South Side Morning 5: What is with this ‘nine relievers’ BS?

1. So Chris Sale made his fifth-straight All-Star game, a honor he has received every year since he became a starter, and he could easily earn the honor of starting the game, since AL starting pitching has thinned out and he’s painting his masterpiece and blahgeddy blah blah blah.

Jose Quintana, a very good starting pitcher four years running now, is having a career-year at age 27. But despite his track record, the new level he has found in the first half, and his huge advantage on the field in advanced metrics, we have this:

Elite relievers are very valuable, and more than simply failed starters, but this isn’t even splitting the difference between stocking the team with the stars of the league and one-inning maulers, it’s full-blown Royals roster construction madness.  Wade Davis just hit the disabled list and has already indicated he won’t be available, and other spots are bound to open up for Quintana, but the continued deliriousness about fulfilling the seemingly simple task of prioritizing the most valuable and talented players in the league is mystifying.

2. Speaking of hitting the disabled list, Alex Avila has aggravated the same hamstring that put him down earlier in the year, but this time it comes after he had been hitting .245/.371/.389 since returning from injury.  Avila is hardly a defensive ace anymore, but he isn’t clutching to the worst framing numbers in the major leagues like Dioner Navarro either, and with Kevan Smith still yet to recover from tweaking his back during warmups for his major league debut and Hector Sanchez gone on waivers after his first cameo, the Sox will turn to…someone who will likely not steal much beyond a game per week from Navarro.

Future Sox has a profile on Omar Narvaez, as the lefty-hitting 24-year-old has been a regular at Triple-A Charlotte due to all the turnover in the organization at catcher. However, Alfredo Gonzalez, recently acquired from Houston, is already on the 40-man roster. Gonzalez, 23, has a .171/.259/.224 combined line between Houston and Chicago this year in Double-A, which is, to be honest, pretty amazing.

3. Boy, this Bill Melton answer from his Twitter Q&A about Avisail Garcia wasn’t very encouraging.

One way of expressing no confidence in a player at an outlet that has to maintain polite relations with the team is to suggest he needs to fix something he will absolutely not be able to fix. Garcia, who has shown no ability ever to produce consistently, has somehow still stumbled upon his worst power outage of his career.

He’s collected just seven extra-base hits and slugged under .300 for the last two months, which is unsurprising given that he’s top-10 among qualified hitters both for highest swing rate outside the zone, and lowest contact rate outside the zone.

As he’s suddenly lost the ability to hit lefties this year too, making him an unworthy complement, the arrival of Justin Morneau should spell the end of Garcia’s run as a Sox regular.

4. Speaking of waiting for inexpensive in-house replacements…

Zack Burdi‘s high 90s velocity and slider were always ready for the major league bullpen upon signing, but between rushing him through the minors at warp speed even when the results and the consistent ability to locate have not been there, all while nothing is done to address long-festering sores in the major league pen, and the Sox are looking like the rare major league team that can genuinely be accused of spending a first-round pick on trying to fill an immediate 25-man roster need.

5. In gunning down a remarkably slow and unwilling to slide Mark Teixeira Tuesday night, Adam Eaton now has an American League-leading 12 outfield assists on the year, with 10 of them coming from right field.

That total alone gives Eaton the most outfield assists since…last year. If there’s a defensive highlight to the Avisail Garcia tenure–and this might be the only one–it’s that he lead all of baseball with 17 outfield assists in 2015. He has recorded only 25 assists in his career, and his second-highest season total was four, so this seems very clearly to be a single year of the league testing Garcia’s arm and wherewithal, which should probably be the case with Eaton as well.

Lead Image Credit: Troy Taormina // USA Today Sports Images

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