In his day, Ozzie Guillen was hard-nosed, never-say-die player who survived in the majors due to his defense, his hustle, and the fact that no one was paying attention to on-base percentage back then. Back in 2004, he pledged to create a team in his own image; a squad that played hard, ran hard, and fielded with tenacity.
And that's why I wonder what the hell must be running through his head everytime he sees Carlos Quentin amble about in right field like an 8 year-old lost in a mall food court, or when his lineup features the oh-so-speedy stretch of Konerko-Quentin-Pierzynski-Kotsay, or most pressingly, when he has to figure out how to fit Quentin and Ramirez into the same lineup.
And he'll have to. No one's going to support any rotation that puts Quentin (still the team's 3rd best hitter by the numbers) and Ramirez in some sort of DH tag team. The offense has drawn the blame for dragging down a splendid starting rotation all year, and the perception is that the bullpen will need as much scoring cushion as possible down the stretch...even if Quentin is giving away free doubles in right field.
As it stands, Ozzie, and effectively all of the White Sox organization, has made few quibbles about Quentin's defense, and are content to convince themselves that Quentin is playing well; that all of his diving catches are the result of fantastic athleticism and not horrible defensive instincts and diminished range due to years of foot injuries.
As I've mentioned several times, CQ is putting up the worst defensive stats in the league of anyone at any position with a -17.0 UZR, and didn't help that Tuesday night where he had the always sexy two-error play, and later broke horrendously late on a line-drive to magically transform it from a lineout to a double. Quentin in right field is that rare situation where the status quo is also the worst-case scenario.
But here comes Manny Ramirez, the owner of back-to-back -25 UZR seasons...and that was back in 2005 and 2006; many years and many ham & cheese Hot Pockets ago. Manny hasn't been as sublimely awful in recent years, but hasn't really done anything to dismiss his reputation as slow, lazy, and easily distracted by butterflies in the outfield. And yet, in a quote I can't find but heard, Ozzie has floated the idea of letting Manny play in left field...perhaps to give some rest to Juan Pierre. Ozzie then dropped the atomic bomb: he would consider on instances putting Pierre at DH to give him a rest, and play Ramirez in left field, creating an outfield with Manny Ramirez in left, Alex Rios in center, and Carlos Quentin in right.
Alex Rios just broke into a cold sweat.
I'm a huge fan of Rios in center, and think he has great range....but I don't think he has foul-line to foul-line range. Perhaps Guillen could play Teahen at 3rd and Lillibridge at short those nights to set up the worst White Sox defensive allignment possible.
Considering their small outfield, perhaps the White Sox are less likely to be damaged by having two corner outfielders who run like they have trenchfoot than say the Mets or Rockies, but it all seems to represent of bit of a turn away from a defense-based approach that seem to be catching with the installation of Rios and Pierre in the outfield at the beginning of the season. Maybe anyone could get stuck with two abysmal defenders at overlapping positions and have to play the hand their dealt, but the White Sox have made no attempt to fix the Quentin in situation in right all season. It smacks of not noticing, or worse, not caring about or giving any credence to defensive metrics or their value. Perhaps Vizquel only stuck at 3rd base because his bat caught up with his glove, perhaps no one with the White Sox would take the idea of Alexei Ramirez being the best player on the team seriously, perhaps they've forgotten what made the '05 team so great.