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Roundtable: Tigers/White Sox Play-In Game

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Monday September 29, 2008 1:30 PM ET Tigers/White Sox Play-In Game roundtable.

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Dave Pease (9:57:45 AM PT): Please join us on Monday, September 29, at about 1:30PM ET for running commentary on Tigers/White Sox game.

If you'd like to submit a question to be answered during the roundtable you can do so here.

In the meantime, be sure to visit our homepage to check out our continuing home-stretch coverage.

Will Carroll (10:39:49 AM PT): I hate rain delays. Do we have a BP version of "This Week in Baseball?"

Will Carroll (10:48:50 AM PT): Evan asks: "How much does playing today hurt the White Sox (should they win) going into the ALDS?"

I don't think it changes much. They're staying in rotation, have an off day, and will have the momentum of a two game win streak. With the new LDS schedule, I don't think it's as much of a disadvantage as it could have been.

Jay Jaffe (10:49:19 AM PT): Yes we do -- That would be the Hit List. Quite honestly, I've always strived to add an element of the tone that Mel Allen brought to those weekly TWIB shows of my youth.

Maybe I should work on the year-end Hit List live, team by team, until first pitch.

Will Carroll (10:50:58 AM PT): Just me, or were you surprised when you saw Miguel Cabrera had won the AL HR title?

Will Carroll (10:54:56 AM PT): Dalbano asks: "Does anyone know the status of Carlos Quinten? Will he be available in any capacity today, or tomorrow if the Sox win today?"

That'd be my beat and the answer is he's not available today or tomorrow and likely would not be on the roster for the ALDS, if they make it. I guess he gets to keep using the hyperbaric chamber some more.

William Burke (10:57:23 AM PT): It was quite a surprise to see Carlos Quentin on top of the HR list well past the point in which he stopped playing b/c of his injury.

Jay Jaffe (10:57:54 AM PT): Change "were" to "are" - given all of the final-weekend drama, I hadn't taken the time to notice he'd passed Carlos Quentin until you mentioned it. So Quentin's injury costs him that honor too. Bummer.

Back in a few moments after I grab a sandwich.

Ben Murphy (11:01:36 AM PT): I think we just put Steve Goldman up on stage and let him tell stories. Once he gets tired, I think it's Christina's turn to talk about the history of European warfare.

Will Carroll (11:02:12 AM PT): Dan in Boston asks: "Somewhat unrelated to today's game: The Angels are going with fifteen position players and ten pitchers for the division series. Finally, someone gets it?"

Maybe. They have a strong rotation that figures to go deep into games and a nice back half of the pen. The assumption I heard is that they don't expect to have a "middle" of the pen. In ways, I think this year's Angels are expecting to be the 2005 White Sox in style. They also lack the positional flexibility they used to have, so the added depth there is needed. I'm not sure it's so much "getting it" as it is the way things shook out.

Christina Kahrl (11:08:55 AM PT): Horses were involved, but weren't the sine qua non of warfare until somebody invented the stirrup (prior to that, there was a lot of falling off of the horses). Then pointed sticks put an end to all that, and people started reading "Guns and Ammo" because there were such things. Some folks learned how to find better uses for wood than pointed sticks, and now we have baseball. Or something like that.

Jay Jaffe (11:09:22 AM PT): Ok, when I'm done inhaling this sandwich I'm going to slide across the virtual wet tarp on my belly, Rick Dempsey style.

William Burke (11:10:25 AM PT): Who is calling the game for ESPN, in Chicago, we get a WGN game with Hawk and DJ along with their very heavy pro-Sox slant. "The Deuce" is blacked-out.

William Burke (11:11:45 AM PT): It's already started, we are getting an in-depth discussion of tarp removal techniques.

Joe Sheehan (11:13:08 AM PT): Dave O'Brien, Orel Hershiser and Steve Phillips.

I normally would let this go, but...come on, Steve. If you're going to cite the White Sox' percentage of runs they score on homers, you have to cite your source. No one believes you found that on your own.

Jay Jaffe (11:13:59 AM PT): Meanwhile, the Mets' flagship, SNY, is running a re-run of yesterday's game. That's a keeper for their audience.

Christina Kahrl (11:17:04 AM PT): One really interesting challenge for the Angels as far as their pitching is picking a Game Four starter in a series. Weaver's been a lot better than Garland, and why keep Garland active at all if he doesn't start? Picking Saunders for the third of three in the LDS round makes sense, but should they advance...

Joe Sheehan (11:17:48 AM PT): At 5 p.m., it's the last game of the 2007 season. And then at 8 p.m., a live drawing and quartering of Mr. Met.

William Burke (11:18:47 AM PT): benrosenberg02 (boston): Will the AL Central winner put up a good fight against Tampa?

Interesting, Tampa was 20-18 against the central this year, and played a very unbalanced schedule against those teams. Ten games against the Sox, seven against CLE & DET, eight against KC and six against the Twins. Against the Sox they were 6-4 and the Twins 3-3. As for "story line", the press might like talking about a Twins/Tampa series b/c of the Young/Garza off-season trade. However, a Sox/Rays series could have a discussion of how the Sox almost moved to St. Pete in 1990.

Will Carroll (11:19:18 AM PT): Hawk's dead right here, and its funny ... we will see a six-man before a rotation despite the success of CC Sabathia. Also, despite the fervent wishes of the old school, a good bullpen from matchup guys to closer, are necessary to win today because it works. It's better in almost all situations.

I'm also curious ... is Hawk the only announcer that regularly refers to playing in St. Pete? I've seen him do it all year long.

Jay Jaffe (11:20:35 AM PT): Here's a question from Adam (DC): "Twins related note. In Moneyball, Billy Beane was quoted as saying "it takes two months to figure out what we have/what we need on our roster, two months to get what we need on our roster, and two months to play with the roster we wanted." Have the Twins actually been taking that philosophy to heart in recent seasons? They've taken some bad gambles on getting over the hill, cheap free agents like Batista, Ponson, Livan, etc...and made some other questionable playing time choices (Gomez lead-off) but they've actually come around to mostly the right decisions that have helped them win/share 5 of the last 7 division titles."

It seems pretty clear that the Twins have been following that philosophy for awhile - start with the fact that both Johan Santana and Francisco Liriano began their breakout years by pitching out of the bullpen, much to the dismay of followers everywhere. At least on the pitching side, it's a strategy that's got some merit when it comes to supressing innings totals, but it certainly leaves a team open to being second-guessed endlessly if things don't turn out.

If they wind up missing out this year, those 23 Livan Hernandez starts, many of them at the expense of Liriano, are going to look quite costly.

Joe Sheehan (11:20:45 AM PT): If Garland starts ahead of Weaver, it's a pretty big mistake. I suppose you could justify a roster spot for him, as he'd be a viable long man if someone gets rocked. But he should not start in the postseason.

Will Carroll (11:20:48 AM PT): I remember the Sox actually had uniforms made up for the St. Petersburg Sailors. Anyone have a picture or link?

And how long would it take to drive up to Milwaukee to get this game in today? Couple hours?

Christina Kahrl (11:24:16 AM PT): Just what the Dan Ryan needs in a rainstorm, a 10,000-car convoy headed for the under-construction Edens.

Will Carroll (11:25:08 AM PT): Jay -- I disagree. I don't think they're trying things as much as they're really bad at assessing talent. They played to their biases for veterans over rookies. It's simply bad decision making, not any sort of strategy.

Will Carroll (11:27:04 AM PT): Alf? Really? I mean ... Alf?

William Burke (11:27:30 AM PT): Joe (DC): Why is Dewayne Wise starting in place of Nick Swisher these days for the Sox?

It seems like Ozzie thinks Wise is this guy: .350/.372/.600 (from July 6th), and not this guy: .260/.295/.472 (current). Additionally, I think there is a perception that Wise is a better defender. Maybe that is true in CF, maybe. However, in LF, Swisher is +11 FRAA for his career.

Joe Sheehan (11:30:34 AM PT): WGN just did a weather update...looks like another half-hour or so of rain, then clear after that. This game will be played, and be done by 6 or so.

Jay Jaffe (11:32:14 AM PT): Re: Twins, I actually agree that there's something to their biases for veterans over their rookies and some bad decisions in there. But it's worth noting that they did resist the temptation to start the year with Craig Monroe in center field instead of Carlos Gomez. Then again, it's also worth noting they stuck with Gomez in the leadoff spot through the entire first half.

Will Carroll (11:32:28 AM PT): Gives me time to figure out if my backup drive is dead. Anyone out there know what it means when one of my two RAID drives has been "rebuilding" for over 48 hours?

Joe Sheehan (11:36:21 AM PT): Someone had asked about non-BBWAA awards...well, "Best Injury" is the Michael Cuddyer one. That allowed Denard Span to play right, and eventually lead off. Jay alludes to it above, but let's make it explicit: without that, the Sox are off today. Gomez is a terrible leadoff man.

The Hernandez/Liriano issue isn't about all the starts. It's just about the last few, when he was getting crushed and Liriano was pitching well. The Twins need ONE win to win the AL Central; they could have it in pocket already.

Will Carroll (11:37:04 AM PT): Interesting thought ... Floyd was an afterthought in the White Sox deal, yet here he is with 16 wins and pitching a key game for the Sox. Was he *really* an afterthought, or did the Sox see something in him that virtually no one else did?

William Burke (11:39:19 AM PT): WGN has gone to Maury Povich. That black-out screen on "The Deuce" is starting to look appealing.

Will Carroll (11:40:20 AM PT): Alex asks: "Unrelated to this game, but what is the status for Sheets? I've heard he's done for the year."

Sheets is unlikely to make the playoff roster, though nothing has been decided on that to this point. I'm still waiting to see who will start Game 1. It has to be Gallardo, doesn't it?

Will Carroll (11:42:03 AM PT): Funny -- they're showing some variant on "America's Funniest Videos" on the non-Chicago feed. I always forget there's a difference between WGN and what they're now calling "WGN America." When WGN was one of seven cable channels we got, it was essentially local and made me a Cubs fan for years. It also seemed like every cool thing in the world was in Des Plaines.

Jay Jaffe (11:46:43 AM PT): Ford Frick (D.C.) asks: "Has there ever been a study that suggests whether one team's regular season record against another's is a predictor of playoff success/failure. For example, if the Rays had been 3-8 vs. Boston and 8-2 vs. the Angels during the regular season, is there any empirical data to indicate they would have a better chance of defeating the Angels (as opposed to the Red Sox) in a 5- or 7-game playoff series? Thanks."

I don't know of any published studies towards that end but I strongly suspect Nate Silver and Dayn Perry took a look at that among untold other stats and metrics for the playoff-related chapter in our Baseball Between the Numbers book. While we're at it, it's worth mentioning that Nate and Dayn found no statistically significant relationship between records after Sepember 1 and playoff success, or between previous postseason experience and playoff success.

One more thing, and this is something I looked at over the weekend and may publish in an article format if it actually turns into something interesting upon further investigation: at least with regards to first-round matchups, actual Won-Los records are less predictive than Pythagorean records. Of the 100 first round contests (League Championship Series from 1969-1993 excluding 1981, and Division Series from 1995-2007), only 42 of them were won by the team with the better raw record. 49 of them were won by the team with the better Pythagorean (first-order) record, 47 by the team with the better third-order record. Limiting it to just the five-game series of the Wild Card era, the numbers are 24/52 for actual, 29/52 for first-order, and 26/52 for third-order. The take-home message is that short series are mostly tossups in which anything can happen, and that looking solely at teams' raw records (and probably head-to-head records) isn't a great way to judge these matchups,


William Burke (11:51:54 AM PT): fun with numbers...

The temperature at the game is supposed to drop following the rain. Here is a range of likely temps for the game and the performances at the ballpark on the South Side since 2000. I don't believe there is a discernible pattern here, and game temps are usually determined at the start of the game. MLB has today's at 64 degrees.


TEMP PA AVG OBP SLG
56 762 0.266 0.338 0.446
57 505 0.227 0.310 0.345
58 451 0.290 0.371 0.476
59 564 0.281 0.368 0.407
60 1023 0.254 0.320 0.423
61 1117 0.233 0.303 0.377
62 639 0.277 0.348 0.504
63 1021 0.264 0.326 0.405
64 1539 0.243 0.316 0.400
65 1131 0.269 0.332 0.445

Will Carroll (11:55:25 AM PT): I'm hearing that the Dodgers are prepping a multi-year deal for Manny Ramirez that they hope to have done "really quick." Given all the gyrations to make Ramirez a free agent, I'd be surprised if Ramirez signed for anything other than a giant, no-brainer number.

And yes, Jay, I just put that on the tee for you.

Will Carroll (12:09:02 PM PT): Do I have time to go sit on the deck and smoke this awesome new cigar my friends at Cigars International sent me? It's a short but fat 5 Vegas Miami, called a "Knuckle."

Jay Jaffe (12:12:07 PM PT): I'm not surprised in the least about that rumor, Will. Ramirez's off-the-charts performance probably saved Colletti's job by powering the Dodgers into the playoffs, and it makes sense that Colletti will go overboard to reward that, particularly given owner Frank McCourt's Boston roots and how enamored he is of all things bearing a Red Sox connection (Nomar, Grady Little, Bill Mueller, Derek Lowe...)

Given that, it's a veritable certainty the Dodgers are going to bid against themselves by putting forth an overwhelming, ungodly opening bid ahead of a field of suitors that will probably be thinned by Ramirez's age and the storylines that heralded his exit out of Boston. But you know what? It beats the hell out of paying for Juan Pierre and Andruw Jones, and should provide incentive for the Dodgers to sink at least one of those costs.

It's also at least somewhat defensible given that Ramirez has the marquee value to increase attendance and generate a ton of marginal revenue. Yes, this is the Dodgers, who have proven the ability to draw 3.x million per year for the past 30 seasons even by growing their own players. Yes, Manny won't hit like this forever as he heads into his Age 37 season; he'd still be the lineup's most dangerous offensive threat going into next year. Yes, he'll be a guaranteed pain in the ass once the honeymoon ends, but the honeymoon may extend if the Dodgers manage to win more than one postseason game this time around. Yes, a Ramirez-Kemp-Ethier outfield is less than optimal.

As a win-now move, it's not without its merits, and it beats just about every other way Colletti has found to waste money. I don't love the move, but I don't hate it either, or won't until I see the price tag.

Joe Sheehan (12:15:38 PM PT): Jason in Atlanta asks about Joey Devine...that really was a terrific season, lost a bit behind Brad Ziegler's work, but in the end, even better: 0.59 ERA in 45 2/3 IP (albeit with a 1.38 RA--he had four UER, three ER), 49/15 K/BB, no homers allowed.

He won't sustain that level, of course, but he looks to me like an above-average reliever who just got knocked around a bit early in his career. He gave up some big homers and never really got back on track. Now he is, and he'll be a mid-2.00s ERA guy for a while.

The A's could have the best bullpen in baseball next year.

Christina Kahrl (12:19:51 PM PT): I'll weep not when it comes to the eventual destination of any McCourt cash. The suboptimal defensive alignment's not a thing of beauty, but they may end up with a better defensive infield next year, and anything that minimizes Pierre's playing time will have a larger effect than the odd extra double to the gaps.

Joe Sheehan (12:20:07 PM PT): How different is the Manny story going to be come Saturday night, after the Cubs have ended his season? Not saying it *should* matter, but when the Dodgers bow out early, will there still be a push to keep Ramirez?

Seven NL teams lost fewer games than the Dodgers did. But by all means, Ned, act like this is the first year of a dynasty.

William Burke (12:25:19 PM PT): Adam B (Phila): Can you put Jamie Moyer's season in context?

Many of our statistics provide that context you seek by normalizing the data against outside factors. These factors might be quality of opponent, or run support or bullpen support. Since I presume your interest is regarding age, here are other starting pitchers in their "age 45" seasons:

YEAR PITCHER   GS   IP     RA+   VORP SNLVAR FRA  LUCK

1984 P. Niekro 31 215.7 122.8 43.4 4.95 3.71 4.3
1993 C. Hough 34 204.3 96.0 18.7 3.63 4.72 -6.0
2008 J. Moyer 33 196.3 120.2 40.3 4.96 4.07 4.8
1988 T. John 32 176.3 90.1 9.4 2.16 5.02 2.0
1992 N. Ryan 27 157.3 98.7 15.5 2.68 4.32 -3.9

Christina Kahrl (12:27:47 PM PT): In the "goofy things to root for" category, I know I was rooting for the Dodgers to wind up with the NL's eighth-best record, certainly.

Christina Kahrl (12:35:22 PM PT): Joel (GA) asks, "Not that I think anyone should be overly concerned with pitcher win totals, but do you think Mike Mussina just punched his ticket to the HOF with this recent season?"

... and I'll just note that Jay Jaffe wrote a really nice bit on this very subject in today's 'Hit and Run' column, picking up on what Jim Palmer and Rob Neyer have had to say about Moose recently.

Jay Jaffe (12:36:59 PM PT): Joe, it will be interesting to see the reaction once the emotional fever pitch dies down given the likelihood that the Dodger season ends sooner rather than later. But regarding the dynasty, the huge base of young talent that the Dodgers have gives them a better shot than at least 25 of the 30 teams in pulling that off, and relative to the ones that easily come to mind (Rays and D-Backs), they've got a huge built-in revenue advantage, plus the chance to enjoy a few more years of pre-free agency prices for the likes of Russell Martin, James Loney, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw, Jonathan Broxton.

If a preposterously expensive Manny Ramirez contract prevents Colletti from another Pierre-sized mistake before he gets his just desserts of unemployment, it probably counts as a win for the Dodgers.

Also worth noting: when I started the Hit List yesterday morning, they were ranked sixth in the majors in third-order winning percentage and ninth on the list overall. Their 84-78 record underestimates their true quality by a bit.

Christina Kahrl (12:37:33 PM PT): Bix (Chicago) asks: "Best reason why I should pay attention to this chat, and not my torts class:"

... would be that it's baseball, silly. Old friend (an Official Friend of BP) Ted Frank is, in my experience, the only person who ever made talking tort law interesting.

Kevin Goldstein (12:43:37 PM PT): Just for the record, I just logged on and noticed both Floyd and Devine discussed as "where did this come from?" type of guys. Both were first round picks, so they came in with some kind of pedigree. I think pitchers get given up on quicker than hitters and you see a lot of this. Garland is (kinda) another one.

Christina Kahrl (12:47:33 PM PT): dalbano (Chicago) notes, "Hawk Harrelson does not announce with a Pro-Sox slant, he just likes to see a well-umpired game."

Which has, to hear the Hawkeroo tell it, almost never happened in the history of the White Sox, Chicago, or Christendom. Nice bit of trollery, dalbano. ;)

Jay Jaffe (12:56:54 PM PT): Question from Matt (Chicago): "Will the Mets' collapse at least have the salutary effect of sparing us from Carlos Delgado, National League MVP? I feel as if I've seen enough in the 'mainstream' media (read: BBWAA-types) to lead me to believe that Pujols actually has a pretty good shot of deservedly winning this thing."

I do think the Mets' collapse ends the Delgado talk, particularly given how much the SNY broadcasters harped on the fact that Delgado appeared to be in Bernie Williams wool-gathering land at the start of the game on Friday as Hanley Ramirez hit Mike Pelfrey's first pitch right by him.

As to whether that works in Pujols' favor among voters, I doubt it. I think the narrative-based voters will point to Ryan Howard's homer on Friday night and to his huge counting stats as reason to vote for him as MVP.

Christina Kahrl (1:07:55 PM PT): ashitaka (long beach, ca) notes, "So then why is Griffey starting in place of Swisher? Swisher's been unlucky this year, but Griff is overmatched and practically immobile." Well, I think the notion of change over time can get slippery for some people on the subject of some players, and apparently the Sox don't remember the moral of the story to Willie Mays' unhappy ending as a Met in '73. At least Yogi didn't try to push Mays too far or ask too much; the question is why the Sox aren't looking at game action, numbers, or anything when it comes to Griffey's play in center. This isn't like the Yankees' stubborn refusal to move Bernie Williams to a corner, where there was at least an institutionally- and historically-minded conservatism in play--Griffey's a Sox noob, so they don't owe him any outsized loyalty in terms of playing him at any particular position.

Jay Jaffe (1:11:38 PM PT): Sticking with the Mets: "chuckstein17 (Long Beach, NY): A certain local talk show host is saying the Mets should trade David Wright and that he'll never be a great player. Why does the NY media always blame the solutions and never the problems? BULLPEN!!!"

The phenomenon of a team's best player or players taking an inordinate amount of the blame for their failures is one that Bill James noted back in the Abstract years, and it's even truer today in a more hypercompetitive media. Good Lord, on ESPN Insider today Buster Olney is suggesting that David Wright needs to see a sports psychiatrist to "work through his apparent anxiety in high-pressure situations." Wright certainly deserves his share of the blame given his part in a lineup that managed only five runs over their last three games, but he did go 4-for-9 and hit .340/.416/.577 in September, including .462/.559/.769 in the seven games prior to the Marlins series. Carlos Delgado went 2-for-11, where's his Rx for a shrink, Buster? Sheesh.

This is the state of the art for mainstream analysis, folks.

Will Carroll (1:16:03 PM PT): Anyone have an update on start time?

Joe Sheehan (1:25:23 PM PT): It's not the weather. Under the circumstances, everyone involved is asking to be paid in cash, in advance, before taking the field.

Christina Kahrl (1:25:52 PM PT): Greg Pizzo (China, Maine) asks: "Does the terrific September by the Royals mean anything? Before the season started, we probably would have thought 75 wins was pretty good, but did they find out anything about their 2009 Royals using this September?"

I'm not so sure all that much progress was made. Guys like Billy Butler and Alex Gordon didn't take steps forward, they got a harsh reminder that Brian Bannister doesn't have a lot of upside, and even things that were good for them to have sorted out--like Tony Pena Jr. and Mark Teahen aren't regulars--didn't necessarily turn out perfectly well. It seems that guys like David DeJesus and Mike Aviles need to move from center and short, respectively. Their defense is a bit of a mess, there are questions over who plays where, and there's a mistake like the Jose Guillen contract to live down. On the plus side, Hillman seemed to get his bullpen sorted out well enough, Greinke's settling in, and Hochevar and Davies don't seem too far behind. They're still a few Gloads shy of having all the bricks to build a lasting foundation, but they're getting there.

William Burke (1:33:44 PM PT): Greg Pizzo (China, Maine) asks: Does the terrific September by the Royals mean anything? Before the season started, we probably would have thought 75 wins was pretty good, but did they find out anything about their 2009 Royals using this September?

The following are the best Septembers (as compared to the rest of the season) and then the record for that team the following year.

PCT: differce in winning pct sept compared to rest of season
W-L: record the following year


YEAR TEAM PCT W L
1955 SLN .403 - 76 78
1974 BAL .302 - 90 69
1995 NYA .295 - 92 70
1966 ATL .286 - 77 85
2008 KCA .273 - ?? ??
1988 TOR .270 - 89 73
1955 BAL .270 - 69 85
1998 CHA .267 - 75 86
2001 OAK .267 - 103 59
2002 TOR .267 - 86 76


The teams that had good records the following year ('74 BAL, '95 NYA & '01 OAK were all playoff teams), basically had good records overall. This is by no means a comprehensive study, but I don't know that having a great surge in September means that there is going to be a huge turn-around the next April.

Will Carroll (1:37:06 PM PT): Yinka says: "Will - the Score in Chicago (the Sox flagship station) just said it will start at 4pm local time."

So about halfway through the cigar, I think I timed it about right. I love wi-fi.

Christina Kahrl (1:39:35 PM PT): Andy C (Indiana) interjects, "Christina, I understand that Swisher should be better than Griffey, but in the last 30 days, Swish has hit 147/213/239 and Griffey 242/309/435, so against a righty pitcher, you have to go with the hotter hand, even if that hand isn't as hot as it was 10 years ago."

... to which I would respond that Griffey's production is bad as well, and add in that he can't play center, I'd rather have Brian Anderson out there to give Floyd a helping hand. I don't think anybody should get worked up over Swisher's being 0-for-6 against Chief on his career, but if Griffey "must" start, at least put him in left. If he doesn't want to play left, sit him.

Christina Kahrl (1:43:34 PM PT): waltearls (baltimore) observes, "I know this was talked about a while ago, but the Angels game 4 starter, if necessary, will be Lackey. They have the series with the extra off day, between games 1 and 2, so they only need 3 starters for the LDS."

Yeah, I think everyone's got that, waltearls, my thinking out loud on the subject was with an eye towards the LCS assignments, since the schedule's not quite so crammed with days off, and people would have to start on three days' rest if the Angels wanted to stick with a three-man in that round.

Will Carroll (1:46:48 PM PT): I'd add to what CK said above re: Griffey that field conditions would have me leaning towards Anderson as well. If it gets better out there late in the game, the Sox roster is flexible enough to allow Griffey to get back in and have a defensive replacement. Remember, we're playing with September rosters in this game. I can't remember if that's the case for a play-in game tomorrow, but I think it's September rosters as well. I know stats count, which would be interesting if Quentin was able to play.

Christina Kahrl (1:46:49 PM PT): benrosenberg02 (boston) asks, "When will BP readers get our first look at the Post Season Odds page?"

I checked in with Clay, and the news is that we should have the NL side of the proposition set tonight, while the AL will have to wait until we know who's actually in the thing, but perhaps sometime tomorrow.

Christina Kahrl (1:52:11 PM PT): jgrinnell (L.A.) posits, "Assuming today's game ever gets underway and the White Sox win, who is pegged to be the starters for the Twins-White Sox game tomorrow?"

The Twins have committed to Nick Blackburn, I think, but I also think Slowey's rest pattern also puts him in the picture. The White Sox will either have to go to John Danks on three days' rest or confront that fifth starter conundrum they've successfully avoided since mid-month.

Kevin Goldstein (1:57:45 PM PT): mattseward (Cardiff, UK): So the Nats won the Strasburg sweepstakes. Is there *any* chance the franchise takes the opportunity to add a marque player and send a positive message to their fans or are the Lerner family going to dictate a slot filling Bryan Bullington type after the Crow fiasco?

KG: Well, a lot of that depends on the spring. There's a solid chance that the Nationals will be all but forced to take Strasburg, because any other option is such a drop off. There's also a solid chance that whoever your second option ends up being, he could also be a Scott Boras client (i.e. Grant Green). They might be kind of forced to to take Strasburg, but that good news is that one could argue that he's worth $10 million more than Crow was worth his demands.

Christina Kahrl (1:58:41 PM PT): tmartell (Milwaukee, WI) replies, "Re: Christina's comment on Slowey, he is out of the picture because of the bruised forearm he suffered in his last start against the White Sox."

(Headslap) D'oh! Consider this one of many reasons why nobody's going to confuse me with Will Carroll.

Derek Jacques (1:59:56 PM PT): dianagramr (NYC): I see that the Palin/Biden debate will be going up against the Dodgers/Cubs game. Any guesses to the Nielsen ratings for each?

Guessing Nielsen ratings isn't as much fun as it used to be, but you'd have to think that if the current Congressional game of chicken with the world economy continues, interest in the vice presidential debates will be extremely high. Biden/Palin also has the potential to be an unintentional comedy classic on the level of Manos: the Hands of Fate. However, from my point of view, the choice is simple: Cubs/Dodgers is baseball, so you watch it--you can always download the VP debate later on iTunes, for free.

Jay Jaffe (2:05:25 PM PT): "jtwranch (oceanside): As a Dodgers fan I had serously mixed emotions watching the Dodgers win the division. When the Dodgers made the playoffs did Ned Colletti buy himself another year or two? What are the chances McCourt fires him anyway? Any chance he developes into a serviceable GM?"

I think Colletti almost certainly bought himself another year with the playoff berth and I'd be shocked (not in the Claude Rains-in-Casablanca sense) if he lost his job this winter despite the numerous financial misfires that at one point had four of his most expensive acquisitions on the DL (Jones, Schmidt, Furcal, Garciaparra). Winning cures many ills.

That said insider accounts say that the Dodgers have blocked many of Colletti's attempts to trade youngsters like Kemp, and with another round of GM jobs opening up, even McCourt may realize that the blue chip candidates he's got in house -- assistant GM Kim Ng and VP of Scouting/Player Development Logan White -- may be more desirable than Colletti...

...who may finally develop into a serviceable GM given a 20-year stay in Alcatraz armed with nothing but a copy of Baseball Between the Numbers. That's a hypothesis I'm ready to see tested.

William Burke (2:07:15 PM PT): I am starting to wonder if WGN plans on returning to the game at all.

Christina Kahrl (2:12:29 PM PT): Re: WGN programming, the television's never on during the day except when there's baseball to see... what I'm seeing and hearing, suddenly the 15 otherwise ill-spent minutes watching part of Idiocracy are beginning to make so much more sense...

William Burke (2:13:33 PM PT): Noah (NYC): So, how much do we think Detroit cares about this game?

How much SHOULD they care, at least as compared to any other game they played this September. Individuals may have some incentive to perform, Freddy Garcia needs to show teams that he can still pitch and Sheffield probably wants to hit his 500th Home Run. Some of the players, Magglio maybe, might just want to beat the White Sox for their own reasons. I don't think we can be certain what internal motivations exist. I would think that most would like to go home and relax, maybe even just enjoy being away from the grind for a couple of months. I don't think that means anything negative about them as people.

Will Carroll (2:15:44 PM PT): On Colletti and GMs in general, I don't think there are going to be any openings aside from Seattle and I think that one will be filled really quickly. Like anysecondnow.

Christina Kahrl (2:17:43 PM PT): And we're off, with a real game and everything...

Christina Kahrl (2:25:15 PM PT): Amusing first-inning moment: Hawk's seeming shock that there's a debate over Morneau-as-AL MVP.

Christina Kahrl (2:32:14 PM PT): Cris E. (St Paul, MN) wonders, "The fact that Morneau took the last week off has to mean Pedroia has won the AL MVP, right?"

Well, not if we ask Hawk Harrelson, but I would think Pedroia's a pretty tasty pick.

Will Carroll (2:42:47 PM PT): Aside from the control issues, I think Freddy Garcia's agent has to be really happy with that first inning.

William Burke (2:54:54 PM PT): Admittedly, I haven't seen a lot of Tiger games this year, but is Inge just bad catcher? I can't see his bat being strong enough for 3B. What is the motivation behind that decision and where does Carlos Guillen play next year?

Christina Kahrl (2:55:39 PM PT): Starting Thames instead of Matt Joyce seems odd, but Joyce has been slumping of late...

Dave Pease (3:07:47 PM PT): Play-in game: slumpbuster!

William Burke (3:09:59 PM PT): Yinka Double Dare (Chicago): I thought Freddy was throwing about 82 a month ago or so -- they said on the radio he threw a fastball 89 last inning? Will's right, his agent has to be thrilled, 89 is at least as fast as he was throwing for the White Sox in 2006.

Pitch F/X has Freddy hitting as high as 92 during this game.

Christina Kahrl (3:11:05 PM PT): Wendy (Madrid) notes, "Christina... You know that alot of people don't know what you're talking about when you mention obscure references, right? Please, let's pretend that we're talking to a bunch of sports fans and not some Harvard literary club."

Maybe something more like a movie club; Idiocracy was an almost straight-to-video Mike Judge movie/Luke Wilson vehicle. I wouldn't recommend it, and I can't say what that might mean for whether or not Harvard types liked it.

As far as Inge, I think it's something like the Mike Ivie situation a couple of decades ago: Inge doesn't want to catch, and while every person who values his knees might sympathize, Inge is a pretty marginal regular anywhere else. Hit like he did this year, and he's even below-average for a catcher. Add in that Guillen moving to left blocks Joyce, and it's a lose-lose proposition on offense.

Dave Pease (3:19:04 PM PT): Mike Ivie... now that's a blast from the past.

Er, considering his bat, maybe that should be a bloop from the past.

To bring a more recent Padres player (and former Tiger) into the discussion, his ability to play catcher could make Brandon Inge a nifty Robert Fick type... a game a week behind the dish, and then fill in at third and a corner as needed.

Christina Kahrl (3:26:54 PM PT): Maybe it's just me, but I think there's a discrepancy between Pitch-f/x and the Cell/WGN, with Pitch-f/x running faster, especially notable with Chief this past inning.

Joe Sheehan (3:28:34 PM PT): "nschaef (Atlanta): What sort of pitch count do you think Gavin Floyd will be on in this situation?"

No number, but I do think Guillen would like to do here what he did in the last game in Minnesota--only use Thornton and Jenks. That could be as early as the sixth, but given the strike zone and the Tigers--remember when this team was going to score 1000 runs?--he'll make it to the seventh.

Dave Pease (3:44:45 PM PT): Apologies, we're having some technical difficulties, so comments are coming slowly.

Tiger bats are also having technical difficulties, scoring one run after the start they had to that inning.

Joe Sheehan (3:45:12 PM PT): "qbroda (Regina, Canada): How did Inge not end up with a triple? Hopefully it doesn't factor into the outcome..."

Yeah...

I was pretty surprised he wasn't even rounding second. The ball bounced away from Wise and Griffey took a long time to get there. Inge isn't super-slow or anything...that was fairly surprising.

Great battle between Granderson and Floyd, though, and how about Hershiser calling the curve as Floyd was releasing it. He's very good when talking about pitching.

Christina Kahrl (3:46:28 PM PT): The Granderson at-bat deserves to be remembered. Guillen didn't have a tactical alternative worth going to, but Floyd's getting Granderson was pretty tasty. The question is what the Sox can do with Floyd's pitch count already in the 90s, and with the odds that they will have to use a third (non-Thornton, non-Jenks) reliever going up.

Christina Kahrl (3:50:43 PM PT): Silver Sox (Golden Baseball League) wonders, "Is there any symbolic meaning behind Leyland's choice to start Freddy Gsrcia? It reminds me of the scene in The Godfather: Part II when Michael Corleone shows up to the Grand Jury Hearing with Frankie Pentangeli's brother from Sicily."

Now there's a pop culture reference that deserves to be dug up. A seven-pitch fifth inning? Chief's cruising, to be sure.

William Burke (3:55:07 PM PT): Wow, Cabrera makes "World Slowest Man" Paul Konerko look like a track star.

Christina Kahrl (3:58:26 PM PT): mattseward (Cardiff, UK) frets, "Am I the only one having flashbacks of yesterday's Mets Marlin's game? Is Matt Thornton about to come on and give up a gopher ball?"

Thornton would be pitching on his third consecutive day, if/when he does come in, so it's worth being frightened about...

Jay Jaffe (3:59:58 PM PT): Oh, doctor! That was a horrible play by Floyd, who still had time to make that play. At worst he should have pocketed that ball once he fumbled it.

Christina Kahrl (4:03:20 PM PT): bix (chicago) wonders, "Any thought to doing more of these chats next year, or in the playoffs? I realize each of you are busy for many of the games, but it is really great to get the BP writers and readers together for a chat during a national broadcast."

Thanks bix, we generally really enjoy doing them. Assuming we get the technical difficulties currently afflicted this chat ironed out, and should the Sox win, we'd be doing this again tomorrow during the Sox/Twins game. We're certain to do more of these during the postseason, and we'll also be doing as many series preview chats with the authors of the various Playoff Prospectus pieces before individual series get under way. We're a chatty bunch, so hopefully you like the company.

William Burke (4:04:59 PM PT): The D-Wise joke isn't funny any more, this is exactly when he should have been pulled from the game for a pinch hitter. Probably should be Swisher and let him stay in LF.

Christina Kahrl (4:05:07 PM PT): Man, it would be a real pity if, like Jerry Dybzinski in '83, people remember that play about Floyd, and not how important he was about getting the Sox to this point in the first place.

William Burke (4:06:09 PM PT): Of course, he makes me look like an idiot by drawing a walk.

Christina Kahrl (4:06:20 PM PT): Hey, a walk's a walk's a walk. Don't look a D-Wise gift horse in the mouth. And we all know gift horses get British dentistry.

William Burke (4:07:18 PM PT): ...and stealing 2B.

Christina Kahrl (4:08:10 PM PT): Methinks you might acquire a new favorite player, Bil. ;)

Jay Jaffe (4:10:43 PM PT): Twins-related question: "jb (Mpls): I don't understand why Morneau gets more attention for MVP than Mauer. Mauer is clutch, he is probably the best defensive catcher in the game, he wins the batting title, and he has coaxed an amazing season out of a very young pitching staff. Morneau is great, but I'll take Mauer."

The first three letters of the answer are R-B-I. More specifically, Morneau has the bigger counting stat numbers (23 HR, 129 RBI) than Mauer (9 HR, 85 RBI) and voters tend to favor those categories rather than make any attempt to account for defensive play or even defensive position.

For what it's worth, Mauer has 11.9 WARP3 through Game 162, tops in the league. Morneau's got 9.7 WARP3, a top 10 total but still short of his teammate.

William Burke (4:11:54 PM PT): He is still giving up .40-ish OBP compared to Swisher on the season, and a full .100 for their respective careers. I think that walk was more about sore Chief rather than enlightened Wise-guy.

William Burke (4:13:12 PM PT): What does it say about Leyland's bullpen that this late in the game he is going to a starter instead of a reliever?

Christina Kahrl (4:13:32 PM PT): And sure enough, here's Galarraga. On three days' rest, after a long Thursday start against the Rays, and while they used three relievers on Sunday, they didn't use either Aquilino Lopez or Fernando Rodney...

Christina Kahrl (4:15:00 PM PT): Sorry, three relievers and Chris Lambert.

Christina Kahrl (4:18:25 PM PT): Wow... the pair of wild pitches to plate Wise, and I don't think you put them on Dusty Ryan.

William Burke (4:19:24 PM PT): Ok, NOW d-wise will make the rounds on talk radio here in Chicago tomorrow as he has now had his very own "Dave Roberts" moment. Fans will be calling for Kenny to sign him immediately to a 3-year extension and declaring him the starter in CF next year.

Jay Jaffe (4:22:56 PM PT): Leyland's bullpen was 12th in the league in WXRL. That he went to Galarraga suggested he's managing to win this game rather than picking up the phone to make the same tired phone calls a la Jerry Manuel.

But boy, that didn't work out too well, did it?

William Burke (4:23:59 PM PT): nschaef (Atlanta): When did the White Sox offense become this awful?

About the time Carlos Quentin's .287/.394/.571 went on the shelf. That .400 OBP was in the 3-hole and replaced by Dye, and then you started seeing a lot of d-wise's sub-.300 OBP in the 2-hole a lot.

Christina Kahrl (4:24:55 PM PT): murraygd13 (MN) wonders, "If you managed the Twins would you give any thought to starting Liriano tomorrow on 3 days rest if need be? He had a short outing last time against the Royals so he should be rested and he would neutralize Pierzynski, Griffey and Thome some. I have an eerie feeling Blackburn could get shelled tomorrow."

I think that's a pretty tough call, in that the Sox have their share of guys who'd really rather face lefties as well: Konkerko, Juan Uribe, Alexei Ramirez, even Dye to some extent. And then you get into questions of how to line up your rotation once/if you win... Blackburn got clobbered his last time on the bump in the Cell, but he did decently his first two times around. Getting routed by the Orioles' or Rays' lineups is a lot different from facing this Sox lineup.

Christina Kahrl (4:27:50 PM PT): Seay looks like he's got nothing, but to touch back on a point Kevin made a few hours back, he's another "out of nowhere" reliever who was a first-rounder back in the day.

William Burke (4:28:01 PM PT): Andrew (Fayetteville): Am I the only one who thinks that the Sox commentators are a tad annoying and a little too biased?

What is even more fun are those exchanges like the one during Galarraga's warm-up where DJ was talking about his flight reservations and suggested that Hawk would have to do the last 3 innings by himself. That was followed by the nice "been there, done that" comment which was either directed at DJ or (former partner) Tom Paciorek. This coming from the guy that during most of this season would take an inning or two off each game.

Ben Murphy (4:31:01 PM PT): Was it just me, or did Alexei Ramirez have his fists in the air before the bat hit the ground? Wow.

Jay Jaffe (4:32:00 PM PT): I loathe Hawk, to the point that I tend to avoid White Sox games on Extra Innings that I might otherwise watch. I'd stick an icepick in my ear every inning if I had him as my regular announcer.

Christina Kahrl (4:32:38 PM PT): Kaboom. Hey, you know what they say, Ramirez has quick wrists, Ben. ;)

Jay Jaffe (4:32:46 PM PT): Regarding the Ramirez homer, loyal reader Nick Stone remarks, "Isn't that the old Earl Weaver formula? 4 walks, 3 wild pitches, and a grand slam?"

Joe Sheehan (4:32:48 PM PT): "First-pitch fastball"?

That sure looked like a hanging breaking ball to me. I guess the last 45 minutes have given us the full list of reasons why the Tigers were so lousy this year. The failure to get big hits in the fifth and sixth, and a complete lack of major-league relievers. Gary Glover? Really?

William Burke (4:34:00 PM PT): David (Boston): In retrospect, was the Griffey trade a good one for the White Sox?

I don't think you could call it a bad trade, it isn't as though Danny Richar or Nick Masset would have done anything to help the Sox in September. Furthermore, I don't think they will be missed in the future either as I don't know that Richar will out-perform Sox future 2B Chris Getz.

William Burke (4:42:14 PM PT): Dotel: Designated purveyor of 500th HR?

Christina Kahrl (4:45:28 PM PT): OK, back. Tonight's dingo break brought to you by Eukanuba, the dog food velocidoggies love best.

Jay Jaffe (4:45:44 PM PT): If anyone can make it close again, it's Dotel. 12 homers in 66.1 innings - Shef's only better shot at getting 500 today would be if Kyle Farnsworth were to somehow don a Sox uniform.

Will Carroll (4:47:54 PM PT): lemppi asks: "Your mission if you choose to accept it: Dave Dombrowski hires you to find the best possible trade for Magglio Ordonez. Do you tell him he's nuts to trade Maggs? If not, what clubs do you talk to first and what would you expect to receive? Thanks."

I'd ask if he's trying to win in '09. If he is, I hold onto Ordonez. I don't think you can get value for him. If he's building, I find out how much of the contract Ilitch is willing to swallow and start dialing Brian Sabean's number."

Will Carroll (4:48:57 PM PT): Sorry -- family vehicle situation. Had to change a flat tire ... what'd I miss? :)

Great moment for Alexei Ramirez. Have to love what he's been able to do.

Christina Kahrl (4:49:31 PM PT): murraygd13 (MN) wonders, "Here is a random transaction question. Could the Twins have traded someone to the Tigers last night after their game was over? Assuming this guy would have passed waivers far enough to get to the Tigers to claim. Could that player have played in this game today? The Twins could have traded them Guardado per se, thinking he could help against a lefty somewhere during the game."

I think it would have been legit, barring some Seligian Kuhn-style interference because it wouldn't be seen as sporting, but given the debts Selig owes to the Twins' Carl Pohlad, I don't see the former first-among-equals crossing the bazillionaire. So, on a theoretical level the Twins could have made this deal, and yes, the Tigers could have used that somebody today. Heck, it might have been a great way to save themselves from having to carry Guardado on the post-season roster.

Will Carroll (4:49:39 PM PT): Hawk Harrelson and Steve Stone. Matter and Anti-Matter? Is the Sox '09 announcers the baseball equivalent of the Large Hadron Collider?

Steven Goldman (4:50:42 PM PT): Hey, I've been working on my last *choke* column for the NY Sun and have only been able to sporadically follow along. Did the Tigers put in Eddie Cicotte in the sixth? Not that Cicotte didn't owe the White Sox a big one, but still...

Christina Kahrl (4:56:24 PM PT): Bil's exactly right... the development of Getz really puts the Sox in a potentially nice situation as far as moving Alexei Ramirez somewhere else on the diamond, should they choose to, and Getz certainly has more upside than Richar. The question's really what was Griffey for, because playing center is something he really shouldn't be attempting at this late date in his career.

William Burke (5:01:16 PM PT): Getting ready for the 9th, Ozzie is surely going to throw Jenks, but I gotta think the best solution is that you try to finish with Linebrink, keeping Jenks "loose". A 4-run lead in the 9th today is a lot less important that whatever you might face tomorrow.

Jay Jaffe (5:07:51 PM PT): This one picks up on something I just noticed on the ESPN crawl: "Mike (Jax, FL): I saw that Renteria's option isn't being picked up. What team does he make the most sense for next year given the utter lack of SS options in MLB right now?"

Given the ciphers they had in place all year long and the track records of their management, the Giants and Orioles seem to be teams likely to sign up for a slice of a rapidly aging bat-first shortstop whom many observers think may no longer be able to carry the position defensively. Yummers.

Then again, both of those teams have take baby steps towards turning over a new leaf this year. It remains to be seen whether they can resist the temptations of a bejeweled veteran presence like Edgar, though.

Christina Kahrl (5:16:02 PM PT): Rich (Columbus, OH) notes, "Hawk wants to start Clayton Richard Game 1 if the Sox make the playoffs? It's a good thing the White Sox got him out of the front office and keep in an observational role only."

It's easy to bash on Hawk--his one-year reign of error was a low point of some sort in Sox history--but in this one instance, maybe he's got a point, if only because the Rays lose about 40 points of slugging against southpaws, and a bunch of OBP. However, that's season-cumulative info, and with Longoria and Baldelli back... it's an overreaction to Javier Vazquez's troubles, to be sure, and Vazquez would be starting on regular rest come Thursday, should the Sox get there, of course.

William Burke (5:18:37 PM PT): I am starting to feel about as bad for this catcher as I did for Dan Uggla in the All-Star game.

Joe Sheehan (5:19:06 PM PT): The ESPN2 crew is debating holding back Jenks with a four- (now five-) run lead with an eye towards letting him go two tomorrow. It seems to make sense--he pitched yesterday, so if you use him today you might not get much from him tomorrow, and heaven knows we've pounded the idea of using your best reliever in better situations than +5 in the ninth.

But.

The rest of the Sox pen--D.J. Carrasco is throwing--is bad enough that the chance that if you start the inning with one of them, you might have to go to Jenks anyway is reasonably high, say 35%, and you'd be going to him with a chance to lose the game. If this was Linebrink, who's gone 1 2/3, I'd say fine. It's not. I think you may have to use Jenks.

I'm conflicted.

Christina Kahrl (5:23:48 PM PT): Carrasco didn't have to pitch over the weekend... throwing him makes sense to me, because it sort of preserves Linebrink's availability for tomorrow's game against the Twins (and Linebrink didn't pitch on Sunday after Saturday's black eye).

Christina Kahrl (5:29:01 PM PT): And like that, we're on to tomorrow's win-or-die matchup...

Christina Kahrl (5:34:12 PM PT): With that, I know I'm off to make like Mr. Law and whip up something tasty (orange-marinated pork with a mandarin rind-rub), but talk about tremendous additions to the seasons of Floyd and Alexei Ramirez; I wonder what the odds are of the Cubano's adding that all-important fifth rookie slam might be. To everyone who rode out the technical hiccups and chimed in today, many thanks, CK out.


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