Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Daryl Van Schouwen and Chris De Luca

AL Central Watch: Sept. 9

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Here's a quick glance at what's happening around the American League Central.

Since the Twins took a half-game lead over the White Sox on Aug. 22, they have lost 11 of 15. Blame the bullpen but pitching coach Rick Anderson says now is not the time to lash out at his relievers. Here's a breakdown of the Twins' bullpen ERA month-by-month. September has been especially brutal. The Twins' bullpen woes have overshadowed the fact their rotation has been the best in the AL in the second half.

Jon Paul Morosi of the Detroit Free Press looks ahead to 2009 for the Tigers, who, despite a disappointing 2008, are not expected to dial down their payroll.

Meanwhile, a successful run against the White Sox the next two days will put Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay on a path to get less rest between starts as Toronto tries to enhance its long-shot playoff chances.

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The total domination of the White Sox by Toronto this year exemplifies how vulnerable our team is to very good pitching, especially those pitchers that keep the ball down with a nice break like Toronto has throughout its staff. They are the perfect storm--in a bad way--for the PaleHose.

Here's my hope for the future Mr. Kenny Williams. Regardless of what happens this year (my prediction is still that we'll edge the Twinkies, but be one-and-done in the playoffs):

1. PLEASE try to have a more balanced lineup next year. The lineup desperately needs to manufacture runs when pitchers like Toronto's put the clamps on our sluggers. It also can be an additional compensation in low scoring games due to the fact that the other team will likely be running all over our team in such a scenario. We can't throw anybody out! You've got to let go of some of that "Well, we have to play in a slugger's park" mentality. Yeah, but have you taken a peak at your road record lately? It's noticeably below .500, a mark that truly good teams should not have. Last I checked, we also play 81 away games. Then, do you see what teams like the Blue Jays can do to us even in our park? It's been said that we have interest in Chone Figgins for next year. That would be a great start! Plus, I think he'll bounce back from a somewhat so-so year, a year in which the Angels might let him fly because of his lackluster season.

2. We need an "ACE" pitcher. Don't tell me that he's on our staff now! Please don't insult my intelligence. I guess Gavin Floyd could receive some valid arguments in that direction because of how often he's broken losing streaks, but let's be real, he's not a #1 yet. An "ACE" is a guy who is almost certainly going to be lights out outing after outing. He's still too questionable in that regard. The other guys? Vazquez? Perhaps no one on our team gets less out of his talent. Frankly, he I hate to use the term "loser," but I admit it's ever on the tip of my tongue with him. Buehrle? He's got to be more perfect than even Kenny Rogers to have a nice game. Danks? Love his mental makeup. Like his stuff. However, it's still too early to tag him as an ace. Contreras? Please let him go. He also allows people to do whatever the heck they want on the basepaths. Additionally, if he's not winning, he has terrible body english that may cause a losing attitude to fester.

Here's a short sampling of aces: Beckett, Lackey, Shields or Kazmir. You may also note that each case has a #2 whose better than any of our starters!

Now, I realize that the best way to groom pitching is via the farm system. Why? Because hardly anyone's willing to give up pitching! Simply put, you gain position players via free agency and pitching is through the farm. That's why I beg you not to trade a guy like Aaron Poreda. I understand the trade for Nick Swisher, but that's enough of that! And, if you can somehow reasonably swing a deal for an ace--I know it's asking a lot--it would huge.

The lack of intensity displayed by the White Sox on Tuesday is dismaying to say the least. But they are playing the hottest team in baseball while the Twins continue their season-long series against Kansas City. I haven't looked at their cream-puff schedule but I believe the Twins play their Triple-A affiliate this weekend.

I was wondering how when Owen was running for Konerko in game one of the Tuesday disaster why he didnt take third when Dye singled? I believe the pressure on the pitcher with a man on third in a one run game at the time with Thome hitting would be considerable. Owens certainly got himself thrown out stupidly in the extra inning game maybe he was afraid of the assignment if thats the case get rid of him.

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This page contains a single entry by Chris De Luca published on September 9, 2008 11:58 AM.

Alexei, Soto win awards was the previous entry in this blog.

Konerko's OK; as far as his team? Not so sure is the next entry in this blog.

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