Mark Parent has been saying things recently, things that some would consider disturbing depending on where they fall on the “plunking is a necessary evil” or “no, it’s just evil” debate. However, I would offer that the Parent quote Scott Merkin put in his recent article is objectively disturbing.
“Take advantage of what they give you,” Parent told MLB.com following the last town hall meeting at the Palmer House Hilton. “[Alexei] Ramirez stole a bunch of bases two or three years ago. He didn’t hardly run any last year. They play behind Paul [Konerko]? Well, if Paulie is feeling good, take off.
“[Alex] Rios can run. Let’s run him. You know [White Sox manager] Robin [Ventura] is all for playing the game a certain way, and you’ll get to see in Spring Training he’s far different than what you have seen.”
That’s disturbing to anyone. Call in a relative that doesn’t understand baseball, spend 9 weeks explaining the context to them, then show them the quote. They’ll be disturbed.
Alexei Ramirez is regarded as fast, but generally lacking in all the know-how and timing necessary to be an effective basestealer. Hence, his 63.5% career success rate, when 75% is the cutoff to where base stealing is still beneficial. Perhaps he could be taught a few techniques or something, but he’s also 30. So, you know…maybe not.
Alex Rios had a high-volume stealing season in 2010 when he stole 34 bases. He was used very aggressively, and didn’t have the greatest efficiency (70.8%). Last season he was never on base, and was a bit worse (11 for 17, 64.7%). That’s a small sample, but he’s also going to be 31. Not the greatest time in life for a base stealing extravaganza.
Paul Konerko is going to be 36, is slow as evolution, and the overwhelming priority should be on keeping healthy and his bat in the lineup. I’d get angrier about this, but when someone suggests that Konerko should run, it’s hard to imagine that they’re not kidding.
Maybe Parent is kidding, or maybe he’s not. Pretty much unilaterally he’s been rah-rah, enthusiastic and advocating activity and aggression at every turn. That’s his personality, or at least the one he’s trying to cultivate, and it’s a fine one for the bench coach.
There’s also a security in that Robin Ventura is in the background of all this, speaking in non-specifics about improving fundamentals and being aggressive, and all that highly-measured pre-season manager language that’s designed to not to raise red flags.
That’s the comfort Ventura was hired to bring; to be so assuredly vanilla that bench coaches pontificating on elements they almost assuredly don’t have final say on is the eyebrow-raise fodder, which I suppose is better, but can only confidently say that it’s different from the era of Ozzie Guillen as the self-avowed public face and mouthpiece of the White Sox.
The same principle from when Ventura was initially hired applies, where his lack of a track record precludes him from criticism until he’s actually trying to steal bases with bad basestealers for the point of looking busy.
Until then, it’s probably more fun to dream on Parent’s catcher experience meaning he can actually help Pierzynski slightly, somehow at stifling the running game, or what Jeff Manto can tweak while reuninted with Gordon Beckham (and presumably not discouraging walks), or that Robin Ventura might be able to pass guidance to Brent Morel despite pretty different fielding styles.
If we’re going to ponder the hypothetical approaches of coaches who haven’t interacted with any of the players yet, it might as well be positive. Everything on the White Sox is in “pending” status anyway.