Lots of moves on the South side, but little action

As someone on the Baseball Prospectus thread for Transaction Analysis assignments, I would be able tell that the White Sox have been busy for the last week or so even if I was sunning in Tahiti. More plausibly, I would be able to tell the Sox have been busy even if I was incarcerated in federal prison and allowed to check my email once per day.

In the last week:

Mat Latos was designated for assignment, and James Shields made his debut, which was worse than anything Latos had managed all season.

Jimmy Rollins was designated for assignment, Tyler Saladino was effectively returned to a utility role, and top prospect Tim Anderson was promoted and installed as the starting shortstop.

Justin Morneau was signed. His injury history makes him best utilized as a designated hitter, occasional first baseman, where he figures to be a left-handed salve to a DH situation overly reliant on Avisail Garcia. He was immediately added to the disabled list, where he is expected to remain for another month.

Austin Jackson was placed on the disabled list with a medial meniscus tear in his left knee that is expected to keep him out of action for six weeks.

That last item does not really belong in the same category, as it is not so much a move as something that happened to the White Sox against their will, but in the immediate, it has the same impact of the first three items combined, if not more.

Jackson was hitting .282/.356/.369 from May 1 on (check the current OBPs across the roster if that clip sounds worthless), but his absence has more of a cascading effect that the simple loss of his individual production. He was the one solid defender at a premium position who decreased everyone else’s responsibility. Adam Eaton was allowed to become a superb right fielder, Garcia was spared the indignity of playing defense at all, and J.B. Shuck was able to remain a slap-hitting pinch-hitter/defensive replacement/pinch-runner that could avoid the scrutiny that regular playing time — and hitting fifth — brings.

Jackson’s absence necessitates a move, ideally not a duplicative addition of another light-hitting defensive center fielder who will lack a purpose in six weeks, but Jay Bruce, Carlos Gonzalez, Ryan Braun; the more improbably aggressive, the better. They need the impact bat that they will still lack for another month even in the best-case scenario for Morneau; another veteran with whom the Sox are hoping to stumble on a late-career burst of production.

At 31-32, the Sox are tied with the Yankees — who mostly made Chicago news this weekend for the possibility that they could sell off — for the ninth-best record in the American League. Never at any point projected to be world beaters coming into this season, with PECOTA only tracking them for barely over .500 for the rest of the year, the Sox are at the point where they could dig a hole they will be unable to fill in.

Anderson is less an upgrade than an acknowledgement that Saladino and Rollins offered no certainty to be immediately better, and they might as well start the youngster’s grueling adjustment to the majors now and hasten the arrival of his peak. Shields is the most fitting acknowledgment of the urgency of the situation, and allowed the Sox to avoid the brunt of the impending disaster of Latos’ diminished abilities that had really only started to arrive. But his debut certainly provided no immediate relief, and his mundane assignment to be a No. 4 starter looks to be more appropriate than hoped.

Both Shields and Morneau stand to be a referendum on the Sox ability to scout and identify which veterans have something left in the tank and which are toast, an area in which they have not covered themselves in glory of recent. But can either raise the Sox to a new tier of talent level? Above the Indians, who were projected to be significantly superior and now have a 4.5 game lead? Or above the glut of Wild Card contenders?

A fully operational Jose Abreu might be able to do that. A version of Adam Eaton unlike the one that has a sub-.300 OBP over the last month might do that. But if the Sox leave it at that, they will remain in this middle space where it is impossible to tell how dedicated to winning in 2016 they really are. They have a mostly short-term roster, they have been extraordinarily active, and of recent, almost ruthless with their willingness to cut bait on marginal contributors who are not producing, but the major addition, and the major investment, that puts them undisputably in line with the AL contenders remains missing.


Lead Image Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski // USA Today Sports Images

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4 comments on “Lots of moves on the South side, but little action”


I’m so sick of the same old WhiteSox every year.Lets try for 500 ball.Robin needs to go,and so does Williams!!!


I have long maintained that the biggest roadblock the White Sox have in becoming a stastainable competitive team is with Reinsdorf himself. This organization needs a complete overhaul from the ownership down. For years the Sox were one of the teams that spent the least amount of money in the draft. They routinely have one of the lowest rate farm systems year after year. Reinsdorf is too complacent, Williams should have dismissed when they jettisoned Ozzie. But since he totes Reinsdorfs mantra, he remains. Williams too is a big part of the problem. He keeps bringing in these veterans way past their prime in the hope of squeezing one last career year out of them. The Sox continue to bring reclamation projects instead of spending money on marquee free agents. It is time for a major rebuild on the Southside, but will not happen as long as Reinsdorf is in charge. He will not invest the money that is required. I would like too what Rick Hahn is capable of of the didn’t have his hands tied by Reinsdorf and Williams. But at the end of the day, Sox need to rebuild their farm system. Lear how to draft positional players and develop them. Bring proper professional minor league manager/coaches. Improve their scouting department at the minor and major league level. They need to incorporate analytics within the organization. They need to bring in proper manager/coaching at the major league level
And not bring in a name that fans will recognize. Coaching makes a difference, but Sox have always paid bottom dollar on manger/coaching. Until this happens, Sox will mier in mediocrity. They do not have the offense in place to compete for division or playoffs. And haven’t for the last several years. The changes this team needs will not happen as long as the Reinsdorf’s are in charge.


We can all wish for Jerry and Kenny to leave, but it just won’t happen. Jerry makes his investors money, and that in the end trumps anything else White Sox fans will ever want. Jerry once said he’d trade all six Bulls championships for one World Series. 11 years ago he got that World Series and since then they’ve been to the playoffs once. Complacent? From a competitive standpoint, maybe, but they’re making profit year after year. They have the sweetest stadium deal you can ask for and even if they don’t make money, the state will write them a check if they don’t to cover the difference. They got new video boards that are being paid for by tax payers, MLB is making money had over fist as well, life is good.

You’d think Jerry, being the business man that he is, would want his team run like the Pirates, Rays or A’s. The problem is that he is so fiercely loyal that he will never get rid of Kenny Williams no matter how antiquated his thought patterns are. They love Robin Ventura because he’s the anti Ozzie. He’s not brash, outspoken or able to say anything offensive to the rest of the world. They had to talk him into, or practically beg him, to take the job in the first place. Jerry does the same thing with the Bulls, too.

They seem to feel that their fans want to see familiar names and want to win now. Maybe that is true, but I think there is a strong contingent of White Sox fans who are enlightened enough to know that the way they are running this team is wrong and will not yield success. Again, in 11 years you’ve had one playoff appearance and it took an extra 163rd game to get them there only to lose to…the Rays. A small market team with a shoestring budget that does it right.

It’s a hopeless situation for White Sox fans and all they can do is continue to stay home until Jerry gets the message, which may be never.

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