Restoring the rosters: No. 25 – Chicago White Sox

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This is part of a series of articles examining what every team’s roster would look like if given only the players it originally signed. I’m compiling the rosters, ranking them and presenting them in a countdown from Nos. 30 to 1.
No. 30 – Cincinnati
No. 29 – Kansas City
No. 28 – San Diego
No. 27 – Milwaukee
No. 26 – Baltimore
The White Sox have a good chance of finishing at .500 or better for the ninth time in 10 seasons this year, but that isn’t well reflected here. The sterling class of position players developed in the 90s are fading now, with Frank Thomas and Ray Durham both out of the league, and the home-grown pitchers who helped the team at the beginning of the decade, such as Mike Sirotka, Jim Parque and Kip Wells, all flamed out quickly.
Rotation
Mark Buehrle
Brandon McCarthy
Clayton Richard
Josh Fogg
Gio Gonzalez
Bullpen
Jon Rauch
Matt Guerrier
Aaron Poreda
Chad Bradford
Brendan Donnelly
Josh Rupe
Kip Wells
The rotation consists of an ace and four fifth starters, but at least the bullpen should be able to eat innings with Rauch, Guerrier, Poreda and Rupe. One could make a case for putting Poreda in the rotation, but I think he’s a better bet as a reliever right now and he’d get a lot of work in close games as part of this group.
Also worthy of argument is going with Carlos Torres in the pen over Rupe or Wells. But we can let the two veterans duel it out for a month and then replace the weaker of the two.
Interestingly, of the seven relievers, only Wells had any sort of significant career with the White Sox. Guerrier and Rupe were dealt before reaching the majors. Donnelly’s White Sox career consisted of seven starts and two relief appearances in Rookie ball in 1992. Of course, he was released several times before injecting himself onto the Angels roster in 2002.
Lineup
CF Mike Cameron
2B Gordon Beckham
DH Carlos Lee
LF Magglio Ordonez
SS Alexei Ramirez
RF Aaron Rowand
3B Joe Crede
1B Josh Fields
C Chris Stewart
Bench
OF Chris Young
OF Ryan Sweeney
INF Chris Getz
C Mark Johnson
Well, that’s one possible lineup. Personally, I’d probably have Young in left field for the best possible outfield defense, Ordonez at DH and Lee at first base. So many of the guys have similar offensive profiles that there are a lot of different possible lineup combinations that would work. OBP is going to be a problem, of course, but it’d still be a solid group if Ordonez proves he has something left in the tank.
One thing that really stood out as I put all of these rosters together is that some teams seem to have a knack for developing catchers, whereas others can’t come up with anyone viable. Johnson was a legitimate 80-game-per-year guy at the beginning of the decade, but he’s long past his prime now, and Stewart has never been and will never be more than a No. 3 catcher.
Summary
The White Sox have had a better decade than any other team that will finish in the bottom 10 of these rankings. GM Kenny Williams deserves much of the credit thanks to a number of quality trades. However, he also should be blamed for some of the lousy drafts. His choices of reliever Royce Ring with the 18th overall pick in 2002 and upside-less right-hander Lance Broadway 15th overall in 2005 qualify as two of the worst selections of the decade. Then again, he’s had a top-14 pick only once since taking over after 2000 and he scored a big hit then by landing Beckham last year.

Study: West teams at a disadvantage due to jet lag

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - JULY 14:  A Delta airlines plane is seen as it comes in for a landing at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on July 14, 2016 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Delta Air Lines Inc. reported that their second quarter earnings rose a better-than-expected 4.1%, and also announced that they decided to reduce its United States to Britian capacity on its winter schedule because of foreign currency issues and the economic uncertainty from Brexit.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
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Every year, when the schedules are released, we often hear about the teams that have it worst. Almost always, those teams are West teams. According to MLB.com, teams in the West division of their respective leagues had the top eight most travel-heavy schedules in 2016. The full list:

Team League Division Miles
Mariners AL West 47,704
Angels AL West 44,945
Athletics AL West 42,119
Rangers AL West 41,128
Dodgers NL West 40,294
Giants NL West 39,341
Astros AL West 38,553
Padres NL West 37,363
Rays AL East 36,916
Red Sox AL East 36,896
D-Backs NL West 35,312
Yankees AL East 35,252
Marlins NL East 35,226
Rockies NL West 33,287
Blue Jays AL East 32,895
Orioles AL East 32,322
Braves NL East 29,236
Royals AL Central 29,077
Twins AL Central 28,948
Phillies NL East 28,351
Mets NL East 26,832
White Sox AL Central 26,538
Cardinals NL Central 26,451
Pirates NL Central 26,134
Brewers NL Central 25,620
Tigers AL Central 25,450
Indians AL Central 25,176
Reds NL Central 25,108
Nationals NL East 24,664
Cubs NL Central 24,271

The averages by division:

  • AL East: 34,856 miles
  • AL Central: 25,176
  • AL West: 42,890
  • NL East: 28,862
  • NL Central: 25,517
  • NL West: 37,119

The maps aren’t up for 2017 yet, but rest assured that West teams will once again have it worst. It’s easy to see why, taking a look at the map on MLB.com. If you draw a line to split Texas in half and go straight up through North Dakota, there are only eight teams to the left of that line, leaving the other 23 condensed on the right side. When West teams aren’t playing intra-division games, they are traveling. That’s often not the case for East and Central teams. The Phillies and Pirates, for example, don’t even have to leave the state to play each other.

As Gizmodo points out, a study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found a link between jet lag and performance. Sleep scientist Ravi Allada of Northwestern University analyzed 4,919 games, finding that teams that traveled East performed worse than those that traveled West. Allada and his colleagues adjusted for home field advantage and park effects.

Specifically, teams that traveled from the West to the East lost more often than East teams traveling West. They gave up more runs and scored less runs. They hit for a lower batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. They gave up more home runs, accounting for most of the decline in run prevention.

There was a peculiar finding. Allada found that jet lagged home teams performed worse than jet lagged visiting teams. He hypothesizes that “teams may be more cognizant of their schedules when traveling away, thus mitigating jet lag effects,” he told Gizmodo.

The Braves ask Cobb County for $14 million more

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The Braves’ new ballpark in Cobb County Georgia is the gift that keeps on taking.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Braves have asked Cobb County for $14 million for roads, walkways and other pedestrian improvements around the stadium the team has already paid for but which it says the county is responsible. The county says it’s not responsible for them and that it has already paid nearly $70 million for transportation improvements around the ballpark, including on privately-owned property in the mixed-use development.

The reason this isn’t settled: at the time the deal between the county and the team was struck, there was a provision for the county to pay for $14 million for certain improvements. The Braves, this past September, told the county that it wants to be reimbursed for these projects under that provision and that the $70 million the county has already spent shouldn’t count. For reasons, I guess. It’s a bit complicated, but the AJC story lays it out pretty well. The upshot seems to be “why didn’t the Braves say they wanted the county to pay for these things long ago?”

The answer to that question, I suspect, is “because the Braves have been treated as entitled corporate welfare recipients since this deal was announced and they have learned that they can get away with almost anything.”