All right with left side of infield

Alexei Ramirez dropped jaws with an incredible play for the penultimate out of the White Sox’s 4-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night.  He ranged far to his right, and with all his momentum carrying him toward third, uncoiled and launched an on-target one-hop throw scooped by Paul Konerko.
What makes it all the more remarkable:

  • This is the second straight night he’s made that play (and the second was tougher!).
  • He made it all the way on the other side of the bag in an attempt to cut down an infield single, missing out by a fraction of a step.

Throw in a versatile offensive performance — starting with a bunt that died on the dirt just inside the chalk, and finishing with his eighth homer of the season — and he’s had a great start to this West Coast swing.
But more importantly, we might finally start to fully understand what kind of player Ramirez really is as he works his way towards completing his third full season in professional baseball.
First, it’s fully apparent that April doesn’t mean anything when trying to project the rest of his season.  He was once again lousy in the cold, but since May 1, he’s hitting .305/.347/.461, which is about in line with his previous post-may numbers:

  • 2008: .302/.329/.497
  • 2009: .286/.342/.405

More importantly, he’s finding a middle ground between his rookie year, when he was dynamic and a bit out of control, and his more mature, and a little too subdued, sophomore season.

He’s doing it while continuing to hone his approach.  You may not believe it, but according to FanGraphs, he’s swinging less than ever before, he’s making more contact than ever before, and he’s chasing only a few more pitches out of the zone.
Throw his defense on top of it — which is Gold Glove-caliber, although a few other shortstops can also make that claim — and he’s turning into an incredible use of $1.1 million a year.  That’s as important a figure as his OPS and UZR, since the Sox will probably have to spend some money this offseason.
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And let’s not overlook Omar Vizquel, who was overshadowed by Ramirez in the ninth inning.  Vizquel just made his second difficult pick on his left side the play before, and, like Ramirez, showed an ability to go the other way by making a diving stab to his right earlier in the evening, too.
But while Ramirez might’ve topped Vizquel on the degree of difficulty scale, Vizquel’s great defense played a part in masking another highlight of Tuesday’s game…
…Vizquel’s bat.
He went 2-for-4 at the plate, giving him six multi-hit games during his seven-game hitting streak.  And since Mark Teahen went down, does anybody want to guess what Vizquel is hitting?
Spoiler ahead: .310/.376/.398.
In a season of unbelievable occurrences, this one has to top the list.  Kenny Williams’ offseason plan isn’t working because Ozzie Guillen got his versatile, National League-style lineup with the rotating DH and everything’s right with post-steroids baseball.
No, this team is winning in large part because they’re finally getting a .370+ OBP before their big bats, Alex Rios and Paul Konerko.  And it’s coming from a tiny, 43-year-old, beyond-balding, high-slacked glove-first guy who is only playing because the starting third baseman broke his finger.
That’s nuts.  Even more so when considering that those three names — Rios, Konerko and Vizquel — might be the No. 1-3 spots on the White Sox MVP ballot right now.  Vizquel might not have the offensive numbers or as many games logged as the rest of the lineup, but I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the team started its surge when Vizquel replaced Mark Teahen’s paraplegic matador act at third with an above-average glove and, from completely out of nowhere, a well-above-average OBP.
I mentioned before that the schedule gods had smiled upon the Sox.  It’s more than that now. Williams is getting hitting from a guy who can’t while the Cleveland Indians are dragging down the White Sox’s top two competitors night after night. How many souls can one guy sell?
Either way, my conclusion is the same as it was when interleague play wrapped up: The Sox need to add a bat, preferably lefty, to take advantage of all this good fortune. It could very well be that the White Sox are a Team of Destiny, and Jake Peavy’s latissimus dorsi fell off the bone like a boiled rib just to allow the Sox to harness the same Ewing Theory powers that have propelled the San Diego Padres to the top of the NL West.
The problem is, deploying Andruw Jones for three wholly predictable strikeouts against a righty who doesn’t strike guys out is kicking dirt in the face — or faces — of that all-knowing, generous and benevolent force.
Luke Scott came off the DL and hit two homers for Baltimore last night.  That may be a sign, too, you know.
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Minor league roundup:

  • Louisville 8, Charlotte 4
    • Chris Sale struck out two over an inning of work, but he allowed a homer.
    • Alejandro De Aza went 2-for-5 with a double and an RBI.
    • Lucas Harrell allowing four runs on seven hits and four walks over 5 2/3 innings, striking out three.
  • Jacksonville 5, Birminghram 4
    • Kyle Bellamy retired only one of three batters he faced, allowing a hit and a walk. One run came around to score.
    • Christian Marrero was 0-for-5.
    • Justin Greene singled, tripled and struck out twice.
    • C.J. Retherford alo went 2-for-4, striking out once.
  • Kinston 4, Winston-Salem 2
    • Brandon Short went 1-for-3 with a strikeout and an HBP.
    • Jon Gilmore singled and drove in two.
    • Jose Martinez was 0-for-4.
    • Terry Doyle allowed four runs (one earned) on four hits and four walks over six innings, striking out six.
    • Santos Rodriguez struck out two in a perfect inning, his first outing since July 9.
  • Kannapolis 5, Greenville 4
    • Ryan Buch threw five shutout ininngs, allowing three hits and two walks while striking out four.
    • Tyler Saladino went 2-for-5 with a double and two RBI.
    • Miguel Gonzalez (sac bunt) and Brady Shoemaker (one walk) both went 0-for-3.
    • Kyle Colligan went 0-for-4 with an RBI, strikeout and sac bunt.
  • Bristol 5, Greeneville 2
    • Daniel Black was perfect, hitting two homers, singling and drawing two walks.
    • Screamin’ Kevin Moran struck out three over two scoreless innings, allowing just a hit.
  • Great Falls 7, Idaho Falls 6
    • Rough going for Steven Upchurch: 4 IP, 3 H, 6 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 1 HR.
    • Andy Wilkins singled, doubled, drew two walks and struck out.
    • Ross Wilson went 1-f0r-4 with an RBI and a strikeout.
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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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danks50

Vizquel is literally amazing me everyday with that glove. I want to be upset that Kenny scouted Teahen so poorly that he actually believed he fit with a team built around a monster pitching staff but seeing vizquel plug that hole while putting up above average on base numbers at the top of the lineup almost makes up for that awful move.
Apparently Rizzo continues to ask for one of Beckham/Quentin for Dunn. Would love that bat in the 3 hole to load the bases for Konerko/Q but that price is insane. Go with second half LaRoche move Kotsay to the bench where he belongs and I’m content.

grinderintraining

I think it’s safe to say the Sox are no longer desperate enough to trade Beckham or Q for Dunn. Not sure that we ever were, but we definitely aren’t now.

soxfan1

Let’s trade Alexei for Dunn!!! Ha Ha Ha

sars

i find it totally hilarious that within the last month of your complaining about alexei, not only has it been realized that he’s at least one of the five best defensive shortstops in the league; he’s been playing his best defense of the year. sorry, bro!

striker

Where is bigfun and his anti-alexei comments?
“As for John Danks, he’s not as good as his ERA would suggest”
http://www.ussmariner.com/2010/07/20/game-94-white-sox-at-mariners/
That’s two people that need to put their foot in their mouth.
Our focus has been on a lefty with a high slugging percentage. How about someone with less power but higher average? Anyone available like that? I wonder if the asking price for Dejesus is higher than Dunn.

striker

Was it bigfun of soxfan1 that dislikes Alexei?

bigfun

Yep, I’ve been one of his biggest defenders here. Alexei has the third-highest position player WAR on the team. Wow. He’s the fourth most valuable shortstop in baseball, and he’s not getting paid anything close to the guys above him.
Go back and read some of the comments from April and May, they’re hilarious. I think this one, courtesy of ricksch, is my absolute favorite:
“Alexie was exciting and oh so promising in his rookie season, but turns out he’s an average SS prone to braincramps with a terrible OBS.”
That’s the real problem with “Alexie” – terrible OBS.

blah

Be careful. You might be taking ricksh out of context…

tdogg

Bigfun has defended Alexei. As have I. There were others claiming he was an average defensive shortstop or things like the Sox should be finished with him after this 1st contract and not offer arbitration. Ridiculous then, ridiculous now.

bigfun

And yes, it’s soxfan1. There are many Alexei haters from earlier in the year (strangely quiet now) but soxfan1 coined “very average,” which takes the cake.

yinkadoubledare

The funny thing is, even if Alexei were actually “very average” he’d still be a great deal for what they pay him.

David

This season continues to make me shake my head in amazement. 3.5 game lead on the field for the division on 7/21. Wow.
While making the playoffs would be a great surprise and treat…winning the WS is what we all want and so does Kenny.
Ge that BIG lefty bat. If Hudson can hold down the fort then once/if October rolls around the rotation will be shortened anyhow.
I still say Dunn or Fielder. I’d put Hudson in a Fielder deal because he has team control through 2011. Not for a Dunn rental, though.

knoxfire30

Gotta come clean I was definitely on the anti alexei band wagon, but he has really come full circle, his aggressive approach has cooled and allowed him to be a much more successful hitter, and astonishingly the mental aspect of his game has improved dramatically. Sure he still makes a few lacksadaisical throws that paulie has to dig out but for the most part he has put the mental errors behind him and the highlight reel plays keep coming.
As far as omar is concerned, he too has had an incredible run, its amazing what a little obp at the top of the order can do for a team, not to mention someone else on the field picking up the ball that well.
Im not gonna get to excited over beating up on a god awful mariners team but the way the sox have shored up some holes and the division competition is playing im starting to get real excited about a possible division title. A lefty DH bat shouldnt be the hardest thing in the world to acquire and god knows kenny williams is making every phone call he can, one move could have this team really well positioned not just for the division but possibly a post season run, is anyone as scared of the yankee pitching staff as they use to be? Pettite is hurt, Burnett is overrated and a baby…. And they have turned to sergio mitre in the short term which has every hitting in the AL excited.

striker

I’m pumped too. Doesn’t it suck to think of how much better this team would be too if we didn’t lose Peavy? No excuses anymore, we have to go for it.

knoxfire30

Its not the falloff from Peavy to Hudson that makes this team that much worse off, its the fact that without Peavy we cant trade Hudson in a deal for a big bat which would be a significant upgrade. Oh well, every team has to deal with injuries the sox will be no exception.

soxicano

I couldn’t help but notice the Cuban Tank Viciedo from the bench admiring the hot gloves of Vizquel and Ramirez. Love that Vizquel went over to sit by Viciedo after he gloved a couple rough bouncers. What a great team for this kid to be on with Vizquel and Ramirez schooling him. If the Sox win the division, I really think Ozzie should get manager of the year. He has overcome alot of criticism and ridicule for players he wanted on this team who now are proving to be important to the title run. Not to mention the surge from cellar dwellar to title contenders.

tarzanjoe

2 points – 1) Let’s not ever say Alexei doesn’t like to hit in cold weather. April weather was great and he still started frozen. 2) I agree that if the Sox win the division Ozzie should be Manager of the Year. This team is exceeding expectations and projections. I’m guessing his main competition will be from Ron Washington if the Rangers make the playoffs.

Shinons

I’m off the “get a big lefty” bandwagon. I don’t think any of the options out there really make us better. I’d love to see Dunn, Fielder, etc. in our lineup, but I don’t see the benefits outweighing the cost – and I don’t think the likes of Luke Scott or LaRoche would really do much for us.
I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say Teahen can at least hit righties reasonably well. I’d like to see Vizquel as our every day third baseman, Viciedo DH against lefties, Teahen DH against righties and serve as primary backup third baseman.

knoxfire30

SO…. Mark Teahen 727 OPS, Mark Kotsay 671 OPS vs Luke Scott 898 OPS and LaRoche 787 OPS (plus a career track record of being a 2nd half hitter)
That doesnt do too much for you???? DISAGREE

Shinons

Teahen OPS vs. RHP: .820
Viciedo OPS vs. LHP: .857
Yeah, I’m just fine going to work with those two. And the reason Scott and LaRoche don’t set my loins on fire is because I don’t trust them. They’re both all right and if we can get them cheap (read: pretty much free), then great. But I’m not convinced either one of them is healthy and Scott’s OPS you referred to is over 50 points higher than his career average.
If the staff thinks Teahen will be full speed for the stretch and can be anywhere near his career numbers vs. RHP (.274/.341/.428), I won’t be worried about it.

moroots

Could Teahen be doing any kind of video work during his time on the DL, a la Joe Crede when he finally came into his own in 2005? Or is that wishful thinking. Remember that before he turned into a late/post-season stud, Crede was labelled as an underachiever. That stint on the DL in 2005 was supposedly when he went to the video and found his swing. Teahen too has never lived up to his potential and now is on the DL.
There are a lot of key differences though, if you look at the career of both leading up to their injuries. Teahen has a lot more games under his belt, so you gotta think what you see is what you get at this point.
If Teahen did come back and start raking the ball late in the season and into October, Ken Williams will have stuck it to a lot of doubters

duke

Did you mean for both of those links to go to the same Alexei video?