Posted by sportsmaven on April 22, 2008
The surprise team in the AL Central this season is the Chicago White Sox. After a dismal 72-90 season in 2007, the Sox were picked no higher than 3rd place in most prognosticators division rankings for 2008. The Sox are certainly hitting the ball, with a solid offense led by Joe Crede, Jermaine Dye, Jim Thome and newcomers Nick Swisher and Carlos Quentin.
While the Sox were expected to be strong offensively, the true surprise for this team has been the solid performance of the pitching staff, especially the starters. Going into 2008, Mark Buehrle and Javier Vasquez were expected to be staff leaders. The back half of the staff has been led by a recent resurgence from Jose Contreras, who had his best outing since the World Series season of 2005 in his start on April 16th against the Baltimore Orioles, hurling 7 innings of 1 run ball with 6 strikeouts.
Gavin Floyd and John Danks have been the most surprising, with Floyd taking a no-hitter into the 8th inning of his start against the Detroit Tigers on April 12th. Floyd is 2-0 with a 1.40 ERA and improving by leaps and bounds as this season progresses. John Danks has also been fantastic, with a 2-1 record and a 3.04 ERA. Danks currently has a 14 2/3 inning shutout streak, and outside of a 2 1/3 inning, 7 run outing against the Minnesota Twins on April 9th, his ERA would be a sparkling 0.14 (1 earned run in 21 1/3 innings pitched)
If the Sox continue to get quality pitching, they can dominate a AL Central Division that suddenly appears to be much weaker than anticipated. The Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians have huge pitching problems that may not work themselves out. While Sox pitching continues to dominate AL Central play, the teams considered the strong horses of the division are fading early, providing the Sox a great opportunity to open up a formidable lead in the early part of the the 2008 season.
Posted in Chicago White Sox | Tagged: Baltimore Orioles, Carlos Quentin, Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Gavin Floyd, Javier Vasquez, Jermaine Dye, Jim Thome, Joe Crede, John Danks, Jose Contreras, Major League Baseball, Mark Buehrle, Nick Swisher | Leave a Comment »
Posted by sportsmaven on March 7, 2008
Just when we thought the Chicago Cubs could have a quiet, productive, uneventful spring training…..reality sets in and proves once again that spring training is anything but ordinary for a franchise entering into the Golden Anniversary year of it’s last World Series championship. Off-field drama has dominated the Cubs camp, beginning with Day 1 posterboy, 3B Aramis Ramirez and allegations of cock fighting in the Dominican Republic and the majestic entrance of RF Kosuke Fukudome and the entourage of Japanese baseball reporters. Day 2 opens with news from winter blitzed Chicago that the Cubs are suing a rooftop owner who is refusing to pay his fair share of rooftop revenue. The Cubs have threatened to block said owner’s rooftop until payment is made. By the end of the first week, 2B Mark DeRosa leaves camp in an ambulance for a non-baseball heart procedure. Welcome to Days of Our Cubs.
(AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)
For the encore, lets take a look at the next few days issues:
- RHP Jose Ascanio was sent to the hospital to be examined for injuries suffered in a one-sided fistfight at a Scottsdale convenience store
- Sam Zell warms up to Cubs fans by announcing that the Wrigley Field naming rights are open to the highest bidder
- Sam Zell warms up to the City of Chicago by announcing that he wants to renegotiate more night games and concerts for Whateverit’scalled Field
- State of Illinois makes pitch to buy Whateverit’scalled Field by dissing the City of Chicago’s landmark status and suggestions of hijacking tax revenue from revenue generated from stadium improvements for the next 30 years or so
So what about the real baseball issues, you ask? Well, those are just as outrageous:
- 3B Aramis Ramirez starts camp with his annual injury, nursing a sore shoulder that keeps him out of early game action
- RF Alfonso Soriano breaks a finger, sidelining him for 3 to 5 to 7 to who knows how many days.
- RHP Ryan Dempster makes a bold prediction that the Cubs will win the World Series in 2008
- RHP Jason Marquis boldly states that if he is not a starter, he wants to be traded
- Manager Lou Piniella pitching the Tribune Company to extend GM Jim Hendry’s contract while simultaneously dropping hints for his own contract extension
- Lou Piniella blows a gasket over Jason Marquis is-guided comments, losing early, meaningless spring training games, and the details of the pitching staff work schedule
- The on again, off again, on again, never happening trade talks with the Baltimore Orioles for 2B Brian Roberts that will fuel the rumor mill for the remainder of spring training to the July 31st trade deadline
Seriously, there are some on-field baseball issues to resolve, right? You bet:
- Who will be the 4th and 5th starters and where will Jason Marquis be pitching in 2008?
- Is Alfonso Soriano really leading off again?
- Who will be the Cubs closer?
- Can Kosuke Fukudome really hit?
- Do we have a CF on our roster that can actually play?
- Can Lou Piniella write 100 different lineups by the end of spring training?
Well, at least the entire Cubs organization from top to bottom, knows how to keep it entertaining for the rest of us. And to think that RHP Carlos Zambrano is the voice of reason in this year’s spring camp…..wait until the Cubs acquire a new owner? Mark Cuban, where are you?
Posted in Chicago Cubs | Tagged: Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez, Baltimore Orioles, Brian Roberts, Carlos Zambrano, Chicago, Chicago Cubs, Jason Marquis, Jose Ascanio, Kosuke Fukudome, Lou Piniella, Mark Cuban, Mark DeRosa, MLB, roof top, Ryan Dempster, Sam Zell, World Series, Wrigley Field | Leave a Comment »