Welcome to The Chicago Homer’s Mailbag. It runs once a week unless it doesn’t, and in it I answer questions from readers via Twitter or email. The questions can be about any damn thing you please, and there likely isn’t a question I won’t answer. There may be questions I can’t answer, but I’ll try.
If you’d like to submit a question for the next edition of the mailbag it’s pretty simple. Either ask the question on Twitter using the #AskTCH hashtag — as long as you use the hashtag I will see it — or send an email to TCHMailbag@gmail.com.
And now that you know how to do it, let’s get to the this week’s questions.
There’s a strange phenomenon that occurs when you go on Twitter and ask people for mailbag questions before and during a Felipe Paulino start. Every single question you get is some form of WHY IS FELIPE PAULINO ALLOWED TO LIVE? Particularly when Paulino is in the midst of allowing 10 runs in 3.2 innings.
So most of the questions I received this week were about Paulino, but thankfully there were some others as well.
That last question was a combo of both Paulino and the bullpen, but we’ll just cover Paulino here. Don’t worry, there’s another question about the bullpen later.
Let’s start with the good news. While the White Sox haven’t made it official just yet, while I write this mailbag Andre Rienzo has already gone on his Facebook and Twitter to say that he’s been called up to the White Sox. And I’m guessing he’s coming to replace Paulino, who as we all know, has been terrible.
The only real question is what’s in store for Paulino. Is he going to be designated for assignment, or will the Sox find a fortunate injury to put him on the disabled list? My pure fan reaction, especially after last night, would be neither. I’d prefer to just fire him into the sun, but we don’t have that technology yet.
As for actual baseball sense, I’d prefer the disabled list over the DFA, but if he can clear waivers — and you have to think he would right now — and be sent to Charlotte, that would be okay with me too. Now, Paulino was never exactly very good in his career. He had a very good stretch with the Royals before needing Tommy John, but in his career before coming to the White Sox he was a guy that had a 5.83 ERA in 34 starts with Houston and a 5.21 ERA in 18 appearances (no starts) with the Rockies. In Kansas City he made 27 starts with a 3.55 ERA before the injury, and that was the pitcher the White Sox decided to take a chance on.
They signed him in December to a one-year deal worth only $1.75 million, and if I could go back in time I’d still want the Sox to make that deal. This was a guy that was worth taking a chance on because the Sox weren’t expecting to compete for anything this season, and they needed guys to fill up innings in the rotation that were vacated by Jake Peavy and Gavin Floyd.
So you took a chance on Paulino, and that chance just isn’t working out. He can’t get people out, and he’s taxing a bullpen that’s already had enough struggles of his own. Thankfully it doesn’t appear that he’ll be a problem that White Sox fans have to see up close again any time soon, if ever again.
But don’t make the mistake of thinking Andre Rienzo is going to step in and be awesome. Rienzo has struggled himself this year, and probably wouldn’t be coming up if he weren’t already on the 40-man roster. The difference is Rienzo is only 25 and actually has a chance to be a contributor to this team in the years to come, which would make it easier to swallow the bad starts that will no doubt come along at some point.
SHOULD THE WHITE SOX TAKE ADVANTAGE OF ALEXEI’S HOT START AND TRADE HIM NOW? — ERIC STONE
This is another question I’ve received multiple forms of in the early weeks of the season, even if they weren’t meant for the mailbag. It’s not a hard question to answer, either.
No. There’s no reason to trade him now. First of all, while I’m not expecting the Sox to compete, they’re not exactly out of the race quite yet, so to start selling off veteran parts at this stage would be silly. Secondly, it’s not like Alexei has increased his trade value with this start.
You know how you know that Alexei has always been a slow-starter, which is why this April is so surprising? Other teams know that too. Other teams also know that it’s incredibly rare for 32-year old shortstops with a career OPS+ of 90 coming into the season to suddenly turn into a monster.
Alexei has the same value now that he had before the season started, and he’ll have the same value come July after he’s cooled off. He’s a 32-year old shortstop that’s owed $9.5 million this season and $10 million next year, with a $1 million buyout on 2016 (or another $10 million). I’d definitely still consider him to be above average defensively, but his range isn’t getting any wider, nor is he getting any quicker at this point.
Should the Sox look to move him to a team that could use him in July — and let’s remember that Alexei was on the block all winter, and no deal came along that Rick Hahn liked enough to pull the trigger on — they’ll get a B-level prospect at best. The same that they’d get for him now.
So you might as well keep him around until then and ride this start for all it’s worth. Who knows, it could be enough to keep the Sox in playoff contention.
Judging from what a lot of Sox fans have told me on Twitter, trading Addison Reed is what has killed this bullpen. This is because there are still too many fans that overvalue the closer position, and also because apparently many Sox fans seem to recall Addison Reed pitching the 7th, 8th and 9th innings last year.
As for what I think the cause is, I think it’s a myriad of things. First of all, coming into the season Nate Jones was our best reliever, and he got hurt in the spring. He’s hurt now, and it doesn’t sound like he’s going to be back any time soon. Then there was the injury to Matt Lindstrom as well. Lindstrom has taken a lot of crap because of a few blown saves, but the truth is his 3.86 ERA is one of the better ones currently in the Sox bullpen, as is his 1.571 WHIP. The problem is he’s just not missing bats right now, which isn’t the best quality in your closer.
The other problem is that you entered the year with two lefties in your pen, and neither has pitched well. Donnie Veal has already been jettisoned, and I’m thinking the White Sox were a year too late on Scott Downs.
Then there’s the fact that Lindstrom isn’t the only Sox reliever who isn’t missing bats. In 54.1 innings from the bullpen Sox relievers have only managed 35 strikeouts, which means they’re striking out 5.79 batters per nine innings. In his White Sox career Mark Buehrle struck out 5.1 just to give you an idea of how low that is. Of course, Mark Buehrle walked only 2.0 batters per nine innings while the Sox bullpen is walking 6.79. But this is bleeding into the answer for our next question so I’ll move on….
Just in case I wasn’t having any fun writing about Felipe Paulino and this year’s bullpen, you decide you need to bring up the 2007 bullpen. Do you people hate me? Did I do something to you? Whatever it was, I’m sorry I swear.
Will this bullpen be worse? I think it’s still too early to know for sure, but it certainly has a chance to. Here’s a fun little table comparing the two. And by fun I mean it will make your eyes bleed.
|2007 Sox Bullpen vs. 2014 Sox Bullpen|
So, as you can see, while both were/are terrible, at least the 2007 pen managed to strike out more hitters than it walked. The good news is that the 2014 pen has a lot of time left to improve, and hopefully when Nate Jones returns it’ll do just that. The truth is there are arms in the pen I like this season.
Daniel Webb looks promising, Jake Petricka has done well, and if Maikel Cleto can start finding the strike zone he could be a late-inning guy. It’s just that everybody else has struggled so mightily, it’s really hard to see the encouraging parts.
DO PEOPLE REALIZE THAT THEY’RE ALLOWED TO ASK YOU QUESTIONS THAT AREN’T ABOUT THE WHITE SOX? – FOM TORNELLI
Well, when you live in a city like Chicago where the White Sox are clearly the most popular of all the major sports teams….
HOW DOES THIS RELATE TO THE WHITE SOX BULLPEN?
I still think Carmelo stays in New York. I know there’s been flirting going on between him and Tom Thibodeau through the media in recent weeks, but I just can’t help but think Anthony is sending the Knicks a message about what he wants them to do. You know, “put together a team that can win next season, or maybe I will go.”
But I don’t think he’s going to. I think Phil Jackson put an end to that, though it was revealed on Friday night that the NBA salary cap could be going up by $5 million next season. That’s a big difference, and it certainly makes landing Carmelo a bit easier for teams like the Bulls and Rockets.
And all reports are that, whether they actually get him or not, the Bulls are going to go after him this offseason.
In order to do that you have to amnesty Boozer. You hold off on doing it as long as possible, but you have to do it if you’re going to make a serious run at him. And, honestly, I don’t think losing Carlos Boozer will be that big of a deal. Now, I think that Bulls fans tend to undervalue exactly what Boozer gives the team, but there’s a reason he doesn’t play in the fourth quarter.
Taj Gibson is simply the better option. So even if you’re getting rid of Boozer just to move Taj into your starting lineup, you do it. We already know what Boozer is, and what he brings this team. And we know that it isn’t enough to get past Miami in the playoffs. He’s 32 and he’s not going to be getting any better, so at this point you might as well cut bait and move forward, with or without Anthony. Try to get Nikola Mirotic here over the summer and move forward with him.
HOW DOES THE NHL KNOW THAT JOEL QUENNEVILLE WASN’T JUST ADJUSTING HIMSELF? MAYBE HE DRESSES RIGHT AND IT HAD GONE LEFT, AND HE JUST HAD TO TAKE CARE OF IT. — KRIEGER
Well that’s the $25,000 question now, isn’t it? He was moving around a lot! It could have shifted!
And that’s it for this week’s mailbag. If your question didn’t make it send in a better one next time.
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