Though not much has changed personnel wise as as far as the White Sox offense goes, there certainly will need to be some key decisions made by manager Ozzie Guillen for the 2011 campaign.
The Sox added Adam Dunn, and will see either Brent Morel or Dayan Viciedo compete heavily for the 3rd base position. Other than those two spots, the roster remains nearly identical to last year.
So how do you line em up?
While there are many options, namely the middle three, where to hit Beckham and Alexei, and how to utilize the power lefty, this is the way it should look.
This lineup provides the best balance in every aspect. You have speed at the top, moving towards power through the middle, and then some more speed/power at the bottom. The lefty’s are parsed in where it makes the most sense at 1/4/6, while the speed sits at 1/2/3/9 (+8 if it’s Morel).
I understand it would be odd to see Konerko at 5, and would seem almost too far down, but you have to look at what he can do in that slot. You know who the Twins 5 hitter is? Delmon Young. Tell me that guy hasn’t come through in that spot before. Rios is the perfect 3-man in this kind of lineup. He’s the hybrid of power and speed. If Pierre and Beckham reach, he can drive them in, if they don’t, he’s capable of starting a rally himself. Now sure Dunn or Konerko could make sense at 3/4, but if you stick Rios behind either, you are probably costing the Sox second best base stealer 15+ opportunities.
When this team works, it’s not just speed or power, it’s both. Rios at 3 is the only way to give both a chance.
The only other question in this lineup is Beckham and Alexei. I am the biggest Ramirez fan you will find, but he fits perfectly in the 9-hole. He can hit for power, he can steal, and he’s a selfish, fastball hitter. If you put him at 2, you have to ask him to give himself up 2 or 3 times a series. And while he proved he is capable at doing this, that’s not who Alexei is. Alexei is made to slash and dash, not bunt or roll over.
On the other hand, Beckham is about the most fundamentally sound player in the Sox organization. He can use both sides of the field, he can run, he can bunt, he can hit for power, he can hit for average, doubles, homers, you name it, Bacon can do it. He’s a natural 2-hitter, Alexei is not. And while it worked last year, it just doesn’t have the staying power.
Put this lineup with the pitching staff the Sox have lined up, and you have a squad on your hands.
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