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Chicago's a team in trouble, no doubt about it. Other than our cutter-enhanced old friend, Esteban Loaiza, the White Sox have been getting pretty spotty starting pitching, especially from Mark Buehrle. The Jays duck Esteban and his improbably league-leading ERA of 1.99 this series.

But their pitching problems pale (or Pale, as in Hose) in comparison to their defensive woes. Dodgy fielding, erratic throws and a ton of wild pitches -- especially with promising but green Miguel Olivo behind the plate -- have been costing the White Sox close games, such as on Saturday and Sunday.

And even those difficulties are nothing compared with Chicago's wildly underachieving lineup at the bat. So many Sox are playing so far under their expected level of play that the axe fell on Gary Ward after yesterday's loss in Minnesota. Greg Walker makes his hitting-coach debut tonight at Ex-Comiskey Park.

The message has been sent to Konerko, Thomas, Ordonez et al., and the Jays can't expect a cakewalk this week. A win tonight would set a good tone for the series for our .500 boys, but a breakout game for Chisox hitters might wake up their bats that won't stay slumbering forever. Who would have ever guessed that as of May 19, the White Sox would only be able to count on sending Esteban Loaiza to the All-Star Game in front of their home fans in July?

On to the Advance Scout!

* Warning to the Jays: The White Sox tasted the sweet, sweet nectar of .500 on Thursday night -- only to trek up to Minneapolis and get swept away this past weekend ... Sandy Alomar Jr. said that early criticism of the White Sox has been completely warranted: "We have a way better team than we've shown on the field ... We have to play up to our level and we haven't done that" ...
* The Sox have been disastrous in the field, but Jerry Manuel blames the club's hitting: "It may appear that the defence is costing us games, but the key for us is scoring runs ... When we don't score runs, other things get magnified" ...
* Chicago Sun-Times columnist Jay Mariotti says the White Sox play "lousy fundamental baseball" ...
* Frank Thomas is just 1 for his last 11 (.091) after having a torrid seven-game stretch in which he hit .448 ... He got hot after he made his widely-reported rant about having to face too much tough inside pitching ... All of Hurt's nine home runs have been solo shots ... Thomas' career HR total is up to 385, tying Dewey Evans for 42nd all-time ... He's also tied with Nellie Fox for second in all-time runs as a member of the Chisox ...
* Alomar has (rightly) conceded the lion's share of playing time behind the plate lately to Miguel Olivo, but he sparked the decisive four-run rally against Baltimore on Wednesday night with an RBI single ...
* Olivo has had serious difficulty with blocking pitches thus far ... But man, he can throw ... Ron Gardenhire: "That's a young Ivan Rodriguez right there. That kid has an absolute cannon" ...
* D'Angelo Jimenez has hit in 12 of his last 14 games ... He's at an eminently satisfactory 308/400/490 out of the leadoff spot ...
* After spending April on the DL, Dan Wright made just his second start of the season last Wednesday against Baltimore ... But it was a good one: Six scattered hits, one walk and one run in six-and-a-third ...
* But for Billy Koch, Chicago's bullpen is off to a great start ... Said Wright: "It's fun handing the ball to Flash Gordon or anyone else because you know they're going to get the job done" ... Well, you don't know: Gordon has surrendered runs in 8 of his 20 appearances ...
* You do know, on the other hand, about the job Kelly Wunsch is going to do ... He's in rarefied Brendan Donnelly air: 12.2 innings, two hits, six walks, 12 strikeouts and no earned runs ... But he did give up an unearned run when he himself threw a bunted ball away on Saturday ...
* Jose Valentin was the wild-throw culprit on Sunday, as the Twins scored the tying and winning runs on a Gordon wild pitch and a Valentin throwing error, respectively ... Mariotti on Valentin: "This man should not be playing shortstop" ...
* Bartolo Colon scored major points with his teammates when he cost himself a complete game by getting ejected after beaning Jerry Hairston Jr. in the ninth on Thursday, on just his 87th pitch ... He was retaliating for Jorge Julio plunking Magglio Ordonez ... "It's old-fashioned baseball," said an appreciative Thomas ... For their part, the Orioles pled incompetence: "Jorge Julio hadn't pitched in a week and was a little off," said a still-smarting Hairston ... Mags didn't buy it: "I'm the best player on the team and they always hit the best player" ...
* Idle boast? Ordonez probably is the best player on the team, but he's only slugging a (relatively) pedestrian .497 with just 7 HR and 22 runs scored ...
* Opponents are hitting .266 off of Mark Buehrle, who's only struck out more than 4 in a game once ... Buehrle was absolutely rocked on Friday, conceding ten runs (nine earned) in three-and-a-third ... After taking another loss, Buehrle was at a loss: "I don't know what's going on...It seems like everything I throw up there, they're hitting it" ... Buehrle's on an ugly six-game losing streak ... Pitching coach Don Cooper: "I'm betting that he's going to be just fine...When you're talking about a loss of confidence, to me that equals a loss of aggressiveness too...That's what we have to guard against" ...
* Willie Harris was relieved to find out his shoulder was only bruised after hitting the Metrodome turf in a diving catch attempt on Friday ... He was afraid it was separated ...
* Carlos Lee, at an underachieving 265/308/463, was robbed of a game-tying home run by Torii Hunter on Saturday ... Paul Konerko said it was "probably the catch of the year in the major leagues" ...
* And what's with Paul Konerko? Did anyone see 221/296/324 coming? ...
* Consequently, cagey ex-OF Gary Ward was replaced today as hitting coach with cagey ex-1B Greg Walker. The White Sox are hitting just .249, and .232 with RISP ... Manuel says he wants his over-anxious hitters to be more patient with men on base ... Kenny Williams: "We felt the need for a change and a different voice in an effort to get our offense jump-started" ...
* Brian Daubach is having a tough time getting into the lineup ... Manuel says that he'll get the bulk of the playing time in right now that Harris is injured ... Daubach is hitting just .174 ... He was a curious signing, since the positions he can play (1B, DH, and to a lesser extent, RF and 3B) are already spoken for when the Sox are healthy ...

Probable Batting Orders

vs. LH

4 Jimenez
6 Valentin
DH Thomas
8 Ordonez
7 Lee
3 Konerko
9 Daubach
5 Graffanino
2 Olivo

vs. RH

4 Jimenez
6 Valentin
DH Thomas
8 Ordonez
7 Lee
9 Daubach/Rios
3 Konerko
5 Crede
2 Olivo/Alomar

Pitching Probables

Monday: RH Wright vs. Lidle
Tuesday: RH Colon vs. Davis
Wednesday: LH Buehrle vs. Hendrickson

Bullpen Usage

Long: Glover R, Sanders L
Short: White R, Marte L
Setup: Gordon R, Wunsch L
Closer: Koch R
Advance Scout: White Sox, May 19-21 | 6 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
_Shane - Monday, May 19 2003 @ 06:21 PM EDT (#20162) #
Before the grown-ups play the White Sox, how about a Triple-AAA update? In game #1 of a double-header, Syracuse leads Jason Marquis's Richmond Braves 4-0. Thru four innings Jason Arnold has allowed 5 hits, K'd 4, and walked 0. Of the five hits Arnold has allowed, Dewayne Wise has misplayed two in centerfield for two of the hits, and another was a dribbler up the thirdbase line.

Kevin Cash has a single and a K, as well he threw out a runner at thirdbase on a "strike 'em out, throw 'em out". Three of the Chiefs runs came on a homer by Tony Zuniga, his 9th of the season.

Corey Thurman starts game #2.
Coach - Monday, May 19 2003 @ 06:53 PM EDT (#20163) #
Thanks for the update, Shane. I was certain Arnold would become more relaxed the longer he's in AAA, and I expect he'll have the same period of adjustment the next time he's promoted.

Mike, the Advance Scout is always a great read, but this edition is superb, with lots of stuff I didn't know. Of all the interesting quotes, my favourite is from Jerry "Dead Manager Walking" Manuel:

"When we don't score runs, other things get magnified."

Yeah, like the terrible fielding and pitching, the clubhouse "chemistry" with unstable element Frank Thomas in the mix, the lack of leadership, and the skipper's annual destruction of a closer's confidence. Showing a highly advanced survival instinct, Jerry made the hitting coach the fall guy, and the pitching coach may be next, but he'll eventually run out of scapegoats. Then it will be Kenny Williams' turn to cover his butt by assigning blame.
_Shane - Monday, May 19 2003 @ 07:21 PM EDT (#20164) #
Syracuse Final, 7-2 over Richmond. Jason Arnold gets the win, his first against no loses. Pitches 6 innings, not sure how many pitches thrown, 7 hits allowed, 6 K's, 1 walk, and 2 earned runs allowed, he threw no wild pitches, and hit no batters, a first in a game this year if i'm remembering correctly.

Up until the beginning of the sixth, Arnold had sat down nine straight batters, it was commented that he appeared tired, allowed his first and only walk, then once more, Dewayne Wise did a poor job of corraling a ball hit to center, a possible out turned into a double and Richmond's only two runs then scored.

Game #2 up coming...
_Shane - Monday, May 19 2003 @ 07:49 PM EDT (#20165) #
Corey Thurman is not starting game #2, it's Josh Towers. Syracuse 1-0 on a Howie long sac fly.
Dave Till - Monday, May 19 2003 @ 10:34 PM EDT (#20166) #
Thank goodness I'm not a White Sox fan. That's got to be depressing: a bunch of slow right-handed hitting power hitters who can't field, bad clubhouse chemistry, Frank Thomas, and a drab corporate ballpark. And the Sox haven't been to the World Series in Cal Ripken's lifetime.

No wonder Esteban Loaiza is doing well here - compared to some players on that team, he's a model citizen by comparison.
_Don Kosin - Tuesday, May 20 2003 @ 01:28 PM EDT (#20167) #
This is the most ON TARGET analysis I have seen of the White Sox. Being a fan of the Sox since 1972 when the great DICK ALLEN slugged his way into my heart has been tough but this year has been truly AWFUL. We had such great expectations AGAIN this year but reality has sunk in and it's a LIFELESS team that's becoming harder to get behind.
Advance Scout: White Sox, May 19-21 | 6 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.