Seeds of discontent with the rotating DH

If you’re not in the mood for baseball yet — and if you aren’t, then why are you here? — Scott Reifert posted some video of Carlos Quentin in the cage, and a couple other videos around Camelback Ranch as well.
It’s HD quality, so be prepared to wait for it to load. But with more than a month before the regular season starts, all we have is time.
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Keep those sights and sounds in mind. Play them in the background on loop. Breathe slowly. Breathe deeply.
Because we’re going to talk about the rotating DH.

To make the merry-go-round go faster
So that everyone needs to hang on tighter
just to keep from being thrown to the wolves.

The more I read about the Tilt-a-Whirl, the more I have a bad feeling about it.  And Joe Cowley’s newest attempt to create spring training drama isn’t helping.
Cowley is readying the trap door for Mark Kotsay:

What transpired the last four-plus months will at least go a long way in defining the 2010 season — good or bad.
And the one guy in the center of that storm — the well-traveled, well-bearded Kotsay.

Chalk it up to sensationalism, but Mark Gonzalez gave Andruw Jones’ workload a greater share of newshole, and it might be scarier.

Jones said he was part of a three-player DH rotation with Blalock and David Murphy with the Rangers.
“I will do whatever is asked,” said Jones, who has batted .213 with 13 homers in 244 career at-bats as a DH. “My goal is to play every day. But whatever, happens.”

I’m reminded of the football saying that Bears fans are familiar with: If you have two quarterbacks, you don’t have one.  Granted, platooning hasn’t found its way to the QB position, but we can say that if you have three DHs, ain’t nobody’s hitting.
Upon first glance, Texas DHs weren’t awful, finishing sixth in the league with an .802 OPS, first in homers (38) and third in slugging percentage (.491).
Unfortunately, they were second-to-last in OBP (.312) and batting average (.242) to the Kansas City Royals.
Now, remove Hank Blalock and his 15 homers as a DH from the equation and replace him with Kotsay, who has hit just  17 homers over the last four years. Add in the fact that Jones is coming to the White Sox on the heels of four terrible months (think Jermaine Dye, but worse, and with no recent track record).
What do you get?  Well, not many reasons for optimism.
It reminds me of Jimmy Gobble’s brief White Sox career.  Before joining the Sox, he showed an ability to retire left-handed hitters with the Royals, but Trey Hillman used him against righties way too much. For some reason, the White Sox did the same thing. Gobble faced more righties than lefties, and was out of a job after a couple months.
Less obscurely, Darin Erstad.  He had suffered injuries the last two times the Angels played him regularly in center field. With his defense, baserunning and contact-oriented approach, he would have been a perfectly acceptable bench player.
And we know which road the Sox traveled.
The Sox haven’t learned from other team’s mistakes before, and the rotating DH idea combines two of them — an overreliance on a tanking talent (Dodgers, Rangers) and a guy with a bad back (Athletics, Red Sox).  Two negatives usually only make a positive in math.
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Out of context quote time! Guillen on Jones:

He’s a little hungry.

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Christian Marrero Reading Room:
*Gavin Floyd isn’t worried about his hip.
*Bobby Jenks has given up alcohol. I wonder if that helped he and the Sox agree about the conditioning criticism.
*Scott Linebrink says three different things explain his last three second-half fades.
*A little more about Sergio Santos’ shortstop-to-bullpen transition.
*Daniel Cabrera gets a few paragraphs, continuing the John Van Benschoten legacy.
*And Ozzie Guillen is on Twitter. It’s either going to be banal or awesome.  And if it’s awesome, it’s probably going to be short-lived.

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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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pander

Ozzie Guillen on Twitter:
going to eat in half hour why dye no have a job ?
3 day of Spring Training and im already boreddddddd
what I saw on the field today was a lot of grass…
Hahaha I cannot wait until the next Sean Tracey incident occurs. God bless Twitter.

saltydog

Well, you know what they say:
They might be fake
They might be lies
They might be big, big, fake, fake lies.
Hang on tight.

drlingerie

“Now is the winter of our discontent…”
“Oh no, run!”
And for future metaphorical purposes, Jim:
http://willdo.philadelphiaweekly.com/archives/051908carnivalcrash.jpg

knoxfire30

I think my biggest gripe about the DH plan is that I believe Kotsay and Jones could probably play left field better then Pierre, am I crazy in that thinking….
Also, again this isnt a bad situation, its easy to add a DH if its the one piston not firing on a team at the deadline. Plus the sox have apparently 6 mil extra to spend based on the damon stuff.

bigfun

Jones is probably better defensively – he hasn’t played as much in the outfield in the past two years, but he’s still been decent to very good during that time and can probably play OK center or above-average corner defense.
Kotsay was bad to awful in his years in CF with Oakland, and given his health, he probably shouldn’t be playing anything beyond 1B.
For defense and injury reasons, I’d like to see Quentin get most of the DH at-bats.

bigfun

“Now, remove Hank Blalock…”
Hah, clearly the solution here is to sign Hank. He’s still without a job and, tragically, would represent a boost to the Sox at this point.
What’s Dye’s asking price at this point in the season, now that he’s talked his way out of several possible jobs? And will he compete for at-bats and play wherever they tell him to?
At the start of the offseason in my foolish optimism I was fine with him leaving. Now if he comes for a few million I’d be glad to have him back.

ricksch

Perhaps it’s easy to pick up a DH during the year, but why you head into the season AT LEAST one position short escapes me. Jones should be wondering if he will make the team, not be “penciled in” as the starting DH against lefties — whom he doesn’t seem to hit. What did Jones do in the batting cage in ONE FRICKIN’ DAY to inspire such confidence? Or is Ozzie an idiot?
It wouldn’t be so bad if the Sox had the other eight spots down pat. But with Quentin looking to return to his ONE good year and Rios trying to find his mojo, there are way too many question marks to be playing around with this crap.
This is the difference between the Sox and the elite teams. We have journeymen like Jones and Kotsay in major roles. They have those types of guys riding the pine where they belong.
Right now, for this team to win with any consistency, it comes down to Putz returning to his old form and the Sox having a lights-out bullpen trio (including Jenks and Thornton) to follow their formidable starting staff.
A 2-1 win is still a win. Just so long as we’re on the right side of it.

bigfun

I disagree with the “it’s easy to add a DH at the deadline” idea. The number of choices goes down and the relative price goes up.
You can occasionally get a nice utility or platoon guy that way for free (e.g. Kotsay 2009), but to get any kind of impact bat, you almost always have to give up prospects, which the Sox, with one of the worst minor league systems in baseball, can’t afford to do.

knoxfire30

I completely disagree with you. Its a cash strapped MLB these days and teams are typically looking to dump players at the deadline if they are out of contention. And when your in a situation like the whitesox where you have an OPEN DH spot, you can bring in literally any available hitter. Your not limited to just a DH, you could get a 1st basemen, an outfielder, a catcher, anyone it doesnt matter cause you can juggle the lineup around with an open DH spot.

bigfun

Even if their cash-strapped though how low does the price go? Can you give me examples of impact bats that were acquired at the deadline for a low or modest cost? I can’t think of a lot of deals that happen like that.

blah

I agree with bigfun.
I don’t really think that giving up Flowers and/or Hudson is worth a half year rental. Especially when some hitters went to teams for virtually nothing (in terms of baseball salaries). Thome, Matsui, Johnson and Branyan all signed for next to nothing while other hitters like Damon waited until spring training started to sign a deal and Dye is still waiting. This was, except in the case of the Tigers, a buyers market for slow players who crushed the ball.
Having effective cost controlled players adds millions to a payroll especially when scrutinizing how much money is blown on mediocre players, like Alex Cora, John McDonald and other lifetime utility players.

bigfun

That is a good point Jim. But the Dodgers were only getting a month’s worth of Thome, which was the real driver for the low price. If that trade had happened in July, they would have definitely wanted a legitimate prospect for him.
I think the Thome deal was sort of unusual, especially if you give any credit to the idea that the Sox conceeded some value so he could go to a contender.

bigfun

Aubrey Huff is just the sort of thing that scares me about the idea of waiting until July or August and then grabbing a veteran. The Tigers traded their 10th-best prospect (per Baseball America) for 100 ABs of .189/.265/.302 in the DH spot.

bigfun

“Recovering” in the same way as the White Sox system “recovers,” which is to say, not at all, because every year is win now and go for broke. Point is I would rather pay a few million for a Branyan or a Thome in the offseason, at a cost of no prospects, then pay the same salary (prorated of course) PLUS prospects for a partial season of the same kind of veteran, even if the Ely-esque prospect’s upside might just be reliever or #5 starter (which is still valuable, as long as they are at or near the league minimum).
A team will never have as much leverage in a trade in July as it does in a free agent signing for an overstocked position in February.

knoxfire30

and that worst farm system not allowing us to make moves stuff is getting really old, swisher, ocab, quentin, pena, peavy, rios, pierre… i mean how many trades does kenny half to pull off before you people realize having no depth on the farm isnt that big a deal as long as you have some money and a few tantalizing guys

bigfun

Two of the moves you mention there didn’t even involve prospects, and one of the others was one of the worst moves of Kenny’s time as GM.
Yes, using prospects as trade chips is viable and the Sox understand that. And they’ve had some good successes there in trading overvalued prospects. But “money and a few tantalizing guys” means you have to pay the full cost for everything else. You’re rarely getting true bargains. When you can pay a young player a fraction of what he’s worth, you can use the savings for some other area of need.
And that’s not just the tantalizing guys – non-stars who fill out the roster cumulatively save huge amounts of money for smart teams. Look at all the money the Sox dumped into essentially bench players this winter. Lots of teams can pull guys with the same production or better out of AAA at the league minimum.
The Tampa Bay Rays, playing in a tougher division with half the budget, are a better team than the White Sox, and will continue to be for years to come. Their major league roster is loaded with young, cost-controlled players, and their AAA team has plenty of guys who are ready to step up. Meanwhile the Sox will pay millions of dollars to guys like Pierre and Linebrink for replacement-level (or sub-replacement level) performances. And fans can look forward to getting beaten by the Rays and teams like them for years to come.

blah

I said kinda the same thing.

knoxfire30

THE RAYS WERE HORSESHIT FOR A DECADE THATS HOW THEY GOT THAT TALENTED ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!

bigfun

That’s part of it, but plenty of teams get top 5 pick after top 5 pick and never amount to anything. They’re not just winning because of guys like Longoria – they’re also winning because of guys like Zobrist, a decidedly non-tantalizing prospect that the Astros decided they didn’t need for depth purposes and traded… in a July deal for a veteran bat. Hm.
Obviously as a breakout player Zobrist is a rare case, but players don’t need to perform anywhere close to that to be valuable. Even a near league-average player making $400,000 can be very useful. That’s a big part of the reason why a team like the Yankees, with more money to spend than anyone, will roster someone like Brett Gardner.

knoxfire30

do you think jake peavy was a bargain?

blah

If we are going to look at bat’s this coming trade deadline, we should consider this question instead;
Do you think Mark Teahen was a bargin?

bigfun

It’s nearly impossible for a guy making over $16 million per year to be a bargain. Someone like Lincecum would be a bargain at that price. Most other pitchers would fall short.
I think the best-case scenario with Peavy is about break even. He pitches well and roughly earns the money they’re paying him, and the prospects the Sox gave up turn out to be overrated and flame out or only become back-of-rotation or bullpen guys. But I can’t imagine him being a bargain at that salary. I just don’t expect him to be amazing for his entire tenure, which is basically what he would have to do.

chisoxt

At some point though, you have to develop your share of young quality players that you have under control for 5-6 years at a reasonable price. To rely on getting established veterans through trades or free agency is totally unrealistic especially for an organization like the Sox that supposedly has limited resources. What ends up happening is that you eventually run out of money and have to settle for crumbs to fill the last few holes that you have, as was the case this off season. How was our bullpen improved? Not much. DH/left handed power? Nope. Peavy is exciting, but keep in mind we were among the league leaders last year in quality starts last year and we still stunk.

knoxfire30

we got a top of the line starter for a bunch of what ifs…
also, driving my point home more apparently the Jays wanted hudson and flowers back in a possible halladay deal but halladay didnt have the sox on the list of teams he would go too
our prospects can get us a big bat, im not worried about kenny pulling off a deal if he needs too at the deadline

bigfun

“we got a top of the line starter for a bunch of what ifs… ”
This thinking is like an investor who only buys blue chip stocks and ignores start-ups and venture companies because they are “what ifs.” It’s not the worst investment strategy, but it’s certainly not very competitive.
If the Sox had been smarter investors in the past, they would have easily had the money to go after someone like Chone Figgins this year. But they weren’t. So we get… Mark Teahen. :-/

striker

That’s a bad analogy because an investor can use an infinite number of stocks to evaluate his performance, a GM can only use 25. You have to look at the 3-5 year plan and trade where your depth is (ours was pitching, although not awesome prospects). You also have to consider the supply of players at certain positions (hence the Brandon Allen trade).

bigfun

It’s not a great analogy, but my point is if you only pursue proven commodities you can never get ahead of how the market values anything. You pay the full price for everything and it’s very difficult to win when you’re doing that.
And I still don’t think the Brandon Allen trade made much sense in light of our current DH situation. The only way it really made sense was if the Sox were pretty sure he was never going to bring down his strikeout rate.

Shinons

So basically our DH this year is the 2009 CF situation. Which worked out…just…awful…

ricksch

In sum, KW has handed us a pretty crappy offseason. Lots of so-so players got moved around, but all we really have to talk about going into Spring Training is what we already had going into the offseason — our good starting pitching.
The thing that gets me is how last year Kenny seems to have so sorely lamented not waiting for the market to discount some really good players — i.e. Bobby Abreau. So this year, after making several minor deals, he goes after no one. They never made a try at Figgins, the one free agent who really fit their needs and offer a serious upgrade at both 3rd and the lead-off spot.
Damon may have ultimately been too pricey at $8m. I can respect Kenny folding on that deal. Still, now Thome seems like an even bigger mistake. Thome wasn’t ideal by any means, but at $1.5m he was a power bat that offered some insurance. The weird thing with Thome is that it seemed Ozzie was mostly concerned about Jim gettings enough ABs. Strange that didn’t seem to bother Gardenhire, despite all the quality lefty bats he has on the team.
In the end, I can’t say I’m very optimistic about the year. I’m extremely curious how this team is going to shape up, but I won’t be surprised is they struggle around .500 like last year. I had thought with the division up for grabs, the Sox had as good a chance as any to at least win the Central. But the Twins and the Tigers both improved themselves and we, at best, treaded water.
Seems like the best outcome we can hope for this year is that Rios turns out not to be a bust. Otherwise, we’ll be saddled with that killer contract for the next four years.

striker

Let me ask everyone this, with the DH position under alot of scrutiny, what would you consider to be an acceptable contribution from that position? .260avg/.330obp/25hr/75rbi? I’d like to know where you draw the line for complaining? If the DH platoon beats the above prediction do you stop complaining?
What was the average DH contribution in 2009? Anyone know?

zoodieman

According to baseball-reference.com in 2009 the average DH – BA .255 OBP .337 SLG .443 OPS+ 100 HR 26 2B 29 RBI 89 & R 82.

knoxfire30

those numbers seem pretty easy to fill but the sox need a high end dh given that they play at the cell and that they dont have a lot of players who are huge on offense at their given postion
im still dreaming of a adrian gonzalez or prince fielder midseason acquisition

Shinons

Re: Gonzalez – 28 hrs on the road last year. Yes please.

phastphil

I’m with Ozzie on the concept of rotating DH, though I’m not sure the current roster will work for the Sox, but my crystal ball is on the fritz so I really don’t know what the future will bear.

jmsdn58

First time post here, love the site. The only move I “hate” this off season is naming Teahen the starting third baseman the same day as we got him. I thought Gordan did an outstanding job at 3rd base last year after being just thrown in to it at the major league level. And that claim seemed to handcuff us of any other moves that could have made us better. I think Orlando Hudson would have been a perfect addition at 2B or if we were going to add a 3B and move Gordan why not grab Figgins, who would have been perfect as well. I like the rotating DH idea, especially the way our roster is full of question marks and injury concerns. But I think it should be based on one guy instead of a group of guys. That guy is Teahen. It doesnt mean that he is in the DH position everyday, but he rotates around to whoever needs rest or days off. I dont know, just my thoughts. I cant wait for the season to start.