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Happy New Year, White Sox Fans !!
PEDIMENT PUBLISHING SCORES WITH BOOKS ON ASTROS, RANGERS, JUDGE, SCULLY
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Did you know…
Xander Bogaerts, the 30-year-old San Diego shortstop, has the longest contract ever given to a player in his 30s . . .
Look for teammate Manny Machado to opt out of his deal after the 2023 campaign . . .
Stingy: Gaylord Perry yielded just one home run in 18 home starts, spanning 530 plate appearances, for the 1978 Padres . . .
Perry was 40 when he won the Cy Young in 1978, making him the oldest recipient of the trophy . . .
By striking out on Aaron Judge, Trea Turner, and Carlos Correa, San Diego just missed being the first team with three $300 million players . . .
The Padres love rookie catcher Luis Campusano, likely to take the roster spot occupied by Jorge Alfaro.
The White Sox Have a Problem
By David Blumberg
“Imagine you’ve just built your dream home. You had an architect come up with a custom design that you absolutely loved. You hand selected the building materials, from the hardwood floors to the Spanish tiles in the roof. You’re ready to move into your endgame house! But wait, almost forgot, you have to furnish the house too, huh? OK, let’s head down to Crazy Joe’s Discount Furniture and find four dining room chairs without cigarette burns. The maroon couch behind the abandoned Caldor next to the bowling alley that still uses a sign from 1973 looks nice. I’m sure the smell will come out of that Craigslist mattress, and it’s not like you need all of the springs.”
Dan Szymborski, “2023 ZiPS Projections: Chicago White Sox”
I watch the White Sox with a sort of combination of bewilderment and bemusement. After all, my wife is a White Sox fan and I’m a Cubs fan, so I try not to insult them too much lest I land in the doghouse. Even my wife, though, has to admit that they made some clear errors in roster-building in 2022.
Have a hole to fill in right field? Yeah, I’m sure the Ghost of A.J. Pollock Past will get the job done! Second base? Let’s sign a past-prime Josh Harrison and platoon him with, for some reason, the favorite player of successive White Sox managers, Leury Garcia!
That all sounds more like an experiment to try the patience of the White Sox fan base than it does a recipe for winning.
There is plenty of talent left on the 2023 White Sox. They return AL Cy Young candidate Dylan Cease, excellent young center fielder Luis Robert, and franchise cornerstone Tim Anderson among others. However, the depth is severely lacking, just as it was in 2022.
Expecting starting pitchers to get hurt is just part of baseball reality. You won’t make it all the way through the season with the same five guys as you start out with. The White Sox addressed this fact by signing Mike Clevinger hoping for a bounceback year after a terrible 2022 that saw him post a 4.33 ERA in 114.1 innings.
That right-field hold still exists, by the way. The White Sox are projected to receive a total of 0.5 fWAR from a combo of Gavin Sheets and Oscar Colas at the position this season, which might be generous, honestly. Colas has dazzling power potential, but he also has a strikeout problem and likely won’t be ready to join the major-league roster until June anyway.
Second base continues to be an even bigger boondoggle. Going into a season with Romy Gonzalez as your planned second baseman is not what teams with competitive ambitions do.
The White Sox finished 29th in second-base value last season with 0 fWAR produced at the position, and that’s factoring in the 0.8 they got from Danny Mendick, who is no longer a Southsider.
Signing Andrew Benintendi to a 5-year, $75M contract will help. It should allow Eloy Jiménez to finally be an everyday DH, a spot at which he might even be able to stay healthy for more than half a season at a time. But the flipside of this is losing beloved first baseman Jose Abreu to the Astros, which means this might end up being more of a wash than anything.
What’s the plan then? Well, only Jerry Reinsdorf and Rick Hahn know, but it looks like the idea is to get by with what’s there and try to sneak into the playoffs the way the Phillies did in 2022. There are worse plans, but there are also better ones.
The White Sox need a more solid long-term plan if they’re going to capitalize on the young talent they have or else it will all have been a waste.
David Blumberg is a long-suffering Cubs fan. You can find his baseball opinions on Twitter and other musings on Medium at DGBlog. Follow him on Twitter @DGBlumberg.
Pacific Northwest Publisher Hits Home Run With Quartet of Hardcovers
By Dan Schlossberg
Tonight is New Year’s Eve — marking the beginning of a six-week slog between the leftovers of the winter meetings and the dates pitchers and catchers report.
For baseball purists like me, it is by far the worst time of the year, with the only break — albeit a small one — being the Jan. 24 revelation of Hall of Fame voting that is quite likely to be as bleak as the wintry weather.
With no baseball to watch or even discuss and no sport worth watching before pitchers and catchers report, this is prime time to curl up with a book or two on America’s national pastime.
Quite by accident, I discovered a off-the-beaten-path publisher that produces lavishly-illustrated yet timely tomes that make historic keepsakes of memorable personalities and events.
Pediment Publishing, tucked away into a tiny corner of the Pacific Northwest, produces calendars, websites, and especially hardcover books in partnership with communications giants ranging from the Los Angeles Times to The Athletic.
It ended the year 2022 by releasing volumes on Vin Scully, Aaron Judge, the World Champion Houston Astros, and the 50th anniversary of the Texas Rangers.
Chasing History: How Aaron Judge Captivated Baseball in 2022 is a 160-page volume detailing each of the slugger’s 62 home runs. Packed with action pictures — many of them occupying full pages — the book also showcases the writing of The Athletic’s veteran staffers, including Jayson Stark and Ken Rosenthal. It’s a true coffee-table book not only for Yankee fans but for fans of baseball history.
Also priced at $39.95 is Kings of the Hill: How Houston Ascended to the Championship in 2022. Produced in conjunction with the Houston Chronicle, it oozes orange, the primary color of the Astros, and covers both highs (a World Series no-hitter fronted by Cristian Vasquez) and bad (the night Lance McCullers, Jr. yielded five Phillies homers). Dusty Baker, smiling all the way to his first ring as a manager, practically jumps off the pages of this 160-page hardcover, which lacks only line scores of the six World Series games. It’s all here — from Jeremy Pena’s 18th-inning homer in the ALCS to the first World Series win of venerable veteran Justin Verlander, ostensibly ending his American League run.
Although the Texas Rangers have never won a World Series, their history is almost as colorful as the rainbow jersey once worn by the Astros. In 50 Years of Texas Rangers Baseball, 1972-2022, the team has produced a keepsake that resembles a half-century of yearbooks all blended into one. Not only is 44-year-old Nolan Ryan here, throwing the final pitch of his seventh no-hitter, but also every highlight, from Josh Hamilton’s four-homer game to the team’s back-to-back pennant-winners. Represented in words and pictures are every great Ranger, including manager Ted Williams, three batting champs, six MVPs, and eight Hall of Famers. The authors, including long-time Rangers beat writer T.R. Sullivan, even pick out the 50 greatest players in team history (listed alphabetically).
So, as the late Vin Scully would have said, “Pull up a chair.” With no games to fill the long, silent nights of winter, how about dozens of Scully tales, culled from a broadcast career that spanned 67 seasons starting with the 1950 Brooklyn Dodgers? The Voice: Vin Scully is Dodgers Baseball fits the Pediment format of 160 oversized pages, large color photographs, and collaboration with an authoritative client (the Los Angeles Times). Baseball’s true poet laureate, Scully said he was still learning about baseball after watching 5,000 games. Seldom, if ever, has any baseball personality earned such respect from so many different sources.
For further information, see www.pediment.com.
Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ is author or co-author of 40 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. He covers the game for forbes.com, Latino Sports, USA TODAY Sports Weekly, Sports Collectors Digest, Memories & Dreams, and other outlets. His e.mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
“This club’s got a pretty good bench. Unfortunately, it starts every day.”
— Gaylord Perry on his San Diego Padres teammates
Mazel tov to Cubs radio man Pat Hughes for winning the 2023 Ford C. Frick Award for excellence in baseball broadcasting . . .
At $426,500,000 (2019-30), Mike Trout remains the highest-paid player over the long term, though Aaron Judge earns the top average annual salary of any position player at $40,000,000 (2023-31) . . .
After rejecting a Mets offer of $110 million for three years, Jacob deGrom signed for a deal that could be worth $222 million if his sixth-year option vests . . .
San Diego outfielder Juan Soto, a free agent after 2024, rejected $430 million from the Nats last year . . .
Among the captains of the Yankees before Aaron Judge were Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Thurman Munson, Graig Nettles, Ron Guidry, Don Mattingly, and Derek Jeter . . .
Maybe pitching once a week works, judging by the 2022 performance of 29-year-old Mets signee Kodai Senga [11-6, 1.94, 156 Ks in 144 innings]. Fellow Mets rookie Zach Greene, a reliever, fanned 96 in 68 1/3 innings at AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
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