Short of total evisceration that convinces the opposing owner to close up the franchise, it's hard to find satisfaction when your favorite ballclub is facing a last place team, or in this case with the Royals, a team projected to finish in last place. Either you fret over every difficulty they have, or worse, they actually lose, and that's just awful beyond comprehension.
Perhaps this series with the Royals can serve as a pretty severe counter-example, as the White Sox endured two games--and 24 innings--so grueling, so fraught with lead-changes and drama, so taxing to their bullpen, that just for it to be friggin' over, let alone to accumulate a hectic, 12-inning, 10-7 win in the process, seems like a relief.
Nevermind the fact that Kansas City bombarded Sox pitching for 14 runs
on 27 hits over two games, and forced them to use 9 pitchers--including
Saturday's starter Phil Humber for some reason-- it seemed like the
series with the supposed-to-be-but-never-pushover Royals did nothing but
pick at nagging issues with the team's roster.
What's up with the bullpen and not holding leads?: Realistically, no one in the bullpen who actually matters (Thornton, Sale, Santos, Crain) looked bad per
say, but they still managed to blow two leads, which tasted pretty sour
after the wretched showing in the Cleveland series...and feels even
worse when you think about that these are probably the two worst
offenses in the division.
Thornton got burned on a bloop double in the 9th Wednesday, and Sale
challenged Billy Butler with a fastball and lost big Tuesday, so no one
looks hopeless--even Ohman got through an inning without an earned
run--but it would be nice to see the pen salt away a save situation this
weekend. However, who the hell is even available after this series?
Crain was the only one of the four who didn't pitch two innings.
Is there something wrong with Buehrle?: From a pure FIP (and
definitely not xFIP) perspective, Buehrle is not quite as bad as his
7.36 ERA through his first two starts would suggest. While the Royals
knocked him around for five earned runs, Mark certainly wasn't helped by
Lastings Milledge's outfield adventures, and mostly kept the ball on
the ground, and in the yard. He walked two, but that only brought him
to three on the year in 11 innings (which is fine).
However, he's really not striking out anyone right now. He never really
could, and has been saddled with the fastball that Matt Thornton
presumably had when he was 15 for his entire career, but it got hammered
around especially bad on Wednesday. It averaged at just 85.5mph, which
was actually an increase from Opening Day, so maybe there's hope.
Maybe Omar Vizquel should back up every position: The Alejandro
De Aza Fan Club had a banner day on Wednesday, as the White Sox plan to
plug in players with the highest overall ceilings at reserve positions
over someone who could simply supply reliable defense on command blew up
in their face, possibly to the tune of two runs. Lastings Milledge
continued to let us in on the secret to how an athletically gifted
player could be bad in the outfield by creating a double out of a
misread flyball, and allowing a runner to easily score by
double-clutching a throw, and Mark Teahen gave the Royals an insurance
run by dropping the third out in the 8th.
On a day where both Morel and Konerko both recorded errors, Teahen axed away any talk of "well, how much worse than that could he be?"
I suppose it's a philosophical issue of what you want out of your
backups, whether you want a player who has a chance to step of the bench
and have a puncher's chance of being a difference-maker on offense, or
someone who defends the position and doesn't take anything off the
table. The Sox have sided for the former this season, but both these
guys are average hitters, even on regular playing time. If their
defense doesn't improve, they're hardly worth the constant risk of
Lest we forget, CQ: If there's a way to overcome a day full of
problems, it's to have one of your players contribute .799 to your team
win probability all by himself. Carlos is sitting at 11-22 with 2 HR, 5
doubles, and 10 RBI on the young season, and is having one of those
stretches you call back whenever you're reminding someone that CQ can
just carry an entire offense for periods of time.
It's too soon to start dreaming of 2008; he's swinging and hitting
everything, and having it all drop too. But it's good to see the uptick
in line drives from a guy who has savaged his batting average by
popping everything up the last two seasons. His swing and demeanor seem
the same--I've heard all the chatter about smiling, but the primal
scream he unleashed after clubbing a go-ahead 9th inning 2-run double
seemed very Carlos--so there doesn't seem to be any miracle
change taking place. Carlos is healthy though, and he's hitting. This
can be ridden for a while.
The Sox open the Cell Thursday to the Tampa Rays sans the best 3rd
basemen in the league (Evan Longoria). Adam Dunn had to have his
appendix removed, and apparently the team is going to wait out the 5 or
more (or less)
days it takes for him to come back rather than just filing an insurance
claim and call the entire signing a wash. I say it's the right call.