Good news, Sox fans: with a 3-7 stretch, the Sox finally passed the Orioles in the Wildcard standings this week, taking the first step on their march to the playoffs. Now they only have to pass
It might just be posturing, but GM Ken Williams has told anybody that would listen, including the PTI guys and the Chicago Tribune that, despite the teamâ€™s free fall in the AL Central, he still likes this team and, after getting a vote of confidence from Paul Konerko, is â€œinclined to stick with it, to ride this thing out, and if we have to go down with the ship, we'll go down together.â€
So before moving on, I feel the need, one last time, to express that this team wonâ€™t make the playoffs.
Earth to Ken Williams: Wake up! If Williams thinks he should stand pat or be a buyer at the trade deadline maybe he has a little too much Jerry Krause in him. And if Konerkoâ€™s not-so-impartial views (whatâ€™s he going to say, â€œI think weâ€™re toastâ€?) affect Williamâ€™s plans, heâ€™s not being fair in his assessment. This team has had more than enough time to prove its mettle, and has failed at nearly every turn.
And itâ€™s not just their recent June swoon. Since the All-Star break of last season, the Sox are 62-80. That is practically a full yearâ€™s worth of struggling, a trend that is unlikely to turn around after the magical re-arrival of Darin Erstad and Scott Podsednik.
To me, that is enough proof that this team is not playoff-caliber, no matter what Paul Konerko says. Konerko is paid to hit, Williams is paid to analyze. Weâ€™ve just watched to Sox get tripped up by second-division teams like the Astros, Pirates and Marlins, a stretch the team should have used to fatten up.
Instead, the Sox would now have to go a pristine 66-28 the rest of the way in â€™07 to reach the 95-win mark that the won the 2006 Wildcard for the Tigers. Thatâ€™s .702 baseball! And with the Sox missing their chances to pick up easy wins against the bottom feeders, that miraculous winning streak would have to come at the hands of the Indians, Tigers, Red Sox and Twins. To quote the Hawk, â€œthis ballgame is ov-ahh.â€
With that all in mind, I hope Williamsâ€™ professed confidence and unwillingness to be a seller is just a smokescreen, which I believe it is. The man has a sizeable ego, and a level of stubbornness that makes it difficult to admit defeat, but I think heâ€™s crunched the same numbers I just did and realized 2007 is a lost cause. Even a two-week hot streak is not going to change things; I just hope it doesnâ€™t egg on Trader Kenny.