Pierre sets the tone for a bad news day

It’s hard for one position player to singlehandedly lose a 4-2 ballgame, but Juan Pierre may have done it.
Pierre went 0-for-4, and it was an ugly 0-for-4.  Two of those outs came with a runner in scoring position, and one was a backwards K.  Then he killed the last threat the Sox posed when he followed up a Mark Teahen pinch-hit single by grounding into a 1-6-3 double play.
(Note: Next time somebody says Pierre isn’t a threat to ground into double plays, slug them in the arm. He’s not Ichiro.)
Here’s how bad he was at the plate: FanGraphs says Pierre did more to lose than game than Matt Treanor did to win it — and Treanor had a homer, double, and three RBI.
Then again, that two-run double was mostly Pierre’s doing.  Don’t get me wrong — the catch at the wall wasn’t easy.  I think a 50 percent success rate on it would be quite generous.  But when the left fielder in question is 1) hitting .211, 2) in search of his first extra-base hit 84 plate appearances into the season, and 3) an alleged upgrade on defense, that catch has to be made.
Pierre hasn’t been the worst White Sox — that honor goes to A.J. Pierzynski, who has been outdoubled by Donny Lucy this season.  But Pierzynski’s struggles are net harmless — he’s been a good enough value for almost all of his Sox career, his position makes you prepared for a clunker at his age, and there’s some justice in seeing the false praise heaped on him become thoroughly indefensible.
It’s also the last year of his contract.  Pierre’s just getting started — and he’s going to be nearly twice as expensive last year.  This is grave on all fronts.  We knew his bat was wet newspaper and he had no arm — but now it looks like he’s lost a step both getting down the line, and tracking flies in the outfield. He’s a disaster on all fronts right now.
Aaaaaand, should it continue, it reflects poorly on the front office, which misread the market and overvalued the talent!
Ultimately, it’s too early to press the panic button, but his performance is worthy of a warning shot.  It’s in everybody’s best interest that he starts performing, and soon.
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Pierre wasn’t alone, though.  The whole White Sox lineup had a maddeningly counter-intuitive approach at the plate against C.J. Wilson.
Wilson is a sinkerballer.  Wilson spent a lot of time working on the outside corner.  Vladimir Guerrero, who covers as much ground in the outfield as Jermaine Dye, if Dye walked on his hands, was making an emergency start in right due to Nelson Cruz’s injury.
Those three elements scream “Take the ball the other way,” but guess how many times they tested Guerrero:
Zero.
They did not hit one ball in the air to right field.  Alexei Ramirez, of all people, was the only Sox hitter to even hit a fair ball to Guerrero, somehow slashing a ball through the right side of the infield.
Of course, that played into Guerrero’s strength.  It was hit right at him, and sharply enough to set up his cannon to fire home and prevent Paul Konerko from even thinking of scoring from second and tying the game.
Then again, it’s possible Pierre’s arm would’ve stopped Konerko, who could only get halfway to second on a fly that hit the base of the wall.  He had to turn back, and a double became a single.
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Today was an interesting day for former White Sox:
*Jon Garland’s start fascinates me to no end.  He struck out 10 batters for the first time since Aug. 24, 2003. These days, he needs four starts to rack up 10 K’s.  Seriously — he doubled his season strikeout total over six innings against Florida.  Furthermore, he hadn’t even struck out nine since the last time he struck out 10.  It’s almost like a two-homer game for Pierre.
*Jon Link faced three batters — two reached on a single, he walked the other, and two runs came around to score.  This serves as a good example of why it’s not a great use of time to worry about the back end of the bullpen.  Every team has guys like this, and the Sox were actually too good for him.
*John Ely will make his major-league debut for the Dodgers against the Mets on Wednesday.  I’m going to guess that he gives up four earned runs over four innings.  I’m also going to guess that if he picks up a quality start and the win, Phil Rogers will mourn his absence the following day.
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Christian Marrero Reading Room:
*Jake Peavy says he thinks he’s corrected his delivery.  Supposedly it became more arm and less legs after injuring his ankle, so it’ll be interesting to compare the video from his start tonight against footage from early in the season.
*He’ll have to do it without Don Cooper, who is missing the Texas series to attend to a personal matter in Nashville.
*MLB is starting to crack down on Twitter.  MLB.com beat writers are no longer allowed to tweet about anything unrelated to baseball, which is downright stupid, and they’ve fired a warning shot against players who tweet, too.  I like Mark Teahen’s reaction:

“I don’t think it was put into place for me,” the third baseman said. “My dog gets out of line sometimes, but I’m pretty civil.”

I’m glad Teahen’s recovered from his rough start.  I really didn’t want to dislike him immediately.
*Back to Rogers, who, one day after saying the Sox should extend Paul Konerko, now says the Sox should consider trading John Danks to Milwaukee for the privilege of having an inside track on paying Prince Fielder way too much money, just after Ryan Howard elevated the pay floor for All-Star first basemen everywhere.
I … I mean… Just…

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Minor league roundup (dark day edition):

  • Columbus 12, Charlotte 7
    • Daniel Hudson, horrible: 1 IP, 8 H, 9 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 2 HR.
    • Tyler Flowers, terrible: 0-for-4, 4 Ks.
    • Dayan Viciedo and C.J. Retherford, nothing: 0-for-4 apiece.
    • At least Jordan Danks got on board with one hit and his sixth stolen base.
    • Ramon Castro went 2-for-3 with a two-run homer in his first rehab start.
  • Birmingham 5, Tennessee 4
    • Christian Marrero hit his first homer of the season, part of a 2-for-5, three-RBI day.
    • Charlie Shirek continues his strong pitching, allowing just one run on five hits and a walk over seven innings. One strikeout, 14 groundouts. The run increases his ERA to 0.69.
  • Winston-Salem 6, Frederick 4
    • Charles Leesman had his strikeout stuff, fanning eight over 5 2/3 innings. He allowed three runs on five hits and three walks.
    • Dan Remenowsky pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings.
    • Jon Gilmore went 4-for-5 to raise his average to .397. All were singles.
    • Justin Greene was perfect, with a walk, single, double and triple.
  • West Virginia 6, Kannapolis 1
    • Nick Ciolli had three of Kanny’s four hits, including a solo homer.
    • Juan Silverio had the other one, a double.
    • Trayce Thompson went 0-for-4 with a strikeout. It’s the first time in 11 games he didn’t reach base.

And Larry passes along some bad news: Josh Phegley’s career is on hold as he deals with the blood disorder ITP (low platelet count).  It doesn’t sound fun, to say the least. Best of luck to Phegley, and let’s hope for better days ahead on all fronts.

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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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chisoxt

Good luck pulling off that Adrian Gonzalez deal now!

fustercluck

yeah… I figured that cause was lost when Jared Mitchell went down… But I’d never give up hope of Kenny making a splash, ’cause he do love cannonballs. San Diego contending might even help. Consider:
Konerko plus cash (wheel grease) – helps fill the void. Paulie could even come back and DH for Uncle Jerry at a reasonable price. There are worse options.
Mr. Sergio! Wizard – still a project, value may never be higher
Trayce Thompson – high upside and hasn’t stumbled at upper levels yet
2nd pitcher, take your pick
Maybe it’s an overpay for 1+ seasons of Gonzalez. It’s going to take an overpay. But he signs a club-friendly extension after the trade, right? Right? Oh well, it was fun dreaming anyway. He’ll do fine in Fenway.

bigfun

There is no void. The Padres currently have a first baseman playing left field. He’ll shift over as soon as Gonzalez is traded.

fustercluck

Let Paulie play LF then.

knoxfire30

Jim, thank goodness you came up with this topic. Juan Pierre pound for pound dollar for dollar has to be the worst player in baseball right now. He has 1 tool of 5, and a bad contract. GOOD GOD, you run to the freaking wall and make a catch, hard play sure, very makable play when your entire value is based on speed, it better be!
And I have to say watching Pierre every day, im not exactly in love with his so called speed, I dont see it getting out of the box, does he have a bunt hit this year? Does he slap it to the shortstop and make it a bang bang play? I dont see that at all. Throw in the zero chance he has of an extra base hit and his current 200ish average and… Yikes

soxfan1

Anybody else miss seeing Scotty Pods in a White Sox uniform??? At least it was interesting watching him take leads & get picked off. Watching Pierre is like watching paint dry. How many more years/$$ on his contract??

knoxfire30

One player being bad doesnt make another player better. Pods had way too many problems for me to ever like him as a full time option. I cant believe Pierre is gonna be on the books next year for a big chunk of payroll that could be used elsewhere on maybe carl crawford, makes me want to cry.

Shinons

Why is it so certain that he just flat out sucks, that the numbers he’s put up his whole career are unattainable? I don’t see how .285/.330 with 40 steals is out of reach for him, and his bloated contract aside, isn’t that all we really need out of him offensively? He is what he is, and I figure what he’s paid isn’t really fair to include in the evaluation – he’s never going to be worth $44 million, but I expect by the end of the season he winds up filling his role.
Hell, it could be worse – he’s not Carlos Gomez or Willy Taveras.

3oooooooo

I’d trade Pierre for Gomez in a heartbeat

bigfun

Yeah, what’s the beef with Carlos Gomez? I’d take a defensive wizard CF over Pierre any day.

Shinons

Gomez can’t hit. At all. Doesn’t even put the ball in play. Offensively he’s Willy Taveras at best. Pierre at least understands how to be a leadoff hitter (draw walks), even if he’s not a premier one.
If we’re talking about the 9 spot, sure. If we’re talking about leadoff, no way.

Shinons

Curious, what’s the point where he’d be considered a siphon? Personally, I figure even if he’s at his career low numbers, that’d still be better than what we’re used to at leadoff since…hell…Lance Johnson?

marshlands

It could be worse, Pierre could have an ISO of .000 and be 33 years old…
Oh fuck.

knoxfire30

hahahaha

marshlands

Also, Jim! I’m so happy you mentioned the Link/Garland outings. I almost tweeted something to you about Link while he was getting ripped, and later when my roommate and I went through Jon Garland’s career game log to see if he’d ever struck out 10 batters. Interestingly enough that same roommate of mine was neighbors with Ely in Homewood. Said he used to throw loud parties in high school.

striker

It’s time to move Pierre down in the lineup and Teahen up (not necessarily to the lead off but not sure who else would). That alone would probably add 1 run each day.
How much longer do you give Pierzynski before you replace him with Lucy or Flowers?

knoxfire30

all of 2010

bigfun

All of 2010 over Lucy. Probably can’t really replace him for Flowers either because of personalities / staff management stuff. Need to either trade him or ride out the year regardless of how bad he is at the plate.

striker

Didn’t Pierre start slow for the Cubs and Dodgers? Maybe he’s slow to transition for new teams.

soxophone

Is anyone else at least a little surprised that LA has both Link and Ely in the majors already? They must have really liked those guys or something. I just thought they wanted to be rid of Pierre(i still am holding out hope for him).
Can Pierre’s “troubles” be attributed to his first go round in the AL? I mean the pitching is a lot better in the Junior circuit generally.

knoxfire30

I brought up the Pierre in the AL might not be able to hit a while ago, I think when I checked he had about a 265 or 270ish average in interleague play, but probably not a lot of at bats.

bigfun

Re: Link and Ely, part of the reason is that the Dodgers stayed almost completely out of the free agent market this year because of their ownership problems, so a lot of fringy guys from the upper minors are getting shots at playing time.

bigfun

“It’s in everybody’s best interest that he starts performing, and soon.”
I think he will. ZiPS projects an entirely mediocre but not DFAable .279/.330/.343 the rest of the way, which sounds right to me.
But… is it selfish of me to hope that he crashes and burns so completely and totally that they just release him and eat the loss? I’m going to make a “call up de Aza” sign and start bringing it to the park.

ricksch

Pierre’s outfield play has been sadly disappointing, and we knew going into this he had no arm. Offensively he has to get closer to his career numbers or this WILL be a disaster. The reason it will be a disaster is that we have no real alternative to Pierre, with all due respect to de Aza. While I was never a fan of Pods, I saw him as a good 4th OF. A guy you ride when hot and bench when he starts to braincramp. For a lousy $2m that would have cost the team, we would have had insurance at the lead-off spot. Instead, we have Nix, presumably making sure vizquel doesn’t get hurt? More reasonably, he’s there because our next infield option in AAA is Lillibridge (talk about useles!) Damon would have been a splendid though costlier idea that would have enabled us to bench Pierre or bat him in the nine spot where he belongs.
Cheap front office and bad roster planning. this is the dawning of the Age of Pierre.

blah

Can’t really call the fron office cheap when their spending $103 mm on players. Bad roster planning yes.

ricksch

Just because you’ve mispent a ton of money doesn’t mean you don’t try to add the necessary pieces to fill out the roster where needed. Sox are short a man (Nix is pure garbage and repeats Vizquel’s position) on offense and short a man in the pen with wash-out Williams killing us every time he comes in the game. Jim contends it doesn’t matter who your 7th guy in the pen is. Well, for the third time this year, Williams comes in and makes sure another run scores and kills whatever momentum we had from Quentin’s homer. We end up losing by a run. Williams should be DFAd. Sox are brain dead for keeping him on.

815sox

I see either Lucy, AJ or Flowers (AJ or Flowers being the most likely) being used as trade bait, especially if we do not turn this shit around quickly.
Honestly, I feel like AJ will bounce back, but Lucy is producing right now.

dpritchett47

Jim: Another great post. I absolutely agree about Pierre and Pierzynski. But I think it is worth observing that the biggest reason for this horrible start is that the three guys that most of us hoped (and I, at least, believed)would carry the club—namely, Peavy, Quentin, and Beckham—have been terrible. If they had been playing even minimally up to their abilities, we would not be far behind the Twins. Incidentally, I would much prefer Carlos Gomez to Pierre. He would have made that catch look easy last night.

3oooooooo

Jim brings up a good point about not taking advantage of the poor defensive RF in yesterday’s game. It may have been a more glaring error yesterday with Vlad in right, but it’s a problem with this team in general. Walker over his tenure with the Sox doesn’t seem one to preach going with the outside pitch. Beckham has been a breath of fresh air in this regard as he used right almost as much as left last season. Our lack of ability/willingness to go opposite field is contributing to our AL-most 25 GDPs. Too often our guys try to pull outside pitches rather than poke the ball through the right side with the opposing 1B holding the runner at first. It might also be a side-effect of playing in such a homer-friendly park, not wanting to concede a shot at hitting the HR in favor of the simple base hit