MLB: Spring Training-Chicago White Sox at Texas Rangers

There’s Room on the Bench for Improvement

We’ve talked about how the White Sox’ rotation sure could use some help.  And, especially with Jose Abreu‘s uncharacteristic ineptitude persisting, the offense could use reinforcements as well. On Monday, Rick Hahn said that he had noticed these things too:

1. The White Sox could use some more pitching;

2. A left-handed bat would be very nice; and

3. You get more value out of a player by adding them sooner rather than waiting all the way to the deadline; and

4. You can’t buy unless someone is out there willing to sell.

Several teams that looked like they would be sellers got off to good starts, which makes it harder to buy, although they have subsequently come back down to earth — the Brewers, for example.  However, the American League seems to consist entirely of teams that have non-crazy playoff aspirations, other than the A’s or the Twins.*  Meanwhile, teams like the Rockies, Phillies, and Marlins are performing better than pre-season expectations and would have a tough sell to their fanbases and clubhouses if they punted assets at this juncture.

*The Angels and Astros are at the bottom of the AL West, but the former are desperately scrounging about for supplements to the roster, and Houston is probably still too good for people to shovel dirt on them just yet. 

So Hahn’s remark about not having a dance partner is visible front and center, and not just in the smoky backrooms of MLB front offices.

But the White Sox don’t need a major piece to improve the roster.  The easiest places to get better are the areas of biggest weakness–it’s simply a lower bar to clear.  And right now, even if we give Avisail Garcia the benefit of the doubt, the bench is an unmitigated disaster.

Alex Avila is basically the backup catcher, so unless something crazy happens and they add like, Jonathan Lucroy, he’s not going anywhere.  Regardless, his TAv this year is .212.  Jerry Sands is at .208. Carlos Sanchez was just demoted because he was hitting about as badly as you possibly can and Tyler Saladino‘s presence made him completely redundant.  The former had a .129 TAv (!!!!!) and the latter is somehow putting him to shame at .226.

You don’t exactly need an NL cellar dweller to completely crash out on the season and scoop up all of your prospects to improve on that.  So while it is nice to fantasize about trades for Ryan Braun, Lucroy, and Jonathan Villar to plug every hole on offense and turn the team into a Mad Max: Fury Road-style war rig, you could still make improvements right now.  The 2015 Mets, for example, helped their team out a lot by replacing the Eric Campbells of their roster with Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe well before they added Yoenis Cespedes.

The estimable Matt Cassidy of FutureSox pointed out to me on Twitter that Danny Hayes (of the Knights not CSN) and Jason Coats are players that he thinks could be useful internal options, and Matt Davidson is having his best year in Charlotte yet.  But, much like how Miguel Gonzalez–a freely acquired outside asset–looks like he may outperform Jacob Turner and Erik Johnson, the White Sox should be aggressively digging through the bargain bin.

Even if you want to keep Avila, Saladino, and Sands on board that should still leave a fourth spot on the bench that you can devote to the best bat you can find without compromising your backup at any given position.

The White Sox are in first place, but it is a tenuous hold, there is a long way to go, and AL Central rivals are seeing key players go down with injuries at an impressive rate.  There is an opportunity here, the margins are the easiest and cheapest places to add and hoo boy is the bar a low one to clear when it comes to improving the bench.


Lead Photo Credit: Joe Camporeale – USA Today Sports Images


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3 comments on “There’s Room on the Bench for Improvement”


At the game last night heard lots of talk about Kenny and Hahn trying like hell to shake Gardner loose from Cashman for CF. We’ll see.


Isn’t Michael Morse still available?

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