The White Sox's Black Hole Problem, And Other Observations From A Day Game

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 7: (L-R) Alexei Ramirez #10, Gordon Beckham #15 and Brent Morel #22 of the Chicago White Sox celebrate a win against the Minnesota Twins on August 7, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The White Sox defeated the Twins 7-0. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

SB Nation Chicago's Satchel Price observed many things at his first White Sox game of the year, but none of them stood out more than the team's pitiful batting order.

On Tuesday, I took in my first professional baseball game of 2012 with one of my buddies, a heart-wrenching Chicago White Sox loss against the rival Detroit Tigers. Considering how the Sox managed to build up a 6-0 lead only to blow the entire thing in a single inning, you'd think that my frustration would be focused on the loss at hand.

That defeat isn't what I'm mad about, though.

Sure, you might be upset that Jake Peavy imploded in the sixth inning while holding a massive lead, or that the bullpen couldn't stop the bleeding once Peavy opened the wound. Those aren't unreasonable things to be mad about as far as being mad about baseball goes.

But I've been watching baseball long enough to know that any pitcher can implode at any time, no matter how good the going is. Any reliever can further the damage, no matter how swagtastic his walk up music is. These are the things that really make it tough to be a fan sometimes, but they're also things that happen to essentially every fan.

Chicago's lineup, though, isn't something that happens to every fan. I know this, because if it did, baseball would probably retain as much popularity as jai-alai. That's how positively unacceptable the bottom half of Chicago's batting order is right now.

This isn't one of those situations where you employ a terrible hitter in the ninth spot in the order because he happens to rock the leather like nobody's business. Sometimes, Brendan Ryan really is the best option at shortstop. Rather, I'm talking about a team that's currently employing four players, all full-time starters, that are simply playing terrible baseball nearly every day.

Now, to be clear, I'm not entirely sure what the White Sox can even do here. Alexei Ramirez, Dayan Viciedo, Gordon Beckham and Brent Morel were all penned into the lineup this spring as full-time players, and the team's pathetic minor league depth leads to these situations where you sit back and go, "Eh, we really don't have anyone else."

Ramirez is owed big money long-term, so he's the one that's definitely not going to lose his job anytime soon. Some scouts have been intrigued in the past by former shortstop prospect and current back-up infielder Eduardo Escobar, but there's a decent chance that his services may be needed at another position soon enough.

The other three situations are increasingly complicated, though. Beckham, Morel and Viciedo are have youth and pedigree, which is why people don't talk about them as lost causes yet, but it's getting harder to imagine that any of these players is going to emerge as a legitimate building block for the team. A lot of teams would've given up by now, but a lot of teams don't utterly ignore organizational depth like the White Sox do.

Honestly, I have no idea what Kenny Williams should really do there. This is what happens when you refuse to build organically through the farm system, eschewing deep, expensive drafts in favor of saving a few million that can be spent on re-signing Will Ohman.

I do know one thing, though: it's getting harder to spend my money on watching a team that basically employs half of a real MLB batting order.

OTHER THOUGHTS FROM A DELIGHTFUL SOX DAY GAME

  • I know that attendance has been pretty bad on the south side, but I got my first legitimate taste of what that looks like. Usually I'm forced to park hundreds of feet away from the stadium, but I felt like a VIP while parking on Tuesday. I'd definitely rather have a raucous crowd going nuts, but I'll happily take a parking spot that's two minutes from the gate in its place.
  • I've never quite gotten the whole "official _______ of the Chicago White Sox" thing, because then you're talking about one brand being the official brand of the another brand. It's a lot of associations to make before you decide on whether to buy Jiffy of Peter Pan peanut butter. But it especially caught my eye at the game when Stubhub labeled itself, "The Official Fan-to-Fan Ticket Marketplace of the Chicago White Sox," because I wasn't aware of their heavy competition. After googling the term, I'm still not really sure who competes with Stubhub in that market.
  • This will probably end up deserving a full feature at some point, but the emergence of Alejandro De Aza in center field is truly worth discussing. Since being called up by the White Sox late last season, De Aza has hit .310/.382/.483 with seven homers and 19 steals over 331 plate appearances. Even with some good ol' fashioned regression, it appears that Chicago has stumbled into a legitimate starting outfielder, and he should have a few good years in him at age 28.
  • Satchel Price is a newsdesk contributor for SB Nation Midwest and a feature columnist for SB Nation Chicago. His baseball writing also appears on MLB Daily Dish and Beyond the Box Score. For more of his splendid whimsy in display, follow him on Twitter.

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