Who’s On Base?: With the White Sox, Mariners, Yankees, and Cardinals

By John A. Poole
Updated: February 20, 2008

GLEN BURNIE, MARYLAND — If the statement, “no news is good news”, has any validity at all, it surely must be for the Chicago White Sox. Since the season started, it has been one big blow after another for the ailing Sox. But the worst news of the season came this past week. Frank Thomas, the White Sox starting first baseman, is most likely out for the remainder of the 2001 season with a torn triceps muscle. He tore the muscle diving for a line drive toward the first base line. Thomas was given the season-ending news after being with his family for 5 days in Georgia, following the passing of his father.

“This has been the worst week of my life,” said Thomas during a press conference to announce that he may miss the remainder of the 2001 season. “Losing my father last week and coming back…and you’re out for the season…It’s not easy.”

Thomas has been one of the most consistent players in the majors over the last 11 years. Since 1990, Thomas has accumulated 348 home runs and over 1100 RBI’s, while keeping an overall batting average of .319. While in the lineup this year, however, Thomas has put out minimal production at best. Before the injury, Thomas was batting just .219, with 4 home runs. Considering that Luis Gonzalez is leading the league with 17 home runs, Thomas’ shortened season was a complete disappointment.

With Thomas out of the lineup, the Sox will have to find some way to generate offense. As of Monday, Jose Valentin is leading the team in home runs with 9, while Magglio Ordonez is leading the team in two categories, with 25 RBI’s and 23 runs scored, respectively.

Losing Thomas will be a tough blow for the Sox to rebound from. They have already lost starting pitchers Cal Eldred for 3-6 weeks and Jim Parque for the remainder of the season. With a 3-3 record and an ERA of 3.63, David Wells has not provided the exceptional style of pitching he has shown in the past and James Baldwin, the only other proven starter on the team, appears to be losing his intimidating edge when he’s on the mound.

Trying to catch the Minnesota Twins will be a tough task for the deteriorating White Sox, but it will give a chance to some up-and-coming talent to make their mark in the major leagues. If the Sox can focus on getting back to playing .500 baseball and not so much on what they will be missing in the lineups, there is a chance they could make a decent season out of what, right now, seems to be a nail in coffin.

Switching to the AL West: The Seattle Mariners have made it a point to prove they can win without the big name superstars who have left their team over the past three years. After the Mariners lost Randy Johnson, Ken Griffey, Jr. and Alex Rodriguez, everyone thought they would surely make a move for the cellar. Well, they made a move, but it was to in the direction of becoming the best baseball team in the majors.

With the addition of Japanese superstar Ichiro Suzuki, the Mariners have put together a league-leading 28-9 record. Ichiro came over to America after leading the Japanese league in hitting for 7 straight years and getting the nickname “Elvis” from his teammates because of all the media attention he received over there. Since coming to the Mariners, Ichiro is fourth in the league in batting average (.360) and first in hits, with 62. His power numbers are far lower than expected but he has compiled a hitting streak of 19 straight games and has hit safely in 35 of the Mariners’ 37 games.

So far, Ichiro is still getting used to the pitching styles of American baseball but, as the season goes on, his talents will continue to grow. The Mariners hold an 11-game lead over the second place Angels and a 1-game lead over the Twins for the best record in baseball.

In the AL East, the reigning champs, the New York Yankees, won the race for #1. They finally passed the Red Sox and now have a .5 game lead over the division rivals. Even without slugger Bernie Williams, who has returned home to San Juan to be with his family after his father passed on Sunday, the Yankees have made it a point to play solid baseball. With only the Orioles and the Devil Rays left in the division, the only other team that the Yankees will have to worry about will be the Toronto Blue Jays, who are currently in 3rd place.

Over in the National League, the St. Louis fans are asking the question, “Mark who?” The Cardinals have won 7 straight games and have taken over 1st place in the NL Central. With J.D. Drew, Jim Edmonds and Albert Pujols going a combined 17-34 over the weekend, the Cards were able to sweep the Cubs over the weekend and, before that, swept the Pirates, as well.

“It’s just been fun watching these guys play,” said Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa. LaRussa, who has coached the Cardinals during Big Mac’s home run exhibitions, is now hoping to finally get over the hump and make it to the World Series as a St. Louis Cardinal. With both Darryl Kile and Matt Morris at 5 wins apiece, the Cardinals are looking more and more like a championship team, but only time will reveal what will happen come October.

Please continue to check back as weekly updates will continue, as well as spotlights on the players from around the league.