Tag:White Sox
Posted on: July 24, 2011 9:00 pm

3 to Watch: The White Sox (or white flag) edition

The White Sox are having the most disappointing season in baseball. The White Sox could still win the American League Central.

The White Sox could be 1 1/2 games out of first place by Wednesday. Or the White Sox could be sellers by Wednesday.

It's a time of year where things change quickly, with teams assessing their needs and chances daily.

Even by that standard, the White Sox are a team to watch this week.

They begin the week two games under .500, and 4 1/2 games behind the first-place Tigers. The Tigers are in Chicago for three games starting Monday night.

By the time the series ends Wednesday, the White Sox could be a true contender. Or they could be so far out of it that they go into full sell mode, looking to deal a pitcher like Edwin Jackson and perhaps outfielder Carlos Quentin.

Or maybe they're still left guessing whether they're in it or not. Maybe all they can do is to contemplate possible deals like the one the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on Sunday, where they would trade a major leaguer for another major leaguer (in this case, a pitcher like Jackson for Cardinals center fielder Colby Rasmus).

There are other teams to watch this week, notably the Rays, who have fallen 6 1/2 games out in the wild-card race after losing two of three in Kansas City.

But no team has been as disappointing this year as the White Sox, and no team will be as interesting to follow over the next few days.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. Partly because of the trade deadline, and partly because Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee won't start in the series, the Giants' visit to Philadelphia doesn't feel as big as it probably should. It's still worth watching, and it's worth noting that the Phillies allowed fewer runs over the first 100 games of the season (332) than any team since the 1989 Dodgers. Vance Worley is one of the surprising reasons for that, and Worley faces Tim Lincecum in Giants at Phillies, Tuesday night (7:05 ET) at Citizens Bank Park.

2. The White Sox began the second half by beating Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer on back-to-back days in Detroit, then missed a chance to sweep the series when they lost to Brad Penny. They get Verlander and Scherzer again in this series, with Verlander facing Mark Buehrle in Tigers at White Sox, Tuesday night (8:10 ET) at U.S. Cellular Field. Also worth watching: Jake Peavy's velocity when he faces the Tigers on Wednesday. In Peavy's last start, in Kansas City, his average fastball was below 90 mph.

3. The Mariners are also a team to watch this week, and not just because they've lost a club-record 15 straight. On a market short of starting pitcher, the M's have made Jason Vargas and Doug Fister available, and those two start Monday and Tuesday against the Yankees. They have not made Felix Hernandez available, and they're hoping that Felix won't be trying to break a 17-game losing streak when he faces Phil Hughes in Mariners at Yankees, Wednesday afternoon (1:05 ET) at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees will be hoping that Hughes looks a lot better than he did in his last start, last Friday against the A's. The M's have won each of Hernandez's last five starts against the Yankees.

Posted on: July 24, 2011 6:18 pm

Putting 15 straight losses in perspective

The Yankees have been around for 111 years, and they've never lost 15 games in a row.

Neither have Cubs or the White Sox, or the Indians or the Giants (New York or San Francisco).

It's not unheard of for a team to lose 15 in a row, but it's not exactly common. And it's not good.

When the Mariners lost their 15th straight Sunday in Boston, they became just the 12th team in the last 50 years with a losing streak that long. Ten of the previous 11 went on to lose 100 games, while the 11th (the 1982 Mets) lost 97.

What kind of team loses 15 straight? Teams like the infamous 1962 Mets, who went on to lose 120. Teams like the 1988 Orioles, who lost 21 straight to start the season.

The Mariners' streak is the longest in the big leagues since the 2005 Royals lost 19 straight, and ties the third longest in the last 30 years. If they lose Monday in New York, the Mariners will become just the fifth team in the last 40 years to lose at least 16 straight.

It's already a club record -- and it would already be a club record for 13 of the other 29 big-league teams.

The Yankees club record is 13, set in 1913. They haven't even lost 10 in a row since then.

The White Sox club record is 13, set in 1924. The Giants' is also 13, set in 1902 and tied in 1944. The Indians set a record with 12 straight losses in 1931.

The Mariners have only been around since 1978.

Oh, and those other teams that have never had a 15-game losing streak? Here's the list:

Angels, Astros, Blue Jays, Brewers, Diamondbacks, Marlins, Padres and Rockies.

Category: MLB
Posted on: June 24, 2011 10:19 am

3 to Watch: The honoring Sparky edition

The home team is honoring Sparky Anderson this weekend at Comerica Park.

So are the visitors.

The Tigers will finally, belatedly, retire Sparky's No. 11 in a ceremony on Sunday. The Diamondbacks -- the first-place Diamondbacks -- will show that baseball as Sparky taught it still works.

It's ridiculous that the Tigers waited until this year, until Anderson died in November, to do this. It's great, and perfectly fitting, that they chose to do it this weekend, with Kirk Gibson, Alan Trammell and the team that they have tried to craft in Sparky's image in town to see it.

"Sparky meant the world to them," Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall said, and anyone who knows Gibson or Trammell just a little bit knows that's 100 percent true. "He was their mentor, and their idol."

In the three years Trammell managed the Tigers, with Gibson at his side as a coach, they tried hard to teach the game as Sparky had taught it to them. For various reasons, mostly a lack of talent on the field, they lost 300 games and were never in first place after April 17.

Now Gibson is in his first full year managing the Diamondbacks, with Trammell at his side as bench coach. And this time, the Diamondbacks are in first place, ahead of the World Series champions, in the final days of June.

This time, with better talent, baseball as Sparky taught it is working the way it worked all those years for Anderson.

"I think Gibby gets the majority of the credit," Hall said. "I'd also give a lot of credit to [new general manager] Kevin Towers, and to the coaching staff. They're all on the same page like I've never seen a coaching staff."

They play baseball the way Gibson teaches it. He teaches baseball the way he learned it from Sparky.

Is there any better way to honor a Hall of Famer?

On to 3 to Watch:

1. When he took over for Mike Hargrove four years ago in Seattle -- after Hargrove stunned everyone by quitting in the middle of a long winning streak -- John McLaren said: "I have always wanted to manager, but not on terms like this." OK, John, how about these terms? The Nationals have won 11 of 12, and Jim Riggleman just stunned everyone by quitting. Oh, and this time, the team is saying you're only the interim manager until they find a new interim manager, maybe by Monday. Have fun, and bring us a win, in Nationals at White Sox, Friday night (8:10 ET) at U.S. Cellular Field.

2. The last time Tim Wakefield pitched in Pittsburgh, Jim Leyland was the Pirates manager. And Barry Bonds was in left field. The Pirates were a playoff team. And Wakefield was pitching for them. He's appeared in 574 major-league games since then, none of them in Pittsburgh. Now he returns, in Red Sox at Pirates, Saturday night (7:05 ET) at PNC Park. As an added bonus, perhaps Red Sox manager Terry Francona will put Adrian Gonzalez in the outfield, for the first time in six years and just the second time in his big-league career.

3. Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers said that Gibson has been looking forward to this weekend's series in Detroit, but mostly because he'll get to see his family. But you've got to believe it means something to him to take a first-place team into town, and you know that the Sparky Anderson ceremony, to be held before Diamondbacks at Tigers, Sunday afternoon (1:05 ET) at Comerica Park, will mean a lot to him. You also know that Gibson's main goal this weekend is to win games. "That's the way they were brought up by Sparky," Towers said.

Posted on: June 16, 2011 9:49 pm

3 to Watch: The watch CC hit edition

Maybe I'm weird, but I love watching American League pitchers hit.

Read that carefully, because I didn't say I love watching American League pitchers strike out. Or ground weakly back to the mound.

I love it when they hit . . . which doesn't happen often.

But if I could name one highlight from 14-plus years of interleague play, it might be CC Sabathia's 440-foot home run at Dodger Stadium in 2008.

So if there's one thing I'm looking forward to this weekend, as interleague play resumes, it's watching Sabathia hit at Wrigley Field.

I know, he's done it before, going 0-for-2 with a sacrifice when he was pitching for the Brewers. I know, Sabathia has come to the plate 101 times in the big leagues (about half of them during his half-season in the National League), plus five more times in the postseason.

And I know, American League managers fear these interleague road games, worrying that a pitcher could get hurt while hitting or running the bases (as the Yankees' Chien-Ming Wang did in (also in 2008).

But just as I loved talking to Rangers pitcher C.J. Wilson about his hitting, I love the idea of Sabathia swinging for the fences Sunday night at Wrigley.

No AL pitcher has hit a home run since 2009, when Josh Beckett homered in Philadelphia and Mark Buehrle hit one in Milwaukee.

In the 14-plus years of interleague play, American League pitchers have hit 16 home runs (none by a Yankee). Only Sabathia and Beckett have hit more than one, with two apiece.

Sabathia owns a .258 batting average in his 97 career at-bats, which means he has a higher career batting average than Dan Uggla . . . or Andruw Jones . . . or B.J. Upton.

And with three career home runs (he hit one in the National League with the Brewers), Sabathia has more than Francisco Cervelli or Chris Getz.

Anyway, there was a point this week where we all wondered if this weekend's Wrigley highlight would be the Yankee shortstop getting to 3,000 hits. Now, the highlight I'm looking for is Sabathia's 26th career hit -- but only if it's his fourth career home run.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. We interrupt all this talk of pitchers hitting to talk about a matchup of two pitchers who were traded for each other: Edwin Jackson, who went to the White Sox, and Daniel Hudson, who went to the Diamondbacks. They meet up in White Sox at Diamondbacks, Friday night (9:40 ET) at Chase Field. So far, since the trade, Jackson is 8-7 with a .383 ERA in 24 starts. Hudson is 14-6 with a 2.83 ERA in 25 starts. It's more one-sided than that, because Jackson is making $8.35 million and a free agent after this year. Hudson is making $419,000 and isn't even arbitration-eligible for another year. Oh, and Hudson is a .214 hitter. Jackson's career average is .147.

2. If Sabathia is the most successful AL pitcher at the plate, Justin Verlander is the least. In five years' worth of at-bats with the Tigers, Verlander is 0-for-16, with 10 strikeouts (although he does have five successful sacrifice bunts). He has never walked or been hit by a pitch, so his OPS is a perfect .000. Jon Lester is just behind him at 0-for-15, but Lester had a walk and a sacrifice fly last year. Verlander gets another chance at the plate in Tigers at Rockies, Sunday afternoon (3:10 ET) at Coors Field. He also gets another chance at the mound, which means he gets another chance to prove he's now the best pitcher in baseball -- which means a little more than his lack of success with the bat.

3. I probably shouldn't be getting your (or my) hopes up about watching Sabathia hit. He started two games in National League parks last year, and went 1-for-5 (a single), with three strikeouts. The year before, he went 1-for-4 (also a single). So no guarantees when he starts against Randy Wells in Yankees at Cubs, Sunday night (8:05 ET) at Wrigley Field.

Posted on: June 13, 2011 5:56 pm
Edited on: June 14, 2011 9:17 am

Acta: Anyone could win Central

NEW YORK -- Indians manager Manny Acta warns people not to count his team out, despite the Indians' slide over the last couple of weeks.

He also warns people not to count out the Twins.

"They won last year," Acta said Monday. "The division still has to go through Minnesota. Anyone in our division could still win it by 10 or get buried by 30."

The Indians opened play Monday tied with the Tigers atop the AL Central, with the White Sox 3 1/2 games behind. The Indians, who have lost four in a row and nine of their last 10, open a three-game series in Detroit on Tuesday.

"You're not a fluke for 2 1/2 months if you're in first place," Acta said. "We built up that lead. We'll be back again playing better. I guess that's an understatement."

The Indians should get help when Travis Hafner returns from the disabled list, probably late this week. Hafner, out since May 18 with an oblique injury, is set to begin a rehabilitation assignment at Double-A Akron on Tuesday.
Acta wouldn't say how soon Hafner will be back, but Hafner said the team told him they wanted him to spend three or four days in the minors before returning.

The Indians have struggled to score runs in Hafner's absence, so Acta shook up his lineup Monday, putting Grady Sizemore back in the leadoff spot and batting Michael Brantley and Asdrubal Cabrera third and fourth.

"Those two guys have been the most consistent," Acta explained. "I wanted to have our best hitters hit in the middle of the lineup."

Posted on: June 12, 2011 7:33 pm
Edited on: June 12, 2011 7:34 pm

3 to Watch: The Central showdown(s) edition

When the Indians stumbled, they let other teams back into the American League Central race.

But how many teams?

The Tigers have spent the last two days in a virtual tie with the Indians, so obviously they're in it.

The White Sox have the best record in the division over the last 37 days (22-13), and they're now just 3 1/2 games out of first place. So no matter what anyone said last month, they're obviously in it, too.

But what about the Twins? They're still nine games out, which only looks good because 11 days ago they were 16 1/2 games out. They're still 13 games under .500, which only looks good because 11 days ago they were 20 games under.

The players  who are out of the Twins lineup still look better than the players who are in the lineup, but that changes when Joe Mauer comes back (maybe as soon as Thursday). Justin Morneau, Jim Thome, Jason Kubel, Denard Span and Tsuyoshi Nishioka are all on the way back, too.

I never thought the White Sox were out of it, even when they were 10 games out in early May. I did think the Twins were out of it . . . but now I'm starting to wonder.

I thought the big series this week would be Indians at Tigers, but now I'm starting to think White Sox at Twins could end up mattering just as much.

Either way, this should be a fascinating week in the Central.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. If there's one thing that separates the Tigers from the other contenders, it's that no one else in the Central has an ace as dependable as Justin Verlander. Verlander has been at least a 17-game winner in four of his first five big-league seasons, and he's headed there again. The Tigers have won six of his last seven starts, beginning with his May 7 no-hitter and heading into his start in Indians at Tigers, Tuesday night (7:05 ET) at Comerica Park. Verlander is 5-0 with a 2.14 ERA in that span. Compare that with Justin Masterson, Cleveland's Tuesday starter, who hasn't won since April (despite a 3.79 ERA in his last eight starts).

2. The Yankees spent the first part of the weekend talking about who would fill in for Joba Chamberlain in the seventh inning. They spent the last part of the weekend talking about who would fill in for Bartolo Colon in the rotation. Chamberlain (Tommy John surgery) will be out longer than Colon (left hamstring strain), but finding someone who can do what Colon has done figures to be tougher than finding someone who can do what Chamberlain has done. The Yankees have yet to name a starter for Rangers at Yankees, Thursday afternoon (1:05 ET) at Yankee Stadium, which is the next time Colon's spot in the rotation comes up. It's also the day Chamberlain has his surgery, and the day C.J. Wilson faces the Yankees for the first time since he lost Game 5 of the American League Championship Series. Oh, and it's Derek Jeter's last chance to get his 3,000th hit at home, barring a long slump on the upcoming trip to play the Cubs and Reds. For what it's worth, Jeter is 5-for-14 (.357) against Wilson in the regular season, but went 1-for-7 against him in last year's ALCS.

3. Without Mauer, Twins catchers have had the worst OPS in baseball (.495, with an incredible .184 batting average). Without Mauer, the middle of the order has been a big problem for the Twins, along with the middle of the infield and the middle of the bullpen. No matter how well the Twins have played recently -- three wins in four games over the weekend against the Rangers, nine wins in their last 11 games overall -- there's no chance the Twins get back in the AL Central race without Mauer, who may be back for White Sox at Twins, Thursday afternoon (1:10 ET) at Target Field.

Posted on: June 2, 2011 7:26 pm
Edited on: June 2, 2011 8:03 pm

3 to Watch: The Indian Central edition

The Tigers know better than most teams that early-season leads in the American League Central don't always hold.

Or they ought to.

They've been where the Indians are now. They've been the surprise team. They've been in first place in June.

They've been chased down, and they still haven't ever won an AL Central title (they went to the World Series as a wild card in 2006 and last won a division crown in the AL East in 1987).

The Tigers also know that it doesn't really get uncomfortable for the team in front until one of the chasing teams starts winning every day.

And that's why this could be a significant weekend in the Central.

The Indians are home against the Rangers, continuing the most difficult stretch of their schedule so far (with a trip to New York coming up next week).

Meanwhile, the Tigers have won four in a row. The White Sox just swept a three-game series in Boston.

And the Tigers and White Sox meet this weekend in Chicago.

So far, the Indians really haven't been challenged. They went just 14-12 in May, but entered the month 4 1/2 games in front and finished it with a five-game lead. They went 3-5 over the last eight games and lost just two games off their lead.

Can the Tigers put heat on them? Can the White Sox?

Maybe this weekend will give us a hint.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. Remember when we were wondering if Fausto Carmona would pitch well enough to interest a contender in trading for him? Now we're asking if Carmona can pitch consistently enough for the contending Indians. While the rest of the rotation has been solid, the Indians' opening day starter is winless in five starts since May 3. Worse yet, he's getting worse, allowing 19 earned runs in 17 innings over his last three starts (all losses). Carmona is also winless in his last four starts against Texas, the team he'll face in Rangers at Indians, Saturday night (7:05 ET) at Progressive Field.

2. In April, the Tigers beat Mark Buehrle for the first time in nine starts since July 2007. Saturday, the White Sox will try to beat Justin Verlander for the first time in seven starts since September 2008. Verlander has won each of his last six starts against Chicago, going at least seven innings each time, with three complete games and a 2.03 ERA. He faces ex-Tiger Edwin Jackson in Tigers at White Sox, Saturday night (7:10 ET) at U.S. Cellular Field.

3. Jair Jurrjens is always the Braves starter who gets overlooked. But Jurrjens was the National League's pitcher of the month in May, Jurrjens is the major-league ERA leader for the year, and Jurrjens has to be the NL Cy Young leader at this point. He's also one of just four pitchers ever (according to the Elias Sports Bureau) to go at least six innings in each of his first nine starts while never allowing more than two earned runs. Two of the other three (Lefty Gomez in 1937 and Randy Johnson in 2000) had the streak end at nine. The only one who went longer was Ubaldo Jimenez, who got to 12 games with last year's Rockies. Jurrjens goes for 10 in Braves at Mets, Saturday night (7:10 ET) at Citi Field. Mets starter Dillon Gee has his own distinction as just the second Mets rookie to begin a season 5-0. Jon Matlack started 6-0 (and finished 15-10) in 1972.

Posted on: May 10, 2011 7:12 pm
Edited on: May 10, 2011 11:38 pm

Tony's team plays on, even without him here

CHICAGO -- Two decades ago, I moved to Michigan to cover the Tigers.

Or, as some people there would have told you, I moved there to cover Sparky Anderson.

In those years, people never asked, "How are the Tigers going to do this year?"

It was always, "How's Sparky going to do this year?"

In those days, the Tigers were Sparky. Sparky was the Tigers.

And that's pretty much how it is with the Cardinals and Tony La Russa.

No team is baseball is as defined by its manager as this one is. No manager in baseball is as synonymous with his team as this one.

The Cardinals are not Albert Pujols, any more than the Tigers of the 1980s were Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker or Jack Morris.

The Cardinals are Tony La Russa. And that's what made Tuesday such a strange night.

The Cardinals were at Wrigley Field. La Russa was in Arizona.

He'll be gone all week, the Cardinals announced late in Tuesday night's 6-4 win over the Cubs. The Cardinals hope he can return to the dugout when the team comes home next week, but even that isn't certain.

For now, La Russa is where he needs to be, finally dealing with a health condition diagnosed as shingles. For weeks, La Russa's players and coaches have watched him struggle with it. They've seen his swollen faces and his watery eyes.

"You could see on his face, he was struggling," said Chris Carpenter, Tuesday night's winning pitcher for the La Russa-less Cards.

When the Cardinals were in Los Angeles four weeks ago, the Cardinals players and coaches were telling La Russa to go to the hospital.

He refused.

"He doesn't want to let anyone down," said Dave McKay, La Russa's longtime first-base coach. "Ask him how he's doing, and he says, 'I'm OK.'

"And you know he's going through hell."

He doesn't want to be away. La Russa phoned in Tuesday night's lineup to acting manager Joe Pettini, and Pettini said he expects a phone call and a lineup every day this week.

"He's going to know everything that's going on," Pettini said, noting that he had voice mail from La Russa when Tuesday's game ended. "I was just hoping I didn't have to take my phone down to the dugout."

Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak, who talked to La Russa during Tuesday's game, said the manager understands that rest and medication are what the doctors have prescribed.

But everyone around La Russa understands how tough it is for him to be away.

"He's never missed a game," said McKay, who joined La Russa with the A's in 1989 and moved with him to St. Louis in 1996. "I've never even seen him ill, although a lot of that is that he wouldn't want you to know it if he was."

He would never want you to think that he wasn't in control, and he always wants the Cardinals to play the game right and to conduct themselves right. Just as Anderson did, La Russa insists that his players treat clubhouse attendants and flight attendants with respect.

And he insists that his players care as much and compete as hard as he does.

"The way we play on the field, how hard we play, is a reflection of our manager," said reserve catcher Gerald Laird, who came to the Cardinals this year and found that La Russa was everything he expected him to be.

It doesn't work for every player. We all know about the guys who have had run-ins with La Russa, the guys the Cardinals have traded away because they didn't mesh with La Russa.

We also know that whatever happens with his health this week, La Russa's time in St. Louis could be coming to an end. He's 66 years old, and once again operating in the final year of his contract.

One of these years, he actually will walk away from the Cardinals, although the thinking in baseball has been that if Pujols stays, then La Russa will stay, too.

Meanwhile, the thinking on the South Side of Chicago has been that La Russa is the one manager that Jerry Reinsdorf would be happy to get back, the one guy he wouldn't mind replacing Ozzie Guillen with.

At this point, that would feel strange, even though La Russa did manage the White Sox for nine years. At this point, it's even strange to look back and see La Russa in an A's uniform, even though he managed that team for 10 years and won his first World Series there.

He is the Cardinals, and the Cardinals are him.

"He treats the organization like it's his," McKay said. "The guy's tireless. He treats it like he owns it."

That's why it was so hard for him to leave. That's why it was so strange to see the Cardinals without him.

"His influence is with this club," Cubs manager Mike Quade said.

There's no doubt about that. La Russa's coaches have been with him for years, and they'll run the game the way he would, as much as they can.

Pettini will be the acting manager, with Dave Duncan handling the pitching and McKay and Jose Oquendo running their part of the operation.

It's still La Russa's team. It still will be his team.

And even as you ask how Tony is doing, it's still right to ask how Tony's team is doing.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com