Scot Gregor of the Daily Herald suggested the White Sox should look into trading Carlos Quentin to make room for Dayan Viciedo. It's food for thought, but if the Sox trade somebody to clear a path for Viciedo, it should be Juan Pierre.
The argument for trading Quentin goes like this: Viciedo is tearing up Triple-A in the last few weeks while Quentin has struggled as of late. That streakiness, coupled with Quentin's penchant for injury, is reason enough to deal him to make room for Viciedo.
Gregor cites Quentin's .255 batting average as evidence he's underachieving, which is a rather nasty case of cherry-picking with an out-dated stat. Quentin has an above-average on-base percentage (.344, MLB average=.319) and a well above-average slugging percentage (.515, MLB average=.387). Only Quentin's batting average and walk rate (the latter of which is a slight concern) could be considered offensive stats in which Quentin is deficient.
I think Gregor does a bang-up job with the Daily Herald, but this argument is way off base. If the Sox are going to trade anyone because they feel Viciedo is ready for the majors, it should be the guy playing left field.
In terms of offensive value, Quentin is light years ahead of Pierre. Going into Tuesday's action, Quentin rates as the third-best hitter on the White Sox, behind Brent Lillibridge and Paul Konerko. Despite his recent struggles, Quentin is just 10 points behind Konerko in OPS. Plus, he's the Sox's best regular power threat (.261 ISO, only behind Lillibridge).
May hasn't been kind to Quentin, who has a .659 OPS in the month. Are we to give up on Quentin because of 18 bad games to clear the way for Viciedo? Or should the Sox, if they are so inclined to promote Viciedo, turn to one of the biggest offensive liabilities on the team to make room for the young Cuban?
Pierre has seen his OBP go up to .320 after a nice homestand, but his .618 OPS is the second-lowest of any regular on the White Sox. But, eventually, it'll probably end up the worst, as Alex Rios won't have a .573 OPS for the remainder of 2011—his swing will come at some point, and it'll return with a regression to the mean on his .209 BABIP.
Dumping Pierre would then leave the Sox without a true leadoff hitter, but let's be real—a true leadoff hitter doesn't have a .320 OBP. The Sox could bank on Gordon Beckham improving and move him to leadoff, or they could insert Alexei Ramirez and his .347 OBP into the No. 1 spot. Are these ideal options? No, especially because we don't know how Ramirez would adapt to the different mindset of leading off. But Pierre has proven to not be an ideal leadoff hitter this season, so the Sox probably couldn't do a whole lot worse.
The issue of where Viciedo would play is easily resolved by the fact Quentin has played 1,918.1 major league innings in left field. Shifting him to left would allow Viciedo to stick to right field, where Buddy Bell feels he's MLB-ready defensively. It's really not that difficult a solution.
Viciedo is looking more and more MLB-ready by the day, as his improved walk rate and lowered strikeout rate are encouraging signs (even if his walk rate is still a little low).
If the Sox really want to maximize their offensive output, they won't deal away one of their best hitters to make way for a promising prospect. Instead, they'll deal away one of their worst hitters to make way for a promising prospect.