It's either going to get better, or worse

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.
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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:

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.
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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.
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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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ricksch

All good ideas. And yes, it will get very ugly if this thing keeps going south. The strange mix of big contracts and unmoveable contractsweird makes it hard to know which direction to take this team if it goes bad this year.
I’m glad the word is out on Quentin’s defense. He’s a DH, plain and simple. Shocked that Ozzie even bothers to put him out there with Jones available. Even the fat Jones of Dodger days could outplay Quentin. Jones could be eating a hot dog while running down the ball and still outplay Quentin.

mechanicalturk

Jones makes more good defensive plays at DH than Quentin does in a week of playing RF.

mechanicalturk

The worst part of this team might be the inconsistency. Since getting swept by Cleveland, their only streaks have been back to back losses and the sweep against Seattle.
Or maybe they’re actually consistent- in the last 12 games the only time they’ve had the same result on back to back days was just now against Toronto when they lost the first two of the series.
Unfortunately, I think we’re looking at another loss Tuesday with Garcia on the hill, which means according to their inability to perform in back to back days we’ll be losing that series with Kansas City.

knoxfire30

I remember before the sox took the last 3 games of the season to win the central in 08 ozzie had a team meeting and his message to what had become a bit of a volital clubhouse was real simple “fuck feelings, win games” or something like that.
Well ozzie take your own advice, santos and thornton need to close now, and I personally try santos out, cause I want thorntons flexibility as the lefty who can pitch in the 6th, 7th or 8th, if you need him vs a tough lefty. Not to mention you keep his price down when after next year he is a free agent.
Stop patrolling CQ out in right like he has freaking earned something, 5 good months in 08 as a left fielder certainly doesnt give you a lock job in right field because noone wants to get their feelings hurt when its idiotic to ever have a healthy rios or jones not putting a glove on.
Get a hold of beckham, sit him down for a couple days and maybe move him down in the lineup. Kid is all messed up ( i personally will blame walker but maybe im alone in my quest to banish him forever).
Go punch hawk harrelson in the face for being a winey little bitch in the box, the act is getting old, bitching and moaning about a 50 50 strike call on andru jones as if the pitch had bounced in the others batters box and been called a strike, LOOK AT THE FUCKING REPLAY HAWK, an inch maybe 2 outside and you saying jones got the SHAFT, if that pitch is called a strike for buerhle or danks you talking about how they aced the outside corner.

knoxfire30

Oh, and for the record, its May 10th, the season is ovah, I think thats the earliest I have ever declared that but oh well this team gives me no reasons to believe it isnt.
And bump to Jim, I loved that seattle jose lopez trade idea, haha god all over then, looks even funnier now!

knoxfire30

Sorry for my third post but one other thing I have to mention, Hawk and Stoney were all over Javy Vazquez for having 4 or 5 pitches, which as a starter isnt ideal but its still more acceptable as a starter then as a reliever to throw multiple pitches. Jenks was dominant as a two pitch guy 100 mph fastball, nose to toes curveball. HOWEVER Jenks discovers himself as a pitcher and wants to come out of the pen throwing 4 to 5 mediocre offerings and Hawk and Stoney say nothing, in fact in most instances they praise fat ass bobby for being a complete pitcher now. NICE DOUBLE STANDARD BOYS, NICE

soxfan1

I agree also. Jenks is washed up. Time to trade him for a low level prospect or a bag of balls. Let’s go with Santos as the closer to see if he can do it. If he can we’ve solved our problem for a number of years. Jones in right field also makes sense. He can play a better RF than Quentin with one eye closed. Also, Quentin needs to concentrate on only one thing. If he can’t DH, 2010 should be his last year with the Sox. Dorp Beckham to 7th or 8th in the order and move everyone else up a spot as Jim suggests. Lastly, it’s getting close to the time to bring up Flowers and J Danks. We have to start try-outs for 2011 soon. This year is a lost cause.

sophist

The Sox are in position to make a bunch of changes right now, and see if it shakes things up. Kotsay, Vizquel, Wiliams should all lose roster spots. Pierre should be on the bench. Bring up Flowers–had about a .900+ OPS last time I checked–and maybe Danks (don’t know if he’s actually ready). Replace Jenks as closer. Get a bat from outside the org–Dunn or Agon probably not likely now, but take a flyer on Cust, or Delgado, or whoever else is out there. Shake it up now because I don’t see this team going anywhere even if the hitters all return to their career averages and Floyd gets over his tough start again.

tlb2k4

Am I the only one left wondering why Donny Lucy was sent back to Charlotte? Yeah, Castro came back, but there is nothing to indicate that he could hit the ball if Gavin Floyd put it over the plate for him, and AJ couldn’t hit the ball if it was on a tee. I agree on benching Beckham for Nix. Give him some time to collect his head and if he gets it together go ahead and move Nix on out to RF so we can shift Rios to Center and have Jones replace Quentin in left. This is of course assuming Nix has a batting average around the range of Jones.
Anyone else think Jermaine Dye is laughing his ass off right now looking at the OF situation?

yinkadoubledare

Not to mention Dye was already the worst (or close to it) defensive right fielder in baseball for like 4 years running. Quentin at least has the excuse of his gimpy hamstring, although that does bring up the question of why the heck Ozzie keeps running him out there into the field when he probably would be better off not being out there and getting healthy. Jones can handle it fine in the interim.
Yesterday was just bizarre. Floyd had his Nintendo stuff except one inning where it mysteriously disappeared completely. And as we sat in the stands making comments like “they need to tack on a few here, one run isn’t Jenks-proof” when they blew that bases-loaded opportunity when Beckham struck out again, and “will he make it interesting or will we finally see a nice easy save — well, I’d bet on the former while hoping for the latter” and then watching Jenks come in and just get his arse handed to him, well, I guess we’ve already decided on our opinion of Jenks this year. His command just isn’t there, even though his velo is back up to 96. He’s simply not throwing it where he wants it, so he’s leaving too many over the plate to just get absolutely hammered. His BABIP is ludicrously high and has to come down so some of this is bad luck, but his line drive percentage is very high and that I think does speak to leaving far too many meatballs over the plate because of lack of command. The career-worst BB/9 so far speaks to it as well.

JJ

/desperately tries to think of a pun involving Rony Seikaly

joist

Rob Neyer wrote on his blog today that any decision made about Jenks would be what he snarkily referred to as a “Pure ERA move”, essentially arguing that the season is too young and the sample sizes too small to draw any kind of meaningful conclusion about a reliever’s performance. While I agree that the sample size is too small, I also think this is a perfect example of what I will snarkily refer to as a “Pure National Writer Who Doesn’t Follow Teams Outside the Northeast Corridor So He Makes Shit Up About Them Move”. Every sign pointed to a Jenks decline before the season started (except for the uptick in velocity), and his failures thus far do not surprise me (or probably anybody who follows the team) in the slightest. (Side note: does anybody else take umbrage with the numerous reports that say he might be demoted “despite” his converting 5 of 6 save chances? Does anybody reading that say, “That’s outrageous! His save percentage is 83%! Why are they demoting him? He’s awesome!”)