White Sox Decade of Disasters: Pitching staff

After tackling the worst of the position players from 2000 to 2009, let’s debate the shape of the 12-man pitching staff today.
Before we begin, though, a few thoughts.
*When Kenny Williams said he never wanted to revisit Fifth Starter Hell again, he meant it.  Even with Jose Contreras’ failings and the return of Bartolo Colon, the Sox have never come close to resurrecting that catastrophic scenario. The overall stability of the rotation over a five-year period has been remarkable.
*You might immediately think of Mike MacDougal or Scott Linebrink, but remember — this team comprises players who, for a variety of reasons (including some beyond their control), just couldn’t have worked out worse for all relevant parties. MacDougal’s 2006 was worth the trade (just not the extension beyond it), and Linebrink is only teetering on the brink of collapse.
RHP: Todd Ritchie
Williams put Ritchie in an impossible position when he acquired Ritchie for three decent arms, because that made people think Ritchie was good. He was an average-at-best pitcher purported to be a top-tier starter, and he responded with an ERA above 6.00.
LHP: David Wells
Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to spend your only year on the South Side, Son.
LHP: Scott Schoeneweis
Schoeneweis was better off in the bullpen; he was the only person who believed otherwise. While he wasn’t as awful as some other Fifth Starter Hell participants, he stands out because 1) he was belligerent about his role, and 2) he ended up being the only White Sox player in the Mitchell Report, receiving a pharmacy shipment of PEDs in his name at the Cell.
RHP: Jon Rauch
Rauch is a Fifth Starter Hell survivor with three things going for him:

  1. Tallest player in major-league history.
  2. Was Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year in 2000.
  3. Teamed up with Kenny Williams to completely undermine his trade value when he left a game early and Williams flipped out.

That’s a unique kind of crash.
LHP: Arnie Munoz
In some ways, Munoz doesn’t belong on this list, because he was clearly in over his head. Then again, nobody reached the depths that Munoz did on June 19, 2004:

3 IP, 10 H, 11 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 2 HR

It’s notable for so many reasons. Munoz gave up nine runs in the second inning — and Ozzie Guillen sent him out for a third. It was only the third time in White Sox history (since 1954, at least) that the Sox scored 14 runs and lost. And the team that beat the tar out of Munoz no longer exists.
When I think of Fifth Starter Hell, I think of Munoz.
RHP: Sean Tracey
It was embarrassing for everybody. I felt embarrassed watching it.
RHP: Rick White
White ruined any plans the Sox made around him by posting a 6.61 ERA and allowing a homer every four innings. Yet he somehow felt qualified to tell Jerry Manuel how to manage a bullpen in the midst of a stretch where the Sox won nine of 10 games to pull within three games of first.
The Sox cut him three weeks later.
LHP: Andrew Sisco
It’s a toss-up, but I think Sisco better represents the 2007 bullpen than anybody else. He had a decent April, collapsed in May, spent the rest of the year in Charlotte as the Sox couldn’t figure out if he was better as a reliever or a starter (answer: neither). Then he had Tommy John Surgery and hasn’t pitched since.
Plus, he cost the Sox a useful player in Ross Gload. Others like Dewon Day and Mike Myers may have flopped harder, but at that point, the Sox were clearly throwing crap against the wall to see if anything stuck.
RHP: Tanyon Sturtze
If Sturtze were just a little less bad, he wouldn’t belong on this list. He played a big part in one of my favorite days in White Sox history (the twin brawls with Detroit), and Ron Schueler managed to turn him into Tony Graffanino, somehow.
But back in 2007, when I was trying to figure out how the Days, Myerses and Ryan Bukviches of the world stacked up in White Sox history, one named trumped them all — Tanyon Sturtze.
Of any White Sox reliever to throw 15 innings, Sturtze posted a franchise-worst 12.06 ERA, and his 2.556 WHIP was only behind Lou Garland’s 2.64 WHIP in 1931.
LHP: Horacio Ramirez
With Boone Logan out of the picture, the Sox turned to Kansas City for more bullpen “aid.” They got Horacio Ramirez, who walked four times as many batters as he struck out. For some reason, the Sox and Royals feel like they can help each other. I honestly don’t understand why.
RHP: Jose Paniagua.
Has anybody ever had a more memorable career that lasted one-third of an inning?
Closer: Billy Koch
Stats from 2003-2004:

  • Keith Foulke: 14-4, 2.12 ERA, 75-for-87 SV, 169 2/3 IP, 35 BB, 167 K.
  • Billy Koch: 6-6, 5.66 ERA, 19-for-27 SV, 76 1/3 IP, 44 BB, 67 K.

Once again, feel free to argue for a candidate if you think he’s deserving (and also who said player would replace).  This weekend, I’ll add up the counterarguments (Rob made a good one for Brian Anderson over Nick Swisher), and see if we can come to clear-cut conclusions.

Take a second to support Sox Machine on Patreon
Default image
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.

Articles: 3558
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

ritchie, koch, wells, schoeneweis top my list. while the ritchie and koch were ineffectual, they didn’t have the rep of being jerks like wells and schoeneweis. david wells was supposedly a mentor to the young buerhle, but his treatment of frank thomas in the clubhouse (with other teammates like konerko following his lead) washes that out.
i would love to ignore the rules and put parque on this list (2001 and 2002). he was a bigger punk than wells/schoeneweis combined.


haha, points taken 😉


Dewon Day deserves a place somewhere on this list. Kenny loved his arm, but in 2007 Day had 13 appearances while pitching only 12 innings. He walked 9 guys and hit 2 others!! His era was a nifty 11.25! I used to laugh out loud every time he came in from the bullpen.


Another great list.
My ultimate Schoenweiss memory: Sox/Angels on July 7, 2004. By the third inning, Scott S. has given up two home runs to Jose Guillen, etc., putting the Sox down by 6 runs. Needless to say this led me to the beer stand one too many times, and I was batshit drunk when, in the 6th inning, down 0-7, I could barely see that the Sox turned a by-the-books 3-4-6 TRIPLE PLAY. Final score: Angels 12, Sox 0.


I’m gonna make the case for Ryan Bukvich.
Sisco, Aardsma, and Day were in Charlotte for good by June.
That meant Ryan Bukvich had to be the designated punching bag during the long, hard slog of 2007.
There was the time he gave up the 8th inning grand slam to ARod in that one game in June. There was that game in early July when he was part of the crew that blew up a four run lead in what looked like Mark Buehrle’s last game in a Sox uniform. There were a bunch of other examples.
When I think of 2007 – I think of Erstad. Then I think of Ryan Bukvich. Then I cry.


Though he might not deserve this list, in twenty years there might not be a more hilarious historical footnote in Sox history than the Shingo Takatsu adventures. I swear.


I was thinking Takatsu as well. Maybe his numbers don’t get him on the list, but his failure (he was second in Rookie of the year voting in 2004) helped move the Sox bullpen to where it needed to be in 2005.


These lists are great. How about a list of the top ten worst White Sox moments of the decade? One that I can offer is when Jerry Manuel had Neal Cotts start that game against the Yankees late in ’03 instead of Buehrle.


I feel like the worst moments involve most of the players mentioned above.
Top 5 worst moments of the decade:
1. The Ligues
2. Paniagua (see above)
3. Sean Tracy (see above)
4. Neal Cotts start against the Yanks
5. Damaso Marte loading the bases with no one out in 2005 ALDS*
* That worst moment was followed by one of the best, with El Duque coming in and pulling a rabbit trick allowing no one to score.


Bukvich HAS to be on the team. He absolutely personifies that godawful ’07 season.


These lists are great.
Of course you remember the good, that is hard to forget… but the REALLY bad, those are purged from the memory bank.
David Wells, he was wiped away, now back like foggy memories after a bad night out.


Agree on Bukvich, honorable 2007 mention for Bret Prinz, who left off the last “T” for “‘tarded.” I have fleeting memories of some kind of inexplicable malcontentedness on Prinz’ part as well, and since I do recall he was DFA’d after like three appearances, I’d say he’s earned a gas face of obscure infamy.
Also I nominate Felix Diaz and his 13 HR allowed in 49.1 IP in ’04. A particularly significant part of the Fifth Starter Hell Frustration Index was the fact that Diaz was dominant at Charlotte prior to his callup. He was a frothy bucket of farts everywhere else in the aftermath. It’s fun that his solid BB rate was almost identical to his horrorific HR rate, and if we’ve learned one thing from this little exercise, it’s that fun facts make these otherwise-repugnant White Sox at least superficially endearing.


Diaz wasn’t bad enough to merit inclusion on your list. He’s a cut above those clowns and lacks the requisite Paniagua Memorial Epic Meltdown Event Horizon, though he’s still a cut below his colleague LEGENDARY FOURTEEN GAME WINNER Dan Wright, whose injury/badness I believe served as the impetus for Fifth Starter Hell.
And Bret Prinz “couldn’t get loose.” Yes. And Ozzie left in somebody — Logan? — to disastrous results, and then the Sox left Prinz on the curb.
Also: David Sanders. Minor, largely forgotten, bad. With a ring!


Honorable mention for Ken Vining. 8 memorable games in 2001 as the final pitcher from the White Flag trade to reach the big leagues.


The “Animal House” reference for David Wells is(was) spot on.
Who would fit that definition today? besides John Kruk on ESPN


I might throw Mike Jackson on there for relievers. And that’s based off that the three times I saw him pitch, he gave up a grand slam in each of the first at-bats. I think they were all to Casey Blake, too, but I’m probably wrong about that.