It's no secret that the White Sox have struggled getting production from their No. 2 hitter. They finished a very comfortable second-to-last in OBP from their second slot last season:
- No. 13: Royals, .293
- No. 14: White Sox, .279
- No. 15: Seattle, .260
But this has been a long-standing problem for the Sox, whose No. 2 hitters haven't finished in the top half of the league in OBP since 2006. Everybody can share in the blame -- some players flopped, the front office has whiffed, and the managers have been over-orthodox.
For instance, it would've been awesome if Robin Ventura decided to cut out the middle man and bat Jose Abreu behind Adam Eaton for a game or two. Now, maybe Ventura floated the idea and Abreu wasn't comfortable with it, but even going back to Ozzie Guillen, lineup experimentation hasn't been a part of the company culture. A guy like Joe Maddon can bat Evan Longoria leadoff just to see what it looks like, and the Blue Jays can stick it to Hawk Harrelson by batting Jose Bautista second. but the Sox don't entertain such notions publicly.
The Melky Cabrera signing is the latest and greatest attempt to fix this problem, and Ventura sounds like he's up for getting crazy (relatively speaking). The first line might make you panic:
"I like having Eaton at the top and being able to have a guy like (Cabrera) who can handle it like he does."
But he quickly elaborates on what Cabrera's brand of bat-handling means:
"Not just moving it around — I don’t want him to sit there and slap some to get (the runner) over. He can drive something, get something going early in the game, and then also with Jose (Abreu) right behind him, he should have some protection. It should work well."
That's more like it -- Melky Cabrera's "job to do" will be to hit like Melky Cabrera.
Of course, we know by now that "should" is the operative word. Still, it sounds like Ventura is content to slot Cabrera second and get out of the way, which should be good news for Abreu, who could stand to have a few more RBI opportunities.