Saturday, June 04, 2005

36-18: Distant Early Warning...

The White Sox survived a wild night by El Duque in front of a disappointing crowd to beat the Indians 6-4. The Sox put together a four-run first fueled in part by weird Cleveland defensive positioning and some outright crazy lucky, but the Indians topped that when Coco Crisp rang the foul pole with two on to tie the game. The Sox plated two in the bottom of the fifth with three singles, a wild pitch, and a sac fly. The Pale Hose played long-sequence ball with lots of singles and efficiently pushed across most of their baserunners. Neil Cotts and Hermanson sailed through the final three innings to nail down the win.

The stories recently, though, are off the field:
  • Frank Thomas didn't play again, despite publicly saying his hip flexor was healed, because of Everett's history against Cleveland pitcher Jake Westbrook. Naturally, this fuels all sorts of media discussion about there not being room for Frank, Frank being traded, Ozzie hating Frank, and (although I haven't read it) presumably about Frank's devotion to Darth Sidious or something equally silly. The Tribune, especially, seems fixated on how Frank doesn't fit in and how the White Sox would dearly love to dump him on some unsuspecting team. Sure. You know why this doesn't make sense? Because Frank not playing does nothing for his trade value, and because the only teams who would be interested are the White Sox' competitors. Still, where there's smoke there's often fire, and despite the fast start, there isn't a lot of evidence that the White Sox understand what wins baseball games. The 2005 Frank Thomas isn't the 1993 model Frank Thomas -- the horsepower is way down and the fuel economy also -- and Frank has to be thinking he needs to go out on top somehow to ensure Cooperstown. It's hard to disagree, seeing as how Trammell and Whitaker, who clearly belong there, aren't deemed worthy.
  • Joe Crede didn't hit again, stretching his slump to 6-for-61 according to the AP, and fueling some rumors about Eric Chavez being traded for Crede, McCarthy, and presumably Brian Anderson. Billy Beane denies it, Chavez denies it -- everybody denies it -- but it fits the Moneyball paradigm so look out. Chavez is signed for $11M a year for a long time, but he's hitting only .230 with 5 home runs 1/3 of the way through the season, and the A's rebuilding plan may need some architectural changes. I can't see how Beane would be the slightest bit interested in Crede, who doesn't play ball the way they like, but McCarthy would definitely get his engine jumpstarted, and so would Brian Anderson -- and Frank Thomas, old as he is, is a poster boy for their philosophy. So, the rumor makes some baseball sense, fits the MOs of the two GMs... and smacks around the future, a White Sox trademark in the Kenny Williams era. The fly in the ointment is steroids. I don't have any evidence that Chavez was juiced, but when any player suffers a substantial falloff in production this season, you have to worry that he was an abuser.

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