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The Off Couple

6/11/2010

The drama is building in the White Sox organization: Ozzie Guillen and Kenny Williams almost came to blows, reports Joe Cowley.

Ken Williams, speaking on the White Sox website about the relationship between him and Ozzie:

"We are both very competitive men, strong-willed men. I believe in self-assessment, and I think you have to assess all parts of our operation from top to bottom to determine if it's, in fact, still a productive working relationship.

"Whether or not the maintenance of that relationship is such that we still have the drive to get through some things and still have the drive to get through some differences ... I'm still in that assessment mode for myself, in particular.

"That should not lead to the assumption that I mean that [Guillen] is the one [who may benefit from a change of scenery]. If I determine that I am the one that is the cog in the machine, then I am the one who will stand in front of Jerry Reinsdorf and tell him so and step aside. ... I will not deny that I am growing weary of the soap opera."

Over the past two days, I've spoken with about half a dozen officials from other organizations who were following the Guillen tweets with fascination, wondering how all this will fuel a building storm. Right now, the White Sox are the "Jersey Shore" of baseball.

Elsewhere

• The future is now for the Indians' Carlos Santana: Reportedly, he is headed to the big leagues and will make his debut tonight.

Russell Branyan rescued the Indians on Thursday night.

• They will have an aquarium behind home plate at the Marlins' new ballpark, writes Sarah Talalay, visible from the stands and the field. As someone who could stare at fish in a tank for hours, I love this.

• A-Rod left the Yankees' game in the first inning with groin trouble.

Dings and dents

1. Within this notebook, there is word that Dallas Braden had an MRI on his elbow.

2. Todd Wellemeyer hurt his leg and could be replaced by Joe Martinez.

3. J.J. Hardy landed on the disabled list, as La Velle Neal writes. The Twins' middle infield is in a state of flux right now.

4. Not surprisingly, Kendry Morales is out for the year.

5. Nelson Cruz is being cautious in handling his injury, writes William Wilkerson.

6. The cracked-rib count on Jacoby Ellsbury is up to five, and he may not be back until July.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. Cameron Maybin's star is falling, as Mike Stanton's stock rises.

2. The Cardinals are bringing back Jeff Suppan. It makes all the sense in the world for the Cardinals to try this, in light of Suppan's history with the team, because it costs them virtually nothing to try. They don't need a No. 1 or No. 2 in their rotation; they just need a steady No. 4 or No. 5, and if Suppan gets better in a few starts, he could be that guy. If he's not, the Cardinals can try somebody else.

3. Heard this: There are no ongoing Roy Oswalt trade talks.

4. Heard this: There have been zero conversations between the Mariners and Yankees about Cliff Lee. And keep in mind that the Yankees, like the Red Sox, have basically been philosophically opposed to the idea of paying a double-barreled cost for elite players in recent years. The Yankees and Boston basically passed on Johan Santana, CC Sabathia and Roy Halladay in trade talks in recent seasons because they didn't want to trade a boatload of high-end prospects for a player they could just sign in the offseason. The Yankees didn't engage the Indians seriously in the summer of 2008 for Sabathia -- but they did aggressively go after Sabathia in free agency, because all is cost them was money. Given the fact that multiple teams figure to be competing for Lee in trade talks if the Mariners place him on the market, it seems very, very unlikely that the Yankees would give up a Jesus Montero or an Austin Romine (and the Mariners desperately need a catcher) for a few months of Lee -- especially at a time when their rotation is performing well. We'll see.

5. Rickie Weeks was pulled out of the leadoff spot.

6. The Orioles are interviewing Bobby Valentine today, reports The Baltimore Sun. Heard this: Buck Showalter is under consideration by the Orioles, as well.

7. The Pirates are expecting fewer trades this summer, says the club president within this notebook.

Thursday's games

1. Jonathon Niese got it done, as David Waldstein writes. Why Niese won, from Michael Trainor of ESPN Stats & Information: He got hitters to chase. Niese's chase percentage of 41.8 was clearly his best performance of the season. His previous best was 35.9 percent, and his season average rose to 24.6 percent. He threw strikes. This has been a strength of the lefty's all year, but his 70.4 strike percentage (108 pitches, 76 strikes) Thursday was his best of 2010. It was the third time this season Niese has had a strike percentage of at least 70. He generated weak contact. Inside Edge tracks balls that are "well-hit." According to IE, ZERO balls (.000) were well-hit off Niese on Thursday (league average: .267).

Mark Simon has some stuff to consider from Niese's one-hitter.

2. The Phillies continue to struggle for runs, as Tyler Kepner writes.

3. The Mariners played terribly, again, as Geoff Baker writes. This just seems like a fuse has been lit here, and the question is whether anybody can stamp it out. Here's a list of bad teams that are playing better than the Mariners, from Larry Stone.

4. The D-backs' bullpen got lit up, as Nick Piecoro writes.

5. The Giants had a good road trip, but it could have been great, as Henry Schulman writes.

6. Trevor Cahill continues to get better and better. Why Cahill won, from Stats & Information: his changeup. Cahill held the Halos to an 0-9 mark against the pitch, lowering his season BA allowed to .195 on changeups. His other off-speed stuff, too. Angels hitters chased 57 percent of Cahill's off-speed pitches (MLB average: 31 percent). In addition, Cahill's strike percentage with the slow stuff was at 73 (MLB average: 61). His control. Cahill faced 29 batters Thursday. He only went to three-ball counts on two at-bats (seven percent; MLB average: 19 percent).

7. Jim Leyland had some harsh words for the Detroit hitters, writes Lynn Henning.

8. The Royals hung on to win a wild game in Target Field.

9. Arthur Rhodes worked overtime and picked up a win. Dusty Baker was tired after watching.

10. The Braves' reserves came through again; this time, it was Brooks Conrad.

11. Josh Johnson outdueled Roy Halladay. A tremendous game to watch. Why Johnson won, from Michael Trainor of ESPN Stats & Information: Johnson threw a season-high 15 sliders in the middle third (vertically) of the strike zone, leading to a season-high strike percentage of 77.1 on the pitch. It didn't matter, however, as the Phillies were 0-6 against the pitch in that location and 0-10 for the game, including three of Johnson's five strikeouts. Johnson was lights-out when he got ahead in the count. The Phillies finished 0-12 when Johnson was ahead. Seven of the 12 outs came off his slider.

12. The Brewers got to frolic, as Anthony Witrado writes.

13. The day after the Blackhawks ended their curse, Lou Piniella didn't want to talk omens -- and the Cubs lost.

14. The Jays' bats came to life, writes Mike Rutsey. Why Brett Cecil won again, from ESPN Stats & Information: He kept up his non-fastball dominance. The lefty only gave up three hits Thursday and they were all on fastballs. The Rays were 0-11 against non-fastballs -- that lowers Cecil's season mark to .106 (12-113) against his slower stuff. In 2010, opponents are hitting .087 (4-46) against his slider, .140 (8-57) against his changeup and .000 (0-9) against the curveball. He had a killer instinct -- Cecil got to two-strike counts on 12 hitters and retired them all (100 percent; MLB average: 72 percent).

15. The Rockies continue to struggle for runs, as Troy Renck writes.

16. Pitchers ruled the day, as the Padres split a doubleheader, writes Chris Jenkins.

17. You can't stop the Astros, you can only hope to contain them.

18. The Rangers closed out a terrific homestand.

19. The Nationals completed a sweep.

20. Roy Halladay was good; the other guy was better.

21. The Red Sox lost a tough game, writes Michael Silverman.

22. Jake Arrieta was excellent in his first outing.

23. The Pirates are losing a lot, writes Dejan Kovacevic.

The Patience Index

Other stuff

Kurt Suzuki got sad news, as Susan Slusser writes.

• Neat story about a guy who will throw out a first pitch at Turner Field, from Ken Sugiura.

Dustin Nippert is nearing a record.

• Wrote this piece about pitch-tipping in the current issue of ESPN The Magazine.

Matt Holliday is staying positive.

• Baseball has too many stats, say A.J. Hinch and other D-backs.

• Johan Santana is not pitching like an ace, writes Kevin Kernan.

Pablo Sandoval has turned to videotape in an effort to bounce back. It was pretty evident watching Sandoval score from first on a double Thursday that his weight continues to be an issue -- particularly for a 23-year-old. Sandoval apparently works hard and puts in his workouts, but the team began talking with him about nutrition last season, and that remains a work in progress. He's such a fun player to watch, and has such an unusual ability to hit, you hope he can stay ahead of the curve on this issue.

• Financial limitations may have affected the Rangers' draft, writes Randy Galloway.

• The Red Sox are continuing to scout some of their draft picks, writes Peter Abraham.

• Success and sellouts are hard for the Phillies to maintain.

Garret Anderson is having fun, writes Dylan Hernandez.

Troy Tulowitzki is making a case for the All-Star team.

• The Rays are leading a return to old-time baseball, writes Richard Griffin.

• A Padre is starting to hit.

• Ned Yost wants his pitchers hacking in the interleague games.

• So very relieved that Abby Sunderland, the 16-year-old who attempted to sail around the world, has been located. Now I hope they send her to the prom and have her stay home until she finishes college.

• Vanderbilt feels like it matches up well against Florida State.

And today will be better than yesterday.