Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura has a situation on his hands that demands attention.
Ventura's lineup is not producing, meaning he must make some dramatic changes immediately for the White Sox to be competitive.
There are two things Ventura can do right away that will improve the White Sox.
To start, Adam Dunn cannot hit fourth—or fifth for that matter—any longer.
Dunn, who is hitting .100, has said that he remains confident he can correct “two little mechanical things” that are affecting his swing (via Mark Gonzales, Chicago Tribune). His track record since coming to the South Side suggests otherwise.
Phil Rogers, also from the Tribune, suggested on Wednesday that Dunn bat third. Based on his career production from that spot, Rogers argues that Dunn's performance should improve.
His logic makes sense, but may miss the larger point. The White Sox need baserunners,and Dunn’s .182 OBP after collecting three walks on Wednesday against the Cleveland Indians does not cut it.
If Ventura wants to keep Dunn’s bat in the lineup, bat him seventh.
The second thing Ventura could do is have Conor Gillaspie (.304/.347/457) bat second and move Jeff Keppinger (.188/.183/.200) down to the eighth in the order.
Gillaspie, while cooling off after a torrid start, is making better contact on a consistent basis and is getting on base much more often than Keppinger.
Keppinger’s struggles are puzzling and, for the most part, go against his career numbers. FanGraphs.com’s Michael Barr noted on Wednesday that Keppinger seems to “slap at everything he sees.”
The second spot in the order demands more patience. While Keppinger recorded two hits and drove in a run during the White Sox's 3-2 victory Wednesday afternoon, he is just not selective enough right now.
Here is what the new White Sox lineup would look like.
1. Alejandro De Aza-CF
2. Conor Gillaspie-3B
3. Alex Rios-RF
4. Paul Konerko-DH
5. Alexei Ramirez-SS
6. Jordan Danks-LF
7. Adam Dunn-1B
8. Jeff Keppinger-2B
9. Tyler Flowers-C
Last week, I posited that Alexei Ramirez would be a fine fit in the six-hole. Well, if Dunn drops down to the seventh spot, moving Ramirez up in the order makes sense—given the alternatives at least.
If Dayan Viciedo was not on the disabled list, for example, he could bat fifth with Ramirez occupying the spot after him. Given the current composition of the 25-man roster, however, the options are limited.
To be fair, Ventura does not have a status-quo mentality. In a separate Chicago Tribune article on Wednesday, Gonzales noted that Ventura said “things could change and guys could move around, especially if the lineup doesn't seem to be working.”
Well, things are not working. The existing lineup is simply not producing the desired results. There is a larger trend afoot that requires more than just a minor shakeup to fix.
Nothing in baseball is permanent and almost anything is worth a try.
It is time for Ventura to start the White Sox down a new path.
*Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.