Why the Sox Aren't the Twins
As Minnesota swept away any remaining hopes for a playoff spot, Sox fans are left to ponder how it all went wrong.
Now that the Twins' open-air production of "Who's the Boss?" has ended its three-night run at the Cell, the Sox can begin sifting through the debris.
Check that. The Sox still have some baseball games to play, as mandated by the MLB rulebook. So for now, it's up to the fandom to play the game of "Where did it all go wrong?" (No fair blaming everything on Joe West. Leave that for Hawk to do.)
The better question is: Why are the Twins so much better than the Sox?
It's a question that's been asked frequently in recent years. It's a question Ozzie Guillen desperately tried to answer before this season began.
Didn't Ozzie try to shape the 2010 White Sox into something more Twins-like? There was the emphasis on speed and fundamentals, on improved defense, on more flexibility in the lineup (see: DH by committee).
Trouble is, OzzieBall isn't the best fit for the homer-happy Cell. And, oddly enough, Ozzie might not be the best manager to oversee OzzieBall. After all, Ozzie is the manager who likes to bunt Juan Pierre over to second base, even against pitcher-catcher combos that have little chance of throwing out Pierre on steal attempts. Ozzie also is the manager of the team that gets caught stealing more than any other. And Ozzie is the manager of a team that has committed 89 errors (compared to the Twins' 65).
So, no, OzzieBall hasn't done the trick.
Long in the tooth and slow afoot as Jim Thome may be, was there anyone other than Ozzie who thought Mark Kotsay was the better choice to be the Sox's big lefty basher? Consider how much production Twins skipper Ron Gardenhire has gotten out of Thome this season, judiciously picking his spots to use him. Compare and contrast that to Ozzie picking his spots to use Kotsay (.236 batting average) and Andruw Jones (.228).
Consider how the Twins never blinked after losing former MVP Justin Morneau and star closer Joe Nathan, and don't even think about whining about how the Sox lost Jake Peavy and how the bullpen has had its share of injuries.
It's too easy to lay all the blame at Ozzie's feet. Players throughout the lineup and in the starting rotation went through horrendous slumps. Kenny Williams swung and missed with the additions of Jones, Mark Teahen and Manny Ramirez (and with his failure to convince Ozzie that bringing back Thome was a good move). Carlos Quentin was a bad fit in right field and is maddeningly streaky at the plate.
Maybe we should think of it this way: The Sox were nowhere near as good as the Twins to begin with, but they were able to contend for a while thanks to the guy who wears No. 14. The same guy who got hit in the face in his first at-bat Thursday night, refused to come out of the game and then homered on the first pitch he saw in his second at-bat. Paul Konerko is a man's man, a superb leader and a guy who gives the game everything he has.
If Sox fans need any more misery this week, all they have to do is imagine Konerko wearing a Twins uniform.