For a little outside perspective of this year’s AL Central race (and other Chicago thoughts), I got old pal Nick Friedell on the phone to discuss all things White Sox/Tigers/Cubs:
What’s your take on the White Sox?
After the first two months of the season they started to put it together. That has coincided with Gordon Beckham’s arrival. As he has begun to pick it up, the team started to turn things around. Like Ozzie Guillen says every game, they have been inconsistent throughout this season.
How does this year’s team compare to the 2005 World Series squad?
The first thing that comes to mind is that the ’05 starting rotation was totally dominant. This year’s squad doesn’t have that. They have Mark Buehrle, but Buerhle has not won since that perfect game in July. There are plenty of question marks across the board – Gavin Floyd and John Danks are not your typical no. 2 and no. 3. Peavy may not come back this season and Contreras looks like a tired veteran these days.
As an outsider what do you think of this year’s Tigers squad?
The biggest thing I’ve noticed lately has been Verlander’s pitching. He had an off year last year, but he’s really turned it up this year. It seems like every game he goes out there and dominates. Two guys stand out in my mind on offense – Cabrera who’s crushing the ball and Granderson. When those guys get hot, they are better than any two players on the Sox. Cabrera is a type of a guy that can lead the team by himself. He’ll need to do that if the team wants to lock up the Central in the next month and a half.
I know a lot of Detroiters follow the Cubs as their NL team, is there any chance the Cubs make the playoffs?
It’s seriously doubtful right now. We talk about the White Sox being inconsistent, but the Cubs have been as inconsistent as anyone this year. It seems that every one of GM Jim Hendry’s moves have turned up badly. Last year they had 97 wins and seemed destined for a World Series appearance. Since then they have torn down the roster, changed it up, and they are struggling to stay above .500. If things continue to go the way they have gone, there’s a good chance that Lou Piniella will decide not to come back next year.