After a short vacation break, Overtime is back with another Pop-Tarts Series entry! Today we’ve got the Chicago White Sox on the chopping block.
How’s It Going?
The South Siders are disappointing in 2015 once again. Sitting at a modest 44-50 record, the seemingly-retooled White Sox are on the way to another aggravating season. The Sox only have one player on the DL, setup man Nate Jones, who is recovering from Tommy John Surgery.
Chicago revamped their lineup this offseason in hopes of a better result than the average 2013 and 2014 squads. Unfortunately, the Sox got worse with the bat. Melky Cabrera and Adam Laroche, two high-profile offseason additions, have struggled in their own ways. Cabrera has a .265 average and low .307 OBP to go along with pedestrian power numbers. Laroche was expected to be the muscle out of the cleanup spot, but has instead failed the tune of a .215 average, just 9 homers, and a .666 OPS. Jose Abreu is the only bright spot on the Sox, and the first baseman has been solid in his sophomore season. A rare power hitter that can hit for average, Abreu is the total package. His numbers fell off a bit from his other worldly debut, but are still well above-average. His supporting cast is nonexistent. A 2014 All-Star, shortstop Alexei Ramirez has been arguably the worst offensive player in baseball this year. His precipitous drop is mirrored by Opening Day third baseman Conor Gilaspie, who has since been shipped to the Angels, catcher Tyler Flowers, who cannot get on base to save his life, and anyone who played second base for the Sox. The outfield of Cabrera, Adam Eaton, and Avisail Garcia is very good at defense and hitting for contact, but only Garcia provides any power surge. Eaton is useful with his stellar speed, though. The bench is offering little help for the Robin Ventura-led Sox, and it seems as if they will sell heavily at the deadline.
It gets a little bit better for the White Sox in regards to their pitching. They may not have any hitting, but Chicago has one heck of a rotation. Fortunately, that rotation is spearheaded by Chris Sale, probably baseball’s second best pitcher overall. Sale throws with an unusual arm angle, making his pitches tough to pick up. Factor in that he throws 97 mph on his fastball and has the nastiest slider in the game, and you’ve got a real ace. Sale is backed up by Jeff Samardzija, Jose Quintana, and Carlos Rodon. Samardzija has had a good but not great year, and will likely be traded to a pitching-hungry team for offensive assets. Quintana, a one-time Yankee farmhand, has been hit hard this year, but rarely turns in a dud despite his high WHIP. Quintana is an expert at limiting damage. Rodon was the 3rd overall pick in the 2014 draft, and is already dominating the big leagues. He is averaging over a strikeout per inning, and the thought of Sale and Rodon leading the Sox rotation for years to come is an attractive thought. The 5th starter is John Danks. Danks and his 85 mph fastball have seen better days, but he is still a serviceable last man in the rotation at 5-8, 4.66. He is tied up to a big contract though, that could prove hard to trade. It should be noted that every Sox starter except for Samardzija is a lefty, a rarity in today’s MLB. The bullpen isn’t as good as the rotation (is it ever?) but isn’t a true mess. David Robertson is an effective closer, and lefty Zach Duke and righties Jake Petricka and Zach Putnam can hold a lead. None of these names except for Robertson are big names, but they are guys that get the job done in the rare case the Sox get a lead. Some veterans will likely be let go in the coming weeks, but the White Sox need to acquire as much young talent as possible in order to preserve the best years of Sale and Rodon’s careers.
The White Sox are built more like a National League team than an American League one, with their strong starting pitching and weak offense. Samardzija, Danks, and perhaps Cabrera could have trade value come July 31st, and it’s a given that general manager Rick Hahn will be working the phones on deadline day with unmatched fervor. The White Sox have some pieces, and very good ones at that, but need to acquire more of a team around Abreu, Sale, and Rodon. These guys could win all the awards they can, but unless there’s some real help around them, the White Sox will continue to fall flat, much like their red-clad cousins.