Hey, Carlos Quentin's Back

Sox slugger's return could change the team's season

When we talk about the 2009 Chicago Cubs, thus far, we've spent most of our time talking about injuries. Injuries have been the story of this team so far, from Carlos Zambrano to Rich Harden to Derrick Lee to Geovany Soto to, most importantly, Aramis Ramirez -- each injury has affected the Cubs negatively, and each injury has prevented them from turning around what has elsewhere been a very disappointing baseball team.

What we haven't talked about all that frequently are the White Sox's injuries. Most importantly, we haven't discussed Carlos Quentin all that often. But Quentin's injury is arguably just as important as any of the Cubs', and has had just as much of an affect on his team's own pretty-much-mediocre 2009. Tonight, that affect will be momentarily alleviated: the Sox have activated Quentin from his rehab stint for this evening's game against the Tampa Bay Rays.

(This is where people could probably insert something snide about North Side bias, or something, but cut us some slack, would 'ya? Where's here now, aren't we?)

You don't need us to spend too much time on why the White Sox need Carlos Quentin back. It's pretty self-evident: Quentin was without question the Sox's best player last year. He was an All-Star; he hit .288/.394/.571, which is kind of insane; and he in general came from nowhere to give the Sox an MVP candidate, and for a relatively paltry salary. He boosted the White Sox in very measurable ways last season. There was no reason to expect anything but a repeat -- if a slightly less excellent version -- in 2009.

But Quentin's trip to the disabled list has left the White Sox reeling a little bit. They're not a bad team by any means, but they've been treading the fenceline between just good enough to make playoffs in a down year for the AL Central or just bad enough to sell off a few pieces and start building for the future. They're a bit stuck in neutral.

Which is why Quentin could change the team's season. He might not be the Carlos Quentin of 2008, but if he can convince Kenny Williams and the rest of the organization that 2008's team can genuinely contend -- and Kenny Williams never needs much of a boost in that direction; just look at the attempted Peavy trade -- he could radically alter the organization's immediate future. Now that's impact.

Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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