After last night’s 3-2 loss to the division-leading Cleveland Indians, the White Sox’ playoff odds fell even further. Per PECOTA, the White Sox now have a 17.9 percent chance of making the playoffs, and that’s if you count the Wild Card game as making it. I suppose I would, given that that would constitute the organization’s most successful season since George W. Bush was president. Thanks to a 10-24 stretch while going 5-15 against AL Central opponents, and given Seattle’s decent positioning, it is very possible the White Sox will own the longest playoff drought in the American League at season’s end.
Meanwhile, today Bruce Levine wrote a column about a conversation he had with Jerry Reinsdorf, wherein Mr. Reinsdorf reiterated his desire to compete in 2016, and vigorously denied any interest in selling off major league assets. In a way it’s encouraging to hear that they haven’t resigned themselves to another year under .500 during Chris Sale‘s prime. On the other hand, it’s hard to find acts that match this desire to win. Justin Morneau is the first bat that has been added from the outside of the organization since the season started, despite the team having a team TAv of .254, good for 25th in MLB. They’ve been DHing Jimmy Rollins and J.B. Shuck, for crying out loud.
Some of this is beyond the team’s control. You can’t buy if nobody is willing to sell.
On the other hand, every problem this White Sox roster has–paper-thin depth on offense, Avisail Garcia being completely useless in every conceivable way, the back end of the rotation, Tim Anderson representing 100 percent of the internal reinforcements that could possibly matter, Carlos Rodon experiencing growing pains–was something that was glaringly obvious over the winter. Sure, Jose Abreu picked a bad time to have the worst couple months of his career, but other than that, is anything that has happened this season surprising? Is there any single player on the roster who is performing in an unpredictable way?
This is why all winter long I was in a state of despair and frustration as the biggest free agent acquisition was Austin Jackson for $5 million. And sure, maybe Zack Burdi turns out to be a cool reliever soon, but is that really better than adding Dexter Fowler and his career .365 OBP to this team? What about Ian Desmond? And if you aren’t going to add in free agency over the winter, this is the position you’re in. Also, if you limit yourself to trades–winter or mid-season–you wind up having to give up talent to get it. Todd Frazier was a great acquisition, but you did lose Trayce Thompson to get him, and Trayce Thompson would be really, really helpful right now.
By failing to solve the problems that were obvious then and have all materialized in horrifying fashion in 2016, they’re now stuck waiting until the end of July–when most of the season is over–before they can get meaningful help.
Frankly, if anything, the team has been lucky. J.D. Martinez, Alex Gordon, Carlos Carrasco, Mike Moustakas, Michael Brantley; division rivals have been losing their most important players, and the White Sox still find themselves in fourth place. A 23-10 start and a laundry list of rival All-Stars being shelved on the disabled list was about as good of a scenario as this organization could have hoped for, but unfortunately, they have basically been hapless bystanders along with fans as everything good about the season caught fire and sank into the ocean.
If the White Sox miss the playoffs this year, they will enter 2017 with Todd Frazier and Brett Lawrie in the last years of their deals, and Chris Sale and Jose Quintana another year older. It’s pretty crazy to think that this team turned a No. 13 overall pick and a minor league free agent into a dirt cheap 1-2 punch as good as anybody’s in MLB and they may not make the playoffs at any point while they are on the roster, but here we are.
Lead Photo Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski — USA Today Sports Images