Petty Opinions on the Series
The postseason has been a series of heartbreakers for the likes of the Yankees, Angels, Braves, Cardinals, and Astros. Oh well, even the losers had a shot. But the White Sox seem to be runnin' down a dream.
You Got Lucky. The ChiSox have benefited from more bad calls than any team in memory. I'm usually not one to be overly critical of umpires and referees, but this postseason takes the cake in terms of poor officiating. There's an old saying that says you make your own breaks, but I don't know if that is the case here. Instead, the South Siders have simply made the most of these poor calls, winning three games that all could easily have gone the other way.
Free Fallin'. Donnie Moore, Byung-Hyun Kim, Brad Lidge? The Houston Astros ace reliever has now given up walk-off home runs in each of his last two appearances. Albert Pujols is one thing, but Scott Podsednik? As has been well documented, the White Sox lead-off man has now hit two homers in the playoffs after failing to go deep during the regular season in more than 500 at-bats. Here's hoping that Lidge, who has been a standup guy answering questions in the clubhouse after each game, bounces back and earns a save and/or a win before the Series is out.
I Need to Know. Why do the White Sox get so much credit for their style of offense when just last year the World Series featured the two highest-scoring teams in baseball? You can have whatever it is the White Sox do so well. I'll take Pujols, Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen or Johnny Damon, Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz, thank you.
The Waiting. Why did the Los Angeles Angels lose? Look no further than the fact that they had NINE walks in TEN postseason games, including four vs. the White Sox in the ALCS. On the other hand, the Halos allowed 40 bases on balls. You can't win ballgames giving up more than four walks for each free pass earned on the offensive side. Period.
Help is on the way, you say? I don't think so. The Angels top two minor-league hitters -- Brandon Wood and Howie Kendrick -- have drawn 3 BB in 120 AB in the AFL. Surprisingly, Kendry Morales, who walked only 23 times in 400 plate appearances in High-A and AA this past summer, has 9 BB in 53 AB in the AFL. So perhaps there is hope after all. Stay tuned.
Echo. I'm always amused when I hear Joe Buck and others calling someone like Jose Vizcaino a "professional hitter." You wanna know what a professional hitter is? It's what baseball types call a veteran who doesn't hit all that well AFTER he gets a line-drive single that knocks in a run or two.
I Won't Back Down. Joe Crede has played a flawless third base in the World Series. However, the balls hit to him have been makeable plays. He's made them and should get credit for doing so. But Brooks Robinson and Graig Nettles he's not. I don't think he is in their league defensively. Crede can handle the hot corner with today's best. Let's leave it at that for now.
Breakdown. Who would you rather have on your roster, Josh Paul or Bobby Jenks? Well, the Angels GM Bill Stoneman actually had to decide between those two players last year and, believe it or not, chose Paul. Stoneman kept FIVE catchers on the 40-man roster, including Paul, the Molina brothers, Jeff Mathis, and Wil Nieves.
"We came to where we needed 40-man roster space. We needed the space, and he was the guy we decided to remove."
Look, you don't need "space" to keep a guy like Paul or Nieves. Paul is a journeyman catcher who will never be anything more than a third stringer. Nieves is a career minor leaguer who has hit .171/.212/.237 in 76 big-league at-bats. Guys like Paul and Nieves are a dime a dozen. Pitchers with power arms like Jenks are one in a million. The 6-foot-3, 270-pounder throws gas. You don't drop prospects who can hit triple digits on the radar gun to make room for a warm body. In case you weren't watching Saturday night, here are the speeds Jenks reached when pitching to Jeff Bagwell. 99-99-100-100-99-100.
How can a young pitcher with the upside of Jenks be dismissed so easily? Sure, he has had more than his share of problems off the field. But Jenks wouldn't be the first player in need of special handling, would he? Did Stoneman ever consider making Jenks a relief pitcher? The answer is "no." In 80 minor-league games with the Angels organization, the hard-throwing right-hander started 77 times. That's right, he was used in relief just three times in five years. The White Sox claimed Jenks last December, converted him to a reliever in the spring, and used him exclusively out of the bullpen all year (35 times at Birmingham "AAA" and 32 appearances with Chicago).
"He's always had the potential to do what he's done toward the end of this season," Stoneman said. "It's nice to see him do well."
Very nice indeed.
Oh, did I mention that Stoneman also let Derrick Turnbow go? He of the high-90s heater who is now the closer for the Milwaukee Brewers? You know, the guy who had a 1.74 ERA with 39 saves. Well, the Angels didn't have room for him either. But Stoneman made sure the Angels protected Tim Bittner, a pitcher who was later traded for a player they released. Beautiful. Just beautiful.
[Additional reader comments and retorts at Baseball Primer.]