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Baseball Tue Apr 20 2010

Things Are Bad But The Sox Are Showing Improvement

It would be easy to say that the problem with the Sox right now is simply hitting or pitching, or Gavin Floyd or Mark Kotsay, or maybe bad coaching. But it's not. The South Siders have good days and they have off days, like any other team. And yes, they do have problems, like any other team, it's just not one that's easy to boil down.

No player in particular is weighing the team down so let's not hate on Jake Peavy shall we? He pitched a pretty good game last time --not Cy Young-caliber-- but still much improved from earlier outings this season. If you didn't watch last Saturday's game or got so discouraged that you decided to turn it off prematurely (as I was inclined to do), Peavy pitched seven innings and let in two runs and four hits over 109 pitches. That's not great but it's not horrible and it's an improvement from Peavy's previous games this season. Keep in mind also that this was against a Cleveland Indians that are much better than in previous years. I say that this was an off day for Peavy and his two previous outings were flukes. Again, everyone has a bad day or two but you don't see any sensible baseball fan calling for Gavin Floyd's retirement do you?

Next, let's look at hitting. For a little while now I've been saying that Gordon Beckham is the same player the Sox have had for years: the promising young buck who never ends up being anything (read: Brian Anderson). Yet Beckham has the best On-Base Percentage of any of the current White Sox hitters and he has 12 home runs under his belt, more than famous sluggers like Konerko or Pierzynski this year.

Beckham isn't alone. In a piece on Juan Pierre, Reporter Scott Merkin wrote "Pierre has begun a steady climb back toward excellence. He already feels better in the season's second week than he did during his first week as an American Leaguer." Indeed, Pierre has made it a habit of bucking up Sox fans during a particularly rough couple of innings with a base hit or a homerun.

So far I've been describing the glass half-full for the Sox. Make no mistake, there's plenty of room for improvement. Even though the Sox have earned a good number of runs in each game so far they've mainly come from homeruns. That's all well and good; a good baseball team needs to be able to get the fireworks going, but they can't depend on it and that's exactly what the South Siders have been doing. Add that to inconsistent pitching and lack of a definitive closer (is it Thornton or Jenks?) and no wonder the Sox are one of the worst teams in baseball right now.

Nevertheless, I have faith. The Sox have never been a fast team. In my Sox-watching lifetime I can remember far more games won in the later innings or off of players who are by no means fast runners than anything else. This is a team that takes its time to dominate.

No, they aren't out yet, just wait.

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