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The wait for Viciedo gets messy

Good thing I took plenty of pictures of Dayan Viciedo standing idly by.
Good thing I took plenty of pictures of Dayan Viciedo standing idly by.

Kenny Williams, talking to Dave van Dyck, had to explain why Dayan Viciedo isn't on the 25-man roster yet. The result was questionable at best:

"(Viciedo) is playing his (butt) off offensively and defensively. But I'm not going to put a player on this team that my manager is not ready for. I respect him too much to do that.

"When you say somebody is ready, that just means they're ready. That doesn't mean they can't get better. He's a young guy. He's not a finished product. He's getting better and better. There is no immediate rush to have him in there. We have faith in all (the current) guys."

Remember, as Larry did, how Brian Sabean "justified" Buster Posey's Triple-A status until, coincidentally, he changed his mind after Posey wasn't a risk for super-two status?

Williams' rationale is similarly flimsy amid a similar situation. After a 3-for-3, one-walk day against Lehigh Valley on Monday, Viciedo is hitting .330/.369/.528, and he's all over the International League leaderboard in such categories as:

  • Batting average (.330, fourth)
  • Slugging percentage (.528, second)
  • Doubles (24, fourth)
  • RBI (55, first)
  • Total bases (160, first)

Since the beginning of May, he's hitting .363/.407/.581. He's cut his strikeout rate (from 21 percent to 18 percent), he's raised his walk rate (from 3 percent to 5 percent). For a happy hacker like Viciedo, who will never walk all that much, he's just about maxing out his capabilities at Triple-A as a 22-year-old.

Viciedo has even been so courteous as to post an .840 OPS over 106 plate appearances with the White Sox last year. Most prospects don't have anywhere near that body of proof that they can hold up against big-league pitching. Add all these numbers up with the relatively positive reports about his defense (he's never going to be described as "rangy"), and this product is just about as complete as he's going to get.

This is especially curious considering one high-ranking White Sox executive disagrees was slightly more antsy about Viciedo's prospects:

"He's ready. He's obviously got some things he still needs to work on, but I would have no qualms about bringing him here."

That was Williams two weeks ago. With the offense still scuffling and the Sox drifting away from .500, it's curious that Williams would find reserves of patience, isn't it?

Given that we're all conspiracy theorists, we have a hunch why Williams is dragging his feet. He's less than a week away from being able to call up Viciedo for the rest of the season without eclipsing a year of service time, and this is something all teams, rich or poor, contending or not, take into account.

But I do wonder if Williams is getting Guillen too involved. Two weeks ago, he said Guillen didn't have a way to play Viciedo every day. In his interview with van Dyck, Williams once again said Guillen wasn't ready to receive a Tank.

That idea is a little hard to accept, especially since Guillen said on Saturday, "If they want Viciedo here, bring him up. I'll play him." It might have been said more out of emotion than reason -- Guillen asked reporters whose roster spot would be vacated -- but he's on the record nevertheless.

And Guillen probably would welcome Viciedo just to shake up the locker room after Tuesday night's absentee performance by the position players. Per Mark Gonzales:

As for Rios, "(he) don’t run the bases," Guillen said. "That’s why I got him out of the game. It’s not the (first time) it’s happened."

Rios was 0-for-3 and dropped a fly for an error in the fifth.

"They don’t run the bases, they don’t want to play or tired or hurt, that reputation comes with me and I have a great reputation in this (bleeping) game to do (the right) way," Guillen said. "They don’t run the bases, they’re out of the game. I don’t give a (bleep) if it’s (Paul) Konerko or Adam Dunn or anyone.

"If you don’t play the game right, you’re out of the game."

This doesn't sound like a guy who would discriminate against a rookie at this point. And if Williams is still set on giving a new meaning to Independence Day -- give or take a day or five in their respective directions -- it might be smart to cook up a different angle to disperse the blame. Maybe he can put Viciedo back at third, just to pretend he's considering replacing the equally ineffective combination of Brent Morel and Mark Teahen. That would buy him a good week before the Sox could say, "Now we're positive he can't hack it there. At least we still need an outfielder!"