Let's get this out of the way first: The White Sox did not lose Thursday night because of manager Robin Ventura's bullpen choices. The Sox lost, 2-1, to the Texas Rangers in 11 innings because they cannot hit. They managed just six hits and failed to take advantage of four Texas errors.
That said, Ventura's continual misuse of left-handed reliever Dan Jennings continues to be a point of frustration for me.
We've been over this before: Jennings is better at getting right-handed hitters out than he is against lefties.
RHB vs. Jennings: .233/.404/.395
LHB vs. Jennings: .326/.354/.391
RHB vs. Jennings: .237/.340/.390
LHB vs. Jennings: .296/.354/.401
This is not a new trend for Jennings, nor is this an example of groundbreaking analysis. But in the bottom of the 11th inning Thursday night, with a man on second and one out, Ventura had Jennings intentionally walk right-handed hitter Delino DeShields Jr., a rookie, to face veteran left-handed hitter Shin-Soo Choo.
Naturally, Choo got a base hit to win the game because, well, Jennings has problems getting left-handed batters out, despite his left-handedness. And even if Jennings had retired Choo, another left-handed hitter, Prince Fielder, was waiting on deck.
Fielder, incidentally, is leading the league in hitting at .358. Which combination of hitters would you have chosen to face in that situation? DeShields and Choo? Or Choo and Fielder? I think it's a no-brainer to face the former. DeShields is a rookie and might get himself out, and again, Jennings fares better against right-handed hitters. Then, you take your chances with Choo and pray Fielder doesn't get to the plate.
Ventura chose the latter option. He lost. It's frustrating, and it's too bad the Sox let this one get away. Carlos Rodon went six innings and posted a career-high 10 strikeouts. The Rangers were committing errors left and right, and they were just begging the Sox to take this game, win the series and come home with a winning road trip. Instead, the Sox pushed it away and finished the 11-game trip with a 5-6 record.
Next up, a weekend home series with the Detroit Tigers. Here are the pitching matchups.
Friday: Jose Quintana (2-6, 4.33 ERA) vs. Kyle Ryan (1-0, 3.00 ERA)
Saturday: John Danks (3-4, 4.81 ERA) vs. David Price (4-2, 3.15 ERA)
Sunday: Jeff Samardzija (4-3, 4.68 ERA) vs. Alfredo Simon (5-3, 2.97 ERA)
Friday, June 5, 2015
Friday, December 13, 2013
Given the circumstances, you would think the Cubs would be at least somewhat active this offseason --especially since we're talking about a big-market team that presumably has money to spend.
But, the Cubs have been fairly quiet so far. Their only free-agent acquisitions have been backup catcher George Kottaras and situational left-hander Wesley Wright. On Thursday, the Cubs traded outfielder Brian Bogusevic to the Miami Marlins for outfielder Justin Ruggiano. Bogusevic was one of three left-handed hitting outfielders on the roster (Ryan Sweeney and Nate Schierholtz are the others). The Cubs made the swap for purposes of balancing things out with the right-handed hitting Ruggiano. A sensible move, but hardly one that figures to make a major impact on the Cubs' 2014 fortunes.
The rebuilding process on the North Side is dragging on at a glacial pace. Barring some unforeseen moves in the coming months, the Cubs seem to be tracking toward another 90- to 95-loss campaign next summer.
High-profile agent Scott Boras (pictured), for one, has had enough of the Cubs' methodical ways. Boras criticized the organization at the winter meetings this week, calling the North Side rebuilding plan an "all-day sucker."
“It (a lollipop) takes a long time to dissolve,” Boras said. “The idea is it's going to take some time for them to reach the resolve to say they are going to compete on all fronts.”
Boras went on to say the Cubs are acting like a small-market team.
“It’s just with major-market teams you see a little bit different approach,” he said. “This is more of a customary small-market approach, if you will. … The Cubs have the capacity to sign any player they want at any time. The question is whether it fits their plan and it's good business.”
Obviously, the Cubs don't feel that big spending this year fits their plan. Here are the questions I would pose: Are Boras' comments fair? Has this Cubs rebuilding plan dragged on for long enough? Isn't it time for this regime to start producing at least marginally better results at the major league level?
I agree with Boras, in part, and disagree with him, in part.
I think this year's free-agent crop is weak. I don't blame the Cubs for taking a pass on giving seven years and $150 million to Jacoby Ellsbury, and if I were them, I wouldn't give untold millions to Boras client Shin-Soo Choo either. The Cubs' choice to not spend big bucks in free agency this year is smart and prudent in my book.
What I don't understand is why the Cubs haven't been more active in the trade market. They have prospects to deal, and there's a front-end starter in his prime (David Price) actively being shopped. But I've heard and read little about the Cubs being involved in those discussions. Why not? The Cubs have the dollars to sign a guy like Price to a long-term deal if they acquired him. They seem lukewarm to the idea, for whatever reason.
It's also a little strange that Jeff Samardzija is still on the team, but hasn't signed a contract extension. I think the Cubs should either sign him or deal him this offseason. I'd trade him. The Cubs could fill two or three holes by unloading Samardzija. They might even be able to get a major league ready prospect in the deal, as opposed to the Class A types and reclamation projects they've acquired in some of the other trades they've made involving pitchers.
Boras, of course, wants the Cubs to spend big in free agency. They won't, and nor should they. In that respect, I disagree with Boras. But I do agree with his point that it's kinda silly for the Cubs to just sit on the lousy roster they have now and resign themselves to another season of misery. With the talent they've accumulated in their minor leagues, plus having a movable asset in Samardzija, I think there are some possibilities for them in the trade market that would allow them to improve their team both now and for the long haul.
Why should the Cubs intentionally field another 95-loss roster in 2014? Enough is enough. It's time to at least show some incremental progress. How many more times do fans have to hear about how good Jorge Soler is supposedly going to be in five years?
I've always said, if a GM is waiting for prospects, he's waiting to get himself fired. It's time for the Cubs to add some legitimate major league talent to their roster. On that point, Boras is correct.