I think I may create an entry in Craigslist advertising for my Chicago White Sox, and indicating how dire our need is for a lead-off hitter.
The team's expectations were low to begin with and to see them struggling a bit at this point is not unexpected, especially after the pain of last year's performance. What I would expect is that they would have had a better plan to begin the year.
This must be stated first: Give General Manager Kenny Williams credit for not making moves for the sake of making moves.
He held onto players who struggled last year such as Uribe, Buerhle, and Contreras. This is a smart move because he would have had to give them up for 50 cents on the dollar in order for others to take them.
With that said, Kenny must accept some blame for other issues.
Let's first establish a few facts. One, the purpose of the offense is to generate runs. Two, the purpose of the top guys in the lineup is to get on base.
Somehow people started to believe that the lead-off hitter must be able to steal bases. This is simply not true. Few players are able to steal frequently and successfully. The greatest achievement (besides an HR of course) that these top two spots can accomplish is to get on base.
Why? Well, because then when your hitters with better slugging percentages are at the plate, there are runners to drive in.
The issue at hand is that the White Sox came out of spring training with Nick Swisher as their lead-off hitter. It was alright when his OBP (on base percentage) was above .350, but it now is closer to .330 and that is not cutting it.
Their newest lead-off hitter is Orlando Cabrera, who used to hit second in the lineup and has an OBP of .299. Even if they want to claim Jerry Owens was their planned lead-off hitter, he is sub .320 for OBP—a number lower than Swisher's.
In the end, Kenny did not get a lead-off hitter in the offseason. But he did make many great moves, one of which I believe was getting Cabrera for soft tossing Jon Garland.
Also, you can see how well Carlos Quentin is working for the team. The market was slim, but they could do something today to make their team better for a minimal amount.
Kenny Lofton is still waiting for a phone call from some team. Last year was not his best, but he did not have a full chance to prove himself. If I were Kenny I would get his agent on the phone today to see what it would take to get him in a uniform.
This is just the opinion of Joe Sports Fan with no access to who else could be available, but it is a better option than simply sticking with what we have.
With no further action, this will be a team that likely performs in accordance with what outsiders expected. It will be a sub-.500 team that misses the playoffs. Fans will be left thinking "Well, we won in '05."
Yes, but how long before Geoff Blum is making appearances at Woodfield Mall while we reminisce, turning the White Sox into our version of the '85 Bears.