Sunday, June 20, 2004

Another Choice Gribben Post

Doug Gribben tends to be so persuasive and incisive, that little commentary is needed on his e-mail posts. Here's his latest genius post to the White Sox list:
At this point, I think the Sox need only two things desperately: one more good starting pitcher and one more good relief pitcher. I am no longer worried about the CF/leadoff role like I was -- thank you Willie and Aaron... think about it, we have Willie and Aaron on our team! Where were you guys in the fifties (er, Mays and Hank, that is)?

After 64 games and 371 runs, it's clear the Sox offense is more that adequate. Last night they scored all those runs despite having their two best hitters essentially shelved. After 64 games, Uribe is hitting .315 with 10 homers and 32RBI, getting on base at a .372 clip and slugging .542. Right now he is actually the best second baseman in baseball...

We all know the 5SP problem. The Sox are playing 95-win-or-so ball with their big four and .100-or-so with their 5SP. This problem WILL cost them the division if it is not solved.

The Sox, however, at this point have only three effective relievers in Marte, Adkins(!), and Shingo, and three guys hanging on by their fingernails. You can get by with a couple of average arms in the pen. But Politte has to be replaced, he is actually worse than his ERA... this problem should be easy to solve.

What worries me is that they'll overpay for that last starting pitcher and cripple the team down the road. I don't know for a fact whether Borchard or Reed or, for that matter, Rauch or Munoz will amount to anything. Munoz didn't pitch any worse that Wilson Alvarez or Britt Burns pitched in their ML debuts, but of course, neither of them was allowed to turn on the spit for 22 batters. But I have this feeling of unease that if the Sox go out
and trade a package for, say, Freddy Garcia, that what will happen is the new pitcher will mysteriously bomb while the Sox players sent out will flourish.

Fortunately, the Twins are in a bind, too. They have a stockpile of talent -- especially corner outfielders -- that is deeper than anything the Sox can imagine, but they can't trade much of it because they face so many tough money decisions after this season that they need the flexibility. They can tweak the team, but they probably can't do a high-profile deal. At this point, they are in first place by a half game mostly because the umps have given them, by my count, four games this season already. That won't
continue. Further, this was the stretch where they should have opened a modest lead against the Sox, who played some tougher teams (e.g., Atlanta, Florida) than they did (Mets, Brewers), and they failed to do that.


My only quibble with Doug's analysis is that I don't even think Adkins is effective - he's got a WHIP of 1.5, and really is getting by on luck alone. That doesn't last. With the top 4 starters getting deep into games, Marte and Shingo might be enough for a while, but relief help is key. Getting Sullivan from KC would help, or any of the other middle relievers pitching well for other teams. Two more relievers are necessary for the Sox to have a solid bullpen. However, the supply of such relievers is bigger than the supply of starters, so I think it's likely that KW will be able to get the job done. Until then, the Sox better keep scoring 10+ runs.

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