9.13.2006

Where have you gone, Timo Perez?

I'm just kidding; we all know that Timo was DFA'd from the St. Louis Cardinals in late August, now, don't we? Of course. Which is precisely when the White Sox should have signed him. Timo was, after all, a somewhat integral piece of the 2005 White Sox championship run. And when I say "integral," I use that term as loosely as one can possibly imagine. Timo was much less integral than, say, even Carl Everett was (also DFA'd, by the Mariners, this August), who had 23 homers and 87 RBI in 2005. Carl Everett is, though, I think, bat shit crazy. This team doesn't need bat shit crazy right now. They need Timo.

There's always something I liked about Timo. Maybe it's because he wore the lucky number 7. Or maybe it's because I'm taller than him. Anyway, I was thinking that since the White Sox' playoff chances have been tending to look dimmer with each passing day, they could use a good luck charm. Kinda like how the Yankees always seemed to somehow sign Luis Sojo everytime they won the World Series (I'm sure my facts are off here, but that's the way it seemed in my little world).

No matter. Timo isn't coming back and Luis Sojo is perhaps finally too old to bring his pixie dust to a franchise. This goddamned team is going to have to win games with what they've got, which, this season, has been phenomenal pitching when there is no hitting (not very often) and the best hitters in the league when the pitching takes the day off (much more often). The result has been a hell of a lot of frustration on the South Side, and the realization that World Series titles are mysterious, fragile, and fleeting mistresses.

At the time of this writing, Freddy Garcia -- yes, THAT Freddy Garcia, he of the nearly 5 ERA and bong-hitting pleasures -- has just had a PERFECT GAME broken up after 7 and 2/3 innings against the LAAAs. I think it is safe to say that no one who has been following the Sox remotely closely this year would have ever, ever, ever expected this from Freddy and his high 80s fastball. Of course, Freddy has also been known to admit that he doesn't try when it's not worth his effort. I guess he and the rest of the pitching staff have decided that, with three weeks left in the season, it's worth their effort, because they've turned in some pretty solid performances dating back to the Red Sox series in Boston.

So with a win today and a Twins loss, the Sox stand at 2-1 on the dreaded West Coast Road Trip and 1.5 games behind the Twinkies and (depending on the Tigers game tonight), either 3 or 4 games back of the division leading Tigers. The Sox have 16 games left in the season: 3 at Oakland, 3 vs. Detroit, 4 vs. Seattle, 3 at Cleveland, and 3 at Minnesota to close out the season. Obviously those games against Detroit and Minnesota loom large. Being a realist, I'm going to rule out a sweep of either of those series, meaning the ChiSox can only pick up a game against either team in those series (having won the coin toss, a playoff game with either Detroit or Minnesota will be played in Chicago). So going into that final weekend, they need to be no worse than one game down of Minnesota.

Let's take an absolute best-case scenario for the White Sox: they take 2 of 3 from all remaining teams (and 3 of 4 from Seattle), putting their record for the final 16 at 11-5. Not completely out of the question, and it's certainly hard for me to see them doing any better than that. The Twins have 17 games remaining at Cleveland (4), at Baltimore (3), at Boston (3), finishing at home against KC (4) and the White Sox (3). Now it's key that apparently Francisco Liriano may very well be out (or at the very least less than 100%) the rest of the regular season, particularly when it comes down to that final series in Minnesota. Let's say the Twinkies go 9-8 the rest of the way, dropping series to Boston and the Chisox, splitting against Cleveland, and taking 2 of 3 from the Orioles. Entirely conceivable, and probably about the best case possible for the White Sox. The Tigers could collapse too, but they'd have to go 7-10 the rest of the way to give the White Sox a chance, and they have 6 games left against the Royals.

If the White Sox are a game worse (10-6) than my prediction (finishing with 94 wins), then a playoff game with the Twins is imminent. So after all that analysis, it pretty much comes down to this: the Sox just have to win the series with the Tigers and, more importantly, Minnesota and take care of business against everyone else. The margin of error for the Sox doesn't really get any tighter than this. Check back in another week after the Tigers series and all of this will become much more clear.

But I still think there's a playoff game in store somewhere in there. Call up Timo, Kenny Williams, call up Timo. Even if he just sits in the dugout and farts on Sandy Alomar all game.

3 comments:

Gage said...

I think batshit can be one word. I like it better that way.

MB said...

Actually, I think the White Sox could use batshit crazy right now more than a good luck charm. They're playing like a team that's tired of the fight and can't get on the same page, so they come out and pump a team one day then lose the next. Look at the Red Sox series - they should have, by all rights, swept that series, yet they let two games get away from them and then drop the hammer in the finale.

Batshit crazy would bring them focus. Batshit crazy is likely to get in a fight with an opposing player because that player believes dinosaurs existed. The White Sox need a fire lit that will refocus them. This was one of Miyagi's lessons in Karate Kid - when Cobra Kai went batshit crazy and bet up Daniel, Daniel-san got awfully focused. Or think of Gremlins - Billy never get focused until the little bastards went batshit crazy. Before that he was all like, Hey, wanna go swimming? Wanna eat after midnight? Wanna stare into a flashlight? Batshit crazy gremlins would focus anyone - even if Phoebe Cates is around. And just watch how focused Karev gets this season on Grey's Anatomy after Izzie went batshit crazy at the end of last season and attempted to kill the guy she loved in order to save him.

Sometimes batshit crazy means David Stern suspends you for an entire season and sometimes it means I love you.

Either way, batshit crazy must be reckoned with, and this is what the WhiSox need right now. They need to come face to face with something in their locker room that is not Ozzie. Bringing Sojo in worked for the Yankees because he reinforced Torre's ideals - he was a calming presence to match Torre's calming presence. The White Sox need crazy to match Ozzie's crazy. And there's no one crazier than Carl Everett. Well, maybe Milton Bradley, but he's not available.

Even if the White Sox make the playoffs - a distinct possibility given the slide of the Tigers - they don't strike me as a team that's going to turn it on and do any damage. (Reminds me of the team that tried to defend their title last year ...) Which is too bad, because all playoff contenders not named Yankee - Tigers, Twins, A's - are vulnerable.

They really need to win the division because if they don't and get in as a Wild Card, they'll be playing the Yankees and right now the Yanks are rolling.

trout said...

Point taken, Mark, about somebody needing to light a fire under these guys' asses. They're a team full of nice guys right now--Dye, Konerko, Thome, Beuhrle, etc.--and yet I still can't help but feeling that the Sox won last year in spite of guys like Everett and Thomas rather than because of them. It's so counterintuitive to think that clubhouse crazies like Thomas and Everett could actually make the team more productive (I myself would want to end the season as quickly as possible to get the fuck away from such guys), but maybe they do.

I myself, upon more inspection, have come up with two reasons why the boys just seem to be listless and not hungry these days: (1) the fire to win is gone since they won last year (pretty pedestrian, but whatever) and (2) a TON of guys had kids last year (Konerko, AJ, Pods, maybe Crede too) and they're missing their new families. Because they're nice guys. And stuff. Anyway, just throwing that out there.