The White Sox invade Progessive Field this weekend for more inter-division action, this time against the Cleveland Indians, a team the White Sox have taken four out of five from so far this year – a far cry from their records against the other A.L. Central teams.
The Sox will throw Gavin Floyd (7-9, 4.37 ERA) on Friday, Edwin Jackson (6-7, 3.97) on Saturday and Phil Humber (8-6, 3.27) on Sunday.
I traded emails with Lewie Pollis over at Wahoo Blues, discussing the state of the team. Here’s what he had to say.
TM – Which aspect of the club (starting pitching, bullpen, offense, defense) needs to step up most for the final stretch of the season?
LP – It’s got to be the offense. The Tribe scored 5.4 runs a game in April, but they’ve averaged exactly four runs a game since then. The rotation is better than people realize, the bullpen has (for the most part) been lights-out, and while the defense could use a boost, the Indians should be most worried about hitting the ball well, not chasing it down when the other team hits it.
TM – How aggressive do you think the Indians will be to upgrade at the non-waiver deadline?
LP – That’s an interesting question. There’ve been rumors that the front office is fervently trying to upgrade, while simultaneously protecting all of the organization’s top prospects. The Indians aren’t going to “mortgage the future” for a blockbuster rent-a-player, but they’ve got some cash to spend and some pretty clear holes (starting pitching, outfield, maybe a first baseman), so don’t be surprised if they add a couple noteworthy second-tier guys.
TM – What pieces would you like to see the team add before July 31?
– Are Grady Sizemore
and Travis Hafner
still centerpieces of the team, or are they becoming more of a liability with such frequent injuries?
– Whoa, whoa, isn’t there some middle ground here? Hafner and Sizemore aren’t stars anymore, even when they’re healthy—Pronk’s comeback this year is fueled largely by a .375 BABIP (and that’s after it’s already dropped about 30 points) and Sizemore has lost both his once-great defense and his formerly solid plate discipline—but they’re still definitely useful players. They may be overpaid and they’re now overshadowed on the field by guys like Asdrubal Cabrera
and Justin Masterson
, but they’re still valuable parts of the team.
TM – How much credit does Manny Acta deserve for such a dramatic turnaround in 2011?
– I’m of the belief that a manager doesn’t deserve too much credit for his team’s successes or failures (unless he’s truly making the clubhouse an uncomfortable place)—I give most of the credit for the Indians’ hot start to the guys in the lineup, not the guy filling it out. That being said, Acta seems like a great clubhouse leader, and his experience working with young players and sabermetric-friendly philosophy
definitely haven’t hurt. So yeah, it definitely seems like he’s had a positive impact, but I’m not sure you can really say quantifiable impact would work out to more than a game or two.
I answered several of Lewie’s questions about the Sox, so make sure to head over to Wahoo Blues and check out what I had to say.