Despite going up against arguably the best pitcher in baseball in White Sox ace Chris Sale, it still would’ve been a disappointment had the Yankees lost last night. There’s no need to explain that the team has to go on a 2011 Cardinals-esque run to even have a shot at the playoffs in a few weeks, so any loss against a lesser team is simply unacceptable.
Unfortunately, it looked like the Yanks had accepted their fate in last night’s game, as Sale had gone out and completely dominated the lineup. If it weren’t for yet another defensive miscue by Chicago that allowed Vernon Wells to steal home in the 2nd inning, the 24-year old lefty would’ve been working on a shutout as he started the 8th inning after allowing just three hits.
After recording an out, Sale surrendered a single to Derek Jeter and a double to Robinson Cano that put runners on second and third. Manager Robin Ventura elected to bring in Nate Jones to face Alfonso Soriano with Chicago’s 4-1 lead still in-tact.
But, it probably shocked no one who was on the field when Soriano poked a single into center field, scoring Jeter and Cano to make it a 4-3 game. Even on nights when he may not have his A-game, Sori just keeps on producing and coming through in the clutch. It’s pretty remarkable.
Anyway, Jones stayed in there to face Alex Rodriguez who singled to center as well, putting runners at the corners. As Joe Girardi went to his bench and pinch-hit Curtis Granderson for Vernon Wells, Ventura did some match-making of his own by bringing in Donnie Veal.
Yet, it was Joe who won this battle of the skippers as Grandy picked up the Yankees’ fifth straight hit of the inning with an RBI single. The game was now tied up at 4, and fans who were watching could swear a DeLorean picked them up and brought them back to 2009. It was that magical of a comeback, and the best part was that it was far from over.
Mark Reynolds struck out, but Ventura again went to the bullpen, bringing in Matt Lindstrom. Although it really didn’t matter who was on the mound, because the momentum had shifted completely. People knew that the Yanks were going to find a way to get it done no matter what.
So when Eduardo Nunez laced a two-run double down the left field line, the Yankees had a 6-4 lead and it was time to “put it on the left side”, as Michael Kay once said. In came Mariano Rivera and in a matter of minutes the ballgame was over, as Mo racked up his 40th save of the season.
While the Yanks may not have gained any ground as the Rays defeated the Angels, they luckily did not lose any. The team was well on its way to a well-deserved loss through the first 7 1/2 innings, but luckily they found a way to claw back in what may turn out to be their best game of the season.
But as is the case during a playoff chase like this, last night’s likely Yankee Classic is exactly that – in the past – and the Yanks have to focus on winning TODAY. It’ll be our former ace CC Sabathia going up against right-hander Erik Johnson, who is making his Major League debut. Game time is 7:05pm, and it’s can’t-miss television, folks. Now is the time to be fully invested in this Yankee team. It’s got talent, it’s got heart, it’s got pride, and it’s got the mentality Mariano Duncan and the 1996 world championship team had – that “We play today, we win today, das it!”
Thursday, 6/28/12, 7:05pm ET
Pitching for the Yankees: Ivan Nova, RHP
Last Start: 5.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 7 K, 3 BB, 1 HR
On the Season: 9-2, 4.25 ERA / 4.47 FIP / 3.82 xFIP, 7.91 K/9, 2.57 BB/9 in 91.0 IP
Pitching for the White Sox: Dylan Axelrod, RHP
Last Start: 5.1 IP, 4 ER, 6 H, 3 K, 0 BB, 0 HR
On the Season: 0-1, 4.85 ERA / 6.06 FIP / 5.40 xFIP, 6.23 K/9, 2.08 BB/9 in 13.0 IP
Friday, 6/29/12, 7:05pm ET
Pitching for the Yankees: Adam Warren, RHP
Last Start (AAA): 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 H, 1 K, 1 BB, 0 HR
On the Season (AAA): 5-5, 3.86 ERA / 4.23 FIP, 6.15 K/9, 2.81 BB/9 in 86.1 IP
Pitching for the White Sox: Jose Quintana, LHP
Last Start: 8.0 IP, 0 ER, 6 H, 4 K, 0 BB, 0 HR
On the Season: 2-1, 1.25 ERA / 2.97 FIP / 3.87 xFIP, 4.98 K/9, 1.25 BB/9 in 43.1 IP
Saturday, 6/30/12, 1:05pm ET
Pitching for the Yankees: Hiroki Kuroda, RHP
Last Start: 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 7 K, 2 BB, 0 HR
On the Season: 7-7, 3.40 ERA / 4.23 FIP / 3.97 xFIP, 6.51 K/9, 2.83 BB/9 in 95.1 IP
Pitching for the White Sox: Jake Peavy, RHP
Last Start: 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 10 H, 7 K, 1 BB, 0 HR
On the Season: 6-4, 2.84 ERA / 3.14 FIP / 4.01 xFIP, 7.74 K/9, 2.06 BB/9 in 104.2 IP
Sunday, 7/1/12, 2:05pm ET
Pitching for the Yankees: Phil Hughes, RHP
Last Start: 8.0 IP, 0 ER, 6 H, 4 K, 1 BB, 0 HR
On the Season: 8-6, 4.48 ERA / 4.88 FIP / 4.20 xFIP, 8.44 K/9, 2.19 BB/9 in 86.1 IP
Pitching for the White Sox: Gavin Floyd, RHP
Last Start: 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 H, 9 K, 0 BB, 0 HR
On the Season: 6-7, 4.80 ERA / 4.44 FIP / 3.91 xFIP, 8.50 K/9, 2.40 BB/9 in 90.0 IP
— Robinson Cano – 9 for 22 with 1 double, 4 HR, 8 RBI, 2 BB in the last 7 days
— Dewayne Wise – 3 for 8 with 1 triple, 1 HR, 3 RBI in the last 7 days
— Nick Swisher – 7 for 23 with 1 double, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 1 BB in the last 7 days
— Alex Rodriguez – 5 for 18 with 1 double, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB in the last 7 days
— Russell Martin – 0 for 11 with 3 K in the last 7 days
— Curtis Granderson – 2 for 21 with 2 RBI, 5 BB, 7 K in the last 7 days
— Mark Teixeira – 3 for 20 with 3 RBI, 2 BB, 2 K in the last 7 days
— Derek Jeter – 5 for 23 with 3 K in the last 7 days
— Alex Rios – 11 for 24 with 2 doubles, 2 HR, 5 RBI in the last 7 days
— Kevin Youkilis – 5 for 12 with 1 double, 2 RBI in the last 7 days
— Alexei Ramirez – 8 for 21 with 1 triple, 3 RBI, 1 BB in the last 7 days
— Gordon Beckham – 6 for 19 with 1 double, 1 RBI, 1 BB in the last 7 days
— Paul Konerko – 1 for 17 with 4 BB, 1 K in the last 7 days
— Adam Dunn – 3 for 24 with 1 HR, 4 RBI, 3 BB, 12 K in the last 7 days
— Alejandro De Aza – 5 for 24 with 2 doubles, 1 RBI, 6 K in the last 7 days
Enjoy the series everyone!
Over the course of the next month or two, we will be previewing the Yankees’ competition in the American League. To do this, I will interview one blog for each team in the league.
Today we’ll take a look at the Chicago White Sox. I was able to interview Anders Johanson of Southside Showdown.
1. In 2011, the White Sox went finished 79-83, 16 games back from the 1st place Tigers. What do you think the team could have done a better job at? What do you think was a definite strength of the 2011 ChiSox?
I feel like the 2010-2011 offseason encouraged Sox fans to set the bar unreasonably high as far as expectations go. I won’t lie, I was one of thos guys. We brought back Konerko and Pierzynski, we signed Dunn, all signs pointed to Peavy being healthy, everything looked good on paper. The problem with baseball, though, is that the game isn’t played on paper. It’s played on the field. Dunn was a shocking disappointment, Rios was terrible, the starting pitching wasn’t there, the bullpen was spotty, there were a handful of consistent players, and the three basic aspects of the game (offense, defense, and pitching) didn’t all work at the same time. The offense would be great for a few weeks while the defense and the pitching couldn’t keep us in a game. Defense and pitching were there when the offense couldn’t score runs. For a team to do well all three aspects need to function at the same time. That never happened in 2011.
With that much going wrong on a team it’s hard to pick a definite strength. We saw the versatility of Brent Lillibridge, the second coming of Joe Crede in Brent Morel, the emergence of Alejandro De Aza, and another good year out of Konerko. The 2011 Tigers got to a point in the season where they could just smell the playoffs and nothing was going to stop them from getting there. Not the Twins, not the White Sox, not the 1927 Yankees.
2. Towards the end of September, the White Sox released Ozzie Guillen from his duties as manager. How different do you think the team will be without the presence of Ozzie Guillen? What do you think the new manager, Robin Ventura brings to the table?
From what I’ve read it seems like Ozzie was the source of a lot of tension in the White Sox locker room. A character like that is entertaining for a little while but after a certain point it just gets repetitive and even annoying. It was a good run with him as Sox manager but the honeymoon had to come to an end at some point – you can’t live off of 2005 forever. I wish him and Mark Buehrle all the best in Miami.
I’m looking forward to have Robin Ventura in the dugout, if not just for the fact that it brings a fresh brain to the managerial position. Ventura flew under the radar of literally everyone except Kenny Williams so when he was hired it was a big surprise. After a week or two it started to sink in and make sense. Even though the Sox are supposedly rebuilding/retooling there are enough veterans on the team for Ventura to breathe a little bit. Robin has never managed before so the naivety might be frustrating for the first two or three months. It’s tough to predict how a manager will manage. Everyone thought Mike Quade was going to save the Cubs last year and that was a train wreck. We’ll just have to wait and see on this one.
3. Just days after GM Kenny Williams said the team was in full-blown rebuilding mode, he extended John Danks to a 5 year / $65MM contract, despite trading away Carlos Quentin and Sergio Santos. How do you feel about the White Sox seemingly strange offseason?
Kenny Williams’ offseason plan is usually clear by this point. I can’t quite figure out what he’s going for in 2012. Maybe he has some master plan that nobody but him can see? I’m hoping that’s the case because we gave up a lot this offseason and didn’t get much in return. Quentin to the Padres was a salary dump, letting Buehrle go was a risk, and trading Sergio Santos and Jason Frasor killed our bullpen. Chris Sale is going to move to the rotation and Dayan Viciedo will now be our everyday right fielder so this season will be an adjustment for both of them. It’s the Danks extension that throws the whole rebuilding thing out the window. Danks’ 2011 season (8-12, 4.33 ERA) didn’t earn the money he received. There was talk that Williams was shopping both Danks and Gavin Floyd but his asking price was way too high. Apparently his solution to that is to give a lot of money to a mediocre left-hander in hopes that said lefty somehow becomes Randy Johnson? If you’re going to rebuild then rebuild. That means dealing Danks, Floyd, and whoever else so that the team can start fresh.
4. What is the general confidence level in the team moving forward, both in the short-term and long-term?
Right now it’s difficult to say. I think the fanbase is equal parts excited and terrified for both short-term and long-term. The Sox at a major league level will still be competitive because it’s not like Kenny completely cleaned house this offseason. The minor leagues – which I’ll get to in a moment – are what bother me the most. There are two or three guys who are major league ready and then everyone else is still years off.
5. How do you feel about the current state of the White Sox’ prospects, and minor-league system? Are there any prospects that you think could have an impact on the 2012 team?
The Sox are quite weak in the farm system. A couple years ago I would’ve been more confident in the kids we have down in the minors but right now even our Top 10 list isn’t that impressive. Nestor Molina, the pitcher we got from Toronto for Sergio Santos, looks to be our number one prospect and a guy who could potentially be in the starting rotation a year or two from now. Two other pitchers to watch out for who are ready to make an impact are Dylan Axelrod and Addison Reed. Both guys were September call-ups in 2011 and have a ton of upside. They’ll be good replacements for Sale and Santos.
6. Lastly, how do you project the team will do in 2012?
As I said earlier this game is played on the field and not on paper. That being said, on paper we look decent. Obviously we lost a good bit of power, a solid starting pitcher, and some arms out of the bullpen. With the big move the Tigers made to pick up Fielder they’re the clear favorite in the Central so hopefully the Sox can finish second or third. I’d like to be optimistic and give a huge “anything less than first is a waste” speech but second place is honestly what we’re shooting for this season. A record above .500 and good baseball in August and September should take us there. First place would be a pleasant surprise, though.
— Brian Cashman would like to do something this offseason, before Christmas, but he won’t unless the prices drop from where they are now. (Sherman)
— Symbolic of the Yankees’ current lack of enthusiasm, when C.J. Wilson’s agent requested a meeting in New York, he was told “we’ll get back to you.”
— The Yanks have looked into a possible trade for Cubs’ starter, Matt Garza. However, a Chicago official said trading Garza would be “very, very unlikely”.
— Among their particular likings is left-hander Gio Gonzalez of the Athletics. Billy Beane, talking about the availability of Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill, said, “In our situation, we are open to anything.” However, Oakland is looking for an ace return for either Gio or Cahill. This probably implies a package centered around Jesus Montero or Manny Baneulos.
— They also favor ChiSox lefty, John Danks, who will be a free agent after this 2012 season. Sherman notes that Danks is “very” available, with the sudden Chicago rebuilding process. The asking price for Danks appears to be similar to that of Billy Beane’s in Oakland. The Yanks don’t view Danks as worth that kind of price, especially considering they’d only be getting one year of him. However, don’t shut the door on this trade possibility. Sherman adds the White Sox are very keen on a number of Yankee prospects, including a “particular fondness” for Austin Romine.
— On a different note, the Yankees added infielders David Adams and Corban Joseph, outfielder Zoilo Almonte, and right-handed pitchers, D.J. Mitchell and David Phelps to their 40-Man Roster. It seems likely that the latter two will see at least some time in the majors next season.
A little about each of them.
Almonte batted .276/.345/.459 with 15 homers and 18 steals between High- and Double-A this season. He’s an unexciting talent but one the Yankees felt they couldn’t lose in the Rule 5 draft.
Joseph, 23, hit .277/.353/.415 with five homers and 58 RBI over 499 at-bats for Trenton this season. The former fourth-round pick is below average defensively and hasn’t progressed much with the bat, but the Yankees are still holding out hope that he’ll be a useful piece of the roster eventually.
Adams batted .370/.421/.509 over 29 games in an injury-shortened 2011 season. The former third-round pick has little in the way of tools but profiles as a solid backup at the major league level.
A former outfielder from his college days, Mitchell doesn’t have much upside but has a nice minor league track record, having held a 3.28 ERA over three seasons, including a 3.18 mark at Triple-A in 2011. He probably has a better shot to eventually earn a roster spot for the Yankees as a middle reliever, though.
Phelps is now off-limits for the Rule 5 draft. A former 14th-round pick, Phelps posted a nice 3.19 ERA and 90/26 K/BB ratio over 107 1/3 innings at Triple-A this season. Though his ceiling isn’t high, Phelps boasts a 2.61 ERA in his minor league career and has a good shot of being a useful back-end starter or middle reliever for the Yanks one day.