It's the weekend of the trade deadline, and rumors are living and dying in moments so fleeting that reflecting on any individual one can be as futile as waiting for one of the White Sox toolsy prospects to get their strikeout rate under 30%. Yet, the biggest name for the White Sox being mentioned recently as possibly on the move is Carlos Quentin, which is a pretty big name.
Now that's he's healthy enough to play competent defense for the first time in three years, and out of his month-long slump, Quentin is back to his role as the only under-30 offensive cornerstone of the franchise, the only slugger on the roster who hasn't for sure posted his career-highs already. The player South Side men say they're patterning themselves after when they forget to shave for three days.
28 years old and under team control for one more season, Quentin is widely-desired by other playoff contenders looking to add a power-hitting outfielder. The Sox are listening, pondering an existence where they flip CQ at a moment where his value's high, his red flags are subdued, and Dayan Viciedo profiles as a similar-type replacement.
I wanted to start this post as a "Not CQ!!!" plea, but that was just too emotional. Watching Quentin is wonderful, the fans love him in a way that will take a lot to erase after he carried the 2008 team with a divine, literally out-of-left-field offensive onslaught. But the fans will always come out for a winner regardless of the personnel, and the front office should always trust that.
If Kenny Williams can get a king's ransom for flipping Quentin at his highest value point since '08--and given his resurgent year, the down year for offense, his penchant for injury, and it being the deadline, it almost certainly is--it could be a pretty great idea. Even if it winds up making 2011 even more of a bummer than it's already been. (has the potential to be the most depressing division-winning season of all-time)
What he can't do, is rationalize it as still being a part of the plan to win the division now. The White Sox offense is barely treading water as is, and Dayan Viciedo couldn't be expected to step in and immediately replace Quentin's .375 wOBA before he re-aggravated a thumb injury that sapped him of his power, and currently has him on the sidelines. Any team that is kicking the tires on Quentin isn't returning similar-caliber, MLB-ready offensive help, so there's going to be a step back. A noticeable one.
The 10th-best offense in the league can't take any more steps back and feign competitiveness, not with three games to make up and two teams to leapfrog.
Besides, it would be a waste of an opportunity. If Williams feels it would make sense to sell high on Quentin, certainly the same principle applies to Danks, who is also entering his final arbitration year and reaching his trade value height. Thornton should be considered too, but maybe Thornton should be considered in any situation. His role has replacements, interest in him remains high, and his pitch values and swinging strike rate for this season both indicate this may be a good time to bail.
If that sounds awful, it's because it will be. Fire sales are arduous processes for fans to endure, and the comfort that "you'll grow back new guts after these currents ones are ripped out" isn't a great one. I think the only thing that could be worse would be to watch the front office fail to commit entirely to winning now or stocking young talent, and failing to adequately do both.
If prompted I might note:
-Promoting Viciedo--when healthy--and replacing Pierre's daily spot with him is still the significant offensive boost we're looking for
-I don't care who leads off because...
-I never care who leads off
-Every division is worth winning because the playoffs are a small sample size crapshoot
But that's just me.