Tuesday, April 27, 2010

OtB's Around the Central (04.27.10)

Chicago White Sox | 8-11 T-3rd | 5 games back
  • First baseman Paul Konerko hit his league-leading 8th home run of the season on Monday and his third in as many games as the Sox won their third straight against Seattle. 
    • ANALYSIS: No matter how hard they try to build a team to reflect "Ozzie Ball", they still seem to gravitate towards the long ball. As it stands, their 26 team home runs is currently second behind the Blue Jays (28) but the majority of bombs have been of the solo variety. Still, while Twins fans worry over clutch and timely hitting, the White Sox are mired with a .143 average with runners in scoring position in the past 10 games to go along with their baseball worst .222 overall batting average. 
  • Ozzie Guillen believes that Sergio Santos, former Twins farmhand turned reliever in the White Sox organization, has the chance of being the team's closer someday
    • ANALYSIS: The "salvage" project has yet to allow a run in 8 innings of work. Thus far, he's been one of the dirtiest relievers in the game - his 57.5% contact rate is the fourth-lowest among relievers in all of baseball. Santos is hitting 95.5-mph on average and supplements that with a slider/changeup combination that has worked very well for the 26-year-old. Armed with those three plus pitches, Santos could easily usurp the incumbent closer Bobby Jenks who is eligible for his final year of arbitration in 2011. Although there are discussions regarding Santos transitioning to a starter's role, the righty has little designs on moving from the back-end of the bullpen where he prefers to remain
  • With a .355 OPS, catcher AJ Pierzynski remains one of baseball's least productive players in the early going of the 2010 season. In his past 25 at-bats, Pierzynski has coax just a solitary hit off of Tampa's David Price a week ago Tuesday. 
    • ANALYSIS: The 33-year-old catcher seems to be the recipiant of some horrendous luck. While putting the ball into play regularly on line drives similar to his career rate (21.2% LD%), Pierzynski hasn't had many fall in for hits as his .154 BABIP is the fourth-lowest in baseball. These two numbers would be indicative of a impending turnaround. Never one to walk or strikeout much, Pierzynski has been seeing an extremely high percentage of fastballs (71% FB) but has failed to hit them solidly (.140 well-hit average versus a .204 league-average).  

Cleveland Indians | 8-11 T-3rd | 5 games back
  • On Monday night, the Indians were 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position and left 14 men on base in the 5-2 loss to Anaheim. 
    • ANALYSIS: While no one really anticipated much from this lineup, with Grady Sizemore returning after an injury-riddled 2009 season, there was optimism that the young team would be able to improve. Currently, the Indians exercise baseball's worst average in baseball (.223), the worst RISP average (.205) and, unlike the White Sox who have compensated with the long ball, Cleveland's 14 home runs is tied for third fewest in baseball. All of this has led to just 62 runs scored - tied with Baltimore for the fewest in the American League. 
  • After throwing in a simulated game in Oakland, injured closer Kerry Wood is gearing up for his rehab assignment"I don't know how long it will take," said Wood. "At this point I'm not putting any number of days on it. I'm just going to go and come back when it feels ready to go."
    • ANALYSIS: Wood's simulated game didn't go so well. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that he was unhappy with his performance and that it may signal a significant step back in his return to the majors. Interim closer Chris Perez has been 4-for-5 in his save opportunities in Wood's absence but is fairly raw in his abilities. Though he might be the closer of the future, his nasty 3/6 K/BB ratio is far from the closer echelon and he has fallen behind hitters far too frequently (40.6% first-pitch strike). The Indians need to get Wood back on the field in order for him to make a few appearances to inflate his trade value enough to unload his massive contractual obligations on some other unsuspecting team. 

Detroit Tigers | 11-9 2nd | 2.5 games back
  • After his first four starts, Justin Verlander is 1-1 with a 6.95 ERA and 19 strike outs in 22 innings pitched. 
    • ANALYSIS: Starting out slow is nothing new for Verlander. Last year through his first four starts the hard-throwing righty was 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA. The year before that? In '08 he started 0-3 with a 7.03 ERA. In general, Bill James found that power pitchers struggle a bit more at the beginning month of the season so Verlander should turn it around quickly. At the same time, Verlander did log 240 innings (most in MLB) and threw over 120 pitch in 11 of his outings while averaging 112 pitches per game. It is quite possible that there will be signs of toll on his arm in '10. Verlander's fifth start doesn't get any easieras he faced the Twins: Thome, Morneau and Mauer are a combined 33-for-108 (.305) with 12 HRs.  
  • Like Verlander, sophomore starter Rick Porcello is also in the midst of a rough patch in the season's opening month. Through four starts, Porcello is 1-2 with a 7.91 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 19.1 innings of work.
    • ANALYSIS: Porcello's actually thrown very well. He's getting ahead of hitters (58.7% first-pitch strike) and getting more groundballs (56.3% GB) while avoiding solid contact (12.7% LD rate down from 17.1% in '09). So what's the youngster's problem? His .449 BABIP is weighing him down (the highest in the AL). Behind him, the defense is failing to convert balls in play into outs -- especially his grounders. Opponents have a .415 BABIP on earth-scorchers when the league average has been at a .207 BABIP. With his strong batted ball numbers, his BABIP should begin to equalize over the next four starts. 

Kansas City Royals | 8-11 T-3rd | 5 games back
  • Following Sunday's 4-3 win over the Twins, manager Trey Hillman was asked if the combination of Dusty Hughes, Josh Rupe and Joakim Soria was the right combination to ensure protect leads. Hillman replied no and said that lefty John Parrish, who allowed a game-tying home run to Justin Morneau on Saturday night, has one of the best lefty-on-lefty breaking balls among his internal options
    • ANALYSIS: The bullpen has been atrocious, that's for sure. Their 6.38 ERA is the worst in the American League by almost a run. While the personnel hasn't been elite for Hillman, part of the blame rests squarely on his shoulders. A quick check of the numbers reveals that Hillman's statement isn't quite true. Left-handed opponents are hitting just .125/.333/.125 with a .250 well-hit average off of his breaking stuff while Parrish's breaking stuff has been thwacked to the tune of .375/.500/.750 with a .375 well-hit average. 
  • The Royals claimed Jai Miller who was released from the Oakland Athletics organization.
    • ANALYSIS: The right-handed hitting Miller is an extremely strikeout-prone hitter (237 in 884 plate appearances since '08) that has some pop (35 HR the past two seasons). While he is a .236/.320/.386 career minor league hitter, he has hit .270/.347/.473 in AAA. He's an insurance policy in the event that Rick Ankiel is unable to recover quickly and will likely fill out Omaha's roster.