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  1. From watching the games, I think the White Sox should indeed make a 9th inning switch. Get a defensive replacement out there for Juan Pierre.

    Comment by hunterfan — April 14, 2011 @ 9:10 am

  2. I speak for all White Sox fans when I say this:

    “BRING BACK LINEBRINK.”

    Comment by King John II — April 14, 2011 @ 9:15 am

  3. Who? They sent down Milledge to bring Gray up (who hasn’t entered a game).

    Comment by Dan — April 14, 2011 @ 9:28 am

  4. As a White Sox fan, I have to respectfully disagree with this statement.

    Comment by Chris Cwik — April 14, 2011 @ 9:28 am

  5. The issue I’ve always had with Matt Thorton is he doesn’t have a whipe out pitch. He’s been EXTREMELY good since coming to the Sox, but I’ve always feared that eventually the 94-97mph fastball with no movement would be exploited by the league. It hasn’t happened to this point, so is it possible that it is beginning to take place? Again, the sample size is very small at this point in the season but it’s something I’m keeping an eye on. There has been some very poor defense at this point in the season which has contributed to the issues as well.

    Piggybacking of some of the ideas in the piece, going into the season I felt the Sox would be wise to keep Thornton in his 7th/8th inning role. I always felt that was the best approach especially given the strong left-handed hitters within the division.

    Comment by Sox27 — April 14, 2011 @ 9:29 am

  6. It has been very ugly, even going back to opening day when the ‘pen gave up 6 runs in 3 innings to make a blowout slightly interesting. As a Sox fan I keep telling myself that this si just small sample size and Thornton will regress to his baseline for the rest of the year but each time it happens it gets a little harder to believe that. The whole team right now is 1 for 7 in save situations. I know saves are often a useless stat but when the league average is something like 75% and you are at 14% it probably means something is wrong no matter how stupid the stat.

    You are absolutely right about Guillen. Anybody who thinks he isn’t smart has formed that opinion from watching highlights of blowups on sportscenter. It is the equivalent of thinking that Griffey was great defensively ebcause all they ever showed were spectacular catches.

    Comment by MikeS — April 14, 2011 @ 9:45 am

  7. Thornton is not a closer and he never will be

    Comment by Slevin Kelevra — April 14, 2011 @ 9:47 am

  8. I also would disagree, but not quite so respectfully.

    Comment by Dan — April 14, 2011 @ 9:55 am

  9. His fastball *is* his wipeout pitch.

    Comment by 2nd Half Adjustments — April 14, 2011 @ 9:56 am

  10. Thanks for the great insight. Too bad he was 8 for 8 last year as one. The ninth inning has nothing to do with early problems.

    Comment by Terry — April 14, 2011 @ 9:59 am

  11. Attempt at humor, not an actual suggestion, since two of the saves have been blown after Juan Pierre apparently develops an allergy to the ball.

    Comment by hunterfan — April 14, 2011 @ 10:00 am

  12. Can I paraphrase your comment?

    TRAID MATT THORNTON!Z!!zzz!11

    Comment by Dandy Salderson — April 14, 2011 @ 10:03 am

  13. Yea, I got the humor, but it is true too… They don’t have a good outfield defensive replacement for late in a game. Being at the game against the Rays where he dropped a ball in the 9th, it is frustrating to watch.

    Comment by Dan — April 14, 2011 @ 10:07 am

  14. What pitcher aside from Rivera can get away with having only 1 pitch? Thornton’s slider is not effective enough is the greater point.

    Comment by Sox27 — April 14, 2011 @ 10:17 am

  15. “Neither Jesse Crain, nor Sergio Santos, have pitched poorly this season”

    Crain, in 5 appearances, has pitched poorly twice, so-so once, and good twice. (yesterday he threw approximately 3 pitches (out of 13 thrown) in the strike zone. He walked Barton but Suzuki bailed him out by swinging at high fastballs and striking out.)
    Santos on the other hand has been excellent.

    Comment by De Selby — April 14, 2011 @ 10:47 am

  16. It seems like no one has brought up “luck” in this argument. Walks HAVE plagued Thornton, but his blown saves have been a combination of, yes walks, but errors and bloopers. I have only seen one hard hit ball off of Thornton, and that was Dan Johnson HR. Other than that it has been a combination of rinky dink hits, bloopers, and broken bat singles. All of which, are the same thing. Eventually he gets those for outs, and the game ends in a timely fashion.

    Comment by Sully — April 14, 2011 @ 11:15 am

  17. And Dan Johnson should have never come to the plate as it followed errors by both Ramirez and Pierre.

    And yes I know talking “luck” is a touchy subject in the sabermetric community. But I do think, having watched these disastrous performances, Thornton is getting hosed.

    Comment by Sully — April 14, 2011 @ 11:18 am

  18. The sabermetric community definitely realizes that luck is a real thing that factors heavily into games. Look at any article on BABIP for proof of that.

    I agree though, luck has been a major factor in the failures of the Sox bullpen thus far. I even used the term when referring to Sale’s performance. I fully expect the White Sox’s relievers (especially Thornton) to bounce back.

    Comment by Chris Cwik — April 14, 2011 @ 11:29 am

  19. Always fun when some fluky things happen and half of a fan base gets to play armchair psychologist and tell us how Matt Thornton isn’t mentally tough enough to be a closer. This lack of mental toughness forced Alexei and Pierre to botch routine plays for outs 2 and 3 on Friday. This lack of mental toughness then made Pierre drop another flyout on Monday that would have left Thornton with 2 outs and a man on second instead of removed from the game. Then his mental toughness was exposed again yesterday when he allowed one looping single after a strikeout, which allowed a few of Chris Sale’s runners to score. Get “tougher” Matt, it will make your fielders catch the ball!

    This probably has some sort of historical value too. When was the last time a guy managed to “blow” 3 saves in a home stand and literally not give up 1 single earned run?

    Comment by JK — April 14, 2011 @ 11:51 am

  20. Kenny Powers – THAT is a guy who is a true closer.

    Comment by Dandy Salderson — April 14, 2011 @ 12:06 pm

  21. Sale has half the MLB innings as Santos. So the reasoning for not using Santos doesn’t apply to Sale? Do your homework. No, really! Do your homework.

    Comment by jb — April 14, 2011 @ 12:19 pm

  22. No one wants to overreact to 4.2 innings pitched, but Thornton might need more time to refine his approach. Walks plagued him when he was with the Seattle Mariners, and those troubles have revisited Thornton so far this season. His velocity appears fine, which could mean that a bullpen session will fix these early struggles.

    Carson, this paragraph bothers me …

    [1] We’re referring to 4.2 innings.
    [2] We’re referring back to a walk problem from 2005?
    [3] A bullpen session may fix it.

    Small sample. 6 years ago. No, a bullpen session doesn’t fix “walks” … otherwise the league would be over-saturated with Bret Saberhagens.

    I think some weird things have happened late in games against the ChiSox, and the whole deal is “no big deal”. Ozzie’s comments seem to be aimed as much at the defense. He seemed to be more angry that when things go wrong he’s the one answering questions, and when they go right the players are there front and center to receive the praise.

    There are a lot of early season articles simply because it’s early in the season and something has to be written.

    Thornton has 5 k/9 and 7 BB/9. Something about regression and SSS would seemingly fit here. I wouldn’t make any analysis based on any relievers’ 4.2 IP stretch. Any 4.2 IP stretch.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — April 14, 2011 @ 12:26 pm

  23. Sale has pitched his whole life, while Santos converted from SS just last Spring.

    Do your homework.

    Comment by Chris Cwik — April 14, 2011 @ 12:27 pm

  24. Thornton’s walks have been down significantly since he joined the White Sox. I’m guessing that’s because Don Cooper altered his mechanics, or helped him out in an early bullpen session shortly after he joined the team.

    I don’t see why that can’t happen again.

    Also, while I like and enjoy the writings of Mr. Carson Cistulli, I am not him.

    Comment by Chris Cwik — April 14, 2011 @ 12:30 pm

  25. The fact that Santos has only been pitching a year may actually make him a good prospect for closer. He seems to have a pretty good temperament out there, and is pretty good at just going after the itters. Remember, Jenks was a minor leaguer when the Sox through him into the closer role the year they won the WS.

    Comment by Sophist — April 14, 2011 @ 1:15 pm

  26. Let it not be overlooked that Ozzie was absolutely horrible in his decision-making:

    1. You have a closer who is struggling-you thus want the easiest possible save situation for him to get any lost confidence back. The gods favor you with a 3 run lead against a weak-hitting team with the wind blowing in.

    2. You also have a young pitcher who closed at the end of last season,but you know he needs to be protected from overuse,given his age & questionable mechanics. He threw 35 pitches the night before.

    Most any manager would have picked option 1. Instead Ozzie went with Sale,then proceeded to bring in Thornton with the bases loaded & 1 out,when any misstep at all would further erode his confidence. The result was unfortunate but well-deserved…just hoping we don’t hear the kid has a strained forearm or something-that would be the icing on the cake.

    Comment by JR — April 14, 2011 @ 1:17 pm

  27. I like Carson too. I like his writings a lot. But, at FG, you don’t write an article (IMO) about 4.2 IP and refer back to situations in 2005 … and then suggest an overly solution unrealistic solution.

    His walks have not been a problem in Chicago, therefore we should assume that they will continue to not be a problem.

    Look at this way …

    In 4.2 IP, if I walk back-to-back batters, my BB/9 is screwed. If I do the same thing after 40 IP, no biggie. A 5 BB/9 rat for a closer basically means he walks a guy every other appearance … which could be a big deal or no big deal.

    If there is a concern with Thornton, it would be with the K/9 … but that could also be location and/or not getting ahead of hitters. He’s being hit decently (Line drives) without the K’s. But, that’s abnormal for him, so we should assume that he’ll be back to the old Thornton soon … especially if we’re going to use the consistent FG approach/philosophy.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — April 14, 2011 @ 1:19 pm

  28. wow. spellcheck really failed me on that message.

    Comment by Sophist — April 14, 2011 @ 1:23 pm

  29. Agree completely. Thornton is probably already trying to be too fine and throw the perfect pitch as a result of his defense killing him the two previous times out. So why not give him the rope of the 3 run lead? Instead, he is put into a position with absolutely no margin for error and one looping single results in him “blowing” the game (even though it was Sale’s doing).

    Comment by JK — April 14, 2011 @ 1:25 pm

  30. Bringing in Sale yesterday was a mistake by Guillen. He pitched 2 innings the day before. Loading the bases and bringing in Thornton with one out when Thornton was already struggling was just setting Thornton up for failure. Thornton has struggled but you bring him into the game first not Sale. If you say it’s his job then make him do his job and don’t make it harder for him to do his job.

    The thing that stings more is not only did Thornton blow the save in 3 of those attempts but we lost the game too.

    It’s Santos time.

    Comment by striker — April 14, 2011 @ 1:32 pm

  31. Here’s what I think might be behind bringing in Sale in that situation . . . if you are thinking of Sale as a closer, you have to know he is prepared to pitch in back-to-back games–prepared both mentally and physically. Don’t know if Ozzie was specifically setting up a test for him, but there’s certainly something-for Ozzie-to be learned about Sale in that situation.

    But I agree: Santos is the guy.

    Comment by Sophist — April 14, 2011 @ 1:38 pm

  32. They are due for some “bad luck” in the bullpen.

    any management team that can somehow get Cliff Politte and Neil Cotts to have dominating years at the same time and help lead them to a title definately had their share of “good luck”

    Comment by mister_rob — April 14, 2011 @ 1:45 pm

  33. I think you’re speaking for Twins and Tigers fans, White Sox fans would rather put out the fire rather than pour gasoline on it with Linebrink.

    Comment by Yinka Double Dare — April 14, 2011 @ 1:49 pm

  34. Did you see 2007? That made up for any good bullpen they ever had.

    I was at a game against the Tigers that year and they went to the ‘pen down maybe 6 – 4 in the 6th or 7th. I got up to leave and a Tigers fan asked me where I was going, he didn’t think the game was over.. I told him I had seen this show before and it would end about 11 – 6. Sure enough….

    Comment by MikeS — April 14, 2011 @ 1:53 pm

  35. As a White Sox fan, I have to respectfully disrespectfully disagree with this statement.

    Comment by My echo and bunnymen — April 14, 2011 @ 2:07 pm

  36. David Bowie – Cat People

    Comment by My echo and bunnymen — April 14, 2011 @ 2:08 pm

  37. That was the year of “power arms” . . . thing is, there’s a connection between that year and 2005. In ’05, those performances of Politte and Cotts were lightning in a bottle–and I don’t think it was planned that way. In ’07, Kenny seemed to be consciously trying to court that same feeling, with mostly young inexpensive power pitchers.

    Comment by Sophist — April 14, 2011 @ 2:29 pm

  38. Great offensive start and starting pitching destroyed by poor defense and the bullpen, at least the Twins are still doing terribly to this point or I’d be slightly concerned!

    Comment by Fred — April 14, 2011 @ 3:01 pm

  39. As a speaker of the English language, that last comment makes absolutely no sense.

    Comment by R M — April 14, 2011 @ 9:56 pm

  40. Sooo…I’m a FG rookie, though I have Thornton in a fantasy league and have been cursing him AND Ozzie (I totally agree, JR–poor decision to bring in Sale, and THEN Matt into an impending disaster)

    Anyway, I was checking out his “PitchFx”, and saw that in 2009 & 2010 he threw his fastball roughly 88%, and slider 10% of his pitches. This year, he’s still thrown his fastball exactly 88% of the time, though he’s used his slider only 3.4%, and a CHANGEUP 5.1% of the time (when in 2009/2010 he used this pitch a whopping 0%. It looks like it’s at 89mph, so what’s the deal? Is this just a lowsy fastball, or is he trying to add a 2-seamer or change that is just not working? I’d like to see the stats on the results of those actual pitches…maybe y’all can help me understand this…

    Comment by Scandler — April 15, 2011 @ 1:41 am

  41. My opinion is that his slide wasn’t being effective and he already throws his fastball 88% so he is trying to use the change.

    Comment by Dan — April 15, 2011 @ 11:58 am

  42. What are you talking about? He has one of the best fastballs in the league. His fastball isn’t the problem, its his slider that he has been having an issue with. Plus the defense has collapsed around him. I think he will be fine.

    Comment by Steve from Rockford — April 15, 2011 @ 4:40 pm

  43. While I’m still not a fan of Thornton in the 9th, look at the BABIP of Thornton and Sale, they are astronomically high right now. Those rates cannot be sustained, so things will improve.

    Comment by Sox27 — April 15, 2011 @ 5:28 pm

  44. I would prefer the term “Covert Closer” for its alliterative charm.

    Comment by Daniel Watkins — April 16, 2011 @ 3:25 pm

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