Saturday, May 10, 2014

Jordan Danks down because Moises Sierra might be a better hitter

There was probably some amount of rejoicing among White Sox fans when Jordan Danks and his .098/.229/.195 batting line were demoted to Triple-A Charlotte earlier this week.

The White Sox recently added Moises Sierra to their roster.
Danks has a glove that can carry him as a fifth outfielder on the roster of a good team. He's also made enough slow, steady progress through the minors offensively that he's earned an extended big-league look under the right circumstances. Those circumstances include a wave of injuries to the Sox outfield, and frankly a lack of better options.

Two things mucked up Danks' big opportunity. First there was his awful showing at the plate, which would have been too much to stomach even if the Sox were 10 games or so under .500 and more squarely in "playing for next year" mode. The second thing is the pickup of Moises Sierra off waivers from the Blue Jays.

Sierra didn't end up on waivers because he's much of a prospect. He ended up there because he spent his time in Toronto this year making Danks look like Mike Trout with his .059/.086/.059 "hitting" performance. And Sierra can't play center field.

In Danks and Sierra we're still talking about two guys who have combined for 629 sporadic big-league at-bats, so we should probably look at what they've done in the minors to get a better idea of who might hit better.


Their overall work makes Danks look like a better player, but that's not really fair to Sierra, who began playing ball as a 17-year-old free agent out of the Dominican Republic. Danks was drafted out of college and began as 21-year-old.

So here's what they've done in Triple-A:


Now three things jump out at you. The first is that Danks has played A LOT more games at Triple-A than Sierra. Which makes sense because Danks is 27 years old and has seen his career stalled. The second is that Danks has a lot of problems making contact with his low average and high strikeouts despite spending four seasons in Charlotte. The third thing is that Sierra has more power. Power that's developed as he's gotten older, and might develop even more as he's only 25 years old.

Speaking strictly about offensive potential, to me it looks like Sierra has more of it.

Everything else isn't equal, though. Danks might be the better overall player. In fact, because Danks' glove gives him a higher floor as a player, I'd bet on him being the more likely of the two to be with the Sox two years from now. Not as a starter, but as that fifth outfielder.

At the same time, Adam Eaton will be back, and the job in center is his. With Avisail Garcia out for the season, the Sox have more time to devote to player development. Particularly in the corner outfield spots, where Danks' glove has less value and where teams want more offense. And while nobody loves Alejandro De Aza's defense, he's good enough to be the primary backup in center, where Leury Garcia can also presumably play. These are probably the best back-of-the-roster choices the Sox can make with Paul Konerko taking up a mostly ceremonial spot.

Sending Sierra away means throwing him back on the waiver wire, which the Sox are understandably reluctant to do given their organizational lack of depth in the outfield. So for now Sierra gets his turn to audition, and Danks will go back to Charlotte where he'll probably have to hit better than Sierra does in Chicago to merit a callback without a trade or another injury opening that door for him.

Unless something better comes along than either Sierra or Danks.


  1. As I mentioned earlier this week, I would have optioned Semien to keep him playing every day and kept Danks around for his glove. Obviously, the Sox feel Semien is better served to stay up in a part-time role.

    I never would have considered designating Sierra. He was acquired because of the minimal outfield depth, and it would have been silly to throw him back on waivers just days after picking him up. It's reasonable to think his bat is better than Danks.

    Plus, Danks would have gone back down upon Eaton's return anyway. Once Eaton is back, they'll have Sierra around to be a platoon partner with De Aza, if that's the way they want to go.

    1. I agree on Semien. Despite his flair for the dramatic, he's got some work to do on improving his game. I'd have sent him down for the playing time. As it is, he probably has to be the guy sent down next when Eaton's back. So the extended stay is either a reward for the earlier good work, or because he's a better pinch-hitting option than Danks and the Sox are concerning themselves with that because they're a quasi-contender as long as they hang around .500.

      I wouldn't discount a Leury Garcia demotion, though.