Unless one had decided that hiding under a rock would be a good way to go for the last two weeks of the season (Sounds like a good idea now), its been well documented about the decline of the White Sox. 2-10 in the last 12 games, and very disappointing 2-5 in their last 7 games at home.
Unless the trend continues on miraculous finishes in Major League Baseball like in 2011, it seems the Sox once again will fall short of winning the American League Central race.
If you were in Robin Ventura's shoes, what is the direction you take? Do you throw in the white towel and start Jordan Danks, Dan Johnson, and other bench players to evaluate who you keep for 2013, or do you go out guns blazing hoping that Detroit freezes at 86 wins?
Based on the most recent White Sox tweet (@whitesox), it appears the later. Despite announcing he will have surgery on his banged up hand, Paul Konerko will be playing first base tonight. AJ Pierzynski will catch what may be the last series in a White Sox uniform, and the same can be said of Kevin Youkilis.
While it is admirable that Ventura is not giving up and clinging on hope that the Royals sweep the Tigers. One has to ponder though that this line up, which has scored 24 runs in the last 10 games (That is of course not including Orlando Hudson's Grand Slam on Saturday, September 29th when Jordan Danks, Ray Olmedo, and Dan Johnson were aboard. ), is in dire need of change.
Many would think, that having Dunn play first base while Johnson DH's would be a sign of the Sox giving up at the end. It would take one five minutes online to find that in all actuality, Ventura may actually be increasing the team's chances of winning by sitting Konerko who is ready for hand surgery at the end of the season. Why risk possibly nine more at bats to be hit in that hand causing more damage and possibly impact his chances of helping the ball club in 2013?
Pierzynski will be an unrestricted free agent next season. It's not like he is going to create value for the team by playing the remaining series. Checking the 2013 free agent list on mlbtraderumors.com, Pierzynski on paper is easily the top three in his position. What hurts his chances of resigning with the White Sox is that he is 36 years old. How much is left in the gas tank? Do you really sign a 36 year old catcher to a multi-year deal? If so, how long?
That's a lingering question: How much is left in the gas tank? Veteran's Youkilis, Hudson, and Jake Peavy combined have 46 million dollar club options that many believe the White Sox will not even consider picking up.
Teams go through transition all of the time. No better example may be the St. Louis Cardinals, the defending world champions. Even though they lost Albert Pujols and Chris Carpenter, without question the foundation of their two World Series titles in the last six years, they find themselves in position of earning another trip to the play-offs. If they do, they will be the only team in the National League to do so from the previous season. What the Cardinals do better than most teams is realizing what the lay of the land will be in the upcoming future and make the necessary adjustments to begin that transition.
2013 does not look all that bleak. With another season of Dunn, Konerko, Rios, and Viciedo the Sox should have plenty of power in the line up and with a pitching rotation anchored by Chris Sale and the return of John Danks will give Ventura another solid squad to work with.
The questions remain once again at the positions of Catcher, Third Base, and a Right Handed Starting Pitcher that can join the rotation with Sale, Danks, Jose Quintana, and Gavin Floyd, who would be the only right hander of the rotation.
So why not in the remaining three games play the likes of Danks, Hudson, Tyler Flowers or even Jose Lopez to see if they can fill the needs going into next season? What if they catch fire and buck the trend of struggling to score three runs a game? What if the bench can sweep Cleveland, and then Kansas City pulls a solid for the Sox and creates a game 163 in Detroit?
Instead, Ventura will be rolling out a line up that has been running on fumes since September 17th, when after defeating Detroit had a three game lead. Guess it doesn't matter how much is left in the tank, when Detroit will race ahead of Chicago to the finish line for the Division.