Results tagged ‘ Dayan Viciedo ’

The White Sox in 2012: Nobody Knows for Sure

In a few weeks the White Sox will be firmly embedded in spring training mode trying to assemble a team that’s ready to contend in the A.L. Central.

Conventional wisdom says it’s going to be a difficult task with the Tigers showing no signs of fading and the Royals and Indians seemingly poised to reach the next level.

You really can’t blame the skeptics. As names like Pujols, Fielder, Buehrle, DarvishWilson and others have been the talk of the hot stove period, the White Sox made “headlines” with the acquisition of minor league pitchers Nestor Molina, Simon Castro, Pedro Hernandez, Myles Jaye and Daniel Webb while losing known quantities Sergio Santos, Carlos Quentin and Jason Frasor in the process. The only major news was the signing of John Danks, who we all thought was destined to be traded.

It’s really easy to look at all this and come to the conclusion that bad things are in store for the 2012 club. But we shouldn’t be so quick to judge.  With myriad questions, the truth is that we just don’t know how the season will manifest.

How will the Ozzie-less Sox be with Robin Ventura at the helm?

Will the Sox survive without Buehrle?

Will Danks pick up where Buehrle left off?

Will an effective closer be found to replace Santos?

Will Adam Dunn, Alex Rios and Gordon Beckham rebound?

Will Alejandro De Aza be a competent major league leadoff hitter?

Will Paul Konerko be Paul Konerko?

Will Jake Peavy be the Cy Young Peavy?

Will Dayan Viciedo live up to the hype and make us forget Quentin?

Will Chris Sale make a successful switch to the starting rotation?

Will Kenny Williams make any more significant deals to upgrade the big league roster?

More than any other year I can remember, it’s hard to predict what’s in store for all of us this season.  We’re just going to have to wait and see.

An Inspired Choice

It doesn’t escape me that the day the world was mourning Apple visionary Steve Jobs, the personification of thinking out of the box, that Jerry Reinsdorf and Kenny Williams named Robin Ventura manager of the White Sox.

All we’ve heard since Ozzie left for South Beach is that the top candidates were Sandy Alomar, Jr., Dave Martinez and Terry Francona. Then, yesterday, the Sox fooled us all and chose one of their own who has absolutely no professional coaching or managing experience.

I think it’s a terrific, inspired choice on multiple levels. Ventura is a proven leader, he is familiar with the White Sox, he’ll have credibility with the veterans, will nurture youngsters like Brent Morel, Gordon Beckham and Dayan Viciedo and will somewhat offset the loss of Guillen in the eyes of the fans. He will also be great with media in a non-Ozzie sort of way. He will be thoughtful with a touch of wry humor as opposed to his predecessor’s 24/7 stream of consciousness. And, as far as I know, he doesn’t have a twitter account.

As you would expect, many in the baseball community have come out of the woodwork very skeptical of the move. Everybody from Tigers’ coach Gene Lamont, a former Sox manager, to a legion of baseball writers. With experienced men out there for the taking, they’re saying, how can the White Sox pick someone with absolutely no experience?

My answer to them is that managing a baseball team is not rocket science. It’s about leadership. Everything else can be learned. What Ventura doesn’t know about pitching, he’s got Don Cooper. What he needs to understand about other facets of the game he’ll have an experienced bench coach and another quiet professional in Harold Baines. And in time, Robin, who was a smart player and a consummate pro as well as being enormously popular, will know all he needs to know.

Nobody, including Ventura, knows how this will play out. But with high risk there’s high reward. And although Mr. Jobs most likely didn’t know the White Sox from the Red Sox or Stan Williams from “No Neck” Williams, I think he would have approved of this decision.

Mr. Perfect and the “Charlotte Three”

As the historically inadquate Adam Dunn takes a seat on the bench and Alex Rios holds firm with his .212 batting average and equally-deficient power numbers, a new wave of excitement has hit the South Side.

The emergence of Alejandro De Aza, Tyler Flowers and Dayan Viciedo, who all started the season at AAA Charlotte, has poured new energy into what has been a stagnant offense. In the last two days, as the Sox have won their third and fourth games in a row against the Mariners and Twins, respectively, the threesome has delivered big-time.

* Viciedo has gone 4 for 6 with a homer, four RBIs, three runs scored and a pair of walks in his first two major league games this season. It has been particularly satisfying to see how improved his plate discipline has been. Those two walks represent a major accomplishment.

* Flowers (pictured above), batting a very respectable .281 as he subs for the injured A.J. Pierzynski, hit his first career grand slam against the Mariners on Sunday and drove in two of the three White Sox runs last night  in the 3-0 victory over the Twins with a double and a sac fly.

* De Aza has been a breath of fresh air since joining the club and slamming a home run in his first ’11 major league at bat. He’s got great speed, is excellent defensively and is sporting a .319 batting average. Last night he went  2 for 3, including a double, with a run scored and a key stolen base.

While youth is being served, we can’t ignore the fact that the Mr. Perfect has been outstanding as well. Mark Buehrle was on his game once again last night as the Sox moved to within five games of Detroit and four games in the all-important loss column. He gave up just four hits in 7 2/3 innings as he improved his record to 11-6 and his ERA to a fine 3.05.

The Viciedo Factor

You can make the case that the White Sox would have been better off, provided they won today’s game, if Dayan Viciedo didn’t single in his first at bat, slug a three-run homer in his second appearance and draw a walk the third time (which put him on base for Tyler Flowers‘ first career grand slam).

Now, all the pundits, internet geeks and talk show callers are going to be more vocal than ever that Viciedo should have been brought up weeks ago to compensate for the failures of Adam Dunn and Alex Rios.

As inviting as it might be, I’m going to resist the temptation to criticize. The fact is that he wasn’t called up before and there’s nothing we can do about it. I’m just going to look ahead and hope Viciedo, in that Hollywood ending I suggested in my last post, helps turn the tide.

On the heels of today’s 9-3 victory and three-game sweep in Seattle, the Sox come home to face the Twins in an abbreviated three-game homestand. And by virtue of the Tigers’ loss to Minny and the Indians defeat at the hands of the Royals, the Sox find themselves in second place, six games behind Detroit and a half-game ahead of Cleveland.

The Viciedo Era has begun.

Sox Note of Note: With all the talk about the barren Sox farm system, it’s particularly comforting to see Viciedo and Flowers come through this afternoon. Although he hasn’t been given as much credit as he deserves, Flowers has done a terrific job in place of A.J. Pierzynski, hitting .273 with a pair of homers and playing above average defense behind the plate. Let’s hope the performance of these two youngsters are a sign of positive things to come.

A Hollywood Ending?

Breaking News:  Carlos Quentin placed on the 15-day disabled list, Dayan Viciedo recalled from Charlotte.

This is a Hollywood script in the making. Just imagine, Viciedo finally arrives on the South Side, has a monster five weeks and helps the White Sox overcome the seven-game deficit to win the A.L. Central.

I’m just saying…

What were the odds…at the beginning of the season that Brent Lillibridge (12) would have more home runs than Adam Dunn (11) at the end of August? And Lilli has done it in about 200 less at bats.  Brent’s 12th, a two-run blast, came last night and proved to be the difference in the 4-2 Sox victory over the Mariners At Safeco Field. A native of the Seattle area, Lilli is shown above, perhaps pointing to this friends and family in the stands.

“The More Wins We Get, The Better Off We Will Be”

Duh, yeah, Alex Rios, you’re right about that: “The more wins we get, the better off we will be.”

I guess the White Sox centerfielder could be excused for his Yogism after he had a lot to do with the White Sox’s rare laugher this afternoon as they blanked the defending American League champion Rangers, 10-0.  It was a banner day for the beleaguered Rios both at bat and in the field.

On a day like this when everything is clicking, it’s a pleasure to look at the box score:

–The South Siders scored 10 runs on 16 hits.

–Homers were cranked  by Rios and Brent Lillibridge.

–A three-hit day was enjoyed  by Lillibridge while Rios, Juan Pierre, Paul Konerko,Tyler Flowers, Alejandro De Aza and Gordon Beckham had two hits apiece. The only Sox player without a hit was Alexei Ramirez, but he scored a run after drawing a walk.

–Other offensive highlights included a three RBI day by De Aza, two apiece by Pierre, Lillibridge and Rios and Flowers’ three runs scored.

Gavin Floyd was outstanding as he won his 11th game. In seven innings, he gave up just three hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Chris Sale pitched a scoreless eighth and Jason Frasor struck out the side in the ninth.

–The only blemishes were the two errors, one by Lilli and one by Alexei.

With the victory the Sox are back at .500. They remain five games in back of the Tigers and are now just a half-game behind the Indians.

Sox Note of Note:  It’s likely that Carlos Quentin won’t be back in the lineup until the end of the week at the earliest. The possibility of him being put on the DL is still there with Dayan Viciedo waiting in the wings.

Is Viciedo on the Way?

The important subtext from last night’s satisfying 3-2 victory over the Rangers is the shoulder injury to Carlos Quentin.

We’re told he won’t be in the lineup today and will be re-evaluated Tuesday in Anaheim after tomorrow’s day off. The 800-pound elephant in the room, of course, is that Dayan Viciedo (pictured below) is waiting in the wings if Quentin goes on the disabled list.

I think we all agree that losing Quentin is not a good thing. Aside from Paul Konerko, he has been the club’s most potent run producer. But if fate should have it that Quentin can’t play, the seemingly major league-ready Viciedo will be welcomed with open arms with the hope he can provide an offensive spark. Lord knows, we need it.

Sox Note of Note:  A bit ironic, don’t you think, that last night’s hero was Quentin’s outfield replacement–the much-maligned Alex Rios, who doubled in the winning run?

I’m Dunn…The Time Has Come

Jason Frasor surrendered the walkoff homer last night as the Sox winning streak ended at five, preventing them for reaching .500 and gaining another game on the Tigers. But the truth is that it wasn’t Frasor’s gopher ball or Phil Humber’s mediocre start that was responsible for the defeat. And it’s not what has separated a team that is now four games out of the division lead from being on top of the heap. We all know it’s been the offense.

In the 6-4, 10-inning loss to the Orioles, it was apparent as ever. Despite a nice comeback which tied the game at 4-4, the bottom line is that the three players who have been the most disappointing this season had their chances to put the Sox over the top in clutch situations–but didn’t.  This time, I find it hard to blame Alex Rios and Gordon Beckham even though they both left multiple runners on base. Rios did collect a pair of hits and scored a run and Beckham had an infield hit and a run scored.

But friends, Adam Dunn is another story–a very, very old story. It’s time, maybe well past time, to cut our losses. After another three-strikeout game and leaving five runners on the bases, Dunn continues to hurt our chances to win games.

It’s time to put him on the bench permanently. With Paul Konerko unable to play first, we’ll just have to live with Brent Lillibridge there for the time being. We know he’s not a starting player and has the potential to be almost as deadly as Dunn a the plate, but as I see it we have no choice. Let’s just put him on first until Konerko’s injury heals and when Sept. 1 rolls around call up Dayan Viciedo to DH. And remember, Viciedo can play first if Konerko’s return to first is delayed longer than we think.

Moving Dunn from the cleanup spot to No. 7 in the order is like moving the deck chairs on the Titanic. You can make a good argument that he’s the main reason why we’re not a first-place team. And even if there’s just a bit of truth to that  statement, the time is now: Dunn should take a seat on the bench.

I’m Dayan for Some New Life

It’s time.

I think we all agree that adding a potent bat to the inconsistent White Sox offense would be a huge plus. Juan Pierre‘s not getting the job done, Gordon Beckham is still scuffling for the most part and the struggles of Adam Dunn and Alex Rios have been documented ad nauseum. And, oh, the lack of clutch hitting.

Forget the trade route, it’s not necessary to pursue. The answer is staring us in the face and it’s in the person of Dayan Viciedo. Kenny Williams has said he’s ready, Dayan himself has said he’s ready, and we could use a shot of adrenaline. Let’s do it.

Three spring trainings ago, when he was 19, there was some scuttlebutt that the Cuban-born Viciedo would be ready to take over third base right away. But it became obvious he had defensive deficiencies, had minimal patience at the plate, was not in good condition and generally not ready for prime time.

So, the Sox sent him to AA Birmingham, then AAA Charlotte, where he is now. He temporarily shifted to first base and now has settled nicely in right field. He’s matured, is in good shape, has more plate discipline–and, of course, still has that electric bat that Sox fans saw briefly last year when he was called up to Chicago. There’s every reason to believe he can be a dominant major league hitter.

His stats back that up. So far this season he has 11 homers, 47 RBIs, 21 doubles, a .325 batting average and a .913 OPS.

So, who does Viciedo replace in the lineup and on the roster? My vote is that he starts in right with Carlos Quentin moving to left. As much as he’s a good guy and a hard worker, Juan Pierre should be the everyday odd man out. Then, it seems it would be between Juan and Mark Teahen as to who stays or goes.

I know, there’s the issue of the leadoff man. Pierre has had trouble bunting, is only hitting in the .250s and isn’t much of a stolen base threat anymore. It might not be as big a problem as we think. And we’re fully aware he’s been dreadful at times in the outfield.

The most logical choice is Alexei Ramirez. He’s not ideal, but I have confidence he can get the job done. It also might mean moving Beckham to the No. 2 hole, though Ozzie has said that in time Brent Morel may be the answer there.

I’ll let KW and the skipper figure out the details, but since there are viable options I’m confident it’s the right thing to do–and at the right time.

Unofficially, Both Milledge and Lillibridge on Opening Day Roster

The White Sox can’t officially announce their final moves before leaving Glendale, but it seems the word is out:

Lastings Milledge and Brent Lillibridge have both made the 25-man roster as the South Siders have decided, at least for now, to go with an 11-man pitching staff.
Jeff Marquez, thought to have secured the “seventh spot” in the bullpen, has been placed on waivers. Since he is out of options, he needs to clear the waiver wire before he returns to the Sox organization. This means that Philip Humber will fill the “fifth starter/long man out of the bullpen” role for the time being.
Jake Peavy (shoulder) and Dayan Viciedo (thumb) will start the season on the disabled list.
Sox play the Reds this afternoon, their last game at Camelback Ranch this spring. They travel to Surprise to play the Royals tomorrow, then break camp and head to Winston-Salem to face their Class A farm club there. After a day off Thursday, it’s Opening Day vs. the Tribe in Cleveland.
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