Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Jose Abreu questions White Sox's 'desire to win' after latest Kansas City crapfest

Jose Abreu
The White Sox lost three out of four games against the Kansas City Royals over the weekend. This is not news. The Sox lose to the Royals all the time.

What made this interesting is we finally saw a sign that somebody on the team is as sick and tired of losing to Kansas City as we fans are.

Slugger Jose Abreu credited the Royals for their "desire to win" and "hunger to win games and to be good" in an interview with MLB.com's Scott Merkin after Monday's 8-3 loss in Kansas City.

In a follow-up question, Abreu was asked whether the Sox possessed that same desire to win.

"No," Abreu said, while shaking his head.

Are any other words necessary after that? Not really, but just look at these facts:

  • The Sox finished 5-14 against Kansas City this year.
  • The Sox lost all six series against the Royals in 2016, and have lost the past seven series between the two teams dating back to last year.
  • The Sox are 18-39 against the Royals during the three seasons Abreu has been on the team.
  • The Sox had the lead in nine out of 10 games at Kauffman Stadium this year, and they still managed to go 2-8.
  • The Sox blew five games against the Royals this season in which they had the lead in the seventh inning or later.
  • The Sox went 1-7 in one-run games against the Royals this season.
  • The Royals are 71-40 in the last 111 games between the two teams dating back to 2011.
All of this is ridiculous. The Sox look unprepared and intimidated every time they face the Royals. Consider, the series before this, Kansas City was swept at home and outscored 43-12 in four games by the lowly Oakland Athletics. Yes, the Royals are the defending World Series champions, but that was 2015, and this is 2016. You cannot convince me the Royals have *that much* more talent than the Sox.

For Kansas City to own the Sox like this is unacceptable, and it's about time somebody on the team said something about it. The question is, what are the Sox going to do about it for next year?

Hopefully, at least part of the answer will be a change in leadership in the dugout. This whole business of getting killed by AL Central opponents has gone on long enough.


  1. Position player and starting pitching-wise the Sox and Royals are even. The difference is the Sox have the worst bullpen in the AL by far.

    And that is a killer with a sub-par offense. The Sox offense is incapable of getting leads larger than two runs, and the Sox bullpen is incapable of holding leads smaller than 3 runs. That adds up to blown saves (Sox lead the league) and losing games in which you were leading.

    30% of that is on the players. Look at the splits: Sox pen was the WORST in BB/9 in May. And June. And July.

    But 40% of that is on Robin. While the pen was collapsing, he made no changes in how he used the guys. Hawk keeps mentioning "only one off day in the first 6 weeks". Well, that wasn't a surprise, the schedule was released in September 2015. What did Robin do to prepare? NOTHING.

    Robin continues to limit his relievers to one inning even though the pen is so shaky you simply don't have the luxury to take a guy out when he is effective and roll the dice with another guy who can't throw strikes. Robin is afraid to use someone two innings because that means he won't be able to pitch the next day - but that means they don't get many days off. As you pointed out a couple weeks ago, Robin has used Jones and Robertson 4 consecutive days on occasion which is simply asking for injury.

    I saved 30% of the blame for Williams/Hahn. Sox relievers were dead last in BB/9 in May. OK, you COULD chalk that up to the busy April. But they were dead last BB/9 in June, too. The front office did NOTHING. And they were dead last in BB/9 in July. The front office did NOTHING - instead they threw in the towel by trading Duke.

    The few minor league callups actually did worse - it's rare that a minor league starter comes in and is immediately an effective major league reliever.

    A better manager is a start. But if the front office's track record of trading prospects and spending free agent money on below-average players is any indication, expecting the next manager to be better is not warranted.

  2. Worst bullpen by far? Ehh, I don't think I'd say that. There are two teams in the Sox's division that arguably have worse bullpens (Detroit and Minnesota). Well, actually, I think Minnesota's is clearly worse. We could debate about the Tigers, but unlike the Sox, Detroit has a major league offense that can outslug the opposition and give its weak bullpen a little bit of a cushion.

    But in any case, you're not wrong that KC has a far superior bullpen to the Sox. It shows up in the one-run game stats. It shows up in all the games where the Sox have had the lead late and lost against the Royals.

    Hawk's excuse-making is tiresome. Ventura overused Albers and Duke early in the season, and it cost him as we got into late May and June. It wasn't a "tough schedule" that sunk the Sox bullpen. It was mismanagement from the dugout. Ventura is a slave to lefty-righty matchups. Forget about using a reliever for two innings. He likes to use four or five relievers to get through two innings. That burns out a bullpen very quickly.

    Thank God Jones and Robertson haven't succumbed to injury - yet. Fortunately, the Sox are sucking so bad now that there is no temptation to overuse the two relievers who are still reasonably effective in high-leverage situations.