SoxFest is coming up and there’s not much to talk about out there. Know what that means? Fluff piece season! Huzzah!
- Ozzie Guillen does not care what you think. Because who are you? You are not Ozzie Guillen, and that is all that would count if you actually were.
- The Sox hope next year goes well. Isn’t that fantastic? That’s at least a ten-game improvement right there.
- Jake Peavy likes winning way more than he likes losing. Heavy.
- Gordon Beckham is ready to elevate his supercoolness to the next level of coolsuperZOMG!!!!!
- Jim Thome would totally come back and fill the gaping hole in the Sox’ .250 batting average.
And so on and so forth, and whatever, and that’s BORING so let’s talk about the things those folks aren’t, shall we?
Guillen says the Sox are moving away from employing a designated hitter in the classical sense, instead rotating through a cast of Andruw Jones, Mark Kotsay, Jayson Nix, and whoever else the team doesn’t want in the field. One on level, this is cool because who doesn’t want to be the team that breaks the shackles of some monolithic wall of stupid, one-dimensional power? What kind of a great eff-you would it be for the Sox (the Sox!) to revolutionize the very concept of American League roster construction? “You have stupid power? WE HAVE STUPID LEATHER!”
But let’s think about this for a second. At its core, what does a DH really give a team? A bonus bat, sure, and a reason to turn a defensive liability into a middle-of-the-order warhead. But beyond all that, a DH gives a team control of its offensive attack. Exactly once in a game (specifically, the first inning), but maybe twice depending on whether Alexei Ramirez strikes out three times or four, an American League team gets to send a guy up to bat for no good reason other than they can. And it can be a beautiful thing: 1995 Edgar Martinez; 2004 David Ortiz; 2005 Travis Hafner. Men who exist solely to destroy – or men who exist solely to break the enemy’s brain, as purposefully non-powerful 2009 White Sox DH Scott Podsednik would have were he a great baseball player instead of Scott Podsednik.
Of course you get those fortunate teams, those Yankee types who can choose between a Jason Giambi here, spell him with a Hideki Matsui there, maybe a Johnny Damon or a Jorge Posada when someone needs a day off. And, generally speaking, we all advocate aping the Yankees where possible. Win! Spend! Succeed! And so on.
Except we’re not talking about the Giambis and Matsuis of the world. We’re talking about Mark Kotsay. Andruw Jones. Jayson Nix. Two of those men can’t field or hit. The other is actually Ross Gload. By virtue of merely existing in the American League, the Sox have a chance to do something extraordinary with their roster. Instead, they want to exploit the rules to give more opportunities to men with a) ten home runs since 2007, b) 20 home runs and increasingly heinous injuries since 2007, or c) a career .206/.295/.363 line.
So there we land. Hope springs eternal and a 40-year-old Jim Thome on the decline is looking like a pretty good option right now.