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Lillian

Addressing the Offensive Short Comings

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So far, early in the season, it is very apparent that this team has the two most important components to play winning baseball; pitching and defense. The starting rotation is deep, and the bullpen has a collection of great arms, with a nice mix of veterans and youngsters.

 

Unfortunately, the offense is going to struggle to score runs. Saving a trade, there are several things that could be done to attempt to better utilize the limited talent on this squad.

Some changes in the order, and platooning a few guys, could improve the offense, without compromising the defense. I posted a few of these recommendations in another thread, but suspect that the subject got buried there. Given its importance, I’d enjoy your suggestions regarding how the Sox might improve run production without a trade, and without compromising the defense. Here are my suggestions:

 

Fukudome has a career OBP .047 higher than Rios, versus RHP. He would make a good number two hitter against righties, and his defense is probably close to as good as that of Rios. His career .368 OBP, and ability to take a lot of pitches, would look very good hitting in front of the heart of the order.

Against LHP, Rios could return to RF, and Ramirez could bat in the number 2 hole. Alexei has very good career numbers vs. LHP, including a .354 OBP.

 

Lillibridge demonstrated tremendous power versus LHP last season, with a .585 slugging %, and a very respectable .346 OBP. He has earned some playing time, and the least that he should be afforded is the opportunity to hit versus LHP. He could platoon with de Aza in CF, and provide comparable defense. De Aza is a better hitter vs. RHP. They are almost interchangeable, and both provide good speed and defense, thus making an ideal platoon tandem.

 

The third platoon will likely materialize once Conor Jackson gets his swing back at AAA. He is too talented, with too impressive of a track record, to languish in the Minors. especially on this offensively challenged roster. Now that he seems completely recovered from his terrible bout with Valley Fever, and the hernia he suffered, he should return to his previous form, especially given that he'’s only 30. He could platoon as DH with Dunn. Even if Adam gets back on track, he is not that good of a hitter versus LHP, and Jackson has always owned lefties. In his first 3 Big League seasons from 2006 through 2008, his OBP vs. LHP was .378 .408 .446 respectively. Striking out fewer than once every 10 at bats would also be a refreshing change from the "whiff machine" that is Dunn against both right and left handed pitching. If Jackson starts hitting at AAA, he has to be given a shot, and a platoon with Dunn is the minimum opportunity that he should get.

 

Another lineup change has to be to move Viciedo down to the number 5 spot. That would put Paulie 3RD, Dunn clean up, and Viciedo 5TH, versus RHP. Versus LHP, I’d like to see Konerko 3RD, Jackson 4TH and Viciedo 5TH. In any case, Paulie should not be batting clean up, as it would result in his leading off too many innings.

 

All of these changes would increase the number of base runners, and the mix of right and left handed hitters in our otherwise right handed heavy lineup.

The Sox will still need to get better production from Beckham and Morel, but that could very well transpire, and both players provide Gold Glove caliber defense.

 

Robin must figure out ways to maximize the offense, without compromising the stellar defense, and these changes could go a long way to accomplishing that.

Edited by Lillian

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You have some good suggestions. However, I am not sure that I would count on Conor Jackson. But you never know. I do want Dunn to sit when LHPs are up there. You can easily play Brent Lillibridge against LHPs in either LF or 1B and put PK or the Tank at DH.

 

And with Beckham...if he continues to struggle..you have to change his role and make him more of a defensive late inning replacement guy. Have to give Escobar a chance. He did have a promising spring.

 

I have no problem with Kosuke Fukudome platooning with Rios. Only problem with Fukudome is that he hits well historically in the beginning of the season and then starts to falter. But, he might be a decent option batting #2 against RHPs.

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Thoughtful post. Escobar could bat 2nd or as you said Fukodome against RH's and Alexei against LH's. Connor Jackson would have to be incredible in the minors to earn any time on the 25 let alone split time with Dunn. Move up Viciedo move down Morel and I'm one of Morel's biggest supporters.

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Yeah, I think Morel would be more productive batting 8th or 9th. When you bat second you have to do different things at times like moving runners over or taking pitches to let a runner steal a base.

 

And you are batting ahead of the heart of the order, thus more pressure to get on base. I think Morel is still developing (kinda like Crede did) and just needs more ABs. I don't think that we ever batted somebody like Crede in the second spot, especially in his sophomore season. lol.

 

Morel showed that he could hit at the end of last season. I don't think that was fluke month or so.

 

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we outscored the Detroit Tigers by a significant margin in this series. Yeah we've got offensive shortcomings, but it already looks better than last year. let's back off the ledge. Jeez.

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The main question I would ask is, what is the purpose of this season?

 

Is it to compete for the AL Central or develop for future years down the road?

 

By your decision to not bench Morel and/or Beckham, it seems you have the "we have to find out if these guys can play everyday and be part of the future" idea in mind.

 

On the other hand, can you really "fix" the rest of the offense with 3 platoons if Beckham and Morel put up OPS numbers in the 500's?

 

Based on spring training, Dunn was able to handle left-handed pitching quite well. But if you went by 2010 and the first week of 2011 alone, you would certainly be justified looking at him as a platoon candidate. It just doesn't seem like the kind of decision Ventura is going to make from just 10 or 11 at-bats in the first week of the season, especially since Holland and Harrison are two of the better lefties in the game and Dunn had never seen Wilk before Saturday.

 

I'm also guessing this means you're going to send Escobar down OR Jones/Stewart, yes?

 

Perhaps we can get away with making Nathan Jones the long man, but from the first two times out, this doesn't seem to be what Ventura is looking for out of him...

 

If Lillibridge is splitting time with DeAza, then you're REALLY thin at back-up infield...of course, you could always move Brent from CF to one of the infield positions, but that takes away some of your flexibility. And the players that Escobar and Lillibridge would normally pinch run for are not the players they would replace on the infield (Morel, Ramirez, Beckham).

 

Then you have the economics of the situation. The fact that Dunn and Rios are each owed roughly $40-45 million, and by making them both strictly platoon players, it makes it that much more impossible to ever get those contracts off the books for KW, without eating huge chunks of salary.

 

Yes, it's a compelling argument that Fukudome always does well in April play, but Rios is so sensitive (not sure what would be a better term) that in all probability only playing 25-35% of the time (against LHP) would bring about further deterioration in his skills, attitude and performance. As with Dunn's first handful of AB's, Ventura's not going to go there this early in the season.

 

And finally, Lillibridge looks to have back his REALLY long swing. By projecting them into the line-up based on limited 2012 success, how much is that success likely to repeat itself if you look at Brent's career track record as a major league hitter? 25%? Obviously, he's only getting limited AB's, so it's not fair to judge him based on a few PH appearances...but expecting Lillibridge to hit 15+ homers again is just like projecting Brent Morel to hit 18-24 homers based on the last six weeks of 2011. And we saw how well that performance from the end of last season has carried over to this one.

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QUOTE (CaliSoxFanViaSWside @ Apr 15, 2012 -> 06:47 PM)
Thoughtful post. Escobar could bat 2nd or as you said Fukodome against RH's and Alexei against LH's. Connor Jackson would have to be incredible in the minors to earn any time on the 25 let alone split time with Dunn. Move up Viciedo move down Morel and I'm one of Morel's biggest supporters.

 

Eduardo Escobar has a CAREER OPS of 666 in the minor leagues.

 

Can you think of any player in recent history who has come up with an OPS number of under 700 in the minors and been better than a replacement level player offensively? It just doesn't happen.

 

And then we're going to hit him 2nd? It's just like giving the most plate appearances on the team to Juan Pierre.

 

We can't count on Escobar solely based on a great spring training and 2 hits in 7 AB's early in 2012.

 

It's almost like making Corky Miller the everyday catcher based on his first 10-15 ab's when he was with us...you have to look at his background and record of performance over the last 3-4-5 years.

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Can Lilly play second base effectively?

It might be time to start sitting Gordon 3 days a week. Definitely at least 2 of every 7 games.

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Here are Dunn's split stats vs. LHP for each of the last 4 years:

 

2008 .195 .351 .422

2009 .268 .351 .438

2010 .199 .304 .416

2011 .064 .235 .074

 

Watching him thus far this year, (0 for 11) I don't expect any better.

At this point in his career, he has "earned" a seat on the bench vs. LHP.

You have to ask yourself how you bat a guy with numbers like that in the middle of your lineup. I don't care how much money he's

making.

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QUOTE (greg775 @ Apr 15, 2012 -> 07:27 PM)
Can Lilly play second base effectively?

It might be time to start sitting Gordon 3 days a week. Definitely at least 2 of every 7 games.

 

Yes, Lillibridge can play 2B, and he would be an offensive upgrade vs. LHP.

However, I'd rather give Beckham a chance to figure it out. That is not the case with Dunn and Rios. They have had plenty of time to do that.

 

Lillibridge is a better platoon candidate for de Aza in CF.

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QUOTE (Lillian @ Apr 15, 2012 -> 09:33 PM)
Lillibridge is a better platoon candidate for de Aza in CF.

Why? If we're basing thing entirely on this season's sample size, his splits against RHP and LHP are pretty much identical.

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QUOTE (caulfield12 @ Apr 15, 2012 -> 07:13 PM)
The main question I would ask is, what is the purpose of this season?

 

Is it to compete for the AL Central or develop for future years down the road?

 

By your decision to not bench Morel and/or Beckham, it seems you have the "we have to find out if these guys can play everyday and be part of the future" idea in mind.

 

On the other hand, can you really "fix" the rest of the offense with 3 platoons if Beckham and Morel put up OPS numbers in the 500's?

 

Based on spring training, Dunn was able to handle left-handed pitching quite well. But if you went by 2010 and the first week of 2011 alone, you would certainly be justified looking at him as a platoon candidate. It just doesn't seem like the kind of decision Ventura is going to make from just 10 or 11 at-bats in the first week of the season, especially since Holland and Harrison are two of the better lefties in the game and Dunn had never seen Wilk before Saturday.

 

I'm also guessing this means you're going to send Escobar down OR Jones/Stewart, yes?

 

Perhaps we can get away with making Nathan Jones the long man, but from the first two times out, this doesn't seem to be what Ventura is looking for out of him...

 

If Lillibridge is splitting time with DeAza, then you're REALLY thin at back-up infield...of course, you could always move Brent from CF to one of the infield positions, but that takes away some of your flexibility. And the players that Escobar and Lillibridge would normally pinch run for are not the players they would replace on the infield (Morel, Ramirez, Beckham).

 

Then you have the economics of the situation. The fact that Dunn and Rios are each owed roughly $40-45 million, and by making them both strictly platoon players, it makes it that much more impossible to ever get those contracts off the books for KW, without eating huge chunks of salary.

 

Yes, it's a compelling argument that Fukudome always does well in April play, but Rios is so sensitive (not sure what would be a better term) that in all probability only playing 25-35% of the time (against LHP) would bring about further deterioration in his skills, attitude and performance. As with Dunn's first handful of AB's, Ventura's not going to go there this early in the season.

 

And finally, Lillibridge looks to have back his REALLY long swing. By projecting them into the line-up based on limited 2012 success, how much is that success likely to repeat itself if you look at Brent's career track record as a major league hitter? 25%? Obviously, he's only getting limited AB's, so it's not fair to judge him based on a few PH appearances...but expecting Lillibridge to hit 15+ homers again is just like projecting Brent Morel to hit 18-24 homers based on the last six weeks of 2011. And we saw how well that performance from the end of last season has carried over to this one.

 

The pitching is too good to waste this season, if there is any chance to compete. I'm all for giving the youngsters Morel, Beckham, de Aza and Flowers plenty of playing time, but if there is a way to maximize the offensive potential, why not try to do that?

 

Regarding Escobar, yes I would send him down for Conor Jackson, as soon as Jackson demonstrates that he's back to his normal level of performance.

They have Lillibridge to fill in at infield position, if they need it. Removing the "hole" in the middle of the lineup vs. LHP is a higher priority than a utility infielder. If the infield defense were a weak point, that would be another story. However, all of our infielders are superb, and this team does not need a defensive replacement at those positions.

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QUOTE (Lillian @ Apr 16, 2012 -> 02:33 AM)
Yes, Lillibridge can play 2B, and he would be an offensive upgrade vs. LHP.

However, I'd rather give Beckham a chance to figure it out. That is not the case with Dunn and Rios. They have had plenty of time to do that.

 

Lillibridge is a better platoon candidate for de Aza in CF.

 

The problem is once again this season the White Sox have too many candidates for No. 9 hitter in the order (Beckham, Morel, Dunn, Rios). I realize you can't bat Dunn ninth, but against lefties, he's an automatic out. I don't care about spring training stats.

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QUOTE (Balta1701 @ Apr 15, 2012 -> 07:38 PM)
Why? If we're basing thing entirely on this season's sample size, his splits against RHP and LHP are pretty much identical.

 

Look at de Aza's splits from last year, and his Minor League play. He is adequate vs. LHP, but not nearly as good as he is vs. RHP, which is where Lillibridge really excels.

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QUOTE (caulfield12 @ Apr 15, 2012 -> 08:21 PM)
Eduardo Escobar has a CAREER OPS of 666 in the minor leagues.

 

Can you think of any player in recent history who has come up with an OPS number of under 700 in the minors and been better than a replacement level player offensively? It just doesn't happen.

He doesn't have to be better than a replacement level player offensively. He just has to be better than Beckham who currently has a .467 OPS and had a .633 OPS last season and only a .695 the year before that.

 

Beckham needs to fix his swing in the minor leagues or else be a utility infielder with the big club. His swing and approach at the plate are terrible right now and he only seems to be getting worse. If they still think he has potential to be a big league hitter they need to send him down to fix his swing. Otherwise, utilize his plus defense and versatility as a defensive backup at 2B, SS and 3B.

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I understand the skepticism versus Conor Jackson. However, you really need to consider the circumstances.

That Valley Fever was completely debilitating.

I suspect that K. W. acquired him with precisely the idea in mind of having him spell Dunn vs. LHP.

 

It's hard to believe that he would want to take a chance on reliving the nightmare that was Dunn last season.

A replacement vs. LHP is the minimum step that any rational observer would seek.

Edited by Lillian

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QUOTE (Lillian @ Apr 15, 2012 -> 07:42 PM)
The pitching is too good to waste this season, if there is any chance to compete. I'm all for giving the youngsters Morel, Beckham, de Aza and Flowers plenty of playing time, but if there is a way to maximize the offensive potential, why not try to do that?

 

Regarding Escobar, yes I would send him down for Conor Jackson, as soon as Jackson demonstrates that he's back to his normal level of performance.

They have Lillibridge to fill in at infield position, if they need it. Removing the "hole" in the middle of the lineup vs. LHP is a higher priority than a utility infielder. If the infield defense were a weak point, that would be another story. However, all of our infielders are superb, and this team does not need a defensive replacement at those positions.

 

Theoretically, Flowers could be the RH half of a DH combo with Dunn.

 

With how hot AJ's been going, he's the only one providing protection to Konerko in that line-up. It's definitely not coming from Rios. So the question is where Flowers is going to get AB's if we're going to give Lillibridge the AB's against LHPers (sitting Dunn). Until Jackson proves himself, and he hasn't really been healthy for a full season since 2008...they will look at Brent as the first option over Jackson and leave DeAza in CF to play everyday because of the lack of another decent leadoff hitter on this team. It could come down to who does Robin want to sit more against LHP, Dunn or DeAza? At any rate, there probably won't be any major changes (except for Morel's role in the 2 spot) for another 2-3 weeks.

 

Then you're probably going to have to move Ramirez or AJ back to the 2nd spot at some point if Morel continues to struggle, with Viciedo moved up. But that doesn't leave Konerko with much protection against LHP behind him.

 

What are Lillibridge's splits as the leadoff hitter again? I'd have to look them up.

Edited by caulfield12

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QUOTE (caulfield12 @ Apr 15, 2012 -> 08:01 PM)
Theoretically, Flowers could be the RH half of a DH combo with Dunn.

 

With how hot AJ's been going, he's the only one providing protection to Konerko in that line-up. It's definitely not coming from Rios. So the question is where Flowers is going to get AB's if we're going to give Lillibridge the AB's against LHPers (sitting Dunn). Until Jackson proves himself, and he hasn't really been healthy for a full season since 2008...they will look at Brent as the first option over Jackson and leave DeAza in CF to play everyday because of the lack of another decent leadoff hitter on this team. It could come down to who does Robin want to sit more against LHP, Dunn or DeAza? At any rate, there probably won't be any major changes (except for Morel's role in the 2 spot) for another 2-3 weeks.

 

Then you're probably going to have to move Ramirez or AJ back to the 2nd spot at some point if Morel continues to struggle, with Viciedo moved up. But that doesn't leave Konerko with much protection against LHP behind him.

 

What are Lillibridge's splits as the leadoff hitter again? I'd have to look them up.

 

He only had 29 AB's last year in the lead-off spot.

However, he has the speed and his OBP was .346 vs. LHP

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I appreciate all of the thoughtful comments, as usual.

 

I'm not normally a big fan of platooning players, but when you have combinations of inept hitters versus either left or right handed pitching, and there are capable replacements, why not?

 

A hitter like Dunn is so bad versus LHP, and he has to bat in the middle of the order to be useful, in any case.

A hitter like Conor Jackson, who completley dominated LHP when he was healthy, has to be seriously considered as a viable solution to the hole in the lineup that Dunn represents vs. LHP.

I'm watching Jackson's daily progress at Charlotte, and hoping that he soon displays his ability to hit, especially vs. lefties.

 

 

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QUOTE (Lillian @ Apr 15, 2012 -> 08:25 PM)
I appreciate all of the thoughtful comments, as usual.

 

I'm not normally a big fan of platooning players, but when you have combinations of inept hitters versus either left or right handed pitching, and there are capable replacements, why not?

 

A hitter like Dunn is so bad versus LHP, and he has to bat in the middle of the order to be useful, in any case.

A hitter like Conor Jackson, who completley dominated LHP when he was healthy, has to be seriously considered as a viable solution to the hole in the lineup that Dunn represents vs. LHP.

I'm watching Jackson's daily progress at Charlotte, and hoping that he soon displays his ability to hit, especially vs. lefties.

 

Even then, Charlotte isn't Chicago.

 

Here's the problem with Jackson. Not that he put up a 660 OPS against LH pitching with well over 100 at-bats (0 homers) last year.

 

It's that, even at his best, his #1 ability is walking to 1B.

 

Which is probably Adam Dunn's best skill set against LHP as well.

 

Who is going to drive either Dunn or Jackson in (let's say they're hitting 5th or 6th in the order) at the bottom of the line-up?

 

That's why OPS can sometimes be misleading. A lot of Jackson's is OBP and less slugging...against LHP, we need the opposite, more power hitting and less base clogging.

 

If we had consistent threats up and down the line-up, I might agree that Jackson would fit in better.

 

But it's also been 4 years since he was a productive, everyday player. Stranger things have happened, sure, but the odds of Jackson being in Chicago in the first two months are about the same as Jake Peavy throwing 96 or 97 again.

 

 

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Here is what K. W. had to say about the Conor Jackson signing:

 

Williams:

 

About the signing of Conor Jackson to a minor league contract today:

 

"He was on a career trajectory that was seemingly … the ceiling was through the roof. He got valley fever. And from what I understand, it’s just a terrible thing to catch. He’s working his way back. He’s going to be working his way back in AAA."

 

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Give Rios his unconditional release and eat the contract haha. Platoon Fukudome and Lillibridge. No doubt they'd be able to match his production combined.

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QUOTE (caulfield12 @ Apr 15, 2012 -> 08:42 PM)
Even then, Charlotte isn't Chicago.

 

Here's the problem with Jackson. Not that he put up a 660 OPS against LH pitching with well over 100 at-bats (0 homers) last year.

 

It's that, even at his best, his #1 ability is walking to 1B.

 

Which is probably Adam Dunn's best skill set against LHP as well.

 

Who is going to drive either Dunn or Jackson in (let's say they're hitting 5th or 6th in the order) at the bottom of the line-up?

 

That's why OPS can sometimes be misleading. A lot of Jackson's is OBP and less slugging...against LHP, we need the opposite, more power hitting and less base clogging.

 

If we had consistent threats up and down the line-up, I might agree that Jackson would fit in better.

 

But it's also been 4 years since he was a productive, everyday player. Stranger things have happened, sure, but the odds of Jackson being in Chicago in the first two months are about the same as Jake Peavy throwing 96 or 97 again.

 

I wouldn't put much stock in any stats from Jackson, past the 2008 season. I would think that his production prior to 2009 would be much more indicative of his ability. The illness and injury pretty much rendered him useless the last 3 seasons.

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QUOTE (Cali @ Apr 16, 2012 -> 03:30 AM)
Give Rios his unconditional release and eat the contract haha. Platoon Fukudome and Lillibridge. No doubt they'd be able to match his production combined.

 

It would be a cause for celebration if Sox just released him.

Somehow the Giants took Jose Guillen off the Royals hands that one year.

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QUOTE (greg775 @ Apr 16, 2012 -> 12:45 AM)
It would be a cause for celebration if Sox just released him.

Somehow the Giants took Jose Guillen off the Royals hands that one year.

 

The Royals, who gave Guillen an ill-advised three-year, $36MM deal in December of 2007, designated Guillen for assignment on August 5th. The $250K is about $138K more than the pro-rated portion of the major league minimum salary.

 

Guillen still has $3.39MM left on his contract, but the Royals are covering some of that, according to a press release.

 

There's a HUGE difference between under $4 million and OVER $40 million.

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