Jun 22, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Chicago White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez (10) fields a grounder in the eighth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Chicago won the game 3-2. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Alexei goofs and other White Sox notes

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Jun 20, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Chicago White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez (10) looks on from second base after getting called out stealing second base in the fourth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard to defend Alexei Ramirez.

Mostly because when everyone’s having a reactionary freakout about a single play, you can usually encourage them to view the player in total. For example, Alex Rios alligator-armed a baseball on Saturday, but is also the only hitter in the lineup whose offensive performance isn’t coated in layers of disappointment. People can shout about him, but any calls to “TRADE HIS ASS” usually has the suffix “for prospects!”

Ramirez offense has long since collapsed. His current hot streak where he’s hit .352 in his last 12 games is little more than a spurt of well-placed loopers dropped in front of the outfield. While he plays every single day and has proved insanely durable, he lacks any reputation as being hard-nosed or tough or filled with leadership or any ethereal quality that makes people like players for no reason.

He’s really skirting on the edge of just being a flat-out bad player, but Alexei’s value comes from beautiful, valuable defense at a vital position, so when he screws that up, not only does he have nothing else but everyone notices.

I don’t know why Ramirez has already matched his error total from last season. Errors are a black box that tend not to follow any particular pattern in their distribution, to an even greater degree than home runs, and man, do people just love to insert their own theories into them. And the moment in time when they happen just has to have some explicit meaning behind it, unless it’s one of the countless errors that get pitched over and completely forgotten immediately.

One reason for the influx in Alexei gaffes could be that last season was his career-low as a full-time shortstop, and he was unlikely to ever match it and it was completely unreasonable to expect him to. His career-high is 20, which he’s done twice. Could he go the rest of the season only committing eight errors and staying totally in line with his normal career range?

Well, sure. I mean, hell, he went the whole season only committing 12 last year.

Any sudden declaration that Ramirez lacks the hand skills to be reliable at short is going to need more evidence than a single play that inspired rage after his hitting had already done half the work.

But my absolute favorite argument is that Ramirez is some sort of mental midget, incapable of executing routine plays, or bearing the weight of an important situation. It’s a label that certainly won’t be helped by Ramirez declining to talk to the press afterward, but to it I can only say, if you can state that kind of baselessly applied opinion remorselessly with this whole video library of evidence contrary sitting around for public consumption, a great wealth of lucrative employment opportunities are available to you.

Viciedo sadness

Dayan Viciedo, more or less designated to be the future of the offense once he’s capable of manning the middle of the order, has been really terrible this season. Not sure if you’ve noticed.

He’s not walking, his swinging-strike rate is atrocious (13.3% is higher than Adam Dunn), and he’s not depositing hardly anything into the bleachers (only five HR), let alone at a level to justify his other shortcomings. He’s managed to cut his infield fly rate to under 6%, yet is still hitting .236–and he’s on an eight-game hitting streak at the moment!

Daryl Van Schouwen of the Sun-Times sought out to get an idea of what the organization thinks of his lack of progress, but got mostly bland positivism from Daryl Boston. Yes, he’s got a world of potential and the hitting coaches are working with him to get him to stop jamming himself, but he’s also ditched the toe tap. Viciedo has more MLB plate appearances than Brian Anderson.

Erik Johnson?

Everyone’s favorite prospect this season, the 2011 second round draft pick that’s been tearing up Double-A to the tune of a 2.23 ERA in 84.2 innings, got his unsurprisingly swift promotion to Triple-A and made his first start on Sunday. He held his own and only allowed one run through six innings despite walking five while striking out six. It’s a a fine entry to the level but probably shaky enough to dispel the possibility Mark Gonzales hinted at during the day.

Johnson’s success is nice and he was impressive in Spring Training, but besides my always wanting prospects to move slower than the White Sox have them go, Johnson boasts neither overwhelming strikeouts nor velocity. He reads more as a good prospect than an undeniable who demands a spot. However, Dylan Axelrod is forcing that along as best he can. The man hasn’t had a quality start this month and has made it through six innings just once in the same time

 

Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan

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