South Side Morning 5: Fixes to White Sox roster are running late

1. Carlos Rodon is mad at White Sox management. Not the sort of deep, intractable anger that hastens his departure the moment free agency strikes, but the type of annoyance at the caution being employed to yank him from the rotation for a turn that provides some assurance. The White Sox are framing things such that the muscle pain that started in his neck and shot through his left arm is a minor concern that they are dealing with cautiously after a clean MRI.

But Rodon’s rage is what sells it as an act of extreme, almost disruptive caution to a young pitcher who who believes himself sore, rather than injured, and the White Sox’ cautious handling of Chris Sale and their prized arms give them the benefit of the doubt on this single issue.

2. So Rodon might be just fine, but now, even though James Shields‘ arrival was meant to reinforce the starting depth and kick one of the White Sox’ unqualified rotation members to the curb, that result won’t yet be achieved. Instead, Rodon, who has the peripherals to suggest he can take a step forward if he just keeps the ball in the yard, is being replaced by Miguel Gonzalez, which at least might give the Sox an opportunity to boot the right guy out of the starting five this time.

Mat Latos may not seem like he would make much of a reliever, and he probably wouldn’t be, but he has now delivered one quality start in his last seven outings (a six-inning, three-run outing against the Indians where he blew a lead is the exception). He has 32 strikeouts to 25 walks in 60.1 innings, and between not missing bats, not throwing strikes, not getting grounders nor soaking up innings, there is nothing he is doing well.

It’s only a low-risk flier contract if the organization can cut bait when it’s a disaster.

3. Shields is finally here, but is he too late? The White Sox have not merely ceded their early-season gains, but by posting a .240 winning percentage over a 25-game stretch, they have dug their own hole to a .500 record and fourth place in a division with no juggernaut. The standard has switched from their needing to keep pace with their opposition, to needing to overtake them, with a club that was never projected as much better than an 85-win team to begin with, and with even more teams between them and the second Wild Card than the division title.

To do that, this team needs offense, preferably left-handed offense but they have been using J.B. Shuck and Jimmy Rollins as designated hitters, so really any kind would do, and they probably need another high-level reliever so they can stop trotting out Matt Albers in high-leverage situations (he leads the club in innings and appearances and has a 112 cFIP).

How soon can that happen? How deep does the hole get before all the tweaks and financial commitments–some of which clearly could have been seen as needs preseason–are made and in place? The White Sox opened the year with a flawed team, and even a hellacious start and the impetus to improve it brought didn’t create a tight enough timeline to avoid a collapse. Which is astounding, really.

4. Speaking of too late, Jerry Sands was designated for assignment, sticking on for over two months despite the only defensive value added coming from backing up Jose Abreu at first base, and hitting .236/.276/.291 in 58 plate appearances with no discernible impact against lefties. If that sounds like a small sample size, that’s partially because of the hesitance Ventura showed in using him at all, and also the nature of being a Quad-A guy without a track record of major league success.

Whereas someone like Abreu, who has absolutely dominated in the past, can get multiple seasons to get back into his groove before the Sox have to give up on him, Sands is not worth sticking with if he can’t immediately provide a hot streak of crushing lefties. It may not seem like the fairest measure of his talent, but beware of Quad-A guys with large splits collected in tiny bits over several years holding up in larger roles. The Sox never got that, and yet stuck with taking a bath on this roster slot, and lacking any complement to Avisail Garcia‘s predictable struggles, for a third of the season. Bruce Levine has a column Wednesday identifying the red-hot Jay Bruce on the truly miserable Reds as a logical trade target, which would be nice, but I would refer to Point No. 3 again.

5. The Sox have been back-and-forth with their strange desire to carry a eight-man bullpen for the last couple of weeks, and have been sending out flotsam instead of Zach Putnam in medium-leverage situations for a few days, and now there is an explanation: he’s been unavailable due to elbow soreness that hasn’t been to the level of putting him on the disabled list.

Leverage matters in relief, and while his innings total wouldn’t suggest it, Putnam has been mostly hidden from the most intense work. But he still has the second-lowest ERA of the regular relief staff at 2.28 (behind Dan Jennings somehow) and his 84 cFIP would suggest he could be primed to have the best year of his career if he stay healthy. He should be the No. 3 guy in the bullpen hierarchy.


Lead Image Credit: Caylor Arnold // USA Today Sports Images

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1 comment on “South Side Morning 5: Fixes to White Sox roster are running late”


The last paragraph in point 3 is the best analysis I’ve seen of where the Sox are at. It speaks volumes of how management operates and anyone who wonders about the soft attendance numbers and general lack of interest in the team should read it.

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