If the White Sox trade Carlos Quentin to make room for Dayan Viciedo, they'll likely take away from an already-struggling offense.
The scuttlebutt for the last week or so has been that the Braves are interested in swapping a starting pitcher for Quentin's services, which could solve the problems associated with an Edwin Jackson trade. But dealing Quentin would open up a whole new bag of problems that are actually a little more difficult to solve.
1. Viciedo probably won't be as good as Quentin.
Quentin has a .372 wOBA, which ranks him as the 31st-best qualified hitter in baseball. For reference, Robinson Cano has a .373 wOBA and Carlos Gonzalez a .370 mark.
To expect Viciedo to reach that high-quality mark is a pretty tall order, especially for a guy whose Triple-A wOBA is .385. It's not unreasonable to expect Viciedo to post above-average offensive numbers in the majors, but a wOBA north of .370 is tough to see happening.
2. You should already know where this point is going.
If someone is to be moved to get Viciedo in the majors, it should be Juan Pierre and his .289 wOBA. That's a mark over 80 points worse than that of Pierre. So, instead of getting worse offensively, the Sox could significantly improve by replacing Pierre with Viciedo instead of Quentin with Viciedo.
3. The offense is already struggling.
Eleven teams have a worse offense as rated by wOBA in the majors. The last thing the Sox need is to get worse offensively, and trading Quentin would likely accomplish that.
At this point, the White Sox offense is at its best when Quentin and Paul Konerko are both hitting. But that hasn't happened too often, with one or none of the players hitting well for most of 2011.
If Quentin were dealt, it would put all the pressure of the season on Konerko's shoulders, assuming the offense stays in its current state for the rest of the season. Relying on just Quentin and Konerko isn't a recipe for a division championship, but relying on just one of them is a recipe for fourth place.
4. It all depends on who comes back in trade(s), though.
This is all pure speculation regarding Quentin and Jackson. If Kenny Williams can get Brandon Beachy for Quentin, I say the hell with 2011 and look forward to the future. Beachy is a great, inexpensive talent who would be the perfect antidote to the poison of losing Dan Hudson.
While the Braves have a surplus of pitching, they'd be crazy to trade Beachy for Quentin. But Frank Wren did trade a nice bullpen prospect in Tim Collins (read: value) for Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth last season, and he then dealt for Scott Linebrink in the offseason. So maybe, just maybe, Beachy isn't a total longshot.
And if Williams could acquire a halfway decent bat for Jackson and call-up Viciedo and acquire Beachy, the team could still contend this season. The six-man rotation would remain in effect and if the Sox could improve offense elsewhere on the diamond (hey, maybe left field!) it could be a win-win. And they would get to keep Beachy for the better part of the rest of this decade.
Of course, that's an absolute best-case scenario that involves a very questionable decision by Wren.
To justify trading Quentin, though, the Sox will need a best-case scenario.