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August 2010 Archives

Movin' on Manny

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The White Sox reportedly are close to a deal to get Manny Ramirez after the former superstar cleared waivers. It could end up being an interesting move that improves the Sox' chance to reach the postseason, or it could be a high-profile mistake on par with the Ken Griffey, Jr., deal.

Some of that depends on what the Sox will have to give up. The farm system is starting to look pretty thin, the quick elevation of 2010 draft pick Chris Sale being evidence of that. The Sox already have shipped out Daniel Hudson, who has pitched very well for Arizona. I don't think I want to see them part with Dayan Viciedo, Stefan Gartrell, Tyler Flowers or Freddy Dolsi--how about Randy Williams?

Manny still is a great hitter, though hits homers less frequently than he used to and tends to land on the disabled list now and then. If he's healthy for a month or so, and hits even marginally better than Andruw Jones, this could be just what the Sox need to catch the Twins. The Manny-being-Manny crap doesn't scare me too much because there just isn't much time for anything too terrible to happen.

Still, it's wise not to expect too much. It would be better if we were talking about a deal for Adam Dunn, Johnny Damon or some other lefty hitter, but we'll take what we can get and hope a new bat occasionally brings another run per game.

Piniella retiring... right now

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Lou Piniella said he is retiring following today's game against the Braves, rather than staying for the rest of the season, as originally planned. He reportedly changed his mind because of his mom's ailing health, so we wish for his sake the circumstances were far different, but this is probably also the best thing for the Cubs.

The team is in a nose-dive, having backed up the truck to unload big-contract vets and re-load with young guns from the minors. Best to get into the full wait 'til next year rebuilding mode, which includes trying out new management candidates and getting the young guys used to the fact that Lou will no longer be running the show.

Mike Quade is perhaps a surprise choice to take over as interim manager the rest of the season. I would have figure on Alan Trammell, who many of us though was a candidate to replace Piniella next year. But, it looks like GM Jim Hendry informed Trammell he will not be the next manager, so that makes things interesing for next year. If Quade does well, could he become manager full-time and perhaps include Ryne Sandberg on his coaching staff, or is Quade merely keep the seat warm for the next guy--whether he thinks so or not? And what will come of Trammell?

Triple-header

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After getting rained out in Kansas City last night, the White Sox are playing a double-header tonight and then a day game tomorrow. They might as well play a triple-header. There will be little rest to be had, and the Sox really need to win all three games.

Edwin Jackson threw seven pitches last night before the game was delayed and later postponed, yet he probably will not be pitching either game tonight, if the radio reports I've been hearing are true. That's too bad. He has been the Sox' best starter over the last two weeks (or at least sharing the honor with Mark Buehrle), and with the bullpen suddenly in a shambles and other starters having poor outings, seeing him take the mound last night was a welcome sight.

The Sox ended a four-game losing streak and avoided a series sweep in Minnesota Thursday in the strongest possible way, with an 11-0 trouncing, led by Buehrle and Paul Konerko, who was 5-for-5. After things seemed pretty dire after the first two losses in Minnesota Tuesday and Wednesday, that route gave us reason to believe again.

So long, D-Lee

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An ode to Derrek Lee:

So long, D-Lee, we hardly knew ye
But your stoicism suggested great integrity
As hitter and defender you weren't lacking
Though sometimes in the clutch went down hacking

You were a Cub seven years and MVP-like in 2005
But when the Cubs needed levity, you seemed barely alive
Your bat for two seasons helped make the Cubs great
Even though they couldn't end the drought in '07 or '08

Now, you are aging, but still have some skill
You'd be gone already if a trade you didn't kill
Remember when you and Aramis seemed like the foundation
That would bring happiness finally to all of Cubs Nation?

Well, you were good, but not good enough
And to hear you talk of negativity is kind of tough
When you were a guy who could have changed all that
Instead, like others before, you're leaving town with your bat

You're handing the challenge over to a band of young guys
And old Aramis, too, though he may yet cut his Cub ties
The future of the Cubs is now Tyler and Starlin
And when we reach the end, you'll be remembered more as a Marlin

Thome was my homey

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You knew it was going to happen this way at some point: Jim Thome hit a come-from-behind game-winning two-run homer to beat the White Sox last night. As much as I like Thome, I can't be happy for him as a Twin. Great guy, but now he's a fish.

The pain is a bit harder to take on this one because Thome is the Twins DH, and the Sox could use a good DH right now to better compete with the Twins. When Thome was traded to the Dodgers ;ate last year, it was the right decision by GM Kenny Williams. It freed the Sox up to explore new DH options that might also be useful defensive players, and was an acknowledgment that Thome likely no longer had the stuff to be a full-time DH.

But, now, DH is a real sore spot in the line-up for the Sox, and Thome actually is playing full-time--mostly because Justin Morneau is injured. I'm not saying Thome should be the Sox DH, or that the Sox should have tried to get him back in the off-season. So, settle down, Ozzie. The problem, however, is that the Sox ended up not doing much of anything at DH except claiming they could bat anyone in that spot. Mark Kotsay has been the most frequent DH, and despite what people say about Kotsay being a tough out, he's still hitting only .233 (though, surprise, he hit a homerun last night). Mark Teahen might be a decent option down the stretch.

They still may have other options to acquire a DH before the season is over. But, they apparently don't think Jermaine Dye is worth the money, or Carlos Delgado worth waiting for. I'm fine with it not being Thome, but now he's making the biggest rival better while the Sox are still spinning their wheels looking for an answer.

Good Carlos

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What's more rare than a Cubs win? A win by Carlos Zambrano. But, the rehabilitated hothead got one today, without throwing a temper tandrum and while only walking two batters. The Cubs beat the Cardinals 3-2 in St. Louis, where Zambrano usually rises to the occasion.

Zambrano's trajectory the last two months of the season may be one of the few things left about the Cubs that's worth watching. Can he finish strong and stay with the team next year, or will he only finish strong enough to get traded--perhaps even before the end of the season?

Meanwhile, Lou Piniella is back, and Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez both hit homeruns today, something that doesn't happen as often as it used to. I have to admit I'm mad at all three of them. Piniella could never get the Cubs started this year, and responded by announcing his retirement. Sorry to hear he has had family issues recently that caused him to miss games, but I wonder if he will continue to check out the rest of the season. Lee turned down a trade, and probably guaranteed himself a ticket out of Chicago next season that will bring the Cubs nothing in exchange. Ramirez wasted the first half of the season, and has had some of his usual bouts of injuries in between a few solid stretches, but I wonder if he too will be leaving.

The Baby Cubs are sometimes fun to watch, and they are getting great experience for next season. But, unfortunately, were all still stuck in this season.

Dog days

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The White Sox are now 5-3 in August. A winning record is something to be happy about, but I was really getting used to winning streaks, and the rest of the month is starting to look very tough for a team that went 18-8 in July. Not only are there six games against the Piranhas in the next two weeks, but four more games against the Orioles, who are proving difficult to vanquish in the current four-game set, and a three-game series against the Yankees at the end of August. The remaining eight games this month are against supposed division powder puffs Cleveland, Kansas City and Detroit (Yes, the Tigers went from contender to powder puff just this week).

On top of that, those fighting fish from Minnesota have been in top form of late. Former Sox DH Jim Thome has been key to some of their recent wins, which just plain hurts me to think about when the Sox really could be using him right now.

I know a lot of Sox fans are probably more worried about the closer situation and the unstable Bobby Jenks than the DH situation. I'll admit I am dreading the potential for Jenks to be closing one-run games against the Twins. But the Sox have a stable of closers--Jenks, J.J. Putz, Matt Thornton and Sergio Santos. Even Tony Pena fits the mold in a pinch. The best thing manager Ozzie Guillen can do is keep 'em guessing.

I guess after a huge mid-season run, during which the Sox have the best record in baseball since June 9, I'm a little concerned about a letdown still coming their way. In any case, the Sox are still in first place by half a game as of today, so enough negativity.

Upon further review

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Maybe Blake DeWitt will work out after all. He went 3-4 today in another loss for the Cubs (in which Carlos Silva exited in the first inning, this time with an abnormal heart rate). One of the things I didn't realize when I first heard about the Lilly/Theriot-for DeWitt/minor leaguers trade was that DeWitt is a left-handed hitter and also just 24 (and therefore still developing). And, at times the last few years, he's hit nwell above above the .270 he's sitting around now.

The minor league pitchers include Brett Wallach (son of Tim), who has been burning up the minors and looks like an eventual good bet for the starting rotation. The other is Kyle Smit, about whom little has been reported.

I still think this is a somewhat lopsided trade, with the Cubs getting the short end of the deal--though maybe not "poor," as I described it yesterday. One thing is for sure: The Cubs are getting younger, quickly. Perhaps to better set the stage for Ryne Sandberg to take over next year?

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After the trade deadline passed with the White Sox standing pat and holding onto recent acquisition Edwin Jackson, a lot of us breathed a sigh of relief. I really hope the lack of a power bat at DH doesn't prove to be a sore thumb the rest of the season, but I'm glad the Sox held onto Gordon Beckham and Dayan Viciedo.

Jackson isn't a bad pitcher. He's had problems with walks and was overall crappy for Arizona (even his no-hitter kinda sucked), but Arizona is an overall crappy team. He's got great experience, and was a winning pitcher in Detroit for two years previous. A lot depends on whether the Sox can get him to rein in his control, but he certainly isn't bad for a No. 5 starter and the experience card could make him more valuable than Daniel Hudson might have been in a pennant race.

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