Sox have small window to right past wrongs

Watching Scott Podsednik and Juan Pierre contribute RBI singles in the White Sox’s 4-3 victory over Kansas City on Tuesday reminded me that it had been a while since I compared them.
Just like last year, they’re proving to be pretty similar players:

PA 2B 3B HR SB CS BB K BA OBP SLG
Podsednik 330 5 4 3 22 9 23 47 .290 .335 .365
Pierre 336 7 1 0 29 8 20 23 .249 .318 .279

Here, it looks like Podsednik is a better player across the board.  However, there are a few key differences.
No. 1: April makes the difference. Here’s how Podsednik and Pierre compare from May 1 on:

  • Podsednik: .269/.305/.365, 14/22 SB
  • Pierre: .268/.336/.312, 20/24 SB

Considering OBP is far more important since they both play the leadoff position, there’s really no contest here.
No. 2: Defense. According to UZR, Podsednik is right around average (1.1 UZR/150), which is what he did for the Sox last year.  He makes it ugly and he freaks out when his spikes hit dirt, but his speed makes up for a lot.
Pierre, meanwhile, is playing left field better than anybody not named “Carl Crawford,” second with a UZR/150 of 23.0.
Right now, WAR barely favors Podsednik (0.5 to 0.4), but considering the respective directions of their numbers, it looks like Kenny Williams made the right decision.  Unless you like John Ely, are Phil Rogers, or both, that is.
Especially when you consider the following…

PA 2B 3B HR AVG OBP SLG WAR
Kojones 373 14 0 16 0.209 0.316 0.402 -0.3
Thome 141 9 1 8 0.254 0.390 0.561 1.0

The above line represents the combined stats of Mark Kotsay and Andruw Jones; the latter is Jim Thome, who has homered in back-to-back games and also hit his first triple since 2004 on Monday.
But I’d like to go back to January for a second, and rehash quotes from Ozzie Guillen and Ron Gardenhire regarding how much playing time Jim Thome needed. Guillen’s perspective:

When Thome didn’t play for two or three days, Guillen didn’t want the media to go to Thome about the situation. And Guillen didn’t want to have to answer the same questions, as to why he was halting Thome’s pursuit of 600 home runs.
“For me, it’s all about at-bats,” Guillen said. “I don’t believe Jimmy can play once or twice per week.

Gardenhire’s view:

“We play ‘em all and everybody is going to get at-bats,” Gardenhire said. “A guy like Jim, he’s not going to just come off the bench. He’s going to get his time playing and mix in at DH. … That’s the way you keep the guys going and keep everybody a part of it. We’ll get plenty of at-bats for him.”

Thome isn’t an everyday player these days; he’s Minnesota’s 10th man in terms of plate appearances.  But he seems to be handling it well, whether you judge by overall numbers, bench numbers (a respectable 5-for-19 with four extra-base hits as a pinch hitter), or attitude:

“Anytime you can get in there and get a feel again and get some at-bats, you like it,” Thome said. “I also understand the side of it that look, you’re not 22 years old anymore and he’s the manager and he’s looking out for me. If he writes my name in there, I’m in there. That’s how I prepare myself every day. When I get up in the morning, I am ready to play. Then if I’m not, it’s, ‘Ok, I’m pinch-hitting.’ It’s been good.”

His homer on Tuesday was the 572nd of his career, so he’s still nowhere near 600.  I don’t see anybody making a big deal out of it.
This isn’t to say that Thome would solve the Sox’s problems.  He’s no stranger to cold starts, and with no equivalent to Jason Kubel on the roster (although Kubel’s been bad this year), the Sox may have had to overplay Thome’s old bones.
Like I said before, the Thome argument has little to do with Thome himself.  It’s about failures by both Guillen and Williams.  Guillen had numerous excuses for not endorsing Thome, and all of them look lame.  But when it comes down to it, Guillen’s outward reluctance to do the tough part of his job deserves the harshest of criticism, and that’s not particular to the Gentleman Masher.
But it’s the job of the front office to evaluate players and give the manager the best possible talent to win.  Guillen is just one guy with a very narrow perspective on the matter. He saw Thome for four full seasons on an everyday basis and witnessed only a hot Kotsay with his own eyes.  He doesn’t have a pulse on comparable players across the rest of the league, in terms of overall, projected value, and there’s no real reason why he should.  That’s what the paid professionals in the scouting departments are for.
Guillen and Williams put their egos ahead of their jobs, and the Sox paid the price early on.  Fortunately, the Twins, Tigers and Schedule Gods granted them a reprieve over interleague play, giving the Sox a chance to right past wrongs.
To me, the Schedule Gods are attempting to slap the Sox awake with two lackluster games against the Royals.  If they don’t pay heed soon, they deserve all the childish melodrama a second-half slide can bring.  Things usually don’t end well when professionals purposefully neglect the chief objectives of their jobs, regardless of field.  Considering the money involved, baseball should be exceptionally harsh.
**************************
Minor league roundup:

  • Norfolk 12, Charlotte 3
    • Brent Morel hit two solo shots, his first two of his Triple-A career.
    • Jordan Danks went 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts.
    • Clevelan Santeliz’s disastrous outing: 1 IP, 7 H, 7 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 2 HR.
    • Lucas Harrell allowed five runs on six hits and two walks over 6 1/3 innings, walking two and striking out four.
  • Winston-Salem 9, Salem 5
    • Jose Martinez went 1-for-4 with a double and two RBI in his High-A debut.
    • Josh Phegley and Brandon Short (one walk) each went 0-for-3.
    • Jon Gilmore doubled and was hit by a pitch in four trips to the plate.
    • Eduardo Escobar went 1-for-3 with a double and a walk.
    • Nathan Jones allowed four runs on 11 hits and two walks over 6 2/3 innings, striking out four.
    • Santos Rodriguez allowed a run on a hit and a walk over 1 2/3 innings, striking out three.
  • Asheville 6, Kannapolis 3
    • Nick Ciolli hit a two-run homer, walked and struck out over four PAs.
    • Miguel Gonzalez went 1-for-4 with two strikeouts.
    • Kyle Colligan went 0-for-3 with a walk.
  • Johnson City 6, Bristol 1
    • Tyler Saladino went 2-for-5 with the lone RBI.
  • Great Falls 6, Missoula 5
    • Steven Upchurch allowed four runs on six hits (including a homer) in six innings. No walks, four strikeouts.
    • Juan Silverio went 1-for-5 with a double and a strikeout.
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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

When Kenny acquired Rios and Peavy, along with their hefty salaries, my biggest concern was how they would address filling the olther numerous holes on the team having exhausted most of their player salary budget…. Based on the off season moves and the performance guys like Kotsay, Pierre, and Teahen, my worst fears were realized.
Will it take sacrificing either Morel or Hudson to fix this problem? That would be too bad….There were many guys available for cheap in the off season that would have helped.

tdogg

Without doubt most Sox fans biggest frustration is after making the bold Peavy and Rios moves they half assed it on other important ones. And it wasn’t even about money. Sigh.

Shinons

Things usually don’t end well when professionals purposefully neglect the chief objectives of their jobs, regardless of field.
So are you saying that we should actually be doing work right now rather than reading about the Sox…?