Jose Contreras: Fall guy

Barack Obama took the week off from the health care debate to vacation with the First Family on Martha’s Vineyard, so it’s entirely possible that he got to watch Ozzie Guillen pull the plug on grandpa.
Guillen, the one-man death panel, sent Jose Contreras to the bullpen after his catastrophic outing on Monday night.  Words can’t adequately describe the horror of witnessing that error unfold. It was like watching a baby crawl towards a cliff.  There was no immediate sense of danger, but it developed so slowly that you still had time to fully realize that, hey, maybe that infant doesn’t have the ability to judge depth.

Is this what we'll remember Jose Contreras by? (AP)
Is this what we'll remember Jose Contreras by? (AP)
Now, replace “that infant” with “Jose Contreras ” and “judge depth” with “field his position, even to the level of Clayton Richard,” and there you go.
It’s a new take on an old Mitch Hedberg joke: “I want to see a pitcher flop during a flop. It would be so damn literal!”
So Contreras heads to the bullpen, which is a vanity assignment for all intents and purposes. He won’t be available until Aug. 29, and rosters expand three days later, so Guillen is basically saying, “We hope we’ll never need you.”
That leaves the door open for Jake Peavy, who pitched well enough in his third rehab start but took a liner to his pitching elbow in the process. He was fine enough to finish, but he has to see how it feels in the coming days.
It also closes the door on the chance of Contreras returning for 2010, in all likelihood. That is, if you hadn’t already ruled it out by now.
When piecing together the 2010 roster in my head, I had the Count penciled in (very, very lightly) as the fifth starter at Bartolo Colon’s salary. They would receive all the benefits of Contreras, Cuban Idol at a fraction of the price, there were reasons to expect mild improvement, and since he couldn’t be counted upon to pitch a full season, he wouldn’t interfere with the progress of Daniel Hudson or anybody else who might be ready to make The Leap.
But it’s hard to treat Monday’s debacle like anything besides a watershed moment in his White Sox career. It feels too much like it did last year, when Javier Vazquez followed up a Guillen challenge (“I don’t have an ace here”) by immediately surrendering a lead in the September Metrodome series. Maybe it was 100 percent certain Vazquez would be dealt, but it was impossible to imagine how anybody — Vazquez, Guillen, fans, the media — would’ve dealt with it after Guillen branded him with the scarlet “U.”
If Guillen removed Contreras from the rotation after a run-of-the-mill shelling, I don’t think that would’ve cemented his fate in the same way. But now when I think of Contreras, I’ll picture him diving in desperation for the ball like an alcoholic trying to suck spilled beer out of carpet fibers. That image is burned in the collective memory, and it’s hard to see anybody overlooking it.
Jermaine Dye didn’t just go hitless on Monday night — he went an ugly hitless. He struck out with a runner on third and one down, nearly spoiling an opportunity to cut into Boston’s lead.
The collar drags Dye’s post-break line down to .180/.286/.287 … and yet, Alex Rios is the guy who has gotten four days off in two weeks.
I’m not a huge fan of Rios’ swing, because it’s a little too Andersonian for my likes.  Every body part from head to toe wants to pull the ball.  But even if he can’t hit much, he’s at least providing above-average value whenever he does reach base, and on the field as well. Meanwhile, Dye’s entire value slumbers in his lumber.
I don’t think we’re near the point that Dye rides the bench for more than a game at the time — for crissakes, he’s still hitting third — but it would be nice to see Guillen start giving Rios regular playing time.
I’m no clubhouse insider, but I wonder if Rios is sitting for the sake of clubhouse harmony. Dye wasn’t exactly thrilled to see Rios join the club, calling the addition “exciting, confusing.” He was also outwardly miffed when Mark Buehrle received his extension in 2007, wondering why the Sox hadn’t negotiated with his agent.
Perhaps Ozzie Guillen is trying to prevent Dye from getting sensitive until his contract expires, but it’d be nice to see some acknowledgement of his struggles. Swapping Dye for Carlos Quentin in the batting order is a good place to start.
Two more quick thoughts:
*A.J. Pierzynski might be showing his age entirely behind the plate. He raised his average to .318 with a three-hit day, which is good for seventh-best in the American League, but the times he uses his body to block a pitch are fewer and farther between.
*Jayson Nix … still not buying him. Chris Getz will start his rehab stint Wednesday, but he’s made of glass, so it’d be prudent to still treat second base as a hole in the offseason.
And some links:
*J.J. takes a look at second base, too.
*There’s a new podcast at Oral Sox.
*And finally, I really wish I wrote this sentence Andrew came up with:

Our collective devotion risks spiraling into a weird, Hawk Harrelsonian abyss of counterlogic and anti-cheering, and any season predicated on the idea of “as long as they can be less bad” is surely doomed.

Minor league roundup:

  • Charlotte 4, Gwinnett 1
    • Jake Peavy pitched five scoreless innings, allowing four hits and two walks while striking out three. He threw 52 of 80 pitches for strikes.
    • Stefan Gartrell doubled twice and drove in two.
    • Tyler Flowers singled, walked and was hit by a pitch. He scored two runs.
  • Charlotte 4, Gwinnett 3 (Game 2 , 7 innings)
    • Dan Hudson struck out seven over five innings, but he needed 105 pitches to get through it. He allowed four hits (one homer) and three walks.
    • Jon Link recorded the save with a scoreless inning, with one hit and one strikeout.
    • Flowers walked twice in three plate appearances.
    • Michael Restovich was a triple short of the cycle, driving in two.
  • West Tenn 4, Birmingham 3
    • C.J. Retherford hit a two-run homer, and Dave Cook added a solo shot.
    • Jordan Danks went 0-for-3 with two walks and a strikeout.
    • Dayan Viciedo went 0-for-3 with one walk and two strikeouts.
    • John Ely was OK: 5 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 1 HR.
  • Salem 7, Winston-Salem 0
    • Brent Morel went 1-for-4 with a strikeout, one of three Dash hits on the night.
    • Justin Greene walked and stole his seventh base.
    • Anthony Carter allowed two runs on six hits over five innings, with two strikeouts and no walks.
    • Nathan Jones and Hector Santiago each pitched a scoreless inning.
  • Bristol 4, Kingsport 3
    • Miguel Gonzalez singled, walked, stole a base and scored two runs. He also had an eventful day behind the plate: He was 2-for-6-throwing out runners, committed two throwing errors and one catcher’s interference, and allowed one passed ball.
    • Leighton Pangilinan went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI.
    • Trayce Thompson and Brady Shoemaker were each 0-for-3.
    • Andre Rienzo allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits over six innings. He didn’t walk anybody and struck out four.
  • Kannapolis vs. Bowling Green PPD
  • Great Falls OFF
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The thing I noticed about A.J. is that he seems to be approaching blocking pitches in the dirt like a goalie starting from a butterfly crouch…except he’s not starting in the crouch. When the ball hits in front of him, he doesn’t just drop down: it looks like he pops up into a crouch and then drops down, wasting valuable fractions of a second and the reason why Contreras was able to go 5-hole on him. When a ball in the dirt isn’t directly in front of him he’s only moving his glove to try and knock the ball down…not his body.
It looks like it’s his way of displaying the overall lack of focus that is sadly characteristic of this team. Or maybe he just needs to get bigger pads and start working on his kick saves. What’s Vladislav Tretiak up to these days?


If Ozzie is not benching Dye because of hurt feelings, then Ozzie is a bloody coward. He has not hesitated to bench other poor performers in the past — I can remember long stretches when PK was benched, or Swisher (FNS) when they weren’t hitting. Dye gets a pass because he was the world series MVP four years ago?
With Dye’s tailspin a Quentin-Podsednik-Rios outfield is our least worst option, and it takes a lot for me to say that Podsednik should have any reason to be on the field.


Lulz. Remember when Ozzie was a racist because he wouldn’t bench or call out his latino players? Oh, you crazy Sox fans.


“Words can’t adequately describe the horror of witnessing that error unfold. It was like watching a baby crawl towards a cliff. There was no immediate sense of danger, but it developed so slowly that you still had time to fully realize that, hey, maybe that infant doesn’t have the ability to judge depth.”
Good analogy. I’ll add to it with “and a guy’s right there to let the baby decide maybe this cliff isn’t such a good idea, but the baby’s like, ‘no, it’s cool man, I got this.'”


My Gawd, I am even more depressed that I was following the game last night. How in hell are we over .500?


My theory is that it has something to do with a Randolph and Mortimer-style one dollar bet and fans’ heads exploding…


good lord…i picked the wrong time to attend Fenway for the first time.


Another great moment in Hawk history: “There’s two things you can’t do at Fenway. Walk guys and make errors.” Gee, shouldn’t you try not to do those things in EVERY ballpark?