It was easier to say, “Sure! This rebuild stuff isn’t so bad!” when the White Sox were still winning about as much as they had in their contending years. Now they’ve won only one of their last nine games and it hasn’t been quite as fun, even if the existential despair has been significantly mitigated.
1. Derek Holland got shelled again. For the second start in a row, Holland surrendered three homers while only striking out two batters. After his June 2 outing, Holland sounded like he knew what was wrong and that the problem was fixable, but if he was correct, he hasn’t been able to implement the correction yet. His velocity isn’t noticeably off over his last two games, although after throwing only 203 innings from 2014-2016 combined he may be experiencing some fatigue, which could impact his command.
Holland has pretty much already justified his 1-year, $6 million contract, but after his strong start to the season it had some hoping that he would actually be a meaningful trade chit at the deadline. The last two games have pushed expectations back toward the, “He’s just here to eat innings,” column.
2. After a three-hit game with his third home run in four games, Todd Frazier has boosted his line to .206/.312/.429. The recent hot streak is fortuitously timed and is consistent with the narrative that he simply started the year cold, and then got crushed by a serious bout of the flu. With his defense still sound at third, Frazier may yet represent something of value at the deadline, if the White Sox feel the return they can get is worth parting with his leadership.
3. Trading Frazier may also serve to free up space on the infield when Yoan Moncada eventually gets called up. Yolmer Sanchez is one of the many young White Sox position players who have dramatically resuscitated their careers from life support so far in 2017. After three seasons of failing to put up an OPS north of .600, Sanchez is hitting .292/.341/.435 and it would be to the White Sox’ benefit to see what he can do with a full season of PAs in his age-24 season. I don’t really think of Sanchez as a natural third baseman, but if the White Sox do call up Moncada, he will obviously play every day at second, meaning third is the only potential spot for regular reps, and that’s only if Frazier is gone.
Even if Sanchez, Leury Garcia, and Avisail Garcia are going to see some regression, there is more hope than ever that they can be solid regulars or plus bench contributors. Seeing unexpectedly significant developmental wins at all three of these spots could actually alter the strength of the organization moving forward. After all, if you think Moncada and Anderson can be star players, the Garcias and Sanchez only need to be solid to help fill out your roster.
4. The Red Sox just got smashed twice in two games by the Yankees. Sitting at 32-27, the Red Sox are hardly in bad shape, but the Yankees have certainly gotten off to a better start than many would have predicted, and with their robust farm system they are probably going to get stronger rather than weaker as time progresses, and the Red Sox third base situation has been just about as bad as you could have imagined before the season started.
Our prospect team adores Rafael Devers, who is crushing Double-A. But Devers doesn’t turn 21 until October and banking on him to save the position as a rookie seems risky for a team with World Series aspirations. Similarly, the Yankees have Chase Headley‘s on-base skills following his power into the underworld, and although their 20-year-old hot prospect, Gleyber Torres, is in Triple-A, he is barely getting his feet wet, and you don’t want to risk rushing a top-tier prospect to throw a band-aid on a position of need.
These are two potential matches for Frazier, but speculating from the outside as to what he’s worth or whether these two organizations deem him a worthwhile investment is quixotic. It is hard to identify other potential suitors unless someone on a contender gets hurt between now and August 31, however.
5. In statistical odds and ends, the White Sox are really, really bad at stealing bases, with a 57.5% success rate as a team. It’s even odder as the team has more than its fair share of young speedy players, although they are largely being dragged down by Sanchez’ 3/9 efforts to date. Fortunately, and much more significantly, the White Sox have been the second best defense in all of the majors so far this season by Park Adjusted Defensive Efficiency with a defense that includes the aforementioned Garcias and the error-riddled Anderson as regular fixtures. A very encouraging sign, as the defense may feature those players consistently moving forward.
Lead Photo Credit: Kim Klement – USA Today Sports Images