White Sox need results to match talent
July, 13, 2011
By Doug Padilla | ESPNChicago.com
CHICAGO -- A solid group of talent isn't enough to insulate yourself against disappointing and underachieving baseball.
The White Sox know things could be much worse, so they will open the second half Friday in Detroit counting their blessings.
Despite underachieving all year, the White Sox trail the first-place Detroit Tigers by five games in the American League Central.
Sure, the White Sox's collection of over $127 million plus worth of talent had its vulnerable spots, but in no way did it figure that the offense would stumble this badly. At the very least, the White Sox figured to have enough offensive firepower that when one or two bats cooled off, others would be there to pick up the slack.
Jake Roth/US PresswireCould Dayan Viciedo be the answer for the Sox in the second half?
Except their big signing Adam Dunn has given them close to nothing, and another high-paid player, Alex Rios, has been right behind him all year. Add into the equation the early season struggles of Juan Pierre and the fact that Gordon Beckham hasn't made the next step in his development that was expected and the White Sox find themselves in a hole.
It was assumed that the team had enough offensive potential to be able to absorb a slick-fielding rookie that could take his time and grow as a hitter. As it turns out, Brent Morel is far from the worst hitter on the club and has even been moved to the No. 2 spot in the order on occasion.
Guillen said last week that he has grown tired of being asked about Dunn's struggles, but if they continue the questions aren't expected to go away any time soon.
"The [talent] is out there, just make it work," Guillen said over the weekend. "Now the trade deadline is coming up and all the talk will be around, who is going to be in and who is going to be out? Who are we going to bring from another team."
Guillen thought his team might be turning a corner when it scored five runs in the first inning against the Minnesota Twins on Friday. The White Sox didn't score again and lost 8-5.
"I told [bench coach] Joey [Cora], wow, finally I can sit here and enjoy this game, but the baseball gods got me, and we go back to the same stuff," Guillen said. "Is the expectation very high? Yes. I want it to be very high and continue to believe in these guys. Yes, I do continue to believe."
Starting pitching has been the only constant for the White Sox, but the bullpen and the defense has finally started to come around. Even if the offense finally finds its way, the White Sox run the risk of perhaps taking a step back in another area.
What happens with the rotation in the second half could be key. The White Sox are expected to return to their successful six-man format when John Danks returns from the disabled list next week. But how long does the six-man setup last?
It figures to benefit Jake Peavy (coming off an injury), Phil Humber (never pitched more than 150 innings in a season) and Mark Buehrle (late-season struggles in recent years).
If Humber hits a wall, the White Sox could go to a five-man starting staff at that point.
There are fewer options with the offense, although Dayan Viciedo looms at Triple-A Charlotte. The young slugger is ready to return to the major leagues, but needs a spot to play every day. His recall might not happen unless one of the outfielders or Dunn is injured. Otherwise he'll be recalled in September when rosters expand.
Drastic changes don't appear to be in store so the White Sox will have to find a way to mix and match their existing parts to become much better than a .500 team.
"I try to put them in the best spot to have some success," Guillen said. "They don't and the only thing you can do is as a manager keep playing them and hopefully for good things to happen.
"I will be behind those guys and support them and be positive with them until the day I can't anymore. I think every time we make the lineup, I think it's good talent out there. And we just can't get it done, I think. The reason is ... I don't know the reason."