The 2012 Angels vs. the 2011 White Sox

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The 2012 Angels vs. the 2011 White Sox

It's a scenario White Sox fans are all too familiar with: team makes a splash in the offseason, is picked by nearly everyone to make the playoffs, struggles out of the gate early and never recovers.

The Angels have hit three of those first four points in 2012, just as the White Sox did in 2011. At 16-21, Los Angeles is two games ahead of the White Sox pace through 37 games in last year's disastrous All In campaign. It's far too early to bury them, especially with a second wild card at their disposal.

There's still plenty of time for players to turn around slow starts. Pitching isn't the Angels' problem -- sound familiar? -- and the rotation will only get stronger as Dan Haren's 4.41 ERA improves. The bullpen has been a little shaky in the early going -- again, sound familiar? -- but it has enough good arms that it'll probably be okay.

The real concern here, though, is offense. The Angels are on pace to be shut out more than any team in baseball history, which, by the way, includes the dead ball era. There's little chance the Angels will actually be shut out 36 times this season, but that about one in every five contests has seen Los Angeles' offense fail to score is, well, awful.

The Angels have scored 134 runs, the third-lowest total in the American League behind the paltry offenses of Minnesota and Oakland. By any stat, the Angels have a below-average offense, with a few high-priced culprits shouldering the blame.

Frustrated with Brent Morel's slow start to the season (.178.214.196)? He has some company in the offensive depths of baseball, as Angels shortstop Erick Aybar is hitting .187.213.228. While Aybar is mainly known for his defense, he started the season as the Angels' leadoff hitter and signed a four-year, 35 million contract extension on April 19. That's not the kind of money you shell out to a No. 8 hitter, which is where Aybar has hit in all but one game in May.

Vernon Wells is making 21 million every year from 2012 through 2014, and he's proven to be little more than an expensive roadblock on Mike Trout's path to the majors. Since joining the Angels last season, he has a .251 on-base percentage -- 21 points lower than Morel's OBP since the start of 2011.

And then there's Albert Pujols, who's doing a spot-on Adam Dunn impression through his first 36 games with the Angels. The smart money is on Pujols pulling out of his malaise at some point -- unlike Dunn, there was no rushed return from an appendectomy to mess up his swing -- but until he does, stats like this are going to keep being brought up:
Players with more home runs than Albert Pujols

Gordon Beckham
Jose Altuve (note: he's listed as 5-foot-5)
Mark Ellis
Chone Figgins
Miguel Olivo (in 17 plate appearances)
And many more!

Pujols' .536 OPS is bested by Beckham (.576) and Dayan Viciedo (.591) and, if it doesn't improve, would be topped by the 2011 OPSes of Dunn (.569) and Alex Rios (.613). And, currently, Juan Pierre is out-slugging Pujols by about 70 points. Juan Pierre.

The Angels are not this bad. Pujols is not this bad, Aybar probably isn't this bad -- although Wells may be this bad -- and as a team, they can't seriously be this bad as we near the 14 mark of the 2012 season.

But hey, we were saying the same things about the White Sox last year.

White Sox Talk Podcast: Ode to Mark Buehrle

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White Sox Talk Podcast: Ode to Mark Buehrle

With the news that the White Sox will retire Mark Buehrle's jersey this summer, we replay Chuck Garfien's 2011 interview with Buehrle who recalls all the big moments of his White Sox career: the perfect game, no-hitter, World Series save, his first and only home run, sliding on the tarp during rain delays and much, much more.

Also, John Buehrle (Mark's dad) joins Chuck and Ryan McGuffey to talk about the jersey retirement and Buehrle's White Sox career. Chuck and Ryan also share their favorite Buehrle stories.

Check out the latest edition of the White Sox Talk Podcast here:

Rick Renteria: White Sox not overly concerned about Todd Frazier's injury

Rick Renteria: White Sox not overly concerned about Todd Frazier's injury

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- They plan to stay vigilant, but the White Sox say Todd Frazier's left oblique injury isn't severe. 

A day after he said Frazier is day to day with what he described as a left oblique strain, manager Rick Renteria said the third baseman has improved.

"He's actually feeling good today, Renteria said. "Our purpose was to hold him back a little bit. Those side issues, muscular issues, oblique issues, they could be a pain in the rear, but it depends on the severity of those types of injuries. Right now it's just a mild soreness, so we're not concerned about it too much."

[MORE: White Sox rebuild offers 'leeway' for Lucas Giolito after frustrating 2016 season]

Renteria also said outfielder Charlie Tilson has shown some improvement. The hope is Tilson, who is expected to be sidelined for 10 days with a stress reaction in his right foot, could start limited activities on Friday.

Renteria also suggested Carlos Rodon could participate in his first bullpen session shortly. Rodon only began to play catch last Friday and hasn't pitched off the mound yet in camp.

"He feels good and he'll be out there soon," Renteria said. "He's extending and he feels good. He's holding it back a little bit."