Hu's on short?

It was another bad loss by a bad White Sox team that I don't feel like writing about, so I'll just make a couple of observations I looked up during the course of play.

  • Jermaine Dye's 9-2 Sac-Fly DP was only the second time since the start of the 2005 season that the White Sox have turned a outfield-to-out-at-home DP.
  • That was the White Sox 17th blown save this season in 92 games. While Bobby Jenks was on the receiving end of just 5 of them, he's been responsible for the last 4 of the Sox blown saves. In those 17 contests, the Sox have won just 3 times. I'm not really sure how poor that is. I was just poking through BB-ref's PI and thought it was interesting. Here's a breakdown of the Sox record in blown saves since 2000 for some context.
    Blown Saves Record 2000 26 10-16 2001 20 9-11 2002 12 2-10 2003 17 6-11 2004 13 4-9 2005 20 9-11 2006 17 4-13 2007 17 3-14
* * * * *

Rather than recap the game, I thought I would take a look at possible candidates for the White Sox shortstop of the future -- because even as a (former) fan of Juan Uribe, I can acknowledge that he's one of the largest dead weights on a club that sunk long ago. So let's take a look at the top theoretically available shortstops around baseball.

Leaving out guys drafted last year because they're still too far from the majors for my liking, the list slims down very quickly. Many of the best hitters drafted as shortstops have moved position, including Justin Upton, who might be the best prospect in all of baseball now, Adam Jones, who Seattle won't give up even though they've now got Ichiro locked up, and former #1 overall pick Matt Bush, who was never a good hitter and has moved to the mound in a last-ditch effort to provide value from what looked like a wasted #1 pick from the start. Remove Tampa Bay's Reid Brignac, because they're not trading him nor are they in a position to acquire what the Sox would be offering, and Cleveland's Asdrubal Cabrera because the White Sox and Indians arent' going to make a trade, and I'm left with just 3 candidates; the Dodgers' Chin-Lung Hu, plus Yunel Escobar and Brent Lillibridge from Atlanta.

Yunel Escobar -- DOB: 11/02/82 Year Lvl AB 2B 3B HR BB K AvG OBP SLG 2005 A 198 13 3 4 14 30 .313 .358 .470 2006 AA 428 21 4 2 59 77 .264 .361 .346 2007 AAA 180 10 3 2 14 27 .333 .379 .456 Maj 116 8 0 1 6 14 .319 .355 .414
Escobar is the oldest and most advanced of the group, which should come as no surprise given his background as a Cuban defecor. He has only 30 major league innings at SS this season, which has more than to do with Edgar Renteria and Chipper Jones than his defensive abilities. I've only seen one game with him at short from which I'm not willing to draw any conclusions.

His bat doesn't have a much power, but I think you can partially discount his .264 average in AA last year because of a fractured heel, which he played through in the second half. He hit .407/.463/.558 in 86 Arizona Fall League at-bats to prove he was healthy (And we all know how much Kenny loves AFL stats). It seems like he was being showcased this past weekend with 3 consecutive starts over Kelly Johnson, during which he compiled a 6-for-13 mark. I could envision him being a .300/.340/.425 player at his peak, which shouldn't be too far in the future.

Brent Lillibridge -- DOB: 09/18/83 Year Lvl AB 2B 3B HR BB K AvG OBP SLG 2005 A- 169 12 4 4 14 35 .243 .305 .432 2006 A 274 18 5 11 51 61 .299 .414 .522 A+ 201 10 3 2 36 43 .313 .426 .423 2007 AA 204 8 3 3 20 60 .275 .355 .387 AAA 146 3 0 3 9 30 .253 .301 .336
Lillibridge was off my radar until he was traded from the Pirates organization last off-season. His '06 line made him a PECOTA hero, but he hasn't even managed to put up his ML projections in AA and AAA this season. From the two at-bats that I got to see from him in the Futures Game, he appears to have a Brian Anderson or Josh Fields type hole in his swing. The breaking balls at the upper levels have begun to catch up with him, and I'm not sure that he'll be able to stick in the majors in the future. I'd pass.
Chin-Lung Hu -- DOB: 02/02/84 Year Lvl AB 2B 3B HR BB K AvG OBP SLG 2004 A 332 15 4 6 20 50 .298 .342 .422 A+ 75 4 1 0 5 6 .307 .350 .387 2005 A+ 470 29 1 8 19 40 .313 .347 .430 2006 AA 488 20 2 5 49 63 .254 .326 .334 2007 AA 325 30 5 6 26 33 .329 .380 .508 AAA 23 1 0 3 0 1 .478 .478 .913
Chin-Lung Hu has a reputation of being a dazzling glove man, but many questioned his bat entering this season. He's been described as a slap hitter, but he's definitely found some opposite field gap power this season with 45 extra-base hits. He was the deserving MVP of last week's Futures game, and I was very impressed by his approach at the plate. He's everything the White Sox hitters are not. He took what was given him, which in that game was two opposite field hits and two stolen bases (though he was [wrongly] called out on one), and just looks like an incredibly fundamentally sound player. His inside out approach reminded me a bit of Michael Young, and I suppose that wouldn't be a terrible comp; Michael Young with less power but more defense.

I wouldn't be upset if we acquired either Escobar or Hu. Though they both could surprise, I can't see either being middle of the order hitters -- and I wouldn't count on them being top of the order hitters -- but having a shortstop that doesn't have to hit last thanks to a sub-.300 OBP would be a nice luxury.

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