1. The venerable Bruce Levine reported this week that talks for Jose Quintana are intensifying, that interested parties are sweetening their offers, and that more teams are involved than the publicly discussed bids by the Yankees, Astros and Pirates.
Since Quintana is the best player on the trade market, and the return for him would likely vault the White Sox to having the best farm system in the game, so normally this would make for five-alarm top billing news if we were not already a month into uninterrupted Quintana trade chatter, intense demand for his services wasn’t essentially guaranteed, and all momentum to move the more time-sensitive, less valuable veteran pieces on their roster had dissipated.
While Hahn cleaned up with two blockbuster deals at the Winter Meetings, Cee Angi argues that expectation for similar returns indicative of an extreme seller’s market might have stalled progress over the last month, as teams have waited out the slow-moving free agent crop and looked for other options rather than pay massive prices for the Sox talent.
A Quintana deal is all the Sox need to have a top system and make their teardown look like a successful venture, but wringing value out of David Robertson, Todd Frazier, Nate Jones, Jose Abreu and more could be the difference between a great system and a generational one, with a young core so strong and deep that a sizable contending window is nigh-inevitable, even with payroll constraints.
2. Even talking about the trade market feels like needlessly loading up on vegetables when the White Sox announced the far more grabbing news that they are giving away a Hawk Harrelson alarm clock on May 13 of next season.
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) January 17, 2017
Besides being ingenious on its own, the positive response to it reveals that Hawk’s character and exclamations are still innately charming and unique, it’s his declining energy for the less flashy yet necessary aspects of play-by-play work that have dragged at his work and public perception. The man himself cannot be reduced into an alarm clock, but a way to preserve Hawk the character, and de-emphasize Hawk the pre-game notes preparer, and Hawk the sabermetric analyst, could provide more enjoyment for everyone. There is also a 1917 uniform night on the promotional schedule, which should got smoothly provided the things are actually comfortable to wear this time. But so far, there is no mention of a Uncle Rick Queso Fundido giveaway, which makes this all seem like a big tease.
Rick Renteria is showing us how to make his famous queso fundido! Stay tuned for the full video
3. I’m not going to waste time being curmudgeonly about the Michael Kopech video…
First day of max velocity throws for @MichaelKopech5 …. Is 110mph good?
…by asking whether the pitch he threw was actually a strike, pointing out that his running crow hop max throw exercise does not translate directly to an actual in-game delivery, or belaboring the point that we already know that Kopech throws very hard, and that real enthusiasm should be reserved for progress with his changeup, improved command and falling walk totals.
But the rebuild will be long, dark and full of terrors. Exciting dispatches from the minor league will be very brief interruptions from the daily drudgery of a big league roster in transition, and Sox fans should indulge in stupid joy of raw tools while they can. What else is there to do?
4. Not at all thematically related to the concept of lost prospect promise, the White Sox agreed to a minor league deal with Cory Luebke. The 31-year-old left-hander and former supplemental round pick had an excellent rookie season in 2011, posting a 3.08 DRA in 139.2 innings between the bullpen and the rotation in San Diego. Since then, he’s had two Tommy John surgeries and countless complications around and in between them. Luebke dominated for the Pirates Triple-A affiliate in 2016, striking out 29 in 18.1 innings, and then was completely dominated in turn once he was called up, allowing a 9.35 ERA in 8.2 innings with a 123 cFIP.
The health record is abysmal and the stuff is obviously going to be diminished, but this a prototypical rebuild flier. It’s a worthy use of the Sox time.
5. Tim Raines’ last shot at the Hall of Fame gets announced this afternoon. Per the Hall of Fame tracker of the great Ryan Thibodaux, Raines is at 88.6 percent of the vote among public ballots, which puts him at good but far from certain levels, considering the expected drop that comes from anonymous voters.
Raines will likely go in as a Montreal Expo, as he spent his prime there, but he gave the White Sox five good years, and should be remembered among their successful investments in a past-their-prime veteran. He hit .283/.375/.407 and stole 143 bases on the South Side. His best year at the plate came during the Sox best season of the decade, as he hit .306/.401/.480 in 1993. Not bad for a speed player in his 30s.