South Side Morning 5: The Bargaining Stage

1. Here’s a deal: play Avisail Garcia. Play him! As much as he seems burnt out and without upside, now that Charlie Tilson has torn his hamstring, the other outfielders this playing time would go to are J.B. Shuck, Jason Coats, or Austin Jackson if he ever is healthy again this year.

If Avisail can hit for consistent power for the last two months of the season, he should get a job in 2017. If he hits a .200 ISO for even one month, they should probably roster him, since it would be a completely unprecedented breakthrough. He hasn’t had a single month of .200 ISO since 2014, and that carried the caveat of him missing half the month because of that faceplant he suffered in Colorado.

He’s a big, strong man who can hit baseballs to the moon, but doesn’t have the approach, plate coverage, pitch recognition–whatever, to do it on a consistent basis. But sure, give him August, or more, to show it again. There’s nothing else to do. If Mike Zunino can be fixed*, why can’t he?

*Mike Zunino is likely not fixed

2. Here’s a fun thought experiment. Most people remember Gordon Beckham as a rookie sensation who did nothing but disappoint afterward, but from June 1 to Aug. 30 in 2010, his second year in the majors, Beckham hit .297/.343/.490, smacked 30 extra-base hits in 275 plate appearances and pulled his strikeout rate down to 18.2 percent.

Why pick Aug. 30? Just for the sake of a three-month sample? No, because that was the day Frank Herrmann hit him in the right hand with a wayward fastball. X-rays were negative–though the technician thought it would be fun to joke with him and pretend the situation was more dire–and Beckham returned a few days later, but complained of struggling to grip the bat. He scuffled to a .188/.278/.219 line down the stretch and was pretty much completely shut down from hitting after Sept. 15. A stretch in Beckham’s career as good as the one cut short by that pitch has not been seen since.

Ironically, Brent Lillibridge replaced Beckham in the lineup in that fateful game. A little over a year later, Lillibridge had his right hand shattered by a pitch from Josh Judy, ending his shocking breakout 2011 season. In the deluge of sad White Sox memories I’ve built in my head since 2010, Lillibridge fighting back tears after the game, keenly aware of the sudden end of his moment in the sun, still burns prominently. He never so much as batted .200 in a season again, and was done as a major leaguer less than two years later.

What I’m sayin is, Tim Anderson can take all the time he needs to come back.

3. James Shields is deservedly irked again about being trashed in public by his former owner, Ron Fowler of the San Diego Padres, who apparently considers him to be of similar ilk of Matt Kemp. Criticizing one’s own players in the press is one of the few transparent and unquestionable ways to be a bad owner these days.

Since everyone is playing armchair GM, tanking trade value (they dealt Shields for a 17-year-old and a home run machine and had to pay money to do it) is something we can all agree is bad. Someone as clearly temperamental and reactive to immediate results as Fowler is clearly a source of chaos, but also gives general manager A.J. Preller the mandate to act decisively (up until he gets suddenly fired, at least). That alone seems like something to vaguely jealous of at the moment, even if everything else that comes with it is truly awful.

4. Jose Abreu admitted he felt relief after breaking his 33-game homerless stretch, which he also noted was unprecedented for his career. He made similar comments about being relieved when he ended an 18-game drought in 2014. The whole thing is multiple shades of bizarre. If he’s pressing, it’s the type of pressing that leaves him incapable of squaring up pitches gift-wrapped over the heart of the plate, and doesn’t bode well for how he’ll adjust to his continued decline as he ages.

Between this and his huge chase rate, which a lot of people just discovered this year, it’s amazing how troubling all these bad habits get once elite tools stop blotting them out.

5. In the fog of the Sox suffering through another pointless second half with no hope of a playoff berth, and an unclear future about what they will seek to do in 2017, let us again look to Nietzche for clarity:

“Blessed are the forgetful: for they get the better even of their blunders.”



Lead Image Credit: Rick Osentoski // USA Today Sports Images

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