Monday, April 29, 2013

Happy anniversary, Lee Elia!

30 years later, you still have to love the Lee Elia meltdown.

Best sports tirade ever.

Do The Wave, go to jail

As many of you already know, I write game recaps for White Sox Interactive in my spare time. Sometimes, it can be a therapeutic exercise.

Sunday, I was as angry as I've been all season at this lousy team during the top of the eighth inning of the Sox' 8-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.

This was a half-inning that featured everything that is wrong with the Sox this year. Walks, errors, curious management decisions, and yes, idiotic conduct from an increasingly apathetic fan base.

As Sox fans, we like to say we "know more about baseball" than the folks who cheer for the team on the other side of town. But can we really claim that when we've got morons doing The Wave during the eighth inning of a 3-3 game? C'mon. That's embarrassing. What other fan base does that? I know the Sox stink right now, but nothing, and I mean nothing, should provoke fans to do The Wave at a baseball game. What the hell is this? 1986?

For me, the only real question is who deserved boos more. The team on the field or the idiots in the stands? It's a tough call. Anyone who starts The Wave should be escorted directly to jail. Do not pass go. Do not collect $250. Just get lost.

Just for the fun of it, here's a repost of my WSI recap from yesterday:

I feel like I've been more than patient with the White Sox this April. Sure this team has stuggled, but it's early, right? There's plenty of time for it to turn around. At least that's what I've been telling myself the first four weeks of the season.

But, every man has his breaking point, and I reached mine in the top of the eighth inning of Sunday's 8-3 loss. With the scored tied 3-3, the Sox gift-wrapped three runs for the Rays. This was a half-inning that featured nothing but Looney Tune crap – on the mound, in the field, in the stands and in the dugout. It was enough to make me lose my lunch, which would have been unfortunate since the hotdogs I consumed before the game were one of the few highlights of my afternoon at the ballpark.

Nate Jones (0-2) had pitched a scoreless seventh inning. He came out to start the eighth and gave up a bloop hit to Sean Rodriguez. He retired Desmond Jennings on a routine pop to shortstop. In my mind, Jones' afternoon should have been done at that point. Left-handed hitter Matt Joyce was due up, and the Sox had Matt Thornton ready in the bullpen. For some reason, Robin Ventura didn't make the move.

Jones uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Rodriguez to reach second. Then he walked Joyce. Um, Robin, Thornton is ready. Still no pitching change. Jones stayed in and gave up an RBI single to Ben Zobrist. 4-3 Rays. Um, Robin, Thornton is ready. Still no pitching change. Jones stayed in and walked Evan Longoria. Bases loaded. Earth to Robin, come in Robin!

Finally, a pitching change. Wouldn't you know, Thornton retired James Loney on a shallow fly to center. None of the runners advanced. Two outs. Just maybe, just maybe, we'll get out of this inning with minimal damage.

Or not. This is the 2013 White Sox after all. Jesse Crain relieved Thornton and ran the count full to Ryan Roberts. After a couple foul balls, Roberts lofted a shallow fly to right field. Alex Rios got a late break, but he still got to the ball in time to make the catch. Alas, he dropped it. Two runs scored. 6-3 Rays. For all intents and purposes, ballgame over.

Oh, and I forgot to mention our moron fans were doing The Wave with the outcome hanging in the balance the whole inning. How about we watch the game, you idiots?

Deunte Heath walked two guys in the ninth and both scored, accounting for the 8-3 margin. It was a fitting end to a lousy 3-5 homestand for the Sox.

You can't blame starting pitcher Dylan Axelrod for the loss. He went six innings, allowing three runs. Being a fifth starter, what more can you ask from Axelrod – especially considering his mound opponent was former AL Cy Young Award winner David Price?

You can't blame Paul Konerko or Adam Dunn either. Dunn had a two-out RBI single off Price in the first inning. Konerko continued his mastery of Price (10-for-20 lifetime) with a long two-run homer in the third. The Sox were in position to win this game going into the late innings. Instead, they blew it with utter stupidity. So typical for this team through the first 24 games.

Mercifully, Monday is an off day, which means the Sox can't lose. They'll start an eight-game road trip Tuesday in Texas. Left-hander Jose Quintana (2-0, 2.78 ERA) will be on the mound for the South Siders. He'll be opposed by Rangers ace Yu Darvish (4-1, 1.65 ERA). Game time is 7:05 and you can watch on Comcast SportsNet.

Friday, April 26, 2013

'We win one tomorrow, that's called a winning streak...'

So, the White Sox defeated Cleveland 3-2 Wednesday afternoon. Then, they beat Tampa Bay 5-2 Thursday night. I'm not a math major, but I think that's two in a row. The Sox (9-12) haven't won three in a row at any point yet this season.

Can you imagine Robin Ventura giving his ballclub a speech like this?


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Thursday This and That

All the statheads say wins and losses aren't a good measure of a pitcher's effectiveness. I don't necessarily agree with that sentiment 100 percent of the time, but here's a case where it's true:

Cubs right-hander Jeff Samardzija (right) is tied for the National League lead in losses with four, even though he has posted a quality start in three of his first five outings and has a respectable ERA of 3.03. Samardzija has just one victory.

Teammate Travis Wood also has just one win. It isn't his fault. He's gone at least six innings and given up two runs or less in each of his first four starts of the season. He has a 2.08 ERA. Unfortunately for him, the Cubs stink, so his record is just 1-1.

Carlos Villaneuva is in the same boat. His ERA is 1.53. He's gone seven innings or more in each of his first four starts, giving up two runs or less in each outing. His record? 1-0.

So, Samardzija, Wood and Villaneuva have a combined 2.25 ERA in 13 starts, 11 of which have been quality. Alas, their combined record is 3-5. None of them has more than one win.

You know who does lead the Cubs' pitching staff in wins? Well, that would be Carlos Marmol, the guy who is blowing all the games for these starting pitchers. Marmol has a bloated 4.82 ERA and 1.82 WHIP. But hey,  he's 2-1!

Where's the justice in that?

Detroit goes back to Valverde

After his legendary playoff meltdown last year, Jose Valverde is back with the Tigers. He made his 2013 debut Wednesday and earned the save in Detroit's 7-5 win over Kansas City. Believe it or not, he retired the side 1-2-3 in the ninth. Of course, two of the three outs were warning track fly balls, but an out is an out, right?

I still think the bullpen is the Achilles heel for the Tigers. They only resigned Valverde because they weren't happy with Phil Coke or any of their other options in the closer's role. Only time will tell, but I wouldn't be surprised if Valverde is washed up. He's fortunate Detroit is a pretty big ballpark. Some of those long flies he gives up will die on the warning track there.

Mr. Solo Home Run

White Sox fans love to complain about their team hitting nothing but solo home runs, but the South Siders have nothing on Atlanta outfielder Justin Upton.

Upton has been red-hot out of the gate this year, connecting for 11 home runs in his first 21 games. Thing is, he has only 16 RBIs.

Upton is just the second player since 1921 to hit 11 home runs and have fewer than 17 RBIs to show for it. The other is Gary Sheffield from the 1996 Florida Marlins.

Isn't anyone getting on base for Upton?  

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

White Sox starting pitchers should stage a walkout

Following Monday night's preposterous 3-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians, the White Sox find themselves in last place in the American League Central with a 7-12 record. They have lost 10 of their last 13 games.

However, you can't blame the starting pitchers for this tailspin. The rotation of Chris Sale, Jake Peavy, Gavin Floyd, Jose Quintana (pictured) and Dylan Axelrod has been holding up its end of the bargain.

Here is a rundown of how Sox starting pitchers have performed over the last 10 games:

April 12 at Cleveland:
Quintana: 7 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 Ks, ND in a 1-0 loss.

April 13 at Cleveland (only really bad start in the bunch):
Sale: 4.1 IP,  8 H, 8 ER, 2 BB, 3Ks, L in a 9-4 loss.

April 14 at Cleveland:
Peavy: 7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 11 Ks, W in a 3-1 win.

April 15 at Toronto:
Floyd: 4.1 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 6Ks, L in a 4-3 loss.

April 16 at Toronto:
Axelrod: 6 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4Ks, ND in a 4-3 win.

April 17 at Toronto:
Quintana: 6.2 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7Ks, W in a 7-0 win.

April 18 at Toronto:
Sale: 7 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6Ks, L in a 3-1 loss.

April 20 vs. Minnesota:
Peavy: 7 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 9Ks, ND in a 2-1 loss

April 21 vs. Minnesota:
Floyd: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6Ks, ND in a 5-3 loss

April 22 vs. Cleveland:
Axelrod: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4Ks, ND in a 3-2 loss.

Notice that Sox starting pitchers have gone at least six innings and given up two runs or less in each of the last six games. Isn't that exactly what you want from your rotation? Yet the team is just 2-4 in that same stretch. Sox starters have given up just one single run in each of the last three games. The team has lost them all.

Here are the pitching totals for Sox starters over the last 10 games:
61.1 IP, 51 H, 20 ER, 18 BB, 63 Ks.

That will pencil out to a 2.93 ERA. If you take out Sale's bad outing on April 13, that combined ERA lowers to 1.89.

This is the kind of starting pitching that normally allows teams to get off to a good start. At worst, AT WORST, the Sox should be 6-4 in these 10 games. They probably should be 7-3 or 8-2. Instead, they are 3-7 because the position players have been so terrible, both at the plate and in the field.

I don't think anyone would blame the Sox starters if they walked into the clubhouse and gave all their teammates the silent treatment.  It makes you sick to your stomach to see all this good pitching go to waste.


Monday, April 22, 2013

Phil Humber .... one year later

The date was April 21, 2012 -- one year ago today. Phil Humber was at the bottom of this dog pile after tossing the 21st perfect game in MLB history, a 4-0 whitewashing of the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field.

It was a cool story at the time. Humber had pitched in parts of seven major league seasons with four different organizations, yet the perfect game was just the 12th win of his career.

He was a former first-round draft pick who had been a bust. He had been traded and released multiple times. He was about the last guy you'd ever expect to throw a perfect game. He was an underdog, and that was part of what made it so much fun to see him succeed.

Unfortunately for Humber, success has been hard to come by ever since that day in Seattle. He won only four more times for the White Sox after the perfect game. He pitched himself out of the rotation, and ultimately, out of Chicago. He finished 2012 with a 5-5 record and an inflated 6.44 ERA.

The Houston Astros, the worst team in baseball last year and quite possibly the worst again this year, picked Humber up and gave him another shot. The results have not been good. Humber has lost his first four starts of the season. Once again, the ERA is up there at 6.63 ERA.

Humber got the start for Houston against the Cleveland Indians on Saturday, almost one year to the day since his perfect game. He didn't even make it out of the first inning. He faced 10 batters and retired only one. He gave up eight runs on eight hits as the Indians rolled to a 19-6 victory.

What a difference a year makes, huh?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Worst contract: Alfonso Soriano or Adam Dunn?

It only took 14 games. For those of you who had April 18 in the betting pool on when Alfonso Soriano would collect his first RBI of the season, congratulations, you win.

Soriano's home run off Texas right-hander Alexi Ogando in the bottom of the third inning of Thursday's 6-2 Cubs win was the first contribution the erstwhile left fielder has made to the North Siders' cause this year.

But don't worry. I'm sure Soriano will heat up once the Cubs are 15 or 20 games out of first place. He'll get his numbers in garbage time. He always does. For his minimal contributions to the team, he will be paid a handsome salary of $18 million this year. He'll be paid that same amount next year as well.

For all you Cub fans out there, you've only got another 310 games to put up with Soriano's crap. By then, you will have done your penance.

As much as I love making fun of Soriano and his absurd contract, I can't say that contract is any worse than the one the White Sox gave Adam Dunn.

Dunn is off to yet another terrible start here in 2013. He's batting .105 with two home runs and five RBIs through the first 16 games of the season. Anyone actually think he'll get above the Mendoza Line this year? My guess is no.

The Sox just completed a miserable 3-7 road trip through Washington, Cleveland and Toronto. During those 10 games, Dunn went 1-for-33 with two walks, two RBIs and two runs scored. When you think about it, it's a miracle he managed to muster up the two RBIs and two runs scored. I was surprised to learn he struck out only 11 times in 35 plate appearances on the trip. Just watching him, it felt like more than that.

In two years plus 16 games as a member of the Sox, Dunn is batting .180 with a .683 OPS. For his career, he's batting .239 with an .865 OPS. It's pretty clear something happened to this guy as soon as he put on a Sox uniform. He has sucked ever since. I can't put my finger on it, but I do know the South Siders would be better off if Dunn were playing somewhere else.

For his horrendous play, Dunn will be paid $15 million this year. He's making $15 million next year, too, which means there is no chance Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf will allow Dunn to be released. Uncle Jerry always wants to try to get a return on his investment. That's just the way he is. 

So, my fellow Sox fans, that means we've got another 308 games of Adam Dunn before we are relieved of watching this mess. Man, I'm excited.

All I can really tell you about these two players is this: Soriano looks like a frog. Dunn looks like a donkey. And neither of these players can be traded unless their respective clubs are willing to eat all or most of those salaries.

Which contract is worse? I suspect we could have a pretty healthy debate on that topic.