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Back to Baseball: Off-Season recap

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Philip Humber, Simon Castro, Chris Sale, Jake Peavy, John Danks, Nestor MolinaIt’s that time of year again, and although I’ve been a bit quiet about baseball during Spring Training, there’s less than a week left until the first game of the season so there’ll be more baseball blogs coming. The regular season actually kicked off earlier this week with the series in Japan between the A’s and the Mariners. This actually gave me the opposite problem to usual as the games were on too early for me to watch, starting at 11am British time, about 13 hours earlier than usual!

At the end of last season, I wrote a blog post about my hopes for the off season, so I’m going to use this post to catch up on those and see if I managed to predict anything right! Here goes…

1. Re-sign Mark Buehrle
This was my biggest hope for the off-season, but unfortunately it didn’t happen. We traded Buehrle to the Marlins quite early on, and while I was disappointed to start with, I actually think that it’s a good move now. We have a strong rotation with Chris Sale’s transition to a starter, along with Danks, Floyd, Peavy and Humber. Of course Buehrle is a great pitcher, but I don’t think we are that much weaker without him. And at least he’s switched leagues so we don’t have to face him too often!

2. Bring Back Omar Vizquel
colorado-rockies-starting-pitcher-jamie-moyer-off-to-average-start-mlb-news-1388730 for 2 now as this didn’t happen either.  He’s now playing for the Blue Jays, and at 45, I wish him all the best. He’s a great player, and he deserves to end his career on a high note. But even at 45, he’s not the oldest player in the MLB, as today we’ve just got the news that Jamie Moyer has made a place in the starting rotation for the Rockies. At 49, he’s coming to the end of a long career (in fact, he’s been playing baseball longer than the Rockies have even been a team)! He’s coming back from Tommy John surgery which is not easy at any age, but at 49 I look forward to seeing how his season goes.

3. Farewell to Juan Pierre
Finally, one that I got right.  Pierre is now playing for the Phillies, and we have ample replacements for him in the outfield department. We’ve had a good look at DeAza and Viciedo in spring training, and we also signed Kosuke Fukudome this off season too. Apart from his speed (which will be hard to replace), I think we’ll be better off without him this season.

4. Welcome Robin Ventura
628x4712Robin really seems to have settled in well during Spring Training, and although our record has not been brilliant, he seems to be making good decisions and the players all seem to love him. It’s very nice not to have all the controversy like there used to be with Ozzie, and it’s definitely nice to be able to read the comments on the MLB site without scrolling through pages of ‘Fire Ozzie’ comments.

5. Get Jake Peavy Healthy
This seems to be going well, although we’ll only really know when the season gets underway. We really need him to be able to pitch late into games to save the bullpen, and he needs to last to the end of the year, especially as Chris Sale is likely to be on an innings limit in his first year as a starter.

chris-saleI have to say, my predictions were really not that good, but I’m feeling very confident about the team this year. We’ve set our 25 man roster today, including a couple of surprises in Jones and Escobar, the only real mystery now is how the bullpen is going to shape up. Reed and Santiago have been pitching very well, but I think Thornton should get the closing nod, at least to start with. He didn’t do very well at it last year, but I think he’s more ready for it now. And if not, we’ve always got a couple of other candidates ready to take his place!

There’ll be more baseball related posts coming up this week with the season so close, but if you made any predictions for the offseason, let me know if you were more successful than me!

No Baseball until next year? Not quite…

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Now that the season is over (although it seems like a long time since the White Sox actually played baseball), it’s time to focus on trades and free agents and hot stove goodness until baseball returns for spring training next year. I can’t see the White Sox having much scope for adding new players, especially without getting rid of a few big contracts, so here’s what I hope for this winter:

Re-sign Mark Buehrle
mark-buehrleThis is the one thing that I really really hope we do this offseason. I know we have a full starting rotation with a lot of options, but Mark Buehrle is a dominant (and highly underrated)  number 1 starter. But more than that, he is a long established veteran with the team, and I’m sure he is a great influence on the younger players in the clubhouse. If we lose him, I think we lose more than just a piece of the rotation.  On a related note, I really wish MLB would hyphenate ‘re-sign’ when writing article headlines. Reading headlines like last year’s ‘White Sox resign Paul Konerko’ immediately makes me think the player has been let go from the team.

Bring back Omar Vizquel
As much as I would love this to happen, I know that it probably won’t. Omar has been great the last couple of years, at times carrying the team with his defence, and his influence on our young infield has been fantastic. Even though he’ll be 45 at the start of next season, he is still a superb player showing no signs of decline, but he’s probably too much budget for the White Sox. If he ever decides to retire, he would make a great coach, so he could re-join the Sox in that capacity in the future.

CT sox14

Farewell to Juan Pierre
juan-pierreI’ve loved Pierre while he has played for us. He may have struggled a little this year, but he is a speedy guy, and a great leadoff hitter. Unfortunately for him, we have a lot of guys in the minor leagues who are ready to take his place, and for far less salary. I have no doubt that he would be able to find a place with another team, but I don’t think he is a fit for the White Sox next year, and would be an ideal place to shed some budget.

Welcome Robin Ventura
robin-venturaAs much as I loved Ozzie Guillen, it will be a refreshing change to have a new guy at the helm. He’s coming into the team at a tricky time after a very disappointing season, but it will give him a great chance to turn things around. He’s not had managerial experience at any level, so he is being thrown in at the deep end, but he has a vast amount of baseball knowledge which puts him in good stead for the year ahead.

Get Jake Peavy healthy
jake-peavyPeavy has had a difficult time the last year and a half, having surgery to repair a detached lat muscle in July 2010. They estimated at least a year for his recovery, but he came back ahead of schedule, only to be shut down with fatigue at the start of September. Understandable really as he was going through a rehab program last winter so he never got a chance to rest before the season started. Hopefully he’ll get back into his normal off season program and come back in March ready to go for a full season next year. It would be nice for him to return to the Cy Young award winning Peavy of 2007.

Let me know what you think – do you agree, or do you have your own hopes for the offseason?