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"Big Game" Freddy Back to Face the "Little Game" Royals

by Mike DePilla
Tuesday, August 18, 2009

GM Kenny Williams called his team "underachievers" yesterday, and he is right. Don't get this team confused with the one that opened the season in April. That one was mediocre. Additions of Gordon Beckham, Ramon Castro, Tony Pena, Mark Kotsay, Alex Rios and Jake Peavy have dramatically altered the team and it's appropriate expectations.

The just-completed 3-3 trip to Seattle and Oakland is officially below expectations.

For those of you you still insist this is a "mediocre" team, can you point out a specific position or area that needs to be substantially improved on paper? Kenny's right, the talent is there now.

This six-game homestand is huge, because after cellar dwellers Kansas City and Baltimore leave town the Sox will head out on a nightmarish road trip to Boston, New York and Minnesota. The time to close the gap on the Tigers is now.

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"Big Game" Freddy Garcia pitches for the Sox tonight. Can someone convince him this is a "big game"? Garcia's career stats against the lowly Royals: 8-11, 6.12 ERA, 1.61 WHIP, .322 BAA in 132.1 innings. Bad.

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First impressions of Alex Rios: He is definitely susceptible to breaking pitches, especially curveballs away. But count me as a fan.

First, he plays excellent defense in center. Second, I love his ability to hit extra base hits that don't necessarily have to be homeruns. A lot of people keep talking about how his homerun total is going to increase because of the Cell, but that is such a dangerous idea to put in a player's head. Once Carlos Quentin gets going, it could be exciting to see Beckham, Quentin and Rios pounding the gaps for doubles.

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Paul Konerko is in the midst of his annual major slump. After his 0-fer last night, he is now 0 for his last 22, and is hitting .159 in the month of August. His batting average has dropped 30+ points over that stretch.

Jermaine Dye has started to turn his slump around (7 for his last 13 since his day off), which could be a huge shot in the arm for the middle of the line up. Hopefully Paulie can do the same too. Right now he is pretty feeble up there, and his slumps take a big toll on his psyche. If he doesn't start hitting soon, getting Kotsay a few games a week at first base is in order.

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Ozzie Guillen, please, for the love of all that is holy, please stop the bunting madness! When there's a runner on first base and nobody out, letting the man at the plate swing away is the higher percentage play than the dubious sacrifice bunt. This strategy has failed Ozzie and the Sox so many times, I don't know why they keep going back to the well.

Now, I am a man who can eat his crow: the bunt worked last night. However, I would chalk that up to a broken clock being right two times a day. Unfortunately, that means we'll probably see it again next time...

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