Weekend exposes AL Central's flaws

Of all the opponents in all the parks on all the schedule, Bobby Jenks had to blow a three-run lead to the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.
It’s too juicy of a debacle to ignore, as the White Sox have a reputation of unraveling in Minnesota, and did so on Sunday in spectacular fashion, capped off by an Alex Rios throw that could’ve only been more off if he knocked out the neon on Minnie and Paul.  That this one turned a series split into a three-game losing streak, effectively killing the mojo of a 26-5 stretch, lends itself to be grand narrative material over the next two and a half months.
It’s unfortunate, because had Jenks only allowed two runs instead of four, this series would have only told us that these two teams are both flawed.  Consider!

  • The Twins led early in all four games, and either surrendered or jeopardized the lead in all of them.
  • The Twins’ outfield defense and bullpen proved suspect.
  • The Sox beat up Nick Blackburn. While he’s been awful this year on the whole, he’s been fine at home, and he can handle the Sox.

Eight innings into Sunday, the Sox appeared to be westward bound with a hard-fought split against an evenly matched team.  After the ninth, now we’re talking about a crippler.
If there’s silver lining, the series should underscore that the Sox do need some help, whether or not Paul Konerko agrees.
*Third base: Dayan Viciedo’s defensive reputation caught up to him, and Omar Vizquel needs day off.  Plus, there’s no date established for Mark Teahen’s return.
*Outfield: Carlos Quentin hurt himself again, and Juan Pierre’s disastrous at-bat is a fine illustration of how dangerous the Sox are living with their production from the corner spots.
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If Gordon Beckham isn’t back to being Gordon Beckham after this week, then we may as well not pass judgment until the season is over.
A 4-for-4 day extended his hitting streak to seven, and it’s a pretty full streak.  He’s 14-for-24, with three doubles, two homers and seven RBI.
Moreover, he looks the part, with line drives to both sides of center.  So if that swing disappears this week after struggling for this long, I’m not going to expect anything from him over the rest of the season.
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If you missed “The Club,” you can read our instant reactions.  It proved to be mildly interesting, and should have enough material to last an entire season.
There were drawbacks, to be sure.  MLB productions lean on certain production methods (random close-ups of faces, overly dramatic music, annoying out-of-focus transitions), and they were a little too heavy-handed with Kyle Williams’ draft stock.  Jerry Reinsdorf’s appearances — whether with Bud Selig eating lumps for lunch or in his sweet office with Kenny Williams and Ozzie Guillen — were basically just exposition, which slowed things down.
But the interactions between the coaches and players made the hour worth it, especially with the way Daniel Hudson and Sergio Santos responded to their bad and good news at the end of spring training.  I’d include Randy Williams, but I’m not sure if he has figured out what they were trying to tell him.
Scott Reifert says Comcast SportsNet might be airing the episode today, so keep an eye on his Twitter feed if you don’t have MLB Network.
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Christian Marrero Reading Room:
*J.J. gives reasons why Sox fans shouldn’t freak out, and Mike lays all the blame on Jenks.
*Guillen wants to give Hudson a long leash, and he’ll have the opportunity to earn it tonight.
*Milwaukee manager Ken Macha issued a complaint to a baseball official about how often the Brewers are hit by pitches.  His hitters have been plunked 47 times, which is only one more than the White Sox have taken.  But Brewers pitchers have hit 29 batters, while the Sox have only hit 20. So I’m not sure what his point is, but if anything comes of it, Guillen will have a precedent.
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Minor league roundup:

  • Charlotte 8, Durham 4
    • Chris Sale struck out both batters he faced.
    • Brent Morel went 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts.
    • Brandon Hynick allowed four runs on six hits (two homers) over five innings, allowing three hits and striking out three.
  • Jacksonville 7, Birmingham 6
    • Christian Marrero went 2-for-4 with a double, as did Eduardo Escobar.
    • Justin Greene was 0-for-3 with a walk; C.J. Retherford was 0-for-5.
  • Kannapolis 4, Lakewood 1 (Game 1, 7 innings)
    • Justin Collop went the distance, striking out seven while allowing just six hits and zero walks.
    • Kyle Colligan went 1-for-3 with a double and a strikeout.
    • Nick Ciolli singled and walked over three PAs; Juan Silverio went 0-for-3.
  • Kannapolis 4, Lakewood 0 (Game 2, 7 innings)
    • Andre Rienzo went the distance, allowing four hits and two walks while fanning five.
    • Tyler Saladino was perfect at the plate, singling twice and walking once.
    • Miguel Gonzalez was 1-for-3; Ciolli 0-for-3.
  • Elizabethon 14, Bristol 3
    • Rangel Ravelo was 1-for-4 with an RBI and two strikeouts.
  • Great Falls 14, Idaho Falls 6
    • David Holmberg threw five shutout innings, pitching around six hits and a walk with five K’s.
    • Andy Wilkins continues to mash: 2-for-4 with a homer, four RBI, adding a walk and a striking out once.
    • Ross Wilson doubled and tripled over six ABs, striking out once.
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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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cushinglee

Great timing….on the day the Sox have one of their worst losses ever, the reality show premieres. One thing I took from the show is that Kenny plays to the camera, maybe even more than Ozzie.

cushinglee

How about the scene where Kenny is at his Mafia boss-like home, smoking a cigar, discussing life with his son. I expected Al Pacino to walk in.

danks50

Jenks has really turned around his act of walking the tightrope lately but blowing that game was just a killer. I’m not sure if Ramon’s fingers were broken but when you have hudson on the ropes wouldn’t throwing the curve be a better choice then watching hudson spoil fastball after fastball?
Anyways really rough game to watch but if there’s any silver lining its that freddy probably shouldve never kept us in that one anyways, that was easily the luckiest quality start I’ve seen this year as virtually the entire twins lineup smacked him around.

Shinons

I’m not really getting why they chose Jenks to close it out when he clearly had no confidence whatsoever in his curve. That’s certainly not putting him in a position to succeed…

bigfun

Nice to see VERY AVERAGE in the Twitter feed. Alexei also made a VERY AVERAGE snag to rob a hit early in the Saturday game.

Shinons

Nicely played bigfun.
Combined that with his VERY AVERAGE day at the plate, it’s clear to see why he’s the VERY AVERAGEST shortstop in the league.

soxfan1

Alexi blows!!

sars

man! alexei sure looked awful on that play that’s probably a single 9 times out of 10! with gutierrez running, no less. somebody give me an excel sheet.

bigfun

Alexei blows, he made an error! That’s the only fielding statistic you need. A better shortstop would have just stayed away from the ball and let Ichiro get the single. What was Alexei thinking???????

bigfun

Ha, true. Although right now he’s tied for fourth most valuable SS by WAR, ahead of Jeter, Andrus, etc. I imagine that will level out a bit by the end of the year, but he’s really working wonders with his glove.

ricksch

After this fan-killing, soul-stealing loss, I was reminded of several equally dunning losses that happened BEFORE the turnaround started. They too have been forgotten.
Still, this team needs to retool itself around the edges if they are going to stay in it.
1) Dayan Viciedo does NOT play 3rd base on a contending team. He’s a DH, maybe a first basemen after Paulie leaves. But unless we plan to solely DH him (too crowded there) or use him as a pinch-hitter (not a good idea) send him down to learn the game.
2) Kotsay continues to suck. The fact that he hasn’t laid down a auccessful sacrifice all year makes me wonder why Ozzie loves this guy. DFA his ass and pick up the bat we need. I see Luke Scott has just come off the DL. Just about anyone is an upgrade over Kotsay.
3) Quentin needs to be DH-ing more often if we want to keep him healthy. Jones sucks at the plate but at least he’s solid in the field. I’d rather have De Aza on the roster than Jones, but the Sox love former greats who are washed up.
4) One more big Jenks blow-out and Putz is my closer. Let’s see how Bobby responds to the set-up role. This should be Jenks’ last year with us.
5) Still need the bullpen lefty. Isn’t is amazing that the Twins pick up Mahay for nothing and here he is, doing the job for them? Not saying he’s great but he’s definately better than Randy and likely better than Threets. Sox had a chance to get him, just like they had a chance to pick up Thome. It kills me to see Big Jim on the Twins, especially when we have Kotsay DH-ing.
6) If Beckham keeps hitting, it will be like picking up another bat. Let’s hope like hell on this one.
7) Hudson gets three more starts. If two are QS, he stays in the rotation. Otherwise, we need help there. I hope that this season didn’t end with Peavy’s injury, but when you lose your “number one”, who was just starting to pitch like one, it has to hurt.
8) Still, the Twins aren’t so great, are they? Their rotation is suspect and the pen isn’t as good as ours. How do these pricks manage to dink and dunk us with such efficiency? Me thinks the Sox beat themselves when they play these guys — as with the last two games!

soxicano

ricksh I concur on most but on DH, Jones and Kotsay platooning has been better numbers wise and defensively speaking than a Jim Thome. Combined they have 18 homers, Jones alone has more homers than Thome. Kotsay has more doubles for sure than Thome and extra base running ability. Defensively they are both good for their respective positions, 1st and outfield. Thome is a one trick old pony with a bad back. On Viciedo, I spoke with the Ozzie Jr. boyz and they think Viciedo goes back to Charlotte precisely for every day defense when Teahen comes back. Then he likely gets called back in September for the pennant finish line.

bigfun

Soxicano, you’re doing some interesting math if .209/.320/.440 + .231/.320/.377 is better than .263/.383/.538.
Thome has been worth 1.3 WAR for the Twins. Jones and Kotsay together? -.1. Thome by himself is better than both of these guys and takes up only one roster spot. Mandruw Kojones has been awful and no reasonable examination of the numbers suggests otherwise.

soxicano

you are absolutely right bigfun. I looked at Thome’s numbers on defense. No errors! Sox made a big mistake. They spent so much time worrying about defense and resting Quentin and Konerko that they missed the forest for the trees. All those 30 or so RBI’s for the Twins that Thome has driven has made them a powerhouse!

Shinons

soxicano – You’re making an awfully tough argument to turn it snarky. Thome has a .921 OPS and those 30 rbis come as a part time player. No one on our team can punish righties like Thome, and I think most of us here aren’t worried about our DH’s defensive abilities…you know, since they’re not on the field and all…

bigfun

Regarding Quentin, he’s only DH’d 16 times this year – they could have easily given him the same number of appearances just by benching Thome against tougher lefties.
Are you familiar with WAR, Soxicano? It includes positional adjustments. Even accounting for Thome’s inability to take the field, his ability to do things like get on base (something Kotsay and Jones are pretty bad at) make him a valuable player. Not a replacement level player, which is what
But even if you want to do this purely by old-school stats, Kotsay and Jones are putting up catcher/shortstop batting averages and slugging percentages while playing offense-premium positions. They are simply not good baseball players.

soxfan1

Trade Jenks now for a bag of balls.

soxicano

Trade a closer who has converted 20 saves of 22 attempts? The balls in that bag better be either Prince Fielders or Adam Dunns.

bigfun

Another example of why the save is one of baseball’s stupidest stats: http://www.chicagobreakingsports.com/2010/07/jenks-not-charged-with-blown-save-in-soxs-loss.html

bigfun

The possibility that he’ll pull it together and be useful down the stretch is worth more than that bag of balls.
Now is a good time to trade Putz, though.

soxicano

The last time the White Sox lost 3 of 4 games was after their 11 game win streak. Then they went on to win 9 in a row after. They have a very good chance to rebound vs. Seattle and Oakland and when Gordon Beckham is hot he is hot on the road more so. Bobby hasnt blown a game in awhile. The Sox are still hitting way better than what they were doing in the Hump Dome. This is only the second series in over a month that the Sox have beaten themselves because really they did play well enough to beat the Twins if it wasn’t for key errors that the Twins capitalized on.