Monday, July 13, 2009
Now that we're at the All-Star break and the Sox have exceeded expectations to put themselves into playoff contention, much virtual ink is being spilled about the upcoming trade deadline and Kenny Williams' potential deals. To hear many tell it, the biggest addition to the Sox in the second half will be Carlos Quentin, who has been out since late May with plantar fasciitis.
But I think fans and columnists are developing expectations for Quentin that the guy is not likely to meet when he comes off the disabled list next week. Many people base their expectations on Quentin's MVP-worthy 2008 season, in which he hit .288 with 36 HRs, 100 RBIs, a .394 OBP and a whopping 149 OPS+ all in just 130 games. After that, what the heck could the guy possibly do for an encore?
Well, get injured, for one. Quentin's foot injury is odd enough to fall into the "freak injury" category, but the guy's checkered health history earns him the dubious "injury-plagued" label. Not that he won't ever be productive when he does play... I'm thinking something like JD Drew.
Quentin wasn't mashing the ball before he got hurt- putting up a .229 average, a lot of which can be attributed to his foot hampering his swing. Now, I'm sure he will be much better when he comes back, possibly as soon as this weekend. But I am skeptical we will ever see Quentin at 100% health again in 2009, and equally skeptical that the foot injury will re-emerge with constant playing time.
Then there's the concern that he's just going be a slow-footed, singles hitter for the rest of the season. Quentin has been rehabbing in Triple-A Charlotte and the results have been mixed. In 7 games with the Knights, Quentin is 7-for-21 with 6 singles and a double. It's too small of a sample size to make any judgements on, but it is possible that Quentin's power just might not be there right now.
With a bad foot, his baserunning will probably be hampered as well. Can you imagine Dye, Thome, Konerko, Pierzynski and an injured-Quentin all hitting in a row in the line up? That is just death. Those guys can hit, but it would take four hits to score any of them from first. Sustaining rallies without homers would be near impossible.
Add to that the fact that a defensive outfield of Quentin in left, Podsednik in center and Dye in right will leave a lot to be desired as well, and I'm not as bullish on Q-uperman coming back and giving this team a huge lift.
Will he be better than Dewayne Wise and Brian Anderson? Unequivocally yes. But let's take it easy before we expect 2008 Carlos Quentin out there.
So here's my unconventional idea. I would platoon him.... not with any outfielders, but with... Jim Thome at DH. A strange set up- I'm sure 99.9% of Sox fans want both Quentin and Thome in the line up. But here are my reasons:
- First, Quentin's not going to last very long playing 9 innings of defense every day. The foot injury has a much higher chance of returning if he's out there.
- Replacing both Quentin and Pods for late inning defense would be a huge burden.
- Having your 3 through 6 hitters all with well below average speed is going to make this line up very one dimensional, and very boring.
- Thome, who's not exactly tearing the cover off the ball right now, tends to wear down in the second half anyway. Getting him consistent rest can only help his durability.
I'm sure this isn't going to happen, at least not initially, but there's my thinking. Carlos Quentin could still be a great ballplayer, but there's a chance he won't do too much for the team this season, and the Sox are in trouble if they're counting on him to be the savior.
Have you seen how unproductive Aramis Ramirez has been with the Cubs since being rushed back? How about looking at everything Quentin adds in '09 as a bonus?