Wednesday, August 25, 2010

For Sale (8/24)

First 2010 draftee in the Bigs
If there is one thing I’m certain of during the Sox 2010 season, it is that a rest was definitely needed on Monday.  A rest, albeit short, which would allow a man who is physically, emotionally, and mentally spent from a long season to recharge his batteries, relax, and get away from the game.  The time to clear the mind of negative thoughts and bad feelings that come with a hugely disappointing road trip could be just what the baseball doctor ordered (The metaphorical doctor, not Gooden…I don’t even want to think about what he would recommend on a day off) to get a guy who is slumping back on track.  Everyone associated with the organization, from the owner, GM, manager, player, announcer, and hell even the bullpen catcher could definitely benefit from a little R and R.  But I’m not talking about them, I’m talking about me.  I’m spent.

I live and die with every game, every inning, and every pitch.  In case you haven’t been watching the Sox lately, if I were a cat, I would have well exceeded my nine life limit over the past couple of weeks.  Fortunately, or unfortunately (depending on how you look at it), I am reincarnated at about 7:05 (or 6:05/9:05 depending on time zone of the game), in hopes that my disappointment will be turned to baseball bliss.  Lately though, I’ve been in a perpetual state of discontent.  Baseball purgatory if you will, which is why I needed a break Monday night.

Did what needed to be done to get a Rose
What better way to do that, then to sit down with the wife, and have a relaxing, yet intellectually stimulating viewing of one of television’s most captivating human dramas…. ABC’s The Bachelor Pad.  While I thought a blindfolded kissing contest, awkward three on one dates, and grown men on the verge of tears could take my thoughts away from the diamond, it couldn’t.  In fact, it only drew me closer because even as I watched Natalie go topless in a pool as a ploy to win David’s heart (which worked by the way…weird, who would have thunk it), all I could think about was my love affair (strictly platonic, I promise) with the South Siders and which player I would have given a rose to give them immunity after the recent stretch of sub .500 baseball.  As obvious as David going with the topless chick, my rose would go to a rookie with unlimited potential, Chris Sale.  While he may not have the physical attributes of Natalie (Sale’s probably 20 lbs short of his listed weight of 170 and Natalie’s measurements are well…just right), I believe that he is destined for greatness and thus why amidst a week of letdowns, he has been the one bright spot for Sox fans.

The name Randy Johnson comes to mind when I think of Sale.  A tall, lanky, lefty who brings a fastball in the high nineties with a funky delivery that sneaks up on batters, rendering them helpless (See Joe Mauer and Jim Thome).  Unlike the Big Unit at an early age, Sale can control his heat.  While Johnson was a cross between effectively wild, actually wild, and “good god, he might kill somebody” wild in his early years, Sale has great control.  At the same time, like the young Unit who often times did it on accident, he has the ability to be effective on the inside part of the plate.  For a young pitcher to have the guts and skill set to pitch inside, spells T-R-O-U-B-L-E for the rest of the American League Central for years to come.  But I don’t want to think about the future right now when this team has the ability to win in the present.   If only Ozzie could brush of the rust from the DeLorean and travel back to 2005 and learn a lesson from his managerial past, then the season might be saved.

You see, in 2005, the Sox were searching for a closer just as they appear to be now.  In the middle of the most important pennant race in White Sox history, Guillen decided to go with an unknown and virtually unproven flame-throwing rookie with a penchant for embarrassing opponents with a wipe-out curveball.  Throwing Bobby Jenks into the fire changed the course of White Sox history forever, and was probably the greatest move of Ozzie’s tenure.  It’s time to do it again.  With Jenks and JJ Putz not getting it done as of late (hopefully it is because of their injuries and not simply ineffectiveness) and Matt Thornton being too valuable in his set-up role, the young, unknown, and virtually unproven flame-throwing rookie Chris Sale is the answer to the problem.  As a fan, I beg you Ozzie to give the kid a chance to let history repeat itself.

Now I know what some of you might be thinking.  “There is one big difference between Jenks and Sale.  Sale has potential to be a number one starter.   Why potentially pigeonhole him in a closer role along the lines of what the Red Sox did with Jonathan Papelbon and limit the value he has to the team?  My response would be, you’re right (well partially).  Sale is most definitely going to be a number one starter by 2013, and a good one at that, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a great closer in 2010.  With the Sox trying to limit his innings anyways, it is the perfect fit.  Even if he has unheard of success this year like Papelbon, that doesn’t mean they have to keep him in that role in the future.  It would be a temporary thing that Sale could be temporarily really good at.  The question is, does Ozzie have the intestinal fortitude to go with the kid and remove his former prodigy from a role that has long since passed him by?  I’m not sure, but if there is one thing that we all know about Ozzie, it is that he has some of the biggest baseballs in the managerial profession, and because of that I tend to think that you’ll see the kid closing by the end of the week.

Ozzie better make a decision quick though because time is running out.  Down five games with a little over a month left means that every series is a big one, starting with tonight against the Orioles.  The good news is that the bats have come alive as of late.  The bad news is that even with a strong offensive output (unless they completely blow the O’s out of the water), the game will still rest in the hands of the pen.  I’m just hoping the hands belong to the 21 year-old from Lakeland, Florida because I’m one hundred percent confident that he will shut the game down.  That’s not a Jenks, I’m just for Sale.

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