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The White Sox find themselves buried in fourth place in the AL Central, a mere 1.5 games ahead of Kansas City. Their starting pitching isn't the problem: they've received ERAs of 3.23, 3.71 and 4.15 from their top three starters, who coincidentally are the three men the Jays have to deal with this weekend.

The problem is of course the offense. But the Sox bats appear to be waking up. One of their most important regulars has returned, and one of their top prospects has received lots of playing time in the absence of Joe Crede. They just took three of five from the Tigers and scored 32 runs in that series against some tough starting pitchers. It's not hard at all to envision this series turning into a nightmare, especially when you notice who's pitching tonight...

... it's Blue Jay killer Jon Garland, 8-2 in 12 starts against the Jays. Actually, he only has a 4.19 ERA against Toronto, but everybody knows that a crucial part of being a Blue Jay killer is having the intangibles to inspire your team to score exactly one more run than you allow. Garland is pitching to contact as much as usual this year. But he isn't getting his grounders or strikeouts, and his walks are up. He's survived by keeping the ball in the park and avoiding hits. Actually, he has the same ERA as Roy Halladay. I don't know what to make of that. He's a sinkerballer without groundball tendencies, which might induce some flashbacks to the last two starters the Jays smacked around. He throws around 90 but will often put the sinker up in the zone. He has a change and a breaking ball in the high 70s, but neither is really an out pitch. Here is a human-interest story on how quiet and level-headed Jon Garland's background made him. His mom does most of the talking. This one time, Garland was booed by his hometown fans after a bad start, so he gave a tip of the cap on his way out. Gregg Zaun (9-17, double, 1 BB, 1 K) and Frank Thomas (4-6, double, 2 HR) have a track record of demolishing Garland.

Tomorrow, ultra-efficient, ultra-awesome Mark Buehrle faces Roy Halladay in a rematch of their May 31 duel, which lasted a whopping 1:50 and saw the Jays win 2-0 despite only managing two baserunners off Buehrle. (Fortunately, they were both homers.) Buehrle is the Midwestern and lefthanded version of Doc. He works very quickly, which belies the depth of his pitching arsenal and ability to throw anything in any count. In addition to his precision fastball, he throws a cutter, slider, curve and change, all for strikes - especially the change, which will show up in many 2-0 and 3-1 counts. He's a very accomplished innings eater who deserves every cent of his new four-year contract and will probably match Halladay out for out once again. Plus he's awesome. Here is a human-interest story on what a normal, cool, down-to-earth guy Buehrle is. (Wait, that sounded facetious. Not my intention! Brief oasis of earnestness in the usually 99.44% self-indulgently facetious advance scout: Buehrle is great.) He proposed in a deer stand. There's also this exchange: "The 3-2 pitch to Thome, was that a changeup?" "Yep." "Do you throw a lot of 3-2 changeups?" Little smile, then "No. That might have been the first one I've ever thrown." The Jays have had very good success against Buehrle. Vernon Wells, in particular, owns him, 11-23 with 3 walks, 2 strikeouts and a homer. Lyle Overbay, not so much: 0-6, 3 strikeouts, 0 walks. Troy Glaus has 3 homers in 19 plate appearances.

Sunday, it's Chicago's other ace, Javier Vazquez. He's a strikeout artist in every sense of the word: he's a four-pitch pitcher who, despite having really good stuff, doesn't really overpower hitters with any one pitch. He is unpredictable and very good at keeping hitters off-balance, and he won't throw too many fastballs to anyone unless he's forced to. He's fared well against the Jays in his last two starts. There are a lot of hitters here with lousy career stats against Vazquez: Vernon Wells is 4-26 with 0 walks, 3 doubles and a homer; Matt Stairs is 1-21 with 3 walks and 7 strikeouts; Reed Johnson is 2-16 with 0 walks and 2 strikeouts. A.J. Burnett is 2-6 with a walk, but he's injured. Gregg Zaun is 5-17 with 4 walks, 1 strikeout, a homer and 3 doubles.

There are a few notable new faces in the bullpen. One of them is the knuckleballer Charlie Haeger. Haeger's knuckler tends to be around 70 on the gun. It hasn't really thrown off big-league hitters yet, as Haeger has only struck out one hitter in his short tenure, but it's a small sample and it must be hard coming out of the bullpen with a knuckleball. Unlike Tim Wakefield, Haeger has a heater that can get up into the high 80s. His BABIPs have been surprisingly high throughout his minor-league career. However, he's only 23, and baseball needs a knuckleballer. So good luck to you, Charlie Haeger. You are on the side of the angels...

Righty Ehren Wassermann is living the dream. After an undistinguished career at Samford University, he showed up at a Sox regional open tryout at age 22 in 2003, and got signed. Now here he is. Wassermann has a Neshekish manner to him on the mound and a funky sidearm delivery (video!) that sees him sling the ball from an angle that's basically invisible to righties. When he throws his curveball, it almost looks like it's slipping upward out of his hand as though it's coming out of a malfunctioning pitching machine before breaking down and away from righties. Wassermann can reach the 90s with his fastball, his two-seamer hangs around 87, and his slow curveball hovers in the low-mid-70s. His splits were pronounced at AAA - .305/.446/.373 vs lefties, .189/.253/.267 vs righties - which might foreshadow a nice career as a ROOGY.

Ryan Bukvich throws somewhat hard. He's 29. He finally figured out AAA this year, as a reliever, and he's had success stranding baserunners in the majors. He throws around 92 with his fastball, and has a slider around 84. He may climb the leverage ladder soon by virtue of his throwing hard.

Paul Konerko, who still walks to the plate to Metallica's "Harvester of Sorrow," on Paul Konerko: "I'm a pull hitter. I've been a pull hitter since I was 5. That doesn't mean I can't hit some balls the other way. But I'm not going to get three hits and start getting picky." Do NOT groove fastballs to Paul Konerko. He will hit them to the Pontiac Fundamentals Zone. Actually, you're probably best off if you never throw him any fastballs at all. That at least takes the sting out of his bat. Keep the ball down and you're fine, but Konerko is one of the absolute most dangerous mistake hitters in the league.

When Jim Thome comes to bat there's really no point to having a defense on the field. 100 - 24.8% K - 22.4% BB - 5.3% HR = 47.5% of Thome's plate appearances end with the ball in play, which has gotta be the lowest total in the AL.

Jerry Owens has done a pretty good Scott Podsednik impression over the last couple of months, all things considered. Since Podsednik's return from injury Tuesday, Podsednik has batted in the 7-hole, which is exactly where I'd bat his OBP and baserunning skills on a team with a deep lineup. Owens' OBP isn't great, though, and Podsednik's .341 is actually one of the best numbers on the team. And since the Sox 3-4 hitters are far more dangerous than anyone else in the lineup, it's critical to have a high OBP in front of them. Owens has batted leadoff for the past month, but Podsednik sparked the ninth-inning rally that beat Detroit with a leadoff single and scored on a walkoff telegraphed sac bunt. I have a feeling they'll swap places tonight.

Joe Crede underwent surgery for herniated discs in his back and is out for the season. Third-base prospect Josh Fields has been a full-time starter in his place, and he's shown some pop, as well as the ability to strike out a ton.

And in May, Rob Mackowiak's at-bat song was "This Is Why I'm Cold" by Twista and friends. ("I'm cold 'cause I'm hot; you ain't 'cause you not." I'm not sure whether the joke's on Mims because every other rapper in the universe is making fun of his chorus over his beat, or on every other rapper in the universe because they sound even stupider for having the nerve to make fun of "This Is Why I'm Hot" by covering it. I'll leave that one up to the philosophers.) I'm not sure if that's still the case. But, perhaps ironically, Mackowiak's bat is actually on relative fire and I'm perplexed as to why he isn't getting more playing time.

The Credit Section: All offensive stats, pitches per PA for pitchers and league average stats are from the Hardball Times. Pitchers' stats and leverage indices are from Fangraphs. Minor-league stats are from Minor League Splits and First Inning. K% and BB% are strikeouts and walks as a percentage of plate appearances; GB% + LD% + FB% = 100.

Advance Scout: White Sox, July 27-29 | 24 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Mike Green - Friday, July 27 2007 @ 04:48 PM EDT (#172150) #
Hmm.  These Sox do not have much in middle relief.  Let Luke Appling be your guide, young Jays.  You don't have to complain about your aches and pains, but fouling off a couple of 2 strike pitches off the starters will do wonders for the team's fortunes.  You want to get Garland, Buehrle and Vazquez out by the end of the 6th inning at the latest, if you can.
BigTimeRoyalsFan - Friday, July 27 2007 @ 05:00 PM EDT (#172153) #
Is there anyway to get the bullpen ERAs on these tables? I'm not so sophisticated and can use some of the easier, better known stats like ERA and WHIP.

In other news, the "Blue Jays optioned LHP Gustavo Chacin to Triple-A Syracuse".

Alex Obal - Friday, July 27 2007 @ 05:06 PM EDT (#172154) #
Possible Breaking News!: Tadahito Iguchi to the Phillies for 21-year-old A-ball pitcher Michael Dubee, per Chicago sports radio per Sox Talk.

Bullpen ERAs: Jenks 3.53, Thornton 5.45, Wassermann 5.79, Haeger 5.40, Bukvich 3.38, Logan 5.59, Floyd 9.58. Not pretty, but an improvement over David Aardsma's 6.40 and Mike MacDougal's 6.23. Veteran relievers...
Mike Green - Friday, July 27 2007 @ 05:14 PM EDT (#172155) #
If Iguchi is traded, I suppose that Danny Richar would get the call. Alex Cintron can play second, of course.
BigTimeRoyalsFan - Friday, July 27 2007 @ 05:16 PM EDT (#172156) #
Thanks Alex. I just don't understand why the chart includes AVG/OBP/SLG for the bullpen instead of ERA/WHIP.
Mike Green - Friday, July 27 2007 @ 05:21 PM EDT (#172157) #
Reliever's ERA tells you less about his performance (by far) than avg/obp/slug.  The treatment of inherited runners (charged to the pitcher who leaves them) allows for great fluctuations in ERA with minimal or no change in actual performance.  Over 30 innings or less, reliever ERA is hardly of any use at all.
Mike Green - Friday, July 27 2007 @ 05:28 PM EDT (#172158) #
The Iguchi deal is confirmed by Pat Gillick.  Good enough for me.
GregJP - Friday, July 27 2007 @ 05:34 PM EDT (#172159) #
... it's Blue Jay killer Jon Garland, 8-2 in 12 starts against the Jays. Actually, he only has a 4.19 ERA against Toronto, but everybody knows that a crucial part of being a Blue Jay killer is having the intangibles to inspire your team to score exactly one more run than you allow.

Classic.  LOL
VBF - Friday, July 27 2007 @ 10:05 PM EDT (#172165) #
So in a story by Bob Elliot about the life and times of Mike Coolbaugh, who was killed by a foul pitch as he coached first base in a minor league game, he still finds a completely inappropriate way to grind an axe towards JP.

Coolbaugh was drafted in the 16th round of the 1990 amateur draft by Blue Jays scout Jim Hughes, who signed more than 20 major leaguers.

To name a few, Hughes signed the likes of Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and Jays manager John Gibbons when he scouted for the New York Mets.

With the Jays he landed Steve Davis, Jeff DeWillis, Jeff Hearron, Darren Hall, Xavier Hernandez, Mike Timlin, Woody Williams, Ben Weber, Brad Cornett and Vernon Wells.

He then goes on to speak about Coolbaugh.
GregJP - Friday, July 27 2007 @ 11:00 PM EDT (#172167) #
Five game winning streak, one run lead with 2 out, very important out to get, right handed batter.........................

And who pitches to this batter???????????????   Brian "freaking" Tallet.

Nice move Gibby.

Mike Green - Friday, July 27 2007 @ 11:30 PM EDT (#172169) #
Speaking of inherited runners, just imagine that you are Jason Hammel of the Devil Rays.  You throw 5.1 beautiful innings of 1-hit ball at the Red Sox, walking 2 and striking out 4.  You lead 1-0, but leave runners on first and second.  Juan Salas come on for you in relief and one out later, gives up a 3 run homer to Kevin Youkilis.  You get stuck with the two earned runs and the loss.  But, can we all resolve that Jason Hammel did not "lose" that game?  He pitched very well, and his team lost.  If the W-L record for pitchers ceased to be reported as a purely junk stat, I would be a happy man.
Twilight - Friday, July 27 2007 @ 11:42 PM EDT (#172170) #
Tallet has been good of late, and it was only the 6th so I think Gibby was thinking don't go to the big ones yet. Which is a really dumb idea, I agree, but that's something a lot of managers would do. Even though it's really dumb.

Though interestingly enough,'s boxscore charges Tallet with a blown save...

Toronto                  IP     H   R   ER  BB  SO  HR    ERA
Towers (L, 5-7)      5.1    7    4    4    0    5    1      5.08
Tallet (BS, 2)          1.1    1    0    0    0    1    0      3.48
League                   1.0    2    0    0    0    0    0      3.38
Downs                    0.1    0    0    0    0    1    0      2.31

Have they made an error or am I missing something?

And wow, talk about a prediction. Blue Jay Killers really do inspire their team to just score one more run...
Keith Talent - Friday, July 27 2007 @ 11:47 PM EDT (#172171) #
I didn't listen to post-game but the broadcasters on Sportsnet didn't pay enough attention to the 2 huge defensive miscues that lead to the runs that cost the Jays the win.

1. Royce Clayton not relyaing the cutoff through from Vernon to Troy - to nail the runner at third.

2. Matt Stairs missing the double-play ball, instead getting the one out on first allowing the runners to advance and the inning to continue, with game-changing runs scoring.

Matt Stairs on first is reminiscent of the original RBI Baseball when you put in one of your bench little-round outfielders or pitchers into play the infield and the balls just bounce of them "plunk!".

Josh pitched well. Even when brought out of the game, it was AJP leaning into a pitch, followed by a routine grounder that Clayton wasn't in postion for that led to his final 2 men on base - who Tallet allowed to score.

Josh will never get any benefit of the doubt with the Blue Jays because of his wildly bad recent past, and not having a "strikeout pitch". And I'm not even sure that's a bad thing! I'm always feeling lucky Josh has gotten us so far, and as the game goes on, looking for appropriate times to remove him.
King Rat - Saturday, July 28 2007 @ 12:17 AM EDT (#172172) #
Tallet entered the game as the Blue Jays led by a run. When he left, they no longer led. I think that's about as textbook a blown save as you're going to see.
Twilight - Saturday, July 28 2007 @ 03:19 AM EDT (#172177) #
But 2 runs ahead in the 6th inning is not exactly a save opportunity. Unless a blown save doesn't have to be a failed save opportunity. Isn't it?
GabrielSyme - Saturday, July 28 2007 @ 05:04 AM EDT (#172181) #
Regarding Tower's lack of a strikeout pitch, while I'd agree, he's actually been getting his fair share of Ks this season, which is one indication of why he's improved.  I think he's about at 7 per 9 innings.
christaylor - Saturday, July 28 2007 @ 11:07 AM EDT (#172190) #
Twilight - if Tallet got out of the inning with the lead and finished the game in old school fireman fashion he'd have been credited with a save. Sadly the three inning save is no longer with us these days.
scottt - Saturday, July 28 2007 @ 12:58 PM EDT (#172192) #
Tallet has been good of late, and it was only the 6th so I think Gibby was thinking don't go to the big ones yet. Which is a really dumb idea, I agree, but that's something a lot of managers would do. Even though it's really dumb.

They were coming off an off day following a winning streak in which the starters did very well. They are only playing 6 games until the next day off.  By all account, Gibbons should be worried about the pen not getting enough work and going cold.

I wasn't impressed at the way Wassermann came into the game to get 2 hitters out on 5 balls and 3 strikes.  A little bit of patience could have paid off there.

Why sit Overbay against Garland? I would have sit him against Buehrle.

ayjackson - Saturday, July 28 2007 @ 01:13 PM EDT (#172195) #

I wasn't impressed at the way Wassermann came into the game to get 2 hitters out on 5 balls and 3 strikes.  A little bit of patience could have paid off there.

Hill showed patience in working the count in his favour, getting a good pitch to hit, and then flying out softly to centre.

Why sit Overbay against Garland? I would have sit him against Buehrle.

Overbay was sick and didn't leave the hotel.

FranklyScarlet - Saturday, July 28 2007 @ 01:13 PM EDT (#172196) #


Overbay was under the weather,  I heard.

Tower's has been around long enough, IMO, to know better than to take his frustrations to the press.  There have been 'mucho' opportunities for all involved to do that this year, yet the professionalism has prevailed.  Sorry to see that he chose the Media to vent rather than take his 'insigts' to the teammates/coaches he was pointing fingers at.


Chuck - Sunday, July 29 2007 @ 04:27 PM EDT (#172227) #

A couple of Sunday afternoon observations...

Nice outing by Marcum, but I would have been disappointed had it not been given the lineup he was facing. What's the definition of a weak lineup? You're an AL team, you're facing a RHP, and Juan Uribe is batting 6th. Ugh.

I like Darrin Fletcher for what he is (he's not going to be delivering any keynote speeches at Mensa lunches any time soon), but he made a remark about John McDonald that was, hmmm, a little dubious. "Is there anything he doesn't do well?" Just one thing, Darrin, hitting major league pitching.

deep dish - Monday, July 30 2007 @ 01:19 AM EDT (#172238) #
Darrin is awesome, his "call me butter 'cause I am on a roll" made me laugh out loud.  He is such a contrast with Rance.  I would like to see a three man team of Campbell, Darrin and Rance - with Rance as the straight man.

deep dish - Monday, July 30 2007 @ 01:24 AM EDT (#172239) #
Another think I like about Darrin, he was so "human" - he always seems like he is happy and having fun at the ballpark .

Today he seemed to almost get a little choked up when he talked about how being an all star was something in his career he really appreciated.  To hear that from Darrin and know there are a lot of players who are too big for the all star game made me happy that at least some ballplayers are still good guys.
Alex Obal - Monday, July 30 2007 @ 02:57 AM EDT (#172240) #
Amen to that. I like all the color guys but Fletcher is easily my favorite. I love his conversational style. He talks like a baseball lifer watching the game would, adding color to Jamie Campbell's calls, while never giving the impression that he feels any pressure to talk like a serious 'analyst' with an authoritative tone of voice that implies some sort of gravitas. I'm not crazy about Fletch's homerness when it gets too too excessively over-the-top blatant but to me that's a secondary concern.

I am absolutely not a fan of Rod Black's baseball work but I think it could be improved by pairing him with Fletcher. He seems better suited than Tabler to bring out the best in Black. (That's not intended as a knock on Tabler.)

Advance Scout: White Sox, July 27-29 | 24 comments | Create New Account
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