It’s been too long.
1. Jon Heyman’s report on the White Sox being unlikely and unwilling to kickstart a rebuild or reloading of their farm system by trading Chris Sale or Jose Quintana, has three very typical elements of any update on Sox operations.
–A refusal to do something radical or franchise re-shaping.
–Assurance that the owner whose tenure has been marked by mid-level teams exceptionally wary of both free agency and amateur spending, “really wants to win.”
–A really bizarre choice of an outside player to zero in on.
It’s unsurprising the Sox do not want to break up their core. As we have stated this week on our podcast and in our writing, they should not be seeking a rebuild at this time when they are so close to having a functional roster. Why on Earth the Sox are pondering moving trade pieces so valuable they are lacking in comparable cases from the last 15 years, and Jackie Bradley Jr.–the lowest-ceiling member of the Red Sox cluster of young outfield studs, who is currently going through a second half slide that is making everyone question just how trustworthy his bat is–that is the player they are staking their decision on whether or not to rebuild on, is simply beyond all of us.
Perhaps it doesn’t matter how you make your way to the right decision.
2. A Chicago Tribune report from contract documents of the naming rights deal reached to change U.S. Cellular Field to Guaranteed Rate Field next season, shows the White Sox will not receive any new revenue from the deal.
I just want to say that yours truly, the Chicago Sky, the Philadelphia 76ers, Al’s Italian Beef, character actress Margo Martindale, Richard M. Daley*, my downstairs neighbor, the estate of the dog that played Air Bud, and countless other entities who, like the White Sox, do not own U.S. Cellular Field nor pay for its upkeep, will also not be receiving any new revenue from the naming rights deal. We’re all very upset, and exploring our legal options.
*As far as I know.
3. Juan Minaya and Kevan Smith comprised the first crop of September call-ups for the Sox, with Minaya even making his major league debut Thursday night. These are about as logical selections as it gets: spare bullpen arm and a third catcher.
Save for Zack Burdi, of course, the 25-year-old Minaya was the last guy left in the Charlotte bullpen with stats that would suggest he’s projectable, with a 3.38 ERA and 28 strikeouts to 10 walks in 26.2 innings. Smith, who tweaked his back warming for his major league debut in late-April and didn’t return to regular action until July 15, has not been much for hitting since then, collecting a .199/.271/.371 line in 40 games.
Charlotte still has games scheduled through the weekend (Carson Fulmer is the scheduled starter Friday night) so there’s still time for more players to get the call, but Burdi has now appeared in 51 games and thrown 65 innings in 2016. He might not need to add to it, even if shutting him down precludes the Sox from fulfilling the fundamental role of September call-ups: providing someone exciting to break the monotony of watching a bad team wind into the abyss.
4. The White Sox, clearly lacking the budget of other would-be competitors, had to find ways to be aggressive. One of the ways they chose early on, was to cut bait on unproductive veterans when it was clear they were unlikely to help. Jimmy Rollins got involuntarily retired, Mat Latos got put on the waiver wire, and beloved clubhouse veteran John Danks was sent packing even though he was owed over $10 million. It seemed brutally efficient at the time, but since then the Sox efforts to compete have been revealed to be farcical, and James Shields has been such a disaster that his metrics go blow-for-blow with the lefty the Sox.
Shields has a 7.19 FIP while Danks had a 6.06, he has a 122 cFIP for the season, including his decent beginning in San Diego, while Danks was only at 124, and both have been better than Anthony Ranaudo, who the Sox have been reduced to using until Miguel Gonzalez returns. Remember that Danks made just four starts in 2016. In a rare move, the Sox pushed aside sentiment for a clear-eyed assessment that his stuff had deteriorated beyond what was acceptable, and then their scouting botched the Shields trade and they wound up even worse off. And we wonder where they get their bad habits from.
5. Quintana, a fringe Cy Young case without name brand recognition, who has a bad Win-Loss record and needed something dramatic like a wide ERA lead to make any kind of case, raised his ERA by .28 in one night and now is behind much more likely cases such as Cole Hamels.
The White Sox haven’t won an MVP or Cy Young award since BP South Side’s favorite 21-year-old Ethan Spalding was born, and this is pretty standard for how things go.