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Where there's smoke...

It was almost as if the Freddy Gonzalez and the Marlins planned all along to pull Dontrelle Willis after an inning of work, knowing full well that the easiest way to make the worst offense in baseball look even worse is to pull your starter. (The White Sox have hit .188/.266/.284 as a team against relievers since 5/23 and .215/.300/.337 against them on the season) Tuesday night marked the third time since May 30th that the White Sox have knocked out a starter before the 4th inning only to take the loss. In those three losses (by a total of 4 runs), the Sox have managed 4 hits and 1 run in 20 innings against opposing pens.

For his part, Willis didn't even look like he was playing in a major league game. The normally demonstrative Willis looked disinterested as he was going to through the motions, slowly. Hawk and DJ were talking about how he was trying to slow his fastball down to get more movement on his pitches, but the man with the crazy windup and violent delivery was just playing catch in his one inning of work. I was sad to see him go. So were the White Sox batters.

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John Danks continued his trend of laborious outings, giving up 3 runs before recording an out, and running up his pitch count such that he was pulled without recording an out in the 5th. Over his last 6 starts, Danks has averaged just 4.2 innings per start while allowing 2 baserunners per inning. It's a miracle that he's got a 5.34 ERA over that span.

Over the first two months of the season, I kept repeating that he didn't pitch like a rookie, but Danks has definitely regressed to rookie status lately. He hasn't been able to command all three of his pitches at the same time since mid-May, and was without his curveball Tuesday. He was saved from a disastrous outing by either a dominating changeup or an overaggressive Marlins lineup, I can't decide. The 7 strikeouts tied his career high, but he didn't go to the change until after he had given up 3 runs and had seen his last curveball go over the outfield fence.

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Kenny Williams went on a PR mission Tuesday, visiting the guys at PTI to scoff at the notion that his team should be sellers. I realize that this is supposed to be a ploy to raise the price of his trade pieces, but if you and I can see through it so do opposing GMs. I don't have a transcript or a link to video of his appearance, but the boys at The Bard's Room and Reifert provide some quotes.

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Watching the post-game press conference, Ozzie called out his players; Iguchi for being unable to put a bunt down, the offense in general for disappearing for 7 innings, the bullpen for continued suckitude. I really think he's run out of ideas. I'm really beginning to doubt that he should be the manager of the team when it starts the youth movement in a month's time.

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I thought we should begin a discussion about who the Sox "core" should be for the rebuilding effort. Here's my quick list.

  • Konerko and Thome -- Though they both have little chance of being integral members of the Sox next division champ, they're the only players capable of hitting in the middle of a major league lineup and should be used as a bridge to help keep the Sox somewhat competitive, keep butts in the seats, and generally be lead-by-example role models for the "kids."
  • Danks and Fields -- The only two rookies on the team who figure to be able to contribute to a division winning club.
  • Jenks -- Jenks is the only above average member of the bullpen. I never dreamed of him being the Sox most consistent reliever.
That's it. That's my core.
  • Sweeney's got to show me more in AAA before I'm ready to pencil him in.
  • Buehrle and Dye are as good as gone. Gooch too, though in his case, probably for nothing of value.
  • Contreras should get the Freddy Garcia treatment as soon as his no-trade clause expires.
  • Garland can't be considered part of our long term future with just 1.5 years left on his contract. If I was Kenny, I'd be trying to trade Garland, who has more trade value than Buehrle thanks to his contract, and trying to resign Buehrle.
  • Vazquez will be around, but he's an overpriced league-average starter with a limited no-trade clause.