Last Wednesday, Alejandro De Aza reached base four times -- 2-for-3 with a double, two walks and stolen base, leading to two runs.
He sat the next day.
When he came back on Friday, he went 2-for-4, and drew a walk for the sixth straight game.
He sat the next two days.
Why was De Aza on the bench, despite hitting .322/.383/.545 over 134 plate appearances? Despite playing a more authoritative outfield than the two healthy veterans?
The reason on paper is because the opponent started a left-handed pitcher that day, and De Aza is a left-handed hitter. But that's not actually the reason -- if platoon splits were truly an impetus for action, Alex Rios would sit against nearly every righty, and Adam Dunn wouldn't be allowed within 100 feet of a left-handed pitcher.
De Aza, on the other hand, is hitting 286/.375/.357 against lefties, albeit in 16 plate apearances. However, you can back that up with a solid performance against them (.306 average, .344 OBP) against them in Charlotte. Whatever the case, he has recent history on his side, whereas Dunn, even with two hits against lefties on Sunday, still has some work to do. I haven't been able to find another player who batted below .100 in 100 plate appearance against lefties, at least in his lifetime.
Dunn and Rios play on, though, which means the most likely reason De Aza can't get playing time against lefties is because it provides a convenient reason to bench him. We're well aware of Ozzie Guillen's rules by now: If you didn't acquire a Role-with-a-capital-R in March, you can't have one now unless injury strikes. To remove a veteran from his Role would be disrespectful of all veterans near and far.
That's Ridiculous-with-a-capital-R, because De Aza should have a Role-with-a-capital-R next year, and next year should be what the Sox are playing for.
Wait -- actually, in the event that Guillen is managing to wring the most wins out of a possible lame-duck season, De Aza is also a better option to win now. There's literally no reason why De Aza should sit in favor of Rios, Dunn and even Juan Pierre, who gave away several bases with his defense last week by treating grounders along the sidewall like live grenades.
I'm not certain whether Guillen wants to keep his job, but by deferring to veterans through the end of the year, he's showing why the Sox need a change in leadership. A reluctance/inability/outright refusal to change Roles isn't a problem that's unique to this year, because Guillen failed to bench or otherwise disturb the existence of underperforming veterans in previous seasons. We're just seeing what it looks like when it's taken to its most absurb extremes, enabled by a toothless general manager. The only guy who comes out looking good is the guy who doesn't get to play.
Disrespect in the news:
Greg Walker: The perpetually embattled hitting coach still has Paul Konerko in his corner, as the White Sox captain said, "Walk's my guy." As frustrating as that might be to hear, it's an article that's worth reading for his insights on what Walker has had to deal with this season.
Juan Pierre: The perpetually embattled left fielder has discovered the problem with his brand of baseball.
It's that ... nobody else is playing it?
"Most leadoff guys can hit the ball out of the park, and now everybody is playing a more aggressive style of baseball," said Pierre during a recent interview. "There's no taking pitches or trying to let the guy move the ball over as far as the American League goes.
"The National League still does it more. But in the AL, usually the leadoff guys are hitters more than working counts and doing that stuff first and then hitting kind of second."