Two horribly failed blog attempts later (never again), I come clinging back to the right rail where I belong. Writing Ugly is a weekly take on the Sox from a slightly more obscure perspective broken into the 200-300 word chunks that my brain can handle. I’ll probably quit 6 weeks in when the season becomes too disheartening. This will be fun.
One Last Thumbs Up to Rick Hahn
Hahn has received enough praise this winter but I’ll add a little more. He could have very easily went the way of, say, the Colorado Rockies. He could have traded Viciedo for some low-level pitching prospects. He could have signed aging Justin Morneau or steroidless Nelson Cruz. He could have overpaid for Drew Stubbs. He could have shopped Erik Johnson for Brett Anderson and had a strong rotation. He could have held on to Reed and Santiago and pretended like those guys didn’t overachieve last season. He could have traded Sale for Puig like KenWo. He did none of those things and I’m very grateful.
Avisail Garcia and Hope
Garcia has the look of a guy figuring it out. At 22 years old, he’s the Sox first young guy since Joe Crede who has the capability to do it all. That’s more of a reflection on the Sox prospect pool (Beckham fits in there somewhere, too) but for too long we had to pretend like Josh Fields and Brian Anderson had potential. Should be mentioned, Garcia is emerging much younger than Crede and is a much better athlete. Plus, looking back at the numbers, Crede was never really as good as I remember him. Playing well in the World Series will do that to the mind. Really the better comparison for Avisail is Magglio Ordonez. The obvious symmetries are there: Venezuelan right fielders with smooth, quiet swings. Maggs, in his first full year with the Sox, hit .282/.326/.415 with 14 home runs. ZiPS projects Garcia this year at .282/.316/.423 with 15 home runs. If you allow yourself to buy into projections, we have ourselves the good kind of Magglio Ordonez – the one without the soiled bird nest haircut. And all Hahn had to do to get him was get rid of a hostile pitcher who couldn’t stay healthy. Thank you, Johnny Peralta and your connection to Biogenesis, for making it all happen.
Robin Has It Easy
There’s literally not a single conceivable lineup that Ventura could throw out there that would offend me. That’s what happens when you have a very mediocre lineup and a bunch of projected WARs between zero and one. He’s got Eaton set at leadoff and Abreu batting either third or cleanup. After that, does it really matter? He could bat Gillaspie second and I wouldn’t bat an eye. I would like to see Garcia batting fifth but if he put Ramirez there I’d be okay. He could start Paulie against a righty and piss off all the stat guys, but not me, because, hey, I’m not totally dead inside. The hardest decision will be when a team brings in a lefty to face Dunn, does he counter with Viciedo or Konerko? But really, that’s sort of like choosing between paper or plastic, if you really care about the future, you bring your own reusable eco bag. Not sure Viciedo is enough of the future for that to matter at this point, so it’s okay that Konerko’s at bats are eating the Earth, the people will stand and cheer when he is called upon and that’s not so bad. And then of course there’s the bullpen. And again, until further notice, there’s no difference between Lindstrom, Jones, and Belisario, so take your pick. Which leads me to our next topic…
New Sausage Race Idea
First, those new broadcaster sausage costumes should be carried out to centerfield and given the same treatment the disco records got. They look hideous. Here’s what they should do instead: make it a race to decide who will be closer that night. You got your Nate Jones costume, Lindstrom, Belisario, and then a wild card. The wild card is a rotation of everyone else in the pen, because what we all really want is a one in four chance to see Donnie Veal nail things down in the ninth. You laugh, but this is the same franchise that played in shorts. It’s not the worst idea, it’s the wurst idea. I will not apologize for that last sentence.
Concessions at U.S Cellular Field
Don’t get me wrong, I love bacon as much as every other human, but I see the bacon on a stick and immediately think, "I hope I don’t get stuck sitting next to a guy eating bacon on a stick." It takes a certain confidence to order that. It sounds to me like the making of a Brian Regan bit: "HEY LOOK I GOT BACON ON A STICK. I’M GONNA PUT IT IN MY MOUTH AND EAT IT. GOT NO GREASE ON MY FINGERS CAUSE I’M HOLDING A WOODEN STICK" and then three innings later he comes back with the 3lbs of ice cream, "HEY LOOK THIS ICE CREAM IS THE SIZE OF MY HEAD."
Put Konerko at Catcher
Hear me out. Paul Konerko was drafted as a catcher, and although he graded out as a terrible defensive catcher, he still has the capability to catch at a relatively decent level. On top of this is the realization that Tyler Flowers hit .195 last year, it isn’t that crazy to picture Paulie throwing on the gear this year. This would allow Flowers to be the backup, send Nieto back to the fate he deserves, and it would open a roster spot for Jordan Danks or Marcus Semien (once Keppinger returns). Not to mention it would eliminate the possibility of Paulie stealing at bats from Abreu. I hope someone has been reading this and was getting onboard with this idea. Just the idea of Konerko playing catcher is the funniest thing ever to me. A guy older than Schaller’s Pump in baseball years squatting down behind the plate all game and trying to throw out runners with his blunderbuss of an arm. It’s almost as funny as Konerko taking up a roster spot with the role as the guy who informs teammates how to deal with the cold. Long live Paulie.
Alex Rios’ Absence
Have you taken time out of your day to appreciate not having to watch Alex Rios this season? Cause you really should. The sight of him in one of his various stances waving at a slider as if he had his eyes closed is only behind Scott Podsednik’s stupid trot back to the dugout after getting picked off for the second time in a game as my most annoying White Sox experience. No matter how much of a weirdo Adam Spanky Eaton is, it’s an improvement.
Top 10 Things I’m Looking Forward To This Season
10. Not finishing last in the division
9. Tim Anderson and Courtney Hawkin’s minor league stats (not giving up on Hawkins)
8. John Danks’ comeback season
7. Rick Hahn working the phone lines
6. Double play combo of Beckham and Ramirez
5. Seeing what Eaton, Davidson, Semien, and Johnson are made of
4. The 3rd pick in the draft
3. Chris Sale’s backfoot slider
2. Chicagoans falling in love with Jose Abreu
1. Hawk Harrelson dismissing sabermetrics two weeks into the season