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After an awful start both at the plate and in the field, Juan Pierre has finally found a groove in both facets. He’s hitting .362/.400/.382 in May, he’s been successful on eight of his last nine stolen-base attempts, and he’s tracking flies without hesitation in left. He rockets between barely tolerable and fun to watch. It’s not the easiest way for a ballplayer to make a living, but that’s what he does.
Likewise, Alex Rios shrugged off the bad luck and is the White Sox’s most valuable player right now. His 12-game hitting streak was snapped on Wednesday, but he drew a walk, stole a base and scored a run on offense, and saved two runs with the best White Sox catch of the year by taking back Michael Cuddyer’s homer.
Even Andruw Jones, at least before he caught Paul Konerko’s sore neck (don’t want to know how), has been hanging tough. He’s shown some signs of falling back to Earth — his plate discipline has started to wobble, namely — but he’s still been good for a .262/.311/.575 line this month.
This is all to say that Carlos Quentin has no clothes.
Until Jones came down with the neck issue, it looked like Ozzie Guillen was making the first step toward phasing Quentin out of harm’s way by relegating him to DH duty. But with Mark Kotsay hitting even worse than Quentin, there aren’t many other ways to hide him.
We’ve made the comparisons to Jermaine Dye in the outfield, but he’s looking a lot like second-half Jermaine at the plate, too. Over the last month — 92 plate appearances — he’s hitting .139/.250/.278, which is terrible anywhere. He hasn’t even been hit by a pitch in 93 at-bats, which is the longest streak of his career.
If there’s some solace, he’s walking more than ever before. Unfortunately, that’s partially a byproduct of fouling off pitches he should be putting in play.
This is a most unfortunate development, and one the Sox aren’t well-set to absorb. It hits on two fronts:
No. 1: An immediate lack of depth. Kotsay would kill to have Quentin’s last 92 at-bats. Unless you want to hand the DH duties to Tyler Flowers, there’s no shot of an upgrade. Or at least a credible upgrade. I suppose you could bat Jayson Nix and Omar Vizquel there and get an average above .139, but that’d just make everybody feel dirty.
No. 2: A lack of future depth. The Sox were kinda counting on Quentin to shore up at least one of the corners for the next few years, what with Paul Konerko’s contract expiring at the end of the season.
Optimists could say that Kenny Williams shored up the outfield enough to allow Quentin to be the fourth-best option. Pessimists can say that Ozzie Guillen would have had plenty of uses for a left-handed .850-OPS player willing to play for a relative pittance, but turned him down in favor of Nix and Kotsay.
We ranked Quentin as the second-most important White Sox, and that’s playing out right now. Guys like Jones and Pierre are producing, and they can’t offset what Quentin is taking off the table.
But one could say that Quentin will have the most to do with the feel of the season. If he can rebound and find some middle ground between 2008 and 2009, a lot of people will breathe easier. If he keeps this up, though, it will cast quite the pall.
Brace yourselves for this Greg Walker whirlwind o’ quotes:
“Here we sit and there are some ugly numbers out there, but everyone continues to dwell on the batting average,” Walker said. “Last time I checked, they don’t decide games on how many hits you get. It’s how many runs you get. […] “I don’t even know if we’ve scuffled. We haven’t had a lot of runners in scoring position,” Walker said. “I don’t even know what our batting average is.”
Fair use prevents me from using more, but check ’em out, as well as Joe Cowley’s account, which has a slightly different selection. In terms of disposition, I don’t know if there’s a whole lot separating Walker from Jerry Owens.
Minor league roundup:
- Lehigh Valley 6, Charlotte 5
- Dayan Viciedo went 2-for-4 with his seventh homer and three RBI. He struck out once.
- Tyler Flowers homered once (his eighth) and struck out three times.
- C.J. Retherford also hit a solo shot, his fourth.
- Jordan Danks went 0-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout.
- Jacksonville 3, Birmingham 1
- Brent Morel went 1-for-4 with an RBI.
- Christian Marrero and John Shelby both went 0-for-4 with a K.
- Jhonny Nunez had a nice night: 6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K.
- Winston-Salem 12, Potomac 8
- Brandon Short pounded out four more hits in six at-bats, raising his average to .404. He doubled and drove in two.
- Jon Gilmore and Justin Greene each went 2-for-5, with Gilmore adding a double.
- Eduardo Escobar singled and walked in six plate appearances.
- Charles Leesman was largely ineffective: 4 1/3 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 5 BB, 1 K.
- Santos Rodriguez threw a scoreless inning, walking one and striking out one.
- Dan Remenowsky allowed two runs on three hits over two innings. No walks, two K’s.
- Kannapolis 8, Delmarva 3
- Trayce Thompson snapped his slump with two homers and five RBI.
- Nick Ciolli went 2-for-5 with a double, and he didn’t strike out.
- Miguel Gonzalez raised his average over .200 with a 2-for-4 performance. He drove in a run and struck out once.
- Brady SHoemaker and Kyle Colligan each went 1-for-4.
- Joe Serafin scattered six hits and four walks over seven shutout innings, striking out three.
- Ryan Buch allowed three runs on two hits and three walks over an inning of work. He struck out one.
Fun fact: The Birmingham Barons are the second-worst team in all of minor-league baseball. How fast they’ve fallen.
Also, Fautino De Los Santos is throwing again after undergoing Tommy John Surgery forever ago.