Love to Tell You I Told You So….

But I kinda told you so. I’m speaking of my rating the White Sox the 8th best team in baseball in my pre-season rankings. Many have been waiting for the big fall, but when you reach a point where you are 21 games above .500, it’s time to forget about losing seasons. Only 3 teams are playing better than .600 baseball (Cards, Twins, and White Sox), as the difference between 4 and 22 in the rankings is about 7 games in the standings. The following is my monthly piece on the beauty of the White Sox.

First though, we must discuss the Yankees role in this story, as it’s mandated by ESPN. The Yankees are 11 games behind the White Sox and 7 games behind the Twins in the wild card race. I’m not saying the Bronx Pacifists are out of the Playoff hunt, but I think their focus needs to be on winning the East, as it’s their best odds. As bad as the Yanks have played, they are only 3 games behind the Red Sox. The Orioles are good, but their pitching is starting to catch up with them, while the Blue Jays have ridden one of the 2 best pitchers in the AL, Roy Halladay, but with the rest of the staff, an overall losing record lurks.

I’ve been a broken record since the winter that the White Sox starting staff was way better than people were giving it credit for. Sure, it’s highly unlikely that they are going to continue at the pace they’ve set since opening day, but then, the hitting of the White Sox has shown signs of awakening, which should balance that out. If you are unaware, outside of the top 2 in the batting order, Posednik and Iguchi, not one other Sox regular has played up to past career levels. The brightest addition for the rest of the season’s offense is the return of a hitter with a career OPS of .996, Frank Thomas. Sure his health is still a question mark, but what a Huge edition to the lineup, if he is in the batter’s box.

When handicapping the AL Central race, here are the main factors to watch for the rest of the season.

1)Who will fall off more from their current All-Star stats, Jon Garland or Carlos Silva?
2)Will the White Sox relief pitching continue to be solid? (This is the Twins biggest strength.)
3)Who will provide more offense, Justin Morneau or Frank Thomas? (Health is the major factor.)
4)Who will provide more offense, A.J. Pierzynski or Joe Mauer? (See above.)
5)Will Posednik and Iguchi continue to spur the offense, with OBP’s over .350?
6)Can Joe Mays hold up? (The White Sox have more starting pitching depth.)
7)Will Ozzie Guillen take clippers to Jeff Brantley’s mullet? (Sorry, that’s for another post)

19 thoughts on “Love to Tell You I Told You So….

  1. 1.  Perhaps someone like you, closer to the team and reading media reports on them can answer… It’s a concern you joke about, but I can’t help but think it’s legitimate, whether or not Guillen’s craziness will hurt the team somehow. That whole Magglio rant thing was just plain weird. If they lose ten in a row, does Bad Ozzie show up, a la Bad Larry Bowa? Or is it unfair to start making judgments on Guillen’s effect on the team this early in his tenure?

  2. 2.  8)Will “Johan, our Johan Santana” come anywhere near repeating last season’s climb?

  3. 3.  All right, I’ll admit that I thought you were all nuts about the CWS. They stank last year, and I figured they’d stink this year. That’s why I’m not writing for ESPN, et. al.

    That said, if the White Sox are planning for Frank Thomas to carry their offense, they are going to be disappointed. If it weren’t for the DH, Frank would be out of baseball. He’s always hurt, he’s a clubhouse cancer, and he has no value other than the occasional power rush. At one time I would have told you he was going to be a shoo in for the HOF and would someday hit for the Triple Crown. His decline, especially the attitudinal one, can be traced to the arrival of Albert Belle in Chicago, an act that CWS owner Jerry Reinsdorf should be forever condemed for. If I had to guess which player was likely to fail a steriod test, Frank is at the top of the list.

    Whew …

    I’d better lock my doors from the legions of White Sox fans who will want my scalp.

    And I hope John Garland falls off, because I’ve got Silva in my Fantasy league.

  4. 4.  My 1 3/4 cents (@#$% taxes!)

    1)Who will fall off more from their current All-Star stats, Jon Garland or Carlos Silva?

    Silva. He is ascending. Garland has a run of excellent luck.

    2)Will the White Sox relief pitching continue to be solid? (This is the Twins biggest strength.)

    Yes if Marte’s injury is not an issue

    3)Who will provide more offense, Justin Morneau or Frank Thomas? (Health is the major factor.)

    Morneau. Frank has to prove his health.

    4)Who will provide more offense, A.J. Pierzynski or Joe Mauer? (See above.)

    Will A.J. be run out of town again at the end of the year?

    5)Will Posednik and Iguchi continue to spur the offense, with OBP’s over .350?

    “Earth calling Posednik. We expect your arrival.”

    6)Can Joe Mays hold up? (The White Sox have more starting pitching depth.)

    Nope but Twins should be able to absorb.

  5. 5.  Legions of White Sox fans? All 12 of us?

    Rick, you must be the 13th, because only Sox fans (and Ozzie) hate Frank Thomas as much as you do!!! Most other fans would know to appreciate a talent of his magnitude. As for the Albert (Joey) Belle signing, have you actually looked at the stats both Frank and Albert put up during the 2 years that Belle was on the team? Give me the “Bad Attitude All Stars” over the “Nice Guy All Stars” any day! My team will have Bonds, Reggie, Albert, Frank & be managed by Billy Martin. As for your “David Eckstein All Stars”, you might want to institute a “mercy” rule so the games can end in under 6 hours.

    Really Rick, you SHOULD be writing for ESPN, you have exactly the same kind of insight that makes Buster Olney and Jay Mariotti so successful at what they do!

  6. 6.  ‘if the White Sox are planning for Frank Thomas to carry their offense, they are going to be disappointed.’

    What offense? We haven’t had much of an offense all year, except when it counts. I haven’t read any comments to the effect that management expected Thomas to carry the offense, so I don’t know where you get that from. Having said that, I think Thomas will continue to be a force and contribute to the overall production with a fantastic OBP…tough to dispute that. For his career, 308 avg/.429 obp/.568 slg/.996 ops. Yeah, that’s a 429 career obp. However, not even the fans think he will carry the offense.

    ‘If it weren’t for the DH, Frank would be out of baseball. He’s always hurt, he’s a clubhouse cancer, and he has no value other than the occasional power rush.’

    That’s just harsh man…are you a cub fan? You’re completely right about the DH thing, but why is that a bad thing? Any baseball fan can name 10 guys who had their career extended because of the DH. He was a clubhouse cancer at one point, but Frank has come to accept (at least he seems to have) his new role. I think he’s happy this year.

    ‘If I had to guess which player was likely to fail a steriod test, Frank is at the top of the list.’

    You ARE a cub fan!! Plus, I think you’ve been getting your info from Mariotti….or some other crap source. Defend that statement because I’d like to read why you think that.

    Scott…Keep up the excellent Sox reporting.

  7. 7.  “If I had to guess which player was likely to fail a steriod test, Frank is at the top of the list.”

    If I had to guess which poster has no clue, it would be RickM! 😉 Just kidding… sort of. Come on! Frank has been one of the sport’s most outspoken players against steriod use. I thought it was obvious to those who follow baseball that Frank is as clean as one could be. Just because he is a big man, he uses steriods? Why else would you think so? Frank used to be a phenominal all-around athlete in his prime yet everyone now just wants to diss him.

    I know a lawyer who was close to Frank’s divorce proceedings and he told me just how bad things were for him. I wouldn’t be the happiest teammate in the world either if I had to go through that. Take that as the #1 reason he was unhappy in the clubhouse – not Albert Belle joining the team.

    “he has no value other than the occasional power rush.”

    That is hilarious. Ever look at his OBP? What more do you want from him as a hitter? You are talking about one of the BEST hitters from this era. How quickly people forget…

    “They stank last year, and I figured they’d stink this year.”

    Take away #3 and #4 hitters from ANY team, and see how they falter… you DO know that they were in first place before a rash of BIG TIME injuries, right? They just did not have the depth to replace their two best players. Thomas was on pace for a 35-40 HR season, 100 RBIs with a .434 OBP.

    Check your facts next time!

  8. 8.  Far be it for me to defend Mariotti, but he said that Frank’s career has to be reevaluated in light of steroid use by his contemporaries (i.e.–he thinks Frank is a bigger star because others were cheating).

  9. 9.  My my my …

    Just a point before I respond to the above … I am a Cub fan, as though that has anything to do with this, and I don’t read Mariotti’s column. I used to be a BIG Hurt fan. When they signed Albert Belle, I hurriedly researched how many teams had two guys who hit a hundred homers between them. As I said, at one time I thought he was on his way to the HOF, and had a good shot to win the Triple Crown. I don’t hate the guy …

    wjb

    The two years that Belle was in Chicago, the White Sox went 80-81 and 80-82. They actually had a better record the year before Belle got there. The Sox had no pitching either year, and even their team batting was below average in 97, even with Belle and Thomas hitting a combined 65 home runs and driving in 241. Granted these guys had fat statistics, but the bill for these two ate up whatever was left for anyone else.

    Plate O Shrimp

    Your right, I’m a traditionalist, opposed to the DH. As for Frank, let me quote the Baseball Library

    “Thomas drew heavier fire for his preference to bat at DH instead of first base. Defense was hardly Thomas’ strong suit, but the White Sox felt his presence on the field provided leadership to the young team and had long been willing to endure his shortcomings with a glove. Even though Thomas’ offensive numbers showed that he hit markedly better while playing first base, he felt more comfortable as a designated hitter, believing that it helped him concentrate on hitting.”

    I just think he’s just lazy, and he got that from Albert Belle.

    … and for you and strougal

    First, Frank was a Football player, and I have an innate distrust of Football players when it comes to steroids. Second, look at his injury history. How do you tear a bicep muscle? Frank did, and I would guess he didn’t do it in the weight room. Other than the ankle injury, most of his injuries are muscular in nature, the kind that are exacerbated by steroid use. I haven’t heard any of his “outspoken” comments, and maybe I’m wrong, but his attitude is that of a guy that wants to take the easy road. And as I said before, he got that from Albert Belle.

    strougal

    As far as his attitude being because of his divorce (there were other financial problems too), my heart just bleeds for him (RickM stops to wipe up the sarcasm he just dripped on the floor). There are plenty of people in the world who have it a lot worse than Frank did. I just don’t think this is a reason for him to get a bad attitude and drag it to the job. I can understand his performance fall-off, just not the clubhouse cancer attitude. Like I said, he got that from Albert Belle.

    You’re right … he was one of the best hitters of his era. He has now degenerated into an oft injured fan tease with a bad attitude

    You want facts … last year he played in 74 games, this year six so far. I don’t care what kind of “pace” he was on, he’s always hurt, and he has a lousy attitude.
    I suppose I was a little over the top when I described the White Sox as having “stunk” last year. They were, in fact, an 83-79 team, two games over .500. Just because they lost their 3 and 4 hitters doesn’t make them any better than any other five over .500 team. I suppose I could have said “they were average last year, and I figured they’d be average this year” but hey, I just need to check my facts … right.

  10. 10.  Rick…

    That’s a weak argument when you level an accusation like steroid use on a guy. You need some real facts to back that up. Do you say shit like that in your corner bar? C’mon down to Jimbo’s by Comiskey and say that to anyone witout proof and see what that gets you.

    Your distrust of football players as an excuse is silly at face value. Did you see the congressional steroid hearing? Your once beloved sosa suddenly forgot how to speak english… Mac couldn’t answer a question honestly and then started crying. Frank was the only one who volunteered to go and answered all questions posed to him. I’d say that’s a stand up guy who’s got nothing to hide.

    You say that Frank is lazy?? You should be criticizing that jag, sosa, for these things before even considering Frank as a target. The only time that cork-filled jerk hustled is when a camera or crowd was watching…that phony run out to right field?? C’mon, man, who you crappin’? sosa is the quintessential me before anyone else guy in all of baseball (sans bonds). He showed up late to almost every spring training and controlled the music in the clubhouse….his ‘personal assistant’ got to travel with the club until MLB told the cubs he couldn’t anymore, then they guy got some bs job to get around the rules… Should I go on?

    Nothing personal except for the cub fan stuff…I respect you for coming back with answers, but you need to do a lot better than that.

    Rich

  11. 11.  Rich –

    You have a noble name, even if I do say so myself.

    I need to remind you that this is a message board, not a court of law. I don’t need “real facts” to back up anything. My original comment was that if had to “guess a player that would fail a steroid test, it would be Frank,” and was a comment based on his behavior and demeanor, and his injury history. In my corner bar, if I said that Frank was lazy and had a bad attitude, everyone would agree … and I don’t go to Jimbo’s … sounds like a crowd of lawyers.

    Yes … I read about the steroid hearings. Sosa denied using as adamantly as all but McGwire. He did so in English. If Frank did so too … good for him. It doesn’t change the fact that he’s lazy and has a bad attitude.

    OK … Sosa is lazy and not a team guy. But he was our lazy, non-team guy. What this has to do with Frank, I don’t know. Besides, how does this make Frank any more acceptable? Because Sammy Sosa is lazy and not a team player, it’s OK for Frank Thomas to be lazy and not a team player, and deflect all criticism of his work habits and attitude? Maybe at Jimbos … not anywhere else.

    And to get back to the original point of Scott’s posting, Justin Morneau will provide more offense than Frank Thomas.

  12. 12.  In regards to Guillen, it will be interesting to see how he handles a 4 game losing streak, but considering they haven’t had one this year, it’s not been an issue yet. Last year the team struggled at times and the atmosphere was still good, as Guillen likes to joke around and keep the team loose. Now that he has the guys he wants (Thomas could be the exception), would suspect it will not be a problem, but we will have to wait and see.

    In regards to Frank, he is already a HOF player. The 8 year stretch he put together at the start of his career was in the Babe and Ted category, which has slowed down, but anyone who cares about SABR baseball will realize he’s still a strong weapon. I love Morneau, but he has struggled with injuries all year and I think it’s possible Thomas might play more games from this point on. If Thomas plays 80 games and Morneau only plays 70, advantage Sox.

    Rick, I always like the way you stir stuff up around here, so I gave you a pass on some of your statements, but I can’t say it was one of your better efforts. Frank has always been massive and the only area which seems to really get bigger on him is his nostrils, so until they prove that roids can increase nostril diameter, I’m thinking he’s cool.

  13. 13.  Regarding steroids and the Big Hurt…you are joking right??

    Regarding his alleged bad attitude: Who cares?? I couldn’t care less if every ballplayer in MLB was a giant prick…it just doesn’t matter to me. Besides, I thought the ’77-’78 Yankees put an end to the ‘chemistry wins games’ B.S. From what I understand, Graig Nettles would have had one mother of a party if Reggie had unexpectedly keeled over dead in rightfield and yet they won a championship or two. My stars, how is THAT possible??

    One final note on steroids: Maybe I’m foolish and maybe I’m naive and sorry Will, I haven’t read your book yet (or any book since the the boy came along last year), but is there any real proof that the juice unequivically helps ballplayers be better players?? I can think of two guys who were clearly better players after taking steroids than before: Caminiti and Bonds. Bonds we’re not even sure that he took them. I realize that part of the problem is that we don’t know for sure who has or hasn’t taken steroids, but if I had to evaluate Canseco, I say they hurt his career by affecting his ability to stay healthy.

  14. 14.  Scott –

    In a few years when the HOF begins to consider the players from this era (The Steroid Era?), they are going to have to make a decision about several. At one time there were two players had hit 400+ home runs that was not in the HOF. One was Dave Kingman of the 442 HR runs and the .236 lifetime batting average, and the other was Darrell Evans, 414 HRs and .236. Now there are three. Jose Canseco will not get in, even though his numbers look good, and a review of the Keltner list for him looks good, his late career attitude and work ethic, or lack of, and the admission of steroid use is going to get him blacklisted. It is unfortunate that this will effect some of those now getting to 400+ HRs, rightly or wrongly, in that their accomplishments will be questioned. Frank is one, others are:

    Fred McGriff
    Jeff Bagwell
    Juan Gonzalez
    Gary Sheffield
    Darrell Evans
    Andre Dawson

    Two of these guys are either eligible or waiting (Dawson and McGriff). I think Dawson will get in, McGriff I’m not so sure of, even with 493 HRs. Things like attitude and work ethic count when it comes to HOF voters, and I think it could hurt Frank. A couple of injury filled seasons and reports of continuing problems could hurt his chances. I still think he should get in, he’s just not a shoo in any more. I’m not sure anybody is that had less than 500 HRs.

    Chris –

    When a players attitude effects his teammates, to the point that it effects their relationship with the manager, that’s a problem. He’s still pissed that Reinsdorf gave Bell 11-12 million per year and the most he’s been able to get is 6, and he takes it out on his manager and plays clubhouse lawyer with his teammates. Nettles could hate Jackson, but he couldn’t give Reggie a bad attitude. Frank is better with Ozzie, I think because they were teammates for a long time.

    And since everyone is jumping down my throat about linking Frank and steroids, how about this …

    “I can think of two guys who were clearly better players after taking steroids than before: Caminiti and Bonds. Bonds we’re not even sure that he took them.”

    First of all, Bonds was a great player before he got to San Francisco and had his succession of big years. Caminiti was a marginal player. Yet you state that Bonds was better after steroids, then say you don’t know if he took them. … you are joking … right?

    Also …
    “… if I had to evaluate Canseco, I say they hurt his career by affecting his ability to stay healthy.”

    I can name another player whose had a difficult time staying healthy … Frank Thomas.

  15. 15.  Where to start??

    Regarding Bonds: Obviously he was a great player before the alleged steroid/hgh use. I don’t know that he took them, but the evidence seems to point in that direction, so I included him in the Cammy comment. Bonds was a great player pre-2000 since then, he has been the best player in the history of the game, that’s quite a change and if he did take steroids, I’d be willing to credit their use to his improvement. My whole point is that lost in the outrage/hand-wringing over the ‘roids is a lack of evidence that they help anyone consistantly be better a ballplayer. I’m sure someone is thinking ‘Brady Anderson’. Fair enough, but if you chalk that up to steroids, please explain Davey Johnson’s 1973 season to me. Cigarettes??

    As far as Thomas being injury prone: well sure he has been in the last few years of his career like a lot of older players, but prior to that he was very durable. Basically Frank was healthy in 11 out of 14 full seasons in which he played and one of the three that I’m not counting(’99) he played in 135. Canseco on the other hand MISSED significant time in 11 of his 16 seasons. It’s not really even close, Frank has played a lot and Canseco was lucky to play in 100 games a year.

    Thomas’s salaries from 1995 to 2002:
    ’95: 7.15 million
    ’96: 7.15 Million
    ’97: 7.15 million
    ’98: 7.0 million
    ’99: 7.0 million
    ’00: 7.1 million
    ’01: 9.9 million
    ’02: 9.9 million

  16. 16.  Chris –

    To say that Bonds suddenly went from being a great player to the greatest player in the history of the game is to denigrate the meaning of the “greatest player,” which is a subjective measure at best, and should be based on a career rather than a handful of seasons. While Barry has admitted (supposedly) in his Grand Jury testimony that he was given steroids without his knowledge (again, supposedly), to attribute all of this increase to steroids, and then to state that there “is a lack of evidence that (steroids) help anyone consistantly (sic) be better a ballplayer” is illogical. His rise in OPS to the stratospheric levels that it has now reached began in 2000. If you look at his entire record, it has been one of steady improvement, even given his age. Let’s for a minute assume that Barry hasn’t touched drugs of any kind. Is it fair to lump him in with Caminitti, who was a serious drug abuser (alcohol, steroids, cocaine)?

    In the last 5 years Frank has averaged 75 games per year. My original statement was that Frank had a hard time staying healthy. I’ll stand by that statement.

    And since you bought the subject up, Albert Belle’s salary from 1995 to 2002:

    1995 Cleveland Indians $ 4,500,000
    1996 Cleveland Indians $ 5,700,000
    1997 Chicago White Sox $10,000,000
    1998 Chicago White Sox $10,000,000
    1999 Baltimore Orioles $11,949,794
    2000 Baltimore Orioles $12,868,670
    2001 Baltimore Orioles $12,049,040
    2002 Baltimore Orioles $12,368,790

    I think Frank has a beef. By the way, Belle made 13 million in 2003, while Frank took a 4 million dollar cut.

  17. 17.  Frank Thomas, a steroid user? LOL! That’s one of the most laughable things I’ve heard all day! Thomas, in fact, has been one of the most outspoken players in baseball AGAINST steroid use and in fact led the 22 White Sox players two years ago to skip the test in order to fail it to ensure steroid testing from then on out on a yearly basis.

    Thomas is a sure-fire HOFer in my mind. He has the second best career OBP for a right-hander of all time. Yes, in baseball history. He’s up there on a lot of the leaderboards too and was probably the second or third best hitter of the 1990’s.

    As far as health is concerned, he’s fairly healthy now, but the lack of the DH in the NL has kept him out. He will probably be back almost full-time from here on out. He will be a threat, almost certainly. He has had one at bat on this roadtrip and he hit a pinch hit HR. I believe in about 14-15 at bats he has 2 HRs already.

    Frank is not a clubhouse cancer. This mistruth has been propagated by the owner of the Chicago National League Baseball Club and Jay Mariotti (who apparently has taken a vacation after his lies in regards to the Jerry Reinsdorf-Skiles talks). I don’t believe that anyone he’s ever played with for an extended period of time (which excludes John Kruk) has ever said something like that about him.

  18. 18.  RickM,

    It is my understanding that in the same grand jury testimony, Bonds stated that he stopped using the “Cream and the Clear” because it wasn’t working. Will, correct me if I’m wrong on this, since my recollection is you mentioning this in a UTK. (The point being, people are eager to jump on part of his testimony as proof that he took steroids, while discounting other parts of it. So is he a reliable witness or not?)

    Scott,

    Thank you for pointing out this incredible Yankees bias. I can’t speak to the television side, but I listen to a lot of ESPN radio and it’s all over the place, every day. I could understand if it was one of their hosts, but it gets consistent play from Mike and Mike, Cowheard, and Patrick. Could we please not talk about the Yankees…just for a change of pace?

  19. 19.  Todd S, is it really that hard to believe that you would believe a witness’ damaging testimony and discount the portion that is self-serving? Bonds knew the government had evidence that he had received the cream and the clear, and he tried to minimize it. So, a discerning reader can recognize that he admitted to steroid use, and tried to save face. The “So is he a reliable witness or not?” is a false choice.

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