1. A funny thing happened among some of the principal actors in the White Sox’ stirring five-run comeback Monday night, which featured five-straight Sox hitters reaching base with two outs in the seventh: Todd Frazier and Jimmy Rollins are having good offensive months now.
Rollins, who has been focused on–including here–as an undeserving occupier of the No. 2 slot, is up to .268/.323/.411 on the year with six strikeouts in 62 plate appearances. Frazier, who homered three times last week, is now at .224/.294/.461 despite a .218 BABIP. Both batting lines grade out as above-average overall.
None of this commentary should be construed as a full-throated endorsement–though Frazier certainly looks comfortable and fine, and Rollins’ early contact and power rates are very encouraging–but a reflection of how early in the season this is and how quickly “slow starts” are washed away. Rollins had 20-percent of his hits for the season Monday night, and naturally his stat line did a backflip. Accordingly, we should expect personnel assessments to be based on look and feel rather than numbers at this point.
Jon Heyman reported Monday that Frazier was understandably seeking to stay with the Reds up until his final departure this offseason, and put the negotiations for an extension around the seven-year, $100 million range. Frazier is a borderline All-Star until his peak ends, but I’m not sold on him after 2017, when his on-base issues could become more pronounced and his defense will slowly lose the ability to make up the value.
2. There’s no great clarity on Miguel Gonzalez‘s future with the team after his underwhelming–but still promising in moments–White Sox debut Monday night. Ventura’s emphasis on how the move functioned to give an extra day of rest for the rotation screams “spot start,” but Gonzalez clearly showed superior raw stuff to John Danks and braved a lion’s den in Toronto, and scrutiny being placed on Danks at all is an eye-opening turn of events.
If pressed, I would say Gonzalez seems more likely to have the slot by the second half, but it’s unclear how much they will try to string that process along, or how they will be able to string it along before something definitive has to happen.
3. There are a lot of raw deals in the difficult world of baseball. Having your back lock up on you while warming up for your major league debut is among the worst I have heard this season. Not only did catcher Kevan Smith miss his major league debut with back spasms, but post-game reports have him likely to join Alex Avila on the disabled list. That would almost undoubtedly prompt the promotion of Hector Sanchez, who would need to be added to the 40-man (bringing it to 39), but he at least offers passable defense and five years of MLB experience, offset by a career .227 TAv.
Robin Ventura said the situation has led him to the point of emphasizing caution to Dioner Navarro:
Ventura told C Dioner Navarro ‘don’t try to beat anything out. He was the only guy I ever said ‘don’t run hard, don’t pull anything”’
Navarro has at least obliged by beginning to hit a bit since this became a full-time job. He has a three-game hitting streak (baby steps) and clocked a ground-rule double Monday night, but in general this situation is crazy tenuous and why catcher might be a position the Sox are searching for mid-season, kicking tires on Derek Norris and Jonathan Lucroy and whatnot.
But if you think the Sox catching situation is rough, think of the poor Charlotte Knights.
4. The Chicago Tribune’s Jared Hopkins reports Jose Abreu paid $5.8 million during his rookie season to smugglers responsible for aiding his defection from Cuba. The information is coming out because two of Abreu’s former agents, Bart Hernandez and Julio Estrada, are being indicted for, surprise, human trafficking-related charges and allegedly falsifying government documents in the effort of establishing residency for Cuban free agents. The Tribune notes that Estrada specifically, has played a role in keeping the story of Abreu’s defection out of the press.
Abreu unsurprisingly declined comment, but it doesn’t look like there is any momentum to charge him for his involvement in what appears to be a multi-layered criminal operation. There certainly isn’t much public interest in seeing Abreu prosecuted for obvious reasons, but also he was a passive participant without many alternative options for defection, and his goals–immigrate to America, generate a ton of revenue–have no real victims unless you count pitchers in the AL Central. That said, such nuance and understanding is not usually lent to the subjects in human trafficking rings that are not All-Star first basemen.
5. Matt Albers’ scoreless streak is at 30 games, and he’s feeling himself just a bit right now. [NSFW]
Lead Image Credit: Rick Scuteri // USA Today Sports Images