If you look at the Robin Ventura's rookie season from the high-profile failures he inherited, bounce-back seasons gave him quite the head start. Alex Rios had a career year, and Adam Dunn hit 41 homers. If Ozzie Guillen had that in 2011, perhaps he is still managing the White Sox.
Still, even though Dunn and Rios figured out how to act on their pact from the previous year's All-Star break, sorting out a major-league roster wasn't a clean and easy process. The White Sox still had to deal with a number of massive voids. John Danks was injured and Phil Humber sold his career for the perfect game. Brent Morel played the whole year with a bad back for an OPS+ of 15. Maybe you can chalk those up to injuries (Humber did go on the DL), and every team has those.
But beyond the health problems, the Sox's Opening Day roster featured four other guys who turned out to be just plain unsuitable for the big leagues. They had track records of varying lengths, and they served purposes on paper, but when the games started, they couldn't offer anything to the cause. Changes of scenery didn't help, either.
Add it all up, and out of the 25 guys the Sox took into battle to open the season, eight finished the season with negative bWARs -- which is the same number they used to open the 2011 season. That these Sox still won 85 games is a testament to proactive management.
Here are the four who didn't last half the season. How many have slipped your mind?
With the Sox: Fukudome was supposed to do the job that ended up falling into Dewayne Wise's lap, for better of for worse -- a left-handed hitting outfielder used at all three positions, and could fill in near the top of the lineup if the matchup was right. He ended up hitting .171/.294/.195 over 51 plate appearances spread out over the first two months. A ribcage strain put him on the DL, and he never made it out of a rehab stint before the Sox designated him for assignment.
After the Sox: The Yankees love White Sox castoffs, so they signed Fukudome and assigned him to Triple-A. He hit 276/.440/.378, but even with that OBP, the Yankees released him at the end of the minor-league season, and he never caught on anywhere else.
With the Sox: After capturing the South Side's hearts, minds, hopes and dreams with a really fun 2011, Lillibridge struggled from the start and never earned Robin Ventura's trust. He averaged 25 ineffective plate appearances over the first two months, and after starting June by going 2-for-19, he didn't serve much of a purpose. And yet somehow he intrigued the Red Sox enough to be half of the package required for Kevin Youkilis' services.
After the Sox: Lillibridge lasted 10 games in Boston before the Red Sox DFA'd him. He managed just two singles over 16 plate appearances (five strikeouts). The Indians became his third team of the year, and he actually more closely resembled a major-leaguer, hitting .215/.276/.342 with three homers. However, all three homers were in the same week in mid-August, and although he drew an uncharacteristic amount of walks in September, he struck out 19 times over 42 plate appearances.
Conveniently, he basically matched his playing time total from 2011, so we can see just how far he fell:
One more double, and he ran the bases a little better. That's about all Lillibridge can take away from the 2012 season.
With the Sox: In 2011, Ohman struck out better than a batter per inning. In 2012, his K rate was cut in half. He lost the ability to miss bats, and.
Here's a good case where WHIP can mislead. Ohman's WHIP would be one 95 percent of relievers would love (1.050). He walked just five batters over 26 2/3 innings. Add in a lower hit rate, and the usual suspects aren't saying where Ohman went so wrong.
Then you see that he plunked more batters than he walked (six). Add up the walks and HBP, and his free-base rate (better term needed!) was higher in 2012 than the year before (3.71 per nine innings; 3.54 in 2011). That, and he gave up six homers. He was still good against lefties.
After the Sox: Even though he lacked strikeouts, he was still tough on lefties (.186/.250/.305), so it seemed like he would resurface somewhere in the majors before the end of the year. It was not to be. The Cincinnati Reds signed him after the Sox released him, sent him to Triple-A Louisville, where he struggled immensely -- 17 hits, 10 walks over 11 innings. And one HBP.
With the Sox: Usually pitchers will gain a few ticks in velocity when moving to the bullpen. Instead, Stewart's fastball had the GPS upside down and went the opposite direction. With diminished velocity and no standout second pitch, we were left to wonder what Stewart was supposed to be good at. The White Sox didn't have an answer, but fortunately, the Red Sox weren't even asking the question. Youkilis!
After the Sox: We may as well just reprint Stewart's game log with Boston.
The Over the Monster review from his first start:
Zach Stewart was not good.
Actually, Zach Stewart was historically bad for a pitcher making their Red Sox debut. Three innings pitched, ten hits, nine runs. The first and third innings were almost identical, with two-run homers from Kendrys Morales and Chris Iannetta respectively capping off four-run frames.
It was awful. Flat junk in the zone, nothing that was even the least bit indicative of a major league pitcher. Batting practice for Angels pitchers the likes of which they probably haven't seen this year outside of rehab performances. This may well have been the single worst performance out of a Red Sox pitcher this year.
Zach Stewart...well, has he considered tennis? [...]
It can be argued that today's result was closer than it should have been, as can the opposite. Zach Stewart was simply awful, just as he was against the Angels. He just doesn't seem to have the stuff to fool anyone on any given pitch. Unless we are seeing a dramatically different Stewart working on retooling or perhaps injured, it's honestly hard to imagine he will ever be an effective major league pitcher.