If Marlinfreude isn't your thing, there are plenty of White Sox-related items of interest below.
But from my perspective, it's fascinating to watch the Miami Marlins unravel, because there is a lot to learn about the previous eight years by watching Ozzie Guillen's operation from the outside. It's the kind of perspective that's impossible when following a club every day. When you focus nearly all your attention on one team, and the administration is successful enough to be in place long enough to develop a culture, that becomes normal.
Obviously, Guillen and the White Sox were never truly normal for obvious reasons. But certain things certainly become accepted or expected. Think of all the developments that have taken place under the Robin Ventura-Kenny Williams administration, and how many of them couldn't have happened during the late years of Guillen's tenure. The organizational inaction was shrugged off or defended by people closer to the situation.
These Sox are establishing standards that are vastly different than Guillen's, and just about everybody around 35th and Shields is reaping the benefits. But that's only one side of the story. What we have in Miami is an incredible baseball lab experiment, taking a unique, divisive manager and transporting him from a supportive, loyal environment to one that is far less forgiving.
The results have been disastrous.
Marlins president David Samson talked to the media and attempted to sort out where it all went wrong, and the only conclusion is that everybody is up for performance reviews.
When asked about the performance of manager Ozzie Guillen, who is in the first year of a four-year contract, and the rest of the coaching staff, Samson said it would be up to Loria to evaluate those jobs.
"We gave them the players and they have used them in the exact way we envisioned them being used,’’ Samson said of the coaching staff. "Will changes be made? I don’t have an answer for that. That’s something Jeffrey will address because that’s his purview."
After a year where Jerry Reinsdorf gave all underperforming parties the right to terminate their own employment (except for Kenny Williams, that is), the Marlins are letting Guillen dangle a little. Granted, he has a safety net in the form of four-year contract, but that's still a major contrast from his time in Chicago, when questions about his future arose only because Guillen kept asking.
(I fondly remember Joe Cowley's column setting up the Miami opener in April, where he scoffed at Jerry Reinsdorf for making an off-hand comment about Guillen's tendency to throw players under the bus. "Some father figure," Cowley sneered. One indirect comment months after Guillen steered Reinsdorf's high-priced enterprise to a losing record is all it took.)
OK, so there are the midseason autopsies. But it looks the same even when assessing the day-to-day operations. Take Guillen's criticism of Mike Dunn after a costly error on Saturday, where he called out Dunn for botching a play that pitchers practice all the time in spring training. But then that brings to mind the early-season long-form pieces on the Miami experiment, which documented Guillen making no effort to even pretend to care about spring training practices, calling drills "eyewash" and spending most of the time in his office on his iPad.
None of it squares up. It's basically what we saw the last two years -- token tirades, but no real enforcement of expectations -- except this time, it's taking place in an environment that can't support it. Ventura's administration has proven how little talk actually accomplishes. I can't remember any scathing verbal indictments of players in public, but the way they've been demoted, traded or released when they're not producing is almost Stalinesque by comparison.
And Ventura is the nice guy!
(On a side note, the National League hasn't been the cure for Mark Buehrle's second-half struggles. He has a 5.60 ERA in his first five starts after the break, allowing a line of .305/.372/.467.)
- Griffey In '96: The Campaign That Forever Changed The American Political Landscape - Baseball Nation
Jon Bois is awesome, and you should read this, if only because he was able to construct an entire political history out of this:
This is behind the paywall, but here's what you need to know: American League managers said Chris Sale has the best slider in the league, and the third-best fastball.
Speaking of Sale, Roger Wallenstein gets Pierce's thoughts on the way the Sox have to ease sale into the rotation. It almost seems like Pierce is going to say that today's ballplayers don't hold up to the ones back in the day, but he avoids going that far. (h/t Chiburb)
This article is free, and it answers the question why the White Sox, and two dozen other teams, didn't pick Mike Trout in the first round of the 2009 draft. (h/t Larry)
The only drawback to A.J. Pierzynski's breakout season? It invariably leads to discussion about where he'll be next year. One interesting thing to note -- Pierzynski said he didn't feel right until the offseason coming back from the broken wrist Bruce Chen handed him. Damn those same-handed pitchers!
Hector Santiago isn't bitter about returning to Charlotte. Instead, he's working on all his pitches in a stress-free environment.
The latest update from Jeff Manto on Gordon Beckham's mechanics:
In the case of Beckham, Manto said the second baseman put his hands in a "softer spot.''
"He's been steep with his swing, and we're trying to level it off. It's taken him longer than we've hoped, but he keeps working every day, and that's all we can hope for."
The most interesting item from Mark Gonzales' mailbag is that at least one White Sox "talent observer" doesn't like seeing Matt Thornton get beat on his slider.
The Indians are discarding their veteran detritus left and right -- Johnny Damon, Derek Lowe, Jeremy Accardo, and now Jose Lopez. Frank Herrmann took his roster spot, and he saw immediate action by cleaning up yet another blown save by Chris Perez during the Indians' 7-5 loss to Minnesota. The Indians have lost 11 in a row, and are nine games out of first place.