The White Sox owe their fans an apology

The White Sox decided to experiment with their DH spot in 2010. Instead of re-signing a prodigious slugger with great on base skills (Jim Thome), general manager Kenny Williams instead decided Mark Kotsay was awesome (he is not) and that the DH should exist for the alternative purposes of resting the fielders (some of whom—specifically Carlos Quentin—should not be playing defense in the first place).

Comically enough, Manager Ozzie Guillen blames Thome for no longer being a White Sox. Quoth Guillen:

Jim Thome made the decision to leave to the Dodgers,” Guillen said initially about the August 2009 deal. “He made that decision to himself, all right.”

Though Guillen has sarcastically accepted the blame for the Thome non-signing, he and Williams owe a genuine apology to White Sox fans. Here is why:

The White Sox, after Tuesday night’s win against Cleveland, sit four games behind the Minnesota Twins in the AL Central standings. Thome, who makes a measly $1.5 million this season, has accrued +2.4 WAR for the Twins while Kotsay, who has the same salary, has produced -0.6 WAR for the White Sox.

In a vacuum, a re-signing of Thome by the White Sox would give the South Siders a +3.0 WAR swing in the AL Central Standings. Note, however, that Thome has only 279 plate appearances this season while splitting DH duties with Jason Kubel. Of course, Thome’s been platooned, which may exaggerate his bottom line, but any potential non-platoon “regression” would surely be offset by the additional playing time he would have seen with the White Sox. Let’s just leave the WAR at +2.4 and call it even.

The White Sox do not play in a vacuum, however. Thome, in not re-signing with the White Sox, signed a deal with the Twins. Hence, in a Thome-on-the-Sox-over-Kotsay theoretical situation, you have to not only add +3.0 WAR to the White Sox 2010 win total, but also subtract 2.4 WAR from the Twins’ 2010 win total. That turns a 4.0 game lead by the Twins in the AL Central into a 1.5 game lead by the White Sox.

Still think it is okay to be sarcastic, Ozzie? It gets worse.

Not only are the White Sox sitting 4.0 games behind the Twins, but they are in need of a hitting DH. (Turns out burning Mark Kotsay’s bat was not enough of a move at the July trade deadline. Maybe the White Sox should have tried burning Kotsay’s contract (and Mark Teahen‘s, while they were at it) instead.

Unable to procure either Adam Dunn or Lance Berkman, the White Sox claimed Manny Ramirez from the Dodgers in exchange for salary relief. Without question, the Manny move is an upgrade for the White Sox. Whereas Ramirez is projected by ZiPS to hit .290/.398/.533 (.399 wOBA) for the rest of the season, Kotsay was pegged at only .244/.313/.384 (.305 wOBA) down the stretch. Dave Cameron sees this difference as worth around +1.0 WAR for the White Sox. Unfortunately for the White Sox, however, they are four games behind the Twins (thus, they have three more wins to make up somehow) and Thome has a wOBA of .413 on the season (with a projected wOBA of .370 down the stretch).

Per MLB Trade Rumors, 31 games of “salary relief” means $3.8 million. That figure is more than 2.5 times what Thome will make all season and almost $1 million more than Kotsay and Thome’s salaries combined.

Then, of course, you need to consider that Manny is Manny and you never know quite what you are going to get with him. He might try to get pregnant again or invoke his alleged “do not play” clause during day games. In another chapter in the “Manny Being Manny” saga, he took the early flight to Cleveland from L.A. Tuesday morning and was at Progressive Field in time to play ball, but was not in the White Sox starting lineup. He told reporters that he felt like he was 25 again, but he could not play because, as TBO speculates, he woke up to early that day. Guillen’s comments after the game seem to confirm this speculation.

To summarize, the White Sox are not in first place this year because they decided that subpar offensive production from the DH position was acceptable so long as they could rest Alex Rios‘ and Juan Pierre‘s knees every so often and find a way to work Mark Kotsay’s mighty bat into the lineup. Had the White Sox just not give Kotsay a bat to burn to begin with, the Sox would be at least a half game closer in the AL Central Standings.

Because the White Sox gave Kotsay said bat, they are now paying 2.5 times the money it would have cost them to keep Thome all season for just 31 games (scratch that, 30 games, as Manny did not play Tuesday) of Mannywood. Talk about “fail.”

I wonder if the White Sox will sell re-branded Manny dreadlock caps left over from his time in L.A.

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Comments

  1. Mitch said...

    I genuinely enjoy the snark, but is there truth to what Ozzie says about Thome not wanting to resign? Would the Sox have been able to sign him at his current low rate?

  2. Erik said...

    Wait, why is it Thome’s fault that he was traded to the Dodgers in 2009?

    Also, wasn’t it more of Guillen wanting to have a rotating carousel at DH than Williams? That is what I have gathered, at least.

  3. LuzinskisBeard said...

    If you have actually watched this team rather than read a stat sheet, you’d realize that the White Sox pitching being decimated by injury and inconsistency is way more responsible for their struggles in August than silly Jim Thome debates.

    I’m also really befuddled that you would use the term “owe their fans an apology” for fielding a contending ballclub that was in first place at the all-star break and is still in contention in September?

    Apologies are reserved for GM’s like Jim Hendry who commit $150 million dollars for a team that wasn’t over .500 ONCE the ENTIRE YEAR, and are arguably the worst team ever assembled for the money spent in baseball history.

  4. Jeffrey Gross said...

    While I agree Jim Hendry’s been an awful GM and make no apologies for him, I see no reason that one GM is an excuse for another bad GM.

    The “starting staff” has has no serious injury decimation. Nothing like what the 2009 Cubs experienced.

    Peavy’s injury hurts, but he was not going to be an elite pitcher at the cell. I predicted a 4.20 ERA preseason for him and his 4.11 xFIP (before park factors/Sox defense considered) was not too far off the mark.

    Garcia more than made up for Peavy’s absence and posted a sub 4 ERA for 6 weeks during that 25-5 stretch.

    Buehrles not really that good of a pitcher. Career 4.25 xFIP/3.81 ERA. Slightly above average groundball rate with limited walks is nice, but such a subpar K/9 won’t get you anywhere near elite status.

    The Edwin Jackson trade was baffling, as they gave away a young #2/3 pitcher for … you know, Jackson.

    Where have injuries decimated the team? Danks and Floyd have been very effective and healthy.

  5. Jeffrey Gross said...

    @LuzinskisBeard,

    Every team goes on some streak in the season. They may not have missed Thome for 30 days of the season, but you can surely guess they’ve missed him the other 102 that have been played. Again, noting that Thome versus Kotsay is a full 3 win difference.

  6. Jeffrey Gross said...

    @Erik,

    I could not tell you why it is Thome’s fault. All he told management was that he’d appreciate the opportunity to get a ring, so they traded him to a contender. However, Thome expressed interest in resigning. I did not realize Thome controlled the whole situation, which he likely did not, which is what makes Guillen’s comment so bizarre.

    Also, Erik, you are correct that the rotating DH was Guillen’s preference more than Kenny Williams. However, K.W., as GM, was ultimately responsible for letting his manager go with such a poor strategy. If anything, Jones should be in Right with Quentin at DH (if no moves were to be made).

  7. Jeffrey Gross said...

    Apologies, by the way, if this post seemed excessively abrasive. The issue of Kenny Williams/Ozzie Guillen is one which I tend to get over-fired up about.

    Also, @LuzinskisBeard, are you referring to the recent bullpen injuries as the decimation to the pitching staff?

  8. Joel Dobney said...

    This whole conversation is, in the words of Sam Weinberg, smoke-filled coffeehouse crap. No matter what other circumstances are affecting the White Sox record, the fact remains that the would be 5.5 games further ahead in the standings if they had Thome rather than allowing the Twins to have him. Thome would have been a bigger contributor to the success of the Sox than Kotsay. That’s the point of the article. Everything else is just distractions from the main point: the Sox laid an egg when the decided not to sign Thome.

  9. John Dank's Soulpatch said...

    Ozzie was the one who lobbied for Kotsay, I sat there at Soxfest when Kenny said in front of everyone regarding Thome, “I will leave that up to Ozzie.”  People want to cite the 25-5 run and say that Thome wasn’t missed during that stretch, how about the first 2 months of the season when they wasted AT LEAST 15 quality starts because they were one of the worst offenses in baseball.  If you have a capable DH (it’s called designated HITTER, hence Kotsay should never be associated with it), they are not sitting 4 games behind that evil team from Canada South.  Ozzie and Kenny both deserve to be blamed for this if they don’t win the Central.  Kenny should’ve had the guts to override Kenny and put a capable bat in the DH spot.

  10. Jeffrey Gross said...

    @Mitch,

    How much do you think it would have taken to sign Thome? Even at $5 million, it’d be better deal than 30 days of manny.

  11. LuzinskisBeard said...

    Reading Comprehension is a skill. I wrote that the White Sox pitching has been decimated by “injury AND inconsistency” not just recent injuries, specifically to Putz and Thornton (1.4 WAR and 1.7 WAR, respectively).

    Danks and Floyd have not been “very effective” lately. They are part of the overall inconsistency of the pitching staff that I’m referring to. John Danks gave up 5 Earned Runs or more in 4 out of his last 9 starts and Gavin Floyd gave up 6 earned runs or more twice in back to back games versus the Twins last month. Is that what you call “very effective”?

    When I refer to Jake Peavy’s injury, it has nothing to do with his statistical probabilities and outcomes, but rather how it shook up the rotation as it forced Freddy Garcia to become the 4th starter for almost a month, rather than the 5th starter – which is what Freddy Garcia should always be on a good team.

    I never said Mark Buehrle was that good of a pitcher.

    You obviously need a new T.V. if you are “baffled” by the Edwin Jackson trade. First of all let’s concede that if either Hudson or Jackson would have pitched this way in the first place for Arizona and the White Sox, the trade, most likely, would never have happened in the first place, yes?

    With that said, have you watched Jackson pitch since he was acquired? Assuming you haven’t here are some numbers for you. He’s given up 6 earned runs total, in 5 outings. He has a WHIP of 1.036. He has a walk-strikeout ratio of 8-45 in 36.2 innings. Now that’s a “very effective” pitcher.

    Also, not every team goes 25-5 run before the All-Star Break. It’s only happened 2 other times in MLB History, one of which involved the Big Red Machine. So even though you flippantly dismiss such things because it puts a hole into your “can’t win without Jim Thome” theory, you should probably acknowledge how significantly historic the run really was.

    FYI, you’re getting this vitriol from me because you used the term “apology”. If you want to play “woulda, coulda, shoulda” about Jim Thome or Adam Dunn or any other slugger with good numbers out there that you wish to mentally masturbate with, that’s fine. If you want to say Kenny Williams is not a good general manager in your eyes, OK.

    But I take tremendous umbrage with you sir, when you would demand that a team with a GM who has put together a contending team, offer an apology for it. That is offensive to every possible baseball sensibility, plain and simple. You should be ashamed of yourself for having such a limited vocabulary and a poor choice of words. Choose your words much more carefully next time.

  12. jonnyp said...

    Jeffrey – you’re engaging in a bit of Monday morning quarterbacking, don’t you think?  You can’t criticize a GM for not making a decision at the end of 2009 for a player’s performance through 80% of the 2010 season.  The correct analysis would be to evaluate the decision faced by Williams after the 2009 season ended.  As you know, Thome’s WAR declined each year he was on the White Sox: 4.7 in 2006, 3.7 in 2007, 2.4 in 2008 and 1.6 in 2009.  Therefore, it was not unreasonable for Williams/Guillen to assume that Thome’s production would follow this trend in 2010.  What is the basis for your opinion that Kenny Williams should have predicted a significant increase in Thome’s production after the end of 2009?  What was fangraphs projecting for Thome at that time?

    Furthermore, you are ignoring other causes of the Sox slide.  As July 31, the White Sox were in first place by 0.5 games.  Since that time, they have scored the most runs in the American League but have experienced a significant drop-off in pitching.  Your earlier comment that Floyd and Danks have been “solid all year” ignores the impact their Augist slide has had on the team.  As you cite in your response to LuzinskisBeard, both Floyd and Danks have been awful in August.  The bullpen has been even worse.  Have you analyzed the impact on the Sox record under a hypothetical scenario where the pitching quality in August was consistent with the months up to that point?

    In short, the decision not to resign Thome has not worked out, but that is based on the benefit of hindsight.  It doesn’t take complicated statistics to see that.

  13. Jason B said...

    Joel: “No matter what other circumstances are affecting the White Sox record, the fact remains that the would be 5.5 games further ahead in the standings if they had Thome rather than allowing the Twins to have him.”

    No.  They would *very* likely be better, yes.  But you can’t simply translate the discrepancy in WAR (with all of its shortcomings) directly to on-the-field wins.  Probably fair to say that they would be a few games better, and right in the thick of the race.  ‘Exactly 5.5 wins’ just puts too fine a point on it.

    “The Sox laid an egg when the decided not to sign Thome.”

    Totally agreed! That’s the key takeaway.  =)

  14. Jeffrey Gross said...

    @jonnyp,

    Let me elaborate further about hindsight here. I wrote a post back in January addressing the subject, wherein I wrote:

    “Thome was a +1.5 WAR player in 3-4 months. . . of ABs for the White Sox as [their] DH. . .

    . . . DH’s generally have limited value in general because they provide one-side of the game contribution and get a -17.5 run reduction (-1.7 WAR) from their batting line. In other words, any DH is inherently less valuable and going to have limited value in comparison to “other baseball players” who play the field.

    If you are signing a player in general who will play the field, you want a guy who will maximize his total contribution. In the average player, this contribution is a combination of position, offense and defense. Because there are more inputs for the non-DH, a non-DH who does not have Adam Dunn-like fielding abilities will inherently have a higher WAR; especially if they play a premium position like SS. The higher the WAR, the better the player. Teams want +5 WAR guys over the +3 WAR guys and the +2 WAR guys over the +1 WAR guys.

    However, the perspective of evaluation must change slightly when you look to sign a DH-only player. A DH-only player only contributes offense. His WAR will be negatively impacted by the fact that he is a DH, no matter how good his bat is. If player A and player B are both equally good at offense, but player A is an average defensive LF (-7.5 run adjustment, +0 fielding runs) and player B is a DH (-17.5 run adjustment), WAR would not be the best method to evaluate which player to sign if you are looking to sign either A or B to a DH-only role. . . What teams should be looking at when evaluating prospective DH-only role players is not “who had the better WAR,” but who had the better Batting Runs Above Replacement (BRAR) line. . .

    . . .Of all DH’s who received 250+ PA’s last year, only three (Adam Lind, Jason Kubel and Hideki Matsui) had WARs higher than Thome (who posted a +1.5 WAR mark as a DH for the Sox). Of those three, only Lind was worth +3 or more WAR (+3.7, to be exact). Additionally, all three of Lind, Kubel and Matsui received somewhere between 100 and 200 more PA’s than Thome did in 2009.”

    Hence, even with Thome’s decline, it was apparent that he was nonetheless one of the better pure DH options out on the market. It’s not exactly a matter of predicting the big turn around so much as even at his expected pace of a .370 wOBA, Thome was expected to provide much more value at DH than either Kotsay or Vizquel.

    http://gameofinches.blogspot.com/2010/01/quick-dh-rant.html

  15. Jeffrey Gross said...

    I guess what I am trying to say here is that the rotating DH idea was apparent as a bad idea before the experiment began.

    As I also previously wrote:
    “Rotating mediocre offensive players, whose total value comes from all-around play, through the DH role is a terrible idea. The DH exists to maximize offense. Omar Visquel, who posted +1.3 WAR in limited action (62 games) last season, will not translate into winning additional games if you play him at DH.”

    I suppose you might even include Kotsay within the scope of that comment. The point being, more or less, that Thome’s projected wOBA preseason was better, even with decline projected and considered, than most of the alternative DH options at the White Sox disposal. The White Sox could have alternatively signed Branyan or even Dye to play DH. Either move could have been justified in an attempt to maximize the DH position (though Branyan’s decent defense, health aside, does not warrant DH placement).

  16. Jeffrey Gross said...

    @LuzinskisBeard,

    My words may be harsh, but I won’t apologize for them. I was going for some shock value with the title, sure, but the content is what matters and I stand behind said content 100%.

    If you want to blame anything, you should be blaming the White Sox defense for the team’s perpetual problems.

    Danks is not the Ace the broadcasters make him out to be, but he posted solid FIPs the whole year, August excepted: 2.83, 3.72, 4.00, 2.81 April-July. (4.84 mark in August) Those peripherals look pretty consistent to me.

    Floyd’s been pretty consistent too. 3.71/4.07 FIP/xFIP in April, 4.20/4.11 mark in May, 2.45/3.29 mark in June, 2.24/.3.30 mark in July. Again, August has not been kind (4.74/4.29), but he’s been solid all year.

    If you want to criticize close and careful reading, perhaps you should not overgeneralize my statements. I never said that “every team goes 25-5 run before the All-Star Break”. What I said was that “Every team goes on some streak in the season.” the operative phrase being “some.” The Sox streak was truly torrid, but I stand behind my followup comment that “They may not have missed Thome for 30 days of the season, but you can surely guess they’ve missed him the other 102 that have been played. Again, noting that Thome versus Kotsay is a full 3 win difference.”

    Kenny may have a lightning in the bottle contender of a team, but the White Sox farm system is barren and the payroll is relatively large enough that dark days are ahead for the Pale Hose.

  17. scottz said...

    As a Twins fan, I love to see the White Sox fans fight.  Please, continue. smile

    I have a couple of comments, the first being that it is too easy to just take 3.0 WAR for -Kotsay/+Thome and subtract 2.4 WAR from the Twins for no Thome, and therefore the Sox would actually be winning by 1.5 games. There are too many other variables (like, who would the Twins have signed/used in the DH position and how much of the 2.4 would that have mitigated).

    The Kotsay signing…I didn’t get it then, and I don’t get it now.  If that’s your point, I agree.

    I’m also inclined to agree with LuzinskisBeard about the faults being more with the pitching dropoff than any issue with the bats. I also agree with him in the semantics argument surrounding the “apology” required. It has been a fun division to watch this year, and I can attest that many of us up here in the hinterland of Minnesota are still quite aware of where the Sox are and what they are doing. With the Sox winning vs Cleveleand while/before the Twins played vs Detroit made these last two games feel very much like “must wins”. It is exciting stuff, and I hope that you south siders are getting that same feel.

    Go Twins!

    Respectfully,
    scottz

  18. LuzinskisBeard said...

    “Some” streak, is not even close to being synonymous with “historic” or “something that happens once every baseball generation” which is what the White Sox streak was. I hate to have to tell you that, but again I understand that word selection is clearly not one of your strong suits because you need to go for “shock value”.

    So wait, now I should blame “the White Sox defense for the teams perpetual problems” and NOT the absence of Jim Thome? Or am I “overgeneralizing” your statements again even though I’m doing nothing but directly quoting you?

    Again you continue to expose your own ignorance about the White Sox. The White Sox farm system has been “barren” for some time. If you paid attention, you would know that the White Sox don’t primarily focus on developing their own draft picks or expanding their minor league system, but instead scout/acquire other teams number one draft picks/top prospects (i.e. Danks, Floyd, Quentin, Thornton, Sergio Santos, etc.) and usually add something that might have been missing from their games, and the player usually does well at the big league level after he becomes White Sox property. The White Sox have had success operating this way, and will likely continue to do so. The payroll for next year is fine too at $75 million committed for 2011. Sure Paul Konerko might end up being too expensive due to his ridiculous season, but that’s OK. Thanks for the World Series Ring Paulie. I don’t think his absence necessarily means there is Dark Daaaaaaaaays Ahead…Verrrrrryy Scaaaaaaryyy….

    Before I leave you to your numbers-jerk session resulting in shock value titles, there’s one more thing I should mention. Going into today’s action, the White Sox and Twins have nearly the same Runs Scored Per Game Average : 4.80 (MIN) 4.77 (CHI), and now after today’s game, the White Sox have officially scored more runs that the Twins at 636 to 635.

    Enjoy Ryne Sandberg as your manager. He makes no-trade clauses go away…

  19. Jeffrey Gross said...

    @LuzinskisBeard,

    Don’t pretend like you’ve been directly quoting me, as much of your above has paraphrased, hyperbolized and generalized my statements. It is very demagogic and this is the last response I will make towards comments which I consider null in the area of contribution and discourse.

    First, I know how Kenny Williams operates. I am nonetheless criticizing it. Pirating away former top prospects will only get you so far. Sure, it has worked for the Sox in recent years, but developing impact players is just as important as gambling on the failures of others. The White Sox payroll of $75 million will likely require the addition of at least a 1B, a DH who can hit, a catcher (unless the Sox want to give Flowers the job despite a floundering 2010) and a few bullpensmen (Putz will likely move on to a bigger contract or see a large raise). All of this, of course, is before Arbitration raises are considered.

    The White Sox and Twins may have similar runs scored, but what has been done is less important as what is likely to be done in the future. The White Sox .335 wOBA posting as a team is not too far off that of the Twins, but when you consider that the Twins play in the more cavernous field, this disparity in hitting talent becomes more pronounced. The Twins are the better pure hitting team.

    I’m still not sure how the failures of my beloved Cubbies are relevant to this conversation. I never claimed that I approved of Jim Hendry as a GM nor have I praised Hendry was ever better than Williams. You seem hellbent on revealing some homerism in my writing which I think you’d be hard pressed to find. If you actually read my writings beyond this article, you would find plenty of praise for the White Sox pitching situation. I’ve praised Williams plenty on building one of the best bullpens in baseball, though I hardly think that excuses the big boo-boo moves he’s made otherwise.

    Hopefully, if you feel the need to rant and rave in an additional response, you can provide some productive comments/criticisms rather than attacking me and my arguments with strawman claims. I think I’ve supported my position plenty.

    In the word of Hal 9000, though, this conversation can have no further purpose.

  20. Jeffrey Gross said...

    @Scottz,

    Let’s pretend then that the Twins signed/employed a +2.5 WAR DH if the Sox resigned Thome. You’d still have a 3 win swing in the Sox-Twins standings differential. A 1-game difference is much less pronounced over the final 30 games than a 4 game disparity. True, the sox-twins have matchups to be had in September, but this race should be closer than it is.

    And for the record, I am a Cubs fan, not a Sox fan.

  21. Jeffrey Gross said...

    @Jonnyp,

    Fair comment. If that is the case, I repeal that statement.

    My favorite rebuttal here is one that spilled over to another blog wherein the accuse me of ignoring the fact that Thome can’t run or stretch a double into a single and that hence he’s worth less than I and wOBA and WAR proclaim.

    This is a quick response, using ESQBRR, aka “Equivalent Base Running Runs.” B.P. describes this stat as one which “Measures the number of runs contributed by a player’s advancement on the bases, above what would be expected based on the number and quality of the baserunning opportunities with which the player is presented, park-adjusted and based on a multi-year run expectancy table.”

    Thome’s ESQBRR is -2.4 runs. Hence, baserunning considered, Thome is still a 2+ WAR player.

  22. jonnyp said...

    Rexy, 

    I’m assuming your harshest personal comments weren’t directed at me.  Either way, I’d like to respond to some of your comments.

    You said you like facts and conclusive data.  Here are a few, which follow excerpts from your post:

    “Jim Thome never lost his batting eye or power with the White Sox…”

    Thome was with the Sox from 2006 – 2009.

        wOBA OBP   SLG   BB%
    2006 .420 .416 .598 17.5%
    2007 .410 .410 .563 17.7%
    2008 .370 .362 .503 15.1%
    2009 .367 .366 .481 15.9%

    These are just a few stats.  You can pretty much pick any offensive statistic and see a decline in Thome’s performance during his time with the White Sox.

    “The lack of Thome’s offense is rearing it’s ugly head as the season goes on…”

    and

    “And as for the Sox crappy (or injury or inconsistent or whatever you wanna call it) pitching, WHAT!?”

    The White Sox record through August 7 was 63-47.  Since then their record has been 10-13, and have dropped 5.5 games in the standings.

    As far as their offense, the White Sox currently are fourth in the AL with a team wOBA of .335 and are fifth in the AL in runs scored.  During the month of August, the White Sox have scored the most runs and have the highest team wOBA in the AL.

    Now pitching.  You are correct that if you look at the whole season, the White Sox have had a very good pitching year, and are second in the AL in FIP.  During the month of August, however, the White Sox have the 4th worst FIP in the AL.  John Danks, Gavin Floyd, and Freddy Garcia, who in general have been great this year, had August FIPs of 4.84, 4.74, and 6.29 respectively, a significant decline relative to their performance before August.

    The numbers for the bullpen are even more stark.  They are currently 2nd in the AL with a 3.79 FIB.  In August, the Sox bullpen’s FIP was 4.89, second worst in the AL.

    No one has claimed that the White Sox pitching is “crappy”, that is a mischaracterization of the argument, but their August slide coincides exactly with extremely productive offensive numbers and a significant drop-off in pitching.

    I’d also like to add that I am not arguing that the decision to release Thome was a good one, particularly in hindsight, but you and Jeff are overstating the impact it has had on the Sox and are ignoring other reasons for their predicament that have nothing to do with Thome.

    Those are the facts Sexy.

  23. Jeffrey Gross said...

    Decline or not, Thome was still a top DH in terms of BRAR and WAR last season. A .367 wOBA in 2009 and .370 wOBA in 2008 is nothing to sneeze at.

    That Thome “only walked” 15+% of the time and “only” slugged for a career low ISO of .232 last season is a testament to just how good of a hitter Thome still is. Thome was 25% better than the average hitter in 2008 and 2009, which is much better than the wRC+ Kotsay’s posted since 2004.

    Of the preseason projectons, Bill James was the highest on Thome, pegging him capable of a .375 wOBA, while the rest of the systems saw around a .360 mark across the board. That would have made Thome 22% better than the average hitter.

    For $1.5 million, that’s a steal.

  24. Sexy Rexy said...

    DISCLAIMER: As a fellow Game Of Inches blog author, you can criticize me all you want for being biased towards Jeff, but when I don’t believe he’s right, I’ll absolutely call him out on it. See here http://gameofinches.blogspot.com/search?q=cleveland+indians, here http://gameofinches.blogspot.com/search?q=alexei+ramirez, and our 25 Board Bets

    But with that being said, Jeff is 100% completely right on this

    I am a huge White Sox fan and watch a good chunk of their games. If you want to use the argument “I can see how they play with my eyes” I’ll use that same argument back at you but with a different conclusion. What you personally see is a completely subjective opinion not supported by any conclusive data. Remember when people thought the Earth revolved around the sun and the world was flat? Yeah those people came to those conclusions because “they saw that with their eyes”. Stupid people like Galileo with their facts and proof to win their arguments.

    The rotating DH idea was bad from the get-go. Andruw Jones had SOME left in the tank as shown in Texas, but in since leaving the Braves he never even came close to what Jim Thome did during his time on the South Side.

    Jim Thome never lost his batting eye or his power in Chicago, so what made the White Sox, or anyone for that matter think he wouldn’t still have it? Maybe a slight decline in age would be reasonable, but Thome never really showed any signs of a drastic decline. And this year, in an extremely pitcher friendly, HR enemy (I don’t know the opposite of homer friendly) park known as Target Field, I agree that it makes what Thome is doing that much more incredible.

    As for the amazing run the Sox had in like June, that’s easily attributable to just stuff evening itself out. That entire team was playing like crap (except for Konerko and Rios). Juan Pierre, although not the offensive guru, was playing WAY below his career norms, Alexei was playing really bad, Quentin hadn’t really yet heated up, AJ was playing below his normal below average self, and I’m sure I could have struck out less than bacon did (Jesus he was awful). But you know what, that’s the point of average. Some people are over it, some people are under it. In Juan Pierre hits .200 one month and .400 the next, he obviously has a .300 average. A .300 average doesn’t mean .300 every single month (as Phillies fans ala Burrell and Werth can tell you). So what do I attribute to that 25-5 run, the fact that after an entire team plays like crap, they all play well. From the start of the season the vast majority of “experts” at minimum predicted the Sox stay competitive in the division all year long and many predicted they’d outright win it. So when a team that good does THAT bad for long, they end up doing very well to even itself out. Remember the Orioles a few years ago lead the AL East by like July and then end up the year in like 4th? This same concept also applies to bad teams as well.

    ……..

  25. Sexy Rexy said...

    ………

    Back to my main point, did the White Sox inherently need Jim Thome during the first part of the season where the went into the All Star break in first? No they did not. But that’s why there’s 162 games and not 81. The lack of Thome’s offense is rearing it’s ugly head as the season goes on, as the sample size expands, and as we getter a better glimpse of how good teams and healthy teams truly perform.

    Do the White Sox need to issue an official apology? Absolutely not. If you think that’s what Jeff was getting at then you’re taking him a but too seriously (Comb the desert!). But analogously,  Ozzie and Kenny (esp. Ozzie) need to stop acting like arrogant a-holes and admit this rotating DH was a HUGE mistake AND that Jim Thome would have helped their club.

    I think Jeff will admit when he’s wrong (like thinking Juan Pierre wouldn’t steal 45 bases or Chris Davis) and even though “sabermetricians” will use facts and BABIP and what not to try and prove their point, many will fully admit they were wrong (a la Javy Vazquez this year). And that’s I think all we want. To err is to be human. We all got pissy after Jim Joyce blew the Galarraga perfect game, but we forgave him because he admitted his faults.

    And that’s all I think many White Sox fans want from the team and what Jeff was getting at. I think you were being a but too literal when you thought Jeff actually wanted the ChiSoix to release an official apology (Comb the desert!), but just for Ozzie and Kenny (esp. Ozzie) to not be sarcastic a-holes about the entire situation, admit they were wrong, and move on.

    And as for the Sox crappy (or injury or inconsistent or whatever you wanna call it) pitching, WHAT!? The Sox are 2nd in the AL in FIP (behind the Twins), Floyd has been awesome, Danks has been awesome, Mark Buehrle is having a Mark Buehrle season, Freddy has far exceeded expectations, Edwin Jackson has just been a BEAST since being acquired and we got rid of Jake Peavy’s arm. How are they bad or in any way the problem?

    Lastly, I have no inherent problem with disagreement. I truly believe in the Socratic method and believe arguments breed truth. But don’t hide under the anonymity of the internet and be a dick. If you disagree, ctually disagree with my main points. Feel free to use logical fallacies to prove your point, but it will just make you sound ignorant and weak. And frankly, if you have to resort to fallacies, that just means your opponents argument wins because you can’t argue a counter to it.

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