The season lost most of its trappings of purpose weeks ago, and the games have really strove to match the appropriate tenor. Good on them!
A sleepy offensive effort against Fausto Carmona was followed by two straight wins in Cleveland, including a sterling come from behind win in the second-half of Tuesday's doubleheader to save Dylan Axelrod from a loss he probably deserved.
As is the nature of 2011, the joy of those losses was darkened by the minor curiosity of the White Sox taking no action to retaliate for a wave of hit batsmen at the hands of the Indians. There seemed to be no intent, so it's hard to be too disappointed, but as Jim Margalus examined, the White Sox never ever retaliate, and it would be nice to change anything about their reserved, demure, and underwhelming method of going about their business.
If that wasn't actually deflating enough, it was followed by two blowout losses to close out in Cleveland and to open the home set vs. Kansas City . The mountain that is Everett Teaford was climbed on Saturday to send John Danks out with a win, but 10 K effort from Gavin Floyd was wasted as the White Sox scraped 1 run against tried-and-true AAAA pitcher Luis Mendoza in 7.2 IP.
So like that, they went 3-4, which is entirely appropriate for a sub-.500 team to rack up against middling divisional competition, and possibly a great preview for next season.
At this point, is anything relevant besides individual performances and their implications for next season?
Ozzie Guillen management crisis readies for the end
There's a slight chance that the Marlins are foolish enough to actually be willing to offer a player of meaning in exchange for a manager, clinching that the White Sox have nothing to gain by determining their manager situation prior to the close of the season, but something to lose.
As such, the inaction of the Sox front office can only be interpreted as...competence.
Williams refused to talk of a possible meeting with him, Guillen and Reinsdorf.
"I would rather do it privately," he said. "Whether or not we have plans to sit down or when, how, what the ultimate result is going to be is dangerous (speculation). And it's unnecessary. I know it hasn't been exactly private, but I think it's better served if it is.
There's neither a rush to eliminate the longtime manager who's taken the franchise to the highest heights, nor a kneejerk caving into his wishes for more security after possibly the worst performance of his tenure.
In response to being stonewalled, Guillen seems to be softening.
Guillen...was asked if he would give himself an extension after such a poor season.
"Nope. Because I'm part of this (disappointing) group," he said. "(But President Barack) Obama asked for an extension, why shouldn't I ask for one? Obama wants four more years. You always knock on the door to see what you get. I don't think they have to, but my job is just to make sure to ask, you know what I mean?
Or realizing that his demands outweigh his current clout. Guillen is at least managing like he'll return next season with his ever-reliable defense of under-performing veterans Rios and Dunn. He'd be stuck with them, after all. Like the rest of us.
Same song in 2012?
With most of the unpleasantly expensive veterans locked in until the end of time, the decision on whether to try to step back and turn around from this point of being over-invested, overdrawn in the farm system, and overly mediocre is a difficult one. As with most decisions of that type this season, it has yet to be made.
‘‘Do you account for it and account for the uncertainty and commit yourself to making sure we continue to build this young core so the next group can do something special?’’ he said. ‘‘Sometimes you have to take one step back to take two steps forward. That might be the point where we’re at, but it’s too early to make that decision.’’
Shiftless double-talk by Kenny Williams aside, with Brett Ballantini pointing out the lack of re-building talk going around, there seems to be a good chance of a similar cast returning with the hopes that a few less regulars go missing in action for the season. That might actually happen, but it's a lot less razing and burning than this season would appear to demand.
One wonders what kind of slogan that approach will produce. The year my alma mater was particularly dreadful at football, the phrases on the t-shirts stressed 'togetherness'.
About those under-performing veterans
With most of the fanbase eating paint just to feel something again and give themselves something to do, September would be a fine time to show some life and provide some encouragement for 2012.
Alex Rios heard the message!
.311/.346/.541 with 5 HRs in September. He does not take walks, he never did.
Witness! Adam Dunn not being to hear the message through his hobo beard!
.143/.321/.214, 28.3 K% for September, 103 PA's since his last HR.
OPS is a fatally flawed stat, and it's a small sample, but excuse me for getting excited for Rios posting his first month with an OPS over .800 since May of 2010. With a neutral BABIP, no less!
Dunn on the other hand, is flashing a K-rate more in line with his normal badness, but still hasn't squared anything up in 7 weeks or so.
The pains of youth
Zach Stewart is now three starts removed from his near-perfect game at Minnesota. He's also three starts removed from his last quality outing. It's never good to give up four times as many HRs as strikeouts, and while Zach Stewart's variation of it in his latest start involved the least possible homers, he still gave 4 friggin' HRs on Friday. He is not a starter.
Unlike his first start where he tiptoed around Detroit for 6 innings, Dylan Axelrod did not have everything working Tuesday night, walked 4 batters, and didn't make it through 5 innings. He is not a starter.
Alejandro De Aza only hit .285 for the week, and only had one extra-base hit to lower his OPS to .900. What a loser! He also got on base at a .400 rate, he is totally a starter.
Dayan Viciedo has mostly shown painfully off-balance swings while struggling to make strong contact or square anything up. As a result, his power numbers have been piddling, prompting me to glance at his career numbers and notice he's never put the ISO numbers you'd associate with his brute strength. On the plus side, he's walking plenty, his strikeout rate is fine, and none of the red flags that existed for him as a prospect are flaring up. On the down side, uuuugggggghhhhhhh. Still a starter!
You've probably forgotten about monitoring Gordon Beckham for offensive improvement, and there's no reason to start now. I'll let you know if something ever comes up.
Looking ahead for one last time
Monday brings about the final series of the season, a 3-game jaunt with the Blue Jays. Both teams are approaching the contest with the intensity one brings to a dental appointment. The Blue Jays' charter plane will be missing a score of starters, and fill-in starters will take the mound the first two games before Brandon Morrow hurls the finale. The White Sox are offering what I imagine is one of the last 3 or 4 starts of Dylan Axelrod's career, possibly the last start for Mark Buehrle with the team, and then Philip Humber.
Considering the early part of the year was spent trying to hide Humber as much as possible, him pitching the finale is cute. We've come so far!
Tags: Adam Dunn, Alejandro De Aza, Alex Rios, baseball, Cleveland Indians, Dayan Viciedo, dylan axelrod, everett teaford, fausto carmona, Gavin Floyd, Gordon Beckham, Jerry Reinsdorf, John Danks, jose bautista, Kansas City Royals, Kenny Williams, Mark Buehrle, Ozzie Guillen, philip humber, White Sox, zach stewart