Hometown All-Star Derby

Hometown All-Star Derby

Sigh… I was hoping that on July 15th, I'd be able to plop down on my couch in front of the TV with some friends and watch the Sox not only show off U.S. Cellular Field, but also an array of their own All-Stars as they chugged their way to a division title.

Well, that all has gone to heck. But with about five weeks before the 2003 All-Star Game, who does have a chance to make an appearance for our hometown boys? The following stats and voting totals are current as of June 7.

ESTEBAN LOAIZA
11 G, 80.1 IP, 8-2, 1.90 ERA
Yeah, I would have expected that a Sox starter would be in the running for the start at "The Cell" at the start of the year. But I would have expected it to be Mark Buehrle or Bartolo Colon, not the afterthought we acquired from Toronto. After a career defined by mediocrity, Loaiza has exploded on the scene, posting a ridiculous 1.90 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and a .203 OBA. Erase his worst outing of the year (May 2 against Seattle, where he allowed 5 ER in 3.2 IP) and his ERA is 1.40. Barring an injury (God help us then), a complete implosion, or abduction by aliens, Loaiza looks to be the only lock to represent the White Sox at their own park. Just hope the fire sale doesn't start before the All-Star Game and Esteban is still wearing the South Side pinstripes. The biggest question right now isn't whether or not he'll get in, it's who will win Mike Scioscia's derby to get the start: Esteban, Mike Mussina, Pedro Martinez, or Barry Zito (among others).

D'ANGELO JIMENEZ
52 G, .289 BA, .373 OBP, .477 SLG, 6 HR, 19 RBI, 27 R, 2 SB
D'Angelo Jimenez isn't here because of his superb stats; they're good, but not particularly up to All-Star standards … no, D'Angelo is here because the American League currently has a huge shortage of second basemen. New York's Alfonso Soriano is clearly a shoo-in, as is Seattle's Bret Boone. In all probability, they'll be the only second basemen taken, but if Scioscia takes a third, the race becomes very tight between Jimenez, Anaheim's Adam Kennedy (.284/.354/.390, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 23 R), and possibly Toronto's Orlando Hudson (.296/.348/.398, 2 HR, 23 RBI, 24 R). As of now, though, Jimenez looks to be a long shot. If Soriano or Boone get hurt or pull out of the game, however, Jimenez should be advised not to wander too far from his phone.

MAGGLIO ORDONEZ
58 G, .267 B, .329 OBP, .471 SLG, 10 HR, 35 RBI, 28 R
Magglio may have two things in his favor. First, he is a fan favorite, and the White Sox are, of course, hosting the festivities. Second, he was royally snubbed last year and then proceeded to put up monster numbers. Perhaps these two facts added to his proven past will be enough to get Magglio onto the American League's bench. As much as I'd like to believe it, though, Ordonez has to deal with some serious competition. Without the usual Chicago heat pounding down by now, he has yet to break out of his usual April funk (though I think a number of players would love to have his numbers in a "funk"). Mike Scioscia has a myriad of outfielders from which to choose, and as much as I am pulling for Magglio to shine in front of the Chicago faithful, I don't see it happening.

MIGUEL OLIVO
41 G, .258 BA, .305 OBP, .400 SLG, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 15 R
Two reasons Olivo is mentioned. First: his arm. The guy is a stud and anyone who's seen his home-to-second missile knows it. Second: like Jimenez, Olivo is the beneficiary of a league-wide weakness. Without Ivan Rodriguez, the American League is particularly weak behind the plate, and it is likely that Mike Scioscia will take three catchers. The crop is so bad that Sandy Alomar, Jr. currently has the third most votes for catcher in the American League. Jorge Posada will get the voters' nod again, and rightfully so. After that, however, there is a pretty large void of players fighting for one or two more spots, and Olivo's cannon arm makes him an instant contender (even if his bat isn't there yet). Expect some competition from Minnesota's A.J. Pierzynski (.285/.321/.469, 6 HR, 31 RBI, 18 R), Anaheim's Benji Molina (.267/.295/.364, 3, 28, 16), Oakland's Ramon Hernandez (.273/.330/.438, 6 HR, 24 RBI, 24 R), and Boston's Jason Varitek (.277/.341/.493, 7 HR, 28 RBI, 24 R). Olivo probably won't make the game's biggest stage this year, but watch out for this kid in the next couple of years - especially if his bat comes around.

DAMASO MARTE
24 G, 23.1 IP, 2-0, 4 SV, 1.16 ERA
Yeah, I'm being nice. Marte, a left-handed specialist really has no shot at getting an All-Star berth, which is a shame because so often quality middle relievers are overlooked for dominant starters and closers, yet are just as important. One can still dream, though, right? Sad part is, if Scioscia DOES pick Marte and gives him an inning of work, it'll be one of his longest outings of the year. Marte deserves better, but won't get it.

After that, there is just too much competition. Bartolo Colon and Carlos Lee are also long shots, but Colon's record of 5-5 and Lee's low batting average just don't stack up against the competition. As of now, Loaiza figures to be the lone rep for the South Siders while Jimenez and Olivo could be near misses this year, but may be All-Star contenders down the road. Ordonez has a chance, but more on past performance and snub rather than his current statistics.

Of course, this is very preliminary. There is still a lot of time to play between now and the All-Star Game, and a lot of the fate of the aforementioned players sits on how well or poorly the team itself is playing. If the Sox somehow (doubtfully) wake up and learn how to play sound baseball and begin to cut into the Minnesota lead within June, the chances of Jimenez, Olivo, and Ordonez playing an extra game on their home turf will be increased. However, if the Sox remain comatose, all the All-Star break will provide for our 24 Pale Hose is a three-day break from more of the same agonizingly apathetic baseball.

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