The White Sox have failed big this first half. They're four games under .500, and 5 games back in a division that's so there for the taking that the Detroit Tigers and their -8 run differential are the clear-cut favorites.
To pile on, a third of their starting lineup are the flat-out worst players in the entire league at their positions. Juan Pierre has bought himself a second life with a recent hot streak and by being the man of Ozzie Guillen's dreams, but Adam Dunn and Alex Rios aren't going anywhere because they're so bad.
As perilous and unreliable as relying on prospects can be, the Sox have exemplified the pitfalls of spending big money to make the one right move. When they're wrong, they stay wrong for a while, and the awfulness of Rios and Dunn seasons just makes them that much more impossible to jettison. As awful as Dunn has been--and at this point it might be more surprising to see him snap out of it this year than continue to slide--it would be foolish to sell so preposterously low on him mid-season (when he's not even an appealing bounce back candidate). But Rios--bad for the last calendar year, notably not beloved by his manager--is quite clearly in a position where he'd be gone if anyone could think of a morally acceptable way to be rid of him.
But he's staying. The dearth of his value and the remaining years they're saddled with drive the Sox to play him more in an attempt to salvage what is seemingly three more years of doom, while, knowing full well they might sabotage their season by continuing to trot him out.
And because of how terrible these three have been, the improvement that is readily available is being shunned:
“Look, [Viciedo]’s done absolutely marvelously,” Hahn said. “In fact, he’s even done better in the last three or four weeks since this sort of buzz for people wanting him up here began. He’s actually shown a little more plate discipline in the past few weeks. He’s gotten even better as a defender and an outfielder.“
When he gets here we do think he’s going to be an impact guy. That being said, he is 22 years old. If he had grown up in the states, he’d be a year out of the draft, in all probability. To expect that a 22-year-old kid would come up here and, you know, essentially save the season or turn around the offense single handily, is an awful lot to put on him.”
That's not a completed dismissal by any means, but I don't know why you try to openly temper excitement for someone you're not calling up, unless the Sox are convinced that early expectations crushed Gordon Beckham's bat. If the front office isn't excited to toss their nascent power hitter into a swiftly sinking pennant race, it appears that maybe they're willing to trade a strength into a weakness.
Jon Heyman (yes, I know) is reporting that the White Sox are listening to trade offers for Edwin Jackson. EJax has long been the most obvious trade option because he's sooooo not coming back next season, but this is curious timing. With Peavy looking as unreliable as ever, Danks recovering from what can be a nagging injury, and nothing that really resembles starting pitching depth in the minor leagues, a very durable starter with great peripherals doesn't seem quite as expendable. Even if he's frustrating.
Anyone can take a glance at the White Sox payroll and see how they're helpless to fix their largest problems, but how they're going to continue to sell to anyone--fan, press, or snarky bloggers--that they're committed to winning this year while their worst players continue to receive mounds of plate appearances, small improvements are dismissed and productive players are shopped.
The White Sox brain trust has all of the All-Star break to figure out how to balance trying to resurrect struggling veterans while simultaneously avoiding being dragged down into hell by them.
Good luck, guys.