Inside Baseball: Struggling White Sox see changes coming soon - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Inside Baseball: Struggling White Sox see changes coming soon

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Posted: Sunday, July 1, 2007 7:48 am | Updated: 5:31 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

When White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen went out to argue a call last Sunday, he asked umpire Joe West to throw him out of the game.

Guillen was tired of watching his Sox struggle again, and he is not alone.

General manager Kenny Williams gave his team a working motto, saying “change is going to happen” after watching the White Sox get swept by the Cubs last weekend and drop further out of postseason contention behind Detroit, Cleveland and Minnesota in the AL Central.

A year ago, a party of 14 White Sox players and coaches went to the All-Star game, led by Guillen, who last week suggested Sox mascot Southpaw as his choice this season.

“I don’t think anybody (player) deserves it,” Guillen said.

“Slapped upside the fact, hit upside the head … whatever you want to call it,” said Williams, a Valley resident.

“When you lose as much as we have the last three weeks, it’s hard to feel optimistic. We do have the talent to make a run. The likelihood of that … I would have to say the odds are against us.”

The Sox, only 1 1/2 years removed from their first World Series title in 86 years, have been plagued by poor hitting and a poor bullpen.

The Sox have the lowest batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage and have scored the fewest runs in the AL, with injuries to Jim Thome, Jermaine Dye, Darin Erstad, Joe Crede and Scott Podsednik putting a crimp in their run production.

Dye had 44 homers last season and was a top-five finisher in the AL MVP voting. He has 11 this year, appears close to returning to the disabled list, and like second baseman Tad Iguchi likely will not be pursued when they become free agents this winter, making them trade fodder now.

“I could have sworn yesterday, when I got home, I heard my dog say, ‘Get some offense,’” Williams said.

Williams will sign left-hander Mark Buerhle to a four-year, $56 million deal in the next day or two, a move that will enable him to consider trading at least one of his veteran pitchers Javier Vazquez (signed through 2010), Jose Contreras (2009) and Jon Garland (2008) for offensive help, since young starters John Danks, Nick Masset, Gio Gonzalez and Gavin Floyd are in the wings.

Mets general manager Omar Minaya, without mentioning names, has said he will be calling teams that are in the selling mode, and he is in the market for a starter. Minaya has liked both Contreras and Vazquez in the past, although Garland could probably command the most on the market.

Williams’ signing of Buehrle is a shrewd step. Buehrle is leaving money and years — remember Barry Zito’s sevenyear, $126 million deal last winter — on the table to stay, but he gets security while the Sox get a top starter at a discount.

Williams has said any trades he makes before the July 31 deadline will be a “blend, where we do have talent that helps us now but also fits into the core group of guys, some of which you have seen and some of which you haven’t.”

OLD-TIMERS’ DAY

Mother Nature trumped Father Time on Wednesday, when a record seven pitchers 40 or older were scheduled to start until rain washed out Kenny Rogers’ start.

Roger Clemens (44), Jamie Moyer (44), Greg Maddux (41), Tom Glavine (41), Woody Williams (40) and John Smoltz (40) did start. All but Clemens started the previous Friday, the first time six 40somethings started.

“It’s all about the doctors,” said Rogers (41), who just returned after offseason shoulder surgery.

“The biggest difference is everything they can fix these days. Pitching isn’t about ego, it’s about intelligence, so there’s nothing hard about pitching into your 40s as long as they can keep fixing the problems.”

Smoltz, Maddux and Glavine won Wednesday, when the old guys were 3-1 with a 2.50 ERA.

HAMMERIN’ HOWARD

Ryan Howard made history with his 505-foot homer Wednesday, his 100th career home run in his 325th game. Ralph Kiner was the previous quickest to 100, getting it in his 328th game.

“It should be illegal to have that kind of power,” teammate Greg Dobbs said.

“There should be a pot of gold at the end of that rainbow,” Clay Condrey said.

Howard, the defending NL MVP, has the three longest homers at Citizens Bank Park history, including one estimated at 496 last season.

CHIPPER, SMOLTZ JOUST

Called into the manager’s office last Sunday, John Smoltz and Chipper Jones have made nice after a snit in which Smoltz fired the first blow after a June 22 loss, saying, “I certainly appreciate the effort of the guys on the field busting it.”

Most took it as a shot at Jones, who missed that game and had played only eight since coming off the disabled list. So did Jones.

“I’ll play the rest of the games this year and do what I can. Somebody I know better not miss a start, though,” Jones said.

After meeting with manager Bobby Cox, both were contrite while Jones added, “Most people don’t react (well) to having their heart questioned.”

Jones drove in four runs in Smoltz’s next start Wednesday.

The last word

“It was a little like Christmas when you not only didn’t get the gift you wanted, you found out there was no Santa Claus. After that, I said I won’t get excited about that game again forever.”

CARL CRAWFORD TAMPA BAY OUTFIELDER ON BEING SNUBBED WHEN THE AL ALL-STAR TEAM WAS ANNOUNCED LAST YEAR

Cain is able, Giants are not

The latest nominee for how a won-loss record can be relatively meaningless is Matt Cain, who is 2-9 with a 3.38 ERA. The Giants have two or fewer runs in 12 of his 16 starts this season, and his ERA is the best on the team.

A triple-double

Curtis Granderson’s home run off the right-field foul pole Thursday enabled him to become only the ninth major leaguer since 1957 to have 10 or more doubles, triples and homers before the All-Star Game. Nomar Garciaparra was the last, in 2003.

No-hit? No problem

Milwaukee is 13-3 entering today’s game after being no-hit by Detroit’s Justin Verlander on June 12. The Brewers have the best record in the National League and are tied at a season-high 14 games over .500.

Looking ahead

The Yankees, needing to right themselves, finish with Minnesota and the Angels before the break.

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