Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Robin Ventura Is Sticking With His Lineup, Strikeouts Be Damned

It's too early to really judge Robin Ventura as a manager considering the White Sox have only played 10 games, but so far from what we've seen, there have been things I've liked and things I haven't.

The one thing that's bothering me right now, though, that also seems to be bothering a lot of other White Sox fans is Ventura's insistence on keeping the same lineup he's had most of the season.

So far this season, Brent Morel and Adam Dunn have made 82 combined plate appearances. Of those 82 plate appearances, 33 have resulted in a strikeout.

That's 40% of the at bats between the team's second and third hitters without a ball even being put in play.

That is not the kind of production you want to see out of such an important part of your lineup, unless of course, your name is Robin Ventura. Then it seems that is exactly what you want because when the team's lineup was announced for tonight's game against Baltimore, both Morel and Dunn are still in their regular spots.

Now, there's a part of me that understands why Ventura is doing this. After spending the entire winter and spring talking about how he believes in both Dunn and Morel, he doesn't want to pull the rug out from beneath them after only ten games.

I get that. I understand it.

At the same time, there's that other part of me, the one screaming WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING, MAN!?

The Sox are averaging 3.8 runs per game this season. Take away one game against Cleveland in which the team scored 10, and that number drops to 3.1.

That's not the kind of production that is going to lead to a lot of wins in the American League, not unless you have an amazing pitching staff. And while the Sox pitching staff has been pretty solid for the most part this season, it's far from amazing.

Now, maybe I'm still not over the way Ozzie Guillen stuck with Adam Dunn at the top of the lineup for so long last season before finally moving him down, and it's having an effect on the way I'm responding to Ventura's early patience.

And, while that might not be fair, it's hard to ignore that Guillen's stubbornness with the lineup last season helped kill the season. So my concern, whether totally fair or not, is completely justified.

With Detroit off to the kind of start we were all expecting, Ventura can't afford to be too patient with his hitters or else the Sox will find themselves in a hole they won't be able to dig themselves out of. Even if there are still 152 games left to play.


  1. Here is something scary about Morel. He has 4 hits, 2 walks and reached base via error twice (if I recall correctly). That is 8 times on base. He's scored 7 of those 8 times. If he could only get on base more Konerko would lead baseball in RBI. This could be the optimist in me peeking through, but if Morel were on more often maybe that helps Dunn as he will see better pitches.

    1. All true, but is it because Morel is a superhuman baserunner or just because Konerko or Pierzynski are driving in runs? Think about how many runs the Sox could have been scoring if they'd had a guy hitting in Morel's spot who was actually getting on at an average rate.

    2. Morel scoring at that pace has been pretty much all Konerko's and AJ's doing. Guys at the bottom and coming back around have to start hitting. Alexei has 10 hits and only scored 1 run on his only home run of course. Viciedo has 8 hits and a walk. He's scored twice. Both on his own home runs. And then there is Alex Rios hitting behind Konerko and AJ has 1 RBI so far. On a solo home run of course.

  2. The Sox finished 2nd as a team in pitching WAR last year. So, maybe they don't have amazing individuals, but as a staff, they're as good as it gets.

    1. Yes, but that was last year's staff. This year's staff doesn't have Buehrle or Sergio Santos. And while the staff has been pretty good so far this year, it's far from perfect. Danks struggled in Cleveland, Gavin has struggled with control in both of his starts, and Humber needed over 100 pitches just to get through 5 innings of work.

  3. The staff isn't anywhere close to perfect, true. But can you name me one in baseball that is? From top to bottom, bullpen included, it's hard for me to believe there's a more productive pitching staff than the Sox. You mentioned Buehrle and Santos being gone, which is true, but their void should be filled/close to it by Sale and Addison Reed. Also, it's fair to expect improvements this season from Danks, Peavy, and Gavin Floyd, like the SABR stats (FIP/xFIP) suggest that they will.

    1. Yes, but my overall point in the post isn't that the pitching staff isn't solid. It's that relying on them to be great every day while you struggle to score 3 runs is not a winning formula.


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