Saturday, May 06, 2006

There's a growing feeling of hysteria

Lose a tough one to the KC and the hysteria starts to come out. This was Jenks' first blown save, and the closer getting squeezed a little and giving up some doiky little singles can lead to big trouble.

Some of the many observers:
  • The Cheat goes over the top a little with his analysis, and continues his trend of Boone Logan lamentations. Looking at the highlight clip on it was pretty evident that the two-run single off Logan that supplied the eventual winning runs was a lucky poke off a pretty good pitch. He also frets about not using Neil Cotts (the answer to the implied question of where was Neal is "getting over being used a lot lately.") Cheat's also on the warpath about the White Sox overusing the bench (and going 1-5 in games with large numbers of substitutions), here he's spot on.
  • Several non-media sources have commented on a questionably tight strike zone by the home plate umpire contributing to the lengthy Royal rally. Over at the predictable White Sox Interactive website, "PeteWard" observed that "Sox would have won if the bullpen threw strikes. Period. You can't hang this one on the ump." No, but you have to consider it when you evaluate your players. Failure to call out a batter on strikes when he takes a clear strike gives the batter an additional life (ask Angels fans about this one) and once that happens, anything can happen. The pitcher has a responsibility to shake it off and do his best, but when the serendipitous batter flips a single off the end of the bat to left, the non-call becomes significant and needs to be evaluated. I wouldn't be surprised if the Royals did get some benefit of the doubt out of pity from Gerry Davis. Frankly, they need it.
  • Black Betsy as always points out that playing approximately .700 baseball is nothing to sneeze at even if some games don't go the way you want. SuperNoVa's lobbying for bullpen help. It didn't make his post, but in the email he mentions he threw out the names of several Marlin retreats (Franklyn German, Randy Messenger, Todd Wellemeyer). That's the hysterical part (and I mean it in the crazy sense not the funny sense) -- these guys have all proved they aren't part of any solution. Messenger has issued almost 6 walks per 9 innings in his brief major league career; German 102 walks in 135 innings; and Wellemeyer 69 walks in 97 innings. Just because these three have kept the consequences of their extensive histories down for five whole weeks doesn't mean anything. In hindsight, the three more-or-less lucky singles last night in the Royals loss were not the scary part, the four walks were. Walks kill. A few flares here and there don't tell you anything about your pitchers. Smart teams don't panic and start trading valuable talent for flashes in the pan retreads who will more than likely be worse than what they already have.
  • Sox Machine correctly observes that Elarton's excellent starting pitching effort might have had something to do with the Royals' being in the game. Elarton's pitched three really nice games against the White Sox already.
Here's my two cents worth on the bullpen: it's too early to panic because the "indicators" of basic badness just aren't there. The pen's ERA is 4.70, but this is somewhat the result of overmanaging, not performance. Ozzie's issued 8 intentional walks, and has been drawn to the presence of three lefthanders in the bullpen like some kind of manager-crack, frequently changing pitchers for temporary matchups and generally thrashing the bullpen in a way that is reminscent of the worst case scenario for Tony LaRussa. (Ozzie's not alone here; check out , for example, Scioscia's loogy jones now that he's got a notionally reliable lefthanded short guy, and the somewhat predictable catastrophic results of Romero's appearances.)

Politte has not been right and McCarthy has struggled a little, but in McCarthy's case there's a bunch of bad luck involved. McCarthy's given up, what, 15 singles already to go with 2 doubles and a home run. This is not the profile of a pitcher who is getting hammered, it's the profile of a pitcher who is not getting much luck with batted balls.

Jenks issued his second and third walks of the season so far, and pitched for a third consecutive day for only the third time in his career. Each previous time has resulted in a poor outing. He blew his first save in ten chances. Let's keep this in perspective, shall we?

Oh, yeah... lost in all this was Jon Garland's good performance. He gave up only one run, that the result of a double just out of reach of Ross Gload's dive and a single, in seven workmanlike innings. I worry far more about Garland's lack of strikeouts and his penchant for the long ball than I do about Boone Logan.

By the way, this blog is now one year old.


Jeeves said...

I think the reason so many Sox fans were so concerned after this most recent loss (myself included) is that this doesn't bode well for us down the line.
The biggest concern coming into the season was the bullpen and so far other than Jenks no one has done anything to allay our fears.
It's a scary thought to think how our bullpen would fare in the playoffs, because let's face it; we're not going to get a string of complete games like we did last year.

Doug said...

On the other hand, if it doesn't work, Ken Williams will fix it.