Thursday, January 19, 2006

Moving On

I'm still working on a few things, but Black Sox Blog has a new home. You can now find me at

http://www.blacksoxblog.com

My new RSS feed is at

http://www.blacksoxblog.com/?feed=rss2

Kindly change your bookmarks and links.

Also, be sure to check out these great new blogs

Baseball's Savior
Tom Seaver Fan Club
The Gas House Gang

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Chicago White Sox Season Lookback - 1906

Record - 93-58, Finished First Place in the American League
Pythagorean Record - 90-61

Starters

Hitters (BA/OBP/SLG)

C - Billy Sullivan (.214/.262/.297)
1b - Jiggs Donahue (.257/.320/.318)
2b - Frank Isbell (.279/.324/.352)
3b - Lee Tannehill (.183/.254/.220)
SS - George Davis (.277/.338/.355)
LF - Ed Hahn (.227/.335/.262)
CF - Fielder Jones (.230/.346/.302)
RF - Bill O'Neill (.248/.301/.276)

Team Leaders

Homeruns - Billy Sullivan and Fielder Jones (2)
Batting Average - Frank Isbell (.279)
OPS - George Davis (.693)
Best Fielder - Fielder Jones (26 Fielding Runs Above Average)

Pitchers (IP/W/ERA)

SP - Frank Owen (293/22/2.33)
SP - Ed Walsh (278.3/17/1.88)
SP - Nick Altrock (287.7/20/2.06)
SP - Doc White (219.3/18/1.52)
SP - Frank Smith (122/5/3.39)
SP - Roy Patterson (142/10/2.09)

Team Leaders

Wins - Frank Owen (22)
ERA - Doc White (1.52)
Strikeouts - Ed Walsh (171)

The Hitless Wonders. The Chicago White Sox were dead last in hitting (.230) and Slugging (.286) in 1906. The were also dead last in homeruns (7) and hits (1,133). What this team was good at was getting men on base (453 walks led the league by far, with the next closest being 385) and move those men over (they led the league in sacrafice hits with 226 and were third in stolen bases with 214). Ozzie Guillen would have been proud.

When you combine those hitting stats with one of the best pitching staffs in the league, you get a world championship. All seven regulars in the rotation were back from 1905 and they combined for a 2.13 ERA, which was second in the league (the Cleveland Naps had a 2.09 ERA). The White Sox led the league with 32 shutouts so in over a third of their wins, the White Sox offense only needed to come up with a single run. The White Sox staff was also stingy with giving up walks. The 255 they allowed led the league, and their 1.067 WHIP was second by a razor thing margin to the St. Louis Brown's 1.065.

Things didn't start out easily for the team. On June 1, the team was 15-20 and in sixth place in the American League. Even near the end of July things looked grim. After a four game losing streak, the team was 46-42 on July 25 and in fourth place, nine games back of the first place Philadelphia Athletics.

Then they caught fire. From August 2 to Auguest 23, the White Sox won nineteen straight games. Prior to an August 1 loss, they had won four straight so that's 23 out of 24 games. By the end of that winnings streak, they had pushed themselves to a five and a half game lead in the American League. They faltered in the beeginning of September and actually gave up first place to the New York Giants. Later in the month, the White Sox dropped three of four to the Giants to drop a game back but they won nine of their next ten games and locked up the pennant.

On offense, Fielder Jones set the tone. His 82 walks were second in the league and he was also sixth in the league with 30 sac. hits. He was also the team's best fielder and roamed centerfield in 144 of the White Sox 151 games. Shortstop George Davis led the team with 32 extra base hits (most of those doubles) and a .355 slugging percentage. Near the end of a Hall of Fame career, Davis drove in a team high 80 runs that was the third best in the American League.

On the mound, it was a team effort similar to 2005. Frank Owen was the workhorse and led the team with 22 wins and 293 innings, but it was Ed Walsh who led the team and the American League with ten shutouts It was the first great season for Ed Walsh, a future Hall of Famer who's best known for having the all time best ERA (1.82). And while it was Doc White who led the team and the league in ERA (1.52) and WHIP (.903), it was Nick Altrock who ate up almost as many innings as Frank Owen and won 20 games.

I could go on but that's why this team deserves further examination. For the rest of the off-season, I'm going to pick out and do season bio's on some of the top 1906 White Sox leading up to the season. Then in April, I'm going to follow the team day by day in a format similar to Tigerblog's 1984 Tigers and 1935 Tigers diary. It should be a fun and interesting ride.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

White Sox Look Stronger in 2006

I was going to take a look at what I thought would be the White Sox anticipated 2006 lineup, but Winning Ugly beat me to the punch (and did a much nicer job then I would have). The only difference I have is that Tad Iguchi will probably bat second and Juan Uribe will probably hit seventh or lower. Of course time will tell. Here's some additional thoughts.

Out lineup has a lot more punch then it did last year. At least it should. You'd hope Jermaine Dye and Paul Konerko could replicate what they did last year with the wild card being Jim Thome. Personally, I think Thome is going to hit 40 homeruns this coming year. Maybe 50. He's had plenty of time to rest his injuries and you'd hope we did our due diligence when the physical happened. Last year, I predicted a breakout season for Joe Crede and I was wrong. This year he'll turn 28, which is magical in some ways (most players breakout right around 28) so I'm hoping Crede can put it together and finally hit 30 dingers.

The other thing that impresses me is the rotation which is essentially six deep. Brandon McCarthy will probably be the odd man out. Having Jose Contreras as essentially your fifth best starter isn't too shabby. Out of the bullpen, we'll have Bobby Jenks for an entire season with Dustin Hermanson and Cliff Politte as setup men. McCarthy will be a spot starter/long relief and hopefully Guillen will get him as many innings as he gave Luis Vizcaino (70) last year.

In conclusion, while the White Sox won't be the best offensive team, they'll at least be in the top half (as opposed to the bottom half last year). Their pitching will be the best in the American League. I see them repeating in the AL Central.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

White Sox Sign Mackowiak to Two Year Deal

The White Sox signed Rob Mackowiak to a two year, $5.3 million deal. In the process, they'll avoid salary arbitration with the utility infielder.

Mackowiak came over from the Pirates in a trade for Damasco Marte. Not a horrible move because Mackowiak can shore up the infield and he's a solid left handed bat. In 2004, he hit 17 homeruns and in 2005, he played every position except shortstop, catcher and pitcher. So we have a guy who can fill in anywhere and our offense won't suffer too terribly.

White Sox Player Retrospective - Frank Thomas 1991

If there was any question that Frank Thomas was a star in the making, his first full season ibn 1991 put any of those to rest. Frank Thomas got off to a rough start (.200 batting average in his first ten games) but he then hit homeruns in back to back games and never looked back. By the end of the season, he'd rack up numbers that would garner him a third place finish for the Most Valuable Player behind the eventual winner, Cal Ripken, Jr. and slugging first basemen (and first player to hit 50 homeruns in fourteen years) Cecil Fielder.

Frank Thomas finished first in the league in walks (138), OBP (.453) and OPS (1.006). He finished ninth in hitting (.318) and fourth in slugging (.553). His 32 homeruns put him fifth in the league.

Thomas also had some monster games. He had his first multi-homerun game on July 15. On May 23, he went two for five with five RBIs and on June 14 he went four for five with two doubles, a homerun, two runs and five RBIs. His third "five RBI" game of the season came on June 24 in which he went two for four with a double a homerun and five RBIs.

Here's a look at the numbers...

Games 158
AB 559
Runs 104
Hits 178
Doubles 31
Triples 2
Homeruns 32
Walks 138
Strikeouts 112
Stolen Bases 1
Caught Stealing 2
BA .318
OBA .453
SLG% .553
OPS 1.006
RC 142
RCAA 75
RCAP 64
RC/G 9.47
ISO .234

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Jon Garland Cashes in on Career Year

The White Sox inked Jon Garland for the next three years and avoided salary arbitration in the process. The three year, $29 million deal is back loaded as he'll earn $7 million next year, $10 million in 2007 and then $12 million in 2008.

There's no doubt Garland had a monster year. Garland had 24 Runs Saved Above Average (RSAA) last year and his career mark is only 26. He had never won more then 12 games in a season and this year he netted 18. What's interesting is, his strikeout rate was actually down slightly, and it's been continually but slowly going down since 2002. Most of his success can be derived from a spike down in his walk rate. While it's come down for each of the six years he's been in the bigs, it was always above 3.00 walks per nine innings. Last year he walked 1.91 per nine innings.

So if Garland pitches like he did in 2005, the White Sox got a bargain. If that walk rate comes back up to 2.50 or even 3.00, then you might see Garland drop back to the 13-11 type of record he's had in the past.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Chicago White Sox Season Lookback - 1905

Record - 92-60, Finished Second Place in the American League
Pythagorean Record - 97-55

Starters (Note - I couldn't find a set lineup, so I'm listing the players who got the most time at their respective positions)

Hitters (BA/OBP/SLG)

C - Billy Sullivan (.201/.239/.269)
1b - Jiggs Donahue (.287/.346/.349)
2b - Gus Dundon (.192/.248/.228)
3b - Lee Tannehill (.200/.274/.244)
SS - George Davis (.278/.353/.340)
LF - Nixey Callahan (.272/.336/.368)
CF - Fielder Jones (.245/.335/.309)
RF - Danny Green (.243/.345/.309)

Team Leaders

Homeruns - Billy Sullivan, Fielder Jones and Frank Isbell (2)
Batting Average - Frank Isbell (.296)
OPS - Frank Isbell (.775)
Best Fielder - Fielder Jones (28 Fielding Runs Above Average)

Pitchers (IP/W/ERA)

SP - Frank Owen (334/21/2.10)
SP - Nick Altrock (315.7/23/1.88)
SP - Doc White (260.3/17/1.76)
SP - Frank Smith (291.7/19/2.13)
SP - Ed Walsh (136.7/8/2.17)
SP - Roy Patterson (88.7/4/1.83)

Team Leaders

Wins - Nick Altrock(23)
ERA - Doc White (2.61)
Strikeouts - Frank Smith (171)

You could tell the 1905 White Sox were close to greatness and in some ways, they resemble the 2005 White Sox. They relied on pitching while they had a mediocre offense, and they came really close to winning the American League pennant in 1905. They won as many games as the first place Philadelphia A's but they lost four more. I'm not sure why there's such a discrepency in the number of games, but back then, the post season usually started at a set date so not all rain outs were made up. In fact, there were seasons where this screwed over some teams (look at the 1935 Yankees) and it might have happened in 1905 to the Sox. What I don't understand is, why the Sox played so many more games then everyone else in the American League. I'll try to do my homework and I'll let you what I find.

This team was all about pitching. They led the league in ERA with a stellar 1.99 mark. Four White Sox were amongst the top ten in the American League in ERA and three were in the top ten in WHIP. The team also gave up less homeruns (11) then any other team in the league. The White Sox staff had 131 complete games in 158 starts, which was third in the league.

Nick Altrock had such an impressive season that he probably would have finished second in the Cy Young voting if the award existed (the A's Hall of Fame pitcher Rube Waddell led the league in most pitching categories in 1905 so he would have won the award). He was third in the league in wins (23), fifth in ERA (1.88) and seventh in WHIP (1.068). The worst ERA on the team was Ed Walsh with 2.17 and the worst WHIP was Frank Smith with 1.10 who was second in the league in walks with 107.

The 1905 White Sox were a season away from their "Hitless Wonders" tag, but it certainly applied in 1905 as well. The White Sox were dead last in homeruns (11) and in the second half of the league in hitting (.237) and slugging (.304). Utilityman Frank Isbell led the league in hitting but he logged only 341 at bats. Only two starters (Jiggs Donahue and George Davis) hit above .250.

This was a great team though. And like a lot of other great teams, the White Sox would have to wait one more year to bring home their first World Series championship.

Monday, December 19, 2005

White Sox Sign A.J. Pierzynski

The White Sox inked A.J. Pierzynski to a three year, $15 million deal today. The Sox and A.J. will now avoid arbitration.

Not a bad move. A.J. had a pretty good year, especially for a catcher. While he hit only .257, he did hit 18 homeruns. $5 million per is a chunck of change, but I think the Sox are doling out premiums to the guys who helped them win it all last year.

Season lookbacks are catching on. Brian at Tigerblog did one for the 1901 Tigers. It's only fair since he's helping me organize the 1906 White Sox diary.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Odd Man Out and Plans for Black Sox Blog

Alright, I've thought a little further about the whole Javier Vazquez trade, and the one thing i'm worried about is what'll be happening to Brandon McCarthy. McCarthy was kind of the poster boy for this site and I still have high hopes for him, but it looks like for now he's the odd man out. What I really hope Ozzie Guillen does is put him in the pen so he gets some quality innings at the major league level. I don't think sending him back to AAA will do him any good and in addition, you have your sixth starter on the roster in case of an emergency.

The other thing I wanted to mention was the "state of the blog." I've had a lot of fun and I'm coming up on a year since I started blogging about the White Sox. What turned out as being a hobby for an out of towner (I live in Northern Michigan and currently work in Nebraska) has turned into something a little more, and I really look forward to writing about the White Sox. I'm sure it didn't hurt that they won it all this year either.

So sometime in early 2006, I'm going to move the site to it's own domain and I'll probably be using a platform that's different then blogger. I'll be sure to let everyone know what the RSS feed is so hopefully it'll be a smooth transition and everyone will be able to find me. I'll of course post the new domain here and I'll keep the blogger site open for a while so people can track down the new URL.

I also have some historical pieces planned and a major project that goes along with it. I plan on switching between the Frank Thomas retros and the season lookbacks until the 1906 World Series team and then I'm going to stop for a while. I then plan on doing some more detailed bios of players on the 1906 team, and this will lead up to my big project in April.

If you've ever been to Tigerblog, he's done day by day diaries of the 1984 Tigers, 1935 Tigers and the 1975 Reds (at Reds Cutting Edge). I'm going to take a stab at doing the same thing for the 1906 team seeing as it's their 100th anniversary. So you'll be able to relive the days of Fielder Jones, George Davis, Frank Isbell and one of the finest pitching staffs the White sox have ever fielded. I think it'll be a lot of fun, and you'll really get to see how games went during the dead ball era.

So I'm excited, and I hope you are too. If it's successful, I'll most likely do a 1917 White Sox diary to commemorate the 90 year anniversary of that team. So stayed tuned and thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Javier Vazquez / Orlando Hernandez Trade Evaluation

Alright, I think this is a great deal. Orlando Hernandez was the worst of our five starters last year. While he threw some good games at times, his strikeout rate was at an all time low and he was still walking over 3.5 every nine innings. His WHIP bordered on 1.50 and by most estimations, he was lucky to have that .500 record. Throw in injury concerns and he's not a guy we could rely on going into next year.

Javier Vazquez will be three years removed from his monster season in 2003. On top of that, his 2005 wasn't as bad as his 11-15 record would indicate. Vazquez's strikeout rate was up and he nearly struck out 200 batters and his walk rate was down. He did give up 35 homers, and while that's a concern, Vazquez still has the ability to get the big out. I also think the change of scenery will be good for him.

And I hate to say this, Ozzie Guillen might be the best thing for Vazquez. While I've been critical of Guillen for some of his methods, I do think he's good at dealing with the players and I think he'll be able to utilize Javier Vazquez to his fullest extent.

The White Sox also gave up Luis Vizcaino (good riddance) and Chris Young. Young wasn't on Sickel's radar last year, Young had a very solid season for AA Birmingham. He led the team in homeruns (26), slugging (.545) and doubles (41). We'll see how he does next year.

I'm really getting excited about next year because I really like the moves the White Sox have made.

White Sox Trade Orlando Hernandez and Luis Vizcaino for Javier Vazquez

I like this trade a lot. Check back tonight as I'll break down the deal.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

White Sox Player Retrospective - Frank Thomas 1990

It didn't take Frank Thomas long to make his mark on major league baseball. After being picked seventh overall in the 1989 draft after starring at Auburn University, Thomas made his major league debut on August 2, 1990. On that day, Thomas ended the game zero for four, but on his final at bat he hit into a fielders choice that scored Ivan Calderon. While he'd get his first RBI in that game, he'd have to wait until the next day to get his first major league hit, a two run triple to centerfield. It wasn't until the end of August that Thomas hit his first career homerun. It was August 28 at the Metrodome.

For most of the season, Thomas was hitting well above .300 and had an OBP above .400. His OPS of .983 put him at a very impressive OPS+ of 177. He only hit seven homeruns, but as we know, those would eventually come. The oddest thing about his season was a negative. He finished with 44 walks and 54 strikeouts. While that's a pretty impressive ratio, it wouldn't be until 2001, over a decade later, that Frank Thomas ended a season with more strikeouts then walks.

It's hard to nail down Thomas' best game in 1990. He went three for five with two runs and an RBI on September 22 (his only three hit game of the season), and he drove in three runs on August 31. He had 17 multihit games and he had a thirteen game hitting streak in September.

Here's a look at Frank Thomas' numbers in 1990, courtesy of Lee Sinin's Sabermetric Baseball Encyclopedia..

Games 60
AB 191
Runs 39
Hits 63
Doubles 11
Triples 3
Homeruns 7
Walks 44
Strikeouts 54
Stolen Bases 0
Caught Stealing 1
BA .330
OBA .454
SLG% .529
OPS .983
RC 48
RCAA 26
RCAP 21
RC/G 9.46
ISO .199

Thursday, December 08, 2005

White Sox Trade Damasco Marte to Pirates for Rob Mackowiak

Nothing too earth shattering here. Marte had a pretty rough year last year after three pretty good seasons. Adding Mackowiak gives us a left handed bat who can fill in just about anywhere.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

White Sox Refuse to Offer Frank Thomas Arbitration

This is a pretty sad day as Frank Thomas will no longer be a Chicago White Sox. Thomas was one of the best hitters in the 1990s, and one of the best players to ever lace up a pair of cleats for the Sox. I'm a little disappointed, and I'll probably be taking a look at the Big Hurt's career over the next few weeks in memorium.

Carl Everett and Raul Casanova are also gone as neither was offered arbitration. Everett became expendable when the Sox traded for Jim Thome.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Looking at the Paul Konerko Signing

I'm definitely happy with this. It gives us something we didn't have last year, and that's two mashers. Jim Thome can be the DH because he's been less the durable of late and Konerko can man first base. My initial thought is that we could see 100 homers between the two of them.

Unfortunately, that means one of the greatest hitters to ever wear a White Sox uniform is the odd man out. I can't see the White Sox putting up the money to sign Frank Thomas so he can be part time, nor do I see the Big Hurt agreeing to it.

And it looks like Gio Gonzalez is the player to be named later in the Thome trade. That means we have to win it all in the next couple of years to make this trade worth while.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Paul Konerko Staying With the White Sox

The final deal looks like it'll be five years for $60 million. I'll talk about this more tonight, but this is definitely good news.