White Sox look just about set after Pierre trade

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Swinging a trade with the Dodgers for Juan Pierre this morning has the White Sox’s lineup looking more or less set for 2010:
C – A.J. Pierzynski (.300/.331/.425 in 2009)
1B – Paul Konerko (.277/.353/.489)
2B – Gordon Beckham (.270/.347/.460)
SS – Alexei Ramirez (.277/.333/.389)
3B – Mark Teahen (.271/.325/.408)
LF – Carlos Quentin (.236/.323/.456)
CF – Juan Pierre (.308/.365/.392)
RF – Alex Rios (.247/.296/.395)
DH – Andruw Jones (.214/.323/.459)
While fairly solid top to bottom that group certainly doesn’t look likely to score a ton of runs, although Quentin getting back to his 2008 form and Beckham improving upon his solid rookie campaign could change that somewhat. Rios and Ramirez are also good bets to bounce back with better seasons, and re-signing Jim Thome to perhaps platoon with Jones would bring significant pop to the DH slot. Bringing back Thome would also help balance out what is now a very right-handed group.
Pierre gets overrated by people who focus on his speed and batting average rather than his lack of power and plate discipline, but he’s a decent fit for the White Sox’s lineup given the lack of on-base threats. Konerko is the only other hitter in the lineup who had an OBP above .350 in 2009 and he’s obviously not a leadoff option, so by adding Pierre the White Sox can use Beckham in more of a run-production spot and keep the various .300-.330 OBPs lower in the order. Of course, Pierre’s career .348 OBP is hardly great either.
Barring any further changes I’d peg that lineup for somewhere in the middle of the pack, perhaps in the 8-10 range, which doesn’t sound very good until you consider that they ranked 12th in scoring in 2009. Plus, with the deep, talented pitching staff that general manager Ken Williams has assembled the White Sox won’t necessarily have to do a ton of scoring to have success in 2010:
SP – Jake Peavy
SP – Mark Buehrle
SP – John Danks
SP – Gavin Floyd
SP – Freddy Garcia
CL – Bobby Jenks
RP – Matt Thornton
RP – J.J. Putz
RP – Scott Linebrink
RP – Tony Pena
RP – Daniel Hudson
Buehrle, Danks, and Floyd combined to start 95 games with a 3.89 ERA in 2009, so with a healthy Peavy added to the mix that rotation should be among the league’s very best. The bullpen isn’t as strong because Jenks and Linebrink have declined, but Thornton is an elite setup man and Putz getting back on track would be a huge addition. Overall the White Sox have the look a good team rather than a great one, but in a division where 88 wins often gets the job done they’re in solid shape.

Noah Syndergaard scratched with a “tired arm”

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Mets manager Terry Collins says that he has scratched Noah Syndergaard, who was supposed to start this afternoon’s game against the Braves. In his place will go Matt Harvey.

Syndergaard, Collins says, has “tired arm.” But also says he has some discomfort in his right biceps. He will have an MRI, but Syndergaard says it’s not serious and that he could pitch as soon as Sunday. Collins says this is an abundance-of-caution type thing, saying “we can’t take a chance on this guy.” Which is true.

The Mets ace is 1-1 with a 1.73 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 26 innings. He has walked no one this year. Not a soul.

James Paxton has a fantastic new nickname

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James Paxton of the Mariners is 3-0 with a 1.39 ERA, 39 strikeouts and only six walks in 32.1 innings of work over five starts. Last night he shut the Tigers down, tossing seven shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing only four hits. With Felix Hernandez looking less than king-like lately, Paxton is asserting himself as the new ace of the Seattle staff.

And now the tall Canadian native has a nickname to match his ace-like status:

“Pax was really outstanding and we certainly needed it,” manager Scott Servais said of the Canadian southpaw. “Big Maple is what he was nicknamed tonight and I kind of like that. He was awesome.”

“Big Maple” is a fantastic nickname. That’s the sort of nickname guys used to get back when nicknames were great. Before managers just put “y” at the end of dudes’ names and before the “First Initial-First Three Letters of The Last Name” convention took hold in the wake of A-Rod.

“Big Maple.” That makes me smile. I’m gonna be smiling all dang day because of that.