So the White Sox rolled over for us this weekend. And we had absolutely no control over the outcome. Basically, they gave us 46 runs, but earned their seven runs. At least this is what I have been hearing. I mean, I understand the troubles of this fairly talented team throughout the course of this season. They cannot hit, they can’t pitch, they can’t seem to wake up without hitting the snooze button first. They are the worst team in baseball outside of Tampa, according to their record. Of course it isn’t fair to compare them straight up with NL teams, or even outside of the division really as far as "wins and losses" are concerned. But really, give the Red Sox a little credit, please. They scored 10+ runs in four straight games. They knocked around Buehrle a little, who has a 3.50 ERA and is a pretty good pitcher as some may forget. They crushed Vazquez for seven runs in six innings, and he now has a 3.89 ERA after the shelling. They swept a doubleheader, which is not easy to do against anyone in baseball, almost for the simple fact these are humans playing the game. Back to Javier Vazquez for a second. This is the same pitcher who in his last ten starts has thrown out [seven] quality ones. And some of the opponents who he did this against were not pushovers by any means: Seattle, Detroit (twice), The Red Sox, Minnesota, Toronto. It isn’t like he threw all seven of them against the Royals. And against the two pitchers mentioned above, who are [both] having good seasons, the Red Sox scored a total of one run in the first 5 innings against Buehrle, and the first 4 innings against Vazquez, COMBINED! Meaning what? That they figured these pitchers out on these particular days. Just for some statistical fun/getting my point across some more…Buehrle is actually 8th in the AL in ERA+, while Vazquez falls in at 17th, both of course being in the top 20. And during this doubleheader; Drew, Manny, and Varitek all received days off. Just another added plus in this conversation. The point is, the Red Sox had something to do with this. A lot as a matter of fact. When the Yankees went on their recent tear against sub-par teams, we all understood who they were playing, but the way they went about it was very impressive regardless of the opponent.
Kruk and the boys were discussing pitchers worthy of "Cy Young" candidacy on last night’s "Baseball Tonight." And at the end of the discussion Kruk says "Escobar deserves to be a serious candidate right there with Josh Beckett." I don’t know everything else that was said in this conversation, but what I do know is that they are both worthy of being considered, but that there are others that should be included in this discussion too. And a few that are even more worthy. Some names that are serious candidates in the AL: Haren, Escobar, Johan, Beckett, Bedard, Carmona. There are a few others like Sabathia, Lackey, etc, who should not be ignored either. Beckett obviously has a few things going for him; "East coast bias," which seems to be more of a fact than just a theory. Wins, which has a lot to do with the rest of the team’s success. Let’s not ignore payroll, which gives a team a much better opportunity to put players around any given pitcher. So they must strip away the payroll aspect, which in turn can help in the wins category. Don’t ignore "wins" altogether necessarily, but look at the pitcher’s mentality rather than his record. Beckett is a gamer, as are some of the others. It isn’t solely because Beckett has 16 wins that he is labeled this by me. It is the fact that I have faith in him when the later innings roll around (which is the result of watching him frequently). In innings 1-3 Beckett’s opponents have an OPS of .665, innings 4-6 it is at .620, and innings 7-9 it is .591. This is an indication that maybe he gets stronger throughout the game. And from watching him freaquently, he does struggle early in some games. But his worst inning statistically is actually the third inning, rather than the first. And his strongest innings seem to be second, fourth, and seventh based on these stats. But he did win a World Series MVP which helps his "Big Game" cause. Although this did occur some time ago, and he was a different pitcher then. Point is, Beckett deserves serious consideration, but others do too. And if Beckett loses to Santana or Haren, etc, then I have no problem with that at all. The voters must look beyond wins and losses though.
Speaking of "Cy Young" candidacy. Whoever the broadcaster’s were for Saturday’s White Sox/Red Sox game on FOX, were off base. I will only use this one comment to show how they were just that. One of them said "Tim Wakefield tends to get overlooked when speaking of Cy Young candidates." This is not an exact quote, one built on memory. But this is an absurd comment at this juncture in the season. Wakefield has 16 wins, which is what the comment seems to be built around. He is 22nd in ERA+. He has pitched well recently and unless he some miraculous finish should not be considered in this discussion. His 22 innings of scoreless work is amazing, and from a fan’s standpoint even more so as it is built from the emotion of watching it, or the "Gameday" version of it anyway. But this doesn’t alone when the award. And if you look at the 16 wins, then don’t forget the 10 losses either. It is mostly because he has had a decision in every game as to why he has so many wins. He is now an above average pitcher based on his season so far, but A) who knows how he will finish, and B) How much does he even know where his knuckleball is going? I mean, he can control the secondary pitches that he uses on occasion, but the knuckleball has a lot to do with the wind and all that good stuff, and that is he has only been a little above average over his career. He is not a viable candidate, at this point, period!