Monday, June 20, 2011

Power Rankings Comments, Bonus Links and Snark

By The Common Man

First of all, a belated happy Fathers’ Day to all the dads out there. The Common Man didn’t mean to, but he celebrated much of his Fathers’ Day by being an absentee parent, allowing his own father to take The Boy and be a grandpa for much of the afternoon. Meanwhile, TCM was writing, watching the Twins, and cleaning up after an un-birthday party the day before. He was also working on his power rankings comments for ESPN, upon which he expounds every week in this space. So please, enjoy this special message on the Angels and the White Sox. Plus, there will be some bonus links at the end.

Los Angeles Angels – “Despite all of their obstacles and steps back in 2011, and being three games under .500, the Angels are just three back in an eminently winnable division. How much longer can they afford to keep wunderkind Mike Trout (.320/.423/.556, 9 homers, 23 SBs) down at Arkansas?”

Since coming off the DL, Vernon Wells has been surprisingly not-terrible, posting a .268/.302/.488 line with three homers in 43 plate appearances. He’s still not walking much, but he’s at least swinging the bat better. Unfortunately, Torii Hunter has fallen off a damn cliff, hitting .188/.235/.234 in June with no homers and just three doubles. His season line is all the way down to .232/.307/.364, and the Angels have been batting him third for the last three games! Coupled with the continued struggles of Erick Aybar (.197/.210/.295 in June), rookie Hank Conger (.150/.292/.200), Alberto Callaspo (.152/.222/.212), and Howie Kendrick (.231/8.273/.327), the Angels need an infusion of offense fast.

They don’t need much though, because the AL West has been horrible this year and the Angels are still in striking distance. While everyone is expecting Texas to eventually run away and hide, it’s entirely possible that the entire division is middling. So if Mike Trout can help, the Angels should jump at it. The trouble, of course, is that they’re full in the outfield. Vernon Wells isn’t going anywhere after Tony Reagins and Arte Moreno staked their hopes to him and his contract. Torii Hunter is a venerated veteran, and Peter Bourjos is the only outfielder who’s actually playing well. And they can’t move Wells to DH, because Bobby Abreu is one of the few players on the team who can get on base.

Unless the Angels are willing to either eat money or deal with the headache of either Hunter or Wells on the bench, this is a move that needs to happen that probably won’t. And if the Angels miss by a couple of games, there will be lots of blame to go around.

Chicago White Sox – “Detroit and Cleveland's battle has everyone forgetting about the White Sox, who are 5.5 back. Also, it turns out their manager is one tough son of a gun, managing the same day he was in the hospital for kidney stones. Yikes!

First, as someone who has recently passed some kidney stones, let The Common Man just say how impressed he is by Ozzie Guillen’s toughness. The dude is badass, no doubt. Kidney stones, if you haven’t had them, feel like something is trying to rip its way out of your mid-section. It hurts your back, and your groin, which comes in waves. The pain is at once very localized and seeming to radiate through your entire body. It is, frankly, very unpleasant. And afterwards, TCM was so wiped out that he just collapsed and slept for 10 hours. Ozzie Guillen, on the other hand, decided to manage a baseball game. That’s just awesome.

So awesome that it overshadows how effectively his team has insinuated itself into the AL Central race. Though still three games under .500, the White Sox are less than six back in the mediocre AL Central, and they will have a strong shot against flawed franchises like the Tigers and Indians. TCM picked the White Sox to win the division in the preseason, and based on their recent play, is starting to feel confident again that they can pull it off. Now, obviously, would be a good time for Adam Dunn to finally turn it around. The Sox could also use some OF help and somebody to shore up the bullpen. As always, in spite of Ozzie’s awesomeness, TCM is rooting against them and really hoping for the Twins to pull off a miracle.

Miscellaneous notes:

Bill provided some commentary for the Pirates this week, and new addition to the SweetSpot Network, Dave Gershman also wondered whether the Bucs should be buyers at the deadline this year. Dave is right that the NL Central is winnable, if the Pirates make bold moves. Unfortunately, they really can’t afford to sell the farm to upgrade their roster. However, buying low on guys like Carlos Pena and Reed Johnson of the Cubs to improve a couple areas of need for the Bucs, who rank 14th in the NL in runs/game, would make some sense, provided they aren’t forced to move any of their elite prospects.

Old Timey Ballplayers were such unbelievably foul-mouthed creatures that even Roger McDowell is embarrassed.

Camden Chat wins blogging.

You may have missed it because, well, you have no interest in The View, let alone its tagalong kid-sister The Talk, but an MLBer apparently sent Tiffany Amber Theissen naughty pictures of himself in the mid-to-late 1990s, and our friend and partner Dustin Parkes at Getting Blanked has a breakdown of the possible culprits. By the way, TCM would like to thank Dustin for reminding him of how absolutely smoking Theissen was in her prime, and apparently still is. If TCM wasn’t happily married, he would’ve still like to go out with Kelly Kapowski.

And finally, congratulations to Felix Pie, who finally drew his first walk of the year on Saturday, in the 8th inning against Henry Rodriguez (who has now walked 16 batters in 20.1 innings). For once, Pie didn’t even lift his bat off his shoulder, taking a first pitch strike, and the getting four straight balls in his 100th plate appearance of the season. Pie is now hitting .260/.267/.320 in 101 plate appearances. Pie is the last MLBer to work out a free pass who has been active all season, although Brent Morel actually went 117 plate appearances without a walk before getting his first and only on May 30.

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