Results tagged ‘ Twins ’

Peavy’s prophecy: Twins have life

Before Jake Peavy left for his rehab start with Triple-A Charlotte Thursday, actually before Tuesday’s scheduled series opener at Target Field was postponed due to inclement weather, the veteran White Sox right-hander delivered a bit of an ominous message concerning the suddenly surging Twins.

“This team is starting to play well, and I think it’s a big series for the boys,” said Peavy of facing the Twins. “Come up here and win 2 of 3 and stop their momentum and win 2 of 3 in their park.

“If you give these guys life, … I certainly don’t want the Twins to have any more life than they already have. To lose a series and let them have life, we certainly don’t want to have to deal with this team down the stretch. We saw the problems that they can create to anybody they play.”

Two Minnesota victories later, a stretch in which the White Sox managed just one run scored, and the Twins have life. This latest Twin Cities debacle can’t be blamed on some three-hop triple off the Metrodome turf or some miraculous late rally inside the Twins’ indoor home.

Instead, the Twins have simply outplayed the White Sox in all four games this year. It was Mark Buehrle, Thursday’s hard-luck losing pitcher, who told MLB.com a few weeks ago how the Twins could never be counted out—even when they were sitting closer to 20 games under .500 than first place.

Too many heartbreaking setbacks for the White Sox exist in the memory bank to ever think that way. An otherwise pleasant trip to Minneapolis and the Twins’ beautiful ballpark has been consistently ruined by Minnesota victories.

“Leaving the Metrodome would be easy on us here, or that’s what I thought. I guess not,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. “They play good baseball when they play at home. They’re not playing good baseball just against us. I think they’re playing good baseball the last few weeks. You have to give them some credit.”

“I like it a heck of a lot better than I did over at the Dome,” said Buehrle of facing the Twins. “It seemed like when we went to the Dome, it was like, ‘Get in, get out.’ If we won one out of three games, it was like throwing a party. But here, I don’t know. I love coming to this place. Good town, good stadium. Just seems like we don’t play too good here.”

Fortunes better improve quickly for the White Sox in the Twins’ home. The South Siders play seven more games in this venue before the season’s end, from Aug. 5-7 and Sept. 5-7.  Ron Gardenhire’s crew is on the roll going into Interleague that Peavy wanted for the White Sox, and Minnesota’s best baseball usually comes after the All-Star Break.

Expect the unexpected from Williams

With less than 48 hours until Saturday’s 3 p.m. CT non-waiver trade deadline comes around, the White Sox are linked to approximately two-thirds of the current rumors flying around Major League Baseball.

ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reported Thursday how the White Sox internally believe they were out of the Adam Dunn sweepstakes. Jon Heyman of SI.com said a three-way trade scenario involving the White Sox, Nationals and D-Backs, focused on Edwin Jackson to the Nationals, Dunn to the White Sox and pitching prospects to Arizona, still was in play, and later Tweeted how the Dunn battle could come down to the White Sox and Tigers, much like the battle for Johnny Damon at the start of Spring Training.

Other players linked to White Sox interest Thursday were Colorado’s Brad Hawpe, Houston’s Lance Berkman, Toronto’s Jose Bautista and the ghost of Babe Ruth. Ok, I’m kidding on the last one.

But as of Thursday, nothing seemed imminent on the White Sox trade front. Of course, that quiet could be the calm before the storm where White Sox general manager Ken Williams is concerned. By Saturday afternoon, the posturing from other general managers on the fence concerning moving top players will end either in a deal or said player staying put.

You can count on two White Sox-related factors to play out before 3 p.m. CT rolls around on Saturday. Expect the unexpected where Williams is concerned, with the last-minute Jake Peavy deal from the 2009 non-waiver trade deadline supporting that theory, and know Williams will not make a trade just to make a trade.

At 101 games into the 2010 campaign and the White Sox sitting at 57-44, the White Sox are who they thought they would be leaving Arizona in March. It’s just a bit more dramatic road traveled because of their horrible first two months. And while they are always looking to enhance a championship product, Williams doesn’t want to do anything to disrupt his group’s 33-11 flow.

“I don’t think Kenny will make a move just to make a move,” said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, prior to Thursday’s 9-5 victory over Seattle, completing a four-game sweep of the Mariners. “I think he will make a move if we really desperately need it.

“When you make a move, you’ve got to try to say who are the people who we’re going to bring in, who we’re going to lose, what’s our future, what’s our present. There are so many things involved, and I bet you he is doing all those things. Believe me, it’s not fun to be in the front office in this part of the year, always. If you’re a seller or you’re a buyer, you’re going to be involved with every conversation about it.”

It has been widely assumed how the White Sox are going after a left-handed run producer or a starting pitcher. But here’s three caveats to that particular idea: the White Sox could be looking to add a starting pitcher and a hitter, the targeted hitter doesn’t necessarily have to be left-handed and they ideally would make any move without giving up top pitching prospect Daniel Hudson.

With Minor League catcher Wilson Ramos going from Minnesota to the Nationals in exchange for reliever Matt Capps on Thursday night, the Twins improved their bullpen but still are a bit short in their rotation. The acquisition of Ramos also takes away White Sox Minor League catcher Tyler Flowers as a potential trade chip in a deal for Dunn.

Berkman looks to be on the block with the Astros acquiring Major League-ready first baseman Brett Wallace from the Blue Jays in an off-shoot of the Roy Oswalt deal. The 34-year-old switch-hitter could fit the designated hitter/first base description on the South Side and would be owed just $5.4 million for the remainder of this year, with a $2 million buyout for next year. Berkman does have a full no-trade right of refusal.

During Thursday night’s victory, the White Sox knocked out four home runs and 13 hits in the four-run decision. Granted, it was done against the hapless Mariners, but there could be a solid argument made to not messing with success or at least tabling any moves until August.

Guillen is one who didn’t see a move coming before Saturday, after not talking with Williams for the past two days, while the GM was involved in meetings. But much like the design of the Peavy and Rios deals from 2009, don’t count out Williams until the last moment on Saturday–especially if the team gets markedly better through the move.

“If Carlos (Quentin) swings the bat the way he did a couple weeks ago, we’re set,” Guillen said. “Everybody has to pull it together. We have to go and continue to do what we’re doing and see what happens. I don’t have any gut feeling. I just go by ears and day-by-day.”

White Sox gain one win

White Sox fans received a slight boost of encouragement today when Baseball Prospectus adjusted their 2010 PECOTA projections.

Instead of the original 79-83 record and deadlock for second with the Tigers in the American League Central, the White Sox have been elevated to 80-82 and sole possession of second place behind the Twins. Minnesota gets the division nod with an 83-79 record.

I have a great deal of respect for the work done by Baseball Prospectus, but just a gut feeling tells me right now a win total of 88-to-90 games will be needed to win the AL Central. I think both the Twins and White Sox will have far better than average teams, even if that thought means an increase of 10 wins for the White Sox from 2009 to 2010. It’s certainly possible.

Remember, PECOTA literally was dead on with the 72-90 forecast prior to the 2007 season. But it missed by quite a bit during the White Sox 99-win World Series championship campaign in 2005.

Meanwhile, this present PECOTA adjustment really hit hardest on the Rays. Sure, they still are projected to win 92 games and finish 22 games above .500, but they went from the best team in baseball in the original projection to out of the playoffs in this one.

Talk of tiebreakers

The first comment made to Ron Gardenhire during his opening interview session of the American League Division Series Wednesday at Yankee Stadium was an offer of congratulations for Minnesota’s great win over Detroit in Tuesday’s thrilling American League Central tiebreaker at the Metrodome.

At that point, the Minnesota manager sort of patted his heart and smiled, as if to humorously indicate the ticker barely survived Tuesday’s excitement. But it didn’t stop Gardenhire from talking about a game that will live on a long time in his memory.

“I was so proud of both teams last night for the way both teams never quit and kept getting after it,” Gardenhire said. “I told (Detroit manager) Jim Leyland after the game that was one of the best games I’ve ever been involved in.

“Just watching two teams butting heads and going after it and never giving up and all the ups and downs. It was just fantastic baseball.”

Gardenhire and the Twins are no stranger to this sort of win-or-go home type of contest. In a game that was every bit as exciting as last night’s memorable affair, Minnesota came up short to the White Sox in a 1-0 final that gave the South Siders the 2008 AL Central title. That contest featured great pitching by John Danks and Nick Blackburn, Jim Thome’s mammoth home run for the game’s only run and a pinpoint throw by center fielder Ken Griffey, Jr. and an even better catch and tag by A.Z. Pierzynski to nail Michael Cuddyer at the plate

There was one problem with that contest in Gardenhire’s mind. Well, two if you factor in the final. The home field was decided by a coin flip, which went the way of the White Sox, although Minnesota had the better 2008 head-to-head record.

“Last year, I didn’t really particularly like it because of a coin toss,” Gardenhire said. “I thought that really (stunk). This year, you went on head-to-head and we got the ballgame at home which kind of helped us out.

“I don’t recommend everybody playing 163 games every year. It would be a lot easier to go the different route and do what the Yankees did or some of the other guys. Just play 162 and then you’re in the playoffs. But, you know what, it’s character — I mean it’s kind of mind-boggling. It shows a lot of character.”

Minnesota shortstop Orlando Cabrera agreed. Cabrera has played on the winning team in each of the last two AL Central tiebreakers and gives the Twins’ victory a slight edge.

“By far, that was the most emotional and intense game I’ve ever seen or played in,” Cabrera said. “And I’ve played in and watched a lot of games since I was a kid in Colombia.

“It was unbelievable. I never expected the Detroit Tigers to play that kind of game, especially the way they have been playing for the last eight games. I was really impressed with them. We put on a good show.”

Never count out Williams

The date was May 21 and my friend Beth and her friend, Sonja (not sure if that’s the correct spelling of her name, but it will be for this purpose) decided to go to Market for some food and a few beverages after the White Sox game that Thursday afternoon. Market, for those outside of Chicago or those who are tragically un-hip in the city, is the restaurant/sports bar/club where White Sox general manager Ken Williams has an ownership stake.

I mentioned to Beth that Williams might be there, and I would make proper introductions if we ran into him. But I also put out the warning that he might not be in the best of moods. After all, on that afternoon, Jake Peavy decided against waiving his no-trade clause to come from the Padres to the White Sox AND Minnesota pummeled the White Sox into submission by a 20-1 count.

But when we found Williams, sitting at a back table, holding court with the plethora of patrons and watching the Nuggets-Lakers playoff contest on television with a few friends, he couldn’t have been in better spirits. The bad loss to Minnesota can be easily brushed off-20-1 counts the same in the standings as 2-1. At that point, though, Williams must have understood what the rest of us didn’t really comprehend– Peavy said no for the moment but didn’t rule out the White Sox completely.

In hindsight, Friday’s trade by the White Sox shouldn’t have been such a surprise–even though Padres general manager Kevin Towers said he didn’t expect Peavy to be traded when he woke up that morning. You see, Williams and his staff don’t go haphazardly into making moves. It’s not like he wakes up one morning, thinks “You know what, I would like to get Player X” and suddenly starts pursuing him.

The White Sox come prepared, targeting certain players who fit the team, the city and U.S. Cellular Field, in some cases, for years at a time. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard Williams say, “I’ve been after this player for X amount of years” after a trade, well, I would have enough money to at least buy a drink at Market, maybe two.

Williams looks to have provided the White Sox with a boost to go deep into the 2009 postseason, assuming the White Sox reach the playoffs, depending on how Peavy’s right ankle recovers. Peavy, Mark Buehrle, Gavin Floyd and John Danks stand as a formidable starting quartet. He also already has taken care of his major offseason shopping where the pitching staff is concerned.

Think about it–Williams might add a fifth starter, although Freddy Garcia is coming quickly, and one reliever. Otherwise, he’s pretty well set.

I should have known Friday was predominantly too quiet for the Trade Deadline day where Williams was concerned. Then again, I shouldn’t have forgotten about Peavy from two months ago.

By the way, try the turkey burger if you make the trip over to Randolph St. and stop at Market, which I highly recommend.

Jermaine Dye, the overlooked All-Star?

Torii Hunter’s injury departure from the American League All-Star team was not followed by the addition of White Sox right fielder Jermaine Dye on Friday. Before White Sox fans complain about the unfair treatment of a clearly deserving selection for the Midsummer Classic, remember that Hunter was added through the players vote so he was replaced by Nelson Cruz–the next player in the outfield player vote.

“I was disappointed, like J.D. and a lot of people in this clubhouse, but in the meanwhile you cannot blame anybody. That’s the way it is,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. “If I didn’t have any experience about picking the team for the All-Star Game, then I would be saying something.

“But I know, I have that experience, and a manager can’t do much. It did surprise me. I thought J.D. has had a pretty decent year and should be there, but in the meanwhile, they picked someone else. Hopefully, J.D. continues to play the way he’s played the first half.”

The assumption working around Dye, one of the tried-and-true but unassuming clubhouse leaders for the White Sox, is he would be traded if the White Sox fell out of contention. Dye is playing in the final year of a two-year extension, with a $12 million mutual option for 2010.

With Dye seemingly getting better with age, hitting .300 with 20 home runs and 54 RBIs entering the Twins series, the question was broached to Guillen on Friday as to whether Dye could stay with the team past 2009. Dye spoke about his contract situation back in Spring Training but has declined to address the topic once the season began. Guillen took the reins at the Metrodome.

“Believe me, I want to sign J.D.,” Guillen said. “If you ask me if I want J.D. here, of course I want him. If you ask (general manager) Kenny (Williams) if you want J.D. here, he’ll say the same stuff. We’re going to see how we finish.

“That’s my opinion. I hope he signs tomorrow. I love that man. That guy has been great for me. I guess we got to wait to see how we finish the season, which way we’re going to go next year.

“Our attendance has been pretty bad because we’ve played bad the first two months of the season,” Guillen said. “They have to weigh a lot of different things. But if you ask me about it, if I have the money, you’re not going to have two J.Ds. But in the meanwhile, it’s not my department.”

Guillen pointed out how Dye has been great defensively in 2009 and is running as well as he has in the past few years. But that’s part of the overall talent package Dye brings with him.

“Whoever signs J.D., I’ll be afraid because every penny he makes, he earns it,” Guillen said. “He comes to play, and plays hurt. No doubt.”

Live from Glendale

I received a friendly reminder this morning from one of my new Facebook friends, Marie, as to how it was time to update the blog. I let it go for a couple of days, although in my defense, Thursday was one of the longest days ever when position players reported.

But we are back on this sun-drenched Saturday morning, not missing the snow one bit, but I’m also feeling bad for my friends and family who are shoveling and slip-sliding down the streets of Chicago.

The talk out of the White Sox clubhouse this morning centered on favorite son Joe Crede and the report that he had agreed to a one-year deal with the Twins. I talked with players such as Mark Buehrle, Jermaine Dye and Brian Anderson, and they are all happy for Crede, tempered with some concern for how Crede’s balky back will hold up over 81 games on the Metrodome turf. Crede also can expect a great deal of ribbing and straight on verbal assaults from his White Sox friends when he’s standing at third base for Minnesota at U.S. Cellular Field.

As for how he should be remembered as part of the White Sox, here’s a solid comment from Buehrle to sum it up.

“One of the greatest third baseman off all time, if you ask me,” said Buehrle of Crede’s place in White Sox lore. “What he did, like I said before, when he wasn’t over there, there were balls he got to that you expect to be caught, and you turn around and they weren’t caught.”

When people ask me about covering the White Sox, I’ve always talked about how there’s not a bad guy to deal with in the clubhouse. It’s a fact. But I really enjoyed covering Crede, who could talk about the game but also could be flat out ridiculous and infinitely entertaining with his humor, at times.

Hopefully, this ends up being a good deal for a quality individual.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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