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Jay Bloggers' Roundtable, Part I

Toronto Star columnist Chris Young organized a roundtable discussion between writers from Batter's Box, Toronto Baseball Guys, Blue Jay Way, and Bluebird Banter. He posted part one on JABS (Just Another Blog on Sports). I'd like to thank Chris for giving me the opportunity to participate in the roundtable. It's much appreciated.

An excerpt:

JABS: We can get into the Jays in depth a little later, but right now I want to ask you about the AL in general. The White Sox surprised a lot of people last year. Magpie, you're a numbers-historical kind of guy -- why did they surprise people, and how do you see their chances at repeating the same kind of season?

MAGPIE: Obviously the 2005 White Sox surprised me - I wrote the Box preview for them last year (and this!) and I saw them finishing third. I thought they'd lost a ton of offence and the improved pitching wouldn't make up for it. As it happened, they did lose an enormous amount of offence - they scored 124 fewer runs in 2005 than the previous year. Huge, huge fall-off. But the pitching was so much better - in a home run park, no less - that they were a much better team anyway. Mostly because Garland in the first half, and Contreras in the second half, took a big leap forward. And the team defence was much improved as well. Iguchi, Pierzynski, and Rowand had a lot to do with that.
Can they do it again? Well, Jim Thome is a great hitter, and if they get 130 games out of him, it helps a whole lot. My main reservation about the White Sox is mostly just the law of averages catching up. They had a lot of very good fortune last year. Granted, you need that when you have to win it all. But they were extremely good in close games, which doesn't tend to hold up from year to year. Even the things that went wrong in 2005 somehow went right for them anyway. When their closer (Takatsu) was awful, they plugged in Hermansen (who was brilliant). When Hermansen got hurt, they plugged in Bobby Jenks (who they picked up off the scrap heap.) That sort of thing makes you think the dice were just a little loaded. I think they'll win 90 plus games, and not make it to the post-season.