A great deal of hand-wringing occurred on the internet over last night's injury forced lineup. It seemed that merely reading "Orlando Hudson-DH" caused some people to lose touch with reality. Jim had a great joke about the troubles multiple players needing rest can cause a team like the White Sox in this morning's post.
But people still seem incensed that something like last night's lineup could happen. And I'm not really sure why.Bench players, by definition, are players not quite good enough at their job to warrant much playing time. They exist to give their betters days off once in a while, you know, to avoid injuries. If a bench player proves to be too good at their job, they become a starter and some new flawed player takes their place. Circle of baseball life.
One things benches, and I do mean most benches, tend to have problems with is handling multiple injuries at once. The typical American League bench consists of three or four players. One all but has to be a catcher. Another an outfielder. The final one or two some sort of infielder. This works well enough because you can just shift a sore player to DH and not worry too much about losing their bat. Unless you're scared of health.
Paul Konerko's concussion forced Adam Dunn onto the diamond, freeing up the DH spot. Robin Ventura then had the choice to either have Alex Rios and his sore back DH or take an extra day off against one of the worst pitchers in baseball on the worst team in the AL. Ventura rolled the dice, testing the luck of playing down two of his best hitters. He crapped out.
And I still agree with his decision. Gambles don't always pay off. This was a relatively safe one and it didn't work out. But Rios gained two days of rest out of it. If Konerko hits the 7 day DL, Dan Johnson can finally come up and fill in for a bit. But he couldn't last night. There is a long view that needs to be accounted for. As a general public, we don't know how bad Alex Rios' back actually hurt. Playing last night could have resulted in multiple games without him in the lineup in the upcoming series against the Oakland Athletics and the Toronto Blue Jays. And that would be worse than what we witnessed last night.
The 2012 White Sox do not have a very deep bench. There is an outfielder, a catcher, and two utility men. None are particularly good at hitting. Hopefully that can be amended. If it can't, it's what we'll live with.
"BUT WE DESERVE A MORE COMPETENT BENCH! WHY CAN'T IT BE STRONGER?!?!?! THE 2005 WHITE SOX BENCH WAS MIGHTY AND HELPFUL AND PERFECT!!!!!"
Other than Frank Thomas, the 2005 bench kind of sucked at hitting. They weren't quite as bad as our current bunch, but they weren't much better. Backup catcher Chris Widger had the strongest season with an OPS of .679. Willie Harris? .647. Pablo Ozuna? .643. Timo Perez? Geoff Blum? Ross Gload? .562, .506, .419.
This team is a contender as long as multiple position players don't go down at once. A night of Orlando Hudson DHing is not the end of the world.