Posts Tagged ‘Chicago White Sox’

Frank Thomas Officially Retires, Next Stop Cooperstown

February 12, 2010

On the same day that one future Hall of Famer officially announced his retirement, another future Hall of Famer did the same. Last night, two-time American League MVP Frank Thomas officially announced his retirement.

Not only did Glavine and Thomas retire on the same day, their situations were similar. Like Glavine, Thomas was forced into semi-retirement in 2009. Thomas didn’t play a single inning last season and yesterday, Thomas officially called it a career.

Thomas truly "Hurt" the baseball

Thomas will finish his career with a .301 average, 521 home runs, 2,468 hits, 495 doubles, a .419 OBP, and a .974 OPS in 19 seasons with the Chicago White Sox, Oakland A’s, and Toronto Blue Jays. His .974 career OPS is good for 15th all time. He also won back-to-back AL MVP awards in 93′ and 94′ with the White Sox.

I think if there is such a thing as an underrated Hall of Fame player, Thomas was it. For those of you who weren’t old enough to watch Thomas in the 1990’s, you probably don’t understand how good this guy was.

From 1991-2000, Thomas averaged a hitting line of .320/.439/.581 with 34 home runs, 115 RBI, 114 walks, and 35 doubles. Those are like Baseball Stars numbers after you power up your team. However, Thomas was overshadowed by the likes of Ken Griffey Jr., Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa.

I will go far as to say that if you asked the average baseball outside of Chicago to name the top-10 players of the 90’s, many of them wouldn’t even mention Thomas. Mo Vaughn would probably get more votes than Thomas would in that poll.

I really don’t think Thomas got the credit he deserved for being as good as he was back in the day. This guy almost won back-to-back unanimous MVP awards (he unanimously won the award in 93′)! That is incredible and rarely talked about.

Of course the Thomas detractors (David Wells) will talk about how Thomas played the majority of his games at DH for the second-half of his career and was rarely on the field. Who cares if he played the majority of his games at DH towards the later half of his career? I never understood why that is a negative on a player’s resume?

Nowhere on the Cooperstown application does it say a player had to be a “five-tool” player in order to get in. Whether you like it or not, the DH is a position in the AL. If a player excels at that position, then I don’t see a problem with it.

One thing I don’t see anyone having a problem with about Thomas was his nickname. The “Big Hurt” was one of the best and most appropriate nicknames of any player in the history of baseball. At 6’5” and 257 lbs, Thomas is a big boy and truly hurt the baseball when he hit it.

Such a great nickname.

Thomas will eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2014 and he will also have his No.35 retired by the White Sox this summer.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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Chicago White Sox Unretire Number For Vizquel

February 9, 2010

There is a pretty cool story coming out of Chicago. And no it’s not that Chicago Bears’ coach Lovie Smith got fired or Chicago Cubs’ GM Jim Hendry figured out how to be a major league GM.

The Chicago White Sox are the team in Chicago that is doing a cool thing.

Vizquel will wear No. 11 with the Chi Sox

The White Sox are unretiring Luis Aparicio’s No. 11 and giving it to newly signed SS Omar Vizquel. As long as the player whose number is being unretired doesn’t have a problem with this, then this is completely fine by me.

Aparicio clearly doesn’t have a problem with this.

“If there is one player who I would like to see wear my uniform number with the White Sox, it is Omar Vizquel,” Aparicio said in a statement through ESPN.com. “I have known Omar for a long time. Along with being an outstanding player, he is a good and decent man.”

What’s cool about this is that it’s one Venezuelan Hall of Fame shortstop giving his number to another Venezuelan future Hall of Fame shortstop. When Vizquel does hang up his spikes, he will be a HOF’er.

I think it’s great when a player of today remembers of the players of yesterday. If Vizquel can get just one fan to find a new found appreciation for Aparicio, then this decision is worth it.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

The Five Best Free Agent Hitters Left On The Market

February 6, 2010

Pitchers and catchers report to spring training in less than two weeks. Can you believe it!!! It seems like yesterday the World Series was being played.

Despite the fact that spring training starts in less than two weeks, there are still a lot of quality major league hitters who still have not found a home. Due to the economy, teams are trying to wait out players as much as possible (unless you are the Houston Astros, who gave $15 million to Brandon Lyon).

Everyone is looking for a bargain these days.

Here are the five best free agent hitters remaining on the market.

Hitters

1. Johnny Damon, OF. Damon hit .282 with 24 home runs, 36 doubles, 12 stolen bases, and .365 OBP in 143 games for the New York Yankees last year. Damon priced himself out of New York and now his options are limited.

Damon is a terrible defensive outfielder and his power numbers were just a product of playing in a ballpark perfectly suited to his swing. His agent Scott Boras is trying to get the Detroit Tigers to bite on Damon, but I see the Atlanta Braves as a darkhorse for his services.

2. Felipe Lopez, 2B. It’s pretty remarkable that a guy who is only 29-years-old and is coming off a season where he hit .310 with 9 home runs, a .383 OBP, and played outstanding defense (7.8 UZR) can’t find a job. That is the dilemma that Lopez is facing right now.

Lopez should find a home soon

You don’t hear too many teams in on his services, but this guy is too good not to have a starting job in the major leagues. The St. Louis Cardinals might be a landing spot for him, if they don’t feel comfortable with David Freese at third.

3. Hank Blalock, 1B/DH. Blalock hit .234 with 25 home runs and a .277 OBP in 123 games in 2009 for the Texas Rangers. The 123 games were the most Blalock played in since 2006.

Blalock can hit a home run, but other than that, he doesn’t do anything else particularly well. He doesn’t get on base, he is injury prone, he is not a good defensive player, and he faded in the second half last season.

He did hit 19 of his 25 home runs off of right-handed pitching, so maybe a team can use him like Mike Scioscia did 2003 All Star Game. That being a left-handed power hitter off the bench.

4. Russell Branyan, 1B/DH. Coming off of a career year, Branyan thought he would finally get paid. So far this has not been the case.

Branyan could end up with the Marlins

Branyan hit 31 home runs last year in just 116 games, but teams have been mostly scared off by Branyan’s back. A 34-year-old with a bad back and no track record prior to 2009 is not attractive to most teams.

I thought he would end up back with the Seattle Mariners at some point, but now it looks like the Florida Marlins might be interested in him.

5. Jermaine Dye, OF. Dye has finished in the top-15 in American League MVP voting two out of the last four years, but his market has been really quiet this winter.

Dye hit .250 last year with 27 home runs and a .340 OBP. Which isn’t the worst hitting line in the world. However, there are a couple of things working against Dye this offseason.

He is 36-years-old, he can’t field a lick anymore, and he is coming off a second half where he hit .179 with just seven home runs. His options are limited, so he might end up on a team as a fourth outfielder or DH-type player.

Tomorrow, I will cover the five best remaining pitchers on the free agent market.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

The “O-Cab” Will Make A Stop In Cincinnati

February 1, 2010

Isn’t it amazing how Orlando Cabrera always ends up playing in the postseason? Every October I turn on the TV and there I see Cabrera playing shortstop for a team contending for the World Series. However, it seems that no team ever wants Cabrera to stick around.

Cabrera has been on six teams in the last six years. 2010 will make it seven teams in seven years. Cabrera is to baseball what the Klopecks were to the movie The Burbs’.

The Hans Klopeck of baseball?

Cabrera will make his new home in Cincinnati. That’s because the Reds have signed the 35-year-old shortstop to a one-year, $4 million contract. There is also a $3 million option for 2011.

Cabrera was deciding between the Reds and Colorado Rockies, but chose the Reds because they gave him an opportunity to play shortstop. The Rockies wanted to move him to second.

While Cabrera isn’t the prototypical top of the order batter because he is a free swinger, he does all the little things to help a team win. He’s durable (played in 150 plus games eight out of the last nine years), a good hit-and-run guy, has led his league in sacrifice flies three out of the last four years, and his teammates love him.

There is a reason why Cabrera is always playing in October.

The signing of Cabrera means that Paul Janish is out of a job. Janish is playing in the wrong era to be a no-hit, great glove shortstop. If we were still in the 70’s or 80’s, then Janish would still be starting in Cincinnati.

But we are in the 2000’s and guys like Janish don’t last long in this day and age. Janish hit just .211, but had a pretty slick 11.7 UZR last year in 90 games with the Reds.

Nothing about Janish’s offensive minor league numbers jumps out, so to see Janish struggle at the major league level is not a surprise. Janish only hit .250 in his final year at Triple-A.

Now just because the Reds signed Cabrera, doesn’t mean they are headed to the playoffs in 2010. Even with Cabrera, the Reds are still a fourth place team next year.

I think if the Reds pick up his option in 2011, then Cabrera will have a chance to return to the postseason with the Reds. I believe the Reds will be a contender in 2011 and be a World Series contender in 2012.

I know its been 20 years for Reds fans, but be patient for just a little longer. You are almost there.

Cabrera will be entering his 14th year in the majors and has a career .275 average with 114 home runs, 197 stolen bases, and a .322 OBP with the Montreal Expos, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Chicago White Sox, Oakland A’s, and Minnesota Twins.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Random Thoughts From Around Baseball

January 29, 2010

Since there is nothing going on so far today in baseball, I thought I would just give some random thoughts from around the majors.

Orlando Cabrera is deciding between the Colorado Rockies, Cincinnati Reds, and Washington Nationals today. The guy is a winner and will get a chance to win next year if he signs with the Rockies.

I can’t believe there was a “sweepstakes” for Derrick Turnbow. The guy hasn’t been good in four years. The Florida Marlins were the luck winner of the Turnbow “sweepstakes.”

On this day two years ago, the New York Mets traded for Johan Santana. Despite not making the playoffs in his two years with the team, Santana has been everything the Mets hoped he would be.

Santana was acquired by the Mets 2 years ago today

I waiting in line for Shake Shack today at Madison Square Park in NYC in 16 degree weather. Yeah, it’s that good.

Sticking with the New York theme, the Mets are getting crushed in the Big Apple right now. They have had a rough offseason and a lot of fans are losing faith in his ownership group.

Ken Griffey Jr. apparently got “ripped” this offseason. I still think the Seattle Mariners need a better DH option in 2010.

Thanks to injuries, Erik Bedard has probably cost himself close to $75 million the last two years. Ouch.

I would say it would be a major upset if the Cleveland Indians land Orlando Hudson. I still think the “O-Dog” ends up on the Nationals.

Watching Nolan Ryan’s seventh and final no-hitter from 1991 on the MLB Network now. From the first pitch, the Toronto Blue Jays didn’t stand a chance that night. Glenallen Hill looked as befuddled as any hitter I have seen at the plate against Ryan that night.

Francisco Liriano was dominant in the Dominican Winter League. In the final game of the DWL World Series, Liriano struck out 10 in five innings and was consistently in the low to mid-90’s with his fastball.

The Caribbean World Series starts next Tuesday. Those games will be on the MLB Network starting at 2:30 pm ET. Always good talent in those games.

My trivia team is still in first place after two weeks. Questions are much harder than the ones we were faced with in Milwaukee.

Tim Wakefield expects to be a full-time member of the Boston Red Sox rotation in 2010. Umm yeah, I am not sure about that one Tim. Unless Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, John Lackey, or Clay Buchholz get hurt (knock on wood), he will be used an old-fashion swing man.

I still haven’t figured out why the Chicago White Sox didn’t bring Jim Thome back. They need a DH and he could have helped.

That’s all for now. Have a good weekend everyone!!!

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

“Thome’s Hommies” Are Headed To Minnesota

January 27, 2010

One of the more interesting debates that will occur six or seven years from now is the question of whether or not Jim Thome is a Hall of Famer?

Thome has all the stats you look for in a HOF’er. He has well over 500 home runs (564 to be exact), he is fifth all-time in HR/AB (13.7), 10th in walks (1,619), and 20th in OPS (.961). Those are some pretty impressive credentials.

Will Thome be a Hall of Famer?

But with only one, top-five finish in MVP voting during his career, plus playing in the steroid era, I am not sure how much love Thome will get on his first shot at the HOF.

I have the same take on Thome that I had with Barry Larkin. Yeah, the numbers might be there over a long period of time, but I never viewed either as a HOF player. I have never watched Thome play and say “There is an all-time great.”

Thome is like Fred McGriff, but with more home runs. McGriff only received 21.5 percent of the vote in this past HOF vote.

The reason I am bringing this up, is because yesterday Thome will be given another chance to add to his resumé. The Minnesota Twins inked Thome to a one-year, $1.5 million contract. Thome can earn another $700,000 in incentives.

This is a pretty sweet deal for the Twins. Despite already having a DH in Jason Kubel, the signing of Thome does give the Twins some options.

Thome’s main role will be a power source off the bench, but he could also DH against right-handed pitching. Thome hit 18 of his 23 home runs last year off of righties. The Twins could then move Kubel to left field and put Delmon Young on the bench.

I am kind of surprised there wasn’t more of a market for Thome this offseason. I know he is 40 and only is a DH at this point, which limits his options, but he was having a pretty legit year with the Chicago White Sox in 2009 before he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers and just rotted on the bench.

With the White Sox, Thome hit .249 with 23 home runs and a .377 OBP in 107 games. A team like the Seattle Mariners could have certainly used Thome as a full-time DH in 2010. I would rather him getting regular AB’s at this point than Ken Griffey Jr.

This will be Thome’s third stop in the American League Central. He played with the Cleveland Indians from 1991-2002 and for the White Sox from 2006-2009. Perhaps next year he can choose between the Detroit Tigers or the Kansas City Royals so he can play for every team in the division.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Pirates Continue To Add Relievers, Sign Octavio Dotel

January 22, 2010

Almost a week after the Pittsburgh Pirates signed relievers D.J. Carrasco and Brendan Donnelly, the Pirates are at it again.

According to Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Pirates have signed Octavio Dotel to a one-year, $3 million contract. There is also a club option for 2011.

Dotel becomes the Pirates closer

Dotel is expected to be the Pirates’ closer in 2010.

This is a pretty good deal for both parties.

For Dotel, he gets the chance to close again. Though he hasn’t closed games on a consistent basis since 2007 with the Kansas City Royals (I completely forgot he was on the Royals), Dotel should be up to the task in Pittsburgh.

At the age of 36, Dotel showed no signs of slowing down last year with the Chicago White Sox. Dotel posted a 3.32 ERA and a 10.8 K/9 ratio in 62.1 innings.

Perhaps the only concern with Dotel is his increased walk rate. Dotel had a 5.2 BB/9 ratio last year, which was his highest since 2006.

For the Pirates, I like this move for a couple of reasons.

First, Dotel is better than anything they currently have in the bullpen, so he is a definite upgrade. There is nothing more demoralizing to a young team than having to battle for eight innings and then your closer comes in and blows the game.

Dotel will at least help stabilize the bullpen on the back end. And considering that he made $6 million with the White Sox last season, the Pirates got him at a reasonable cost.

Second, a player like Dotel can become prime trade bait for the Pirates. Contending teams are always looking for relief pitchers at the trade deadline and someone like Dotel could be a hot commodity.

If he can stay healthy and prove he still has it, then the Pirates could look to trade him for some prospects once they fall out of the race (which is inevitable).

As I wrote in my Carrasco and Donnelly post, the moves the Pirates have made this offseason won’t make them a contender in 2010, but will make them a much tougher out next year.

Their bullpen has been vastly improved this offseason and they continue to get more athletic. If everything breaks right for them, they could win 75-80 games in 2010.

Dotel will be entering his 12th season in the majors and has a career 3.73 ERA with 83 saves and a 11.0 K/9 ratio with the New York Mets, Houston Astros, Oakland A’s, New York Yankees, Atlanta Braves, Royals and White Sox.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Starting Nine: American League Central

January 12, 2010

Yesterday, I took at the starting nine position players for each American League East team. Today, I will cover the starting nine position players for each American League Central team.

Remember, these lineups are as of today. Obviously these will change as the offseason continues. I will update these lineups as the season approaches.

Here are the starting lineups for each American League Central team:

Minnesota Twins

1. Denard Span, CF

2. Joe Mauer, C

3. Justin Morneau, 1B

4. Michael Cuddyer, RF

5. Jason Kubel, DH

6. Delmon Young, LF

7. J.J. Hardy, SS

8. Brendan Harris, 3B

9. Nick Punto, 2B

Quick Take – The Twins have as good a one through five as anyone in baseball. They desperately need a third and second baseman. Orlando Hudson would be a nice addition.

Chicago White Sox

1. Juan Pierre, LF

2. Gordon Beckham, 2B

3. Carlos Quentin, RF

4. Paul Konerko, 1B

5. Alex Rios, CF

6. Alexei Ramirez, SS

7. A.J. Pierzynski, C

8. Mark Teahen, 3B

9. Mark Kotsay, DH

Quick Take – Perhaps there is no lineup that is harder to put together than the White Sox’s. This lineup could go in nine different directions. They need a DH and bringing back Jim Thome would make sense.

Detroit Tigers

1. Austin Jackson, CF

2. Carlos Guillen, DH

3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B

4. Magglio Ordonez, RF

5. Brandon Inge, 3B

6. Ryan Raburn, LF

7. Gerald Laird, C

8. Adam Everett, SS

9. Scott Sizemore, 2B

Quick Take – Another hard lineup to put together. Jackson and Sizemore could flip-flop in the order. I don’t see a reason to ever pitch to Cabrera.

Kansas City Royals

1. Scott Podsednik, CF

2. David DeJesus, LF

3. Billy Butler, 1B

4. Jose Guillen, RF

5. Alex Gordon, 3B

6. Alberto Callaspo, 2B

7. Josh Fields, DH

8. Yuniesky Betancourt, SS

9. Jason Kendall, C

Quick Take – This lineup is going to have a hard time scoring runs. This year might be make or break for Gordon.

Cleveland Indians

1. Azdrubal Cabrera, SS

2. Michael Brantley, LF

3. Grady Sizemore, CF

4. Shin-Soo Choo, RF

5. Travis Hafner, DH

6. Jhonny Peralta, 3B

7. Matt LaPorta, 1B

8. Lou Marson, C

9. Luis Valbuena, 2B

Quick Take – I like putting Brantley in the two-hole because of the speed and high OBP ability he showed in the minors. Sizemore moves down to the three-hole and takes on the role of a run producer.

Tomorrow, I will take a look at the American League West.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Kansas City Royals Add Scott Podsednik

January 10, 2010

I love when fans of teams throw a hissy fit over a player signing for no apparent reason. They take a minor signing and turn it into the world’s greatest travesty.

Case in point: The Scott Podsednik signing by the Kansas City Royals.

The Royals signed Podsednik on Friday to a one-year, $1,75 million contract. There is also a club option for 2011 for $2 million.

Podsednik won't be doing much celebrating in KC

This is such a nothing with nothing signing, but for some reason Royals fans are acting like GM Dayton Moore signed Podsednik to a six-year, $100 million deal. I really don’t get it.

Perhaps the real reason is that Royal fans are so frustrated with Moore, they figure any move he makes is probably a stupid one. Maybe they are right, but like I said before, this move is no big deal.

Podsednik signed for one-year, so it’s not like he is taking the spot of a top Royals’ prospect in 2010. As a matter of fact, the Royals don’t have any outfield prospects ready for the major leagues.

Who is he taking of the place of? Mitch Maier? Maier is nothing special. He was a former first-round pick in 2003, but hasn’t proven he can be an everyday player at the major league level.

Podsednik does give the Royals speed at the top of their lineup, which was something they were hoping Coco Crisp could do last year. Last year, he stole 30 bases in 43 attempts with the Chicago White Sox.

Has Podsednik declined defensively over the years? Yes he has. But the difference between Podsednik and Maier isn’t so great, where the Royals are making a catastrophic decision.

Unfortunately for Royals fans (the few they have left), these are the type of players the Royals are going to sign until they learn how to develop their own players and develop players they receive in trades.

Podsednik isn’t going to make the Royals a contender in 2010. At this point, no single player can–not even Albert Pujols. But he isn’t going to crumble the franchise either.

Moore has taken care of that.

Podsednik will be entering his ninth year in the major leagues and has a career .277 average with a .340 OBP with 266 steals in 353 attempts with the Seattle Mariners, Milwaukee Brewers, Colorado Rockies, and White Sox.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Juan Uribe The Starter?

January 6, 2010

When the San Francisco Giants re-signed Juan Uribe to a one-year, $3.25 million last week, many envisioned Uribe becoming a super-utility player for the Giants in 2010.

As the great Lee Corso always says “Not so fast my friends.”

In an interview with the San Jose Mercury News, Giants’ GM Brian Sabean suggested that Uribe could be the Giants’ starting third baseman in 2010. The move would allow the newly signed Mark DeRosa to play left field and Pablo Sandoval would shift to first base.

Uribe should not be starting in 2010

This suggestion stems from the fact neither Sabean or manager Bruce Bochy feel comfortable with a Eugenio Velez and Andres Torres platoon in left.

Despite Uribe having his highest batting average in 2009 since 2001 (.289) and his highest OBP (.329) of his career, Uribe can’t be the Giants starting third baseman in 2010.

Uribe is a career .257 hitter with a .298 OBP. There is a better chance of Uribe doing that in 2010 than him hitting .289 again. Some guys are just better suited to be a bench player and Uribe is one of them at this point in his career.

Like Sabean said in the interview, the Giants have until opening day to figure things out. If I was Sabean, I would figure things out by finding a scenario where Uribe is not my everyday third baseman.

There are plenty of low-cost options out there like Xavier Nady, Aubrey Huff, and Russell Branyan that would allow the Giants to maximize their roster. I think someone like Johnny Damon might be out of the Giants price range, so signing someone like Branyan would be a smart move.

Now some of you might be saying “Hey Adam, the Chicago White Sox won a World Series with Uribe as their starting shortstop in 2005.”

While that is true, the White Sox also had a very deep lineup that year. Paul Konerko hit 40 home runs, Jermaine Dye hit 31 home runs, Scott Podsednik stole 59 bases, and even “Crazy” Carl Everett hit 23 home runs. Uribe was an afterthought in that lineup.

The Giants’ lineup is so mediocre that Uribe would be exposed in 2010. He would be counted on to provide offense and I just don’t see it happening.

The Giants should exhaust all available options before deciding to hand over the starting third base job to Uribe in 2010.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg