Breaking News: Carlos Quentin placed on the 15-day disabled list, Dayan Viciedo recalled from Charlotte.
This is a Hollywood script in the making. Just imagine, Viciedo finally arrives on the South Side, has a monster five weeks and helps the White Sox overcome the seven-game deficit to win the A.L. Central.
I’m just saying…
What were the odds…at the beginning of the season that Brent Lillibridge (12) would have more home runs than Adam Dunn (11) at the end of August? And Lilli has done it in about 200 less at bats. Brent’s 12th, a two-run blast, came last night and proved to be the difference in the 4-2 Sox victory over the Mariners At Safeco Field. A native of the Seattle area, Lilli is shown above, perhaps pointing to this friends and family in the stands.
The conventional wisdom in the media is that lists, polls and surveys are sure to create buzz among its viewers, listeners and readers. So, everybody does it.
I was particularly amused today when I saw a poll in the Chicago Tribune asking readers to answer the question, “Who is most to blame for the Adam Dunn debacle?” The question is certainly a legitimate one so I have no problem with the paper posing the inquiry. What made me chuckle was the responses from the 2,462 individuals who participated as of this morning.
–68 percent blamed Dunn himself
–24 percent pointed to GM Kenny Williams, who signed the slugger
–4 percent said skipper Ozzie Guillen
–4 percent said Greg Walker
I don’t know if you agree, but how can only 68 percent blame Dunn himself? I know that nothing is black and white and I can see small percentages for Guillen and Walker if you are so inclined to believe they have had a negative effect. And even though he thought he was getting a proven 40 homer, 100 RBI man, I can see why some blame Williams. But to me, the percentages are way off.
Here’s the way I think it should measure up:
–Dunn: 90 percent…he’s the one who has been unable to hit and has given new meaning to the phrases “mental block” and “being out of shape.”
–Williams: 10 percent…He made the right move, but the player didn’t deliver…Why am I giving him any blame at all? It’s a token gesture since he was the architect of the signing.
–Walker: 0 percent…he’s a hitting coach, not a shrink.
–Guillen: 0 percent…No manager could have been more patient. He played Dunn in an effort to get him out of his doldrums, played him at first in case his inexperience at DH was the problem and rested him when he thought it was prudent. And I don’t buy the argument that Ozzie should have benched Dunn early and often. The hope was that he would turn it around and he couldn’t do that from a seat on the bench. Whether the Big Donkey was in the lineup or sitting next to the skipper in the dugout, the truth is that we were going nowhere without him hitting.
It’s easy to point to the sloppy defense and bad baserunning as the reasons for last night’s 5-4 defeat at the hands of the Angels. A loss, by the way, that dropped the Sox to 6 1/2 games behind the Tigers in the A.L. Central.
But the truth is that it’s the same old story for the Sox that has plagued them throughout this maddening season. Suffice it to say that, in my view, if Adam Dunn, Alex Rios and Gordon Beckham had just decent seasons that 6 1/2 game deficit would be wiped out and the Sox, with their solid pitching, would be on top of the division.
Just look at what one man–Justin Verlander–has done for Detroit. The team is 12 games above .500 with him on the mound, a .500 team without him. Think about the impact Dunn, Rios and Beckham would have had with fairly good seasons.
Here are the numbers through 127 games:
–Dunn: .167, 11 homers, 40 RBIs
–Rios: .214, 8 homers, 31 RBIs
–Beckham: .238, 9 homers, 34 RBIs
It’s hard to reach the postseason when three key cogs in the offense perform at such a low level.
I debated whether or not to even post this morning after last night’s demoralizing 7-4 loss to the defending American League champion Rangers, which saw Jake Peavy cough up three homers. There doesn’t seem to be much to say that I haven’t written before. You know, the struggles of Adam Dunn, Alex Rios, Gordon Beckham–yada, yada, yada.
So, we stand five games behind Detroit and three games under .500 in the midst of what is now a three-game losing streak. Just when you thought we might be making some headway, we crash. Certainly a familiar scenario in this season of South Side discontent.
It’s getting increasingly more difficult (if not impossible), even for a glass half-full fan like me, to visualize the Sox playing in October. Part of me wants to keep the faith, part of me wants to bag it and start focusing on how to fix things for 2012.
The former is a frustrating exercise, the latter a daunting task.
Adam Dunn is on target to have the worst season by a qualifying position player in 91 years. Alex Rios, who boldly predicted in spring training that the White Sox were clearly the favorites in the A.L. Central, has been a colossal disappointment. But I would make the argument that the most disheartening aspect of the 2011 Sox is the continuing decline of Gordon Beckham.
The eighth overall pick of the Sox in the 2008 draft after a outstanding college career at the University of Georgia, he was an instant sensation. He impressed that year at Class A Kannapolis and hit .394 in the Arizona Fall League. In 2009, after a terrific spring training and solid stints at AA Birmingham and AAA Charlotte, Beckham was promoted to the major leagues in early June and had the look of nothing less than a future All-Star. In 103 games, he socked 14 homers and drove in 63 runs with a .270 batting average. As validation of his impact, two separate player polls gave him the nod as the A.L. Rookie of the Year.
The excitement that the Sox had the new face of the franchise was short-lived as Beckham began the 2010 season with a prolonged slumped. He rallied after the All-Star break and showed some signs he was on the way back to his ’09 form. But an injury to his right hand after getting hit by a pitch in late August forced him to the sidelines and aside from pinch-running he didn’t play the last two weeks of the season.
The concerns about Beckham’s future were put on the back-burner during spring training this year as Beckham looked like his old, impressive self. But then the season began and we’ve all seen the results. Once settled in the No. 2 spot in the batting order, he’s now a No. 9 hitter at .238 with nine homers and just 33 RBIs.
Beckham’s descent into mediocrity, which has made him “just another guy” was never more evident than last night as the Sox dropped the 4-2 decision to the Indians, losing the three-game series. Apart from going 0-4, Beckham struck out to end the sixth inning with men on first and second and fanned again in a crucial situation with the bases loaded in the eighth as he had another opportunity to tie the score or put the Sox ahead.
My intention is not to make Beckham the scapegoat for this year’s failures. There’s a lot of blame to go around. Hopefully he’ll adjust and get his offensive mojo back to go along with his elite defensive ability. But, to me, of all the developments in this less-than-satisfying season–including the Dunn and Rios sagas–the puzzling decline of Beckham is the most disappointing of all.
Jim Thome, who became the eighth member of the 600 home run club last night in the Twins win over the Tigers, hit 134 round-trippers in a White Sox uniform.
I have to admit that I wasn’t the biggest Thome fan during his four seasons on the South Side. I felt he struck out or grounded out when an RBI double or homer was needed in a crucial situation. But no one can deny that he is a future Hall of Famer, universally loved by the baseball world for being an ideal teammate and all-round good guy. We all should be happy for him.
I also have a much different perspective about Thome’s tenure in Chicago after witnessing Adam Dunn‘s miserable season as the Sox DH. I guess Gentleman Jim wasn’t so bad after all.
A time-honored adage among baseball aficionados is that every team wins 60 games and loses 60. It’s the other 42, conventional wisdom says, that determine how a club will fare over the 162-game season.
With the 6-2 White Sox win over the Royals this afternoon, the South Siders are exactly 60-60 as they once again become a .500 ballclub. While the adage above doesn’t apply only to the symmetry of being even with 42 to go, the remaining games will indeed determine the final result of what has been a roller coaster season, to say the least.
The Sox have been here a few times, but getting over .500 is what has been the challenge as they haven’t been at that plateau since April. They’ll give it another try Tuesday night when they face the Indians in what will be a crucial three-game set.
Give It Up For Lilli
Brent Lillibridge is far from a perfect ballplayer, but he’s been a godsend this year for the Sox. He’s in the majors primarily for his defensive excellence and versatility–and as a result of the Paul Konerko injury and Adam Dunn‘s inability to hit the baseball, especially against lefties, he’s added first base to his repertoire of second, short, third and all three outfield positions. To his credit, he’s played first like he’s been doing it for years, making outstanding play after outstanding play. And by the way, his 10 homers are just one shy of Dunn’s 2011 output. Lilli’s 10th, of course, came today in the form of a three-run blast that gave the Sox an early 4-0 lead that they never relinquished. Brent has 146 at bats, Dunn 341.
Paulie’s a Marvel
It’s certainly not breaking news, but Konerko continues to display the kind of attitude and performance that is indicative of the consummate team leader. Saddled with the calf injury that has made it close to impossible for him to run the bases, the Sox All-Star has refused to take a seat on the bench. And as the full-time DH since the injury he hasn’t lost a beat in what has been one of his finest seasons. Today, he was 3 for 3 with two walks and a run scored.
Sox Pick Up a Game
Now at .500, the Sox now trail the Tigers by four games as a result of our win and the Detroit loss to Baltimore.