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What to do with the White Sox

Ouch. Well, that hurt.

The fall to rock bottom was quick and painful for the White Sox and it culminated last night in an almost laughable no-hit effort.

Francisco Liriano and his 9.13 ERA obviously was too much for the $56 million White Sox lineup to master as the 2010 American League Comeback Player of the Year faced just 30 batters, walking six, to notch the first no-hitter of the 2011 baseball season.

Maybe Liriano – a lefty with ace tools – is bouncing back, but the Sox impatient, undisciplined lineup deserves plenty of credit for yesterday’s achievement.

As Sports Illustrated’s Joe LeMire (@SI_joelemire) tweeted me Wednesday morning, “No-hitters are like weddings. It’s (the) bride’s day, but it wouldn’t be possible (without) the groom. (The) White Sox were Liriano’s groom.”

The Sox offense appeared a juggernaut out of the gates, scoring 23 runs in the first two games and averaging 6.2 runs during a 7-4 start. But a serious case of the slumps infected the entire clubhouse.

The Sox are averaging just 2.85 runs over the last 20 games, of which the Sox have lost 16. The team average has slipped to .236 and now the Sox are the worst team in baseball.

So this is what $125 million can buy?

If the White Sox are all-in – as the team’s 2011 ad campaign suggests – I don’t want to give owner Jerry Reinsdorf or general manager Kenny Williams any of my money in Vegas. And I’m not sure I want manager Ozzie Guillen placing the bets.

So who’s to blame?

Most of Williams’ moves haven’t panned out. Paul Konerko, who re-upped to a three-year contract last winter, remains the one consistent force in the lineup. But the source of lefty bopper Adam Dunn’s Samson-like strength must have been his appendix. He’s hitting .154 with three home runs.

The resigning of A.J. Pierzynski appears to be a bust. White Sox opponents continue to make a joke of the catcher’s noodle arm on the basepaths. And would Williams rather have Edwin Jackson or Daniel Hudson right now?

Last year’s bounceback story, Alex Rios, is a sad story this season, hitting just .164. The real Gordon Beckham appears more the overwhelmed sophomore than Golden Boy rookie (.208), and Mark Teahen is collecting $4.75 million on the bench. And Jake Peavy …

But Williams put together a balanced roster, and asked Jerry Reinsdorf to stretch his wallet further than ever. Yet Guillen hasn’t been able to produce despite having one of the highest payrolls in baseball, earning just one division title since winning the World Series six years ago. If the struggles continue, it may finally be time for the White Sox and Guillen to part ways.

But players must produce. There’s too much talent to be 10.5 games out of first place – to the Cleveland Indians of all teams – on May 4.

This appears a complete organizational failure. But the Sox have 131 games to correct the problems.

In the short term, the Sox must make subtle changes – send Beckham to the minors, shuffle Dunn down in the lineup – but with attendance down through a cold first month, Reinsdorf may not have the coffers to keep these guys around too long.

The bright side? Once you hit rock bottom, there’s only one direction to go … correct?

Jeremy Werner is the co-host of the “Tay and J Show” on 93.5, 95.3 ConnectFM in Champaign, Ill., and streaming live from 3-6 p.m. weekdays at http://www.myconnectfm.com. Write him at jeremy@myconnectfm.com.

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Categories: White Sox
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