Alejandro Anxiety

Alejandro Anxiety
Platonic ideal of a leadoff hitter // Nuccio DiNuzzo, Chicago Tribune

After a mere three games missed while on the active roster–seriously, check out the madness going on with Denard SpanAlejandro De Aza is headed to the DL for whatever is causing his oblique soreness.  Comcast Sports Net keeps pairing the announcement with the clip of De Aza bellyflopping onto 2nd base Friday night.  It looks painful.

As a result, Jordan Danks is on his way back to Chicago to be a fourth outfielder again, after spending just over a week contributing to the Charlotte Knights championship drive.

DeWayne Wise can’t (or won’t) stop hitting home runs, so Danks is returning to pinch-running and playing defense for Dayan Viciedo until the hot streak ends.  That might not be such a downgrade for the time being.

Alejandro was treading water pretty decently since his back started bothering him–.298/.355/.368 since missing the end of the Texas series–but needs his defense and a high batting average on balls in play to be effective.  A half-speed De Aza is not worth the effort it will require from him, and given the way he’s been lilting a bit since June and accumulating bumps and bruises, a rest could do him good.

But what’s good for De Aza might be hard to stomach until September.  Impact, or even competent bats are at a premium in lineup that employas two of the five worst-hitting regulars in baseball (Ramirez and Beckham, even with their outbursts Monday).  Wise needs to continue to hit for power at previously unseen levels as a 34 year-old, to cover up that he’s not going to hit for average (25.8 K% with Sox), nor get on base (no walks with Sox).

Curiously, this is a situation Wise has been in before.  Carlos Quentin played his last game of 2008 on September 1st, Wise hopped off of the disabled list on September 5th, and played 22 out of the Sox 24 final games, starting 16 of them (14 in left field).

In filling in for an MVP candidate, Wise hit…poorly, but powerfully!  He only hit .206/.271/.429 to close out the year, but for four home runs, with half of his hits going for extra-bases.  Bad luck on balls in play hurt his performance, but he also clocked a three-run homer in the playoffs, so it seems like things evened out.

That White Sox team also limped to a one-game playoff, were only 10-12 when Wise made appearances, and turned DeWayne into a villan with an ill-advised attempt to lead him off the next season.  Fond memories of Wise are very context-dependent, which led me to wonder if his primary appeal was nostalgia, and memories of beating long odds when he was brought on.

Of course, the prevailing credo of the season is “Why not?”  DeWayne Wise slugging over .500 for three weeks isn’t anymore bizarre than A.J. Pierzynski doing it for an entire season.  Williams is already getting credit for having Wise on hand just in case, as if it were another part of his plan and not scrap heap depth addition.  And why not?  He’s been racking up credit by clearing low bars he’s set up for himself all year, and if Wise can be something beyond a useless cast-off in the short time before De Aza is well, he wins again.

Questions about how an aging team ended the final stretch injured and beat up will have to wait for another time.


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