It was a good week for the Cleveland Indians. The Tribe took advantage of a homestand against two division rivals, winning four of five against the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins.
The Indians will try to keep on rolling this week as they kick off a road trip against the Chicago White Sox (60-60, 3.5 GB). Despite getting off to a disappointing start, the White Sox have managed to stay in the race—they’re within striking distance of the Tigers and Baseball Prospectus gives them a 1 in 4 chance of making the playoffs.
As we get ready for action at U.S. Cellular Field, I talked to SouthSideSox.com‘s Mark Primiano (a.k.a. “U-God”) about the White Sox’ playoff hopes, the Edwin Jackson trade, and controversial Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen. Here’s what he had to say:
LEWIE POLLIS: The White Sox are just 3.5 games back in the AL Central, but they’re in third place and they’re only a .500 team. How do you see the division playing out? Can Chicago pass the Indians and catch the Tigers?
MARK PRIMIANO: I do believe that it’s possible for the White Sox to both pass the Indians and eventually the Tigers. The Sox have been playing .571 baseball in the second half, better than both Detroit’s .536 and Cleveland’s .464. With 11 games left against the Tribe and 6 against the Tigers, I believe it comes down to a race in the final week between Chicago and Detroit.
LEWIE POLLIS: A couple weeks ago, Chicago traded Edwin Jackson and Mark Teahen to Toronto for Jason Frasor and Zach Stewart. With most people focusing on the Blue Jays flipping Jackson for Colby Rasmus, the White Sox’ role in the deal has been seemingly forgotten. What did you think of the deal?
MARK PRIMIANO: I have mixed feelings about the trade. I’ve always felt bad for Mark Teahen, but maybe finally not being expected much of will help him turn things around. Make no mistakes, this trade was a salary dump, pure and simple. The Sox could have put together a similar package to that of what the Jays sent the Cardinals for Rasmus, but then there would have been no chance to shed Teahen’s salary. I’m happy that we managed to get Zach Stewart, as he was one of my favorite prospects to follow from another franchise. I think he could easily replace Jackson as a cheaper 3/4 starter.
LEWIE POLLIS: The Jackson trade was the only deadline deal the White Sox made, so in spite of being a contender the Pale Hose seemed to actually downgrade last month. If you were Kenny Williams, would you have done more—either to add a piece (or more) for the stretch run or to sell off more?
MARK PRIMIANO: The team was in that no-man’s land of not being able to kick the field goal or punt. Jackson was our main trade chit, as trading Carlos Quentin away would have all but crippled the offense. Any more selling would have pissed off a fan base who still think often of the White Flag Trade. The farm system isn’t nearly good enough to go get a worthwhile bat, so standing pat and making internal moves (calling up De Aza) seemed the best route to take.
LEWIE POLLIS: After years of injuries and inconsistency, Carlos Quentin finally looks like a very good player again. Is his talent here to stay? And after months of trade rumors, how long does he have left in Chicago?
MARK PRIMIANO: The broken wrist and the plantar fasciitis are thankfully things of the past and we’re now seeing Quentin for what he truly is: an offensive weapon that is prone to streakiness. As long as the training staff can keep him healthy (something the Sox staff is pretty good at), Quentin can remain a dominant middle of the order hitter. I believe he’ll be back on the team at least through next season, though if things are bad around the trade deadline next summer I wouldn’t be shocked to see him jettisoned.
LEWIE POLLIS: Between his controversial quotes and love of small ball, Ozzie Guillen has to be one of the most polarizing managers in baseball. What do you think about him?
MARK PRIMIANO: I will always love Ozzie Guillen. He was my favorite player as a child for reasons I still can’t quite figure out. He’s at worst an average manager who can draw attention away from his players when the need arises. I don’t believe managers impact a season very much unless they lose the clubhouse. Guillen can stay until this happens.
LEWIE POLLIS: Who’s taking the mound for Chicago this week, and what should Indians fans know about them?
MARK PRIMIANO: In order of appearance: Gavin Floyd, Mark Buehrle, and Phil Humber. Buehrle has been red hot, not losing since June 16 and not allowing more than three runs in a start over his past 18 starts. The clock appears to have struck midnight for Humber though, as his BABIP luck is finally appearing to even out.
LEWIE POLLIS: What’s your prediction for the series?
MARK PRIMIANO: Sox take the series 2-1, Humber being the only losing pitcher for the Pale Hose. Buehrle continues his hot streak.