CQ's penchant for acquiring more than the typical share of bumps and breaks is pretty much all that keeps him from being a perfectly good middle-of-the-order masher. Carlos was far and away the MVP of the 2008 season all the way through August, and since enduring a broken wrist and nagging plantar fasciitis, his ability has been reduced to flashes. Impressive, jaw-dropping, and fleeting flashes. On the plus side, if Quentin wasn't injury prone, he never would have been dealt to the Sox from Arizona. However, the White Sox traded Chris Carter for Quentin, currently one of the top prospects in baseball. So perhaps they should try to make the most of Carlos, as this deal could look like a blunder in a few years.
As it stands, Carlos hasn't played since Sunday, and won't play in the
Seattle series after bruising his hand stealing 3rd base (not an error,
it really happened), re-aggravating a bruise he already had from getting
hit on that same palm by a pitch on July 15th, causing him to miss a game the day after that. These are of course, injuries that really can't be
avoided; Carlos crowds the plate in the batter's box, and to make him do
differently would threaten to alter his offensive effectiveness. As
far as him getting hurt stealing bases....it's probably not something to
be worried about on a long-term basis...or ever again
But with Carlos clearly being the type of guy who gets knocked out of
games for bumps and bruises a lot easier than most, shifts the White Sox offense from 'not
team-ruining' to 'somewhat formidable', and keeps the team from
featuring Mark Kotsay and Andruw Jones in a horrible, over-the-hill,
basement-level on-base percentage tandem, you'd think that the White Sox
would do more to protect him.
But no. Far from it.
Carlos Quentin continues to play defense despite the fact that every
defensive metric indicates that he's quite terrible at it, and both DH
options are capable of playing in his stead. Quentin's UZR stands
around -14.1, and his Total Fielding Runs Above Average is -15. For as
many diving catch highlights Carlos has provided over the year, he's been
taking bad angles on fly balls, and his dives are the product of drastic
recoveries much more than they are displays of tremendous athleticism.
Check out Carlos' signature play,
While certainly not the most egregious example of misreading a ball,
you can see that he immediately sprints straight back out of instinct,
before realizing at the last second that he needs to veer to the right,
prompting the dive.
Perhaps a better angle makes this an easier play, and almost certainly better speed would help. The key factor is that
Quentin dived at all. He missed the next three games after that play.
A player with a skill for recovering in the outfield that overrides his
poor recognition ability is fine, but when that player is extremely
injury prone and arguably your best power hitter, having him diving to
the ground with regularity is not a workable situation.
And it's not a necessary one either. Andruw Jones and Mark Kotsay are both pretty
darn bad. One might consider us better off with Dewayne Wise (defensively at least)....and
that's a truly horrible thing to consider. But both of them can, and
have played right field, both in the past, and THIS season. Neither of
them are of much value to the team right now (Kotsay is a replacement
player, Jones may have been paid by the Tigers to destroy us), but if
we're going to play them, by what measure could they be considered worse
defenders than Carlos Quentin? Jones has a -2.2 UZR, and while the
only things he's a threat to dive for these days are sold at your local
Jewel, the natural instincts that made him a perennial Gold-Glover are
still present. Kotsay was a center-fielder for most his career, and
while his physical gifts have abandoned him, he would still only be
slow, as opposed to Quentin, who is slow and doesn't know what he's
If Carlos is really as important to the Sox as he seems to be in
instances like this week, where he is rested for the better part of a
week so as not to aggravate an injury as stable as a bruise, it would behoove them to protect
him from the risky way that he plays defense. Protect Carlos Quentin. From Himself.