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Wednesday, July 24

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White Sox Fri Jul 06 2012

Quintana, Youkilis and the Sox Star Snubs

Q!

How about that Jose Quintana? Far from being a ballyhooed prospect for the Sox (who, as we all know, have the worst farm system in MLB), Quintana has been a major player for the Sox recently. He's the main reason we haven't thought of a catchy "Peavy, Sale, then pray for rain" line, akin to the Yankees' old "Sabathia and Hughes, and the we lose" tag.

After a few spot starts, Quintana was recalled and put in the rotation when John Danks was put on the DL in May. After getting settled, Quintana has only given up more than two runs once (still getting a 14-7 victory over the Yankees) over his last six starts. He had back-to-back eight inning shutout performances against the Dodgers and Brewers. He even has good command, with five walks total in his last 45.2 innings pitched.

Thursday's game against Texas was his finest game so far. He went eight dominating innings while allowing one fluke run for a sweep of the Rangers. The only run came when Adrian Beltre hit a screaming liner back at Quintana, and the ball ricocheted off his left thigh and into shallow right field. Ian Kinsler scored from second on the play. Even then, it showed how tough Quintana is -- he immediately waved off the trainers, finished off the inning and went for four more.

I'm most impressed on how Quintana mixes his pitches. He has the standard fastball-slider-curveball-changeup repertoire, but any of those pitches can be his "out" pitch. Quintana can throw some sick curveballs that break down and in on righties (like how he struck out Brandon Snyder and Craig Gentry in the third inning), and he can bring the heat. He threw a few high fastballs for strikeouts on the afternoon, including one to Josh Hamilton in the fourth. Quintana's fastball isn't too quick, but as Steve Stone said during the telecast, 91 looks a lot like 96 when the batter has just seen a few looping curveballs.

Quintana stuck out eight Rangers, and only allowed two hits - one being on the first batter of the game, and the second coming on Beltre's ricochet. The guy looks like a keeper, and will be a nice fifth-starter the rest of the way.

~*~

Then, there's Kevin Youkilis. I liked the trade for him, and I thought he looked OK after his first week with the Sox.

Smash-cut to today. After Youk's four RBIs in the series opener, game-winning hit in the second game, and his go-ahead home run that went on to win the finale, Hawk Harrelson had this to say about Youkilis: "He could be the most impactful midseason acquisition we made in the last quarter century."

Well, he's been better than Manny Ramirez in 2010, that's for sure. But seriously, Youk's been very good, and his grind-it-out approach can be a valuable teaching tool. For his walk-off hit Wednesday, Youkilis fouled off four two-strike pitches before connecting for a single. "It's good for everybody to see that," manager Robin Ventura said in a post-game recap. "We have a lot of young guys. It's good for them to see it, but it shows just how good of a player he is."

~*~

Just as the Sox were riding high after the sweep, the news came out -- Yu Darvish won the final vote for the last American League all-star spot. The #TakeJake campaign came up short for Jake Peavy.

I do believe that Peavy and AJ Pierzynski should have both made the AL team. Pierzynski has better stats across the board than Matt Wieters, who made the team. AJ has a higher batting average, OBP, OPS, slugging, more RBIs, home runs and runs scored, and he has fewer strikeouts. They are a wash defensively, as Wieters has caught more runners stealing than Pierzynski, but has several more errors. Wieters probably got the nod for two reasons -- he's a young up-and-comer, and the Orioles have been such a surprise this season.

As for Peavy, he is sixth in the AL in ERA, fourth in WHIP, fifth in innings pitched, second in complete games, and first in quality start percentage among pitchers with 10 quality starts. He's been a work horse this year. Of course the fans voted in Darvish.

But here are two silver linings. One, both Pierzynski and Peavy have made multiple all-star teams. So, the overlooks are not quite as tragic.

Two? Nobody will remember who was snubbed and who made the team. Let's go back to 2010. Do you remember that Jeff Niemann was considered a legit snub that season? What about Rickie Weeks? Dan Uggla? Jaime Garcia? OK, but who did make the team? Players including Evan Meek, Ty Wigginton and the immortal Hong-Chih Kuo.

Of course, getting into the all-star game is a wonderful achievement, but who makes it and doesn't make it becomes irrelevant about two days after the game. The oversights on Pierzynski and Peavy are unfortunate, but no biggie.

(That is, unless the super competitive Pierzynski and Peavy take the snubs personally and use it as fuel, pushing them to another level for the rest of the season. This is a definite possibility.)

 
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