Monday, December 10, 2007

Mike Caruso: The Next Ozzie Guillen?

Mike Caruso was supposed to make people forget Ozzie Guillen. Mike was part of the White Flag trade with the Giants in 1997. Top talent was sent to the Giants for six no-name minor leaguers. Fans were upset and rightfully so. The Sox were only 3 1/2 games out of first place, behind the Indians, at the time of the trade.

Mention this trade and most White Sox fans in their twenties or older will groan. It was basically seen as a move to give up and not as a move towards the future. A few of the other no-names were Keith Foulke and Bobby Howry. Not that bad of a trade in retrospect, but still a sore spot in White Sox history.

No matter how good a player is, they have to be better than the second coming of Babe Ruth to unseat a popular player in the minds of fans. I call it the Bill Murray syndrome. He had the undaunting task of replacing the ultra popular Chevy Chase on Saturday Night Live. If I'm remembering my SNL history correctly, I think he may have even received death threats. Nice, huh?

Mike did fairly well in 1998. He hit .306 with 160 hits. Sounds great, right? 132 of those hits were singles and he only scored 81 times out of those 160 hits and 14 walks. He would have done much better if the players after him in the lineup were hitting better. Such are the subtle nuances of baseball.

1999, his average dipped to .250, having only 132 hits that year. His exra base hits, which were anemic the year before, were almost non-existent. When the White Sox made a trade in January 2000 to obtain Jose Valentin from the Brewers, Mike was stuck in the minors for that year. He was put on waivers in December 2000 and claimed by the Mariners. Seven days later, he was granted free agency.

He was picked up by the Devil Rays in 2001, but never made the major league club. At the end of the season, he was granted free agancy again. This time he was picked up by the Reds in December 2001. He never made that parent club either. He was claimed off waivers on April 28, 2002 by the Royals. He did make it onto the team as a backup infielder, but only played in 12 games and hit .100.

There is a bright side for Mike though. In 2007, he made it onto the South Georgia Peanuts in the South Coast League. Mike ended up hitting .362 for the season. He helped the Peanuts take the 2007 SCL crown against the Macon Music.

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