Showing posts with label Josh Donaldson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Josh Donaldson. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Maybe the White Sox should pitch around Josh Donaldson ...

Josh Donaldson
Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson has homered in each of his past five games against the White Sox.

For his career against Chicago, Donaldson has posted a .344/.407/.725 slash line with 14 home runs, eight doubles and 34 RBIs in 35 games.

That's enough production in enough of a sample size to get my attention, and it should get the attention of the Sox coaching staff.

Donaldson continued his mastery of the Sox on Tuesday night, going 2 for 4 with a home run, three RBIs, two runs scored and a walk in Toronto's 14-5 victory.

The score is a little bit misleading -- the Blue Jays broke open a 7-5 game with seven runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Toronto was ahead for most of the night, although the Sox remained within striking distance until the last two innings.

It was frustrating that the Sox allowed Donaldson to hurt them twice while the outcome still was in doubt. On two occasions, Donaldson came to the plate with two outs, first base open and a man in scoring position. Both times, the Sox opted to pitch to Donaldson. Both times they paid.

The Jays' third baseman hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning off Miguel Gonzalez to increase a 4-2 Toronto lead to 6-2. In the seventh inning against Hector Santiago, Donaldson hit an RBI single off the top of the left field fence to move the Jays' lead from 6-4 to 7-4. Another foot higher and it would have been Donaldson's second two-run homer of the game.

There probably isn't any circumstance in which the Sox would have won Tuesday anyway. Gonzalez was poor, allowing six runs (five earned) over five innings. Santiago, Greg Infante and Juan Minaya combined on a preposterous bullpen meltdown in the eighth inning that erased any hope of a Sox comeback.

However, if the Sox happen to be in a close game in Wednesday's series finale against Toronto, I have a word to the wise: Make somebody other than Donaldson beat you.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Reynaldo Lopez good, White Sox bullpen bad

Reynaldo Lopez
The White Sox lost for the first time this season Monday night, 4-2 to the Toronto Blue Jays, although it was not Reynaldo Lopez's fault.

The right-hander's 2018 debut was an impressive one. He went six innings, allowing only one run on two hits. One of those hits was a solo home run by Josh Donaldson, the other an infield single by Curtis Granderson that could have just as easily been an error on shortstop Tim Anderson.

Lopez struck out six and walked two, and the Sox led, 2-1, in the seventh inning when he left the game.

Alas, relievers Luis Avilan and Danny Farquhar could not hold the lead. We're told that Avilan is a lefty specialist, but the early returns have not been impressive in a small sample size.

In the season opener, Avilan gave up a ringing double to Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas. On Monday, he walked Granderson, allowing the tying run to reach base. Farquhar entered the game and served up a two-strike meatball to Russell Martin, who hit a two-run homer to put Toronto ahead, 3-2.

I don't like the home run at all, but I like the walk in a one-run game even less. Avilan has to get left-handed batters out -- that's his one purpose on the roster.

Farquhar (1-1) gave up another home run in the eighth inning, this one to Aledmys Diaz, that made it 4-2. I don't think this will be the last time the Sox struggle to get outs in the seventh and eighth innings of close games -- the bullpen is the biggest weakness of the team.

The Sox showed an ability to come from behind in each of their first two games, which is a good habit to get into. However, you can't come back every day, and the Toronto bullpen was up to the task the last two innings of Monday's game.

It's unfortunate, because a two-homer game from Welington Castillo went to waste, not to mention the strong outing from Lopez, whose performance would oftentimes be good enough to earn a win.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Kansas City Royals unsung hero in Game 4 win: Kris Medlen

Here's something I'll bet you didn't know about the Kansas City Royals: Through the first four games of the American League Championship Series, Kansas City starting pitchers have thrown a grand total of 18 innings.

That's right: Royals starters are averaging less than five innings per outing, yet Kansas City owns a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series after its 14-2 thumping of the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday. That should tell you how much the Royals rely on their bullpen and how good those guys really are.

You're probably wondering why I'm declaring Kansas City pitcher Kris Medlen the unsung hero of Game 4, when he didn't even pitch in the game. But reflect back to Monday's Game 3 -- Kansas City's lone loss of the series -- when Medlen came on to replace the ineffective Johnny Cueto in the third inning. The Royals lost, 11-8, but Medlen ate up five innings and saved the rest of the Kansas City bullpen for critical Game 4. Other than Medlen, Franklin Morales was the only Royals reliever to appear in Game 3.

That kept Luke Hochevar, Kelvin Herrera, Ryan Madson and Wade Davis rested and fresh for Tuesday. You figured those guys would be needed, with journeyman Chris Young getting the start for the Royals.

As it turns out, Hochevar recorded the most critical out of the game in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Royals were up 5-2 at the time. Young had done a respectable job to that point, but it probably would not have been a good idea for him to face the middle of the Toronto batting order for a third time.

Ben Revere was on first base with two out. The potential league MVP, Josh Donaldson, was at the plate for Toronto. Here was the Blue Jays' chance to get back in the game. A fresh Hochevar came in from the bullpen and induced a weak foul out off the bat of Donaldson. Inning over.

Hochevar, Herrera, Madson and Morales went on to toss 4.1 innings of scoreless relief. Toronto did not get a runner into scoring position against the Kansas City bullpen until there were two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning. And by then, the Royals had scored four runs in the seventh, three in the eighth and two in the ninth against a far weaker Toronto bullpen to put the game out of reach.

The Royals bullpen is the best in the game. They are always tough, but they are even tougher when they are all fresh. They had Medlen to thank for having the rest of the relief corps primed and ready for Game 4. Cueto's short outing could have had an impact on the rest of the series had it not been for Medlen, but after Tuesday's result, that is long forgotten by most people.

Just in general, I think many of us forgot how good the Royals are coming into the playoffs. We all were impressed by the Blue Jays and their big bats and their plus-231 run differential. We installed them as a clear favorite. We pointed to the Royals' 11-17 September and figured Kansas City was a tired team, much like the St. Louis Cardinals were in the National League.

Not really. The Royals were probably just bored in September. They were basically unchallenged in the AL Central this summer. They won their division by 12 games. Now that the lights are on, the Royals are turning up their game again, just as they did last October when they won the AL pennant.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Do you suppose the Cubs wish they still had Chris Archer? Or Josh Donaldson?

As a matter of philsophy, I usually agree with the idea of trading prospects for proven veterans. After all, you generally know what you're going to get from a veteran player, and as a percentage, the overwhelming majority of prospects are busts.

If you take a look at what the White Sox have done over the last 10 or 15 years, most of former GM Ken Williams' trades have involved dealing future prospects to acquire help for the here and now. When I look at all the young players Williams traded, the only one I wish the Sox still had is Gio Gonzalez.

Strangely enough, the Sox traded him twice. In 2005, they sent him and Aaron Rowand to Philadelphia for Jim Thome (good trade). They reacquired him, along with Gavin Floyd, for Freddy Garcia in 2006 (also a decent trade). Then, they sent him to Oakland in 2008 with Ryan Sweeney and Fautino De Los Santos for Nick Swisher (terrible trade).

The rest of the players Williams traded, I can't say I miss.

Here are two guys the former GM of the Cubs (Jim Hendry) traded that I'll bet the current GM (Jed Hoyer) wishes he still had: Tampa Bay pitcher Chris Archer and Oakland third baseman Josh Donaldson.

Archer, a 24-year-old right-hander, is having a breakout season for the Rays. He's 8-5 with a 2.81 ERA in 17 starts. He's allowed two earned runs or less in 12 of those outings. Pretty impressive for a kid who just joined the rotation on June 1 and is pitching in the rugged AL East. 

The Cubs acquired Archer from Cleveland in the Mark DeRosa deal in 2008, but in 2011, they flipped him to Tampa Bay in an eight-player deal that brought Matt Garza to the North Side of Chicago. Over 2 1/2 seasons, Garza went 21-18 in 60 starts for the Cubs. He, of course, is no longer on the team, having been traded to the Texas Rangers earlier this summer.

Meanwhile, the Rays have a potential ace on their roster. The Cubs are still looking for that guy. Some people in Chicago seem to believe Jeff Samardzija is an ace. I disagree. A 28-year-old with a 4.13 ERA who is blowing 5-0 leads against the woeful Philadelphia Phillies is not an ace. He's a mid-rotation starter on a contender. The Cubs should consider trading him this offseason. He's not going to get any better than he is right now.

Donaldson, a 27-year-old third baseman, is a bit of a forgotten man. Most people haven't noticed his .296 average, 19 home runs and 77 RBIs this season because he plays for Oakland. Most people have probably also forgotten the Cubs selected him 48th overall in the 2007 draft.

In July of 2008, Donaldson, Sean Gallagher, Matt Murton and Eric Patterson were traded to Oakland for Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin. At the time, Donaldson was the least talked about player of the four the Cubs gave up. Right now, he looks like the best player in that deal. He plays third base, too, and it seems like about half the teams in baseball are looking for someone to fill that position. It took five years, but that acquisition is paying dividends for the A's, who certainly do not miss Harden or Gaudin.

With both Chicago teams out of the pennant race this year, both clubs have traded some veterans for future considerations this summer. A couple years down the line, maybe they'll strike gold in some of these deals. Only time will tell. Most of the time, the team acquiring the veteran wins the trade. But every now and then, you seen a trade like the Archer deal or the Donaldson deal where the team acquiring the prospects prevails.