Wednesday, September 22, 2004
Not So Long Ago, The Sox Had PromiseWhile trying to track down a rumor about John Boles coming to the White Sox, I stumble acrossthis June, 2000, Peter Gammons article about the up and coming White Sox. It really is fascinating to see how things didn't turn out right for the Sox. Here are a couple of snippets:
No one knows if they will continue to play well. But with Magglio Ordonez, Ray Durham, Paul Konerko, Carlos Lee and Chris Singleton surrounding Frank Thomas, they have the makings of a tremendous offensive team. Ordonez, in fact, has emerged as the team's top star and Konerko is the team's personality, all of which is fine with Thomas, who'd prefer to be a backseat guy.
No question, that core (sans Durham and Singleton) was a tremendous offensive team. Of course, we now know that the offensive was also tremendously inconsistent and tremendously dependent on the solo home run.
On the Triple-A horizon, the White Sox have a monster third baseman named Joe Crede and catcher Josh Paul, whose makeup is tremendous. They have one of the best bullpens in the league, led by Keith Foulke, who is a young Trevor Hoffman. They also have two veteran starters, James Baldwin and Cal Eldred, to stabilize their young pitching.Well, Joe Crede is not, in fact a monster. He's not even Joe Randa at this point. Josh Paul may have tremendous makeup, but he's applying whatever mascara he's got in his kit in Anaheim. The Sox received nothing for him or his Avon business. We know Keith Foulke turned into Keith Choulke in the 2000 playoffs (and in the 2003 playoffs for the A's), who then was spun off for Billy Botch. Eldred had a decent 2000, but the thing that needed stabilizing was his elbow. James Baldwin was the ultimate flash in the pan and was mercifully dumped in 2002.
But with young righty Kip Wells maturing and a number of top-side pitching prospects -- Jon Garland (7-1 at Triple-A), Matt Ginter, Jason Stumm and reliever Lorenzo Barcelo -- coming, this is a team that barring a rash of pitching injuries should be one of the American League's premier teams for the next five years or so.
Kip Wells - whoops, he's in Pittsburgh.
Jon Garland - whoops, he's getting worse.
Matt Ginter - hey, we at least got Timo Perez for him.
Jason Stumm - whoops, sorry about that arm, Jason.
Lorenzo Barcelo - "Hi, can I take your order?"
With the exception of Jon Garland, none of these folks pitched for the 2004 White Sox. And Jon Garland wasn't exactly part of the solution. So, I guess they didn't help the Sox become one of the premier teams for the next five years.
Reinsdorf hopes to soon complete a naming rights deal that should get ComiskeyWell, the naming rights got done, Comiskey (now US Cellular) got spruced up pretty well, and Ordonez really was a 5-time all-star (even if he wasn't named to the team every year)...so one could lay the blame on Jon Garland and Kip Wells.
spruced up and modernized right around the time the All-Star Game comes to
the South Side in 2003. By that time, Ordonez may be a five-time All-Star and the king of the city, while Garland, Wells and the rest of the young pitchers are dominating the American League. And, hey, maybe A-Rod, or someone like him, will be there by then.
And that probably is the story of the 2000-2004 White Sox, as we close the book on that era. A very good offensive core built around Ordonez/Thomas/Lee/Konerko that was going to be dependent on the development of young pitching. The development of the young pitching never happened, and the Sox finished in 3rd, 2nd, 2nd and 2nd places.
It's amazing how well Gammons' article reads in 2004, and amazing how easy it is to see where the Sox went wrong.