Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
Matt (Cheshire, CT): Hi Joe. The White Sox have won 12 of their last 20, and it seems that Mark Beurle might be turning his season around. Even with their horrible start, they are sitting only 5.5 games out of first place. Do you think they have a legitimate shot at turning things around and winning the weak AL Central division? Or will they give up and start dumping salaries?
Their problem is also their offense. It's very inconsistent. Paul Konerko was a leading offensive guy last season and he's hitting around .200. Buehrle can turn it around but they still need more offense. They have lost lots of 2-1 and 3-2 games. They just aren't scoring enough runs.
[Mike: Their offense has been consistent, consistently bad. They are 24th in runs in the majors. They have been getting nothing from Joe Crede and Paul Konerko. However, the Sox are 12-14 in one-run games. So it's not as if the close games are killing them as much as Joe says.]
Jay (Holmdel, NJ): Hi Joe! Big Fan. I want to talk about Derek Jeter. Before the season he was really healthy and focused. Many people including myself and your colleauge Harold Reynolds, thought that he was going to have a 1999 repeat season offensively then his shoulder ended those thoughts. Do you think he will return to his near MVP form of 1999 ever again in the near future and if so when, next year, 2005, or later. Thank You.
When you are injured, especially shoulders, it takes awhile to get that rhythem back. You always start to swing before you are 100 percent and that can create bad habits. Jeter has had some good games but he hasn't been as consistent as he has been in the past. Once you get that consistency back, your confidence grows.
[Mike: Anything is possible, but Jeter has never come close to equally his 1999 brilliance. It's popular to say that he has been sliding since then, but really his 2000-01 seasons were very close to his 1998 season. Last year he was slightly better than his first few years. The concern is that he is just 29 and should be peaking now whereas his peak appears to have happened at the age of 25.
He's still having a Hall-of-Fame type career. However, his main concern should be to re-establish his 1998, 2000-01 excellence and not worry about matching his possible watershed year. Unfortunately, his stats so far this year appear to lend credence to the sliding theory. We'll have to wait until later this year/next year to determine if it's still related to the injury or to an actual decline.]
Steve(NYC): Hey Joe, what do you think about Mike Mussina's chances this year of finally winning 20 games in a season? Also, what about his chances at 300, he's got 191 and he's 34. Do you think he has a shot at it since he's on the Yankees and will have a great chance to win ball games?
You have to remember everyone can't be as effective at 40 as Roger Clemens. It takes a special guy to be able to do that.
[Mike: It takes a special guy to be as successful as Mussina. It takes a special guy to even get to the majors. Mussina got brass in pocket-he's special. Is he special enough on the special-o-meter though?
As far as 300, he averages 17 wins a season. So he would need at least 6 healthy seasons at the same level to get close. It's possible but probably not a great bet.
By the way, Joe, you ignored the 20-win question. By the All-Star game, he'll have at least 10 wins on a team that should remain successful. You do the math.
To be continued...
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