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Posts Tagged ‘Cleveland Indians’

Jay Mariotti Provides Chicago Cubs An Assist

Posted by sportsmaven on July 10, 2008

Who would have thought that Chicago Sun-Times sports columnist Jay Mariotti was a budding baseball GM?  In his Tuesday column titled “CC This: After bid deal, all eyes turn to Hendry”, Mariotti wrote about the importance of a Chicago Cubs response to the Milwaukee Brewers pickup in reigning AL Cy Young Award winning pitcher CC Sabathia from the Cleveland Indians.  Mariotti writes:

Job One should be Rich Harden, he of the 5-1 record, 2.34 ERA, 91 strikeouts and nine consecutive impressive starts until recent speed bumps. The Oakland righty is healthy, and while a hefty talent package will be extracted by A’s dictator Billy Beane, the Cubs should have enough youthful pieces to make a match.

Impressive?  You would think that most anyone with baseball sense could have picked then Oakland A’s pitcher Rich Harden as the next logical target, if one truly believed that the Cubs were actually in the CC Sabathia sweepstakes. I believe they were in, but were not serious contenders because they lacked the necessary pieces that Cleveland desired for a difference maker with the stature of Sabathia, by far the best pitcher available in what is quickly appearing to be a bear market for impact players.  The Cubs didn’t pursue Harden as openly as Brewers stalked Sabathia.  Who even knew that Cubs GM Jim Hendry and A’s GM Billy “Moneyball” Beane were even seriously talking?  But less than 24 hours later, the deal was complete, Harden was a Cub along with an important insurance policy,”throw-in” P Chad Gaudin.  The inclusion of the 25-year old Gaudin is what makes a very, very good trade a great trade.

Jay Mariotti not only reveled his sound baseball logic, but he also predicted the huge amount of talent the Cubs would have to give up for Harden (although I thought the Cubs got off easy in that regard, with the only painful departure being RHP Sean Gallagher).  Mariotti also nailed the timing, although that may have had more to do with being lucky than being good.  But he was good with the rest of the story.  You might not like Jay Mariotti, and believe me, there are many that don’t, but you can’t say that he wasn’t on top of his game on this one.  Kudos. Jay.  Maybe Jim Hendry does read your columns after all.

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The Chicago White Sox Are The Surprise Team In AL Central

Posted by sportsmaven on April 22, 2008

The surprise team in the AL Central this season is the Chicago White Sox. After a dismal 72-90 season in 2007, the Sox were picked no higher than 3rd place in most prognosticators division rankings for 2008. The Sox are certainly hitting the ball, with a solid offense led by Joe Crede, Jermaine Dye, Jim Thome and newcomers Nick Swisher and Carlos Quentin.

While the Sox were expected to be strong offensively, the true surprise for this team has been the solid performance of the pitching staff, especially the starters. Going into 2008, Mark Buehrle and Javier Vasquez were expected to be staff leaders. The back half of the staff has been led by a recent resurgence from Jose Contreras, who had his best outing since the World Series season of 2005 in his start on April 16th against the Baltimore Orioles, hurling 7 innings of 1 run ball with 6 strikeouts.

Gavin Floyd and John Danks have been the most surprising, with Floyd taking a no-hitter into the 8th inning of his start against the Detroit Tigers on April 12th. Floyd is 2-0 with a 1.40 ERA and improving by leaps and bounds as this season progresses. John Danks has also been fantastic, with a 2-1 record and a 3.04 ERA. Danks currently has a 14 2/3 inning shutout streak, and outside of a 2 1/3 inning, 7 run outing against the Minnesota Twins on April 9th, his ERA would be a sparkling 0.14 (1 earned run in 21 1/3 innings pitched)

If the Sox continue to get quality pitching, they can dominate a AL Central Division that suddenly appears to be much weaker than anticipated. The Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians have huge pitching problems that may not work themselves out. While Sox pitching continues to dominate AL Central play, the teams considered the strong horses of the division are fading early, providing the Sox a great opportunity to open up a formidable lead in the early part of the the 2008 season.

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