Showing posts with label Dylan Axelrod. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dylan Axelrod. Show all posts

Monday, March 24, 2014

A look at the White Sox' weekend roster moves

The White Sox trimmed their roster down to 33 players Sunday with five roster moves.

Third baseman Matt Davidson, outfielder Jordan Danks and pitcher Jake Petricka were optioned to Triple-A Charlotte. Pitcher Dylan Axelrod was reassigned to minor league camp, and pitcher Mitchell Boggs was placed on waivers for the purpose of granting him an unconditional release.

We've discussed the third base scenario frequently on this blog, and things played out as we expected. The 22-year-old Davidson is going to Charlotte to refine his game. The Sox hope he develops into a long-term solution at the position. In the meantime, Conor Gillaspie is a reasonable placeholder on a rebuilding team.

Danks has to be frustrated about being sent down. He did everything he could to make the club. His spring slash line was a robust .333/.378/.738. He hit five home runs and totaled 10 RBIs. Unfortunately for him, the numbers game didn't work in his favor. The Sox are only keeping four outfielders, and he's the fifth guy behind Avisail Garcia, Adam Eaton, Dayan Viciedo and Alejandro De Aza.

There has been plenty of speculation -- including here on this blog -- about the Sox possibly trading one of Viciedo or De Aza. It doesn't look like that is going to happen, at least not initially. Perhaps the Sox couldn't find a deal to their liking.

Word on the street was the Sox were wanting to trade one of their left fielders, and sometimes when that happens rival GMs think they can acquire the player who is on the trading block with a low-ball offer -- mistakenly believing the trading team is desperate to make a deal. The Sox don't *have* to trade Viciedo or De Aza, so there was no reason to make a trade just for the sake of making trade. The loser in this whole scenario is Danks, who has to start the year in the minor leagues. But frankly, the Sox don't have much outfield depth in their organization once you get past those first five guys, so it might not be the worst thing in the world for the team to stand pat there.

Petricka is a guy we could see in the majors again if there's an injury in the bullpen. As for Axelrod, thank goodness the Sox aren't going into the season with him as the fifth starter again. We've seen that movie before, and it's not a good one. Axelrod is fine for organizational depth, but it would be foolish to count on him for 150 or 200 innings at the big-league level.

Boggs was coming off a bad season, and the Sox were hoping he would regain the form he showed in 2012 with the St. Louis Cardinals. It just didn't work out. He looked awful this spring, posting a 12.79 ERA in 6.1 innings. At least the Sox had the good sense to cut ties with him now. Sometimes, you sign a guy like this and you allow him to blow five or six games the first month of the season before you realize you made a mistake. It's better to cut your losses before that happens.

Quintana gets five-year extension

In other news Monday, the Sox signed starting pitcher Jose Quintana to a five-year contract that could be worth as much as $26.5 million.

If Quintana stays healthy for the life of the contract -- always a big if with pitchers -- that's a real team-friendly contract.

The Sox now have both Chris Sale and Quintana inked to reasonable long-term contracts. There's always a risk in committing to pitchers over the long haul, but considering what Sale and Quintana have done to this point in their respective careers, that risk is worth the potential reward for the Sox. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Which White Sox nonroster invitees will be worth watching?

When spring training opens next month, the White Sox will have 21 nonroster invitees in camp.

Several of the players on the list are retread veterans, including five who saw time with the Sox last season -- Dylan Axelrod (pictured), Brian Omogrosso, Hector Gimenez, David Purcey and Blake Tekotte.

Most Sox fans would just assume never see those guys on the South Side again. At best, these players are nothing more than organization depth.

Another group of players on this list are castoffs from other organizations, guys who stand little or no chance of making a big league roster. They include pitchers Parker Frazier, Omar Poveda, Zach Putnam and Mauricio Robles, infielder Alex Liddi and outfielder Denis Phipps.

All that said, one of the best parts of following spring training is seeing how some of the organization's prospects fare. Among those the Sox will be looking at this year are pitchers Chris Bassitt, Chris Beck, Cody Winiarski and Scott Snodgress; infielders Micah Johnson, Mike McDade and Andy Wilkins; catchers Miguel Gonzalez and Kevan Smith; and outfielder Keenyn Walker.

Who on that list will be worth your attention this spring? Well, I'll give you two names: Beck and Johnson.

Beck, 23, is the No. 9 prospect in the Sox organization according to Baseball America. He went 13-10 with a 3.07 ERA in 2013, splitting time between Winston-Salem and Birmingham. He won two playoff starts in helping the Barons to the Southern League championship. He's a strike-thrower with a low-90s fastball, a good sinker, which should help him if he ever plays at U.S. Cellular Field, and a decent changeup. His breaking stuff still needs to be refined, but he could be a reasonable back-of-the-rotation option for the Sox as early as 2015.

Johnson, a 23-year-old second baseman, is the No. 6 prospect in the organization. He is intriguing because he has game-breaking speed. He led all minor leaguers with 84 stolen bases in 2013. He was the MVP of the South Atlantic League All-Star Game before being called up to Birmingham, where he hit .368 in the postseason. We'll have to wait and see whether Johnson's hit tool develops enough to be a major league player. As they say, you can't steal first base. But, this is a player who can steal second and third if he can find a way to get on first consistently.

You never know which prospects will take a leap forward in a given year, but if I were to take an educated guess, Beck and Johnson would be the two I'd pick.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

White Sox starting pitchers should stage a walkout

Following Monday night's preposterous 3-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians, the White Sox find themselves in last place in the American League Central with a 7-12 record. They have lost 10 of their last 13 games.

However, you can't blame the starting pitchers for this tailspin. The rotation of Chris Sale, Jake Peavy, Gavin Floyd, Jose Quintana (pictured) and Dylan Axelrod has been holding up its end of the bargain.

Here is a rundown of how Sox starting pitchers have performed over the last 10 games:

April 12 at Cleveland:
Quintana: 7 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 Ks, ND in a 1-0 loss.

April 13 at Cleveland (only really bad start in the bunch):
Sale: 4.1 IP,  8 H, 8 ER, 2 BB, 3Ks, L in a 9-4 loss.

April 14 at Cleveland:
Peavy: 7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 11 Ks, W in a 3-1 win.

April 15 at Toronto:
Floyd: 4.1 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 6Ks, L in a 4-3 loss.

April 16 at Toronto:
Axelrod: 6 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4Ks, ND in a 4-3 win.

April 17 at Toronto:
Quintana: 6.2 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7Ks, W in a 7-0 win.

April 18 at Toronto:
Sale: 7 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6Ks, L in a 3-1 loss.

April 20 vs. Minnesota:
Peavy: 7 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 9Ks, ND in a 2-1 loss

April 21 vs. Minnesota:
Floyd: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6Ks, ND in a 5-3 loss

April 22 vs. Cleveland:
Axelrod: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4Ks, ND in a 3-2 loss.

Notice that Sox starting pitchers have gone at least six innings and given up two runs or less in each of the last six games. Isn't that exactly what you want from your rotation? Yet the team is just 2-4 in that same stretch. Sox starters have given up just one single run in each of the last three games. The team has lost them all.

Here are the pitching totals for Sox starters over the last 10 games:
61.1 IP, 51 H, 20 ER, 18 BB, 63 Ks.

That will pencil out to a 2.93 ERA. If you take out Sale's bad outing on April 13, that combined ERA lowers to 1.89.

This is the kind of starting pitching that normally allows teams to get off to a good start. At worst, AT WORST, the Sox should be 6-4 in these 10 games. They probably should be 7-3 or 8-2. Instead, they are 3-7 because the position players have been so terrible, both at the plate and in the field.

I don't think anyone would blame the Sox starters if they walked into the clubhouse and gave all their teammates the silent treatment.  It makes you sick to your stomach to see all this good pitching go to waste.

 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Dylan Axelrod or Hector Santiago?

White Sox left-hander John Danks will have to start the season on the disabled list with a shoulder problem, leaving the team with a hole in its starting rotation.

Manager Robin Ventura had two options to pick from to plug that gap, Dylan Axelrod (pictured) or Hector Santiago. I've read a lot of comments from fans saying they'd prefer Santiago, but Ventura has given the Axelrod the nod.

Why?

Well, it's because Axelrod has been more effective in his career as a starter than he has been as a reliever. The samples sizes are small, but you can see a clear difference in performance:

Axelrod as a starter: 4.50 ERA, 1.39  WHIP, .263 batting average against, .761 OPS against, 21 BBs in 56 IP.

Axelrod as a reliever: 5.93 ERA, 1.90 WHIP, .298 batting average against, .844 OPS against, 9 BBs in 13.2 innings.

Throughout his minor-league career, Axelrod worked as a starting pitcher and that's just where he is more comfortable. He's not effective as a reliever, whereas Santiago is.

I like relievers who are capable of missing bats. Santiago can do just that. He has 81 strikeouts in 75.2 career innings. Axelrod has 59 Ks in 69.2 innings. Which pitcher is more likely to relieve with the bases loaded and record a critical strikeout to get out of trouble? Without question, it's Santiago.

Even Santiago agrees he's better suited for the bullpen (for now), while Axelrod is better suited for starting.

" (Axelrod) has done it for so long, and I've gotten half a season at it two years ago, and last year four starts at it," Santiago told MLB.com's Scott Merkin. "All around, he's been equipped for a starting role and I'm getting back and building up to it. I understand completely."

"I'm a better out-of-the-'pen guy than he is," Santiago added. "Going out there, I've done it more times than he has. The situation fits us both best."

I agree. I'm not a huge Axelrod fan. He's not a long-term solution in the rotation. The Sox need Danks back. But this is the best choice for the team in the short run.