The White Sox’ Enigmatical DH Situation

According to Wiktionary, the definition of “enigmatic” is

1. Pertaining to an enigma.
2. Mysterious.
3. Defying description.
4. (variant) Enigmatical.

Is “Enigmatical” really a word? Who cares? I think it fits as a nickname: The Enigmatical Kenny Williams.

I am not mocking Chicago White Sox General Manager Kenny Williams. I’m mocking myself. I have a terrible track record when it comes to thinking about Williams’ moves. When he makes a move I think is silly, it ends up working out. When he makes a move I like, it blows up. So it is with some trepidation that I am posting on Chicago’s designated hitter hole.

The White Sox are built to win now: trading for Jake Peavy, acquiring Alex Rios, and adding questionable stopgaps like Juan Pierre in left and Mark Teahen at third. It’s not an unrealistic hope. The Twins were the class of the AL Central even before adding Orlando Hudson. But with Peavy, Mark Buerhle, John Danks, and Gavin Floyd, the Sox probably have the best starting rotation in the division, and the bullpen is strong. The position players don’t stand out as much, but they aren’t dreadful — Carlos Quentin is a good hitter when healthy, Gordon Beckham is a budding star, and Rios, Alexei Ramirez, and Paul Konerko are solid performers. They’re probably the only other team in the Central with a shot, but it is a legitimate shot.

That makes the DH situation puzzling. The White Sox decided to pass on Jim Thome, who then signed a cheap contract with the Twins. While I’m not sure how much a bench DH really helps the Twins (unless Delmon Young is terrible yet again despite CHONE’s favorable projection), not having him around really is going to hurt Chicago. It’s not clear who Chicago plans on playing at DH, but (Omar Vizquel jokes aside) from what I gather it will be a mix of Andruw Jones, Mark Kotsay, and occasionally guys like Paul Konerko and Carlos Quentin. Perhaps power-hitting catching prospect Tyler Flowers will get some DH starts later in the season.

Seriously, a Jones/Kotsay platoon is the first option? Keep in mind that a league-average hitter is a replacement level DH. While Jones might still have his uses as a bench/platoon player, CHONE projects him as a below average hitter (.324 wOBA, -7/150 in context-neutral linear weights). If you think that’s bad, Kotsay projects at .297 wOBA, -16/150 context-neutral. That’s not useful at any of the positions Kotsay backs up at this point, much less DH. Even if efficiently platooned, that’s ugly. Heck, Mike Jacobs (-6) would be an upgrade, and would also keep the Chicago/Kansas City pipeline active.

They really didn’t have room for Thome? He probably adds just a few runs for the Twins, but he would be at least a one, maybe two win improvement over Jones/Kotsay. Of the remaining free agents, Russell Branyan seems like a great fit. He’s a +15/150 hitter. Even with doubts about his back, as a half-time player he probably adds a win. Carlos Delgado would be an improvement as a DH in a platoon situation, too. There are plenty of league-average hitters still out there who could meet the defensive “requirements” at DH.

The White Sox are in a situation where spending a bit on a DH who can hit better than Zombie Andruw Jones and Mark Kotsay is logical, yet so far they’ve passed. But one thing I’ve learned over the last few years is to never count The Enigmatical Kenny Williams out.




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Matt Klaassen reads and writes obituaries in the Greater Toronto Area. If you can't get enough of him, follow him on Twitter.


95 Responses to “The White Sox’ Enigmatical DH Situation”

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  1. RonDom says:

    Kenny Williams wins on luck, it’s rather frustrating to be a White Sock fan for that reason.

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  2. suicide squeeze says:

    If they can’t sign Delgado or Branyan, then for the love of God, please trade for Adam Dunn. Whatever it takes to get him off the field.

    And yes, I know he’s said he doesn’t want to DH, but eventually he’s going to have to face facts. Might as well be now.

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    • I should point out that I mention Delgado mostly because while he’s probably not that great anymore (CHONE has him barely above average as a hitter, which is near replacement at DH), he would be a serious improvement on Jones/Kotsay. Branyan would be way better, and Dunn would be tremendous, of course.

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      • JoeyO says:

        Okay, I’ll bite. Are you implying Russell Branyan would be a much better option to Delgado?

        And while we are on the subject, are you really so sure Branyan will be that much better then Jones?

        Per the CHONE projections you sited:
        BB% – 11.3 Jones, 11.0 Branyan
        1B% – 11.9 Jones, 12.8 Branyan
        2B% – 4.57 Jones, 4.39 Branyan
        3B% – 0.25 Jones, 0.33 Branyan
        HR% – 5.08 Jones, 6.76 Branyan
        K% – 25.8 Jones, 33.1 Branyan

        And you were mentioning about 1/2 seasons here for everyone so roughly 300 PA. Those percentages over 300 PA look roughly like

        300 PA, 266 AB, 34 BB, 32 Single, 12 Dbl, 1 Tpl, 14 HR, 69 K for Jones
        300 PA, 267 AB, 33 BB, 34 Single, 12 Dbl, 1 Tpl, 18 HR, 88 K for Branyan

        The only differences come in 1 extra time on base and the HR totals, which is as low as a 4 HR advantage over the half season. Well, and of course the 19 extra K’s Branyan comes with.

        So I ask, is hoping you get an extra 4 HR over half a season really enough of a difference between the two to constitute the “way better” you mentioned above?

        And possibly more important, wouldn’t the ability to play Jones in all 3 OF spots (a likely need throughout the season for the Sox) eliminate much of the projected 4 HR advantage from the 1B/DH limited Branyan?

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      • JoeyO says:

        Sorry, that should say “one extra time on first” up there.

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      • Let’s go by CHONE’s conext-neutral linear weights:

        http://www.baseballprojection.com/2010/free2010.htm

        per 150 games, CHONE has Brayan as 16 runs above average and Delgado at 1 run above average. That’s a 15 run difference per season, or about 1.5 wins. In about “half” playing time, that’s about .75 wins, which costs about $2.7 million on the current free agent market.

        So, yeah, that’s a significant difference.

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      • Also… Branyan (or the other hypothetical DH) isn’t competing with Jones for a roster spot, just for playing time at DH in my example so we dont’ need to worry about Jones alleged abilities to play all three OF spots.

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      • Oops, I missed that you switched to Jones. Note that CHONE’s projected line for Jones for for the park, but Branyan’s are still “neutralized.” Luckily, he gives us the context-neutral linear weights for both. You can ask Sean exactly how he figures them. One good place to look on linear weights in general is:

        http://www.tangotiger.net/wiki/index.php?title=Linear_Weights

        But again, look one http://www.baseball.projection.com. Per 150 games, Jones is projected 7 runs below average. Branyan at +16. That’s 23 runsmore than 2 wins. Over half a season of PAs, that’s a bit more than a win.

        Although, again, the Sox could have both Jones and Branyan on the roster if they dumped Kotsay. They just wouldnt’ have to waste DH PAs on Jones, who is useful inthe OF as a backup on the corners, but can’t hit well enough to DH.

        Unless the only other option if Mark Freaking Kotsay.

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      • JoeyO says:

        Okay, first a problem. The Runs you quote from the CHONE pages do not match with the Runs given here at Fangraphs. On Delgado for instance, we see 1 Run per 150 at CHONE but their projections lead to 3.4 Runs in 434 PA using the system used here. To make things less confusing, I will reference only Fangraphs runs moving forward.

        Now, fair enough on the CHONE projections of Delgado/Branyan. I can’t say I understand or agree with their across the board drops for Delgado, but they do project them. That said, what about the Bill James projections? There we have Delgado at about +19.8/600 PA and Branyan at about +14.1/600?

        Since we have been talking about half seasons, that is 9.9 Delgado/ 7.0 Branyan per James and 2.3 Delgado / 8.1 Branyan per CHONE. Combined that is 6.1 /300 for Delgado and 7.6 /300 for Branyan. A mere 1.5 run difference over 300 PA between the two projections doesn’t seem substantial at all to me and leads back to my initially questioning Branyan as really being better then Delgado.

        .
        (please note, other topic moving forward. hahaha)
        As far as the White Sox roster spot, assuming 13 positional players with 12 pitchers:
        C – Pierzynski, Flowers
        IF – Konerko, Beckham, Ramirez, Teahen, Vizquel, Nix
        OF – Pierre, Rios, Quentin, Kotsay, Jones

        To add a DH, one of Kotsay or Jones will likely be removed. You go on to voice your concerns over Kotsay, which I do share. However, Kenny recently resigned Kotsay at 1.5 Million. Whether he should be or not, Kotsay seems destined for the roster. That means it likely does boil down to a Jones or Branyan question, which also brings the defense flexibility into the equation.

        Now if it really boils down to only a 4 HR/300 difference creating the 9 Runs/300 (again, Fangraphs runs), then I again question merely a projected 4 HR difference verses the defense ability/flexibility in the roster spot instead. However, I didn’t realize the CHONE projections were park adjusted and that almost certainly would widen the gap between Jones and Branyan.

        One final question. Are the projections for Bill James also park adjusted? If not, then I would like to point out the 1.8/300 projection for Jones verses 7.0/300 for Branyan. A mere 5 run difference with the bat would likely be erased by the value and flexibility Jones brings with his glove. After all, last year Jones was +3 fielding in an extremely limited 188.1 innings played. That would be just a 2 run difference between the two using 2010 BJ batting. If the James projections are already adjusted as well, this minimal gap will widen slightly again but may still be in the minimal range which would likely have one questioning a move replacing Jones with Branyan.

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      • JoeyO — I’ll need to make this quick, so hopefully I’ll get to most of it.

        First — CHONE’s pages. vs FanGraphs. I’ll take most of this this from something I wrote elsewhere. Again, I defer to Sean Smith or Dave Appelman or whomever knows better than I do.

        The counting stats and the three/slash lines derived from them are adjusted to the park the player is projected to play in. As I understand it, FanGraphs takes that projection and converts it to wOBA and then wRAA (linear weights prorated for projected PA), during the regular season, at least, wRAA is park-adjusted for value on the “Batting” line — that is, the value of a run on that park.

        the “R150” line on CHONE’s own player pages actually does not reflect the counting stat line – it assumes a normalized number of PA over 150 games, and also a neutral park and -league environment. The free agent page (i.e., where Branyan currently is) has the neutralized counting stats, too, projections still there. So R150 gives us the best “true talent” (i.e., neutralized league and park) of the batters hitting talent.

        So if you “keep track” you’ll notice that wherever a hitter signs or gets traded, the counting stats and three-slash will change to adapt to the AL’s greater difficulty, that some parks give up more/less homers, doubles, hits, etc, but R150 stays the same to show the relative “neutral” skill of the players.

        Rick Ankiel is an illustrative example — I _think_ FanGraphs’ current downlaod of the CHONE projections still has his context-neutral projection on his player page there: .243/.298/.436 But if you look on CHONE’s own page for KCA, you’ll see that Ankiel’s three/slash is slightly different to adjust for the AL and the park: .241/.296/.415. In a neutral context (FanGraphs current build of CHONE), he’s projected for 21 HR, whereas in KCA (CHONE own current pages), he’s projected for 17. I would guess that this reflects him facing more dificult pitching in a Kauffman, which is hard on left-handed power hitters (although it’s a slightly hitters’ park overall recently), as well as being in the more difficult league.

        I know it’s confusing, and I hope I made sense. The discrepancy isn’t a problem with CHONE or Fangraphs, by the way, it’s simply that there are some transactions that h ave taken place since CHONE uploaded to FanGraphs.

        Second — Hey, if Kenny thinks he has to keep Kotsay on the roster over Jones and any possible better DH candidate, well, that’s his problem, and legitimates my criticism. He doesn’t need to do that. Kotsay used to be really good, but he can’t hit or defend well enough to justify a major league contract at this point.

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      • Sandy Kazmir says:

        @ JoeyO

        You realize that those posted lines come out to wOBA of:

        Jones: 0.323
        Branyan: 0.353

        wRAA Jones: .1
        wRAA Branyan: 7.8

        That’s a pretty large difference between average and above-average. Simply waving off 4 HR’s would be a mistake. As would implying that 19 extra K’s are any worse than the 24 extra outs that Jones is slated for in your hypothetical. I would consider these mistakes to pale in comparison to the notion that A. Jones can play centerfield at this point. I’m just one man, but you have failed, conclusively, to sway me to your point of view.

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      • JoeyO says:

        Sandy,

        in the lines I provided, Jones does not create 24 extra outs and I have absolutely no idea how you even came up with that number. Each line has 300 PA with Jones reaching 93 time to Branyan at 98. Jones would be creating merely 5 extra outs, 4 of which come from the HR projections.

        Also, Jones can still play CF, he just isnt likely to be a positive contribution fielder there. No where did I state he would provide fantastic value from the CF position though, just that he provided a positive fielding value overall last year and has the ability to cover all three spots.

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      • JoeyO says:

        Matt,

        Thank you for the info. However, it didn’t really reach the most important questions I posed.

        First, based off neutral projections the R150 number they use doesn’t line up well with Fangraphs RAA mark at all really. The website states the R150 number to mean /625 PA, but when we again use the Delgado/Branyan example (since both those projections are still neutral)

        Branyan,.247/.338/.503 gets +16 /R150
        Delgado,.247/.322/.449 gets +1 /R150
        15 Run difference

        Now using Fangraph calculations
        Branyan .359 wOBA over 625 PA is +16.8 /R150
        Delgado .337 wOBA over 625 PA is + 4.9 /R150
        11.9 Run difference

        Where did the extra 3 runs go on Delgado?

        Checking other (neutral projection) players as well
        Dye: CHONE says +7 /625 but .345 wOBA /625 is +9.2 (-2.2 off)
        Damon: CHONE says +9 /625 but .352 wOBA /625 is +13 (-4 off)
        Thames: CHONE says +0 /625 but .334 wOBA /625 is +3.3 (-3.3 off)
        Gomes: CHONE says +2 /625 but .336 wOBA /625 is +4.3 (-2.3 off)
        Blalock: CHONE says -3 /625 but .328 wOBA /625 is 0 (-3 off)

        They just don’t line up, and somewhere along the trail CHONE seems to be penalizing everyone but Branyan for whatever reason.

        So which system are we to believe, the CHONE R150 or Fangraphs and the wOBA/RAA we have come to believe in?

        .
        But getting to the more important aspect which wasn’t addressed, why are we to go solely by CHONE while ignoring Bill James projections completely? If giving the 625 PA mark CHONE assigns to R150, Bill James gives Delgado +20.7 /R150 and Branyan +14.7 /R150. James claims Delgado is quite a bit better, so why are we completely dismissing that and just claiming Branyan is a big upgrade to Delgado?

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      • JoeyO says:

        As far as Williams and his thinking, I think it boils down to this. Adding a true DH at the expense of Jones (or even Kotsay really) pretty much forces Quentin into the RF job. This is an issue they have dealt with for the last few years, being forced to misuse Dye in RF because Konerko and Thome provided no flexibility.

        The way it stands right now, its likely Quentin will spend a chunk of his time at DH, with Jones probably covering Right in his absence. That is something Branyan or Delgado wouldn’t be able to do. Juan Pierre compounds this OF depth issue, as he is really more of a Forth OF himself. Between Pierre and Quentin with his health issues, you have two more part-time outfielders scheduled to start. Topping it off, Center Fielder Rios is still a bit of a question himself.

        If Quentin is forced to DH, having Branyan on the roster at the expense of Jones means you have two DH-limited players, a fulltime 1B and no backup outfielder as Pierre, Rios and Kotsay would all be forced to start. But even if Branyan was at the expense of Kotsay, Pierre, Rios and Jones would be forced to start with either Branyan or Quentin sitting on the bench.

        Even adding to that, Kenny also has a natural Short Stop and most recently Third Baseman moving to Second where he has only played 4 professional games. If the transition doesn’t go well, one would have to imagine Gordon sees Third again with Vizquel at Second and Teahen at DH

        If the team was to add a DH, it seems to me it would absolutely have to be someone who would be able to cover the Outfield. They would also have to provide a real upgrade to Jones since Kotsay was specifically a Williams target and seems destined to be around. Damon represents the only substantial upgrade I see, but his being limited to Left really prohibits him from fitting that well. The team would be then forced to use Damon in Left, Pierre in Center and Rios in Right, limiting everyone’s value. Plus, they don’t have Damon kind of money anyway. Dye is another option, but the likelihood he would be asked to field negates much of his value over Jones. But outside of Damon and Dye, there isn’t really an Outfielder on the FA market that offers a real upgrade to Jones.

        So in a bubble it’s easy to say they should just add a DH, but when put into context it isn’t that simple at all.

        That said, I do completely agree with you that Kotsay has no business being on this club. I also feel the same about Teahen, his horrific defense at Third and average bat provide no real positive. But both are specifically Williams targets, so the two will almost certainly be there adding their complications to the roster.

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      • I’ll just address the offense issues — again, you should re-read my explanation of CHONE’s context-neutral linear weights vs. the counting stats/ three slashes, maybe I’m wrong, you’ll have to ask Sean for that or further explanation. Let’s just stick with wOBA (which is just linear weights per PA by another name) here at FanGraphs.

        By the way, I didn’t mention Dye in my article — he would be another worthy DH, at least over the current DH options, although Branyan’s the better hitter.

        So, leaving aside the important context-issues, let’s just go with wOBA as currenlty listed as FanGraphs for each player. wOBA measures production per PA. As you probably know, to get a players runs created above average, you do ((player wOBA-lgwOBA)/wOBA Scale (around 1.2) * plaate appearances.

        League average wOBA in 2008 was .329, that’s the best way to guess at next season’s.

        CHONE projected wOBAs as per current FanGraphs pages:

        Jones: .324
        Delgado:.337
        Dye: .345
        Branyan: .359

        So, over 625 PAs (average over 150 games), each formula for wRAA is

        Jones ((.324-.329)/1.2) * 625 PA = -2.6
        Delgado ((.337-.329)/1.2) * 625 PA = 4.2
        Dye ((.345-.329)/1.2) * 625 PA = 8.3
        Branyan ((.359-.329)/1.2) * 625 PA = 15.6

        So, let’s say they only get half that playing time:

        Jones: -1.3
        Delgado: 2.1
        Dye: 4.2
        Branyan: 7.8

        Over less than half a season of PAs, we have Branyan is 9.1 runs better than Jones (almost a whole win), Dye is 5.5 runs better than Jones, and Delgado is 3.4 runs better than Jones. Branyan is clearly the best. There is as more distance between Branyan and Dye as there is between Delgado and Jones.

        I hope that’s enough for you — if you want to learn more, try reading the linear weights link I gave above, or check out the Book Blog.

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      • Sandy Kazmir says:

        @ JoeyO

        One too many extra’s and just a poor sentence all around. Point being that the 19 extra K’s out of Branyan are almost exclusively no different than those same 19 outs that Jones would make with BIP plus the five extra outs that he would make overall.

        If you are a fan of the ChiSox, and are hoping they do well, then I don’t see how you can hope to see Andruw in CF. He was barely above-average in the corners last year and below average in center during 2008. You’d probably be better off with Rios out there.

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  3. Gopherballs says:

    Maybe Kenny Williams is waiting to claim Vernon Wells the next time Toronto sends him through waivers so Kenny can move Juan Pierre to DH.

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  4. Paul Riker says:

    It sounds as if Kenny Williams is letting Guillen have his way, but if it’s not working out then Kenny will be quick to make a move, and there are alot of options still out there.

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    • JoeWho112 says:

      I get the feeling that Kenny is giving Ozzie enough rope to hang himself with. If the team comes out and sucks it up offensively, it is Ozzie’s fault for vetoing the Thome signing.

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      • serious man says:

        yes. KW is on the record as wanting a ‘lefty power bat in the middle of the lineup’. there should be plenty of options available in May when the whole plan goes to hell. remember Ozzie circa 2009: “if you see Beckham in the ML this year, it means we’re in trouble”.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Jim Thome is the difference between the ChiSox’s offense being good or sucking?

        If the Sox suck, it could be in large part to Ozzie, but not for vetoing the signing of Thome.

        Thome could help the ChiSox, but he’s not the difference between a good offensive ball club and a sucky one, not at this stage of his career.

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      • JoeWho112 says:

        CircleChange, I agree; Thome is not the difference between the Sox’s having a good or bad offense. I meant it is Ozzie’s fault they didn’t sign Thome thus improving perhaps the team’s biggest weakness.

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  5. scott says:

    I still believe – and have been saying it all off-season – the White Sox need to DH Carlos Quentin and leave him there. Health problems have been an issue all but one season he’s played in the majors. There is nothing to say that Quentin isn’t just another Milton Bradley; can absolutely rip in 600 PAs, but might lose half of them if he has to play the field. He’s not particularly good out there, so I don’t see what there is to lose besides a bruised ego.

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    • Cris E says:

      This seems right. It gets all of Quentin, and as an added bonus it’ll replace his defensive innings with Jones or Kotsay, which will increase their contributions. If you’re gonna play either of them it just makes sense to have them do one of the few things they can still do well. (Of course I mean LF, not CF…)

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      • Bronnt says:

        You’ve nailed it. Andruw is still a plus defender in the corner spots, so DHing him marginalizes his value. And if you’ve already committed to giving a job to Mark Kotsay at this point, you stick him in LF and bat him 9th, so he might actually contribute in some manner while hiding his offensive limitations. You certainly don’t hand him half of your DH job.

        Quentin is, at best, a neutral defender, and probably a poor one overall, so letting Andruw Jones play his defensive innings helps your team.

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    • Terry says:

      The verdict is still out on Quentin and RF (its been his best position in the past and he was injuried last year). He’s probably somewhere in between defensively. The main point is he’s not the type of player who can sit on the bench and just DH right now. Its not ego, he’d literally drive himself crazy.

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      • 100% agree. As I said in regards to adam dunn, which applies to quentin,

        “As a RF, Dunn’s cumulative batting and fielding production gets a -7.5 positional adjustment (UZR measures all defense equally, then accounts for differences in fielding difficulty between positions thru positional adjustments). As a DH, Dunn would get a flat -17.5 positional adjustment and a zero fielding rating. In other words, as a DH, Dunn just get -17.5 runs subtracted from his batting line. As a RF (or LF, for that matter), Dunn gets -7.5 subtracted from his batting line in addition to his lackluster fielding. Thus Dunn, like anyone with a consistent -10 or worse fielding glove at RF/LF, belongs in a DH role.”

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      • scott says:

        What does “somewhere in between” mean? Somewhere in-between awful and bad? He was -25/150 last year. While I don’t think he’s *that* bad, he’s -5.3/150 career in 2800+ OF innings. Verdict’s kind of out that he’s a negative fielder.

        So again…

        …if he’s a bad fielder, if he’s had a problem staying healthy in the past, and if the White Sox literally have no viable DH, I don’t see how it’s more reasonable to say that “head-case Quentin” couldn’t handle the switch than it is to simply try him at the position. If the dude wants to hit succeed so bad, isn’t staying healthy the only possible way he achieves that success?

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      • Terry says:

        I don’t know exactly how many times one can say the same thing Scott. What part of the verdict on Quentin and RF (his best position) don’t you understand? UZR doesn’t see a difference between LF and RF but that doesn’t mean a player can’t. You conveniently leave out Quentin’s defensive performance in RF in the past which was the point of the statement. He’s moving there this year.

        No one is arguing that his health is better served in the DH role. Of course it is. It was merely about whether it makes sense to put his psyche in a full time DH role. The Sox don’t think so. I don’t think so. At least not yet. That doesn’t mean he won’t spend some rest days there.

        Now Steve makes some good points below but its clear that a player’s numbers definitely take a hit when they sit down all the time. The White Sox have one of the best medical staffs in the game. If they think he can play out there I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. His latest injuries came while batting anyway. (Hand vs bat and foot while legging out a double).

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    • Newcomer says:

      What I’ve heard from the White Sox (Ozzie) is that Carlos tends to think too hard and get down on himself. Actually, Ozzie says that about most of his players when they struggle. Anyway, the theory is that if Carlos DHs he’ll sit on the bench thinking about his at-bats, and he’s more successful if he can play the field and think about something else in between. Not sure how much stock to put into that line of thinking, but it has been mentioned.

      My other thought is that Kenny thinks it’s part of his job to build an underdog.

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      • serious man says:

        anyone that’s seen most of Quentin’s games in a White Sox uniform can attest to the validity of that line of thinking: Quentin is a control freak, a hyper-intense, hyper-competitive oddball that needs to think less and mash more. Eventually he’ll have to move to DH, but not until he get another crack in RF (where his plus arm plays a bit better).

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    • eriq says:

      The only issue I see with Quentin as a regular DH is that he’d have nothing to distract himself from bad at-bats. He’d just sit there in the dugout and probably start over-analyzing himself. I can’t see that sort of thing working well for a player with his psyche.

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      • scott says:

        It goes both ways though; if he jacks 40 HRs…what is there to think about?

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      • Terry says:

        With Carlos its not about having a bad year. It could be a bad AB. Those of us who watch him regularly can see this crystal clear.

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      • scott says:

        Well, Terry…season ticket holding girlfriend aside, I see plenty of Quentin ABs.

        You’re on FanGraphs.com, where quantifying things is somewhat necessary; watch all the ABs you want, you can’t quantify to me that Carlos Quentin struggles because he “thinks too much.” Clearly he wasn’t “thinking too much” in 08 when he hit 30 some odd HRs.

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      • scott says:

        Meanwhile, I can tell you for a fact that Carlos Quentin has had a serious problem with health in his career; elbow and foot, most notably.

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      • AInquisition says:

        Scott: normally I’d be inclined to agree with you, as I tend to side with all things quantifiable, but in fairness, this is a man who got so mad during a MVP caliber season that he broke his own hand.

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      • Terry says:

        What’s your point Scott? I know where I am. I not claiming this is something that one can quantify. I think you sort of miss the point. You wrote maybe the Sox should DH Quentin. People (including myself) tried to explain the rationale why it might not work as well for a player like Quentin. And in 08 he wasn’t a DH so what exactly is that proof of?

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      • Newcomer says:

        Yes, Quentin lets things get to him, but we haven’t seen whether DHing him will really change that significantly. It’s possible that he over-criticizes himself just as much when he plays the field as he would if he only hit. If the White Sox are confident that it will make a significant difference, then that’s good. They can make that decision, and I respect it an idea that may have merit. But as an over-analytical perfectionist who gets down on myself frequently when I perform (musically, but it’s still a mental vs. physical issue, “paralysis by analysis”), I can see DHing making it worse, and I can see DHing having little to no effect. I’ll still be thinking about what I didn’t do right throughout the game and all the next day, even if I’m playing defense. And he can still duck into the hall and play catch with someone while the defense is on the field. So I’m not dismissing the idea, but I’m not blindly believing it either. I’d guess there’s a 50/50 chance Quentin’s DH penalty is significantly worse than the norm. Which makes a 50/50 chance he would be used better as a DH.

        P.S. I have seen most of Quentin’s games in a White Sox uniform.

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      • Newcomer says:

        I respect it AS an idea that may have merit. Told you I was a perfectionist. I’ll be kicking myself about that one all game. :)

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        It’s also very possible that while DH’ing, TCQ goes to video room, batting cage, etc after every at bat. I don’t know about his intellect. But, it would theoretically be possible for him to become a “better” hitter as a DH given he would have more time for instant feedback, adjustments, etc.

        When we talk of an “average decrease in production” that implies to me, that some guys do better, so worse, some way worse, as a DH versus a fielder. It’s not inherent that every player will do worse as a DH.

        One would also have to look at it overall …

        Maybe TCQ does produce a little worse as a DH, but plays 15 more games than he might as an OF. The overall production might be greater. If the Sox are winning and TCQ is in the lineup, I think he’ll be able to handle it mentally.

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  6. Xavier says:

    Webster’s Dictionary defines enigmatical as…

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  7. Terry says:

    This is clearly a move to appease Guillen. Both Williams and Reinsdorf are on record for wanting a LH bat. Williams will very likely hold a short lease on this one. Yes it sucks somewhat not to take care of it now but
    A) The starting pitching is good enough to prevent too deep a hole
    B) Jones working out is not 0%. Its rotating but he probably receives the most ABs.
    C) Given Kenny’s history by foregoing the spot now I wouldn’t be shocked if he was working on a larger more impactful deal. Its not lost on him the rotation is ready to win now.

    Overruling Guillen or failing to convince him of the need for a real DH is admittingly disappointing.

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    • johng says:

      I think Guillen had veto power over Thome. There’s still guys like Johnny Damon out there, and no one would complain about that.

      Williams uses the whole offseason. They almost got to spring training in 2005 talking a bout Willie Harris at 2B before they brought in Tagahito Iguchi.

      There’s probably some Cuban or Japanese player Williams can pull out of his heinie Feb 18th, or something.

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  8. Scott says:

    A) he’s a bad fielder.
    B) he has a lengthy history of injury problems
    C) he likely had more than “one bad AB” – which you noted could throw him off – in his
    career year

    youkilis is a well known meglomaniac that has shown plenty of success. i refuse to believe that’s because he “has something to do in the field.”

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    • Jack says:

      This is off the top of my head, so feel free to flame me if the stats show otherwise, but I believe that Frank Thomas demonstrated significantly better splits while playing first base than when he was DHing. I’m not saying that Quentin would be the same way, but the idea that extra time on the bench rather than the field might negatively impact his hitting is not completely without precedent. In any event, even though Quentin isn’t a good fielder he hasn’t reached Dunn levels of ineptitude in the field yet.

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      • Terry says:

        No its not your imagination. Thomas instantly came to mind for me also. And yes the numbers do bear it out for him, even during his highly productive years (he was quoted as saying exactly that.) Some players are just made that way. That’s not proof that Quentin would be the same way but the guess is his makeup leans in that direction.

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      • Steven Ellingson says:

        In general, players hit worse when DHing. Some players are affected more, and others less by it, but it’s a real difference.

        The thing is, just because of Quentin’s personality, you assume he’ll be affected a lot, while Kotsay and Jones won’t be? If Quentin’s stats take a hit but Jones hits a little better, it’s a wash at the team level. Then add in the fact that Quentin may be less injury prone, and that Jones is a better fielder, and it would work out much better that way.

        I’m not saying that that’s definitely the best way to do things, but I think they should at least try it and see how it works instead of putting an injury prone, poor defensive outfielder out there when there are better options. If he ends up hitting like shit, well, then you know.

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    • kardon says:

      bad luck actually had a lot to do with Quentin’s rough 2009. he posted one of the worst BABIPs in baseball. with a little better health and better luck, he’s a 28-32HR guy ion 2010.

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  9. CircleChange11 says:

    I don;t where the Kenny William is bad type of perception comes from. Perhaps it has to do with his “methods” or “philosophy” or his tendency to display bravado or whatever.

    In the AL/NL GM thread, I looked at ChiSox’s current roster and how they were obtained. Essentially KW traded away 3 WAR of production for 30 WAR, a mark that would get major thumbs up for anyone (seemingly) not named KW. Listed below are the deals. Let’s not forget that he also is responsible for building the team that won the WS, and is generally a contender for the division title … which BOTH are key goals for an organization.

    I would like the ChiSox to get Damon for LF/DH just for 2010. I really don’t like Damon, but his production is of value, and the Cell (IIRC) is a hitter’s park.

    Here’s the recent deals. Evaluate them for what they are, not whether you like the guy behind the deals or not. I’m sure there are other deals that could be + or – to Williams’ total. As i said, i just went down the current roster and looked at “where they came from”. He has “Billy Beane’d (screwed) quite a few teams with these trades”.

    – Traded Joe Borchard ( 0 WAR in 08/09) for Matt Thornton (2.9 WAR in 08/09) .

    – Traded Brandon McCarthy (2.8 WAR 07/09) for John Danks (8.9 WAR in 07/09).

    – Claimed Jenks off waivers (7.1 WAR in 05/09, and key piece of champion team).

    – Signed Dye for a good contract (2/10 for 5.8 WAR, and a WS ring)

    – Traded Christopher Carter for Carlos Quentin (4 WAR in 1.5 seasons)

    – Traded Freddy Garcia (0.2 WAR in 07 and 08) for Gavin Floyd (6.9 WAR in 08/09) and Gio Gonzalez.

    – Flipped Gonzalez for Thome (10.6 WAR in 06/08).

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    • U-G says:

      You’ve got the Gio Gonzalez part wrong. He was part of the trade to get Thome along with Rowand. He then came back with Floyd. And was then shipped out to Oakland for Swisher.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Could be, I only took information from sources I found via google search. I didn’t spend a whole lot of time on it. I have no emotional investment in the KW situation. Everyone (at the time I looked it up) was talking about how bad KW is as a GM, so I simply looked at the current roster, google searched their name and transaction, and then looked up the WAR, and compared the palyers involved in the transaction. Took me about 15 minutes to record some trades (of current roster players) where KW was about +27 WAR in trades, signings, and waiver wire pick-ups. I wasn’t writing an article, collecting info for a book, or anything of the sort. I did it basically to detect which “end of their body” people were talking out of.

        Someone should lay out all a GM’s moves, add up the value, and compare it to other GMs, and “let the chips fall where they may”. I’m all for the data leading to the conclusion, and not starting with a conclusion and then mining for data that supports it.

        Considering a site that spends so much time critiquing every transaction in terms of WARvWAR or $/WAR, I’m surprised each GM doesn’t have their own page where each transaction is listed and +/- WAR column exists next to an “average $/WAR” for their non-trade transaction. I’m all for it. Let the chips fall where they may.

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    • what you forget is all the trades like bradford for nothing and the fact that chris carter is awesome

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      • Eric says:

        Chris Carter is also a prospect who may never be much more than a mediocre backup 1B/OF’er. Too early.

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      • U-G says:

        i’m slightly ashamed you link to an article of mine in your profile

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        I didn’t forget those, as I only looked at their current roster and “how they were obtained”.

        If I had an emotional investment in the issue, I would have likely reviewed MLB transactions during his tenure and listed each one individually and then compiled the overall value.

        I don;t place a lot of value on prospects until I see what they do at the MLB level. The list of “coulda beens” is much, much greater than those that actually “make it” or “have a significant impact”.

        The thing that stuck out to me is that KW stole 2/5’s of what is regarded as a very good rotation, added a top line closer for good money and made some good signings that contributed to a WS title.

        For a GM, that seems to be some of the primary objectives. The white sox have also been generally competitive within the division, and have mixed veterans with some young talent.

        I looked at some thing like when the Sox obtained Konerko he was a cast off or a failed Dodger prospect, that flourished in Chicago. Contreras was another ‘project’ type piece.

        There seem to be quite a few significant moves that have been made that would seemingly earn a “big thumbs up”, as well as some trades that would be negatives. I simply would like to see a list compiled and some sort of “evaluation component” that would give us a data-based overview of a GM’s contribution, as opposed to so much of the “perception” and “gut feeling” type of evaluation that currently takes place.

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      • Not sure why you are “ashamed you link to an article of mine in your profile.” Because I made a spelling error that I did not catch? For insulting Kenny Williams for wasting cash??

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      • JoeWho112 says:

        CircleChange, the Sox obtained Konerko for Mike Cameron. If you look back at their respective WARs, the deal is a wash or worse

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    • John says:

      He’s had some nice moves, but what has he done since 2007? You can live on past trades for so long… Mark Teahen at 3B is a joke IMO…

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Point taken.

        How long can GMs ride a WS championship? I don;t know, but the ChiSox have the only Chicago baseball title in the last 90 years.

        Your commentary is exactly why I am asking for a complete record of a GMs moves and how they worked out.

        I am also curious if KW is being compared to his peers or people’s perception of the “perfect GM”.

        My only commentary on the issue is that he is “not bad”.

        There does seem to be a big difference in difficulty in building a team than can win 85 games per year versus one that can win 90+.

        This is where I am interested in Jack Z’s off-season for next year. It’s one thing to go from say 75 wins to 85, but each win after that requires some significant upgrading, at a steeper cost.

        I don’t think it’s realistic to expect KW to “steal 2 more SP’s” from other teams and/or be able to continue claiming key pieces off the waiver wire. If it were that easy, more GMs would be doing it.

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  10. djhutchins says:

    “Someone should lay out all a GM’s moves, add up the value, and compare it to other GMs,”

    I like it in theory, but simply comparing WAR for the season in question to WAR for the following season doesn’t project with much precision…it’s a super complex metric.

    It also ignores the makeup of the rest of the team which is a huge factor- for example swapping joe borchard for matt thornton might make sense for one team and nonsense for another team.

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    • wobatus says:

      In retrospect, I’d like to know which team it would have made sense for to swap Thornton for Borchard. Thornton has been one of the best relievers in the game the last 2 years.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      I thought about the WAR aspect last night, and acknowledge it might not be the “best way” … but could be “one piece” in the system.

      A 5-scale rating system for each transaction could also be employed, considering all of the aspects affecting the trade (current personnel, competing teams, team expectations, budgets, etc).

      For example, Brett Wallace and/or Daric Barton *could* have a 4 WAR season and that would not be a dramatic negative for StL considering that neither would crack the lineup as long as Pujols wears red. But, the Cards should be getting some type of significant value for those players, provided the evaluated the talent reliably. In these cases, the Cards would get a minus for the Barton/Haren for Mulder trade (but not as big of a negative as a vaccum might imply given what StL had on the roster at the time, 5 SP’s all pitching 200 IP reasonably well) … but the Wallace for Holliday move would be a big plus, since signing Holliday to a longer contract was already considered a BIG part of that trade. A trade + failure to sign, might have turned it into a big negative, even considering Wallace’s future in StL as a 1B was minimal (he could have been traded for a different piece where a longer contract was more of a sure thing).

      There are multiple sites that evaluate players, often using very similar methods. Yet, there doesn’t seem to be a comprehensive and data-based approach for evaluating the contributions of a GM, which seems weird given our data-inclined interest and the significant contributions that GMs make to the success of their respective teams.

      I was just thinking that the WAR per dollar type of evaluation component levels the playing field when looking at Cashman versus Friedman. One could also conclude “average wins per season”, playoff success (since some teams do build their roster around playoff success), etc.

      I think a system involving various components could be attained and used reasonably well to attain a data-based evaluation system for the men that make the major roster construction moves that affect the success of the team.

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  11. Preston says:

    I would think that both Jermaine Dye and Johnny Damon (who could also spell Quentin in left), both of whom should be available fairly cheaply at this point, would be significantly superior options to anyone listed here, especially given Branyan’s back problems.

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  12. Kampfer says:

    The thing is Jones is actually a good corner fielder, or even a good centre fielder.
    The odd man out should actually be Piere, but you know, he is the speedy leadoff type everyone dreams of.

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    • It’s hard to tell, between scouting reports and stats, exactly how good Jones is in the field anymore. I agree that he’s still useful, certainly moreso than Mark Kotsay.

      But again, my point isn’t about roster spots (at least not directly), but about DH PAs.

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  13. wobatus says:

    They should get Flowers some DH at-bats.

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  14. I was listening to 670 THE SCORE and heard a strange comment by Mully and Hanley. Mully and Hanley tried to say “hey look, we love Jim Thome and appreciate all that he’s done for Chicago, but he was only a 1 WAR player last season” (in actuality, Thome was a +1.5 WAR player in 3-4 months (he did not play in NL-interleague games) of ABs for the White Sox as a DH, and a -0.2 WAR player off the bench for the Dodgers in extremely limited ABs). Bless their hearts for trying to use Fangraphs and sabermetrics to support their arguments, but it’s important to use the statistics right for them to be valuable and effective.

    True, Thome is aging, worth “only” about +2 WAR pr 600 PAs and is also limited by both age and health to a DH-only role. +2 WAR is still valuable, but let’s just say it’s not enough for the Sox. What Mully and Hanley didn’t account for, however, is that DH’s generally have limited value in general because they provide one-side of the game contribution and get a -17.5 run reduction (-1.7 WAR) from their batting line. In other words, any DH is inherently less valuable and going to have limited value in comparison to “other baseball players” who play the field.

    If you are signing a player in general who will play the field, you want a guy who will maximize his total contribution. In the average player, this contribution is a combination of position, offense and defense. Becauase there are more imputs for the non-DH, a non-DH who does not have Adam Dunn-like fielding abilities will inherently have a higher WAR; especially if they play a premium position like SS. The higher the WAR, the better the player. Teams want +5 WAR guys over the +3 WAR guys and the +2 WAR guys over the +1 WAR guys.

    However, the perspective of evaluation must change slightly when you look to sign a DH-only player. A DH-only player only contributes offense. His WAR will be negatively impacted by the fact that he is a DH, no matter how good his bat is. If player A and player B are both equally good at offense, but player A is an average defensive LF (-7.5 run adjustment, +0 fielding runs) and player B is a DH (-17.5 run adjustment), WAR would not be the best method to evaluate which player to sign if you are looking to sign either A or B to a DH-only role. Player A looks better because his WAR is likely to be a full integer higher than B, but that does not mean A will be more valuable than B in the DH-only role. What teams should be looking at when evaluating prospective DH-only role players is not “who had the better WAR,” but who had the better Batting Runs Above Replacement (BRAR) line.

    Quick tangent, on that note: Rotating mediocre offensive players, whose total value comes from all-around play, through the DH role is a terrible idea. The DH exists to maximize offense. Omar Visquel, who posted +1.3 WAR in limited action (62 games) last season, will not translate into winning an additional games if you play him at DH.

    You want a guy like Thome because all he can give you is batting and he does it quite well. As I mentioned before, it is one thing if you are someone to play OF or 1B or whatever. If this be the case, then by all means, please use WAR to compare and contrast players. Here, you want the healthiest, most all-around contributing player. However, this is a DH-only situation for Jim Thome and any team looking to sign him is looking for a DH-only player to play only DH. In this situation, you need to look not at WAR, but BRAR, and note that a DH-only player is bound to have a more limited WAR than comparably good hitting non-DH-only players.

    Of all DH’s who received 250+ PA’s last year, only three (Adam Lind, Jason Kubel and Hideki Matsui) had WARs higher than Thome (who posted a +1.5 WAR mark as a DH for the Sox). Of those three, only Lind was worth +3 or more WAR (+3.7, to be exact). Additionally, all three of Lind, Kubel and Matsui received somewhere between 100 and 200 more PA’s than Thome did in 2009.

    Thus, we cannot evaluate a DH from last season, who we are prospectively signing as DH for this season, and say “oh he’s only an X WAR guy.” Obviously the guy whose slightly good at defense and offense combined and plays a valuable position will be worth more in the field, but as a DH, it’s about one thing and one thing only. What’s your batting line? And Thome’s is still good.

    (taken from http://gameofinches.blogspot.com/2010/01/quick-dh-rant.html
    )

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    • Terry says:

      I wasn’t aware anyone on here was saying signing Thome or any good offensive player to fill the DH role wouldn’t make sense.

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      • No, just affirming what was said here. I just think its strange that the White Sox’ radio network is slamming the guy. Take note of the opening line “I was listening to 670 THE SCORE and heard a strange comment by Mully and Hanley.”

        I was criticizing them, not anyone here. I just thought it was all very related

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  15. Scott says:

    Where have you found that a players “numbers take a hit” while playing DH, because it’s not as
    clear to me as it apprently is to you.

    Frank Thomas was the full-time DH roughly after his age 30 season. Frank Thomas before age 30 is one of the five greatest right handed hitters
    of all time. Frank Thomas after age 30 is “merely” a great hitter. That had more to do with age and piss poor fielding than anything else

    And as for your RF/best position argument; he’s a bad fielder, -5/150 proves that. He doesn’t even have two thirds of a season in right and your making it sound like he’d all of a sudden shine in right when he’s struggled at an easier position the last two seasons.

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    • Terry says:

      At this point you are just being silly. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to look at Thomas’s numbers during his highly productive years and see the clear difference in OPS. Oddly enough Thomas himself who was noted for keeping up with his own stats would make mention of this.

      I’m not making it seem like Quentin would become a great fielder. I said the verdict is still out. Again his number show a difference between LF and RF (he was clearly hampered last year so I don’t buy that number). The point is we’ll see soon enough as he’s back there this in 2010.

      You don’t believe any of these things fine. And no I don’t personally “know” Quentin, but I’m going to go out on a limb and guess the White Sox staff does.

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      • scott says:

        Terry, jesus christ, he’s a career -5 fielder! What verdict is not out? 900 innings worth in right field? Or the larger 1900 in left?

        You “don’t buy” his numbers in 2009; ok, great. What about his 1150 innings in left in 2008? A grand -6/150! Do you buy those?

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  16. CircleChange11 says:

    One of the injury issues with Quentin (IIRC) has nothing to do with fielding but his “too much Jeff Bagwell” batting approach, where he starts with his hands away from his body, and dives into the plate, and is unable to get his hands/arms out of the way of inside pitches. Didn’t Quentin also injury his hand/wrist when he slammed it on his own bat in frustration?

    I don;t walk around with a “working knowledge” of Quentin’s injury history, but many of his injuries seem to have much to do with “fielding” or “fielding risks”.

    He also had PF in his foot recently.

    The bad thing about TCQ is that he’s always one HBP or tantrum-related-injury away from the DL. I love intense guys, but often times they’re their own most significant risk. There’s no cure for “psycho”, but with some training, he could likely ‘manage it’ a little better without it significantly degrading the intensity that allows him to be ultra-competitive and a very hard worker.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      “but many of his injuries seem to have much to do with “fielding” or “fielding risks”.”

      Should read DO NOT HAVE …

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  17. Scott says:

    Also the whole Quentin/psyche thing is something you have to sell me on. If our “White Sox fandom” is equal, we can assume we see an equal number or CQ ABs. I will assume, also, that you don’t know CQ personally or that you are his psychiatrist.

    This “inability to hit-without-fielding” thing is something you have to sell me on. I don’t have to sell that he’s been injured, a mediocre to bad fielder, and that the Sox have no DH. It’s impossible to prove to me that CQ is so crRrRrRrRazy that he literally will not function as a DH. What don’t you understand about that?

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    • Terry says:

      By the way, the fact that it’s harder to hit while DH’ing than it is while playing the field is presented with evidence in The Book by Tango/Lichtman/Dolphin.

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      • Tom B. says:

        Why do people keep bringing this up as relevant? We’re talking about the White Sox as a team. Yes, it’s true that DH’ing reduces your offensive stats according to the book. But, they assume it’s like that for everyone. Not just TCQ. If Carlos is not DHing, someone else will, and, therefore his stats will be reduced. Unless you believe Carlos will become a worse hitter than Jones/Kotsay/other DH, doesn’t this this cancel out in the long run? Maybe I’m not getting it.

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  18. Scott says:

    His plantar facitis was no doubt exacerbated by the fact that he was trotted out to LF the last three months of the season.

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  19. sausagemcbiscuit says:

    agreed

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  20. Sandy Kazmir says:

    I’m waiting for GMDM to trade Butler for Pierz.

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  21. West says:

    This is all on Ozzie, he wants a team like the Angels. Kenny Williams wants a DH but he’s letting Ozzie put the team together this season(hence Pierre and Vizquel.) If they’re struggling to score in June, Kenny will acquire a DH. Their rotation has a chance to be special so this situation will not hurt them that badly.

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  22. texasfan04 says:

    Great article. I agree they’ve gotta sign somebody to fill the DH role. Do you think Viciedo or Jordan Danks will provide much help this season. Danks is a great defender and it was encouraging his offensive numbers improved last season. He’s still got a ways to go, and right now, I’m guessing the plan is to give him a callup as a backup outfielder once somebody goes down.

    I like Viciedo more than most. There are plenty of reasons to criticize him (weight, plate approach, etc), but I don’t think last seasons #’s were that bad for a 20 year-old in AA. I apologize prematurely for the non-quantifiable comparison, but a lot scouts totally wrote off Livan Hernandez back in 1996 based on similar criticisms (weight, etc) after his first season #’s weren’t that great. He bounced back in 1997 w/ really good numbers. Not actually projecting that will happen w/ Viciedo, but I still think there’s a chance he could give them a lift around July if the person they try in their DH spot is not working. At the very least, if I were Kenny Williams, Viciedo is someone I would consider if continues hitting like he did the final two months in Birmingham.

    How much do y’all think Branyan or Dye would cost for one season?

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    • Kevin S. says:

      Viciedo’s MLE triple-slash for last year was .244/.276/.331. Sure, you can cut him slack for being a 20 y.o. in AA, but there’s absolutely no way he’s ready to contribute on the major league level this season.

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      • texasfan04 says:

        Yeah,

        He is definitely not ready for opening day, but I was encouraged with his numbers after August 1st. He’s apparently spent the off-season in Florida working w/ Alexei Ramirez and Joey Cora. He needs to improve his conditioning, and learn a little more patience.
        Even if things go well in the minors this season, I don’t see him getting any consideration until at least July 1st.

        If his conditioning actually improves, the smart move might be to keep him in the minors to continue working on his defense.

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  23. Mike Green says:

    The Branyan projections do not, I think, take into account, his pattern in 2009. He started out hitting like a monster, and then his back started bothering him. He hit poorly in July and August, and had surgery for a herniated disc and did not play the rest of the year. It is particularly problematic because Branyan had not received more than 300 PAs between 2002 and 2009, and so necessarily a lot of weight has to be given to 2009.

    As a 34 year old player with old player skills, and this injury history, I would take the projections with a larger grain of salt than most projections.

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  24. Chair says:

    If I were the White Sox a Frank Thomas spring invite would be in order.

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  25. Due to my experience you can get really high interest savings accounts online within minutes!

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