FanPost

The Fat Lady Refuses to Sing on the South Side (A June Review)

Maybe I should just take a poll for themes of reviews. With my love of movies I spent a fair amount of time trying to craft an interesting opening to describe the June revival/turnaround. Some of my failures:

Trading Places.  The Story of a wily street con team (the White Sox) who find themselves trading places with the snobby minor league investors (the Twins) on the whim of callous saberheads. ("Uh genius they are still in 3rd") Trash Can.

Return of the Living Dead. After being exposed (yet again- hey it is a sequel) to the toxic fumes of actually having to watch a pitcher bat (double switch my ass-it sucks) the recently deceased White Sox arise from the dead and go on a murderous rampage devouring the brains of fans, sportswriters and whiny AL Central teams harping on schedule inequity. Hmmm.... Potential. Aww too gruesome. Trash can.

Old School. Several Palehose are disenchanted with life and try to recapture the glory of the 2005 World Series season. They streak. "Honey we're streaking!". They have old men perform above expectations for excellence, while one of them dies (Andrew Jones). "You're my boy Blue!" Naw that's a stretch. Though I must admit I've had a few earmuff moments for my kids while watching the early season. Trashed.

Bad News Bears. Cast of misfits pull it together after losing to go on a glorious run in baseball. Hmmm. Well 2 big problems. 1st Ozzie is not a down on his luck manager (hey he tweets) and 2nd "They didn't win any DAMN thing." They lost the most important one. Triple trashed.

Too hard. Besides baseball doesn't have any creativity. I honestly can't think of a sport that use more cliches. It's full of potential interviews like THIS.

So I'll just go back to the oldest of them and most tried and true.

It's not over til the FAT LADY SINGS.

June pretty much started with the worst possible outcome. The Sox came into the month down 8.5 games and with talk that the underachieving team had better things around on its home stand, the pressure was on. It was time for them to step up right? Wrong. Just like much of the season, they stumbled the 1st week going 2-4, pretty much losing every important momentum swinging game. It took a late inning rally to salvage a game from the juggernaut Cleveland Indians and after receiving a rare unexpected solid start by Floyd against the Tigers the game was promptly blown by the invincible Matt Thornton for a 7-2 lost.

"Game over man." Needless to say my own personal frustration had reached a tipping point. The team was performing horribly. Everything that could go wrong, did. Kenny hated Ozzie. Ozzie hated Kenny. The press speculated on management power plays and mlb trade rumors became a daily visiting spot as opponent's buzzards (oops I meant scouts) began to prepare for the upcoming fire sale by the Sox brass. I did what any great American does when times are hard.

I went on strike.

That's right no tv, no radio. A couple profanity laced tirades that would make Carlos Zambrano proud. Call out a teammate? Hell let's call out the WHOLE ORGANIZATION.

Lost in translation was that Floyd's stuff did actually look good that evening. Yes it was a loss, but maybe his start was an omen. I suppose there were other ones. Cheat would go into a drug induced trance a couple days later and be out of commission (always a good sign). Larry declared them officially dead in the Minor Leagues and Baseball Prospectus gave them a 3% chance for a miracle. The Sox had the division right where they wanted them.

Okay maybe it was upcoming games against the Cubs, Pirates and Nationals but that's not the point. That's not romantic enough and doesn't fit the story. I'd pointed to this part of the schedule as the White Sox Custard's Last Stand. Now or never. The Sox immediately won the next 2 vs Detroit. Sox 2, Boycott 0.

Next up the Cubbies, and after taking the first 2 the stage was set for a Sunday night national matchup. At stake was a season high White Sox winning streak of 4. Floyd pitched excellent again. He even had no hitter through the first 7 innings. The only problem was somebody forgot to inform the offense. Instead of watching, they were supposed to swing the bat themselves. Unbelievably, at the exact same time Ted Lilly from the crosstown rivals was also throwing up blanks. Floyd would go on to lose the no hitter and the game 1-0 as the offense flubbed in its last at bat. Streak over. Oh well nice while it lasted. "I'm not fooled," I thought. No sir, not sucking this kid back in. Yes I know the Pirates and Nationals are next but those are all "road" games. Hell they can barely win at home.

The Sox would go on to sweep the Pirates, the Nationals and finally the hot Atlanta Braves before finally falling to the Cubs in the crosstown finale. When it was all finished they had won 11 straight, 15 out 17 and cut a division lead from 9.5 to 1.5. Talk about turnaround. Sox 15, Boycott 2. You do the math. What strike?

RS 335

RA 341

40-37

2009 (40-38 349 RS/349 RA)

Some had made mention of this but this is about the same time the team made a run last year. Eerie how similar huh? Will they learn from the past mistakes and actually improve the offense this year? Sox Machine looks at it. JJ from Examiner looks at it. And now Colin just did it as the focus turns to Adam Dunn. As always I leave that for greater men then I. This is all about what happened this fine June. Even if they did end with some losses to the Royals. Yes those Royals.

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Offensive

YTD

.250/322/.402  wOBA .320 (10th in AL)

June

.270/.335/.415 wOBA .329 (7th in AL)

Overall improvement in every catergory but let's not kid ourselves. If anything, 7th in wOBA for June shows okay they performed like an "average" offense but even that's a little dishonest. Konerko and Quentin (with a little AJ sprinkled in, Phil Rogers) basically carried the O. I have now come to the realization at the NBA free agent deadline that Greg Walker is never going anywhere.

DH Hydra total line number .224/.297/.380 - Would it surprise you to learn that 4 AL team's DH numbers are worse? It doesn't surprise me that we don't care. Isolated moments of actual production have occurred, but as has been pointed out this remains a serious off-season, in-season and future mistake. Fix it already.

1B- Konerko  .295/.387/.570 When is the last time you heard Kenwo complain about Konerko? Kong has been fantastic with the bat. Unfortunately he still has Morneau, Cabrera and Youk to contend with for AL honors. Who cares. Keep it up and he had the very looking cool 1.000 OPS for June.

2B- Beckham .209/.275/.285 Ugh. Beckham followed up 0 xbh hits in May with 2 walks in June. That's exactly 50% more than AJ (who never saw a pitch he didn't like) and Gavin Floyd (yeah that one). Showed a little life the last week. Can it be? Ozzie doesn't want him to go down. Maybe Beck will make it a moot point. The Sox can really use him.

SS- Alexei .264/.297/.392 This time of year has been a little hotter for Alexei in the past. Average continues to rise but I'd like to see a bit more power.

3B- Omar .254/.311/.336 What the hell are you laughing for? Believe it or not he's been mildly productive (this is the White Sox offense after all). Pressed into action after the Teahen injury seems the latest recipient of said pixie dust. Sad but we would kill for .700 ops monthly from the old man.

LF- Pierre .249/.317/.279 Ugh part 2. Yes he is stealing at a decent clip but do we really have to watch him bat 1st? Truth be told he did get on back at a .342 clip last month. Wow. Sound the alarms.

CF- Hail Rios. .307/.363/.522 Welcome back. Jim warned of an off month at some point but that would be terribly disappointing and lead to the team going in the wrong direction.

RF- Q! .229/.330/.454 Last month I asked Q a personal question. No, I could care less what he does in the bedroom. Most fans just wanted the real Slim Quentin to stand up. He exploded the last 2 weeks with a 1.213 OPS. We all love Q and don't demand that kind of production just somewhere in between recent and the crappy weeks.

C- AJ .248/.287/.363 Has actually settled into his normal numbers monthly. OPS was .812 in June he just really sucked in April.

DH/1B- Kotsay ..220/.319/.378 I still believe Kotsay takes WAY too much abuse but at this point it's more what he represents and he obviously should NOT be a full time DH or regular player.

Bench
Jones- .199/.312/.435 Okee doke. I have heard of what goes up most come down but this is ridiculous. .371 OPS in June. .371!!

Nix- Gone and Dayan (incomplete)

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Pitching

YTD

4.26 ERA (8th in AL), 3.83 FIP (1st), 4.10 xFIP (1st)

k/9 7.47 (2nd)

bb/9 3.12 (improve to 4th)

hr/9 0.85 (improved to tied for 3rd)

June

3.68 ERA (1st), 3.40 FIP (1st), 3.94 xFIP (1st)

 

Well staff, you dug the team into this hole so its only fitting that you dig it out. And dig it out they did. During the streak they allowed 25 runs in 11 games. Insane. The opposing OPS for batters against the starters after June 9th was .608. Against the relievers it was .675. They basically faced Juan Pierre for the whole rest of the month. Sorry Juan.  Walks down. Ks up. Simple formula. They will be tested with Texas bats upcoming.

Starting Staff

              ERA      FIP      K/9    BB/9
Danks     3.62     3.58     6.96    3.06
Floyd     4.66     3.41     7.63    2.79
Buehrle   4.58     4.01     4.58    2.43
Garcia    4.66     4.69     5.40    2.65
Peavy     4.70     4.10     7.78    2.65


 


Danks-  Solid month for Danks. Better than May, worse than April. Ks are still down a little. He seems to be treading water after the quick start.

Floyd- My preseason pick for best starter really stepped up this month. Everyone knew his numbers would come down (his FIP has been solid all year), but no one thought it would be that quickly. What makes this man tick and can we start it with him sooner? Unfortunately, like Danks he simply doesn't know how to win. 6 starts in June with a 2.58 ERA. 1 win. Go figure.

Buehrle- Surprising and much like this season Mark's overall monthly ERA 4.96 was higher than his monthly FIP 3.40. The margin hasn't been that large but Mark has had a bit of bad luck this year. The most encouraging stat for Mark in June was 6.5 ks per 9 he posted. If he keeps that up that he'll be just fine.

Garcia- Sweaty Freddie was 4-0 in June and just keeps getting it done. He walked less than 1.5 batters per 9 in June. Can you say crafty veteran?

Peavy-  What arm troubles? In the latest example of SSS, Peavy showed why he's put up some pretty glossy numbers in the past. Scoreless streak ended on a Butler homer in the first last night but Peavy's been excellent lately. He mistimed his rant by a couple weeks. Otherwise he would be considered the grindy God right now.

No starter allowed more than 1 hr per 9 in June. I pointed out in a previous thread the starting staff was on pace for just short of 19 WAR for the season. That would go a long way in them staying around for the summer.

The Big Three

                   ERA    FIP      K/9     BB/9     LOB%
Jenks        4.06    2.86    10.86   3.72    72.1%
Thornton   3.03   1.88    12.40   3.03    71.4%
Putz           1.86    2.21    10.55   1.55     84.2%

Jenks- It was just yesterday that Jenks told us to chill out. He put up a 0.75 ERA in June. I honestly can't even remember the last time I was mad him. I don't say it often honey but Jenks thanks for being a good reliever through the years.

Thornton- June was a hiccup primarily because of walks, over 5 per 9. Slump likely cost him an outside chance at all star game.

Putz- Did anybody think to try one of those sneaky team options on his 1 year deal? Damn. Putz is making himself a lot of future money this year. He'll be some team's closer next season. 0 earned runs in June.

 

The Rest

Santos- ERA 2.22/FIP 2.64 (over 7 in June)

Pena- ERA 5.06/FIP 4.85

Linebrink- ERA 5.25/FIP 5.30

Williams- Anybody who's bb ratio is 7.5 per 9 innings should not have a job. He now doesn't.

With the streak Larry highlighted how Ozzie had more or less began to slot the bullpen in its roles. My Big Five has gone down to the Big Four and now to the Big Three. Linebrink never really had any business being up there (except money), Santos has had a natural regression and just doesn't get enough work with the emergence of the starting staff. Pena is the definition of a middle reliever and Randy Williams finally got his walking papers. The back of the bullpen really isn't all that great but it doesn't matter, nobody's is. Work has been limited for this bunch. On the other hand, their top 3 is probably collectively the best in baseball. Consider this, White Sox relievers avg 9.67 k/s per 9.  That's 1.75 more than the next closet team in the AL. Wow. That point can not be overstated and I was shocked it was such a difference. What do you really want from a reliever who enters the game in a critical situation? A freaking K that's what.

Somewhere a few MLB teams weep for the loss of Sox pitching personnel on the trade market.

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Defense

All these numbers are subject to classic SSS and wild swings blah blah blah....

Defensive Efficiency is now .683 (11th in the AL). Again you can't tell anything from UZR for a predictive nature but there is value in knowing the results.

Team UZR is -9.6 (9th)

Team UZR/150 -3.4 (4th)

The White Sox defense has actually been very good lately. Quentin is still a defensive black hole but Pierre (besides the arm), Alexei and Rios are all rangy fielders. Vizquel has helped at 3b, though not to the extent that we "feel" like replacing Teahen does and Beckham's been solid in the field minus some pop fly adventures. Jones, Kotsay and now Killibridge provide solid defensive fill-ins if needed. Konerko's range has regressed to normal from last year but he continues to make smart decisions on balls hit to him on double plays and bunts. The pitching strand rates have improved and while the difference between ERA and FIP is still the largest in the AL the gap has closed. The pitchers notice it, trust me.

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Team Base Running

Per BP the team’s Equivalent Base Running  Runs (EqBrr)

Results

The White Sox rank 23rd in baseball with a total score of -5.9

Pierre has the best score (1.9) followed by Quentin (.8). The genius AJ remains last (-2.4), sorry Hawk.

72 stolen bases out of 109 attempts for a 66 % conversion rate.

Of the -5.9 team score -4 of it is the stolen base component. There is no doubt the overall team speed is better than past years but as we feared the stolen base has become a negative. There are only so many legitimate hitters on this team any and they cannot afford to give away outs. Slow down Ozzie. In June they were 20 out 34. That's ridiculous. Also puzzling is the negative hit advancement score. I thought that was the whole point of no Thome? The real fear is that after crushing the National League the Sox "forget" they play in the AL and don't adjust their style. Kotsay is not fast. It doesn't matter what angle he takes rounding the bag.

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At the end of last month I asked if this team was worth saving and if we were wasting our time waiting for them to rise from the dead. What a difference a month makes. Who am I kidding, what a difference two weeks can make. Will the Sox reach .500 - check. Will the team close within 3 games - check. Will they win...only time will tell. The top 3 Central teams play each other plenty of times so they will probably decide their own fate. First things first. They need to get through this Texas/LA stretch. Fix the team Kenny. This story wants a happy ending...

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