Alfonso Soriano said Chicago is the worst city when it comes to booing hometown players.
When Sergio Santos blew a two-run lead against Oakland June 10, he exited to a chorus of boos. Apparently, the crowd of just over 20,000 mistook a dynamic closer for Billy Koch.
Or they proved Soriano right. I'm going to go with that.
Chicago fans, on both sides of town, boo their own players quite a bit. It's a little more understandable for the Cubs, as every gaffe, every strikeout, every impersonation of Fred Merkle is another play closer to another year without a World Series title.
I'm not saying Sox fans shouldn't boo because the team won a championship six years ago. Booing Adam Dunn is one thing; booing Santos is another. Red Sox fans booed Carl Crawford early this season when he was hitting with the force of 1999 Mike Caruso. That's just one example—I'm sure you could find an instance of every team's fanbase booing a high-priced or highly-touted player who ends up struggling.
My issue is more with booing good players when they go through normal slumps that occur over a 162-game season. That's where Chicago is the worst. Dunn's slump is beyond normal, it's to the point where I'm absolutely dumbfounded as to why he isn't hitting.
But Dunn's strikeouts are much more noticeable in the pantheon of outs than, say, groundouts or popouts (looking your direction, Alex Rios and Juan Pierre). Add on top that Dunn is making $14 million a year and you have a recipe for boos.
I'm not one to boo players on my own team, but I don't take much of an issue with fans being so fed up with Dunn that they resort to voicing their displeasure. I can remember somebody booing Alexei Ramirez after he made an error last year. Those are the ones with which I take issue.
And that booing of good players is something that happens far too often in Chicago.
A quick note on Pierre's stats: Ozzie Guillen said yesterday Juan Pierre has better numbers than a lot of players on the White Sox. Here are the facts:
- WAR: -1.2 Worst on the team, although Adam Dunn is closing fast.
- OPS: .609. Better than Mark Teahen (.575), Brent Morel (.581) and Alex Rios (.591).
- OBP: .314. Better than six players.
- SLG: .295. Better than Teahen (.273).
- SB: 10. Best on team.
- CS: 9. Worst on team. Not even close.
- UZR*: -7.5. Worst on team.
- DRS*: -2. Not close to worst.
Offensively, Pierre hasn't been as bad as Rios, Morel and Teahen have been. That's not saying much, though, as all four players have had truly awful seasons at the plate.
But Pierre's horrific baserunning and defense have taken his already-injured value for a death knell. That's the first area in which he deviates from the Rios/Morel/Teahen triumvirate, all of whom have either been good (Morel) or not killed their value (Rios, Teahen) on defense.
The second, and more important, deviation is that Pierre actually has a viable replacement waiting in the minor leagues. Alex Rios makes too much to be supplanted by a prospect, plus, Jordan Danks' Era of Good Feelings appears to have ended in Charlotte. With Dayan Viciedo moving to the outfield and becoming Pierre's replacement, there's not a third base prospect in the system who could dislodge Morel, who dislodged Teahen.
Add in the monetary aspect of all this (eating Pierre's contract would cost the Sox about $2.5 million) and calling up Viciedo to replace Pierre seems palatable in every which way. Kenny Williams did say how easy it is to call for Viciedo from behind a computer screen, and yes, that'll lead me to acknowledge Pierre's clubhouse presence. It's good.
But his on-field presence hasn't been good. I guess I'd rather risk messing up clubhouse chemistry if it means a better product on the field.
*Defensive statistics are generally unreliable over half a season, let alone a full season. Three years of data is ideal. But nobody in their right mind would say Pierre has been anything but bad defensively this season, no matter what DRS says (he would be -6 had he not saved two home runs, according to the stat).