Real ultimate Peavy

How good was Jake Peavy on Monday night?
He was so good that Sox fans finally got to hear a well-worn line used in praise of their own pitcher:

“You have to tip your hat to Peavy,” said Royals outfielder Scott Podsednik. “He threw the ball well. He mixed his pitches well, had command of both sides of the plate and kept us off-balance all night.”

Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeah!
There’s an obvious disclaimer that his seven shutout innings came against the Royals, but every indication was that he was on his game.  Pitchf/x tells half the story: He didn’t dick around.  His average fastball cracked 92 m.p.h., and he hammered the Royals with cutters and sliders way more than he got cute with curves and changeups.
But more importantly, he hit his spots.  A.J. Pierzynski didn’t have to move his mitt much, and when he did, it was rarely in the wrong direction.  When he issued his lone walk to Chris Getz, the pitches out of the strike zone were just low.  He was routinely missing by half a plate or more in previous starts, and there was very little of that on Monday.
That’s the Peavy that can succeed in the American League.  The question is whether he’ll be here to stay.  His next start is against Toronto, and Peavy failed to hold a pair of two-run leads against the Blue Jays the first time around.  That should provide a nice basis for comparison.
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While participating in the BBTN Live Chat at ESPN.com on Monday night, Royals Authority blogger Craig Brown dropped an interesting line:

The possibility that Miguel Olivo could catch back to back Cy Young award winners blows my mind.

Olivo took the majority of the starts behind the plate for Kansas City last year, where Zack Greinke picked up his hardware.  Now Olivo is starting for the Colorado Rockies and catching Ubaldo Jimenez, who is 6-0 with an 0.87 ERA after striking out 13 Padres on Monday, and has a no-hitter under his belt already.
It’s funny to Royals fans because Olivo was somebody considered much stronger than he was smart.  And yet whatever deficiencies he has understanding the intricacies of the game, it’s not enough to drag down elite pitchers.
This prompted me to look back through the newspaper archives to see what his reputation was with the Sox.  As it turns out, it fluctuated based on 1) his experience, 2) his offense, and 3) his success rate in throwing out basestealers.  Kenny Williams gave him some extra time in the minors to “work on his game-calling,” when he was blocked by an out-of-options Josh Paul.  Olivo ended up starting 114 games that year, although he had Sandy Alomar Jr. there to help him with handling the staff.  When he went into a slump at the plate, Jerry Manuel made sure to talk about how great of a job he was doing behind it.  When he was traded, part of the reported reason was that the Sox didn’t feel confident in his abilities to work with a championship-caliber pitching staff.
Anyway, I bring up Olivo because Tyler Flowers is encountering the same thing.  His ability to call a game and work with pitchers was praised when the rest of his defensive skills were very raw.  Now that A.J. Pierzynski’s contract is coming up, it’s like Flowers just learned that catchers use fingers to tell the pitcher what to throw.
Given that the basis for judgment is so unreliable, I would ignore all references to “game-calling” unless pitchers call him out or refuse to work with him.  I’m sure that some catchers inspire more confidence in a pitching staff than others, but it’s impossible to sort it out except in extreme cases.  Most of the time it’s a political football of scouting reports, and it’ll be interesting to see how many times that facet of Flowers’ game changes over the coming months and years.
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Mark Kotsay is now 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position after coming up empty in two at-bats on Monday, including a too-shallow fly with the bases loaded and one out.  He and Juan Pierre are 1-for-34 combined.  That shouldn’t be possible, but it is.
The horribly unclutch and unable to play part-time Jim Thome?  5-for-15 with a homer and three walks.
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Minor league roundup:

  • Huntsville 5, Birmingham 4 (Game 1, 7 innings)
    • Brent Morel hit his first Double-A homer, part of a 1-for-3, two-RBI day.
    • Charlie Shirek is on a roll. He allowed two runs (one earned) on eight hits over six innings. No walks, six strikeouts.
  • Huntsville 4, Birmingham 3 (Game 2, 7 innings)
    • Morel and Christian Marrero each went 1-for-3.
    • John Shelby went 2-for-4 with a double.
  • Frederick 6, Winston-Salem 5
    • Nevin Griffith, meet regression: 4 2/3 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 K.
    • Dan Remenowsky threw two scoreless innings, allowing a hit and a walk and striking out two.
    • Jon Gilmore and Brandon Short each went 1-for-5 with an RBI. Gilmore struck out once, Short thrice.
    • Justin Greene singled, walked and struck out twice.
  • Kannapolis 3, Lexington 2
    • Trayce Thompson went 2-for-4 with a homer and two RBI.
    • Nick Ciolli hit a solo homer for the other run, and also struck out twice in four at-bats.
    • Kyle Colligan went 1-for-3 with a walk; golden sombrero for Brady Shoemaker.
    • Ryan Buch struck out a batter over a 1-2-3 ninth for the save.
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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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mechanicalturk

I wonder why Peavy seemed to lose some command (though no velocity!) at around 90 pitches. Maybe the Royals just started to catch on.
But maybe he got a bit tired. He seemed to settle down after his first inning last time around, and got tired in a similar manner towards then end of that outing too, though with a pitch count that was about 20% higher. Maybe he upped his pre-game workout to avoid that first inning need to dial it in.
Or, and personally I think this is more likely, he was the mysterious figure who wrestled wild deer to the ground in that Wisconsin bar sunday evening. Since as we all know, Peavy is a hunting enthusiast. And as we also all know, the only weapon he takes with him on his excursions… is himself. Peavy is required to carry three special licenses with him at all times as a result, and must apply for a permit two weeks prior to traveling to any state. He was recently outlawed in Arizona; Jake has filed an appeal, but no one has been able to locate a judge brave enough to hear the trial.
Hopefully Peavy continues to look like he did tonight, and we all look back and laugh about how he is simply confused by the concept of “April.” Maybe he’ll start to teach some of his awesomeness to the younger guys like Danks and Floyd (and maybe Santos), and with any luck teach Linebrink how to stare home runs into foul territory. I certainly hope so.
But one thing at a time. I’ll settle for a quality start against Toronto.

fustercluck

Peavy was especially amped after taking it to the mighty Kansas City Royals for his first W of the season. The following exchange was captured on surveillance footage from the clubhouse bathroom.
Peavy: “Superstar in a superstar machine! Takin’ it to the starrrrrrrs!! Emotion lotion–”
Hawk [exiting stall]: “Kid, you’ve got the goods.”
Peavy: “Really???”

fustercluck

That’s too bad. I did find the one of a young Mark “Bob” Kotsay at the doctor’s office: http://bit.ly/clX8AP

brent

Very nice to see Peavy return to form, even if it is only for one night. Anyone else think “the Jakemeister” is a stupid nickname? I don’t think Hawk is trying anymore.

stopdrop8

I hate all the “meister,” names he uses. But it bothers me way less when the guy hes using it about is kicking ass than it did when he would use it to get excited about the “boone meiester” coming into the game.

knoxfire30

I texted 3 buddies immediately after Peavy struck out Dejesus to start the game on his best changeup of the year. I said, if he throws that pitch the royals wont score, sure enough 7 innings later we are talking about his best outing of the year.

marshlands

Mickey Mantle was the greatest, softest bunter of all time, in addition to being the fastest left handed batter to first base ever in the history of the world.
Somebody seriously, please, put a gag on the Hawk.

knoxfire30

It does get annoying, all hawk had to say was mantle was a very good bunter and a very fast before he blew his knees out. Why he feels the need to elaborate to the extent he does is beyond me.

marshlands

In all seriousness, though! Peavy looked terrific. Nothing much to say. Royals aside, he was hitting his spots, and if the radar was remotely accurate, he put some serious heat on a few of those fastballs.
Meanwhile, Kotsay is an embarrassment. I’d rather have the DFA’d Jack Cust at this point. Or even Jonny Gomes, or ANYONE.
Even though Gordon’s still struggling, it was nice to see him lay off some of Meche’s garbage — the way some other Sox didn’t.

ricksch

Agreed, Kotsay is one of several embarassments on this team. However, it should be noted that Kotsay was put into a role that he MAY have been able to handle about 4-5 years ago when he was in his prime. But to take a guy who has long since evolved into just a good utility player and ask him to DH for you — that’s MANAGEMENT’S folly.
Bottom line though is the starters have to pitch. Can’t expect a one-hitter every time out, but if the starters keep us in games, we’ll win our share. Unless these guys start cranking it up and feed off each other, like what happened in ’05, I don’t see any point in trying to make adjustments to the rest of the roster because it just won’t matter.
Please let me know when we can all start hatin’ on Teahen again. Talk about an embarrassment. Once again, this one’s on KW. They didn’t know this guy couldn’t field his spot???? After all the BS about how Teahen was screwed up because he was asked to play so many different positions. Turns out he Royals were simply trying to find a spot where he couldn’t hurt them — which finally turned out to be on the White Sox roster. How can you NOT have the book on a guy who plays in your own division Kenny? Our right side of the infield, with the inconsistent Alexie, is a house of horrors.
Thank God Peavy finally looked like Peavy. We sure as hell needed that one.

ricksch

But with Beckham we have the sophmore jinx in play and the kid still has tremendous upside. With Teahen, this is as good as it gets.

bigfun

Some nice gif breakdowns of different Peavy deliveries here: http://www.baseball-intellect.com/whats-wrong-with-jake-peavy/
Writer’s timing is sorta bad as it looks like he finished writing this prior to Peavy’s start last night. Would be curious to see an update with frame-by-frames from last night.