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My cousin’s family used to have a black Labrador retriever named Darth.
Darth was a really awesome dog, and he didn’t like to stray far. One time, I remember Darth saw a squirrel, and started sprinting after it. But after a couple of gallops, he stopped and turned to look back toward us, almost to ask, “Wait, is it OK if I go for it?”
After seeing no objections, Darth resumed his pursuit. It was ultimately fruitless, but he seemed to enjoy it nevertheless.
I take this trip down memory lane because Darth, if he were still alive, would probably be a smarter baserunner than Scott Podsednik. He certainly showed a greater sense of awareness. Honestly, I would pay at least $15 to see a pitcher fake throwing the ball into the stands to see if Pods takes off for the next base. I’d wager he would take more steps than Darth before realizing the pitcher still had the ball.
Podsednik, for the second time in four days, ran senselessly into a double play to kill the first rally of the game. This time, it happened against a superior pitcher in Jon Lester, and the Sox never created another scoring opportunity against him.
At the same time, Podsednik also accounted for three of the Sox’s four hits off Lester. That raised his average to an even .300 (including an incredible .344 against lefties), and his OBP to a very acceptable .352. In fact, it’s just one tick off the league average, which, relative to the White Sox’s recent success in that department, is like having a white, left-handed Rickey Henderson at the top of the order.
And therein lies the rub during this most uneven of seasons.
Prior to the game, I watched Chuck Garfien and Bill Melton discuss the possibility of retaining Podsednik. It’s an interesting question, except they were discussing the possibility of retaining Podsednik as a designated hitter.
Ozzie Guillen has played Podsednik there two games in a row, but he supposedly has his reasons:
It was the second straight game as DH for Podsednik, who said “it’s all the same to him. I don’t mind DH or playing the field.”
The natural DH would seem to be Carlos Quentin, who is nursing a painful left foot.
“I’m good enough to be out there,” Quentin said.
“I don’t like Carlos to DH because he’ll drive everybody [in the dugout] crazy,” Guillen said. “Carlos is the type of guy when he doesn’t get a hit, he thinks a lot when he’s sitting here. I’d rather when he doesn’t get a hit, he goes out there and performs [in the field].”
Still, it’s incredible that a guy who maxes out at a .400 slugging percentage and bases his game around his wheels can’t be trusted either on the basepaths or in the field. With the problems the Sox have catching the ball, I don’t think Guillen would sacrifice a position if it would truly pay off in terms of defensive efficiency.
Basically, the only reason to trust him is in the area of on-base percentage at the top of the order — an area in which he’s never been reliable. There’s not much that separates him from Joey Gathright.
The good news right now is, as presently constructed, there would be room for Pods in the role Dewayne Wise currently occupies. Assuming Jermaine Dye will be re-signed or replaced by another corner outfielder and the Sox retain Mark Kotsay (it was mentioned during the broadcast on Saturday that Guillen likes the cut of his jib), here’s what the roster looks like:
- A.J. Pierzynski.
- Backup catcher.
- Paul Konerko.
- Chris Getz.
- Jayson Nix.
- Alexei Ramirez.
- Gordon Beckham.
- Carlos Quentin.
- Alex Rios.
- Corner OF.
- Mark Kotsay.
There’s room for two more players — one fourth/fifth outfielder, and one more corner infielder. Assuming a reasonable deal (one year, $2 million off the top of my head?), Pods couldn’t hurt. In fact, he’d probably be the best pinch-hit option, considering his hitting style.
The bad news is there’s nothing resembling a designated hitter. Even if you put Jermaine Dye or Bobby Abreu in that spot, that severely diminishes Rios’ value.
(And if his first 75 at-bats are any indication, preserving Rios’ value is going to be a tall task. After an 0-for-3, three-strikeout performance, he’s hitting .160/.169/.253 with one walk and 21 strikeouts. He’s already hitting ninth, so staying in center as an above-average third outfielder is all that’s left.)
You can look at OPS as the ultimate sticking point. At his best — and I presume this is his best — Pods owns a .752 OPS. That’s about 100 points shy of a declining Jim Thome, and when it comes down to it, a DH needs to both get on base and hit for power. Pods has only half the equation down, and he can’t even be penciled in for it.
This is probably giving too much weight to the thought of Pods as a full-time DH, but it’s still a worthwhile exercise to show that no matter what, counting on Podsednik to fill any starting slot is going to hurt the Sox in terms of value, whether in terms of production.
Whatever the case may be, he really should be the last priority when it comes to filling in the 2010 roster. Wise’s position wasn’t solidified until the very end of spring training. If, at any point over the next several weeks, it feels like it would suck to lose Pods’ services, focus on the mental mistakes. He makes way too many of them for a player — and team — that can’t afford them.
Minor league roundup:
- Gwinnett 4, Charlotte 1
- Charlotte was held to two hits — singles by Kent Gerst and Jose Fulencio.
- Justin Fuller walked three times.
- Brady Shoemaker struck out twice, Miguel Gonzalez once.
- Brent DeFoor (2 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 2 K) and Kevin Asselin (1 IP, 1 K) represented themselves well.
- Chattanooga 6, Birmingham 0
- Birmingham was held to one hit — a John Shelby double. He also walked.
- Jordan Danks struck out twice, C.J. Retherford once.
- Johnnie Lowe pitched two scoreless innings, the only pitching performance of note.
- Myrtle Beach 9, Winston-Salem 7
- Greg Paiml had four hits, including a double.
- Tyler Kuhn went 2-for-5 with a double and two RBI.
- Jacob Rasnwer was shelled — 2 1/3 IP, 8 H, 9 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HR.
- Wander Perez threw 3 2/3 scoreless innings of relief, and Levi Maxwell added two himself.
- Brent Morel had the day off.
- Hickory 7, Kannapolis 3
- Brandon Short went 2-for-4 with a double.
- Josh Phegley went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and a sac fly.
- Eduardo Escobar went 1-for-4; Daniel Black wore the collar.
- James Albury was roughed up for six runs over six innings on eight hits and two walks. He struck out four.
- Drew O’Neil threw a 1-2-3 inning; Dan Remenowsky lowered his ERA to 1.99 with a scoreless inings, allowing a hit and a walk while striking out two.
- Helena 8, Great Falls 7
- Jeff Tezak, Jose Vargas (double, two RBI) and Matthew Harughty (RBI) each had two hits.
- Nick Ciolli doubled and walked; Trayce Thompson singled and walked.
- Kyle Colligan went 1-for-4.
- Paul Burnside struck out five over 2 1/3 scoreless innings.