One more position on the field to go before we start breaking down the bench, DH spot, coaching and front office in our daily look back and look ahead at the White Sox.
Look back to 2010: Carlos Quentin is truly a magician, capable of disappearing at times while putting an entire team on his back during others. Maddening of all when it comes to Quentin is not necessarily his fluctuating production levels, but his tendency to get injured with alarming frequency. The two predicaments aren’t mutually exclusive, though, as many of his disappearing acts this past season came when he was fighting through injuries. But he’s always fighting through injuries. Then there his intense demeanor and the theory that the pressure he puts on himself leads to struggles as well. Quentin finished the season with 26 home runs and 87 RBI, which is certainly solid run production.
But considering that six of those home runs and 11 of the RBI came in a four-game stretch it shows that the former MVP candidate must have had some quiet stretches. There isn’t a part of his body Quentin didn’t seem to hurt in 2010, emerging from the trainers’ room after one midseason game at Minnesota with ice packs on his shoulder, lower back, thigh and both knees. Quentin’s injuries and his 23 starts in the DH spot allowed Andruw Jones to make 41 starts in right field. Jones had 19 home runs and 48 RBI this past season, but like Quentin, he didn’t hit for average. Jones had a .230 batting average, while Quentin’s finished at .243. In fact, the 146 combined hits from White Sox right fielders were second worst in the league to Tampa Bay’s 141. Seattle, thanks to Ichiro Suzuki, led the way at 213 hits.
Look ahead to 2011: Those who have grown tired of Quentin’s on-again, off-again act only need to know this: At $3.2 million in 2010, the return on the White Sox’s investment was a good one. That price tag is only going up, though, with Quentin heading into another arbitration-eligible offseason. (He will have one more in 2012 before he is eligible to become a free agent.) Clearly the White Sox aren’t about to sever ties with Quentin, despite his injuries. He has too much of an upside.
But do they continue to go year-by-year with Quentin only to risk seeing him potentially grow unaffordable by 2012? Maybe the White Sox look at the two-year $15.25 million deal the Dodgers gave to an arbitration-eligible Andre Ethier last offseason. Ethier was coming off a 106-RBI season and finished in the top 10 in NL MVP voting in 2009, so perhaps Quentin could come a little cheaper, at perhaps two years and between $13 million and $14 million. There is considerable risk, though. Ethier got his big bucks, broke a pinky finger and ended up driving in 82 runs this past season.
Key stat: Over his last 36 home games, Quentin batted .311 (38-for-122) and had 15 home runs and 37 RBI.
Quote: “I think a lot of people say he has to see somebody, a psychiatrist or psychologist. But those guys never play baseball. They never did. What is a doctor going to tell me? He says, ‘You are 0-for-4?’ Well, you finish 0-for-4 and see how you feel. … You have to get your own help. Make sure you enjoy the game and have some fun with it. No matter how bad you play right now, your salary is going to be higher next year so why are you worried about it? I talked to him about the situation and he agreed with me. He knows what he needs to do and I think he will do it.” – manager Ozzie Guillen, on getting Quentin to relax more.