Can you believe it? Only four days from today Mark Buehrle will take to the mound at Progressive Field in Cleveland to kick off the 2011 season. Buehrle received his final tune up before Opening Day yesterday afternoon, and the results indicate he's ready to go: 5 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 7 K, 0 BB.
However, Buehrle's K-filled outing was not the most surprising news to come from Sox camp yesterday. Ozzie Guillen and co. team made their unofficial final round of cuts, and with the surprising dismissal of Jeff Marquez, it appears the Opening Day roster is set with 11 pitchers and half a dozen outfielders, including both Brent Lillibridge and Lastings Milledge.
SSS chief Jim Margalus, who only four days ago wondered aloud how Marquez snuck his away onto the (preliminary) 25-man roster, today tried to make sense of the new rotation and came to the same conclusion I have: it's not optimal. Having both of Milledge and Lillibridge on the roster is about useful as Krusty the Clown's famous superfluous third nipple.
Of course, I was the guy who wanted Alejandro De Aza, he of the good defense and baserunning, to make the club as the primary back up outfielder, and he was cut before any of these guys. When you break it down, there just isn't enough opportunity for Milledge, who is behind Mark Teahen, or Lillibridge, who is behind Omar Vizquel, and if Ozzie tries too hard to find at bats for all of them, he will be actively hurting the team.
Now, Marquez should never have sniffed this team anyway. A prime example of why spring stats should be thoroughly ignored: Marquez was having a sensational spring through his first four appearances, allowing a bunch of hits but no runs and only one walk over 7.1 innings. Since then (March 14), he's been battered mercilessly: 10 IP, 7 ER, 14 H.
James at White Sox Observer points out that, in taking Milledge, Lillibridge and Phil Humber over De Aza and Marquez, the Sox are logically selecting the best overall players, regardless of roster depth. And of course their roles will be so limited that it will hardly affect the outcome of many games one way or another: selecting Milledge over De Aza is not like going to post with Mark Kotsay as your starting DH over Jim Thome.
So there's no use making too big a deal out of it. (And on the pitching side, it's six one way half a doze another- Humber is bound to be terrible as the 5th starter but any of the options would be equally bad.) At the end of the day, I still think Teahen and/or Lillibridge are not long for this team. It feels like Ken Williams is shopping them both aggressively, and one of them will be moved no later than April. When one of them gets dealt, and/or Quentin gets injured, then we will have an interesting debate about playing time for Milledge or Dayan Viciedo.
Sox fans, you need to check out former-Examiner JJ Stankevitz's new endeavor, Beer Leaguer. The site is already overflowing with excellent content, including rundowns of all recent Sox maneuverings and analysis of the Konerko/Cameron trade, the Richard/Peavy trade and John Danks' and Gavin Floyd's pitch selection. Great stuff. And, it all comes without seventeen pop-up ads!
Filling Stankevitz's old seat at White Sox Examiner is Brian Henkels, who has already logged five stories.
New food at the Cell? Buried in a Tribune article today about Wrigley Field is a blurb about some minor vendor changes at the Cell this year:
"On the South Side, new offerings at U.S. Cellular Field include an Irish pub, cheesesteak sandwiches and tamale carts. The park will change its Beers of the World locations to Midwest Brews, featuring craft beers from neighboring states. Wow Bao, new last season, is adding Mongolian beef to its offerings."The article also mentions that the Cell will now serve DiGiorno pizza instead of Connie's. I am a big Connie's pizza fan, but it is much, much better enjoyed at Connie's restaurant location a few minutes away from the park than inside the stadium anyway.
The Irish pub may refer to "TBD's", the sports bar located at the north entrance to the park across from 35th Street. Or it may refer to something else completely new. I'll find out Thursday, April 7!