The first month of baseball has come to close and the White Sox and Giants are sitting in pretty good positions. While the Giants have underachieved at times, the White Sox have either played as predicted or have exceed expectations.
When I look back on the Giants’ first month they really have played some good baseball, it’s just that Tim Lincecum has had some early season struggles and the Dodgers had such a hot start.
The Giants have played through adversity to come away with a 12-10 record to close out the month of April. They’ve lost Brian Wilson for the season, Aubrey Huff for an undisclosed amount of time from a nervous breakdown, and of course Lincecum’s control and velocity issues.
Despite all this Bruce Bochy has the boys playing with confidence, and the Giants are getting some early season swagger and confidence at the plate.
Positives include an offense that can produce runs; Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain, and Barry Zito have all pitched spectacularly; Santiago Casilla has emerged as the closer with four saves; and Buster Posey seems to be fully recovered, as he’s batting .353 with four homers, nine RBIs, and an OPS of 1.016. I’d call that recovered.
I’m fairly confident that they will catch the Dodgers by the end of May, but it should be a battle the entire the year.
The Sox already have 11 wins that took 30 games last year and only 22 this year, already an improvement. They finished the month of April even instead of a losing record that had been the case for Ozzie Guillen every season except 2005, and the bigger “what-ifs” are producing.
ESPN the Magazine picked the Sox to finish last in the AL Central with the caveat, “best case scenario: all their veterans have bounce back years and they compete for the division and playoff spot.” I’m paraphrasing what they wrote, but I found it amazingly true and funny. How could you pick a team to finish last in their division and in the next breath say they could compete for the playoffs and division title. It seems almost ludicrous, to use Smitty’s favorite new word, but it really wasn’t at all.
The Sox needed three big things to happen, Jake Peavy, Adam Dunn, and Alex Rios to show-up and play their game, and it’s happened.
The reason the Sox are only .500 is because they have other issues, like finding a legitimate number two hitter and what to do with Gordon Beckham if can’t hit. The easier of the two is leave Beckham in the nine spot and enjoy his play in the field, but the number two spot remains an issue. Brent Morel has started so poorly that Robin Ventura has been forced to go with Alexei Ramirez in the two spot, but he’s also a notoriously slow starter so that really hasn’t solved the problem. At the moment your three candidates for the number two spot in the line-up are Morel, Beckham, and Ramirez; they are batting .178, .153, and .207 respectively, which is not good. At least Ramirez has respect for the Mendoza-line.
Also, Hector Santiago as the White Sox closer has looked great and horrible, but no one is a lights out closer these days. With two lefties coming up in the Red Sox line-up on Sunday Ventura left Thornton in and it worked. Ventura said Santiago is still the closer, but he felt better about the match-up against two lefties with Thornton; so did I.
Looks like the AL Central is going to be a dogfight this season.