Third base woes are nothing new for the Chicago White Sox.
Not because of any defensive liability at the hot corner mind you, but because of the lack of offensive production that Brent Morel, currently on a rehab assignment with LHP John Danks for the Triple-A Charlotte Knights, exemplifies.
Beginning in 2009, the White Sox have trotted out former Oklahoma State quarterback Josh Fields, former Kansas City Royal Mark Teahen, Morel and a host of utility players and retreads, most recently Orlando Hudson at third in hopes that their offense could match their defense.
It hasn’t worked so far, and the Sox desperately need to fill the offensive gap that exists at the bottom of the order.
The answer to this dilemma might be languishing at first base at Triple-A.
Dan Johnson is ready to be called up and add some offense to the White Sox lineup.
His numbers are gaudy.
Johnson is batting .281, with 14 home runs, 45 RBIs, 49 walks and an OPS of .981 in only 199 plate appearances.
Should the White Sox give up on the Brent Morel experiment?
Let’s put his production into perspective for a moment.
In comparison, Dayan Viciedo, who Sox fans clamored for most of the 2010 season, finished his season with the Charlotte Knights last year with 20 home runs, 78 RBIs and an OPS of .856, walking only 45 times in 505 plate appearances.
Johnson is flat out producing.
Further, at the big league level, Brent Morel and Orlando Hudson have hit a combined .175 with no home runs and seven RBIs in 154 at-bats this year. Ouch. If you added their OPS together, it would not equal that of Johnson.
There is no room on the major league roster, you say?
Thank you for your efforts, Kosuke!
Johnson is a first baseman, you say?
Actually, he has played third base at every stop of his professional career up until now. This includes the 2009 season where he played exclusively at third while in Japan.
If Sox GM Ken Williams can put O-Dog at third when he had not played the position for 11 years, why not give Johnson a shot?
Even after being lit up in two of the last four games, the Sox have enough pitching to win the AL Central.
If the Sox want to get past the opening round, the holes in the lineup must be addressed.
If Johnson’s defense proves to be that bad, rookie manager Robin Ventura can use the same defensive replacement model that he has used with Viciedo in left field late in games, but let’s get some punch infused into the bottom of lineup for the first seven innings.