Columnist Phil Arvia thinks the Sox could learn a lesson from the Cubs on how to use young players to reinvigorate veterans.
When Scott Podsednik singled leading off the bottom of the first inning Saturday, stole second, then came home two groundouts later, it proved one thing.
The White Sox can call someone up from Triple A and get results.
OK, so Podsednik was only in Charlotte on a rehab assignment and hasn’t technically been a prospect since Slash and Axl were bandmates. But the product development folks at your House of Pale Hosiery will take good news any place they can find it.
After all, they’ve belched more disappointments out of their system than a restaurant critic.
Come on. Brian Anderson? Ryan Sweeney? Jerry Owens?
On a day when Darin Erstad went back on the disabled list and Jermaine Dye probably should have joined him, the Sox started an outfield of Podsednik in left, former Advanced Rookie ball All-Star Luis Terrero in center and recent Charlotte infielder Andy Gonzalez in right.
Where were Anderson, Sweeney and Owens? Perhaps reading the press clippings that declared them, respectively, the Sox’s top prospect in 2005, their top prospect in ’06, and a member of the ’06 Arizona Fall League’s all-prospect team.
They certainly weren’t in Chicago, though one of them might soon be if it is decided Dye, bothered by a balky quadriceps, needs to be shelved. Which one?
“Whoever’s hitting the best,” Ozzie Guillen said, as enthusiastically as he might hail his proctologist.
So, we can take it that the great and powerful Oz is disappointed with his young outfielders.
“They should be disappointed,” Guillen said. “They should be, because they’re ruining our plans.”
On Friday, the Sox whacked Duane Shaffer, the club’s senior director of amateur scouting and a 35-year employee of the club.
Ken Williams cited “philosophical differences” in the dismissal. Likely, he was philosophically opposed to the Sox having produced exactly zero regulars for the parent club with their 17 first-round draft picks since Alex Fernandez in 1991. No doubt, he also didn’t like grumbling from the scouting sector that some of those picks might have come through if they were developed properly after being drafted.
But then, Williams spent two seasons as the club’s director of minor league operations and four more as vice president of player development until being named general manager in 2001. So, theoretically, he is as much at fault as Shaffer.
Wherever you decide to lay the blame, careful you don’t place it atop the prostrate Sox. This team is down - lacking, as Williams said Friday and Podsednik reiterated Saturday, the energy and enthusiasm necessary to succeed at this level.
The right rookie can cure listlessness. The right few can reinvigorate a roster of blasé veterans, either with infectious joy for the game or sudden fear for a job.
Look at the Cubs. They’re dotted with young players, from Saturday’s pitching stars, Rich Hill and Carlos Marmol, to steadying infield influences Mike Fontenot and Ryan Theriot.
Of the above players, only Fontenot began his pro career with a different franchise, and he spent the last two seasons with the Cubs’ Triple-A team.
Then there’s today’s Cubs starter, former sixth-round draft pick Sean Marshall, and the ever-more-comfortable 22-year-old Felix Pie in center.
Sox farm products currently producing for them?
Setting aside injured third baseman Joe Crede, a sixth-round pick in 1996, there’s Mark Buehrle, a 38th-round draft pick in ’98. And we’ll give the Sox credit for Jon Garland, originally a Cubs find but groomed for most of his minor league career by the Sox.
Oh yes, and Josh Fields, Crede’s replacement and the one call-up this season who’s not immediately worn out his welcome.
“I wish one of those kids would come here and impress somebody,” Guillen said. “Sweeney, the first couple days was, wow, real good. Jerry Owens shows up in Toronto, I said, ‘Wow, that’s what we need.’ Since then, they went backwards.
“Obviously, Fields is one, he’s had good at-bats. I think he’s going to be a pretty good ballplayer.
“He’s the one who showed me he at least has an idea at the plate what he wants to do. The rest of the kids ... they’re not ready to play here.”
The kids are ready on the North Side.
“You can win with young players, sure you can,” Lou Piniella said. “We have a good nucleus of veteran players. The younger players can be the supporting cast. There’s nothing wrong with that.”
Someone tell the Sox.
Phil Arvia can be reached at
or (708) 633-5949. Read his blog at http://blogs.dailysouthtown.com/arvia