In this most recent weekend of Earthly Pleasures, the White Sox were nominally productive. They won 3 of 5 games, dealt two losses to fellow division contenders the Cleveland Indians, drew within 5 games of the AL Central lead (again), and even bested terrifying groundball-maven, Justin Masterson. 3 of 5 games! That's a .600 winning percentage...which is a 97-win pace!
The White Sox aren't going to win 97 games, but it's possible they could go .600 for the rest of the season. It's just that unless you have inside information about how White Sox opponents will continue to commit baffling errors right on throughout the playoffs (if so, SHARE), I certainly wouldn't bet on a White Sox hot streak based on this past week.
Unsustainable-as-hell things that marked White Sox victories
Monday, July 18th @ KC - Sox win 5-2: With the game tied at 2 in the top of the 6th, Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar fields what should be an easy inning-ending double-play ball. Instead of throwing the ball to his teammate Chris Getz who awaits it while standing on 2nd base, Escobar throws it about 4 feet to the left of Getz, leading to a two-run inning.
No one is sure why Escobar did this, but the leading theories are: a burning hatred for Getz that he's never acted on till now, a fondness for asymmetrical structures, and being enraptured by the moonlight. Escobar has 12 errors on the season, so it wasn't an unfathomable occurrence, but he followed it up by successfully making several easy, perfectly routine throws in a row.
Friday, July 22nd @ Cle - Sox win 3-0: Nothing really that crazy happened. It's just that Floyd threw 7 2/3 shutout innings, and the only runs the White Sox received came via a Carlos Quentin 3-run HR. That marked the second-straight game in which the White Sox scored all their runs via Carlos Quentin HRs. I'm sure Earl Weaver would have approved of this good pitching + 3-run HRs approach, but even he would probably have preferred one more 3-run HR...just to be on the safe side.
Sunday, July 24th @ Cle - Sox win 4-2: The Indians delivered the game in a pretty package via 3 unearned runs, and as an affirmation of their status as the 'Very Best Friends the White Sox Have', they committed errors that gave Alex Rios and Adam Dunn a taste of being productive players.
First, Ezequiel Carrera dropped a typically harmless inning-ending warning track fly ball off the bat of Adam Dunn, allowing two runs to score in the 6th. To follow that up, Cleveland stars Asdrubal Cabrera and Carlos tag-teamed to raise Alex Rios' spirits. Rios hit a bouncing liner to Cabrera at short that Asdrubal gave his best 2010 Mark Teahen impression on, allowing it to bounce up on him into left field. When Rios tried to steal 2nd, Santana did him the favor of chucking the ball into center field. In a crazier twist, the Sox knocked Rios in after he reached 3rd base with one out.
Earlier, I said that I would wait until Carlos Santana started handing the White Sox games via chucking the ball into center field before banking on solid defenders continuing to rack up crucial errors. Even now, I remain obstinate.
The White Sox scored a piddling 15 runs over 5 games in the week, with 5 of them unearned. The AL Central isn't short on cruddy pitching staffs, so there'll always be more chances for this group of players to hit poorly-located fastballs in the low-90s. But the team just eclipsed the 100-game mark...maybe these guys aren't going to do it.
Obstinate all around
As the front office continues to stand idle while the trade deadline approaches, Ozzie Guillen used another remark dismissing the possible promotion of Dayan Viciedo as an opportunity to launch an assault on logic.
“Well if Viciedo is going to be the White Sox’s savior we will be in deep [expletive] … and you can quote me on that,” Guillen said. “If we wait for [expletive] Viciedo to be the savior, we’re in deep [expletive] if we wait for a Triple-A kid to come here and be the savior."
“Can he help? Yes,” Guillen said. “Is he going to be the savior? I like the talent we have here.”
Does the team only promote saviors from the Minor Leagues now? If that's the case, the next promotion should come around...never ever ever. What degree of assistance does a player have to provide to be worth it? Since when was putting out the best team possible during a season blatantly geared around winning a cruddy AL Central not proper motivation?
"But I want to make it clear about those people who want Viciedo here, I want Viciedo here. But the thing is where do I play him?"
A grand return to the logic that pushed Jim Thome to the Twins. There isn't the ideal number of at-bats to give to such good hitters, so it'd be better to play crummy hitters 2-4 times a week instead. Naturally, the playing time of all the players on a 49-51 baseball team is unimpeachable.
Kenny Williams makes the actual decisions on these matters, but his inaction and lack of open refutation of these ideas count as co-signing until further notice.
Trade away the strengths
Instead, the rumors have the White Sox attempting something more difficult; winning a trade. Object of Kenny's affection; Colby Rasmus, is allegedly being pursued, with Matt Thornton and Edwin Jackson being the return. It could actually be a great trade, dealing the very-unlikely-to-re-sign Jackson and the aging Thornton for a young, cost-controlled center fielder with upside. A reverse-Hudson, or at least something close to it.
But beyond possibly blocking Viciedo more, it takes away cogs from the rotation and bullpen--two units that have absolutely carried the team--for a player that would not only lack for guaranteed at-bats, but not equal the players he was traded for in immediate value. In other words, it would make the 2011 White Sox worse, and they're already not that good.
Phil Humber is getting skipped in the rotation this next week in a rare moment of unprompted caution. Guillen and Cooper cited Humber's career-high workload as the reason for pushing him back to Sunday, alongside not wanting Danks to not have 8 days between starts, and perhaps the fact that he blatantly ran out of gas in the 6th inning of his last outing and everyone is worried that the magic is over.
Mark Buehrle is closing in on the team ERA lead, Danks and Floyd were both terrific this week, but between Humber's possible fade and Peavy's natural tendencies toward injuries and inconsistency, Edwin Jackson doesn't look so utterly tradeable anymore.
A crucial 10-game homestand versus AL playoff contenders Detroit, Boston, and New York begins on Monday. Suffice it to say, if Kenny Williams doesn't know what tweaks need to be made by the end of this week, he never will. The pitching matchups are a stars and scrubs collection. The Sox will face Verlander, Scherzer, and Lester, but also rookie Duane Below, career-scrub Andrew Miller, and Tim Wakefield.
Tags: Adam Dunn, alcides escobar, Alex Rios, asdrubal cabrera, baseball, boston red sox, Carlos Quentin, carlos santana, chris getz, Dayan Viciedo, Detroit Tigers, Don Cooper, earl weaver, Edwin Jackson, Gavin Floyd, John Danks, Justin Verlander, Kansas City Royals, Kenny Williams, Mark Buehrle, Max Scherzer, New York Yankees, Ozzie Guillen, philip humber, tim wakefield, White Sox