South Side Morning 5: Wasted opportunities

1. Right before the White Sox no-showed a phenomenally winnable game against a dreadful divisional rival in front of their home fans, Crain’s published the details of their rest of season ticket sales outlook.

In sum, the White Sox have once again obliterated any sense of in-season momentum from their fanbase, and will be lucky to cling to the head start their pre-season sales offered them and post a modest uptick to 1.8 million total sold. It’s encouraging that sales efforts are managing to post legitimate gains with pre-season marketing, but until the Sox actually build even a single winning team, this is all just deck chairs.

The more revealing element in Danny Ecker’s report is where he reveals that the Sox pay tax on their attendance returns so rarely–because they almost never hit the threshold–that the ISFA has had to pull funds out of the city’s share of the state income tax in the past to cover its debt payments. Just once, though.

2. For all the updates he provided and estimations on the number of rehab at-bats he will need, Justin Morneau still seems like he’s on a track to come back after the All-Star break. For a 35-year-old coming off major elbow surgery, avoiding setbacks is more than a formality, but he represents an extremely slow-arriving band-aid to a gaping wound at the bottom of the lineup (Robin Ventura is just putting Avisail Garcia and J.B. Shuck at the bottom of the order to try to quarantine the disease at this point).

Beyond a hard conversation about Garcia that’s been overdue, there’s nothing currently standing in the way of Morneau getting full-time work and every chance to fail when he finally does arrive. Like Austin Jackson, this is a troubling way to deal with a veteran bounceback candidate with declining numbers. Morneau as an added left-handed bat can only help, but Morneau as the only tangible offensive upgrade with no alternative if he’s washed up is a lot scarier.

3. It’s just player quotes, rather than any kind of statement of direction from the front office, but Chris Sale and Alex Avila both discussed playing well enough to prompt Rick Hahn to bring in upgrades as the trade deadline nears.

Save for catcher, the Sox are not struggling at any position where troubles could not have been easily foreseen before the games started, so waiting around for a half-season to fully determine if these known shortcomings are indeed fatal seems like a really bizarre test to undertake in a year with so much at stake.

4. Melky Cabrera going down with a sore wrist, which has been a persistent issue, is a good point in time to address the fact that he’s been the best hitter on the team all year. His month of June has been all about power, which is fitting since it saw him slide toward the middle of the order while Todd Frazier slumped. Cabrera has clocked 13 extra-base hits this month and is slugging .593 despite having possibly the most level swing on the team save for perhaps Shuck.

While he hasn’t exactly gotten a real, sustained opportunity, Jason Coats has looked overmatched by major league pitching, to the point of being unable to bleed away opportunities from Shuck and Garcia, who have seem mostly determined to to play themselves out of major league opportunities in 2017. A Cabrera injury that pushed all three into duty for even a day or two would not be the sort of thing for which it would take a while to notice the effects.

5. Carson Fulmer has been named to the U.S. Roster for the All-Star Futures Game, despite spending most of his year in Double-A getting righteously tuned up and walking the park. He has struck out 39 hitters and walked just 10 in 29 innings over his last five starts, so he’s starting to find his form a bit more, even if he’s pretty far from the hoped-for fast track to the majors that existed pre-season. Fulmer retaining the ability to be a viable starter in the majors would be a good result for his development at this point.

The Futures Game is already wise enough not to market itself as anything beyond a prospect showcase, but Fulmer’s selection shows how far in advance the rosters can be chosen.


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

Related Articles

Leave a comment

Use your Baseball Prospectus username