Season's meetings

Kenny Williams enters the winter meetings with a number of positions in flux, made all the more fluxier by his fixation on versatile players. His last four non-pitchers acquired — Mark Kotsay, Mark Teahan, Omar Vizquel and Andruw Jones — average better than three positions among them.
The only problem is that none of them can lock down one position among them. So despite acquiring a handful of players, Williams still has his hands full.
Pre-meeting coverage asks a lot of questions, but the answers are in short supply — so much so, that this is what an early look at the White Sox batting order:

  1. A.J. Pierzynski
  2. Carlos Quentin
  3. Paul Konerko
  4. Alexei Ramirez, Gordon Beckham, Mark Teahen
  5. Andruw Jones
  6. Alex Rios
  7. Omar Vizquel, DH

I’m only half-kidding about that last one.  Ozzie Guillen suggested that Vizquel could both serve as designated hitter and leadoff man.  I just prefer to keep the top spot cleared because the Sox still don’t have anybody to play the leadoff position. That’s a problem about which Williams doesn’t seem too concerned:

‘We won’t forfeit the spot,” Williams said. ”We’ll still put nine out there.”

But Guilen could make up for it with multiple hitters at one spot in the bottom half of the order. In reaction to the idea of batting Beckham first, Ozzie Guillen said he’d rather bat Beckham sixth or seventh.
I wouldn’t take that literally, as it’s more likely an effort to prevent Beckham from experiencing the pressures of increased expectations.  The sixth spot is more a state of mind for Guillen, a place where you don’t have to worry about working counts, bunting or hitting and running, and you can instead focus all your attention on the vaunted “good at-bats.”
In other highly premature lineup talk:
*Guillen says Jones has a shot at being an everyday player, which is a possibility everybody should be prepared for. Jones is as good a bet as any other in-house corner outfielder right now to play opposite Quentin, and even if the Sox acquire a true Jermaine Dye replacement, somebody will have to fill in for Quentin when he finds a new way to hurt himself.
*Tyler Flowers will still likely start the year in Charlotte, but Williams has informed Flowers that alternate plans are possible:

“If it turns out we want to put Tyler in [the backup catcher role], the move comes with expectations that he will grow into the role similar to a young backup quarterback in the NFL. He’ll be learning as he goes, but also losing development time. After the season, that would mean he would have to continue going out and playing somewhere, whether it’s the Fall League or down in Winter ball.”

And there’s another reason to root against Flowers when it comes to the 25-man roster. Forcing a young player to participate in winter ball has been where seeds of discontent are sown in the White Sox organization.
*Joe Cowley says Jim Thome isn’t walking through that door, as the Sox want their designated hitter to be able to play a position.
*The Sox are so low on trading chits that Scott Merkin’s third choice for expendable Sox is… Brent Lillibridge.
***********************************
Christian Marrero Reading Room:
*I”ll be dropping old Christmas cards on Facebook throughout the next two weeks.
*J.J. is dropping names of players the Sox should think about traidng for, starting with Matt Lindstrom and old friend Willie Harris.

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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striker

I say scramble the batting order we have about 6 guys capable of 25hr and 80rbi (Quentin, Konerko, Rios, Teahen, Ramirez, Beckham). Sure Quentin and Konerko have the capability to do better and Teahen might not reach those limits but you get the point. So why does it matter the order they are in? Besides that, how often does the #1 batter in the order actually leadoff an inning? Sometimes just once.
I’d even change the lineup each day. Make things interesting.

striker

The White Sox lineup is like that of a high school lineup. You have 1 or 2 standout players and everyone else has equal value. So the lineup doesn’t matter (IMO).

conor

The high OBP speedster/contact/best slugger combo at the top third of the order is set up that way so as to score 1-3 runs in the first inning. If you said to hell with lineup construction and jammed three of your worst hitters at the top, you’re basically ditching that chance of scoring for…what? Also, guys at the top of the order come to bat more than those at the bottom due to the inning-oriented contruction of the game. It isn’t always what numerical spot someone is in so much as who is in front and behind of them. I think offensive statistics and performance are a lot more dependent on the lineup than usually thought. A guy with a “100 runs scored on the season” potential is going to have a greater chance of actualizing that potential if he’s batting directly ahead of someone with “100 RBI on the season” potential as opposed to someone with a “50 RBI on the season” potential. It would be interesting to see a lineup with a masher at every third spot instead of clustered together though, so as to replicate the top of the order two more times. You need a lot more talent than most teams currently have to do that, though. I’m just thinking outloud at this point so I’ll stop.

striker

It’s all probability. If it takes two hits to score a run then you take .280 X .280 X .280 and there is your probability of scoring a run. My point is, that .280 is any of Rios, Teahen, Konerko, Ramirez, Quentin, Pierzynski, or Beckham, because they are all “.280 hitters”. It doesn’t matter what order you put them in.

conor

True, but there are other ways of getting on base than a hit and not all hits are singles, so you have to factor OBP and SLG into the mix. A Pierzinski and a Quentin hitting .280 will not be generating the same amount of runs.

bigfun

Beckham is probably the best candidate overall. He gets on base as much as anyone besides Konerko and he’s reasonably fast. He doesn’t have any makeup/pressure concerns and leadoff would maximize the number of at-bats he gets.
The #1 spot matters less because that guy leads off the inning and more because he gets a extra at-bats over a guy in a later spot. But yeah, it’s true that with a lineup like this, leadoff is a bit overrated. It’s not going to make a drastic difference.

Sophist

I heard Oz on the Score, talking about his desire for Rios to take more walks and get on base and steal and not focus on power. If he gets his OBP back up in the .350 range, that’s good enough to be leadoff hitter for the Sox (if lower than you’d really like in the leadoff spot). Sounds like Jordan Danks could get a look and some playing time there, too, if he pans out in March.

bigfun

Yeah, March 2011.

Sophist

by “pan out” I mean “gets rushed along because the Sox are not ‘athletic’ enough”

arrow

For heaven’s sake, get AJ out of the #2 spot. This is a guy whose career high in walks (including the minors) is 25.

timmeh

The only real knock against AJ is that he doesn’t draw many walks. But outside of that, I would argue he is the best #2 hitter the Sox have.
He doesn’t strike out often and he’s a very smart baseball player.

arrow

Doesn’t strike out much, but grounds into a ton of DPs. Which probably doesn’t matter, since the Sox will wind up with a leadoff hitter who can’t get on base either.

stopdrop8

I thought Beckham did a great job in the 2 spot, and is the best fit we have there. I like AJ more at 6/7, Beckham might be a 3 hitter someday, but right now he is an ideal two hitter.

Sophist

Agree on Beckham at #2. I’d try Teahan at leadoff, given no other changes. He had a good OBP a few years back, and would need to get back there anyway to be worth anything at 3B.

bigfun

You could probably make an interesting argument for AJ as #2, though. He had the 26th-best contact% in baseball last year – he puts the bat on everything, so he’s a good candidate for the hit-and-run.
I liked some of the early 2008 Swisher/Pierzynski experiments, even if they didn’t last – they demonstrated a willingness to experiment and get outside of the mentality that scrappy no-hit no-walk sorta-fast guys should always lead off.