Compromise is easier said than done. Before analyzing and criticizing the choice that the White Sox were revealed to have made by Jeff Marquez’s empty locker, I should state first that it was a difficult one, and their eventual decision was understandable. It’s just that I flat-out disagree with it.
They had three spots to work with, and four candidates. In these three
spots they needed to fill out their pitching staff as well as choose a
fifth starter, and round out a fairly insignificant portion of their
First, and clearly foremost, was Lastings Milledge, the 57th member of
the White Sox Revive a Fallen Star program. He surely electrified, but
had a muddled defensive history and it was questionable if he had the
utility for a spot that really just called for utility.
Second, was Brent Lillibridge, who was perhaps helped as much as
anything by being out of minor league options. He has the ability to
play all positions in the outfield, and also is the only other pro-ready
middle infielder in the organization. However, he’s proven pretty
clearly that he’s a poor hitter, albeit a poor hitter with more pop than
you’d expect a poor hitter to have. Also, he’s fast as all hell, and
would provide hilarious contrast whenever he went out to pinch-run for
Adam Dunn late in games.
And then there were Philip Humber and Jeff Marquez, two pitchers who aren’t that great and one of them needed to start.
In a way, by taking Milledge, Lillibridge, and Humber, and letting
Marquez walk, the White Sox did the logical thing; they selected the
three best players. But players have positions, and a certain point,
that has to take some precedence. You could have 25 fantastic catchers,
better than anyone else on the team, but a roster composed of 25
catchers is going to lose a preposterous amount of games.
Even if you toss aside the notion that the Sox shouldn’t be traveling
north with a light bullpen when they have no confidence in their 5th
starter to eat innings, there’s just no way to provide the playing time
to justify this many position players on the roster.
The headline of this piece is overstating things, as the Sox really have
four outfielders and two infield/outfield hybrid players in Teahen and
Lillibridge. However, it’s meant to reflect the logjam this will be.
With Teahen gobbling up close to 300 PAs as a utility guy backing up
Morel at 3rd base and Quentin in right field, it will be a stretch to
find spots to see what Lastings Milledge can do backing up Quentin and
Rios (Juan Pierre never rests), and that leaves Brent Lillibridge
with…what? Professional baserunner? Omar Vizquel insurance? He
seems unlikely to make waves, but it’s curious to spend a roster spot
just to make sure that the team is covered in case Rios, Quentin, and
Pierre all get busted for passing around a joint during a late-inning
pitching change. I’d just as soon carry a third catcher, especially
because it would be Tyler Flowers.
JJ Stankevitz points out rightly that when you get to this end of the bench, nothing is really a big deal, so considered me puzzled, but not concerned.