Tea'd off in Toronto

If nothing else, Mark Teahen has a sense of the moment.
Not only did Teahen triple his season hit total by falling a double short of the cycle in the White Sox’s 8-7 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday night, but he extended a streak as well.
All of Teahen’s hits have been game-changers, either tying the score or giving the Sox the lead:

  • Saturday: RBI double puts Sox up 1-0 in sixth.
  • Monday, third AB: RBI single ties game at 6.
  • Fourth AB: Ninth-inning homer off Blue Jays closer ties game at 7.
  • Fifth AB: Triple drives home game-winning run in 11th.

Add it all up and he’s hitting just about the most efficient .211/.375/.526 imaginable.  And Teahen’s day was one of a number of feel-good moments during the season’s first extra-inning triumph.
*Mark Kotsay delivered a key pinch-hit single off Jeremy Accardo (with Ozzie Guillen making an unusual decision to pinch-hit for Alexei Ramirez), making Sox pinch-hitters 2-for-5 on the season.
That means the Sox bench can go hitless in its next 39 at-bats before reaching the depths last year’s pinch-hitters sank to.  They were 2-for-44 over the first three months of the season.
Individually, Kotsay’s start is resembling his first week in a White Sox uniform after Kenny Williams traded for him. He put up three straight 0-fers before Guillen sat him, and then after working his way back into a rotation, he hit safely in 20 of his last 23 starts.
This time around, he went 0-for-9 before coming through with a ninth-inning single, and has since added a homer and the aforementioned pinch hit.  So even despite his slow start, he’s still ahead of the curve.
*Andruw Jones! Like Teahen, Jones tripled his season total with two homers and a single that nearly beheaded Brian Tallet.
It’s still not worth buying into his performance entirely, because he slugged .781 in his first month with the Texas Rangers before sliding down the hill.  But he had a night that’s certainly worthy of an exclamation point.
*Alex Rios was treated to a waterfall of boos at Rogers Centre, and he turned it into an Irish Spring commercial with three singles and a stolen base, prompting Guillen to suggest that Sox fans should jeer him when they return to Chicago.
By the way, the Sox were 3-for-3 off John Buck, including a heads-up move by Mr. Teahen after seeing Tallet using the same rhythm three pitches in a row.
*Sergio Santos had just started pitching at this point last year.  I keep feeling like that needs to be said, lest I fail to be amazed by his progress.
For the second time in his young career, Guillen called on Santos to get the Sox out of a bases-loaded, two-out scenario, and this time felt more dangerous.  For one, when he entered the game against the Twins on Friday, he was facing Delmon Young, who chases a good slider.  Vernon Wells is far less likely to help a pitcher out.
But also, he was following Randy Williams’ four-pitch, four-ball act that provided flashbacks to 2007.  Or more specifically, July 21, 2007.
That day, Guillen called on Boone Logan to face Boston’s J.D. Drew with the bases loaded and two outs, and the White Sox trailing 4-1.  Well, Logan wasn’t close.  He walked in a run, and Guillen yanked Logan for one Amos Dewon Day.
Day was gas on the fire. He walked the first two batters he faced, and then gave up a single to Coco Crisp and a triple to Eric Hinske.  By the time he struck out Julio Lugo, the Sox bullpen had turned a 4-1 deficit into an 11-1 deficit.
In that same precarious position on Monday, Santos started with a slider and a fastball away, then came back with a fastball in the zone.  Wells pounded it, and Alexei Ramirez made a beautiful stab in self-defense and turned it into a fielder’s choice to keep it a one-run game.
Was Santos fortunate?  Hell yeah, he was.  But he used that good luck and started an incredible run by Sox relievers, getting a weak groundout and two strikeouts in a 1-2-3 seventh.  The Bromantics, J.J. Putz (who showcased an excellent splitter) and Matt Thornton (who looked bored), followed suit by striking two batters apiece in their respective three-up-three-down innings.  Santos, Putz and Thornton combined to retire 13 consecutive hitters, and this will likely stand as the gold standard for middle relief this season.
And when Scott Linebrink and Tony Pena’s names aren’t even mentioned in an 11-inning game, that shows you the kind of depth the Sox could have on their hands.  Santos will need to keep his poise, Putz will need to keep his elbow in one piece, and Thornton will need a some left-handed help, but a fan can dream.
That said, it’s not all gravy.
*************************************

Sore spots

Peavy: A little too much self-reflexive profanity so far.
*Williams is an obvious one.  So far this season, RAAAAAAAANDY! has retired seven batters and allowed eight of them to reach base, and his four-pitch walk left Guillen spraying expletives all over Rogers Centre’s new artificial turf.  We’re about one failed Guillen Manhood Challenge from seeing Erick Threets.
*Alexei Ramirez is now 4-for-26 with no walks and five strikeouts after wearing the collar on Monday.  It’s hard to predict when Guillen is going to bench him.  It seemed almost certain that he would ride the bench after kicking the ball all over the field on Friday, but he started the next day.  I wonder if the late-inning substitution is an omen.
*Jake Peavy has had two identical starts.  The only difference is that Toronto’s hitters didn’t let him off the ropes.
I didn’t think velocity was the problem.  Maybe the Toronto guns must have been hot, because it had him routinely sitting 91-92, which is where he probably should be.  The Cheat notes that Pitch F/x tells a different story — Peavy’s average fastball was just under 90, and that his fastest heater was slower than Freddy Garcia’s best.
It’s not time to hit the jolly, candylike button, because either way, his location was worse than anything.  It’s not like one of Jon Garland’s dead arm periods, where the pitches were being put in the right places, but just not fast enough.  But his velocity is definitely worth monitoring his next time out.
*********************************
Minor league roundup:

  • Charlotte 6, Norfolk 3
    • Daniel Hudson dominated in his first start, striking out nine over 5 2/3 innings.  He allowed three hits and one walk, and the run came on a solo shot.
    • C.J. Retherford went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI. He walked and struck out once.
    • Jordan Danks (one walk, two strikeouts) and Tyler Flowers (double, two RBI, one K) went 1-for-4.
    • Dayan Viciedo went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts.
    • Erick Threets retired all four batters he faced.
    • Greg Aquino allowed two runs on four hits and a walk over two innings, striking out three.
  • Birmingham 7, Carolina 3
    • Brent Morel went 1-for-4 with a double, an RBI and two strikeouts.
    • John Shelby doubled, hit two sac flies and stole his second base.
    • Christian Marrero walked twice in four plate appearances.
    • Santo Luis walked one and struck out one over two hitless innings for the win.
  • Lexington 12, Kannapolis 1
    • Justin Collop was hammered for 11 runs (nine earned) on 12 hits over five innings. He walked one and struck out five.
    • Ryan Buch allowed one unearned run on three hits and a walk over two innings, striking out one.
    • Drew O’Neil pitched two perfect innings.
    • Nick Ciolli doubled and struck out in four ABs; everybody else had an ugly day.
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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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iowaoaks

What is it about Sox fans that we great returning players with the respect they deserve as opposed to what current players get on returns to their old digs?
I know we aren’t perfect and I’m sure we have been less than great to someone recently, but I don’t remember it.

mechanicalturk

Nick Swisher?

mechanicalturk

To expand on that, their situations aren’t identical, with Swisher being much douchier, but Rios’ situation has more in common with him than you might think at first.
Toronto mishandled their Rios Grande situation pretty badly, offering him a too-big contract based on a smallish sample and then dumping him for nothing in return after that mistake. The fans were already on him for his lack of performance in 2009, and the exchange of parting words was less than cordial. Now he’s come to represent the whole string of front office follies (from the fan’s perspective), culminating with the trade of every Jays fan’s favorite, Halladay.
I actually talked to a Jays fan who was at the game last night and asked him about Rios, and while I couldn’t get much out of him he told me that they don’t hate Rios, but it was fun to boo him at the time. Released a lot of the pent-up frustration that Jays fans have had for a while, I guess.
I imagine when the Phillies head to Toronto for a three game series in late June, Halladay will get the hero’s welcome we gave Thome.

marshlands

I wouldn’t be so quick to pat our own backs here. I was at the Oakland series at The Cell in 2006 when Frank came back, and while he mostly got a solid ovation, there was a large portion of the crowd booing and yelling at him. I know he was always contentious and left on some bad/weird terms with Kenny, but that’s certainly no way to treat the Greatest White Sox Hitter Of All Time.

knoxfire30

I have no clue why Ramirez hasnt been sat yet, you have Vizquel and Nix who cant possibly be worse April players then Alexei, this is beyond a trend with Ramirez and I dont see why sox management cant see it, play him 4 times a week not 6 or 7, and get vizquel and nix in the lineup so we dont have a guaranteed 0 for 4 coming from shortstop!
Ozzie made a lot of good moves yesterday, that was nice to see, the kotsay pinch hit, and getting some runners going vs buck had positive results.
Time to fire a rare shot at coop! Why doesnt peavy have a changeup any more and why the heck doesnt bobby ever throw a curve???? Peavy looked like a guy called up from AA that was a little excited and a little scarred, hard and away all day long makes good hitting teams dig in and light you up. Brush someone the hell back, and take something off a changeup so guys arent always dialed up, geezus!

knoxfire30

quick prediciton, lucy or castro will be catching peavys next start, book it!

marshlands

Good point about Peavy’s changeup, Knox. However, looking at his pitch types and % thrown over at FanGraphs, it seems like this has been a trend with him for a while.
In 2003, Peavy threw his changeup 21% of the time, his highest to date. From 2004 on in order: 16%, 15%, 9%, 7%, 6%, 5%. Not sure if or what the significance of this is, but I think it’s notable. It might be in relation to the increase of what FanGraphs/PitchFX registers as a cutter, but who knows.

bigfun

“this is beyond a trend with Ramirez”
How exactly is it “beyond a trend”? Because he hit badly in one April, last year? Or are you counting 28 at-bats of sporiadic, out-of-position play in 2008 as well?
Ramirez is a much better player than Nix or Vizquel. He should be presumed a starter until proven benchable.

knoxfire30

I said he should start 4 games a week, not 6 or 7
and yes 139 PA’s and 129 april AB’s is a decent enough sample size for me to sit a guy 2 times a week batting 178 with a 218 obp!!!! Not to mention his boneheaded defense doesnt make a great case for him over vizquel either.

bigfun

Hm, not for me. Most players have drastic swings in performance in sample sizes that small.
Vizquel’s plate appearances on Friday were terrible. I do not want to see that guy swinging a bat any more than absolutely necessary.
Not sure about Ramirez’s “boneheaded defense” either. He was a good shortstop last year and probably saved the game yesterday with his defense, as Jim mentioned above.

marshlands

Yeah, I’m with Bigfun here. The fact is, you’ve got to play your best players, and you’ve got to play them as often as possible. Alexei’s horrendous problems in April certainly appear to be real, yet it would be a big mistake to take them as something predictive. The more information we have, the better, and while this might be hard to swallow on a day to day basis you’ve got to look at the big picture. That picture, of course, is that Alexei is better than Nix and Vizquel.
Basically: you wouldn’t bench Mark Teixeira in April, would you?

knoxfire30

ramirez’s defense already cost the sox a game this season did you see the game last week?????
and yesterdays play was blown out of proporation by the good ole hawk a roo, it was a bullet one hop play that 25 of 30 shortstops make in the mlb

bigfun

Not sure off the top of my head which game last week you’re talking about. Anyway this is what happened to Ramirez all of last year – no credit for all the range he has and all the good plays he makes, but a ton of angry Scoreheads calling in to the postgame show every time he makes an error.
Ramirez has been a very good player ever since he joined the club and yet, two weeks into the season, people want to replace him either with a 70-year-old with no bat or a guy who has played exactly 15 games at shortstop in the major leagues. smh

marshlands

“The winning team, as a whole, will only have a +.500 WPA. Teahen shouldered the entire load and some more for the White Sox on Monday night in what could be one of the biggest, in terms of clutch hitting and value to the team, performances of the entire year. In his final 3 PAs, in which he went 3-3 with a 3B, a HR, and 3 RBIs, the run he knocked in either tied the game or gave the White Sox the lead. The leverage index of these three plays were 1.86, 2.90, and 3.43, respectively.”
http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/teahen-carries-white-sox

bigfun

Jim, your skepticism about Andruw is well-founded, but I think he’s still a better bet than Kotsay. As one of the only offseason value signings I was really happy about, I’m hoping he puts up a solid season.

bigfun

That makes sense. He fits better as a Winn/Thames type fourth-guy on an already good team rather than someone who should have a big role right away.

soxicano

To see the Sox do what they have done in the last two games in what appears to be the toughest AL teams right now, Twins and Jays, and to win the style that they did, mix of home runs and disruptive baserunning to the pitcher is a big big plus!
This is the balanced team Ozzie was talking about having. Still got some nasty pop, but are lightweight enough and athletic to keep the runners moving on the bases. If it wasn’t for Teahen I think Alex Rios would have been the highlight of the game for showing the mental stamina of an all star amidst the raining boos on him. He outdid A.J. boos on that one. Go Sox!
p.s. Sergio Santos, lightning in a bottle

knoxfire30

@big fun, alexei is the kind of guy everyone is gonna like while he makes 1 or 2 mil a year, and he is going to be absolutely worthless if you have to pay him 7 to 8 mil a year so basically after 2011 he wont be on the whitesox
im not saying he isnt better then nix or vizquel thats nuts, i am saying he isnt a guy i can justify playing every day especially givin his history in april be it a small sample size

marshlands

@Knox – No single play costs a team an entire game. I’m almost certain that Pierre going 0-5 that game was more damaging to the White Sox than Alexei making an error. Of course you can make an argument about timing, leverage, etc., but each team still gets 27 outs to score/prevent runs, and every at bat, out, hit, etc. counts.
As Lester Freamon said: All the pieces matter.

Sophist

Jim: Please tell me that you had nothing to with the ESPN power-ranking line this week . . . sounds like somebody needs a television instead of stat sheet.