South Side Morning 5: Crosstown Cup Afterglow

1. As illuminating as Chris Sale‘s statements to Scott Merkin were on Monday, about how discontent in leadership from the franchise player could indicate a larger loss in confidence and stability in Robin Ventura’s leadership, Tuesday was more of a customary circling the wagons.

Ventura assured he was capable of working with Sale just fine, Kenny Williams gave blanket approval of how Rick Hahn and Ventura handled the situation (to be fair, dismissing and suspending a guy after a Hall of Fame tantrum brought on by a promotion scheduled pre-season, wasn’t a very controversial plan of action), and both declined to comment on it any further.

The gag order slowly fell on the LaRoche saga as well, but only after all the fireworks had gone off, so at least things are moving faster these days. Silence and a peaceful exterior are normal operations on the South Side, so it’s hard to take anything away from this particular vote of confidence. Losing Mark Parent already showed Ventura’s in-house approval rating was not 100 percent, the losing continues and now the Sale incident has happened. It’s a collection of clear signs weighed against organizational tendencies for extreme loyalty.

2. Fresh off missing five games, Brett Lawrie is headed to the disabled list with a hamstring injury that just hasn’t gotten any better. His clear replacement, Tyler Saladino has basically duplicated Lawrie’s batting line over the year (.265/.308/.409 in 143 PA for Saladino, .248/.310/.413 in 384 PA for Lawrie) while playing excellent, athletic defense whenever called upon, even if more regular action has usually seen his offense slump in response. One year after the Sox ponied up $6 million combined to secure two awful and useless backup infielders, they are finally reaping the benefits of developing one.

On the other hand, Carlos Sanchez is the only member of the prospect triumvirate they had with Micah Johnson and Marcus Semien, and he doesn’t seem like the best card to still be holding.

3. Carlos Rodon is back in Chicago and cheesing it up in team photos, after a rehab start that had ugly results but positive reports of how he felt. In his stead Wednesday enters Anthony Ranaudo, the former big name prospect turned Triple-A warrior that has actually had success in Charlotte this year.

He’s compiled a 3.20 ERA in Charlotte mostly by filling up the zone with his mediocre stuff.  Tonight he’s pitching against a dangerous Cubs team on a hot night in Wrigley, and historically can’t keep the ball down despite a six-foot, seven-inch frame, so in all likelihood, all my kvetching about Jacob Turner making two starts in front of him are probably going to look ridiculous when he gets annihilated, so I’m just going to get it all in now.

4. If Todd Frazier being a first half player is a real concern (He’s hitting .200/.250/.467 after the All-Star break), then Adam Eaton being a second half monster has at least as much gristle to it. His career splits are already stark–.261/.335/.382 in the first half, .308/.382/.439 in the second–but that’s only been more extreme since he came over to the South side. In 2014, he slashed .270/.340/.372 in the first half, and .347/.396/.447 in the second, despite missing time in August. 2015 was more ridiculous, with a slow .245/.309/.383 first half followed by a wrathful and fully healthy .335/.418/.486 in second half.

This year is already following the same pattern, as Eaton has hit .326/.415/.543 in 12 games since the All-Star break. At the risk of repeating the same failed logic that Alexei Ramirez failed to validate, if Eaton could have a better first half, he could be in line for a great season, right??!

Sure, uh, why not. In the past two years, Eaton’s numbers have been mostly felled by one awful month. He got hurt in May of 2014 and was brutal upon his immediate return, slumping to his was to a sub-.500 OPS. Last year, he just opened the season hitting like that. This year, that month hasn’t happened yet. Through June, he was remarkably consistent, with his OBP never dropping below .350 and his slugging staying between .390-.405 on in every month. These are arbitrary endpoints, of course, but that’s a season really removed from the normal level of spikes, statistical noise and weird stretches typically seen.

Except for now, when he’s crushing the ball, which is an OK deviation to have.

5. The White Sox have won four in a row against winning teams and are now .500 again. Are they buyers?!

This would seem to indicate ‘no,’ in addition to whatever doubts you might have about other team’s ability to look up his strikeout rate with the White Sox on the internet.

Lead Image Credit: Mike Dinovo // USA Today Sports Images

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