Game 130, White Sox at Mariners
Furbush vs. Peavy, 7:10pm
The essentially killed off one AL Central contender with their series win in Cleveland, and now the division’s other moribund team comes to town. The White Sox playoff odds aren’t good, but they’re also not zero – and so they put in a waiver claim on the Twins’ Jason Kubel, though they haven’t yet worked out a deal for him. The Indians, undaunted by the beating the M’s put on them, picked up Jim Thome on waivers from the Indians yesterday.
This is actually one of the crueler things about a close race between mediocre teams. It’s anyone’s race! It’s there for the taking! They can gloss over the fact that they’re terrible – the other team’s not exactly the 1927 Yankees, so forget rebuilding, let’s go for it! That’s led to some trades that will likely backfire (Ubaldo Jimenez) and the bizarre split personality of the Tigers/White Sox, who’ve given up players, then scrambled to find replacements.
I get it; the M’s went through this not so long ago when they found themselves in the thick of the 2007 divisional race. The team desperately needed an upgrade, and ended up trading Shin-Soo Choo and Asdrubal Cabrera for a talking head and a folk-rock crooner. At the time, many loved the deals, and while we all hate how they turned out, I think most people would give up quite a lot to believe that the team is committed to winning now. That actually creates some odd incentives, though I have to admit that being overly cautious is not a great solution.
I guess my real point is: can you believe the White Sox were contenders? Really? They started off 11-22, and have slowly edged up towards .500 despite the fact that they’ve got the worst player in baseball in the heart of the line-up, and the third-worst player attempts to cover CF for them. Yes, yes, the M’s had two of the worst hitters in baseball in their line-up, but 1) at least they could play credible defense, 2) the M’s weren’t paying $24.5m for their bad players, and don’t owe them another $82 million between 2012-2015, and 3) the M’s aren’t contenders.
Jake Peavy, tonight’s starter, makes more than Rios OR Dunn this year. At least he’s been decent when not on the disabled list; his 3.11 FIP’s been worth 2.5fWAR this season. A terrible strand rate makes his RA look bad, especially next to what they’re paying him, but he’s still a guy with good command and an ability to miss bats. In San Diego, Peavy featured an above-average FB and a sharp slider, then worked in a change and a curve a bit. Now, he’s got a cutter in between his FB and slider, though with his FB velocity down, he’s not missing a ton of bats with either the FB or the cutter. Given his arsenal, it’s perhaps not surprising that he’s got some fairly sizable platoon splits – shutting down righties, while being merely good against lefties in his career. The M’s are suddenly able to roll out a credible line-up full of lefty bats, so this is perhaps a better match-up than it would’ve been a month or two ago, but then every game was a terrible match-up for the M’s in June-July. That said, the M’s haven’t really tried to maximize every platoon advantage. We’ve seen Casper Wells in the line-up against righties, and today we’ll see Wily Mo Pena. Perhaps part of this is that they can’t use a lefty DH with Smoak’s injury, but I think the M’s seem committed to getting a look at a lot of the new guys – they don’t want to presume that they’re platoon guys. That’s admirable, but I’m still looking forward to the flexibility this line-up should have once everyone’s healthy. It also reinforces the idea that the standard 7-man bullpen is the new market inefficiency.
1: Ichiro (RF)
2: Gutierrez (CF)
3: Ackley (2B)
4: Carp (1B)
5: Olivo (C)
6: Seager (3B)
7: Pena (Crush fastball)
8: Ryan (SS)
9: Robinson (LF)