That is, without Joe Crede, Jose Contreras, without the bat of a struggling Paul Konerko, and without breakout star Carlos Quentin. Now Contreras is out for the year and Crede and Quentin have put on their cheerleading uniforms in the absence of any other options. Could Ozzie win a World Series with this team? Without Jose Contreras, Ozzie had to rely on new talent to take over the position of the 5th starter. Left-handed Clayton Richard was plucked from the Charlotte farm. He and Lance Broadway, and a few days off helped fill the time during Contreras’ days to pitch. Paul Konerko was brought back to life after a trade-deadline deal brought veteran Ken Griffey Junior to the team, but adding Ken Griffey added to the ambiguity of the outfield and caused confusion over which would be the odd man out: Konerko, Swisher, or Griffey? Joe Crede, much like last year, ended his season early due to back problems. While Crede insisted the situation was different, the cold fact remained that the Sox were without Joe Clutch, and would have to settle for Joe Crutch: Juan Uribe. As for Carlos Quentin’s broken wrist, it left behind a patchy outfield. Dewayne Wise, Nick Swisher, Brian Anderson, Jerry Owens, and of course, Ken Griffey Junior all were in the mix looking to fill the remaining spots in left and center field. While defensively, the clear choice was Anderson and whoever else, the real struggle was finding a way to compensate for the absence of Quentin’s power and clutch hitting abilities at the plate.
So, can Ozzie win a World Series with this team? All signs point to… maybe. The Sox starting pitchers have proven themselves capable of big game wins, even on short rest- at least Floyd, Danks, and Buehrle have. Javi Vazquez has yet to show the Sox an ace ability during the last crucial games of the season. If he can perform for the Sox during the offseason and Danks can remain consistent, Ozzie’s team can win. If Ozzie can figure out a winning formula in the outfield that can provide satisfactory hitting without compromising defense [See inside the park home run], the team can win. How about the lack of Joe Crede? Don’t we remember what he did in the 2005 offseason? Only too well. It’s exactly what he did against the Twins this year. He’s a human highlight reel, and everyone knows I won’t sleep for a month or two when he is not with our team anymore. But, Juan Uribe has been trying hard enough over at third base to make the pain easier. As long as Josh Fields doesn’t get any starts, and Uribe gets the occasional hit, the Sox should still have enough power in their lineup to win. It’s doable.
The actual odds? Well, expect a long road. Javi is set to pitch the first game, but the Sox are playing it safe and keeping Floyd in the ‘pen for the first two games and holding out on his start until game 4. The first pitcher the Sox are facing, Shields of the Rays, has a 3.56 ERA, and is 14-8 for the season. (He also played with Jerry Owens, which I guess was important enough to put in his bio.) Seems like a tough cookie. He will be followed up with Kazmir who we’ve seen quite a lot. The Sox will send out Buehrle. Then, back home for homefield advantage. The next Rays pitcher will be Garza. Against Danks. It doesn’t get any easier from here, but this is October baseball.