Thursday, June 4, 2009

Around the AL Central

I sure picked a fine time to bench Jason Kubel in one of my fantasy leagues. A pair of three-run dingers in his first two at-bats this afternoon against the Indians.

* What's wrong with the Tribe? Lots of things, actually — like nine guys on the disabled list — but today's sore point is Fausto Carmona — who was a legit Cy Young candidate two seasons ago. He has now allowed nine homers in 60-plus innings with an ERA of 7.62.

He entered the game with a 6.60 ERA — tied with Francisco Liriano for next to worst in the AL among ERA qualifiers (41 pitchers). But ... Carmona has walked more men than he's struck out — for the second season in a row — while Liriano's ratio (28 walks, 50Ks), while not good, isn't horrendous. Ron Gardenhire sounds determined to keep Liriano in the rotation, and one can argue that one either way, but for Cleveland to keep running Carmona out there seems borderline suicidal.

The worst ERA, by the walk, belonged to Tampa Bay's Andy Sonnenstine (7.07).

* Dontrelle Willis made his fifth start Thursday for Detroit. Not good. He blew through the first two innings, walking one guy but throwing a DP ball, so just six hitters. But the third: He hit the first guy, walked the second, struck out the third. Then he issued three straight walks and got pulled. 53 pitches, 24 of them strikes.

There's a large reservoir of good will for Willis; it seems everybody around the game genuinely likes the guy. As a result, his comeback effort this year had gotten generally positive reviews -- positive in the form of "He's an acceptable back-of-the-rotation guy" assessments, which is considerably less than he used to be. Frankly, I haven't seen that. His ERA is in Carmona territory, and so is his walk/strikeout rate.

* Not only did Willis implode, Miguel Cabrera left the game early with a hamstring problem. The Tiger offense has struggled this year — it's the pitching that's carried them to the top of the AL Central — and they can ill afford to be without Cabrera for long.

* For a while, Kansas City was a sexy pick in the division. No more. The Royals are 3-11 in their last 14 games.

* This was Ozzie Guillen, manager of the Chicago White Sox, a couple of days about about Gordon Beckham, last summer's first-round pick: “He's a great player, he's going to be in the big leagues, he's going to be a big part of this organization pretty soon. But we don't have Beckham on our mind right now. I don't and I'm the one making the lineup. If we have Beckham here, we're in trouble.

“That kid needs to play. A lot of people say between Triple-A and the big leagues is one jump. It's a huge jump. In Triple-A you're going to face a good pitcher maybe once a week. Here, it’s every day.”

This afternoon, Beckham's playing third base for the White Sox. Just another example of a manager blowing smoke.

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