Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Daryl Van Schouwen and Chris De Luca

What to do about leadoff

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Center fielder Jerry Owens, the man tabbed to replace Scott Podsednik as the White Sox leadoff hitter, has been troubled for most of camp with a strained right groin. With 2 1/2 weeks before opening day, this has become a major concern for the Sox, who don't want a repeat of the struggles they endured last season with the oft-injured Scott Podsednik.

Plan B would be nudging switch-hitting Nick Swisher into the top spot. Manager Ozzie Guillen is reluctant to move speedy No. 2 hitter Orlando Cabrera up a notch. Swisher has never hit leadoff during his career — batting in all of the other eight spots — but had a .381 on-base percentage last season that intrigues Guillen. The Sox aren’t looking for a stolen base threat atop the lineup, just someone to set the table for Jim Thome, Paul Konerko and Jermaine Dye.

A day after making his first appearance in a Cactus League game since March 4, Owens was scratched from the lineup Wednesday because of soreness.
‘‘I’m concerned because you give him a couple of days to recover, then play him and the next day he can’t be in the lineup,’’ manager Ozzie Guillen said of the strained groin that has bothered Owens since the team’s first intrasquad game last month. ‘‘It’s not something I want to deal with during the season.
‘‘Those kind of injuries can be OK or they can be really bad. We went through that last year with [Scott] Podsednik.’’

Meanwhile, the Sox have explored the idea of batting switch-hitting Swisher in the leadoff spot if Owens’ soreness persists. Guillen is resisting the urge to lift speedy No. 2 hitter Orlando Cabrera up a notch, even though Swisher has never hit leadoff. He has hit everywhere but leadoff during his major-league career, but his .381 on-base percentage last season impresses Guillen.

‘‘I lean toward Swish,’’ Guillen said. ‘‘I know Nick is not a typical leadoff hitter. But the only thing I need from a leadoff hitter is to get on base and score some runs. I don’t want to move [Cabrera] because he is a real good second hitter — he can make a lot of things happen. The only thing I worry about with a leadoff hitter is get on base. If you can steal bases, that’s a plus. But if you get on base, the guys behind you can do the job.’’

Ideally, the Sox would prefer to keep Owens in the leadoff spot and bat Swisher sixth or seventh. But Guillen wants some stability from the leadoff spot and Owens has yet to inspire confidence in that area.

‘‘We’ve seen signs that he can accomplish it, but I don’t know that any of that’s set,’’ hitting coach Greg Walker said. ‘‘[Owens] might be in the starting lineup and not hitting first. We love Swisher’s on-base percentage, we love Cabrera in the two-hole. There are a lot of things to be determined yet. This leg injury has not helped him. This nagging, little thing that he has had going on has not helped. But when he has been on the field, he has performed very well.’’

What do you think the Sox should do?

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37 Comments

Simple solution. Brian Roberts is more than available. He hits for a high average, has a high on-base percentage, steals 50(+) bases and is good in the field. The Orioles desperately want to go young in return. Let them pick among Fields, Richar, Owens, Anderson, Uribe, Broadway, Denks, and Floyd, none of whom are elite or special. Then, Kenny Williams needs to stop being a baby and simply sign Joe Crede. It can be done. He simply needs to step up to the plate contact Crede and find out what he wants. Then pay him. Josh Fields is not the answer. Brian Roberts would solve about 5 problems on the White Sox single handedly.

Since we need a leadoff hitter, why not trade for Brian Roberts?? The cubs are trying to give up garbage for him. Here is what I think will seal the deal to bring Roberts to the Sox. A package including Charlie Haeger (solid starter/reliever), Juan Uribe (can play SS to replace Tejada), Oneri Perez (they need relief help), and Chris Getz (second base replacement for Roberts). Get Kenny Williams on the phone and tell him to pull the trigger!! Agree or Disagree?

I don't think this is a big deal. Unlike most mgrs in the bigs, Ozzie loves to play his bench. Against LHers, Oz was leaning towards Owens 9th, Swish 1st or using Ozuna at the top. With the spring Anderson is having Owens is probably looking at 3 days on, 1 day off.

I like the rotation being Vazquez, Buerhle, Floyd, Contra, Danks. The rotation, delivery & repertoire of pitches betw them presents stark contrasts day after day for the opposing teams. This rotation gives Floyd & Danks their best shot at success.

I think they should do what it takes to get Coco Crisp from Boston. End of discussion. We want to win now correct?

We will never pay for Brian Roberts. We won't pay for anyone. This is why no one wants to play for the white sox.

We have nothing for lead off. Owens is a JOKE!!

He has to get on base before he can steal a base!

We are in such trouble----we are a LAST PLACE PLACE TEAM!!!!

Who cares what we want to do. Nobody with any baseball intelligence would have assembed a club like this and has so many questions at this point. Brian Roberts. That's the answer. We aren't even looking at him.

Kenny will want him when he's 35, though. At the end of his career.

We need to find out if Tim Raines is available. He its for avg, draws walks and steals bases.

I like the Brian Roberts idea. Also, if we can't sign Cabrera for next year we can put Ramirez at short. By the way I like Ramirez's live bat and speed. Now assuming this trade won't happen (wish it would). I think Ozzie's logic of putting Swisher at leadoff spot hurts the team. Swisher could easily hit 35 home runs this year (being at Cellular) and you want to lose that power batting leadoff? He doesn't have much options but I would prefer Ozuna leading off and playing 2nd and having Uribe being the utility guy.

Bruce, stop whining. if you don't like it don't watch. Owens improved last year and appears on the upswing and he had to have gotten on base or he wouldn't have stolen 32 bases, you whiner. That plan for Roberts, Sam, is good. Juan and Ozzie don't make sense why would you put the slowest players all bunched together in the 3-4-5 spots. I have always believed the guy you want batting third is your best overall hitter, one who gets on base for the clean-up man and the RBI man in the 5 spot. Putting Thome 3 and Kornerko 4 makes more sense. if Swisher is 3 that adds more balance to the line up and gives the top 3 more speed and why clog the bases with your slowest players and wonder why you cannot score runs in bunches.

GOOD IDEA SAM. ONLY PROBLEM O'S DON'T WANT HAEGER OR" NO OUTS PEREZ" WARREN WAY OFF BASE TO GIVE UP A ANDERSON, OWENS, BROADWAY FIELDS OR FLOYD OR DANKS NONE OF THESE TOP PROSPECTS. EVEN SAYING THAT WOULD LIKE ROBERTS TO LEAD OFF. BUT WOULD HAVE TO TAKE BOURGEOUS,NEGRON AND GETZ AND DOUBTFUL IF WOULD HAPPEN. KENNY AND OZZIE LIKE THEIR TEAM AS I DO.

Oh, Brian Roberts, the Steroid User. No thanks.

Leadoff is but 1 spot, for 1 at-bat at the start of the game.

Leadoff is very overrated.

Kudos to the ones advocating Brian Roberts as the obvious answer! I'll be honest, I've always thought he was a bit overrated, especially in the power department (he hits Johnny-Pesky-on-steroids HR's), but he's certainly better than what we have now at 2B and would immediately SOLVE the leadoff problem. We don't need his "power." Nevertheless, since A. Ramirez is more of their future at SS, I am truly amazed at how, apparently, the Sox haven't even had him on their radar! Richar? I don't think so. Man, we've really let the Cubs have their way with the market the past couple of years, haven't we?

Having said all this, I no longer believe that the prototype leadoff hitter is necessary. Ozzie's right in that getting on base is the most important thing, especially in the AL. A guy like Swish will typically only leadoff one time making him more of an RBI guy in that position. I think it's far more suitable than it first appears.

I agree that Brian Roberts seems ideal. We have plenty to offer in return. Who cares about paying him, get him for the year, put Alexei Ramirez in AAA for a year to learn 2b. Deal from Richar, Uribe, 3b, Egbert, Broadway, BA, Owens, Quentin... Plenty of trade fodder.

I wouldn't be surprised to hear KW working behind the scenes, he's always in on the trade talks...and who wouldn't want to listen to him? He offers a lot in return. Since SF won't give much for Crede I'm sure he's looking elsewhere

While I agree that Brian Roberts is the answer, we don't have the horses to get that trade done. Our farm system is DECIMATED. Josh Fields is our only prospect with any value, and I don't think we are in the position to trade him with Crede (Boras) declaring he is definitely headed for free agency. The more interesting scenario I have read is that Giants are willing to part with Dave Roberts in a package for Crede. That might be the most realistic fallback.

If it were my team, I would be out there dangling Konerko. His 10/5 rights are about to kick in, so we have to trade him now if at all, and he is signed to a below market deal. The Angels might be willing to part with Reggie Willits and some prospects, for example.

Speed is totally overrated, what a leadoff guy needs to do is get on base (something nobody seemed able to do last year) and Swish can do that. I am a little worried we'd be wasting his power - I think he'll hit a lot of homers in the cell and I'd like to see it done with guys on base.

Roberts would take too much to get, and he's going to the scrubs anyway so forget him.

my lineup: Swish, Cab, Thome, Koney, Dye, Uribe, Crede, AJ, Owens.

We all know Uribe's a basket case so make his #'s count more.
Uribe: None on .676 OPS. Runner's on .726 OPS.

Leading off an inning: Owens .449 OPS, Swish .725 OPS, Cab .707 OPS. Swish has good enough speed to get from 1st to 3rd on an OF hit, & tag up on a SF.

Runner's on: Swish .800 OPS, Cab .827 OPS. Cab would be wasted at #1. He needs to bat 2nd.

This takes pressure off of Owens, & makes it easier for Oz to sub for Owens w Ramirez, Ozuna, Quentin, & Anderson.

Jerry Owens has been tabbed as the starter? Since when? I thought it was an open competition and its evident that BA has torn up spring trainging and should be the starter. So much for giving the job with the best chance to win. We are seeing this trend with MacDougal and Uribe. Both should be gone. Ramirez has won 2nd base job hands down. Tomo Ohka has outpitched Macdougal but nobody talks about him except my man Don Cooper.

On being a fan sincen 1952 you made me proud in 2005 seeing the sox win it all. I am hoping for some improvement this year,Good Luck.

some numbers...
OBP .480 SLG .714 BA .381
these are the numbers that a certain Sox centerfielder, who possesses gold glove defensive ability including a rocket arm and the speed to steal at least 20 bases has put up thi sspring.
he is second only to Jim Thome in walks and has only struck out twice more than he has walked...
sounds like the man for the leadoff spot to me...
of course when I say the line
Brian Anderson should start in centerfield and leadoff you would all tell me i am crazy...
interesting though, the numbers don't lie, the kid has learned how to take pitches and he has both power and speed and the mechanics and raw talent necessary to be an above average leadoff hitter who is dangerous everytime he is as the plate...
but the chances of that happening on opening day are slim... but I remember the spring of 05 when Ozzie wasn't afriad to put Pablo Ozuna on his team despite not having a spot for him... he wasn't afraid to put Chris Widger on his team over the richer Ben Davis...
maybe Ozzie needs to get back to the risky, gambling style of managing that got him to the top of the baseball world...
Brian Anderson leading off and playing CF...
sounds like the answer...

One more thing...
Josh Fields has not done enough in the big leagues to allow him to get the third base job with the spring he is having. For those who claim his strikeouts would drop this year... so far he has 8 ks to his 2 bbs and only 7 scattered hits. I know Crede isn't knocking the ball around the park either but he has proven it on the field in the last few years, is recovering from injury, and could probably play better defense than TWO Josh Fields over at third. Fields, in a spring during which he had to prove to the Sox that they had a surplus of starting third baseman has not done that. He looks like a kid who could go learn how to take pitches and make a little more contact in Charlotte for at least a few months...
Crede's trade value only increases if he puts up big first half numbers... but something tells me if he does the SOx will be smelling a pennant race...

Sam - your arguments above are much too logical and lucid for this board. The dimwits will only respond with typical disdain & calls for "boycott", wrapped in misspellings, capitalizations and exclamation points. I do, however, agree with you on both points.

Im glad my points are lucid.

This horrid organization will not sign him. Who do we have to trade that anyone would want? You know that the white sox will not pay him. So why are we having this conversation?

NOBODY WILL PLAY FOR THAT PITIFUL OZZIE GUILLEN.

The non-roster invitee Jason B. looked good agaist the Cubs on base 3x three stolen bases took pitches could be a real find I understand he is versatile can play second and outfield think he deserves a look.

Ozzie commented that he should be fired if the team doesnt perform in 2008.

What the &^%$ does he have to do to ALREADY be fired that he has not already done??

His mouth has embarassed us immensely, WE came ahead of the lowly ROYALS by three games last year, and he LIED to us about who we were going to sign.

I wish i could &^%$ up all those times and still have a job.

Embarassed enough. FIRE HIM NOW!!!!

Let me see. I have to address us dimwits.

You say that if Crede produces big in the first half the White Sox will be in a pennant race??

How assinine is that??? Are you on Drugs?? Have you looked at these MAJOR league lineups and pitching staffs of Detroit Cleveland Minnesota and even the lowly ROAYS who we just barely beat out last year for LAST PLACE???

You, my friends, are the DIMWITS who let this horrible organization dictate BULL to you. Real fans will stand up to this nonsense!!

This team is terrible! I am the biggest Sox fan and I know that this team will be lucky to win 70 games.

Hawk made one of dummest comments I ever heard yesterday when he said KW every year has put a team out in the field better then previous years team.

What! Hawk you must have failed Math because the Sox in 06 won 90 games and in 07 won 72 or something that is not getting better but worse. Also look at the downward trend between 05 and 06.

Go ahead and blame Jay M and Sun Times for your sorry you know what team.

This organization has made this team so bad ---- we are extremely embarassed. To be in the number 2 media market and being played by this organization as to "we were embarassed last year and we will make every effort to right the ship."

Right the ship? Slow FAT DYE and SWISHER in the outfield and two overateed shortstops----and absolutely NO PITCHING. Why is Contrearas and Vazquez even here???

Real fans hold their team accountable. But not in March when the season hasn{t begun yet. The SOx offense stacks up with anyones... don{t forget that... Our defense, as long as Crede gets the nod is also probably better than Detriots, and as good if not better than Clevelands. Cleveland and Detriot both have thin bullpens and dare I say on paper we have the best one in the division. Clevelands starting staff is the envy of the majors, similar to the ole 05 SOx. But as we all saw first hand things can unravel, and a staff that pitches deep into October can show some signs the next year. Detriots staff is above average but not great. Rogers is old and WIllis is not going to succeed in the AL, not with his circus motion and two pitches. Verlander is a top of rotation guy but he is no Sabathia, he is no Santana, and the SOx always have his number. Robertson and BOndermans are solid middle rotation guys and Detriots bullpen is garbage.
This is a strong division, don{t get me wrong, but these arent automatic 95 win ballclubs.... alot has to go right for them as well just like a lot has to go right for the Sox...
What I don{t understand about all the whining Sox fans who seem to think someone lied to them is this. What player would have put us over the top.... Hunter... cmon... this team is no worse off with Swisher and Owens than with Hunter.... no one lied to you.... the Sox just didn{t want to pay 100 million dollars for a .270 12 BBS a year player. Just what is it you guys all think the Sox are missing. I would like to hear what your desired lineup would be... if you Kenny, because clearly you see huge gaping holes in a team that you think could have been filled by torri Hunter and Cabrera.
Yes real fans hold their team accountable, but you would have to be on drugs to do it in March before the games have even been played. playoffs or not... Sox win 85 minimum.... my guess is 92 wins takes this division.... it could happen.. but at least I am going to wait and watch and enjoy the season even though we didnt sign Torri Hunter....
posers

Sam, I agree with your point about not signing Hunter because I did not want the Baseball version of Ben Wallace.

I do have to question you about the Tigers bullpen. Joel Z, Fernado Rooney and Todd Jones are better then any three relievers thT THE sOX WOULD EVER RUN OUT. Joel Zumaya is a Stud. The Tigers starting pitching is another question. How can you say Verlander is no good? Does the fact that he has averaged close to 17 wins the last season say that he is garbage.

I love the Sox but if you were to name the top 5 position players at every position in American League the Sox would be lucky to have 2. Cabrera for sure and Paulie are the only two players I would name.

Think about this Kenny Williams traded away or let go of an entire outfield that made the All Star team last year. Mags, C.Lee and Aaron and who do we have a question mark in CF , LF and an old RF.

gOOD bYE AND gOOD nIGHT Brian and Sam. I appreciate your excitement but this team stinks!

Paul, that argument about the former Sox outfielders is so old and tired. Do you think Aaron Rowand would have helped us more in '06 than Thome's 40 HRs? Do you think the sox should have committed $60M for five years to get Rowand in '08? If you do you're an idiot. I wish Aaron the best but the guy had one career year against crappy national league pitching, let other teams overpay for him.

And as far as Mags and El Cabayo, with what Kenny got for them WE WON THE WORLD SERIES! WHAT ELSE CAN YOU ASK FOR? Give any GM the choice: give up a couple players who will be all-stars in a couple of years but win the World Series now, and they would all pick the World Series.

I didnt say Verlander was no good. I said he was a top of the rotation guy, but not in the same category as a Sabathia or Santana. Also, Rodney and ZUmaya had sub par years last year and for your information Bobby Jenks is the best releiver on either team... he is just a hair behind NAthan for best closer in the AL, i think... good point about positoin players, but in 05 youcould have said the same thing...Sox are deep.. and are not terrible

This team and this organization STINKS. I am through. Ive been a sox fan since i was 2. Goodbye.

Sam, I like Jenks too but could you imagine if we had Zumaya as the main setup guy for Jenks. Even the Hawk loves Zumaya. Zumaya throws harder then Jenks. Also he did not have a terrible year because he missed a lot of it. Look at the Tigers record with him and without him.

Also Dylan that argument is not old because those players are still contributing. It worked for one year but what about the last two years. Thome is a nice player but Rowland would have made a difference in 06 because we went that whole season with zero offensive product in CF and we have still yet to fill that void in my world.

It seems that by dumb luck and Injury that we have a lead off man. I will call him Nick the Stick. With Swisher leading off we may actually have some men on base to bring around and score some runs, Also in 2005 our team actually won many games with this Small Ball Mentality, No superstars, just basic fundamental Baseball. And Guys, I agree with alot of the opinions here, but I am not ready to write off the Sox just yet. Lets devote a blog to getting an actual Commissioner Of Baseball to bring back credibility to the game we are so passionate about PEACE.

Paul, you said:
"Thome is a nice player but Rowland would have made a difference in 06 because we went that whole season with zero offensive product in CF and we have still yet to fill that void in my world."

It's Rowand, not Rowland.
Rowand's 2006 HR/RBI: 12/47
Thome's 2006 HR/RBI: 42/109

You want to trade that back?

Also, I don't care how long Mags and Carlos Lee keep contributing, we won the World Series. Would you give that up to have Mags back? You probably would, wouldn't you?

Dylan, Did we win the World Series in o6 without Aaron? Did we win the WAorld Series in 05 with Aaron Yes.

That should answer your question. Also Aaron was hurt in 06 for a short time.

I am not saying that Aaron was a major reason why we won in 05 but look what has happened to this team. You also have the other intangibles with Aaron who came up through the White Sox system and a guy who could relate with all players.

Thome is a nice guy who does things right on the field but could he play Center? If you knew anything about Baseball Dylan, in my world position players mean more to me then DH'S. Have the White Sox filled the CF position since 05? In making that trade, we added another slow guy to our team.

Dylan, it seems as if you are stuck in 05 but what have the Sox done since then? You sound as if they stopped playing Baseball after 05 but face it Dylan it is 2008 and this team is not very good.

Like Mike Ditka says " The past is for cowards and losers" which is the only thing I ever liked that Ditka ever said.

Remember Training Camp for the Bears can not come fast enough because it is going to be a long Summer.

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This page contains a single entry by Chris De Luca published on March 13, 2008 11:11 AM.

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