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Believe you me, I’m not thrilled to bring up Jim Thome. We all know that I wanted him back, and most of you were and are on the same boat. That Mandruw Kojones has failed to match his production isn’t a surprise nor a revelation.
I could probably find a way to trace every flaw back to that decision, but I’ve refrained from doing so because it’s monotonous. I generally avoid it unless he’s in the news, or there’s a development that sheds light on yet another way the Sox blew it.
Sadly, this is one of those times.
Justin Morneau, who suffered a concussion last month when he took a knee to the head while sliding into second, didn’t make the trip to Chicago. The Twins had hoped to get him in batting practice mode during this series, and then get him on a rehab assignment. Instead, it’s been 35 days since Morneau has taken part in any normal baseball activity, which is causing some concern that he might be Corey Koskie 2.0.
Let’s not look that far ahead, though. Let’s just say he’s out for the entire month of August, because normally that would be devastating to a team in a pennant race. Morneau had posted MVP-caliber numbers this season, hitting .345/.437/.618 before going on the DL.
Imagine the Sox playing without Paul Konerko for an entire month. That’s what the Twins have been doing, missing 10 percent more OPS, too.
That would probably destroy the Sox, but it hasn’t ruined the Twins. In fact, they’ve gone 19-10 in his absence. Minnesota might be without a MVP left-handed hitter, but they’ve been able to replace him pretty well with a future HOF left-handed hitter.
Since taking over in Morneau’s role, if not defensive position, Jim Thome is pummeling his way to the tune of a .279/.413/.606 line. That includes his homer, double and walk against Freddy Garcia and the Trashmen on Tuesday night.
The Twins were able to replace a 1.055 OPSer with a 1.019 OPSer, thanks to White Sox hubris.
Ozzie Guillen had to defend the decision to bypass The Gentleman Masher during his return to the South Side, and once again, the reasoning turned to Thome’s inability to play the field.
“A lot of people are mistaken about the DH,” Guillen said. “It gives me an opportunity to play people at different places. I put Carlos (Quentin) at DH, I put Andruw (Jones), (Omar) Vizquel.
“That’s what we want to do, rotate people, give people more at-bats, more help for the defense. When we play (in the) National League, we don’t have the DH. That’s my point.”
OK, first, he should never point to Designated Hitter Omar Vizquel to sell his strategy. We’ve been over that before. Designated Hitter Andruw Jones hasn’t been an asset in months as well.
But this is well-worn territory. Ozzie has argued this to death. He didn’t think he could be a part-time player, and he didn’t want to be the guy preventing Thome from his pursuit of 600 homers (I still can’t believe he said that). He wants to give other players a half-day off. I get that.
He shouldn’t have to defend it any further because it shouldn’t have been Guillen’s decision in the first place. He has said before that he only pays attention to the 25-man roster, and isn’t concerned with who’s performing in Charlotte. Would you count on him to have the divisional depth charts pinned down in the offseason?
That’s what Kenny Williams and his staff are paid to do. It’s their job to keep an eye not only on their system, but the flow of talent around the league as well. The discussion with Guillen should have been a two-parter:
- We know you want a flexible DH, but Thome will help your team, even if you play him part-time.
- If we don’t sign him, the Twins or Tigers might, and all of our jobs will be harder.
The second point keeps getting overlooked. Missing Thome wouldn’t be nearly as big of a deal if the Seattle Mariners picked him up. The Sox would lack production, but it wouldn’t hurt him. But the difference between any ol’ team taking Thome and the Twins doing so is the difference between throwing an incomplete pass and an interception. One is merely a missed opportunity; the other is a missed opportunity that puts your team on the defensive.
Guillen has taken the heat for this turnover, but Williams shouldn’t have turned over his duties in the first place. And speaking of first place, the Sox are no longer in it as a result.
Postscript: In Morneau’s absence, Ron Gardenhire has used Michael Cuddyer as a full-time first baseman. He won’t be mistaken for a Gold Glover. Neither will Jason Kubel in right, as he’s taken over for Cuddyer in that corner. Yet it’s not killing them.
This is the flexibility Mark Teahen was supposed to bring before the Sox locked him in as the third baseman of the future. Versatility is what Mark Kotsay, Andruw Jones and Omar Vizquel had going for them as multi-positional bench players, giving Guillen lots of rotational options.
But for some reason, he needed one more. As you’ll see below, Teahen is getting some reps at first in preparation for his return to Chicago. That’s about seven months too late.
Before the game, Guillen talked about the mountain this team climbed to actually make this three-game series against the Twins meaningful:
“I never thought I would write a book, but I will make a book about 2010 regardless of whether we win,” Guillen said Tuesday.
Looks like I have some competition.
Minor league roundup:
- Charlotte 5, Durham 4
- Brent Morel went 3-for-4 with a double and two RBI. He’s hitting .308.
- Mark Teahen (1B) went 1-for-4 with a walk.
- Tyler Flowers drew two walks and struck out twice.
- Jordan Danks also struck out twice, but doubled and sac bunted.
- Birmingham 7, Mississippi 3
- Charles Leesman pitched well: 7 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K.
- Justin Greene (double, two K) and Eduardo Escobar each went 1-for-4.
- Christian Marrero singled twice over four ABs.
- Winston-Salem 5, Wilmington 4
- Brandon Short went 2-for-4 with a triple, two RBI and a walk. He’s drawn seven over his last 10 games.
- Jose Martinez went 2-for-4 with a strikeout.
- Josh Phegley singled, walked and struck out over five PAs, and so did Jon Gilmore.
- Terry Doyle struggled: 4 2/3 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 K.
- Kannapolis 8, Hagerstown 2
- Andre Rienzo struck out eight over 5 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on six hits and two walks.
- Jacob Petricka struck out two over a scoreless of inning. He allowed a double.
- Tyler Saladino went 1-for-2 with a double, walk and an HBP.
- Brady Shoemaker singled, doubled, walked, drove in three, and struck out once.
- Nick Ciolli went 2-for-4 with a double, two RBI and two strikeouts.
- Bristol 8, Danville 3
- Daniel Black went 2-for-4 with a double and a walk.
- Kevin Moran struck out two of the three batters he faced.
- Great Falls vs. Missoula PPD