Instead of recapping the shellacking the White Sox handed to the Tigers for the second straight game, I thought I would look back at the first two weeks of the season as a whole.
The Sox opened up the season with a pair of losses to Cleveland, allowing 17 runs in the first two games of the season. It looked like it was going to be another season of S.O.S, Same Old Sox.
But these Sox bare only the smallest of resemblance to the '07 Sox. Observe.
- In 11 games, they have attempted 1 stolen base, fewest in MLB. That steal came in the first inning of Game 1. That means they've gone over 100 innings (101 to be exact) without attempting a stolen base.
- In 11 games, they've attempted 2 sacrifice bunts (one successful), none since Game 4.
- They employ a leadoff hitter for whom speed is his 5th best tool, but who has posted a .378 OBP since the start of the '05 season.
- In their one game with Swisher on the bench, they batted not-quite-a-rookie who boasts a .413 minor league OBP, and similar speed as his 5th best tool status.
- The prospect of the 1.5 tool Jerry Owens getting significant playing time in center field and leading off continue to shrink by the day. Owens is 0-8 at the plate in his two rehab starts thus far.
- The two young starters have each carried a no-hitter beyond the 5th inning to help snap a 2-game losing streak that felt longer thanks to off-days.
- The 4 pitchers who make up the go-to portion of the bullpen (Jenks, Linebrink, Dotel, and Logan) have combined for an ERA of 2.75 in 16.1 innings.
I could go through all sorts of offensive stats where the Sox rank first in the AL, but I don't think listing them is particularly useful. There are a number of guys hitting well above their true ability, and it almost goes without saying that they won't continue to score at a rate of over 6 runs a game, at least not unless Pierzynski and Crede can continue to channel Ted Williams and George Brett, respectively.
What is important are those first few bullet points. I never understood the notion that plugging in a couple of speedsters makes the Sox a more dangerous club. Sure it would be nice if Thome, Konerko, Pierzynski, Crede, and Dye ran faster. But you'd have to overhaul the entire team for that speed to even approach a team with above-average speed. The Sox are a plodding, station-to-station club, an Earl Weaver 3-run homer crew.
Adding a couple light hitting "adept handlers of the bat wasn't going to change anything. That would be like putting a spoiler on a Hummer and expecting it to get better gas mileage. The Sox resisted overhauling their core -- They'll be that lumbering Hummer for at least another two seasons -- so it's best to trick this Hummer out with some truly complimentary accessories.
It's not that I've ever been against adding speed to the lineup; I've just always wanted it added in the form of multi-talented players. For almost the entire existence of this blog, I've been clamoring for "a multi-tooled .800 OPS outfielder." With the addition of Nick Swisher and Carlos Quentin, it appears the Sox have found not one, but two of them.
They're a far better offense for it.