Let’s take an inventory of things. I’ll put my degree in Education to good use with this KWL chart.
What we knew before the season started. What we wanted to know going into the season. What we’ve learned so far.
- We knew the starting pitching was going to be rough. James Shields hasn’t pitched well in a White Sox uniform. Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez are in their first full major league seasons. Miguel Gonzalez is a #5 starter at most on a non-contending team. Carson Fulmer clearly isn’t ready for the major leagues.
- We knew they wouldn’t contend this season. Only one person on earth, my buddy Ricky, thought the White Sox would compete this season. After the 3-2 start to the season, Ricky said this year’s team looked like the 2005 World Series Championship team. I told him he isn’t allowed to speak to me again about the Sox until 2020.
- We knew there were holes. In my opinion, there are only two position players likely to be around the next time the Sox contend: Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada. Yet, despite their off the charts athleticism, they aren’t locks. Anderson still looks like a center fielder playing shortstop. Moncada is on a Mark Reynolds/Adam Dunn-like strikeout pace.
Wanted to know:
- What do we have in Giolito, Lopez, and Moncada? Giolito has pitched better than his 0-2 record and 5.50 earned run average suggest. He seems to run into one erratic inning per start, similar to former talented Sox starter Gavin Floyd. Lopez has a 1.42 earned run average in 3 games, with 21 strikeouts in 19 innings pitched. A staff consisting of Michael Kopech, Giolito, Lopez, and minor leaguers Alec Hansen and Dane Dunning is something for Sox fans to salivate over. Moncada has shown glimpses of speed and power, but the preponderance of strikeouts is alarming.
- Will the season be a revolving door of players? Tyler Saladino is gone, moved to the Milwaukee Brewers for cash considerations. Trayce Thompson is back, perhaps just in case Adam Engel’s batting average continues to sink from its current .167. Juan Minaya and Gregory Infante were sent down quickly, replaced by journeyman Chris Volstad and former Detroit Tigers closer Bruce Rondon. Shields and Gonzalez could be waived if they have no trade value by midseason. Fulmer could be sent down. The bullpen, Nate Jones notwithstanding, could ostensibly be flipped with the Triple A bullpen and the results might not change much.
- Will the White Sox be active at the trade deadline? MLB “experts” claimed Avi Garcia would regress after a breakout 2017 season, citing his extraordinarily high BABIP (that’s Batting Average for Balls In Play, for you non-sabermetric geeks out there) as an indication why. So far the experts are right, as Garcia has a .222/.242/.317 line, with 1 home run and 3 runs batted in. Obviously, should this lack of production continue, his trade value will be nil. Jose Abreu looks good-not great-right now, with a line of .273/.342/.500 with 4 home runs and 9 runs batted in. What do you get for him at this point in a trade? Right now around the league, it seems every contending team has a solid first baseman. Jose’s a free agent after next season. He’ll make $13 million this season and something comparable next season. He is not bringing back a Chris Sale-Adam Eaton-Jose Quintana type return. Who is left to trade after Garcia and Abreu? Jones could net a top 15 prospect at the deadline. Anyone else you’d want from the Sox if you were a rival GM?
- The Sox have a bunch of bench players in starting roles. Nicky Delmonico, Engel, Yolmer Sanchez, and Matt Davidson will not be starters on the next contending White Sox team. That being said, Sanchez could be a valuable bench player on a contender.
- The Sox still have 60% of a rotation to fill.
- The idea of a contending team on the south side in 2019 is ambitious. I want it too, badly, but hear me out. Let’s say best case scenario: Eloy Jimenez comes up to claim left field this season and Kopech does the same with a spot in the rotation. Hell, even Carlos Rodon (I ALWAYS forget about the Scott Boras client) comes back on time and healthy. The Sox will still need to find a fifth starter, provided Fulmer continues to struggle, and they don’t want to rush Hansen, Dunning, et al. Luis Robert and Jake Burger will not be ready for CF and 3B, respectively. Garcia and Abreu will be in the last year of their deals. The bullpen will need to be entirely rebuilt, again.
- The Oakland A’s 50 year anniversary promotion was so cool. In case you didn’t hear, the A’s let fans in for free last Saturday in a game against the Sox. The Coliseum is huge, and it was full of fans. Just goes to show that all the stadiums we see on television that are half full or even a third full, aren’t that way because interest in baseball is dying. What’s dying is the willingness to pay $50 (or much, much more) for a single, ordinary ticket. You can thank player salaries for that (the average MLB salary in 2017 was $4.1 million in 2017 according to USA Today).
- Why did I see 46 articles online yesterday about the Sox banning drinking straws? Is that really where we’re at with Sox human-interest stories right now?
- If I have to hear Steve Stone and Jason Benetti celebrate the improved batting eyes of Anderson and Davidson one more time, I think I may need to be institutionalized.
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