Vote: All-Chicago baseball team
With the second leg of the Cubs-Sox series on tap at U.S. Cellular Field, it's time to take stock of our teams, position by position. An All-City team is kind of silly when there are only two teams, and only one is good, but there were a few tough calls and, yes, several Cubs made the cut.
I'd like to protest third base being included in this discussion as no one deserves it. Maybe give it posthumously to Ron Santo, who finally gets in the Hall of Fame this year.
Take a look at our picks and select your own at each position. Then tell us why in the comments section.
Greenberg: When we thought the Sox were going to say goodbye to Konerko and Pierzynski two seasons ago, much ado was made about Konerko and not much about A.J. You could tell he was a little annoyed about it, too, though he probably wouldn't admit it. But Pierzynski has continued a pretty remarkable White Sox career with a strong offensive start for the Sox, while handling pitchers and even throwing out a few baserunners. Pierzynski is hitting .286 with 11 homers and 40 RBIs. His career highs in the latter two categories are 18 and 77. He's slugging .515, well over his career high of .464. As for the Cubs, well, they employed Koyie Hill again for a couple of weeks. Nuff said.
Greenberg: This is a no-brainer. "The King" is like a rerun of "Seinfeld," he just gets better with age. Before the weekend's series at the Dodgers, Konerko leads the American League with a .359 average and is second with a 1.039 OPS, to go with 12 homers and 36 RBIs. I've seen a few people, mostly out-of-town writers, clamor for Cubs first baseman Bryan LaHair to be an All-Star. He had a great April, a lousy May and a decent rebound in June. During the Cubs' 12-game losing streak, he went 3-for-33 with a homer. To me, that's not an All-Star.
Greenberg: This was one of the toughest calls because Gordon Beckham has rebounded from an abysmal April. Barney is on the periphery of being considered a building block for the worst team in baseball, but I'm pretty impressed with not only his consistency, but with the way he's piled up extra-base hits. Beckham has nine doubles and eight homers. Barney has only three homers, but he has 15 doubles and two triples. Beckham is a better defensive player, but Barney isn't bad. And he has good instincts. But I wouldn't be surprised if, at the end of the season, Beckham has much better offensive numbers.
Greenberg: This hasn't been a great follow-up season to last year's All-Star berth. Castro's head is in the clouds sometimes, and his offensive numbers range from good (.298 average) to not-so-good (six homers, five walks). Then again, what do you expect with the lineup he's in? You have to wonder if Castro's growth is going to be stunted as the Cubs lay their foundation for sustained success. This wasn't a contest, though. Alexei Ramirez is hitting .225 with one home run. I saw him smoke a cigar in the dugout before a game recently. Maybe he should try a different pregame routine.
Greenberg: Tyler Colvin for 3B Ian Stewart was a pretty bad trade for Theo Epstein, and it doesn't seem like the Cubs have much faith in prospect Josh Vitters. Whither Aramis Ramirez? Sox 3B Brent Morel has a back injury, and wasn't any good before he was hurt. White Sox waiver-wire pickup Hudson is the choice. He's playing third on the fly, but has a few timely hits. Also he's pretty funny.
Greenberg: No, I'm not being paid to highlight Soriano for a trade. Soriano has impressed everyone in his clubhouse for playing through a painful knee injury and going on a patented home run tear, with all 12 coming since mid-May. He's also hitting .266.
Greenberg: De Aza has been the undercover All-Star, stabilizing the top of the Sox lineup, hitting .300 with a .373 on-base percentage. He has 18 extra-base hits and 14 stolen bases.
Greenberg: David DeJesus is having a solid season, but Rios has rebounded from a terrible season and has 25 extra-base hits. Rios is batting .295 with eight homers and 35 RBIs.
Greenberg: He's baaaaack. The Big Donkey is once again a true three-outcome guy and he's hitting classic moon shots, a league-high 23 to go along with 52 RBIs, good for third in the AL. His average is still around .230, but he was signed to provide power. Too bad this guy wasn't around last season.
Greenberg: Ryan Dempster has been fantastic, rebounding from a poor season and ending his Cubs career with class, Jake Peavy is a favorite for Comeback Player of the Year and Jeff Samardzija is the only Cubs pitcher who has a future with the franchise. But even after a confusing switch to the bullpen and elbow worries, Sale has been a revelation in his first season as a starter. His starts are events. Sale is 8-2 with a 2.46 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP and 82 strikeouts in 80⅓ innings. Let's just hope he stays healthy.
Greenberg: It hasn't been a good year for Chicago relievers, so I'll give this one to Nate Jones from the White Sox, a relatively anonymous 26-year-old who wasn't among Robin Ventura's candidates for "mystery closer." The 6-foot-5 right-hander, who wears No. 65, has 33 strikeouts in 33 innings. In that span, he's given up only eight runs, resulting in a 2.14 ERA. The Cubs' Shawn Camp and James Russell are strong candidates, too. Carlos Marmol has been a disaster.