MLB: Chicago White Sox at Cleveland Indians

South Side Afternoon 5: The Tank is On

The White Sox, due to many factors, were pretty successful for the first month of the season. Derek Holland avoiding the runs it seemed he deserved to give up along with an offense that refused to quit at the end of games allowed the White Sox to flirt with first place in April and May. As the season has progressed, they’ve begun to look more like the “tanking” team many expected to see when the season began. They’ve gone 2-8 in their last ten, cementing them in last place in the central.

1. Leury Garcia has been a pleasant surprise this season — I wrote about that in more detail a couple weeks ago — since that article was published he’s been able to retain his pace as one of the best center fielders in baseball. No, seriously he still has the fifth best wRC+ among center fielders (118). Not all news is good, though. He left the game on Sunday with soreness in his left hand after sliding through first base. Ignoring the fact that sliding into first base is idiotic and poor strategy 99 percent of the time, there is reason for concern over something being simply reported as soreness. You may recall that fellow excellent center fielder Mike Trout suffered a torn ligament in his thumb after sliding into a base. Initially that was reported as soreness as well. It appears nothing is broken, but there’s still an X-ray to be had and good reason to keep your eyes peeled for news about it.

2. The White Sox defense doesn’t appear to be an overly great one. They rank 14th out of 15 AL teams in fielding percentage. They have players like Tim Anderson who has failed to reach the defensive potential he showed a year ago along with a player like Avisail Garcia that never even flashed brilliance in the field. And yet, they somehow lead the league in BABIP allowed with .272. This is particularly odd because White Sox pitchers haven’t given up soft contact this season. Jose Quintana hasn’t been himself, Holland has been hit hard in almost every start, Miguel Gonzalez hasn’t shown the player he was last year, and the rest of the rotation is full of players the White Sox scraped together when James Shields and Carlos Rodon went down with injuries. I have absolutely no clue why the White Sox would be giving up such a low BABIP. Although, I suppose, it doesn’t raise a team’s BABIP if balls are sailing over the outfield fence.

3. Yoan Moncada was red hot before he was sent to the disabled list with a hand injury. So hot, in fact, that many were questioning the White Sox decision to keep him in the minor leagues. The White Sox argued that they believed he wasn’t quite ready for big league pitchers. Since his return from the disabled list he’s looked lost at the plate. Whether that is a lingering injury or pitchers adjusting remains to be seen. However, it is of note that over the last 30 days Moncada has been slashing .169/.301/.273, which after some simple math gives an ISO of .104 and OPS of just .574. Those numbers are certainly not worthy of a call-up to Chicago. They’re also not reason to be overly concerned. Moncada is just 22 years old and experiencing Triple-A for the first time in his professional career. If he doesn’t adjust back or fully recover from his injury in the next month or so then it may be time to worry, however unlikely that is to happen.

4. Quintana had another start over the weekend, which only complicated things further. It wasn’t a complete implosion like some of his previous starts, but it wasn’t good either. We have yet to see the Quintana we know and love this season for any stretch. He has a 5.30 ERA, but his strikeout rate is the best of his career. The problem has been something he’s hardly experienced in his career: lack of control. He’s walked 9.2 percent of batters this season, which is also a career high. His DRA of 4.12 doesn’t reveal any rays of positivity either. Major league scouts know who they’re getting in Quintana if they were to trade for him, however, it’s become impossible to ignore the hit his trade value has taken.

Some will remark that this means the White Sox should have dealt him before the season began. Well, hindsight is 20/20 as they say. What has always been the case for the White Sox is that they have some wiggle room in timeline of a Quintana trade. He’s under control until 2020. If Rick Hahn and his cohorts have to wait until the offseason for him to regain the value he once had, so be it. They would be trading Quintana, whose talent level does fall a bit lower than Sale’s, with the same amount of control remaining on his low-cost contract as Sale had this past winter. Does that mean the White Sox get the same value in a trade as they did for Sale? Of course not. But the fact remains that the White Sox aren’t backed into a corner yet. They will hear offers, of course, but I wouldn’t count on him being traded this season. And that’s okay.

5. Todd Frazier had a rough start to the season, but he has rebounded a little. Because of the position he plays, he may garner some trade interest as we head into July. The .222 average isn’t pretty, but the rest of the numbers aren’t bad. He’s striking out less and walking more than he did a season ago. With a 13.4 percent walk rate and 21.2 percent strikeout rate, he’s been able to salvage his .222 average into a .327 on base percentage and .438 slugging percentage. That has helped him remain an above average hitter with a 102 wRC+. A league average hitter with at least average defense at third could bring the White Sox some young talent. Even if the offers aren’t incredible, it’s better to trade him than let him walk. For that reason, Frazier is likely out of a White Sox uniform by the end of the season.

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