Given the way players react when they take a fastball to the hand, I doubt they want to hear any thought that begins with, "But on the bright side..." Especially when they react like this:
So allow me to rearrange the phrasing and say that while Brent Lillibridge is done for the season after suffering a fracture in his fifth metacarpal courtesy of Josh Judy, it won't hurt his career anywhere near as much as it hurts him right now. He effectively locked in his 2011 numbers with a surplus of goodwill.
Lillibridge finished the season hittting .258/.340/.505, and even though his isolated power dropped from .251 to .247 after his 0-for-3, two-strikeout performance on Thursday night, he still holds a one-point lead over Carlos Quentin for the team lead.
He has a two-homer lead over Adam Dunn, which is the briefest way to sum up how much they've surprised the South Side, albeit for wildly different reasons. If Dunn can't come up with a couple more, the fact that he couldn't measure up to Lillibridge more than double the plate appearances will be quite the exclamation points.
He also slashed his strikeout rate from 35 percent to 28 percent, which is in uncomfortable-but-tenable territory as long as he maintains his power. Throw in some memorable outfield plays and a rather smooth transition to first on the fly, and Lillibridge did more than enough to establish himself as a big-league role player with the 216 plate appearances he received this season. He has a credible package of tools, and a manager has some options in how to utilize them.
Based on how much he exceeded expectations at this point, I don't think he could've helped his case much more over the next three weeks. If nothing else, Judy's errant fastball eliminates the possibility of Lillibridge faceplanting across the finish line like he did the year before. He won't lose any points for the misfortune; in fact, it actually works in sync with the way Guillen deploys Lillibridge, avoiding overexposure and leaving fans with their teeth chattering for more. I wouldn't classify a broken hand as "going out on a high note," but hey -- this is the first time in his career that he finished a season on solid major-league ground. That might ease the pain a little.
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I was already grateful that Tyler Flowers failed to execute a sac bunt in the seventh inning of Thursday's game because success would've only guaranteed more of it. But here's another reason -- had Flowers moved the runners to second and third, Guillen said he would've pinch-hit for Morel with A.J. Pierzynski.
Thank goodness that didn't happen. After his two-homer game on Thursday, Brent Morel raised his OPS to .632. We knew he needed to put it all together in September to call his year a success, and here he goes. You truly can set your watch to the guy.
- Konerko’s message to returning White Sox: We need a lot of work - Chicago Sun-Times
- White Sox never got hot and that was that - Chicago White Sox Blog - ESPN Chicago
- Playing out the string! What to watch for/be interested in/pretend to be interested in - White Sox Observer
James tells us what he's going to be on the lookout for as the Sox finish up their season, and he places an emphasis on the chopping block. For whatever reason, I think the probability of any in-season dismissals is almost nil.