Friday, April 9, 2010

That Loud, Stupid, Profane Man Sure Plays Some Dumb Smallball

I think the Chicago White Sox have the potential for high comedy this year. To get everyone up to speed, the White Sox GM, Kenny Williams, likes his teams to hit a bunch of home runs since they play in a small park and won a World Series by hitting a ton of home runs just a few years ago. Manager Ozzie Guillen, on the other hand, would rather play “small ball” and Kenny Williams begrudgingly obliged him this year by swapping out Jim Thome and his base-clogging ways for everyone’s favorite spark plug, Juan Pierre. Ozzie has also decided that he will be more aggressive in terms of stolen bases and order more sac bunts. As we all know, this is stupid.

Last night the White Sox dropped a 5-3 extra inning game to the Cleveland Indians, but that’s not nearly as interesting as how they did it. Gordon Beckham is an up-and-coming star for the White Sox. He’s already a good player and has the potential to be great. In just 103 games last year (his rookie year) he hit 14 HRs and 28 doubles, and can play at both 2nd and 3rd. He typically hits 2nd in the Sox lineup behind Juan Pierre. He makes good contact and has good power. He singled in his second at-bat last night, but was stranded.

Let’s pick things up in the 7th with the White Sox trailing 2-1. Juan Pierre, against all odds, walks to start the inning. At this point, Guillen decides to take the bat out of Beckham’s hands and orders a sac bunt. Now, this is stupid for several reasons. Beckham is a good hitter. Pierre, if you really want him on second, is capable of swiping a base. But even that would be stupid because Beckham, Carlos Quentin, and Paul Konerko are all fairly likely to get an extra-base hit of some kind, and are all due up. But Beckham bunts and gets Pierre to second.

I’m sure you know what happened next. Carlos Quentin came up and crushed a 2-run home run to give the Sox a brief 3-2 lead. The Sox, having given up a meaningless out from one of their most productive hitters, then went quietly. The Indians would tie it up in the 8th.

We move to the bottom of the 9th with the score tied. Juan Pierre leads off with a single. What do you think Ozzie did? Yup. Another sac bunt from Gordon Beckham moving Pierre to 2nd. With the dangerous Carlos Quentin up and first base open in the bottom of the 9th with the Sox needing only 1 run to win, the Indians, of course, walked him. They then managed to retire Konerko and Andruw Jones. Basically, Beckham gave up his at bat so that Andruw Jones could hit instead with an additional out. Brilliant.

The Sox would go on to lose in the 11th, having pissed away the potential for several big innings.

To sum up:

Runs scored by small ball – 0
Runs scored by home runs – 2
Runs scored by bases loaded walks – 1

Their AL Central Rivals, the Minnesota Twins, were simultaneously beating the Angels behind a double and a home run from…

Jim Thome.


Master Reid said...

Love it! I wish I had a dollar for every argument I have regarding the merits of bunting a guy to 2nd base. Unless it's the pitcher batting, it's stupid. Somebody let Ozzie know that he's in the AMERICAN LEAGUE.

Eric said...

I'd have to be convinced to let a pitcher bunt.

Clearly Ozzie's prescience indicated Beckham would hit into a double play twice and was therefore signaled to bunt. In fairness to Ozzie he did not indicate a sac bunt but a base hit bunt which Beckham was too inept to perform.

Beckham needs to be traded.

To the Twins.

Jon said...

Have to be convinced to let the pitcher bunt? C'mon your taking this too far, there are occasions when i think bunting a non-pitcher with a man on first no outs could be +EV as well. Even this 9th inning example, while likely -EV, is being treated too harshly by Paul. They did not trade Beckham's AB just for an Andruw Jones AB with one less out, it did also move the runner to 2nd which does have a very positive benefit (though prob not outweighing the negative in this scenario, and 7th inning bunt is atrocious). Anyway, I promise if you watch a few Met games you'll come away thinking Ozzie Guillen is a managerial genius.