Tuesday, December 9, 2014

South Side Excitement


Excuse my excitement, but I am having a hard time keeping it contained this offseason. The White Sox have shocked me, along with most of the baseball world by all their additions this offseason. 


The White Sox have targeted their weaknesses and filled the majority of the gaps on their roster with the additions of Zach Duke and David Robertson in the bullpen, Adam LaRoche to hit behind Abreu, and Jeff Samardzija who is going to fit very nicely behind Chris Sale in the rotation. 

As a lifetime Sox fan, I am not used to this much excitement in an offseason, and it has me excited to watch a White Sox team take the field for the first time since about 2006.

The White Sox bullpen was absolutely embarrassing last season, surrendering 10 walk off hit, blowing 17 saves, and losing the lead in some odd number like 31 games last season. White Sox GM Rick Hahn targeted the bullpen early, signing former Brewer lefty Zach Duke to a 3-year/$15M deal a few weeks back. Last season, the Sox didn't have a set closer after trading Addison Reed to Arizona, and Nate Jones went down to injury. This year, that will not be an issue as they signed former Yankee closer David Robertson to a 4-year/$46M deal. Look for improved seasons from the young bullpen arms like Jake Petricka, Zach Putnam, and Daniel Webb as their roles will be more established this season, instead of the revolving door as closer as it was last season.

Another hole the White Sox had going into the offseason was a big bat, preferably left handed, to protect the reigning AL Rookie of the Year Jose Abreu.  The Sox filled that need by signing former Nationals big lefty first baseman Adam LaRoche to a 2-year deal.  LaRoche hit .259 last season with 26 homers and drove in 92 runs in a pitcher friendly Nationals Park. This provides the protection that Abreu needs to keep his production at a superstar level.  I look for LaRoche to have a huge year this season as he plays in a very hitter friendly US Cellular Field. I look for LaRoche to be in the .275/35 homer and 110 RBI range this season on the South Side.

Last, and certainly not least, the White Sox added a big time right handed start that will fit nicely in the rotation behind Ace Chris Sale.  The White Sox added former Cub and A's righty via trade this morning. Jeff Samardzija grew up about 40 minutes from US Cellular Field, and grew up a White Sox fan. He told GM Rick Hahn that this trade was a "dream come true". Samardzija gives the Sox the elite right handed starter that the White Sox desperately needed to off set their heavy lefty leaning starting rotation. Only downfall is, Samardzija is set to become a free agent after this season.  As a Sox fan, I am hoping that Jeff and the White Sox can work out an extension that will keep him on the South Side for a few more years. 

The Sox have definitely been a surprising team this offseason. Look for them to add a couple more pieces to this team. The way I see it, they can contend right now, but adding another reliever and possibly a left fielder sets them at a solid contender level. It'll be interesting to see what other movers GM Rick Hahn can pull off.  Rick, you have my attention. Keep making this team better.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Winning Warriors

Winning Warriors

The Golden State Warriors capped off their 12th straight victory Saturday night against the Chicago Bulls, improving to an overall 17-2 start to the season. With such an impressive start to the season one naturally starts to wonder, ‘is this the team that can finally break the ’95-’96 Chicago Bulls 72-10 record?’ Though it is highly doubtful, it is still no surprise that the Warriors have an impressive squad are serious title contenders. 

They are led by Stephen Curry who is averaging 23.2 points per game and also Klay Thompson, 21.2 points per game. This is also a very physical team that has 5 players who average over 5 rebounds per game. They are 3rd in rebounds per game and Points per game averaging 45.6 rebounds per game and 107.1 points per game. One of the biggest factor to the Warriors’ offense is the ball movement, the 26.1 assists per game is 1st in the league. The Warriors play the floor excellent and do a great job finding the open shots and executing them. 

The only concern the Warriors may have is their defense, through this 12 game win streak they have struggled to control opposing offenses at times and have had to fight for close victories. Though the Warriors proved they could keep up defensively with the big teams after a big win against the Bulls where they were able to pull out a 10 point victory. 

There is still a lot of basketball left this season but the Warriors look to be a serious threat come playoff time. Golden State looks to continue their winning streak against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Monday, December 8, 2014. How long can they keep this up? Will they break the Lakers 33 game win streak will they go 73-9?….Only time will tell.