Friday, June 03, 2005

35-18: Losing [Jeff Brantley's] Religion

Jeff Brantley spent the Monday and Wednesday games trashing Ozzie Guillen for using Dustin Hermanson like a righthanded relief pitcher instead of treating him as the Archbishop of Closerbury. Without digging into the obvious statements of fact that (1) the White Sox won that game anyway, and (2) the Angels lucked into their two runs mostly because Iguchi mishanded a DP grounder, we can say that Brantley seemed to forget that Dustin Hermanson was not signed to be the closer and he is filling that role -- admirably -- by default!

Far more open to criticism was Mike Scioscia's mysteriously by-the-book handling of K-Rod coming back from the DL, who obviously had very little command and who came within a thumb's width of giving up five runs and losing the game when Uribe walloped one of his pitches deep into the seats just outside the left field foul pole with the bases loaded in a 10-7 games. Jeff Brantley had nothing to say at all about that decision, which was far more questionable than Guillen's treatment of Hermanson, because much more important than winning a game is using the pitcher in such a way that he fits the closer dogma.

Other notes:
  • The White Sox now exit their late May death march (Orioles, Texas , Cubs, Angels, Texas, Angels) having managed to tread water at 10-9 over that stretch. Consider that the Cubs are the only team that wasn't at least sniffing first place during that stretch, and consider that the pitching the White Sox faced night after night was good.
  • OK, good, Kevin Walker hit the minors, and the team's back to a six-man bullpen.
  • The staff ERA took a serious hit over the last five games, but it was mostly the bullpen that took the hit, and I think we can now get over the "White Sox have been lucky" myth. The Angels and Rangers hit a month's worth of seeing-eye grounders and bloop singles.
  • I hear where there's discussion of instant replay and baseball. Let me go on record with "no". Not because it's a bad idea, but because they always want to exclude the very plays that need the be reviewable, like in football, where the things they hairsplit on (possession) are no less important than the things they are forbidden to examine (holding, illegal block, and motion penalties). Nobody wants to replace ball-strike calls, but those are the most often blown. I want machine vision calling strikes first.
Now, the Offensive Racist Cartoon Team is in for three games.

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