With their 2-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays May 31, the Chicago White Sox have scored one or fewer runs a staggering 12 times this year. Half of those have been shutouts.
This team cannot use the "well, we faced good pitching" excuse. Getting shut down four or five times is different if those times were against quality starters. But, when an offense fails to score more than a run 12 times through the first two months of the season, that's a trend of bad offense regardless of who was starting for the opposing team.
And it's going to have to stop if the White Sox want to win the very winnable American League Central.
In nine of those 12 games, the White Sox pitching allowed three or fewer runs. In seven of the 12 games, the Sox allowed two or fewer runs.
Just think—if the White Sox had a good, consistent offense that was able to score three or four runs a game, they probably would have won at least six of those nine games, and I'm being conservative there.
Now, look where the Sox are in the division. With their loss today, they dropped to just 1.5 games ahead of the Minnesota Twins, who are currently facing the New York Yankees as I write this article.
Add six wins to their record, and they're blowing everyone out of the water in the division and are 17 games over .500 with the best record in baseball.
Even if they just won three of those games, that still puts them with a comfortable lead at 11 games over .500, a game behind the Los Angeles Angels for the best record in the AL.
It really is unacceptable that this team is just five games over .500 and without a comfortable lead over Minnesota.
Furthermore, this team is a disaster waiting to happen. What if the pitching stops throwing the ball so incredibly well and the offense actually has to start scoring five runs three or four times a week? This team will crash and burn, falling back to below .500, that's what.
That is, unless something changes.
Maybe that means benching Paul Konerko, Jim Thome, and/or Nick Swisher.
Maybe that means calling up somebody like Josh Fields or Brad Eldred.
Maybe that means a free agent signing or a trade.
Maybe that means firing Greg Walker.
I don't necessarily support all these options, but at this point, something has to be done to cure this ailing offense.
It's unfair to Carlos Quentin and/or Jermaine Dye to rely on them for all the offense the Sox will need every game. Nobody, not even Alex Rodriguez, can carry an offense all by himself.
Baseball is a team game. Even when Joe Crede, AJ Pierzynski, Orlando Cabrera, or Alexei Ramirez have themselves good games, it's not enough.
When Quentin and Dye have bad games, like every major league hitter will have, this offense rolls over and plays dead. Thome, Konerko, and Swisher frequently are the problem—odd that perhaps the three most established hitters coming into this season for the Sox are currently the three biggest problems in this lineup.
The White Sox can't sit back and hope these guys will break out of their slumps. That's what they did last year, and by the time they did, it was far too late.
Something has to be done to wake this offense up, and it has to be done fast.
While it may not be the best decision for his future, calling up Fields and having him play first base or designated hitter could add a spark to this lineup. Fields slammed 23 home runs last year after being called up in July and showed great potential at the plate.
Calling Fields up would allow the Sox to keep one of Thome and Konerko out of the lineup on the same night. It would add a spark while also allowing for the slim chance that one of these two aging sluggers would break out of their respective slumps.
As for Swisher, what he might need is a week off. He's in-between at the plate and looks like he's thinking too much. Give him a week to clear his head, and in the meantime, play Brian Anderson in center. With Anderson, you'll get at least the same offensive output as Swisher (maybe better) and far better defense.
Maybe the best option involving the whole situation, though, is for the Sox to go out and sign Kenny Lofton. Lofton would give the team a proven leadoff hitter who still has some speed at the top of the lineup.
It also would allow for a quasi-platoon of Konerko, Swisher, and Thome at DH/1B. When Thome sits, Konerko is the DH and Swisher is at first, when either Konerko or Swisher sits, Thome is the DH with the one who isn't sitting starting at first.
Like it would with calling up Fields, it at least would give Thome, Konerko, and Swisher a chance to break out of their slumps while not hurting the lineup as much as it would with all three in the order.
As of right now, Fields or Lofton are probably the two best options for the White Sox. Unfortunately, it's too early to make a trade for a bat—but as we get into the middle of June, somebody might become available.
If Kenny Williams is serious about winning this year—which he made perfectly clear in the offseason—then he better go out and get a bat for this lineup.
Unless Greg Walker acquires some magic pixie dust that will make guys like Thome, Konerko, and Swisher start hitting to their career averages, this offense is going to continue to struggle until a personnel change is made.
It's sad that I've got to the point where I'm not completely joking when I say Carl Everett is available. Although, let it be known that I don't really want the Sox to resort to Everett for the third time.
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