Writing about Monday's game, I said I didn't quite understand three decisions Robin Ventura made.
One was (partially) resolved before the night was over, as the Sox optioned Tyler Danish to Charlotte right after using him in the sixth inning of a one-run game.
One was (partially) answered on Tuesday, as Tim Anderson and Adam Eaton teamed up for a quick, quick run in the first inning. I still don't see this being a viable option in the long run, but I'm assuming we'll have to get used to it, and it'll have its highlights.
One remains as big a question as ever: Avisail Garcia in right field. He exacerbated the issue by failing to catch Miguel Cabrera's fly in the right field corner in the third inning:
Instead of a runner on first and one out, Miguel Gonzalez had to deal with runners on second and third and nobody out. He did so unsuccessfully, allowing three more runs and turning a 3-2 game into a 6-2 deficit.
If this were one random game, I'd chalk it up as a random misplay. The wind was a little bit tricky, and Gonzalez wasn't feeling it, so I doubt that bad route turned a quality start into a disaster outing by itself.
The problem is that it's far from an isolated occurrence. Garcia has a considerable lowlight reel from the first two games of this series alone...
None of these plays are routine, but Garcia has a rich-enough history of challenged defense to make close calls seem like plays other outfielders could've closed.
There's really no reason for Garcia to be out there, either. One of the pleasant developments of this season was Garcia's adjustment to the DH, which was a relative success. He erased an awful start to be an averageish hitter there. It's not inspiring, but it's playable compared to other options.
- As DH: .254/.311/.420
- As OF: .255/.271/.255
That allowed Eaton to play almost every day in right without any kind of guilt, which was previously made possible by Austin Jackson manning center.
But after Jackson fell victim to injury, Ventura has seemingly lost his sense of scale in the outfield. First Ventura tried J.B. Shuck in center. That wasn't a favorable play, but at least it was based in some reason (preserving Eaton's elite corner skills). It lasted a couple games too long and cost Jason Coats some of his face, but Ventura gave up on it.
Garcia starting in right -- for more than a game here or there -- should've been a non-starter, especially since Shuck has made great plays for the Sox in the corners and Coats has a decent track record in the minors. Instead, Ventura has walled them off at DH, so Shuck can't even be used as a late-inning defensive replacement when he plays (although the lack of late-inning leads makes this a moot point for the time being).
The beat writers noticed the lack of playmaking in right, too, and the answer Ventura gave them before Wednesday's game fails to inspire:
Ventura on Garcia in RF: "He's just going to have to work on it. He's going to have to get better and find a way to get past that."— Daryl Van Schouwen (@CST_soxvan) June 15, 2016
The follow-up question is "Why?" That's a question we've asked a lot these days.
I don't envy Ventura these days, because he's playing a weak hand. He's not responsible for the struggles of James Shields and Gonzalez, both of whom were not in the White Sox organization even midway through spring training. It's not his fault that the injury to Jackson -- who was a mixed bag this year -- makes the Sox look far weaker on paper than one injury should. Some empathy is required.
But there are some cases where I just don't know what he's seeing. I like citing the Anderson-Eaton order in the same post because I can understand the appeal, even if I think it lacks proportion. With Garcia in right, what's to like? And with the Sox running the risk of losing 11 out of 12 series if Mike Pelfrey outpitches Chris Sale (which just happened), "What's to like?" is another one of those questions that keeps popping up elsewhere, too.