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The Blip

by Mike DePilla
Monday, March 21, 2011
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It appears that, with his most recent setback, Jake Peavy has finally lost his manager's trust. He lost my trust last July (see here and here).

We were all told to expect a so-called "blip" or setback in Peavy's recovery from his unprecedented lat injury, and even the optimists among us were skeptical about an Opening Day roster spot for the former Padre. Though he was cruising along nicely this spring, and starting to incite some less-guarded optimism in the blue Glendale sky (Fegan started sipping the kool-aid, ever so slightly, last week) there was no way he'd avoid any kind of speed bump at all.

This is Jake Peavy, after all.

In 2009, his debut with the Sox was delayed when he was hit by a line drive on the mound in a minor league rehab start. (That was after he injured his ankle by running the bases.) Last spring, he nearly bought the farm in a freak spring training car crash that he walked away from unscathed. Then of course came the unprecedented lat tear. Crazy stuff happens to this guy.

So shoulder tendinitis, which doctors will re-evaluate this week, is hardly a shocker. What is shocking is that it's taken this long for Ozzie Guillen to wise up about Peavy's lack of self-restraint. Over at South Side Sox, Jim Margalus notes there were four entirely valid reasons that Peavy should not have started Saturday, the day this injury became severe enough to shut things down, and theorizes that it is much easier to say "no" to the Bulldog from 1000 miles than from a few feet. I guess from such a close distance Peavy can resort to Chuck Norris roundhouses or Jedi mind tricks to get his way to the mound.

In any case, it remains just plain foolish to expect his body to hold up through the rigors of a long season. Like Carlos Quentin, he is just too fragile and susceptible to freak injuries, the Sox fantastic track record of injury prevention and treatment notwithstanding. Hopefully this shoulder trouble is just a "blip", and he is able to join the Sox in mid-April.

If the re-evaluation goes well this week and the severity of the tendinitis does not force a several-month shut down, there is still good reason to believe Peavy can contribute meaningfully sooner rather than later. But counting on this guy to take the ball every five days and throw it 92 mph 90-100 times this summer just isn't wise.

******

Something that is wise: naming Brent Morel the starting third baseman. Supposedly, Ozzie has all but made it official. Peavy's injury might force a re-jiggering of the Opening Day roster, but I said last week and still believe that Brent Lillibiridge is nothing more than trade bait at this point. The Sox aren't paying Omar Vizquel $1.75 not to be the primary infielder off the bench.

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Lastings Milledge has continued his impressive spring, but is still ruffling some feathers with his helmet-less strolls across homeplate on homeruns and unnecessary arguing of balls and strikes. The guy has a higher ceiling than Alejandro De Aza offensively, but that's not how you evaluate 4th outfielders. I am hoping his power surge with the bat doesn't distract Ozzie from that fact that De Aza plays better defense, is a batter baserunner, and would make a better seldom-used back up outfielder. Ozzie's decision should come this week.

******

In another smart move, Ozzie named Matt Thornton the closer to start the season. For reasons I cannot quite articulate, I had wanted Chris Sale to be the closer all winter and most of the spring. I can't really back that up, as it was just a gut thing. But I just felt more comfortable having Thornton available in high leverage situations in other innings, and letting Sale settle into the ninth for a year, where he dominated last season. However, the results this spring forced Ozzie to do things exactly the reverse.

Sale has had issues with command this spring, leading to a 6.48 ERA and 13 hits in 8.1 spring innings, while Thornton as cruised along like normal (6 IP, 7 H, 3.00 ERA). Those numbers are of course meaningless, but this is Sale's first spring training...ever. There's nothing wrong with letting him sort out any issues while the established Thornton gets his shot at the ninth.

******

Over at The Hardball Times, Chris Jaffe offered his White Sox preview, predicting an AL Central crown for Chicago.

Also, check out James Fegan's excellent run down of the Sox' AL Central opponents at White Sox Observer (Detroit, Cleveland, Kansas City). A Minnesota preview is, I'm assuming, coming this or next week.

4 comments:

  1. hopefully this "blip" is blessing in disguise; providing more rest, and avoiding anything worse.

    i still see peavy making at least 28 starts (including postseason).

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  2. That Kool-aid was delicious, only slightly poisonous, and saved me from any "How can you be so negative and stil be a Sox fan!??!" comments for a week. I regret nothing!

    Congrats on the new site, Mike, whatever it may be.

    ReplyDelete
  3. *still. As in, "How can you be a writer, and misspell 'still'?"

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  4. Always with the kool-aid, Fegan- why don't we just call you Hawk Harrelson? Oh what, now you think Marquez will be a 20-game winner this season? You make me sick.

    Nick- of course you see him making 28 starts, he's on your fantasy team!

    ReplyDelete