I was sitting here writing about which White Sox players should win first half awards when I thought this is a terrible idea. Any schmuck with the ability to type can tell you Chris Sale has been the best pitcher on the Sox and maybe the American League. It’s not difficult to point to the resurgence of Adam Dunn and Alex Rios as another a big reason why the White Sox are up three games at the break.
With a team having just about everybody coming in and producing, can this success simply be attributed to the removal Ozzie Guillen? I believe that is the biggest reason. The distractions are all gone and now guys in the clubhouse can just worry about playing baseball again.
Ozzie Guillen is not a bad manager, in fact I think he is a very good one, but in Chicago, it was time for a change. The fights between manager and GM grew to a point where it was more than a distraction. It was a cloud over the team that needed to be cleared. It got so bad here that even columnists were picking sides. If you wanted to hear from Kenny Williams or Guillen, you needed to read a specific writer and then you needed to decide what was real and what was fiction.
It was like watching MSNBC and Fox News; you could find your information on both sides, but you needed to find a middle ground for what was true. It was no longer an amusing circus, but a burden on the guys on the field.
The 2012 season doesn’t have guys pulling at different ends of the rope. This is Kenny Williams’ vision and everyone appears to be on board. The one controversy of the first half was the Chris Sale injury and move to closer. Once the MRI results came back, Williams quickly moved him back to the rotation and it appears everyone is on the same page.
I think a huge reason you see guys like Rios, Dunn, Peavy and Pierzynski producing at these levels is the nonsense between manager and GM is done. They can just play baseball again and have bought into the anti-Guillen in Robin Ventura. My feeling on coaching changes has always been that whatever you do, you better have a personality change. The outspoken brash Guillen to the quiet demeanor of Ventura was the perfect transition. It’s not about giving sound bites and making headlines; it’s about playing the game the right way for Ventura. The players have responded.
On the other hand, sometimes goofy things happen in baseball season. How can a farm system ranked by most as the worst in baseball produce 10 rookie contributors in the first half? It really has been remarkable how many guys have stepped into the bullpen and produced. Nobody had ever heard of Jose Quintana before the moment he was called up.
Quick, name everyone in the bullpen right now. It’s ok, 90% of Sox fans couldn’t either.
The first half has been special in that regard. Everyone called up from Charlotte has contributed and that is unusual. Can that happen for another 80 games? We will wait and see. If the Detroit Tigers do make their run, it is going to be interesting to see how the White Sox respond. For one half of baseball, everything went as well it could considering the roster, but it is just a three game lead with a whole lot of baseball left to be played.
The Sox have made their big play in getting Youkilis. I don’t see an elite starter coming in a trade. The only move that could happen is a veteran bullpen arm. After 80+ games, the White Sox are in first and the favorites to win the Central. Not many would have bought that in spring.
Enjoy the ride, White Sox fans.
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