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So long, Edwin. We hardly knew ye!
Three days short of his one-year anniversary as a member of the White Sox, Edwin Jackson was dispatched to the Blue Jays last Wednesday. In turn, the Jays dealt Edwin to the Cardinals, Jackson's sixth team in his nine years in the big leagues.
Luckily, Jackson has long been accustomed to moving around since his father was a military man. Edwin actually was born in Germany, although he attended the same high school in Columbus, Georgia, as Frank Thomas.
So what's wrong with this guy? He gets swapped almost as often as Big Papi spits on his batting gloves.
In the past, Jackson's problems throwing strikes diminished his value. But not this time. Try an $8 million-plus salary and a contract that makes him a free agent after the 2011 season. That's for a guy with a 56-58 lifetime record. So the Sox cut some payroll, and, what the heck, they had six starters anyway.
In his short stay with the Sox, Edwin posted an 11-9 record and a very respectable ERA of 3.67. Lately he had been especially effective. Friday night in St. Louis he picked up right where he left off on the South Side, hurling seven innings of one-run baseball to beat the Cubs. Okay, it was only against the Cubs, but as the adage says, "It's a line drive in the scorebook."
In addition, this innings-eater threw only 95 pitches, which, for him, means Edwin barely broke a sweat, even in the miserable Missouri heat. I wouldn't be surprised to see Tony LaRussa bring him back on three days' rest.
What is appealing about Jackson is his approach. He's a gamer. His famous July 3, 2010, no-hitter, while pitching for the Diamondbacks, required 149 pitches. Edwin walked eight on that memorable evening. But that's who he is.
His control improved - perhaps Don Cooper gets some credit? - with the Sox. But regardless of the situation, Jackson would keep battling. In my view, he was unflappable as he kept challenging hitters whether the bases were full (somewhat often) or empty.
Hindsight, being what it is, makes us wonder whether Kenny Williams should have stood pat a year ago when he dealt for Edwin. Granted, Jackson did a solid job for the Sox. But the pitcher whom Williams swapped for Jackson - Daniel Hudson - has been little short of outstanding for Arizona.
Hudson had pitched just 34 innings for the Sox, though he owned an astounding 44-18 record over parts of three seasons for White Sox farm clubs. In the past year in the desert, Hudson, just 24, has a 17-8 record, including 10-7 this season. His ERA for the D-backs is a sparkling 3.07.
In addition, Hudson gets to do something in Arizona that he never could have done in Chicago: He gets to bat!
Daniel is hitting .318 this season, second only to - who else? - Carlos Zambrano's .324 among NL pitchers. He's also homered once and driven in 12 runs.
Jackson's departure brought over Jason Frasor, an effective middle reliever who will take pressure off Jesse Crain, from Toronto. But don't underestimate the roster spot that opened because Mark Teahen was part of the deal.
Enter Alejandro De Aza from Charlotte. All he did in his White Sox debut Wednesday was crack a two-run, game-winning homer to nip the Tigers 2-1 behind John Danks' stalwart pitching.
De Aza has big league experience - he played with the Marlins in 2007 and 2009 - and he was hitting .322 at Charlotte with 22 stolen bases. At 29, De Aza is no young phenom, but the guy brings speed and desire since he must understand this could be his last shot at sticking on a major league roster.
Couple that with the guy (Alex Rios) he's replacing - or at least platooning with - and the center field situation immediately improved. I firmly believe that De Aza can more than match Rios' .207 mark, and De Aza can go get the ball in the outfield. (Kindly hold your applause at my daring, extravagant prediction that De Aza can outhit Rios.)
De Aza is hitless in the seven at-bats since Wednesday's heroics, and yesterday Rios had an RBI single - he was his usual one-for-five - in the 5-3 loss to the Red Sox.
Wouldn't it be nice if lightning struck twice with the addition of De Aza? On June 15, 1983, the Sox traded second basemen with Seattle. Julio (Juice) Cruz came to Chicago and Tony Bernazard headed west.
At the time the Sox were 28-36. Cruz hit only .251 that season, but his defense, energy, and speed - he was one of the league's top base-stealers - seemed to be contagious as the team won 71 of its final 98 games to run away with the division by 20 games.
Cruz was an established major leaguer while De Aza is a former prospect turned suspect. But the Sox needed something new, something refreshing. Let's hope that De Aza surprises us.
After dropping the series to the Red Sox over the weekend and facing a four-game set with the Yankees, the four-game gap between our athletes and the first-place Tigers looks huge.
This team simply doesn't hit enough to scare anyone. In 14 games since the All-Star break, they've scored 51 runs. Meanwhile, Sox pitching has limited the opposition to a stingy 41 runs over the same span. That includes the Red Sox' 10-run barrage on Saturday. The result is a mediocre 8-6 record.
With the Sox' pitching, they ought to be miles ahead of the division. However, now that 106 games are in the book, the same old refrain continues, "If the Sox just begin to hit . . . " I can't see it happening. I hope I'm wrong.
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