Silver lining for Sox snubs

I think we can officially decide who won the Joe Borchard trade.
Matt Thornton will be making the trip to Los Angeles to take part in his first All-Star Game.  He deserves it, especially as the managers place a greater emphasis on game situations.  He might not be having the best season in the White Sox bullpen (J.J. Putz’s credentials are pretty hard to argue with), but Thornton has struck out 29 lefties in 65 plate appearances while walking only three.  That’s an All-Star situational lefty, and All-Star rosters are getting that specific.
Unfortunately, it looks like he might be making the trip alone.  Paul Konerko has to fight his way on the team as a candidate in the Final Man voting, and Alex Rios is definitely staying home.
Rios has a stronger case — he’s third in WAR among AL outfielders, whereas Konerko is having an excellent season in a stacked position.  But Konerko might have the inside track in the fan voting.  The Sox have twice taken the final spot, with fairly uninspiring candidates — Scott Podsednik in 2005, and A.J. Pierzynski the year after.
In a normal season, Konerko’s numbers would be good enough to get into the All-Star game without a “Vote for Scott”– or “Punch A.J.”-style gimmick.  He’s hitting .296/.384/.563, second in the league in homers, and in the top 10 in OPS.
But since he needs the help, he’ll probably get plenty of it.  The Sox finish the first half with seven straight home games, which is crucial to their campaign efforts.  The schedule similarly favored Podsednik and Pierzynski, whereas Jermaine Dye didn’t make the cut in ’08 thanks to a heavy road stretch.
So I’m sure you’ll see plenty of “Pick Paulie” promotion around the park, and you’ll also see plenty of fans there.  Tonight is a Half-Price Monday, and so are the other two games against the Angels.  You might also see similar deals for the Kansas City series, so pass those along if you have ’em.
Konerko’s competition is pretty stout in terms of name recognition (Kevin Youkilis) and market size (Nick Swisher), but considering Podsednik beat out Derek Jeter for his All-Star berth, I would almost think Konerko has the inside track.
However, if both Konerko and Rios have to stay home, I don’t think it’s all a bad thing.  I can see some positives:
Rios: I don’t want to say Rios has been slumping since the start of June; it’s more of a lull.  He’s hitting .289/.341/.386 over that stretch while playing a fine center field, so it’s not like he’s been without value.  He just hasn’t been as dynamic.
That’s probably to be expected, since he was hitting above his usual power numbers over April and May.  But it’s not like he’s going into the All-Star break tearing the cover off the ball, so some rest can’t hurt.
Konerko: He’s second in homers, and the last time he participated in a Home Run Derby, this happened.
Minor league roundup:

  • Norfolk 8, Charlotte 2
    • Brent Morel is a 1-for-4 machine.
    • Tyler Flowers went 0-for-4 with a K; Alejandro De Aza managed to draw a walk.
    • Jordan Danks was 1-for-3 with two strikeouts.
    • Jhonny Nunez allowed two runs on two hits and a walk over two innings, striking out four.
  • Birmingham 11, Montgomery 5
    • Justin Greene went 3-for-5 with a double and two strikeouts.
    • Christian Marrero was 1-for-4 with a walk and an RBI.
    • C.J. Retherford was 1-for-6.
  • Winston-Salem 6, Lynchburg 4
    • Jose Martinez hit a three-run homer and added a walk in a 1-for-3 day.
    • Brandon Short homered, doubled, singled and drove in three. He also struck out once.
    • Jon Gilmore was 2-for-5 with a double and a strikeout.
    • Eduardo Escobar was hitless in five at-bats; Josh Phegley was 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts.
    • Nathan Jones scattered eight hits over 5 1/3 innings, allowing one run on a solo shot.  He struck out five with zero walks.
    • Kyle Bellamy struck out the side, but not before allowing two runs (one earned) on three hits and a walk.
  • Greeneville 7, Kannapolis 6
    • Nick Ciolli was 3-for-4 with a double and two RBI.
    • Kyle Colligan is now hitting .302 after a 2-for-4, one RBI day.
    • Brady Shoemaker walked once and struck out twice, going 0-for-3.
    • Miguel Gonzalez went 0-for-2 with a walk and an HBP.
  • Bristol 5, Pulaski 2
    • Daniel Black (playing catcher) went 3-for-4 with a homer, triple and two RBI. He did allow a passed ball.
    • Tyler Saladino singled, doubled and struck out twice.
    • Rangel Ravelo was 1-for-4.
    • Screamin’ Kevin Moran struck out two over a scoreless inning, allowing a hit and a walk.
  • Great Falls 7, Billings 6
    • Steven Upchurch allowed one unearned run (three runs total) on five hits and three walks over six innings, but he didn’t strike out anybody.
    • Juan Silvero was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.
    • Michael Blanke was 2-for-2 with a homer, two RBI and a walk.
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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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Hooray for Matt!!!!! Vote for Paulie. It would be a nice end to his Chisox career if he doesn’t come back in 2011. I hope he does, though, I forsee a nice platoon for Paulie and Dayan at 1B/DH!!