remember it.) We still have the best post-season run of any team in the current format, with only 1 setback, a 3-2 loss to the Angels we might have won had Contreras thrown home to get the lead runner instead of trying for an unsuccessful DP. That run was the difference. I stayed with the Sox as they tried to get back to the World Series, but kept falling short. Once the World Series players left, the Sox still had interesting guys like Chris Sale, Adam Eaton, and Jose Quintana. But it wasn't enough, and the disastrous attempt to be relevant with Jeff Samardzija (who cost us Marcus Semien), Todd Frazier, Melky Cabrera, and David Robertson led the team to blow it up and start over (but not before trading Fernando Tatis, Jr. for James Shields!!). It was around that point that I stopped paying much attention. Oh, I knew the roster for the most part, and noticed who they traded for and who they drafted high. And my son and I would usually go see the Sox for a game when they came to Baltimore or DC, but otherwise I didn't watch the futile last several years. This year is going to be different. I'm back to being interested in the team again. All the moves may turn out for naught, just like they did in 2015. I don't think we're World Series contenders by any means. And even making the playoffs is going to require a lot of things to go right. But the team should be interesting again. They aren't stocking their lineup with 4-5 below-replacement players any more, waiting on their young guys to be ready. The young guys are ready, or at least ready to debut on the major league stage. I'm excited to see Luis Robert and Nick Madrigal. I'm eager for Yoan Moncada to take another step forward. I wanted to see Zach Collins, but I'm fine waiting for him while Edwin Encarnacion hits bombs. It was great to see Lucas Giolito make such strides last year. Can Reynaldo Lopez and Dylan Cease make their own leaps forward? What do Michael Kopech and Carlos Rodon have to offer? Is there anyone else on the farm who is going to emerge this year or next and make an impact? I think it was smart for the front office to add guys to the young core to try to be relevant in 2020, even if there is a need for a bigger push in 2021.The key was that the team didn't surrender anything but short-term money to do so. No prospects, and no long-term contracts they will be sorry for. (Abreu's renewal might be a year too long and too expensive, but he's a clubhouse leader who might help keep the other guys around.) Dallas Keuchel is a fighter who can win on a Sox team with the new lineup we're likely to see. Gio Gonzalez will walk way too many guys, but he's a great back-of-the-rotation addition to hold the fort while Kopech and Rodon come back from injuries. Nomar Mazara is still super young, but has 4 years of experience and some upside. We needed lefty bats and he added one. We can add a platoon partner, or just use Leury Garcia and Adam Engel. The biggest addition was Yasmani Grandal, who turns catching into a strong point. His pitch framing should help corner nibblers Keuchel and Gonzalez, but also the young guys. His switch hitting adds another lefty bat. The last addition, so far, was Encarnacion, who struck me as superfluous at first blush, but now seems like a no-brainer. This is a HR hitting league, and Encarnacion has the potential, with all the other additions, to move the Sox from 6th worst (182 HRs) in baseball to top 6 (254 HRs - Steamer estimate). All these guys are role players, but they can all play above-average roles. In baseball, it's important to not have weak links, in the lineup, the rotation, and the bullpen. The new lineup may not have ANY weak links once Robert and Madrigal are up to speed. That doesn't mean they'll have superstars throughout, but they also won't have any negative WAR players like they used to have in multiples. The rotation still has Lopez and Cease as big question marks, but they are young players with upside. And there are reinforcements behind them who are working back from injury. The bullpen has some weak links, but everyone expects the Sox to add here before the season starts. And we may have arms in the minors who could eventually help. If they can find a synergy and get on a roll, who knows where the team might go. In baseball, it is sometimes the oddest things that can make a difference. Who'd have thought Gerardo Parra, the "baby shark", could have helped catapult the Nationals to a World Series title? He arrived last year at their 19-31 lowest moment, and completely changed the energy for the team. Sure, the Nats had a bunch of great players, but they weren't going anywhere until Parra loosened them up and got them playing up to their potential. Who knows how the 2020 White Sox will play together? I don't. But I do know that these moves have gotten a 50-year fan like me to get interested in White Sox baseball again. And my son along with me. Go SOX!!
  14. VAfan

    So What Happens to Zack Collins?

    Keep Collins, as he has longer term value than McCann. Keep McCann for this year, because Collins could use more experience catching before being thrust into the full-time backup catching role. Both have more value to the Sox than they are likely to bring back in trade, so there is no reason not to keep both. The Sox can sign FA bullpen arm(s), and don't need trade chips to acquire someone. If Grandall or McCann or EE or even Abreu get hurt, Collins will get some playing time in the majors. But until then, he should be getting starting time in AAA. He doesn't have to prove he can hit in AAA, but he can still improve his catching. Sox want to contend in 2020, but they also want to keep the cupboard stocked. Over on South Side Sox, they are running a prospect poll. Collins comes in as the 6th best prospect. But 3 of those ahead of him are going to be in the majors - Robert, Madrigal, and Kopech. That leaves only Vaughn and Dunning ahead of him. Nothing wrong in having quality depth getting experience at AAA.
  15. No need to jettison Collins. He may only have a small role this year, but he still has potential that could be brought along. Super cheap. No reason to dump him. Abreu's and EE aren't playing more than 120-25 games, so the Sox can use Grandal and Collins to spell them. And if Grandal is going to be used as a DH some of the time, Renteria is going to want a backup catcher on the bench.