Rios makes for a crowded lineup on the South Side

By Ted Cahill

The White Sox and general manager Kenny Williams did it again.

Less than two weeks after dealing for injured ace Jake Peavy, the White Sox claimed Alex Rios off waivers from Toronto outfielder Alex Rios, buying his contract. The Rios acquisition is the typical high-risk, high-reward deal that leaves the more conservative baseball executives scratching their heads.

But for fantasy owners, this trade is a major headache. Rios joins an outfield that previously looked pretty set with Carlos Quentin in left field, Scott Podsednik in center and Jermaine Dye in right.

Seemingly, the easy move to make would be Rios playing right field and Dye moving to DH. That isn’t an option with Jim Thome and his 21 home runs and 69 RBI occupying that spot, leaving manager Ozzie Guillen a big task in filling out a lineup card every night.

Removing Podsednik from the lineup might make sense, given his defensive limitations, but then who would lead off? Alexi Ramirez hasn’t hit all that well this year and rookie Gordon Beckham would unlikely to be asked to move into the high-pressure role. The White Sox have also been reenergized by Podsednik’s presence in the lineup and he has more speed than anyone else on the team.

Quentin could be the odd man out, but he has hit much better lately. Since July 31 Quentin is hitting .375 with two home runs and eight RBI.

The big loser in the trade appears to be Dye, who after a good first half hasn’t hit in a month. Dye is hitting .161 with four home runs and 12 RBI in the last four weeks; though his BABIP indicates he has been unlucky. There is also speculation that this deal means the White Sox will not pick up their end of Dye’s mutual option for 2010.

Taking Dye out of the lineup would enable Guillen to do just about anything he wanted to with his outfield, since Podsednik, Quentin and Rios all play two outfield positions.

What seems to be clear now is that Guillen will not have a regular lineup. If you own any Chicago outfielder or Thome, checking lineups daily is now a requirement. As Guillen becomes more comfortable with all his toys, a pattern may develop or a possible platoon. But most likely it will be a guessing game for fantasy owners until the end of the season.