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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:
- Tallest player in major-league history.
- Was Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year in 2000.
- 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.