Showing posts with label David Holmberg. Show all posts
Showing posts with label David Holmberg. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

White Sox must stop overusing Dan Jennings

Dan Jennings
The Pollyannas in the White Sox fan base tell me I should be rejoicing because the team "finally has a plan" to return to legitimate pennant contention.

From where I'm sitting, it appears part of the plan is to kill left-handed reliever Dan Jennings before Memorial Day.

Tuesday night's game, a 7-2 loss to the Minnesota Twins, got out of hand under Jennings' watch. With the Sox trailing 3-2 in the fifth, Jennings relieved and cleaned up a mess left by starter Mike Pelfrey. But the wheels came off when the lefty went back out for the sixth inning. Jennings allowed singles to three of the first four hitters he faced, and that set the table for a four-run Minnesota rally that put the game out of reach.

I can't blame Jennings because he has been overused in the early going this season. He has appeared in 15 of the 31 Sox games, and that seems excessive. The wear and tear is starting to take its toll, as Jennings was pitching well until this past week.

First 12 appearances: 2-0, 0.93 ERA, 7 Ks, 2 BBs, 10 H in 9.2 IP
Past 3 appearances: 0-0, 32.40 ERA, 0 Ks, 1 BB, 8 H in 1.2 IP

Yes, it's going wrong for Jennings now, and the overuse is a twofold problem: First, he's been the only left-hander in the bullpen for most of the year, which means he is being summoned frequently as a situational pitcher. The Sox recently added left-hander David Holmberg to the 25-man roster when Nate Jones went on the disabled list, but Holmberg is roster filler. He's not the type of pitcher who is going to be trusted in medium-leverage situations, let alone high-leverage roles.

Secondly, Jennings has been used as the "first man out" when a starter pitcher falters in the fifth or sixth inning. That was the case in Tuesday's game against the Twins, and it's been the case more than once in games started by Pelfrey and Dylan Covey.

Pelfrey has averaged 4.2 innings in his four starts, while Covey has averaged an even 5 innings in his five starts. Forty percent of the Sox rotation cannot make it through the sixth inning, ever, and that's going to cause somebody in the bullpen to either get hurt or lose effectiveness.

Jennings appears to be the first victim.

So, what are the Sox to do? They are boxed into a corner to some extent. Two guys who were supposed to be in the rotation -- Carlos Rodon and James Shields -- are on the disabled list, and return dates are unknown. In the meantime, somebody has to pitch. The Sox have been consistent in their message that they don't intend to rush their prospects, even though Triple-A results suggest Carson Fulmer and Reynaldo Lopez could probably pitch more effectively than Pelfrey and Covey.

But since the Sox don't want to take that step, Pelfrey and Covey are going to keep getting starts. My suggestion? Make them wear it if they don't pitch well. Pelfrey is supposed to be a veteran "innings eater." Well, let's see him eat some innings for once, even if the innings he is providing are not of good quality. That's better than running a left-handed bullpen asset such as Jennings into the ground. Covey is a Rule 5 pick and a developmental guy. Well, it's time to learn the hard way, kid.

When these guys go to the mound, tell them six innings are expected, come hell or high water. Will it result in losses? Of course, but the Sox are already losing the majority of games on the days Pelfrey and Covey pitch. (They are a combined 3-6 in those nine games.)

Another option: Designate Cody Asche for assignment and add a 13th pitcher to the roster. Asche has zero defensively utility, and he's hitting .107/.180/.179 for the season. He easily could be replaced with placeholder pitcher such as Juan Minaya, who is right-handed, but he could soak up some of the burden for the front end of the Sox bullpen. 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

White Sox as contenders? I don't think so

Nate Jones
With the White Sox off to a respectable start, there have been some questions about what general manager Rick Hahn might do at the trading deadline if the team stays on the fringes of contention through the first half of the season.

Would he stay the course of a long-term rebuild? Or would he look to add to the roster for a second-half push in 2017?

I have wasted no effort pondering these questions, because I don't see any scenario in which the Sox hang in the race. Yes, the 14-12 start has been surprisingly watchable. However, I don't think this stretch of competitive ball is sustainable, especially knowing the Sox now have five pitchers on the disabled list.

Five pitchers on the DL! And it's only May 4.

Nate Jones is latest Sox pitcher to go on the shelf. He was placed on the 10-day disabled list Thursday (retroactive to Monday) with right elbow neuritis.

Left-hander David Holmberg's contract was purchased from Triple-A Charlotte. To make room for Holmberg on the 40-man roster, Carlos Rodon (left biceps bursitis) was transferred to the 60-day disabled list.

Never mind the holes the Sox have in center field or at designated hitter, their biggest problem is Rodon, James Shields, Jones, Jake Petricka and Zach Putnam all being on the disabled list.

The Sox have no fewer than two relief pitchers -- and arguably three -- who have no business being in the major leagues. With Rodon and Shields both sidelined, the Sox have significant holes in the No. 4 and No. 5 spots in the rotation.

As we've said before, Dylan Covey is on the roster only because he's a Rule 5 draft pick, and the Sox would like to hold onto him and see if they can develop him. As for Mike Pelfrey, I guess we can give him credit for keeping Wednesday's game scoreless through five innings.

But the wheels came off the third time he went through the Kansas City batting order in the sixth inning. A scoreless game turned into a 3-0 Royals lead in the span of four batters, and the Sox ended up losing, 6-1.

Pelfrey, at this stage of his career, is a five-inning pitcher, at best. And there isn't a single contending team in the league that he could pitch for.

The possibility of the Sox hanging in the race, honestly, it's not worth much discussion. I can't see a situation where that happens given the volume of injuries the team is dealing with this early in the season. Regression will hit at some point here.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Buyer's remorse? Five worst recent deadline deals, White Sox edition

The White Sox have had success adding pieces at the trade deadline, but it's maybe arguable they've had more failure making deals under duress. Here are the five worst July trades since 2000:

5. July 25, 2002: Traded Ray Durham and cash to the Oakland Athletics. Received Jon Adkins.

Durham was set to be a free agent at the end of the year and a July nosedive had taken the Sox from four games back in the AL Central in late June to 14 games behind Cleveland when Durham was traded.

Not wanting to sign the then-30-year-old Durham to a big contract, but determined to get something for him, the Sox took a flyer on Adkins. Which might have made sense if not for the fact that under baseball's last collective bargaining agreement, the Sox could have offered Durham arbitration and either gotten him to agree to an affordable one-year contract, or gotten draft pick compensation when he signed with another team.

The Sox might have been better off with that draft pick than watching Adkins flounder to a 5.08 ERA in just less than 80 innings in his Sox career. Sox fans probably would have more enjoyed another two months of Durham's under-appreciated career.

4. July 28, 2012: Traded Eduardo Escobar and Pedro Hernandez to the Minnesota Twins. Received Francisco Liriano.

Liriano was walking one of the valleys of an up-and-down career with the Twins, but as a left-hander with good velocity, he seemed like a good candidate to improve under the tutelage of Sox pitching coach Don Cooper.

Instead of recapturing the dominant form he had flashed at times since his rookie year, Liriano kept nibbling at the strike zone, walking too many batters and giving up home runs at inopportune times. Deciding they'd done all they could do with him, the Sox let Liriano walk in the offseason only to watch him have a resurgent year that helped carry Pittsburgh to the playoffs for the first time in more than two decades.

Liriano probably wouldn't have found that success in the American League, or without a ballpark that helps hide some of his flaws. And the Sox probably don't miss Escobar or Hernandez. It was still a disappointing outcome as Lirano's struggles were part of the reason a division title slipped through the Sox's fingers.

3. July 26, 2001: Traded James Baldwin and cash to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Received Jeff Barry, Gary Majewski and Onan Masaoka.

The Sox predictably got little for Baldwin, who like Durham was set to be a free agent after the season in which he was traded. Unlike Durham, Baldwin wasn't very good.

What makes this trade embarrassing for the Sox is that they didn't actually want Jeff Barry, a journeyman minor league first baseman. They wanted pitching prospect Jonathan Berry.

Berry never made the majors, otherwise this would have been an embarrassment that could have lived on for years and years.

2. July 27, 2011: Traded Edwin Jackson and Mark Teahen to the Toronto Blue Jays. Received Jason Frasor and Zach Stewart.

Instead of trading their best asset near the deadline, the Sox basically bundled it with Teahen's ill-advised contract for salary relief, plus the meh and bleh performances they'd respectively get from Frasor and Stewart.

Jackson certainly had value as the Jays immediately spun him off in a package for Cardinals center fielder Colby Rasmus. In a way Rasmus has been a hitting version of Jackson, with his up-and-down career that hasn't seen him reach his full potential. Though it's no doubt Rasmus' line with Toronto (.233/.295/.431) would make a number of Sox outfielders over the last three years envious.

No matter how crowded their rotation was at the time, or if Rasmus or someone similar would have been available in a similar package, the Sox should have done much better in any deal with Jackson while he was near the peak of his value.

1. July 30, 2010: Traded David Holmberg and Daniel Hudson to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Received Edwin Jackson.

Jackson graces the list twice, coming and going. Even though Jackson had one the better stretches of his career with the Sox (3.66 ERA over 196 2/3 innings), it was an awful idea to trade the young Hudson for him straight up, much less adding another prospect in Holmberg.

The Sox were concerned Hudson's fly ball tendencies wouldn't play in their ballpark. They were frustrated that he nibbled at the plate in his brief audition with the big club. And they were worried he would get hurt.

The injury concerns were validated when Hudson needed elbow surgery during the 2012 season, and then needed another during his comeback attempt. Still, he pitched to a 3.58 ERA over 347 innings for the Diamondbacks (who also play in a homer-friendly park) before his injuries. He also did it for nearly league minimum salaries.

Besides not getting good value back in Jackson, it was rumored the Sox had only traded for him in an attempt to pry Adam Dunn away from the Washington Nationals. When Nats GM Mike Rizzo either backed out, or the Jackson-for-Dunn swap wasn't as solid as Sox GM Kenny Williams had believed, the Sox were stuck with Jackson and ended up claiming Manny Ramirez off waivers in August to bolster their offense instead.

All of this was to help hold on to an unlikely division lead grabbed after an unreal 26-5 stretch during June and July. And the Sox did lead as late as Aug. 8, but the reinforcements didn't really matter much as the team slid to a double-digit deficit by mid-September. 

That the Sox were willing to spend big bucks to keep their run alive in 2010 only made it more frustrating when they punted in 2011 just to save a few bucks they never would have had the need to spend if they'd kept Hudson around.