Carlos Quentin, unnecessary necessity

When Michael Cuddyer signed with the Colorado Rockies, two camps of opinion formed. People with no attachment to Cuddyer saw a decent but limited player who wasn't the best use of $31.5 million. Those who watched Cuddyer do all he could while the Twins around him fell by the wayside were sad to see him go.

The divide reminded me of Carlos Quentin's situation with the White Sox as he waits to see whether he's staying or going, except it's even more severe.

Carlos Quentin is expendable.

Carlos Quentin is essential.

And the truth, at least at this point, is not somewhere in the middle. He's in the last year of his contract, he has an heir apparent in right field, and the Sox have two other outfielders to start, by choice or by force.

But if the Sox are trying to retool without taking a big step back -- and with John Danks signing an extension, the Sox are even shorter on tradeable assets with which to acquire production -- a Quentin-less lineup would be baffling to bank on.

You can see evidence in the 2011 White Sox's OPS+ column:

Rk Pos Age G PA BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
1 1B Paul Konerko 35 149 639 .300 .388 .517 .906 144
2 RF Carlos Quentin 28 118 483 .254 .340 .499 .838 124
3 C A.J. Pierzynski* 34 129 500 .287 .323 .405 .728 97
4 SS Alexei Ramirez 29 158 684 .269 .328 .399 .727 97
5 LF Juan Pierre* 33 158 711 .279 .329 .327 .657 80
6 3B Brent Morel 24 126 444 .245 .287 .366 .653 76
7 2B Gordon Beckham 24 150 557 .230 .296 .337 .633 72
8 CF Alex Rios 30 145 570 .227 .265 .348 .613 65
9 DH Adam Dunn* 31 122 496 .159 .292 .277 .569 56
Team Totals 30.0 162 6159 .252 .319 .388 .706 91
Rank in 14 AL teams 8 7 11 11

OR:

White Sox regulars with OPS+ above 100 in consecutive seasons:

  1. Paul Konerko
  2. Carlos Quentin

OR:

White Sox regulars with OPS+ above 100 in any of the last two seasons:

  1. Paul Konerko
  2. Carlos Quentin
  3. Alex Rios

Theoretically, Dayan Viciedo can pick up where Quentin left off, minus the HBPs. Just like theoretically, Gordon Beckham's second half in 2010 was supposed to put him on track for an above-average 2011.

It all depends on how seriously the White Sox are taking 2012, and thanks to the Danks extension, we're all still guessing. If they're committed to risking a hopeless 2012 for future gains, then put Quentin in the "excess" column. But if the Sox are really trying to reshape for an outside run at contention, trading Quentin could hurt just as much as forsaking Jim Thome for the Rotating DH. As we learned from that debacle, Kenny Williams shouldn't get picky about a slight glut at one position when he needs as many bats as possible.

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