Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Cubs, Barrett Reach New Low

Wow, it’s been a crazy few days at the Cell. Michael Barrett made a complete ass out of himself on Saturday but has gotten a free ride from the media. I guess MacFail and Hendry’s dressing down of Cubs beat writer Paul Sullivan had the desired effect.

As everyone who does not drink the blue kool-aid knows, Barrett got off the sucker punch of the year on A.J. Pierzynski. The only instigating AJ might have done was slap home plate which Barrett admittedly did not even see.

I’m not sure why Barrett wasn’t crucified for his weak rationalization that does not make any sense. First, AJ did not intentionally “bump” Barrett with his shoulder, as Barrett was still on the ground as AJ attempted to walk by him to retrieve his helmet. Pierzynski's shoulder hit Barrett as Barrett jumped off the ground to grab AJ. As for Barrett stating that he thought AJ made an aggressive move towards him, then why did he tell AJ “I didn’t have the ball, bitch”. If AJ’s move towards the Cubs dugout was the reason for the violence that ensued, Barrett would have said something like “back off, bitch”. But he didn’t say that because he was upset about getting his ass pancaked in front of 40,000 fans, not about AJ walking towards the Cubs dugout.

Barrett was embarrassed and humiliated and the only thing he could think to do was sucker punch AJ. My two year old has more mature instincts. Barrett can’t handle himself in a pressure situation so it’s not surprising, in a panic, he reacted with violence.

But instead of being called out by the press, Barrett has actually been given props for being a stand-up guy. This despite the fact that he does not regret what he did (except, of course, for all the childern who saw it!) and still tries rationalize it as somehow being AJ’s fault.

What did we learn from this incident? Barrett has zero baseball smarts. It was perfectly legitimate for AJ to run him over with or without the ball. You block the plate and this is what happens. We also learned, yet again, Barrett chokes hard when the pressure is on.

Last August, against Philadelphia, he let the winning run score when he threw back to third too soon on a rundown, letting the runner quickly turn around and easily reach home. That game effectively ended the Cubs playoff hopes.

Last April, with the bases loaded, a ball was hit to Aramis Ramirez who stepped on third for one out and threw home for the second out. Barrett did make the tag but then in a panic threw back to third to get the runner who had been already forced out. Unfortunately, Ramirez had vacated the bag and the throw sailed into left allowing the other two runners to advance and eventually score.

In 2003, Barrett let a run score when he didn’t know how to handle a pop-up that dropped after the infield fly rule was called. Barry Bonds hit the pop-up with the bases loaded. After retrieving the ball and stepping on home plate (even though no force was in effect) Barrett then ignored the runner on third, one Neifi Perez, allowing him to score the tying run.

Most people learn the infield fly rule in little league but I guess Barrett learned with the Expos. Although I wouldn’t bet against it happening again. Barrett said at the time, “I stepped on the plate. It was just a wacky play. I have had times in my career when I was embarrassed and that was the most embarrassing. I’ve just got to learn from it. “

But he doesn’t learn. The mistakes and embarrassments continue. Luckily for him, he plays for a team so bad, his horrid play blends into the background of a season that has reached new depths for the Northside club.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Eight Rotations

After a hot start the Sox have been struggling a bit. Here are the records for each turn through the rotation:


The Sox are 5-5 in their last 10 games. They losttwo games in what would have been Contreras turn in the rotation. Both games were winnable but the bullpen let each one get out of hand (12-6 against the Angels and 10-7 against the D-Rays). Still, I can't help but think Contreras would be 7-0 if not for his stay On The DL.

More worrisome is that the Sox lost both of Vasquez' turns in the rotation. Against Minnesota, he was unable to hold a 4-0 lead which is inexcusable against the Twins line-up. Last night, he gave up 3 runs in the seventh inning and was unable to hold a 3-2 lead. The Sox should have scored more runs for him, but Vasquez needs to do a better job of avoiding the big innings.
If he is unable to avoid these meltdowns, Ozzie should take the Cheat's advice and keep Vazquez on a short leash.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Bullpen Woes

I guess the World Series spoiled me a bit because I am not comfortable with the thought of the White Sox potentially falling out of first place tonight.

The Sox are still tied for the best record in baseball, but that won't be the case for long if changes aren't made to the bullpen. McCarthy heads back to the bullpen with Contreras coming off the DL which provides the pen some relief. But other moves should still be made.

The Sox need to send Boone Logan down once Contreras is back on the roster. They shouls also send Montero down (I'm not sure why he was even brought up) and call up Javy Lopez who has pitched well in the minors.

This would give the Sox a pen of:


This would still leave the bullpen as the weakest area on the team, but not weak enough to torpedo a playoff spot. It would still be wise to make a move to shore up the bullpen and acquire another arm in a trade and I have no doubt Kenny Williams is working on it as we speak.

My choice would be to make a trade for Scott Williamson of the Cubs. He is not part of the Cub's long term plans, as they have Dempster, Eyre and Howry signed for the next three years. Williamson has had control problems throughout his career but there is not doubt that he has some nasty stuff. If the Cubs continue to fall in the standings they will start to looking to deal, and as the bullpen is their one area of strength, Williamson would be a logical player to trade. Kenny has never been afraid to trade prospects so this could be a match.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Baseball Notes

The Sox have gone through the rotation five times now and have records of:


One of those doesn’t look like the others.

fans sure showed some class last night. Jim Thome is a great hitter and seems to be a real good guy. He left Cleveland after being offered a contract that was about $20 million less than what he received from the Phillies. Cleveland was going into a rebuilding mode and didn’t want to pay Thome market value so he left. No hard feelings, right?

What do the Cleveland fans, at the least the few who showed up at the park, do? They boo him and hold up signs calling him a traitor, and “Jim Phoney”. Nice.

Ex-Cub whipping boy Corey Patterson was back where he always wanted to be last night, batting leadoff. Corey has a decent average of .278 and has 7 stolen bases but nothing else about his stats suggest his game has changed.

He only has one walk leaving his on-base percentage in familiar territory below .300. And believe it or not he has been even more impatient at the plate this year looking at a miniscule 2.47 pitches per plate appearance, down from 3.39 p/pa in his career. That it the lowest p/pa in all of baseball. I know Brian Roberts is hurt, but the Orioles have to have someone more suitable for the leadoff position.

As far last night's Orioles game, they ended up losing when an even bigger ex-Cubs whipping boy, Latroy Hawkins, let 3 runs score in a third of an inning. Corey ended 1-5 with one K. He did see 21 pitchers in 5 at bats.

It looks like Baltimore has become a popular destination for Cub rejects with Sosa, Patterson and Hawkins all finding a home, if not their games, there in the last two years. If I were Jacque Jones, I might start looking at some Baltimore real estate.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Ha Ha, The Twins Stink

Wow, can the Twins really be this bad? The Twins are in fourth place in the AL Central and falling fast. So far they are 0-9 against the three teams ahead of them in the division.

They were swept by the Indians three weeks ago and outscored in the three game set 17-8. Eight runs in a three game set is usually good enough for the Twins to pull out one win in a series but this year their pitching has been just as bad as their hitting.

Unfortunately for the Twins, the Cleveland series would be their best showing against the Central’s top three teams. Last weekend they were dominated by the Sox in a three game set and outscored 23-6. It was especially satisfying that the Sox tagged each of the Twins top starters, Santana, Radke and Silva, with a loss, as all three had given the Sox problems in the past.

I thought outscoring an opponent 23-6 in a 3 game series was about as good as it gets. But then this past weekend the Twins went ahead and got swept by epic proportions 33-1. This is one of the biggest routes in a three game set in baseball history and arguably the worst since WWII.

Add it all up and the Twins are 0-9 against the Sox, Indians and Tigers and have been outscored 73-15.

Nothing would make me happier than to watch the Twins battle the Royals for last place in the division. Twins fans were incredibly smug and arrogant as their team won three straight Central division crowns from 2002-2004. It is certainly fun returning some of the hate.

I actually don’t think they are as bad as KC. The Twins did play all three of their rivals on the road and they are actually 9-6 against the rest of the league (and outscored them 82-75). But they certainly don’t look better than a fourth place team and are going to have a hard time finishing the year above 500.