The White Sox went 3-3 on the week, which isn't so bad. Especially considering the fact that the competition was two division-leaders in Detroit and Boston, and that .500 is the rendezvous point where all-three AL Central contenders gather to share iced teas and the day's gossip.
Still, two games under .500 and four back of the division lead sounds like a stop the White Sox have made dozens of times before. While two months left in the season seems like plenty of time, this is a team that's longest winning streak is 4, and offers it's pitching such a small margin of error night-to-night that long stretches of easy wins just don't seem to be on the menu.
Those last two Boston games were a real kick in the shin (that's right, the shin. Ever been kicked hard in the shin?). Prior to the weekend, the Sox had won 5 out of their last 6, all against winning teams. In 2011, that constitutes as inspiring stretch of baseball as this team's put together, but then the inevitability of facing off against an offense the ChiSox could never, ever hope to outscore set in, and Boston scored 15 runs in 2 days. Oof.
The White Sox traded Edwin Jackson to Toronto in exchange for the luxury of extra relief help, shedding Mark Teahen's bothersome but not that onerous contract, and Zach Stewart...who is a pitching prospect simultaneously adored by Keith Law as a future #2 starter, and also a guy who's repeating Double-A at age 24 with less than amazing numbers.
As it turns out, this wasn't merely a salary-cutting swap to set up bigger deals. It was the deal. That's it for the deadline. Unless you're giving credit to the front office for finding a way to promote Alejandro De Aza (and I don't, given all the DFA candidates), The White Sox completed one trade that made the team pretty clearly worse in an response to ownership pressing for a reduced payroll.
The Pirates aren't even doing that this season! Granted, I could probably acquired Ryan Ludwick and Derek Lee for a 48-pack of string cheese, but still.
Hoping for the biggest payroll since 2008 (adjusting for inflation) to be paid for by an immediate knee-jerk increase in attendance doesn't appear to have worked out. That, or Reinsdorf just doesn't feel like signing such large checks for such a mediocre team. Hey, who would?
In the wake of EJax
For the trade to stand up, the squeaky wheels of Jake Peavy of Phil Humber have to demonstrate that they are completely deserving of the regular, customary rotation slots they've been handed.
This was not a good week for that.
Jake Peavy wore down like a guy who's recovering from major shoulder surgery in the 6th inning Tuesday, getting rapped around for 5 hits in his final frame of work in a 5-4 loss. Phil Humber seemed just fine until a 5th inning from BABIP hell (two infield hits alongside a throwing error) ended his night after 4.2 IP against Boston on Saturday.
Neither effort were disasters of the Arnie Munoz variety, but they didn't inspire confidence for a rotation that will continue to try to drag a below-average offense to the promised land.
Jason Frasor seemed just fine, by the way. Will Ohman allowing the shank Carl Crawford single he yielded to come around and score is Frasor's only black mark in a Sox uniform.
The offense is what it is
With the deadline passed, finding a way for Dayan Viciedo to make his way onto the roster once he's healthy or yet another wacky waiver acquistion (Rios, Manny, oh boy who's next!!?) are the only remaining avenues for acquiring a sorely-needed offensive boost.
Until then, the offense sort of is what it is.
Juan Pierre seems poised to have the exact same season as 2010, Alex Rios is still pulling everything (and zoned out on throws from centerfield in both weekend starts), and Dunn is still swinging through every fastball...how long can someone looked suddenly washed-up without being so? We get to find out! Knowledge FTW!
Most disappointing might be Alexei Ramirez, who after a less-terrible-than-usual start in cold weather led many--myself included--to hope that he was primed for a breakout season. The weather in Chicago has spiked into the 90's with regularity in Chicago, mimicking Alexei's native Cuba, and he's posted back-t0-back sub-.300 wOBA months.
Maybe he's just a streaky player destined to circle around league-average production. Which will only make him a 4-WAR player. I wouldn't care if the rest of the offense wasn't terrible.
Tyler Flowers hasn't looked great in striking in 40% of his plate appearances, but in fairness he's played twice in two weeks. Maybe if the team bottoms out completely he'll get to play.
It certainly doesn't help matters that Paul Konerko--best hitter on the team by 9 miles--got nailed by an Andrew Miller fastball in the back of the...knee? Calf? Calf...I think it was the calf. Anyway, his calf was somehow x-rayed and revealed to be to merely sore. That still probably takes him out of a game or two, or relegates him to DH'ing for the week. Konerko only had four hits this week, but 3 of them cleared the fence. The White Sox only scored 20 runs in 6 games this week with that production.
This week brings a somewhat hellish stretch of four games against the New York Yankees, and a weekend tilt in Minnesota. The perpetually struggling A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes are peppered into New York's expected starters, and Minnesota isn't actually any good...but yeah, hellish.
I'm not into predictions of individual games, but with the way this season has gone, I can completely guarantee the White Sox will be somewhere between .500 or 4 games under by the end of the week. Beyond the shadow of a doubt.
Tags: a.j. burnett, Adam Dunn, Alex Rios, Alexei Ramirez, baseball, boston red sox, Carl Crawford, Derrek Lee, Detroit Tigers, Edwin Jackson, Jake Peavy, jason frasor, Mark Teahen, Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees, Paul Konerko, phil humber, Pittsburgh Pirates, ryan ludwick, White Sox, Will Ohman, zach stewart