White Sox And Brewers Need To Heal Soon

GLENDALE, AZ - MARCH 11: Adam Dunn #32 of the Chicago White Sox during the spring training baseball game against Chicago Cubs at Camelback Ranch on March 11, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

They play in different leagues now, but the Milwaukee Brewers and the Chicago White Sox will always be inextricably linked. In my mind, anyway.

Both clubs built their histories on the strong collective back of working-class fans. Both competed for many years in the same league (but different divisions). And in 1968 and '69, the White Sox actually played 20 home games in Milwaukee's County Stadium.

Lately, though? Not so much, aside from their upper-Midwest locales.

Until this year.

This year, both franchises went all-in. The Brewers, because first baseman Prince Fielder might be gone after this season. The White Sox, because owner Jerry Reinsdorf isn't going to live forever. The Brewers acquired Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke. The White Sox committed $93.5 million to sluggers Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko.

Granted, the White Sox seem to go all-in almost every year, trading cheap (but talented) prospects for relatively high-priced veterans. Rebuilding just isn't a part of the South Side Strategy.

As a result of their off-season moves, both franchises were generally expected to compete for division titles. Neither was expected to blow anyone away. But both were expected to win roughly 85 games, which in their divisions was essentially good enough for co-favorite status: the Brewers with the Cardinals and Reds; the White Sox with the Twins and Tigers.

Lately, though? Not so much.

Today the White Sox are 11-22, 10 games behind the first-place Indians.

Today the Brewers are 14-20, have lost eight of their last 10 games, and are 5-1/2 games behind the first-place Cardinals.

Tonight the White Sox begin a six-game road trip. The good news is that they won't have to face Jered Weaver or Dan Haren. The bad news is that the Angels' other three starters are pretty good. The other bad news is that after playing three games in Anaheim, the Sox travel to Oakland, where the A's feature the best pitching in the American League.

Which is not exactly a prescription for recovery, considering the White Sox' hitting woes. "Led" by Adam Dunn and his .167 batting average, the White Sox rank just 10th in the league in scoring. And it could be a lot worse. Other than Konerko and Carlos Quentin, none of the regulars are even close to hitting well this season. Meanwhile, the pitching hasn't been much better. While Chicago's starters have pitched adequately, their relievers have combined for a 5.08 ERA and 37 blown saves.

Well, maybe not 37 ... just seems like it.

But while it's easy to focus on the White Sox lineup when trying to explain their putrid record, nothing good will happen for this club unless the key relievers pitch well. Especially considering that Sergio Santos probably won't go through the whole season without allowing any runs.

Meanwhile, the Brewers have almost exactly the same problems. They're 10th in the National League in scoring, 10th in ERA. And after hanging around the fringe of the Central race for the first few weeks of the season despite the absence of Zack Greinke and (for a spell) Corey Hart, the Brewers have Greinke and Hart back but have recently gone into a slump.

Fortunately, the Brewers aren't as far behind as the White Sox, nor must they play the White Sox' tough schedule this week. Instead of heading west to visit two contending teams, the Brewers are home this week against the Padres and the Pirates. If the Brewers are going to get better, this week will be the perfect time to start.

Losing Nyjer Morgan was a blow, as was acquiring Yuniesky Betancourt last winter. But the Brewers are 5-1/2 games out of first place rather than 10, and they do have all the key ingredients in place for a run.

It's only the middle of May, and nobody's ever won (or lost) a pennant in the middle of May. Still, if one or both of these teams is going to make a move, soon is better than later. Later will probably be too late.

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