Reporting Laurence Holmes
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By Laurence W. Holmes–
(WSCR) It’s time for the Sox to live up to their marketing slogan. The usual crutch of Interleague Play has netted them a 7-6 record thus far, and a grueling 19-game stretch inside the A.L. Central is on the horizon. Some hard questions need to be asked of the entire White Sox organization: Is everyone selling out to get wins? Are the White Sox all pulling on the same rope? It doesn’t seem that way, especially when you have to wonder if the best 25 guys are on the roster.
Dayan Viciedo is healthy and tearing the cover off the ball in Charlotte: Viciedo is hitting over .330. He’s getting on base 37% of the time and has 12 home runs and 55 runs batted in. He’s ready for a return to the majors. The White Sox needs some pop, and Viciedo, at least, has the potential to give that to them. The Sox have been impressed with how he’s progressed as an outfielder. The problem lies in who would have to leave to make space for Viciedo. There is more than one candidate.
There’s been much discussion since the beginning of the season about Juan Pierre’s diminishing skills. Tuesday night not withstanding, Pierre has struggled. He hasn’t been a table setter (.315 OBP). He hasn’t been a base stealer (10/19). In fact he hasn’t had a stolen base in 19 straight games. He hasn’t played a solid left field (5 errors and .970 fielding position at the easiest position on the diamond). Pierre makes for an target, but he isn’t the only one.
Gordon Beckham has not shown the same promise, offensively, that he did in the second half of last year, or when he was first called up. To his credit, he’s become a very solid second baseman defensively, and that should be considered. For most of this season, Beckham has looked lost at the plate and isn’t providing any offense. In his last 11 games, he’s hitting .154 and he needed two hits last night at Coors Field to get there. He has options left and perhaps his meteoric rise to the majors was a detriment after all. If you were to send him down you could play Brent Lillibridge at second base and have him leadoff. Bench Pierre and play Viciedo in left field.
Omar Vizquel shouldn’t be safe on “White Sox Island” either. Last year, his contribution was immense. He hit the ball. He provided defensive stability at third base and played a role in developing Alexei Ramirez into a gold-glove caliber shortstop. This year, Vizquel has been OK: .271/.298/.336, but he hasn’t been untouchable. If he were playing as well as last year, you could justify him being on the roster instead of Viciedo, but this year, you can’t.
The biggest problem seems to be that Kenny Williams and Ozzie Guillen can’t agree on what the winning formula is. There is also the issue of loyalty. It’s fair to ask the question: Is Pierre’s continued presence on this team due to the fact that Guillen has genuine affection for the hardworking veteran? It’s also fair to ask: Is Beckham’s roster spot safe due to the fact that Williams doesn’t want to pull the plug on such a highly regarded prospect?
Williams and Guillen have always been better together than apart. It’s time to get on the same page. They need to have a serious talk about the immediate future of this team. The Sox have spent the most money in franchise history putting this bunch together. That being said, the money shouldn’t be a factor when it comes to roster spots, or spots in the lineup. Either you’re trying to win now or you aren’t. There may be some hurt feelings if Pierre, Beckham or Vizquel go, but the division is on the line. “All In” means making tough decisions. If those decisions aren’t made the Sox are going to find themselves “All Out” of the A.L. Central race.