This year’s team isn’t good nor will it be. I just want to make that clear. But with all the injuries and new lineups and position congestion, at least they are maintaining a level of interest. It’s conceivable that once Abreu and Sale return, and assuming the rest of the team can stay healthy, the Sox will be average until season end. But there’s definitely a feeling of danger right now, officially issuing a Code Blue: Hawk Alert, as he’s growing evermore sour. (Please offer your prayers that Hawk doesn’t heave himself from the press box this year after watching a 9-2 game against the Twins.) I’m sort of sad Rick Hahn had to send Keppinger packing just because I really wanted to see how the roster would have crammed together. I took the same Rick Hahn approach last week and just ditched this sinking ship, but I’m back this week, hanging in there like Scott Carroll.
I didn’t write last week because I didn’t watch many of the games. More specifically, I only watched one game but it turned out to be the best one, I assume. It was the one where the Sox made Brandon McCarthy look like Hector Noesi Before We Adopted Him. Our old pal Brandon had a perfect game going into the 4th when suddenly things got dicey. I was watching the game with a Twins fan/Sox hater which only made it incredibly more enjoyable. At one point I remarked, "I’m making a video of this inning and showing it to my future son every night before he goes to bed so he doesn’t end up like a fool like you." In hindsight, I should have thought of a better word than "fool."
But that fourth inning was the best: Alejandro De Aza sliding horribly into home "lawndart" style ("Look son, wasn’t that funny."), Jose Abreu hammering a hanging curve ("Son, there was once a player named Frank Thomas…"), Hawk calling the third base coach one of the most critical positions on the field ("Son, you can’t trust everything this man says, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t love him."), Moises Sierra going first to third on a ball hit to left field ("Who the heck is Moises Sierra?*") and Alexei jumping all over a 3-0 fastball for a grand slam ("Listen, I know you don’t understand counts yet, but just remember, if you’re ever ahead 3-0 with the bases loaded, you better swing for the goddamn fences.").
* "Moises Sierra" sounds like the most made up name ever. Like a character on a button-slamming arcade fighting game or something. Every thing about the guy makes me feel very unsure. What is he doing here? Couldn’t Gorkys Hernandez have done just as bad?
Here’s what everyone has been waiting for: a sincere paragraph praising Zach Putnam. I wrote earlier this year how the Sox don’t have a relief pitcher with dominating stuff, and while I still think that to be true, the work Putnam has put in this year is exactly what Hahn had in mind. He comes at you with an array of junk, all of which has a downward tilt, and has been able to locate the split-finger very well. The checklist for White Sox relievers basically goes: 1) Throw strikes. 2) Get groundballs. 3) Don’t allow homeruns. And 4) Just pick up the ball and throw it to first even if your ankle hurts. Putnam has yet to allow a home run while only walking seven and posting a 59% groundball rate. And he’s another good example of why you should never give a reliever a 12 million dollar contract because random people like him show up and do the Cliff Polite Song and Dance. Adding icing to the cake, Putnam was terrible last year for the Cubs, giving us further confirmation of the inferred Coop effect, and he fashions a pretty manly beard.
Alex Rios and Lessons to be Learned
The Brewers signed 37-year-old Lyle Overbay over the offseason to platoon at first base and, amazingly, the reaction amongst the fan base was pretty positive. They saw Overbay as a guy who’ll provide solid defense on the right-side and give them quality at bats even if his numbers aren’t great. If the Sox had signed 37-year-old Lyle Overbay, under the same circumstances, we would have showed up drunk at Rick Hahn’s door demanding answers upon what kind of shit this is that he is bestowing upon us. We would have flooded SoxFest with questions like, "Is the signing of Lyle Overbay a cry for help or are you just really stupid?" We would have filled the message boards with so much sardonic drivel the internet might have finally killed itself.
So I’m exaggerating a little bit, point being, we don’t always make it easy for a player to come in and succeed on the South Side. We are a fan base comprised, as far as I can tell, of 33% miserable sonsabitches, 33% people trying to appear like they are not miserable sonsabitches by endlessly clapping for Paulie, and 33% genuine baseball fans who for whatever reason like this team. We expect a player to come in and prove themselves amid clouds of doubt and disapproval. Not saying it’s wrong, I’m just saying Alex Rios was sorta dicked before he ever swung the bat.
For those not paying attention to the rest of the league, Alex Rios is off to a nice start in Texas. And why wouldn’t he be? He had a couple good seasons with the Sox. But he’ll be remembered as a failure. If Avisail Garcia were to ever put up 2012 Alex Rios numbers it would be an absolute success. None of this is particularly interesting, it’s more just a reminder that the "wait and see" approach we were forced to take with Abreu should be the same one we use next time we claim a guy off waivers that nobody else would even thing about claiming. Then again, maybe not. We’ll all be dead in like five decades. Do what you want.