They're all off days for the Sox

I’m on my way back home after a jaunt out of town, but here’s a link dump for your Monday morning.  I’ll have a brain dump for Tuesday:
*Sunday’s game recap was the result of me speed-watching it on MLB.tv.  If I missed anything crucial, drop it in the recap’s comments.
*Larry wonders how long it’ll take for the Sox to give up on Mark Kotsay, likening it to Darin Erstad’s situation in 2007.
*Erik says Greg Walker’s burden is to get his guys to stop hacking.
*Walker says his hitters need to remember who has the advantage with runners in scoring position.
*Andrew tries to figure out which small sample size cases could turn out to be reality.
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Minor league roundup:

  • Gwinnett 5, Charlotte 1
    • Lucas Harrell was greeted with five first-inning runs before settling down to hold the Braves scoreless over his last 4 1/3 innings.  Seven hits, one walk, one strikeout.
    • Greg Aquino threw a scoreless inning, with one walk and one K.
    • Jordan Danks went 2-for-4 with a double and a strikeout. He was caught stealing for the first time this season.
    • Dayan Viciedo went 2-for-4; Stefan Gartrell doubled.
  • Mobile 5, Birmingham 4 (17 innings)
    • Jim Gallagher went 6-for-8 with a double, an RBI and two runs scored.
    • John Shelby had a mere four hits in eight ABs, doubling and striking out twice. He was also picked off.
    • Brent Morel went 2-for-6 with two walks.
    • Christian Marrero doubled and dropped down two sac bunts in eight PAs.
  • Winston-Salem 7, Kinston 6
    • Stephen Sauer’s control problems continue: six walks and zero strikeouts over five innings. He limited the damage to two runs on four hits.
    • Jon Gilmore went 2-for-4 with an RBI. He’s hitting .366.
    • Tyson Corley was also roughed up, giving up four runs on five hits and a walk over 1 2/3 innings.
    • Gregory Infante allowed an inherited runner to score to tie it, but picked up the win by following up with a scoreless inning.
  • Kannapolis 4, Hickory 3
    • Trayce Thompson hit his first pro homer, and also doubled and came around to score the winning run.
    • Nick Ciolli went 0-for-4.
    • Justin Collop allowed two earned runs on five hits over six innings, with no walks and five strikeouts.
    • Ryan Buch threw two perfect innings, recording one strikeout.
    • Drew O’Neil picked up the save with a scoreless inning, allowing a hit and striking a batter out.
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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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knoxfire30

Jim- I looked into the BABIP and the sox were at 218 as a team, is that freaking possible? Its like 50 points lower then anyone else in the league.

knoxfire30

moved to 228 after yesterdays game, but still

3oooooooo

The Erik article Jim linked above addresses your question. The Sox have been unlucky as evidenced by the league-lowest BABIP which is almost 30 points lower than the next team.
But, the Sox’ batted-ball results do suggest why their BABIP is low. First, they haven’t been hitting the ball hard. One of the lower LD% in the league. There’s a correlation between how hard you hit the ball and your BABIP.
Also, they lead the league in infield fly ball %. About 14% of the balls the Sox put in play are pop-ups. None of these are going to fall for hits unless the opposing team makes a mistake.
Erik says the Sox are hitting 48% GBs and we are a laggard in that category. However, that is one of the higher GB% in baseball. Typically your BABIP will be higher with the GB opposed to the FB.
The fact that we are a RH-heavy lineup will put us in at a slight disadvantage in the BABIP department too

Buehrlesque

Great stuff 3oooooo. I think BABIP is very limited in its usefulness with respect to future projections. I’m not saying it’s all together a garbage stat, just that there are plenty of other things that are better predictors. Your points about LD% and infield fly % get at the real problems.
So, to me, saying the Sox offense will improve because their BABIP is bound to increase (a claim I’ve seen a few times over the past few days) is an extremely flimsy argument.

tdogg

Its really not. Yes BABIP has its limitations, but there is nothing flimsy about how low the team BABIP is right now and its effect on expected runs (roughly 20 less).
A comparsion of current LD% and GB% this short year.
Baltimore LD% 16/ GB% 45.9 BABIP .265
Houston LD% 16.5/ GB 48.4 BABIP .258
Pirates LD% 17.3/GB 46.6 BABIP .280
Wsox LD% 17.2/GB 47.2% BABIP .220

Buehrlesque

I just saw that, about how the Sox LD% and GB% is about the same as other struggling offenses, yet the BABIP is still much lower. That’s a good counter-argument and I have to agree that it is a clear sign of some bad luck.
While it’s a fine indicator, I still don’t think BABIP is really any better of a *predictor* stat than most others. As a pop up happy team playing in the small Cell, the Sox are always going to have a relatively low BABIP anyway.
Basically, the low BABIP is telling me the team is in a slump and not making good contact, the same observations I have made a.) by watching the contact they make in each at bat and b.) with other stats- simple ones like BA, OPS, runs and others like LD% and wOBA. For me, BABIP doesn’t add that much.
So saying BABIP will normalize? Sure, when they start hitting better.

Shinons

Seeing as how the early struggles are exactly what anyone who looked at this team would have expected, isn’t the only answer to make a move? We need a left-handed RBI machine – until we get one, we’re not going to be any good.

striker

I thought about this too but:
1) It’s still EARLY
2) No one is going to give up a good hitter this early unless they are blown out of the water, aka we over spend
3) The whole team is batting like crap, 1 good player isn’t going to help. You have to wait for the whole team to come around.
I think it’s all mental. If we can put together a small win streak and get it out of their heads then we’ll start playing better. Anaheim and Seattle just got out of their funks. We are next.
A poor streak was bound to happen. Better in the beginning of the season than in the end. This team has been a notorious first half team, maybe now they’re a second half team 🙂

Shinons

I’ll respond in order:
1) Yeah, it’s still early, but it’s also exactly what we expected. Better to correct an obvious problem right away than let it linger and just do it later anyways – like our CF problem last year.
2) True, it’d be better if we could wait – but I do think there are some guys in the bargain bin. Most glaringly, I think the Red Sox are ready to sell on Ortiz.
3) Also true, but so many of these games are being decided by a run or two. We’re getting guys in position, but not able to knock them in – replace Kotsay with a guy who can actually drive the ball, I think that’ll make a hell of a difference even when everyone is struggling from the plate.
Overall, I agree with your sentiment. But I’m a bit worried after getting our asses handed to us by some crappy/mediocre teams with Seattle and Tampa Bay in the pipeline – if we dig too big of a hole, won’t be fun to try climbing out of. So I’m a bit more willing to sell lower to try not let the short-term get out of control, even if it means we can’t improve our long-term later (read: waiting for Adrian Gonzales to become available).

striker

So you think we should get Ortiz and he will help this lineup? Yet Boston is in the same place we are in and they think dumping him will help their lineup?
I think moving the lineup around will help. Move Teahen and Rios up and play Jones everyday.

Shinons

Is Ortiz an upgrade over Kotsay? Because that’s the criteria that I consider in regards to the question “will help this lineup?” Ortiz is just an example of a big lefty masher who is probably available for a potentially bargain price. This is the third straight season he’s started off slowly – I’d put my money on him warming up sooner rather than later, especially playing in the less-pressured AL Central. And Boston isn’t really in the same place we are – they’re going to have to win a lot more games than we will if they’re going to be making the playoffs, so less time to wait on Ortiz’s bat to come around.
Anyways, the point isn’t really Ortiz – it’s just that in an ideal world we’d wait till the deadline and make a play on Gonzales, but this glaring need and our early struggles might force our hand to go with more of a gap-stop option.
You could fully well be right that an adjustment in the order is what we need to start producing runs. I just think it’s pretty clear at this point that this lineup is very much missing a big intimidating lefty.

Buehrlesque

Ortiz? Hmm, the last left-handed 1B/DH on his last legs that Boston was willing to give away for nothing was hitting 3rd for us yesterday!

striker

I get what you are saying. I think we should see what Jones has and play him 5 times a week. Then if he fails then start shopping. They guy is batting .300 with a .400 obp and 3hr. He’s earned his chance.

Shinons

That’s certainly fair enough.