White Sox miss out on baseball, Guillen

White Sox miss out on baseball, Guillen
Shin Shoo Choo would like to remind us that people get hurt playing baseball, and maybe taking a day off to rest our very, very sore hands is a good thing // Jason Miller, Getty Images

The White Sox Tuesday night tilt with the Indians was called off on account of cold, wind, rain, snow, and it being April in Cleveland.  Things don't figure to get much better in time for tomorrow's scheduled 11 AM CDT getaway day time, but it's still scheduled to go on.

Philip Humber's getting skipped in the rotation in either case, which hearkens back to his treatment in April of last year.  The circumstances aren't as severe, but the principle is the same.  Danks will be fully rested, and is a better pitcher, thus he gets the start.  Humber's workload is a mild concern anyway.

Also of interest is that Ventura planned to bat Gordon Beckham leadoff while giving De Aza a night off.  The Sox have been dutifully plugging Beckham into the starting lineup while waiting till he hit enough to move up the order for nearly two calendar years now.  Given how much every other offensive albatross has been allowed to hit in their ideal order slot with the hopes that it would stir them into life (Rios, Dunn, Pierre), why shouldn't Beckham get the same chance for just a game?  They've tried everything else, maybe some undeserved organizational confidence will help him.  He sounded excited enough.

"To (set) the table, that's fun to do," Beckham said. "I hit leadoff three times in a row in Texas (on Sunday), so I guess I'm getting used to it."

Of greater concern is the plan for Fukudome to fill in at center field.  If he hadn't just dropped a pop-up Monday night, I'd be able to say "I'd prefer Rios" with a lot of confidence.  Say what you will about how well-suited Rios is for the largest responsibility in the outfield when it's clear that he regularly makes mid-game mental sojourns to the Spirit World to communicate with dead relatives, but Kosuke Fukudome turns 35 years old in two weeks.

Speaking of Rios, he would have apparently hit 2nd while Fukudome batted 5th.  I'm really not sure why.  Apparently once his leadoff hitter is removed, Ventura eschews any kind of reasonable lineup construction and just makes sure the handedness alternates.

Situational Hitting

The White Sox improved(?) to 3 out of 27 for the season with runners in scoring positions Monday after Brent Morel recorded the first non-Konerko hit in such a situation.  They're only hitting .227/.279/.368 overall for the season, so it's not as if a great hitting team is being dragged down by a failure to rise to the moment.  However, a noticeable disparity between the White Sox normal level of offensive production, and their performance in key moments has been in play since last season.

The White Sox hit .252/.319/.388 in 2011, and .239/.324./.373 with runners in scoring position.  That seems pretty similar, but factor in that the RISP total includes all 31 intentional walks the team received on the year, and the on-base total doesn't seem as impressive.  This is that one situation where you can just go ahead and look at the batting average, and it was down 13 points.

Worse, in high leverage situations, the 2011 Sox offense was one of the very worst in the sport, hitting .214/.292/.357.  It's hard to judge how they're fairing in that regard at the moment; they've only had 7 such plate appearances, and they're 1 for 7 with a HR.

The idea of "clutch hitters" and people uniquely capable of rising to the moment is something ingrained in our thinking by countless narratives written about the game.  It's also a phenomenon that fails to show up statistically on any meaningful level over long tracks of time, and goes against the idea of professional hitters with highly developed plate approaches acting out of instinct and muscle memory.

In other words, figuring out why the Sox are terrible at hitting when it's needed is a complicated issue.  It's a blip that refuses to right itself, and while you're all welcome to label the whole team a bunch mental midgets and move on (I might, if I were you), part of having a blog is making an attempt at some of these mysteries.  Perhaps if they get snowed out of Cleveland again there will be time look into some theories, or man alive, they could just get some damn hits.

Ozzie Ozzie Ozzie

An oft-repeated refrain in the press during his last couple of years in Chicago was that Ozzie's act was "getting old" or "tiresome"; claims that seemed false at the time, and were proven extra false when the Chicago press went through the trouble of documenting all of his early moves in Miami.

When he left, and the Sox lost all their supposed relevance, there was at least supposed to be benefit on not having to assess the morality on every off-color attempt to be funny Guillen had.

But apparently praising Castro in a city with the largest Cuban expatriate population in country is enough of a screwup to warrant a 5-game suspension and make the national news.  It also elicited reactions from various White Sox personnel.  Speaking of which, Alexei Ramirez is missing his calling by not working in public relations:

"It's one of those (situations) that there are some people who like Castro, and there are some people who don't. You're in Miami, it's definitely a different thought frame. But that's his opinion, and it's not the same opinion I have."

It seems like both Guillen and Miami need some getting acquainted, but saying "I love Castro" in the anti-Castro capital of the world would probably require a few division titles to smooth over.  Mostly I'm struck by how Guillen could be so vigilant in refuting anyone who portrays Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez as a sympathetic figure, but fail to realize how similar of a role Castro plays to Cubans.

It certainly seems like he realizes that now, and can really empathize with the outrage he caused for that reason.  I'm not sure Miami cares right now, but he probably won't do this again.

Other Castros

The White Sox traded for minor league infielder Jose Castro Tuesday, which was hilariously well-timed to seem like mockery of Guillen's situation.

Then the absence of a game allowed time to contemplate whether Kenny Williams actually was mocking Guillen.  There's no position the Sox could trade for on the premise of "minor league depth" that I wouldn't believe was absolutely needed.  Chances are they needed an infielder to keep the AAA Charlotte roster from descending into bloody chaos, and Castro offered an immediate opportunity to rectify the situation

And then when Kenny realized what he had done, he probably giggled himself hoarse.

 

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  • I think Ozzie has been partially misrepresented by the "I love Fidel Castro" quote that is getting thrown around. He goes on to mother f- the guy later in the quote and I'd guess that Ozzie was alluding to his admiration for Castro's toughness and bravado--machismo is big with Ozzie—not his policies or politics. As James writes above, Ozzie has been pretty critical of Chavez.

    Large segments of the media deserve some criticism for failing to give the quote its proper context and making the whole thing a "gotcha" affair. But hey, what else is new? I would also guess that this was the kind of media attention Jeffrey Loria was looking for when he brought over Ozzie (there's no such thing as bad publicity—I mean, this has given the Marlins an opportunity to publicly release a statement, the gist of which is: “We hate Castro!”). In that sense, Loria is getting exactly what he paid for while Ozzie is being publicly shamed.

    Still, I wouldn't defend Ozzie's statement. And I think it's reflective of an intelligent baseball manager and former player who is quite capable of empathy but is seemingly too absorbed in his own brash image (and the fame and fortune it has brought him) to have much concern for others. The fact that Ozzie's "what will he say next?!" shtick has gotten so much attention over the last few years has brought to the forefront (and perhaps exploited) the worst in Ozzie, who I'd guess is otherwise a decent enough guy, with faults like the rest of us. Unfortunately, Ozzie has become a caricature of himself.

    My 2 cents.

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