Well, it's here. Took long enough.
The White Sox certainly haven't played to a level that's of a concern, they've just been thoroughly uninspiring in racking up a 4-6 record on the 10-game road trip that contained two series against winning teams. Oh, and they lost both those series.
Road trips are hard--not preposterously hard like in the NBA, where officiating alters dramatically for the road team--but still difficult. Especially when they're bunched together like this where problems can snowball.
But the White Sox are not suffering from a specific malady; they haven't scored a ton of runs, but certainly don't seemed over-matched offensively (except for Jones & Pierzynski)
, they're starting pitching wasn't good the past two contests, but certainly isn't a systemic issue, and Bobby Jenks single-handedly lost two games for the team, but, well, you can't blame everything on him.
Instead it seems like once this team is no longer benefiting from a rocket located in their rear driving them up the division standing, they have to face what they are; a mid-level contender profiting off being in a weak division that has little margin for error.
Daniel Hudson has been by no means a disaster, especially for a rookie starter thrown into a division race on short notice. He's racked up an ERA over 6.00, but the White Sox have gone 2-1 in games he's started, which is all that really matters to the team, even if it's a meaningless statistic in terms of Hudson's player value. But still, with Hudson struggling to fight off his urge to walk everything in sight every five days instead of Jake Peavy trying his hardest to ignore excruciating pain, the team's potential has been significantly lowered. They now boast only three pitchers capable of producing at an elite level, and only one who can rack up a high strikeout rate, which is notable because now only Floyd is the type of pitcher who can power his way through defensive miscues...and he failed the last time he tried. The starting pitching is good, but no longer dominant, and can't carry the team by itself.
This exacerbates the handling of Bobby Jenks' latest relapse in his multiple personality disorder. We all know the real person is Big Bad Bobby Jenks, but he keeps having these episodes where he pretends that he's Crappy Overpaid Reliever #71, and who knows how many bullpen sessions it will take to convince him that he isn't. In the mean time, the team isn't strong enough to keep him in high-stress closing situations until he seems to have gotten his breaking pitches back, and they don't have to with the options they have in Putz and Thornton. Moreover, why should they just to assuage the ego of a player who hasn't pitched to the level to merit the star treatment he continually seeks? Of course, the White Sox are best off with Jenks in the closer slot, it gives them the most flexibility, and makes them a team that legitimately just needs to be winning after six innings.
So that's how it is, the White Sox have had their margin for error, and probably their season potential, lowered by the Peavy injury, and badly need to get Jenks rolling again to continue to compete with an offense that was never going to run roughshod over anyone in the first place. At this point, we should be happy to win the AL Central. And man, would I ever be. Think I'm being modest? Watch "The Club" and listen for any mention of "World Series", "deep playoff run", or anything beyond "I think we can win the division".
A move might raise the Sox up a bit, but also might do more harm than good, and jeopardize the organization's future. Kenny has come out and said that the market looks unfavorable for making any trades, but is simultaneously rumored to be burning up the phones for Adam Dunn, Prince Fielder, and other large men. I've given up on predicting, and really I should have done so after the White Sox acquired their starting center fielder and a $60 million contract off of waivers.
The good news is that Detroit is in peril with three starters on the disabled list, and a rotation with the stability of the U.S. dollar in foreign markets. If they want Dunn or some other offensive upgrade, they have to dig into their pitching coffers. But hey, if they can convince people that Rick Porcello is going to be awesome down the road, they should win. As for the Twins, there's no reason to believe that Justin Morneau will be out forever, as creepy and ominous as his concussion issues seem to be, they've kicked the worst starter out of their rotation for one of their best relievers, and generally seem to be healing themselves like that horrifying robot from Terminator 2. Still, you don't fritter away a 4.5 game division lead by accident; they're beatable.