White Sox

A note on why Jack Morris isn't an HOF'er

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A note on why Jack Morris isn't an HOF'er

Jack Morris' Hall of Fame case seems to have two things going for it: Wins and "you had to be there." Morris had the most wins of any pitcher in the 1980s, and many who saw the former Tigers and Twins starter pitch feel there are more to him than just the numbers.

But there's one argument some have used regarding Morris that I want to address, and that's the one saying he pitched to the score. And that it was a good thing.

First of all, the idea that Morris pitched to the score is a myth, as proven by Baseball Prospectus' Joe Sheehan nearly nine years ago. Yet it still persists as an argument in the face of cold, hard facts, probably because of the "well, you had to be there" side of things.

But, taking a step back, why should any pitcher be rewarded for pitching to the score?

When I think "pitching to the score" I think of a pitcher who doesn't give it his all when his team is up or down by, say, four or more runs. But when games get close, that guy kicks things into another gear to get his team a win.

So, in other words, Morris was okay giving up four runs in seven innings if his team scored six or seven? What Hall-of-Fame worthy pitcher, would feel satisfied after that outing? That's not to say Morris felt content in his pitching on those days that helped push his career ERA to 3.90, but to some, it was good enough.

When thinking about this pitching-to-the-score question, I keep recalling how, in covering Notre Dame football this year, safety Harrison Smith bristled at any mention of "bend-but-don't-break defense." He would always mention how it was good the defense didn't give up a ton of points, but in reality, they would rather not give up those yards, either. Football teams don't play defense to the score; just like baseball pitchers don't pitch to the score.

I'm sure if you asked Morris, he'd say he would've rather not allowed so many runs. But somehow, Hall of Fame voters have tried to find a loophole in Morris' high ERA.

Again, that loophole doesn't exist. But if it did, it's not something for which Morris should be rewarded.

Then again, I wasn't there.

ESPN.com ranks White Sox MLB's worst rotation

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USA TODAY

ESPN.com ranks White Sox MLB's worst rotation

On Wednesday morning, ESPN.com released their rankings of all 30 MLB team's starting rotations. The rankings were a nod to the current structure of the rotation, as well as how they were likely to perform in the future. And that is why the Chicago White Sox being ranked dead last in the league is somewhat alarming. 

Overall, the White Sox rotation is 28th in WHIP and 29th in strikeouts. 

Lucas Giolito is currently the team leader in wins with four, but his ERA sits at an unsightly 7.19. James Shields has been decent in spurts, but a general lack of run support has limited his effectiveness. Carlos Rodon has been a mixed bag since returning, but was able to reach the seventh inning in his last start. This is encouraging considering that he hadn't made it that far in any of his previous three starts. And Reynaldo Lopez continues to rack up quality starts—much like Shields—but has two wins to show for it. 

Veteran players like closing pitcher Joakim Soria and Shields are sure to be hot names on the trade market, and that could go a long way towards bringing in additional prospects to build up the White Sox farm system, and lead to a much improved rotation in the future.

So the White Sox obviously deserve to be ranked lowly until they can groom their minor league starter prospects into MLB-ready staff members, something that looks like it could take longer than originally expected. Flame-throwing top prospect Michael Kopech is still amassing high strikeouts numbers, but he is walking over six batters per outing, showing an obvious issue with control. 

White Sox fans can take their mind off of ESPN ranking the team's rotation 30th in the league by turning their attention to Eloy Jimenez. He has been absolutely crushing it in Double-A Birmingham, and will likely be making his debut with the Triple-A Charlotte Knights on Saturday. That game will be live on NBC Sports Chicago. So sit back, relax and look forward to the future, wherever it may take White Sox faithful. 

White Sox Talk Podcast: Ask Us Anything Part 2

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Ask Us Anything Part 2

In Part 2 of "Ask Us Anything" we answer the following questions: Who will be the biggest free agent the White Sox sign this off-season? What are the chances they trade Avi Garcia before the deadline? What's your assessment so far of Luis Robert?  Who's on your all-time busted prospect list? Is Omar Vizquel the next White Sox manager? Would the 1994 White Sox have won the World Series if there wasn't a strike?  What's the long term plan at third base? These questions and many more on this edition of the White Sox Talk Podcast.

If you missed Part 1 of 'Ask Us Anything', you can listen to the full episode here 

Listen to the full Part 2 of 'Ask Us Anything' at this link or in the embedded player below: