It’s still early, but the White Sox are actually off to a decent start this year. With 10 wins and 10 losses – and pending a clean sweep in Detroit – they could jump out ahead of the division early. That’s usually not a bad sign for the teams in our division: of the 19 seasons since the six-division alignment started in 1994, the team that was holding the division by May 1 won the division that year in all but two years. Exceptions happen to both be White Sox years — one of which we went on to win a World Series. But, let’s stick to the sure thing and hope that we can pull ahead here. Here are some things that they might try to reach that goal.
First, I said in passing at the beginning of this season that our pitching staff would need the least amount of work. I stand corrected. Our pitching is God-awful. We average the highest ERA of any team in baseball other than the Dbacks; and, we still have a guy on our active roster that’s ERA is higher than any of their two players combined. Thankfully, our second worst pitcher — Felipe Paulino, who started four games and racked up a whopping 11.29 ERA — has probably played his last game with the White Sox. Now it’s just finding somebody to replace him.
There’s been chatter since last year about trading Chris Sale for a handful of prospects and starting fresh. I’d say that’s a poor choice. Sale is indisputably the best player in the rotation. Granted, this makes him worth the biggest chunk of change, but this is our team’s livelihood we’re talking about. The White Sox should build their staff around Chris Sale, and make him a permanent hometown name. They stand to lose far more than they gain by dropping him. The better bet now is to move everyone stinking up our bench out, and find another young up-and-comer to take a chance on.
Or maybe instead of spending the $2.5 million they’re paying Paul Konerko to warm the bench, they could have paid for a couple of decent relievers. Instead he’s played in half the games and has one hit in 17 at-bats. It is sort of like tradition to have Konerko in the starting lineup. Now that he didn’t even bat on opening day everybody’s beginning to wonder why he didn’t just retire. But, that’s neither here nor there.
The bats are doing just fine without him. Alexei Ramirez set the team’s record for longest hitting streak to open a season with 17 games. He’s averaging .354 and has 4 home runs, which is just two shy of what he had all last year. Make Ramirez the second thing I was wrong about — at least for now. Jose Abreu — Paulie’s replacement — along with Flowers, Viciedo and Gillespie have been knocking the cover off the ball. Hats off to them, they just need to keep up the good work.
They’ve won and lost almost half of their games by pretty huge margins, so you can blame either side of the ball. They’ve lost 12-0 in Texas and 8-1 in Colorado. But they’ve also won 15-3 in Colorado and 16-2 in Texas. That tells me that there are bad days and then there are bad pitchers. There’s just no perfect overnight remedy for that, unfortunately. Hopefully they pick up the pace; May 1 is just around the corner.