Thursday saw a wave of news about the White Sox roster--mostly on the outer margins. The minutiae of shifting around reserve outfielders and spot starters can lend a strong feeling of pointlessness at times, but this is a 1st place team after all, so tales of roster shifting and shuffling become more exciting if you can imagine a national broadcaster breathlessly explaining how the Sox pinch-runner came to occupy his role during Game 1 of the ALDS
Firstly, and most officially, Kosuke Fukudome's oblique strain that he suffered in his only plate appearance in the last two weeks has landed him on the 15 day DL. His disabled list stint can be made retroactive to the beginning of the week, and Jordan Danks' third-straight year in AAA has been interrupted so that he can replace him on the 25-man roster.
It's as small as moves get, but obviously a huge moment for Danks, who saw his first major league action as a pinch-runner Thursday night. Once looked on as a future #2 hitter and center fielder before contact issues and a lack of the power to justify them killed the buzz around him, Danks has been having a great year at Charlotte as a 25 year-old. He's hitting .302/.417/.503 in AAA, while also striking out 25.5% of the time and benefiting from a .397 BABIP.
There's no real reason to think than Danks has become a capable offensive player until he shows otherwise, but for the role Fukudome has been serving in recently, he's a better fit. He's probably a better fit for the role Lillibridge has been serving in as well, which is good for him since their skills are redundant.
Fukudome was brought on to be insurance for an outfield that had question marks at every position, only to see them all solidify their roles for the most part. Lillibridge's versatility was supposed to allow Ventura to slide his boom-or-bust bat all over the diamond, but has seen last year's power surge completely wash away, and cost him a shot at playing time at 3rd that could have been his if he had shown he deserved it.
If all three are going to be up for the same 4th outfielder-who-never-starts role, Danks is the best defender, and up to the task of matching Lillibridge in baserunning ability. Intangibly, his brother would love to have him around, and he'd be less insulted by his role than Fukudome already is.
However, if a starter went down, Fukudome is the only one who has ever proven himself in a full-time role, and the only player who can't be stashed in the minors.
Morel's wait continues
All of this seems to be waiting on a more clear decision on the role of Brent Morel this season. He remains in AAA Charlotte where he's been slumping of late and left the game Thursday night after one plate appearance.
Until he returns, it remains uncertain whether the Sox will use the presence of Orlando Hudson as a reason to send Eduardo Escobar back down to AAA for full-time play, especially since Brent Lillibridge is supposed to be helping in the infield as well, and is--now because of Danks--not the best defensive outfielder on the bench.
Quintana sticking around
Meanwhile, Jose Quintana's successful start against Toronto will earn him another one against St. Louis while the older Danks rehabs.
Statements like "Quintana has proven he can be a consistent major league starter" are getting more than a little carried away for a guy with a low-90's fastball an no swing-and-miss breaking pitches, but it does appear like Ventura is properly impressed by the results he's generated.
Robin Ventura on Jose Quintana: "He's proven he belongs."
— Chuck Garfien (@ChuckGarfien) June 7, 2012
Every statistical (BABIP, LOB%, low K/9) indicator that Quintana has been skirting by with luck is blinking red, so in some ways it's distressing to hear Robin say this, but also hard to argue against him when Philip Humber is taking himself out of games with control problems, and Gavin Floyd's mistakes are going for home runs.
The Cardinals offense will be a pretty good test of whether Quintana's last few outings have been a mirage.