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About VAfan

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  1. Just putting this out there before the game today. I think Rodon is the best Sox starter, and has been since the beginning of the year. Even if he doesn't have top end velocity, I think he'll have by far the best game out starters have put up against Houston. Even with 90-92 velocity against the Reds, he gave up 1 marginal hit in 5 innings last time out. Instead of K's, he kept Luis Robert busy tracking down fly balls, none of which neared the fence. I hope the Sox find a way to keep him in the offseason. I think he'll want to stay.
  2. In their article "Here's Who's Going to (Maybe) Win the World Series", Fangraphs ranks the Sox's chances very highly. 18 of 27 pick the Sox over the Astros. 14 of 27 have the Sox playing the Rays. 13 of 27 have the Sox winning the AL, with the Rays getting the second most votes at 7 A Sox-Dodgers WS gets the most votes at 6. The Sox tie the Dodgers with 6 votes to win it all. Here's their separate Playoff Power Rankings, which puts the Sox behing the Dodgers and Giants, but ahead of everyone else in team quality. Here's how they projected baseball standings and WS odds prior to the season. At least they had the Sox on top of the AL Central. However, the pre-season staff predictions were not as sharp, with the Sox just edging the Twins, and the Rays well behind the favored Yankees. The pre-season AL ZiPs projections were also off, with the Twins projected to win the AL Central again. So, there you have it. Has Fangraphs righted the ship and seen things more clearly now? Of course, none of this matters at all. But with so few "experts" picking the Sox, it's interesting to see who really likes them.
  3. VAfan

    Anderson vs. Moncada

    I still think the Sox should explore moving Moncada back to 2B next season, and bringing up Jake Burger to play 3B. Moncada's slugging numbers are pretty low for a 3B player. If somehow he can return to his 2019 slugging numbers, I still make that move, because I think Burger will hit better than anyone else we have to play 2B. He only had 42 PAs this year, but slugged .474 with a 119 OPS+. Then, if Moncada returns to 2019 form, I'd hit Anderson, Moncada and Robert 1-3. I might do that anyway because Moncada scores better than he drives guys in -- 71 runs v 58 RBI. I mean, Leury Garcia has 54 RBI to Moncada's 58 in 140 fewer PAs.
  4. VAfan

    Why isn't Luis Robert hitting 3rd?

    Except he didn't hit 3rd at the beginning of the year. He played 56 games this year hitting 4th. I guess I should have read down the thread before posting this! As for the comments about TA, my main counter would be that TA hits differently in big games. Last year against Oakland, he was 9-14, far and away the best on the team. Look at the Field of Dreams game. Or look at the other day in the clinching game against Cleveland. He's the energetic table setter for this offense. Plus, he can run.
  5. Luis Robert is the White Sox best hitter at the moment. That is clear. In the last 7, 14, and 28 days, his OPS is well over 1.000. Even Yasmani Grandal is not in that stratosphere. So it's quite clear that Robert needs to hit in one of the top 3 spots in the order, if only to make sure he gets a 4th, 5th, or 6th AB in a game. But, the White Sox are not going to take Tim Anderson out of the leadoff spot. Tim isn't the Sox best hitter, but he went 9-14 in the Oakland series last year, saved the Field of Dreams game, had a monster game in the division clincher, and definitely seems to rise to the occasion. So the only real question is whether to hit Yoan Moncada 2nd and slide Robert to 3rd, or to have Robert hit 2nd and have Moncada slide to 6th. The value of Moncada as a hitter is that he takes pitches and gets on base. His overall .375 OBP is 3rd behind only Grandal (.414) and Robert (.387). So that suggests he should hit second. He also has speed, so he's not going to clog the bases between Anderson and Robert. Because he can take pitches and hit with 2 strikes, he has the patience that would allow Anderson to run if he's on. Robert, on the other hand, is super aggressive and swings more than just about anyone else in baseball. Moncada's splits also show he's done best batting 3rd or 5th, but his third best slot has been hitting 2nd. He's hit much worse in the 6 or 4 hole. Putting Moncada second also gives the Sox better L-R balance through the lineup. Anderson, Moncada, Robert, Abreu, Grandal, Jimenez, Sheets (or Garcia), Vaughn (or Engel if healthy), Garcia. That's R, S, R, R, S, R, L (or S), R, S. With Anderson, Moncada and Robert 1, 2, 3, the Sox could run more if they need to manufacture a run. TLR hasn't run them much this year so far to save wear and tear. He might unleash them in the postseason. This puts the fastest players at the top of the lineup, and if Garcia is 9th, that's 4 speed guys connected in the lineup. I think Robert should hit 3rd, and that should be his long-term slot on the White Sox. Abreu can still drive in runs as the clean up guy, or walk and let Grandal and Jimenez drive him in. What do you think?
  6. Tim Anderson is always going to set the tone for the Sox in big games. Last season he ended 3 for 33 in the regular season. Then went 9-14 in the 3 game series with Oakland. He was also the hero in the Field of Dreams game.
  7. I've been thinking about putting up a post with this title for some time. There isn't going to be a lot of analysis in it. I just want to put it out there that if the Sox are on their game, they can be the best team in baseball. The top-six in their lineup -- Anderson, Robert, Abreu, Grandal, Jimenez, and Moncada -- can play with anyone, including the Rays and Jays and anyone else if they are on. Right now, only Robert and Grandal are truly on. And their bottom 3 can still do damage, with Vaughn, Engel, Hernandez, Sheets, Garcia, Goodwin as options. They have power, can draw walks, get hits, can score with and without the long ball, and have speed that hasn't been fully utilized to save wear and tear. Their rotation includes 2 Cy Young favorites in Lynn and Rodon, and staff "ace" Lucas Giolito who seems like the kind of pitcher to come up big the bigger the game. Regardless of how they handle the 4th spot, having 3 aces should be enough. Assuming the bullpen holds up. They also have starters who have pitched some fantastic games in Cease and Lopez. The bullpen could also be lights out with Hendriks, Kimbrel (if he can get his act together), Bummer, Kopech, Crochet, and even Lopez. Maybe Cease if he's not used to start? Each of these groups -- offense, starters, and bullpen -- can be top notch. But all three can and have imploded. We just aren't going to know which version will take the field until October. It's gonna be a crapshoot.
  8. After last night's bullpen meltdown, the second one in 3 days for the Sox in Toronto, I started thinking about what the Sox might do to line up their pitching for the postseason. But let me first start with some caveats. The Sox aren't in the playoffs yet, even if the odds are overwhelming that they will get there. We don't know the seeding, or the matchup if/when we get there. We don't know the health of our pitchers at the time of the playoffs. Assuming all the pitchers are healthy, what are the issues? 1. Starting rotation The first issue is how to you line up the starters? Who goes 1-3, and who pitches 4 if/when you need a 4th? I think this is how I would line them up. Lance Lynn. Has lowest ERA. Been the most consistent. A workhorse. He may not be the one most likely to pitch a shutout if the opponent shuts down the Sox lineup, but Giolito has lost this role and Rodon is inexperienced. Carlos Rodon. If rested, he's the most likely to pitch a shutout. Good contrast to Lynn. Lucas Giolito. Was shaky early in the year, but seems to have found his groove the last couple games against the Rays and Jays. Dylan Cease. If the Sox don't win home field in the first round, but get to a 4th game, it would be at home, where Cease has been at his best. It would be nerve wracking to say the least if this was a do or die game, but Cease has much better stuff than Keuchel. 2. Most reliable bullpen arms The problem is that this cupboard is completely bare at the moment. The White Sox currently have ZERO reliable bullpen arms for a big game. EVERY pitcher in the bullpen has blown multiple opportunities this year. Some fans blame TLR for this, but the problem is with the pitchers themselves. Lack of control, especially of pitches they hope to get batters to swing at out of the zone, has been a problem. The Nationals won the World Series in a year when they had great starters, but a bullpen that was worse than what the Sox have. So their manager shortened the postseason group. He used Corbin, his third starter, in relief multiple times. He only used 3-4 other arms out of the pen. And his starters - Scherzer and Strassburg -- were horses who could work deep into games. For the Sox, despite the problems, here's how I would rank them. Hendriks. Has to be the closer, but doesn't have to close every game. He might need to be used for a 4-5 out save and not be available the next day. Kimbrel. Needs to get fixed in September. Sox need him as a reliable closer #2 and lockdown 8th inning guy. Kopech. Has the best stuff. I hope he can elevate his game in higher pressure situations. Field of Dreams game was a good example. Crochet. Has to be the prime lefty. Bummer is just too unreliable. Tepera. I forgot about him in my initial draft. He might actually be the one guy who hasn't blown games yet. That may be all you need. If you went with a 6th guy ... Lopez? He would be my long man at this point. He might have even been the 4th starter, but I think that bubble was burst his last start. Guys I wouldn't trust right now. Bummer. Maybe the most disappointing pitcher for the Sox. He has great stuff, but he can't control it and the league knows it. Batters only have to wait him out to draw walks, or to get behind and then groove a hittable pitch over the plate. If I were TLR, I would start using him a LOT with the idea that he needs steady use to get the feel of his pitches so he can control them. This would be my project over September. Everyone else could be left off the playoff roster. Keuchel. I'm sure the Sox will keep him on the roster, but to what purpose? Can he pitch effectively out of the bullpen? Can he be relied on to start? He often does pretty well the first one or two times through the lineup, but the other day he was shelled in the first inning. He seems like too much of a risk. Yet if he WERE on, he offers a huge contrast to the Sox' power arms and it could be very disruptive to an opponent's timing. Rios. Burr. Foster. Marshall (if/when he returns) Anyone else I'm forgetting. So that's my current take. Rotation of Lynn, Rodon, Giolito and Cease. Bullpen of Hendriks, Kimbrel, Kopech and Crochet, and Tepera, with Lopez as my 6th guy. The Sox could carry Bummer and Keuchel, but I likely wouldn't use them. I'd rather go long on position players than pitchers.
  9. VAfan


    I don't see how you can blame Tony LaRussa for a lot of the things you blame him for. Why were the 2005 Sox so good in 1-run games? You said it above -- they were a veteran team. They had top of the line starting staff, and the bullpen didn't blow leads. Why are the current Sox sloppy? Again, they have several rookies, and guys playing out of position. Their current main backup catcher has 2 passed balls a night. The 2005 Sox had Crede and Uribe and Iguchi. (BTW - the Cesar Hernandez throw to third last night reminded me of one Iguchi turned in the 2005 playoffs.) Is it poor bullpen management, or a bunch of relievers who are not reliable? Did Tony LaRussa ruin Jason Kimbrell, or is he just not pitching as well as he was earlier in the year? Did Tony cause Hendriks to tip his pitches against the Yankees? Is Tony the reason Bummer goes through stretches where he can't throw strikes? Tony uses his whole roster, and it has been to very good effect for the most part. Is that an "obsession" over platooning? ******** Having said this, I would agree with the premise that the 2021 Sox have a much bigger hill to climb than the 2005 Sox. The 2005 Sox went wire to wire, had the best record in baseball, and were the best team in baseball. The 2021 White Sox can beat anyone if they are on their game, but they could also lose to anyone else in the playoffs if they aren't.
  10. The Sox seem lethargic. Going through the motions. Biding time until the playoffs begin. I wouldn't read too much into this stretch, as I think the Sox will find their mojo before October rolls around. But I do think they are missing several guys who would add more energy to the club. 1. Billy Hamilton. He may be rah-rah in the dugout, but having him occasionally in the field adds juice to this team and gets other guys riled up. Also, if Billy hits, everyone is motivated to hit so they aren't upstaged by Billy. 2. Gavin Sheets. Much better to have a rookie trying to make it in MLB than a vet like Jake Lamb, at least in terms of energy. If Lamb was producing, this might be different. 3. Jake Burger. Same as for Sheets. With Burger, you can have a platoon with Sheets. Burger can give Moncada some rest at 3B, or DH if Eloy is in LF and Vaughn is in RF. The Sox don't have anyone else who can stack their team with right handers when Engel is out. And when we see Danny Mendick flailing in the batters box, don't you pine a bit for Leury Garcia to be back? A big part of the story for the Sox this year was how well the AAA guys filled in when Eloy and Robert were hurt. Now that they are back, I think the Sox have lost some of the edge that they had. We also miss Nick Madrigal's energy, though that's not coming back.
  11. Don't see how that's on TLR. He's not pitching the baseball.
  12. One last point here. As much as it would benefit the Sox to finish with the #1 seed -- because I think the Yankees are going to catch the Rays, and if the Sox are #1, the Yanks and Astros might have to face off in the first round -- I think LaRussa needs to give some of these guys more rest to get them fresh. Moncada and Abreu would be two guys I would give time off to, especially in September when we could bring back Burger and Sheets.
  13. Where's the 2019 Yoan Moncada? That guy has to be in there somewhere. If he doesn't improve, I believe more and more that he should be moved back to 2nd base and Jake Burger should be given a shot at 3B. He's going to be a very good hitter. We all like Vaughn. Burger could also be very good, and will give us the power bat that has seemingly left Moncada.
  14. Split G GS PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB GDP HBP SH SF IBB ROE BAbip tOPS+ sOPS+ Batting 2nd 14 14 60 50 8 11 2 1 1 7 0 0 10 12 .220 .350 .360 .710 18 2 0 0 0 0 1 .270 86 88 Batting 3rd 58 58 244 197 27 58 13 0 4 30 2 1 42 63 .294 .422 .421 .843 83 0 3 0 2 0 0 .409 121 117 Batting 4th 16 16 70 63 6 12 2 0 1 5 0 0 5 23 .190 .271 .270 .541 17 2 2 0 0 0 0 .282 42 42 Batting 5th 17 17 74 66 12 16 3 0 5 9 0 1 7 19 .242 .324 .515 .839 34 0 1 0 0 1 0 .262 118 126 Batting 6th 6 6 24 20 3 4 0 0 0 0 1 0 3 8 .200 .333 .200 .533 4 0 1 0 0 0 0 .333 41 Here's the data, courtesy of Baseball Reference splits for this year. He's hit for more power 5th, but his best spot is ahead of Abreu, where he put up an .843 OPS. This is where his patience as a hitter drawing walks adds the most benefit. That shows him 3rd, but that was back when there was no Jimenez in the lineup and Abreu could hit cleanup.
  15. The White Sox would seem to have a shutdown bullpen that should be the envy of baseball. They have two All-Star closers in Liam Hendriks and Craig Kimbrel. They have a lefty who can crank it up into the high 90s in Garrett Crochet. They have another lefty who has an unhittable slider in Aaron Bummer. They have a future TOR starter who can hit 100 mph on his fastballs and then break off some wicked breaking pitches in Michael Kopech They have a journeyman reliever in Ryan Tepera. And they also have former starter long man/spot starter who's having the best stretch of his career in Reynaldo Lopez. Then they have Jose Ruiz, Ryan Burr, and sometimes Matt Foster. Still injured is Evan Marshall. Yet, from game to game, do Tony LaRussa and Ethan Katz know what they are getting when they call these guys in from the bullpen? We all know about Hendriks twin meltdowns against the Yankees. Kimbrell also gave up a HR to the Yanks that put the Sox behind in the 8th inning of another game. Kimbrell also came in with a 4-2 lead in the 8th and threw 7 balls in a row last night. Aaron Bummer can be devastating, but also seems to have stretches where he can't locate his pitches. Michael Kopech seems dominant, but gave up a 2-run HR to Matt Olson that lost the series finale to the As. You get the picture. My question -- is this volatility from game-to-game unusual for such a highly touted group? Why can't they be like the Royals pen that locked down every 7th-8th and 9th inning in their World Series run? What do you think? I'm hoping they figure it out over the next month+ going into October. One benefit then is the Sox could move another starter into the pen, and they can likely shorten the list of relievers they might need. But that's not going to solve the ups and downs of their top guys. They really need their "A" list pitchers to pitch like "A" list pitchers. The 2005 Sox seemed to have a much easier job of it. Just rely on your starters to carry the load. They won the ALCS with 2/3 of one inning pitched by someone out of the bullpen! Crazy. This year, how far this team goes may depend on that bullpen locking down leads or keeping the Sox close enough for a late game strike of their own. Sorting that out is going to be a challenging task.