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After the fan-murderingist game of the year (to date), the Sox are truly at a fork in the road. The choices:
Path A: They can climb their way back toward respectability and watchable baseball, if not contention, to where people are saying, “Imagine if they didn’t blow the first six weeks of the season.”
Path B: They can end up making desperate decisions — either a fire sale or a too-risky acquisition — fighting amongst themselves and obliterating every last casual fan.
I don’t believe there’s a middle ground. I don’t think this team can lose gracefully or rebuild quietly. Even if they had the ability, there are TV cameras on them, which is an exciting, new and potentially volatile element.
The first season-altering decision is removing Bobby Jenks from the closer role, which Ozzie Guillen suggested he’d do:
“Maybe the next couple of days we use somebody different,” Guillen said. “That way we can see if Bobby can get regrouped and come back to his form. Obviously, he is not throwing the ball well. The good thing is we have options, and we will see what happens the next few days.”
Jenks said of a change, “That doesn’t make sense.” Reminiscent of Scott Linebrink saying, “Get me back on track how?” last season. But pitchers always seem to be the last to know.
The consensus single replacement is Matt Thornton, which doesn’t seem likely, if only because Guillen has lost all faith in Randy Williams (and justifably so). Saving Thornton for the ninth means using Williams against the Justin Morneaus of the world with the bases loaded in the seventh. It doesn’t add up.
But I’d love to see a closer by committee happen. There’s no reason to not use Thornton for multiple lefties in the ninth if a prior situation doesn’t demand his presence. Sergio Santos has the stuff now, J.J. Putz might have it later if he shapes up.
At this point, it’s largely irrelevant who closes, as long as it’s somebody besides Jenks. Nobody can feel comfortable on a team eight games out of first in mid-May — especially when the first-place team is coming to town.
A couple other changes I’d suggest:
*Bench Gordon Beckham for a couple of games.
It’s not that the other options are better — it’s that Beckham appears on the verge of a meltdown. He’s hurling helmets, chucking gum, jawing at umpires, and it’s not helping. Nor does it seem healthy.
I’d start Jayson Nix for two games straight, at least to reward him for a very smart game on Sunday. Starting at third, he started a huge 5-4-3 double play on a difficult hop. At the plate, he drew three walks and made a couple of great decisions:
- Swinging at the first pitch with the bases loaded. Last year, pitchers took advantage of his tendency to watch every first pitch no matter how hittable, and this time, he lined an RBI single to center.
- Swinging at a hittable pitch on a 3-0 count and Juan Pierre on deck. He fouled it off, but that’s a chance that needed taking.
And when Beckham comes back, drop him in the order, and slide everybody else up one spot. Andruw Jones might not be a prototypical No. 2 hitter, but he’s not getting RBI opportunities anyway.
*Start Jones in right field, and Carlos Quentin at DH.
The Blue Jays scored their first run of the game with a bloop double that fell just out of the reach of a diving Quentin, proving more proof for the case that he just might be the worst right fielder in all of baseball.
Will this change help much? Probably not
*Follow Scott Reifert on Twitter.
I’m guessing we’re going to start seeing on-the-fly ticket discounts taking place in the near future. This is not a team worth paying retail for.
Hitting coach watch: Keep an eye on the Mariners, who cut loose Alan Cockrell. As bad as the White Sox offense is, the Mariners make them look like a juggernaut. Seattle, as a team, is hitting .225/.302/.315. Both their OPS and run total (99) are the worst in the league by a healthy margin.
Drilling down, it’s even more incredible how pitiful they’ve been. No wonder why the Sox swept them:
- Only three regulars are hitting better than .230.
- They’re getting a .464 (!!!) OPS out of their DH.
- Chone Figgins is hitting .182 and slugging .241.
- Jose Lopez — roughly as valuable as John Danks, remember, he just is — is hitting .222/.250/.294.
Their offense was considered a weakness before the season, so firing Cockrell is more a symbolic gesture. But if the change somehow serves as a wake-up call to an offense that’s worse on paper than the Sox’s, then that’ll be a reference point for any talk of Greg Walker’s job security.
Minor league roundup:
- Pawtucket 8, Charlotte 3
- Tyler Flowers hit a solo shot and struck out over four at-bats.
- Jordan Danks went 1-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout.
- Dayan Viciedo cooled down a little, going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.
- Lucas Harrell struck out seven over five innings, but allowed three runs on five hits and three walks.
- Birmingham 5, Mississippi 4
- Charlie Shirek tossed six shutout innings, allowing three hits and no walks while striking out two. His ERA is now 0.71.
- Brent Morel went 1-for-4 with two strikeouts, and stole his second base of the year.
- Christian Marerro went 0-for-2 with a sac fly, walk and strikeout.
- Winston-Salem 4, Salem 3
- Jon Gilmore went 2-for-4 with two RBI.
- Brandon Short’s hitting streak is over at 27 games after going 0-for-4 with two K’s.
- Justin Greene went 0-for-3; Eduardo Escobar went 1-for-4 with a double.
- Stephen Sauer was solid: 6 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K.
- Santos Rodriguez was not, walking four over two-thirds of an inning.
- Dan Remenowsky struck out three over 2 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing just a hit.
- Kannapolis 4, West Virginia 0
- Nick Ciolli went 2-for-4 with a solo shot, striking out once.
- Brady Shoemaker also had two hits in four at-bats.
- Trayce Thompson doubled and walked over four PAs.