Showing posts with label Gordon Beckham. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gordon Beckham. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

White Sox designate John Danks for assignnment

The White Sox on Tuesday announced their intention to designate veteran left-hander John Danks for assignment.

Danks is 0-4 with a 7.25 ERA in four starts this season, and as we've chronicled previously on this blog, he is the one guy who seems to be holding the Sox back this season. The South Siders enter Wednesday's game against Boston with a 19-8 record, which means they are 19-4 when Danks doesn't pitch.

General manager Rick Hahn indicated right-hander Erik Johnson will be recalled from Triple-A Charlotte to take Danks' spot in the starting rotation. Johnson will start Thursday's game against Boston.

“(Danks) was an important part of some very good White Sox teams,” Hahn told CSNChicago's Dan Hayes. “This is about putting us in the best position to win ballgames going forward. We feel we have a pretty special thing going on in this clubhouse right now. We have the opportunity to build off some of the momentum we already have created for ourselves, and we wanted to put ourselves in the best position to win games going forward.”

There's no question Danks has been a momentum killer during his starts in the early going this year. His appearances have put a stop to a five-game winning streak and a six-game winning streak already. The struggles are part of a longer-term trend since Danks underwent shoulder surgery in August 2012.

He has never been the same pitcher since returning in 2013. In 88 post-surgery starts, he has gone 22-44 with a 4.84 ERA. As a team, the Sox are 32-56 in those 88 games. He's just too big of a liability for a team that is off to a good start and has every intention of trying to win this year.

Letting Danks go will not be cheap. The club is eating the remaining $11.75 million on Danks' contract, which comes as a surprise to many longtime Sox observers, who are used to seeing owner Jerry Reinsdorf insist on getting a return on his investment.

For myself and other Sox fans, the move is refreshing, because it shows the Sox are serious about winning and willing to address problems quickly. In the past, we've seen this organization stick with high-priced players despite poor performance. (Why was Adam Dunn batting third in 2011 when his batting average was well below .200?)

In the past, we've seen this organization stick with struggling players (Tyler Flowers, Dayan Viciedo, Gordon Beckham) long after it became apparent they were never going to be solid, everyday contributors.

Whether the Sox have an internal solution for the No. 5 starter spot remains to be seen. But both the numbers and the eye test show that Danks is no longer capable of pitching at the major-league level. I commend the Sox for recognizing that and moving on.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Nick Swisher released by Braves

Nick Swisher
The Atlanta Braves released veteran outfielder and first baseman Nick Swisher on Monday.

The 35-year-old former White Sox knucklehead hit just .195 with four home runs and 17 RBIs in 46 games for Atlanta last season. Here's the funniest line from the AP story:

"There was no room for [Swisher] on the roster after the Braves signed Kelly Johnson, Jeff Francoeur, Gordon Beckham and Emilio Bonifacio to contend for spots on the bench."

Yes, it's true, Swisher's career has bottomed out to the point that Beckham and Bonifacio are considered better uses for roster spots on a rebuilding Atlanta team than he is.

Swisher is set to make $15 million this year, but the Cleveland Indians are paying most of that bill after trading Swisher and outfielder Michael Bourn to the Braves last season in exchange for third baseman Chris Johnson. Any team can now sign Swisher for the pro-rated portion of the league minimum.

I was horrified this morning to see the Sox listed as one of six possible landing spots for Swisher, according to an article on cbssports.com. Other teams listed are the Los Angeles Angels, Kansas City Royals, San Diego Padres, Philadelphia Phillies and Cleveland.

Swisher has hit just .224/.315/.373 in the three years since he signed a four-year, $56 million contract with the Indians. He has stunk for a long time. He's coming off surgeries on both his knees. He's 35 years old. I'd say he's done.

I hope the Sox stay far, far away from this guy. When Swisher was with the Sox in 2008, his nickname was "Dirty 30," as he wore uniform No. 30. I called him "Dirty .230" because that's about all he could hit.

At this point, a .230 average from Swisher would qualify as wishful thinking for any team that signs him.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Would Manny Acta be the right bench coach to work with White Sox manager Robin Ventura?

We mentioned earlier this week that former Washington Nationals and Cleveland Indians manager Manny Acta is one of the candidates for bench coach of the White Sox.

Below are some Acta quotes taken from this FanGraphs interview in 2012. I'm posting this because I agree with most of Acta's remarks here, and I think some of these ideas could be beneficial for White Sox manager Robin Ventura 

Lineup construction

"The main thing is scoring runs, so you need to stack up your best hitters up front. You forget about trying to put a guy in the second spot just because he can hit-and-run and bunt. After the first six hitters, you should put your best hitters in front of the [lesser] hitters. The bottom of your order should be the bottom. I’ve never been a big believer in the idea of having a second leadoff hitter. I don’t like putting a guy in the nine-hole who should be hitting in the seven- or eight-hole. To me, you have to maximize at bats. Your better hitters should have a shot at getting that extra at bat." 

The top of the order
"Speed at the top is important, but it doesn’t do you any good if you can’t get on base. It’s been proven over the years. Guys like Wade Boggs had no speed, but if you have a high on-base guy, you have a better chance of scoring runs than if you have a guy leading off who can’t steal first base. The guy who hits first obviously has to be an on-base-percentage guy. Then you go from there." 

The middle of the lineup
"Like I said, I’m not a big believer in the second hitter being a guy who can just put the bat on the ball. I think that spot is one of the most important parts of your lineup. Then I believe that the third hitter should be your best hitter in your lineup. Period. I’ve never been a big advocate of having your best hitter hit cleanup. I think he should hit in the first inning and not sometimes lead off the next inning with nobody on.

"Your cleanup hitter has to hit for extra bases. That’s a big part of his job. I don’t think I’d be going out on a limb to tell you that I don’t want to put a singles hitter there just because he can drive in some runs with ground balls. He has to carry some fear with him when he comes to the plate, so that my best hitter sees some pitches." 

The sacrifice bunt

"I’m not big on bunting guys from first to second. I don’t think it’s a secret, because the facts are out there. It’s been proven that a guy has a better chance of scoring from first with no outs than from second with one out. I have to have way too much of an advantage late in the game, bullpen-wise and great hitters lined up, to do that. At first and second with no outs, I usually only do it with the bottom of the order, or maybe the top guy in the order, depending on how he’s swinging the bat. It guarantees me a runner on third with less than two out and another runner in scoring position. But I probably won’t if we need multiple runs. If it’s the heart of my order, it won’t happen."

Think back to some of the lineup decisions Ventura made in 2015, and in previous years, that made you scratch your head. It would be nice if Ventura had someone on his staff to tell him the second hitter in the lineup shouldn't be a strictly a hit-and-run or bunt guy. It's not a good idea to have weaker hitters such Tyler Saladino or Gordon Beckham hitting second, yet we have seen that lineup construction over and over again under Ventura.

Also, Jose Abreu should never hit cleanup. Ventura would sometimes put him in that spot against left-handed pitching, and it always made me cringe. Like Acta, I'm a big believer in making sure the best hitter gets an AB in the first inning. Abreu should not be hitting lower than third in the Sox batting order.

Avisail Garcia also should never hit cleanup, albeit for a different reason. Garcia had only 32 extra-base hits in 601 plate appearances in 2015. He had no power to speak of, so why did he start 40 games in the cleanup spot? You got me.

I've never been able to get my mind around Ventura's philosophy on bunting. He often bunts when I think he shouldn't, and he often doesn't bunt when I think he should. I'm generally not big on giving away outs, so Acta's philosophy is agreeable to me overall.

One other thing I'll say about Acta: His record as a manager stinks. His .418 winning percentage in six seasons is pathetic, but the main criticism of him is he doesn't know how to relate to players. We've been told that player relations is a strength of Ventura's, and I have no reason to doubt that is the case. Ventura has his clubhouse under control. What he needs is some help when it comes to in-game strategy. Whether that comes from Acta or somebody else, that needs to be the point of emphasis for the Sox in hiring a new bench coach.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Three changes the White Sox could make today that wouldn't cost a thing

Last night, we highlighted the poor defense the White Sox played in the first inning behind starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija. Pitiful glove work sadly has become the norm and not the exception for this Chicago team through the first 29 games of the season.

If you've been watching, you already know that, so I won't pain you with further examples of the problem.

Rather, I'd like to present three changes the Sox could make today that would improve the team and not cost a thing. Note that none of these suggestions involve firing any of the organization men in the dugout.
Carlos Sanchez

  • 2. Move Carlos Rodon permanently into the rotation. Hector Noesi is a two-pitch pitcher. Put him in the bullpen where he belongs.
  • 3. Have Jose Abreu and Adam LaRoche flip roles. LaRoche becomes the primary first baseman. Abreu becomes the designated hitter most days.

I've identified three major problems with this team over the course of this 12-17 start. One of them is the catching situation. Unfortunately, there are no internal solutions, other than crossing your fingers and hoping Tyler Flowers and Geovany Soto play better.

The other two problems are very correctable with the solutions already available in house. One of the two is the back of the starting rotation. It's just not working out with Noesi, who hasn't won a start since Aug. 27, 2014. Rodon is ready and able, so let him pitch. Yes, he will have his ups and downs as all young players do, but I don't think having him pitch mop-up duty in the bullpen helps his development, nor does it help the Sox win games. Putting Rodon in the rotation allows him to not only develop his pitches, it will allow him to impact winning and losing. Based on what I've seen from Rodon, he will help the Sox more than he hurts them.

The biggest flaw on this team -- and it's a fatal one if it doesn't get addressed soon -- is the infield defense. The fan base is howling. They want manager Robin Ventura fired on the grounds that he doesn't emphasize fundamentals enough, and that he doesn't hold players accountable for their poor defense.

But let's take a step back and make an honest assessment of this infield: Abreu at first base, Johnson at second base, Alexei Ramirez at shortstop, and Conor Gillaspie at third base.

I'm sorry, but three of those four men are poor defensive players. All but Ramirez, who will soon turn 34 and is starting to show some regression, are subpar with the glove. People preach about accountability, but Ventura could show these guys the Tom Emanski instructional videos and drill them on fundamentals all day and they still wouldn't be a good defensive infield.

The good news is potential solutions exist, if the Sox would be willing to give them a try. Sanchez is a good fielding second baseman, and he's hitting .369/.394/.500 in Charlotte. Why isn't he in Chicago?

LaRoche is a top-notch fielder, yet the Sox are using him as their primary DH. Why? Team brass probably has a reason. I just don't know what it is.

Make LaRoche-Sanchez-Ramirez-Gillaspie your infield, and all of sudden your defense goes from pitiful to adequate, if not slightly above average. On days Gordon Beckham plays third base in place of Gillaspie, that infield is above average defensively.

Why won't the Sox try it? The organization has an annoying habit of ignoring defense when it comes to lineup and roster decisions. With the Sox, it's offense, offense, offense. Young players are promoted in the minor leagues based upon what they do offensively. Johnson is here because he's perceived as being ready for the big leagues offensively. His slow hands and poor footwork defensively are completely ignored, because the Sox are forever searching for that offensive upside.

It's backfiring, and they are too obstinate to make a change. They ought to reconsider before the season swirls completely down the drain.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Carlos Rodon wins his first MLB start; then John Danks posts his best outing of the season

We said going into the weekend that Carlos Rodon was in position to put pressure on the White Sox's incumbent back-end starters, if he could have a good outing against the Cincinnati Reds in his first major league start.

Rodon delivered a credible performance, going six innings. He allowed just two runs on four hits while striking out eight and walking four. He picked up the victory in an 8-2 Sox win Saturday night in the second game of a doubleheader.

Interestingly, circumstances beyond Rodon's control put some added pressure on him for the outing. The Sox's No. 5 starter, Hector Noesi, was struck by a line drive and had to leave the game in the second inning of the opener of the doubleheader. The Sox ended up running through most of their bullpen in a 10-4 loss, and that meant Rodon had to at least get through five innings and ideally six innings in the second game.

It didn't look good when Rodon walked the first two hitters he saw, but he wiggled out of a first-and-third, no-outs jam without allowing a run and settled in nicely from there.

The Sox needed three relievers to cover the last nine outs -- Jake Petricka, Zach Duke and David Robertson. Duke and Robertson were the only two Sox relievers not used in the blowout loss in the opener, so they were plenty fresh to protect the lead.

The heavy bullpen use on Saturday also put pressure on John Danks, who started Sunday's series finale. Danks had been knocked out in the third inning of his previous start, and a repeat of that performance was simply not an option. The Sox have two pitchers they typically use in long relief -- Scott Carroll, who worked 4.2 innings in Saturday's opener, and Rodon, who obviously started the second game.

That left Danks with no safety net for his start. He had to go six innings and preferably seven. He ended up responding with his best outing of the season: seven innings pitched, with just one run on six hits.

Robertson suffered his first blown save of the season, so Danks did not pick up a win, but there's a good case to be made that the Sox lefty's ability to provide both quality and quantity of innings was the biggest factor in Chicago's 4-3 victory. Only Duke and Robertson were called upon to work in relief, and after the blown save, the Sox scored winning run in the bottom of the ninth on Gordon Beckham's two-out RBI single off Cincinnati closer Aroldis Chapman.

The Sox are just 12-16 overall, but they are 10-5 at home, having taken two out of three games in each of their five home series to this point in the season. Next up, a road trip to Milwaukee and Oakland, where the Sox must do something about their miserable 2-11 record away from U.S. Cellular Field.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Was Monday's comeback win a slumpbuster for the White Sox?

If you watched Monday's game between the White Sox and the Cleveland Indians, you know it was looking like another lifeless loss for the South Siders.

The Sox were limited to no runs on four hits over the first eight innings by the combination of Cleveland starter Trevor Bauer and two relievers, and the Indians took a seemingly comfortable 3-0 lead into the ninth.

But it all unraveled from there for closer Cody Allen and the Tribe, as the Sox rallied for a 4-3 win. Chicago had six hits in the ninth inning, and it benefited from a tactical error by Indians manager Terry Francona and just poor pitching by Allen.

The key play came with one out and runners on second and third in the bottom of the ninth, when Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez sent a deep drive into center field. Francona had started Mike Aviles, an infielder by trade, in center field and inexplicably allowed him to remain in the game late, despite his regular center fielder (Michael Bourn) presumably being available off the bench.

I think Bourn makes the catch on Ramirez's ball for the second out of the inning, but he wasn't out there. Aviles was, and he took an odd route to the ball and seemingly didn't know where the wall was. He pulled up short, and the ball hit the base of the fence for a two-run double that brought the Sox within a run at 3-2.

Allen would completely implode from there, failing to record another out. Tyler Flowers, Gordon Beckham, Adam Eaton and Melky Cabrera delivered four consecutive singles, with Beckham's hit tying the game and Cabrera's winning it.

The victory improved the Sox record to 5-7, which strangely sounds a lot better than 4-8, although it's only a one-game difference. The question is whether a come-from-behind win like this can get the Sox going for the first time this year.

Well, it depends a lot on Tuesday night's starting pitcher, Hector Noesi. Quite a few Sox fans had hoped Saturday's 12-3 thumping of the Detroit Tigers was the slumpbuster Chicago was looking for. Unfortunately, any "momentum" from that victory dissipated quickly when Jose Quintana gave up a grand slam to Yoenis Cespedes in the first inning Sunday. The Tigers waxed the Sox, 9-1, in that game and put any thoughts of  Chicago building on Saturday's win to rest.

After the inspired rally on Monday, the Sox are once again in position to potentially get something started. If they get a good outing from Noesi on Tuesday, maybe they will. But the joy of Monday's win won't mean a thing if Noesi goes out and gives up four or five runs early in the game.

The Sox need their starting pitcher to put up some zeroes early, and if they can score in the early innings against Indians starter Carlos Carrasco, then maybe things will start to snowball their way.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Weekend thoughts: Chris Sale, bullpen, late-game managerial tactics

The White Sox won't go 0-162 after all, after they picked up a pair of weekend victories over the Minnesota Twins. The Sox rallied from a 4-0 deficit Saturday to win, 5-4, and backed that up with a 6-2 win Sunday. Here are a few takeaways from what we saw in these two games:

1. Chris Sale looks healthy. The Sox ace was facing major league hitters for the first time this year after missing most of the spring with an avulsion fracture in his foot, but there were few signs of rust as he picked up the victory in Sunday's game.

The left-hander allowed one run on five hits over six innings. He struck out eight, walked just one and threw 72 of his 98 pitches for strikes. His 98th and final pitch registered 98 mph on the radar gun. The velocity and command of his fastball were both present, and his changeup was working well, too.

The exciting thing about Sale is there is still another level he can get to from here. His slider was ineffective Sunday. He threw it only 10 times, and by my unofficial count, three of the five hits he allowed came on that pitch. When a pitcher misses time with injury, usually the last thing to come back to him is the feel for his breaking pitch. That was the only component missing for Sale in this start.

Fortunately, his overpowering fastball and effective change were more than enough against a light-hitting Twins team. Sale's next start is against the Detroit Tigers, so he'll likely need the slider a little more against a better offensive team.

2. One of the better parts of this weekend for me as a Sox fan was seeing newly acquired relievers David Robertson and Zach Duke do the jobs they were signed to do.

Duke worked a scoreless eighth Saturday to keep the game tied at 4-4. After the Sox scored a run in the bottom half of the inning to take a 5-4 lead, Robertson struck out all three hitters he faced in the ninth inning to earn his first save with the Sox.

Robertson overpowered the 7-8-9 hitters in the Minnesota lineup. It was an example of a dominant closer dominating hitters he should be dominating, so from that perspective the achievement probably shouldn't be celebrated that much.

But from the perspective of Sox fans, we've watched our alleged "closers" fail to throw strikes to punch-and-judy hitters and walk their way into trouble one too many times over the past few seasons. It was a refreshing change to watch Robertson go right at guys and protect a one-run lead without forcing fans to gnaw their fingernails down to their bloody stubs.

Duke also worked the eighth inning on Sunday. The defense behind him was poor -- he was forced to get five outs in the inning -- but he limited the damage to just one run. Duke left the mound with a 3-2 lead. The Sox scored three in the bottom of the eighth, and Robertson once again retired the side in order in the ninth in a non-save situation.

3. Speaking of the bottom of the eighth inning Sunday, the Sox took advantage of what I thought was a rookie mistake by new Twins manager Paul Molitor.

Minnesota relief pitcher Aaron Thompson had a pretty good series for himself. Thompson retired all four batters he faced Saturday. He retired all four batters he faced Sunday, too. He posted a 1-2-3 seventh inning and struck out Sox DH Adam LaRoche to start the eighth inning.

But I guess the left-handed Thompson was doing too good of a job. Molitor apparently didn't want him to face Avisail Garcia with one out and nobody on base in a 3-2 game, so he brought in right-hander Blaine Boyer.

Boyer faced four hitters -- all right-handed -- and he gave up a single to Garcia, an RBI single to Alexei Ramirez, a two-run homer to Gordon Beckham and a single to Tyler Flowers. All four were line drives.

Did I mention Boyer was the same guy who blew the game for the Twins on Saturday? Boyer is terrible, but Molitor wanted his righty-vs.-righty matchups, and he got them.

Personally, I felt like doing cartwheels when Molitor removed the effective Thompson from the game. It's always amazing to me when managers remove a left-handed pitcher who is throwing the ball well for no other reason than the fact that a right-handed hitter is stepping to home plate.

It's just silly, lazy managing, and it worked out nicely for the Sox in this case.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

White Sox hope to avoid messy succession plan at second base

If you looked at the spring training stats a couple weeks ago and mentally began projecting White Sox prospect Micah Johnson for the second base job, you were among the many who thought the speedster had seized the role.

It's easy to forget that Johnson didn't begin the spring as the favorite. That would have been Carlos Sanchez, another Sox prospect who received a call-up last summer after Gordon Beckham was traded.

Something funny has happened since Johnson's hot start: Sanchez has caught up to him.

Johnson: .321/.368/.453
Sanchez: .371/.436/.371

All the caveats about spring training stats and small sample sizes apply. And we know neither guy is going to hit well above .300 all year. That's why we shouldn't be so excited for Johnson's first two weeks of spring, and why we should remember why Sanchez was favored to start the season as the second baseman.

Sanchez didn't blow anyone's doors off last year when he was called up (.250/.269/.300 in 104 PAs), but was doing good work in AAA (.293/.349/.412). That represented a solid bounce-back year for the 22-year-old when he had hit only .241/.293/.296 after being rushed to that level the season before. Sanchez has certainly shown adaptability.

Beyond optimism that Sanchez can improve the bat work he displayed in his audition, scouts agree he's much more polished defensively than Johnson, something the Sox might wish to carry with them into the season with some other defensive question marks around the diamond.

Then there's the matter of what Johnson doesn't have working in his favor.

The first is that he's not on the team's 40-man roster already. Picking Johnson over Sanchez could mean making another hard choice somewhere else.

There's the matter of Johnson's health. He did not get a call-up last year because he ended the season injured.

There's Johnson's lack of performance and experience at AAA. His overall minor league line of .294/.351/.401 is a combination of his robust AA performance (.329/.414/.466) and a forgettable one in Charlotte (.275/.314/.370 in just over 300 PAs).

Sliding a prospect into a starting role with that resume isn't something the Sox have been historically keen to do. The last time they started a season with a traditional rookie position player (traditional as in not an older Cuban) with fewer than 400 AAA plate appearances, it was Mike Caruso.

In that span if you go to fewer than 500 AAA plate appearances for a rookie given a job to start the year, you only get Brian Anderson and Chris Getz, and both hit better than Johnson has thus far at AAA.

The potential in Johnson's bat and his ability to improve on defense certainly gives him more upside than Sanchez, but realistically, all Sanchez had to do was keep the competition close to emerge with the job. And maybe he will by the end of the week.

Whichever player the Sox choose, they'd better be ready to stick by that decision.

It's easy to envision a scenario where Sanchez starts the season, and hits horribly through April and May. The Sox have had enough, but instead of proving he can hit and stay healthy, Johnson is struggling or injured at Charlotte. Then Beckham is back to start?

That's probably a better Plan C for second base than the Sox have had in a decade. It's still a far cry from where they want to be. In that worst-case scenario, no answers have been found about any players, or the future of the position.

Plan A, be it the safe decision with Sanchez or the more electrifying option of Johnson, needs to be seen through to the end. Whichever young player the Sox pick, they might need to settle for less than the ideal of watching that guy hit the ground running. It might mean living with some growing pains and resisting the temptation to return the devil they know (Beckham) to his starting role.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

White Sox manager Robin Ventura considers carrying 13 pitchers

The offseason and the start of spring training has been jovial and full of optimism for the White Sox and their fans, but here's the first thing I've heard in a while that makes my stomach a little queasy: Manager Robin Ventura is considering carrying 13 pitchers when the team comes north to start the season.

“You could take the other route where you bring an extra pitcher,” Ventura told ESPN's Doug Padilla. “With the versatility we have, we have some options on how we are going to go early in the year, with some days off and probably have some rainouts and things like that, but you want to be protected all the way around. Right now, we are pretty open to it.” 

I shudder.

You can see how this idea of roster construction got hatched. Assuming either Micah Johnson or Carlos Sanchez wins the starting second base job, the Sox will have two versatile players on their bench. Gordon Beckham can play three positions. Emilio Bonifacio can play six positions. With Bonifacio's ability to play the outfield and Beckham's ability to cover the infield positions, you can make a case that the Sox don't need a true fourth outfielder to take up the 25th spot on the roster. I understand the philosophy; I just disagree with it.

Ventura actually brought up the biggest reason for my disagreement: You have days off early in the season. In fact, the Sox have three scheduled off days before the season is even two weeks old. In addition, the weather stinks in April. It will be a huge upset if all the early-season games are played as scheduled in the upper Midwest. Is there going to be enough work for 13 pitchers? I don't think so. I don't see the Sox being in any danger of overworking their pitchers early in the season, even if they were to carry only 11 guys.

Moreover, the Sox have a solid top three in the rotation this year. Chris Sale, Jeff Samardzija and Jose Quintana are expected to get the game into the seventh or eighth inning more times than not. We already know new closer David Robertson has the last three outs in the ninth. If things go according to plan, that means most days you need middle relief to cover about 3-6 outs a day. Do you really need seven relief pitchers who are not named Robertson to cover those 3-6 middle-inning outs? Not in my world.

One of the things I like about the Bonifacio addition is his ability to come off the bench, pinch run and steal a bag in a key situation. But when you have only two other position players on your bench, you have to be cautious about using a guy in a specialized role like that. Under this "13 pitchers" scenario, Bonifacio would be the only backup outfielder on the roster, so if the manager uses him situationally, he leaves himself with no other outfield option if a game goes extra innings, and he leaves himself with no protection in the event a player gets injured. For me, that's an uncomfortable scenario.

I just don't see a lot of benefit to this, especially when the "13th pitcher" would likely be one of Daniel Webb, Maikel Cleto and Eric Surkamp. Those guys were members of the hated and despised 2014 White Sox bullpen. Don't we want to see less of them, not more?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Gordon Beckham returns to White Sox; Dayan Viciedo designated for assignment

The White Sox announced Wednesday they have agreed with infielder Gordon Beckham on a one-year, $2 million contract.

The club also designated outfielder Dayan Viciedo for assignment, after apparently failing to find any takers on the trade market.

Beckham, 28, was the Sox's first-round draft pick in 2008 and struggled with the bat throughout most of his five-plus seasons with the team. He was traded to the Los Angeles Angels on Aug. 21 and finished 2014 with a .226 average, 27 doubles, nine home runs and 44 RBIs.

We already know Beckham, a lifetime .245 hitter, isn't good enough with the bat to be an everyday second baseman. The good news is the Sox's intention seems to be to use him in a utility role.

“Adding Gordon improves the depth and flexibility of our roster,” Sox general manager Rick Hahn said in a statement. “We are thrilled to have him back. Like Emilio Bonifacio, Gordon brings the ability to play solid defense at multiple positions or play on an everyday basis should the need arise. This also gives [manager] Robin [Ventura] the ability to play matchups more effectively when setting the lineup.”

Ah, matchups.

Most of Beckham's critics probably didn't realize that even at his worst last season he could still hit left-handed pitching. Here are his slash lines from last year:

vs. LHP: .293/.349/.431
vs. RHP: .203/.242/.318

Beckham can hit lefties; Conor Gillaspie can hit righties. There's your third base platoon, Sox fans. We know Beckham is good enough defensively to play anywhere on the infield. His glove is a plus at second base, and it's no worse than average at third base. The Sox could even throw him at shortstop, his college position, in a pinch.

If fans put aside their bias, they can see this signing makes sense -- as long as Beckham is used in a utility role to maximize his strengths. If both Micah Johnson and Carlos Sanchez fail at second base this year and Beckham becomes the everyday player at that spot once more, well, that's not ideal. Cross your fingers and hope that doesn't happen.

With this move, the Sox are about to part ways with Viciedo. The 25-year-old hit .231 with 21 home runs and 58 RBIs last year. He's neither a good fielder nor a good baserunner, and his bat was simply never good enough to overcome his other weaknesses. There didn't seem to be any room for him on the Sox's 2015 roster, and apparently he has no trade value either.

Lastly, Beckham's return gives us another opportunity to cue up "Welcome Back Kotter." That's been happening a lot lately ...

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Adam Eaton returns; Jordan Danks caught in numbers game (again)

White Sox center fielder Adam Eaton is set to return from the disabled list in time for Tuesday's game against the Cleveland Indians. This is good news for everyone associated with the Sox organization.

Well, it's good news for everyone except Jordan Danks, who was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte for the umpteenth time in the past three years to make room for Eaton on the 25-man roster.

Danks' demotion is not based upon poor performance. He has done everything he has been asked to do. He has started 11 of the past 13 Sox games in Eaton's place, and has caught every ball you would expect a center fielder to catch. Offensively, his .289/.317/.368 slash line over that same span is plenty good enough for a player who was providing above-average defense at an up-the-middle position.

This isn't the first time Danks has been demoted for reasons other than performance. He batted .333 with five home runs during spring training this year. He did everything possible to snag a major league roster spot as an extra outfielder. But in March, as he is now, Danks was caught in a numbers game.

There are two reasons for his demotions: 1) He's considered the fifth outfielder on a team that only wants to carry four outfielders, and 2) He has an option remaining. Fairly or not, players who have an option(s) remaining are more likely to lose their roster spot than those who do not.

Eaton and Avisail Garcia are healthy at the same time for the first time since the second week of April. Those two outfielders are part of the Sox' present and future. If they are available, they are going to play. The third outfield spot remains a question mark. At least until the Sept. 1 roster expansion, when Danks will be recalled and Moises Sierra will come off the disabled list, the Sox appear to be going back to the left field plan they started the season with: a platoon with Alejandro De Aza and Dayan Viciedo.

The thing that's interesting about all this is that the coaching staff plays Danks frequently when he's available to them.

Garcia has been back from his four-month stint on the disabled list for eight games, and the most common outfield combination we've seen during that stretch is De Aza in left field, Danks in center field and Garcia in right field.

Manager Robin Ventura had the option of going with Viciedo in left, De Aza in center and Garcia in right, but he only used that combination just one time in those eight games. Danks started the other seven games in center field. Viciedo started just three of those eight games.

With Garcia, Danks, Viciedo and De Aza all available, the coaching staff seemed most comfortable with Danks on the field and Viciedo on the bench. Yet when Eaton becomes available, the guy who has been sitting on the bench (Viciedo) hangs around, while the guy who is playing center field (Danks) is packing his bags for Triple-A.

It makes you wonder if there's somebody in the front office who doesn't want to give up just yet on Viciedo and his tantalizing offensive potential. As we've mentioned before, Garcia's injury gave Viciedo a second chance to prove himself as an everyday player this season. Viciedo has squandered it. We know he's a horrible defensive player. His outfield gaffe on Sunday in New York cost Sox ace Chris Sale and the team a win against the Yankees. He has to hit to justify his roster spot, and his .233/.279/.397 slash line doesn't make the grade.

Viciedo has had 1,705 plate appearances in a White Sox uniform, including at least 470 in each of the past three seasons. Of those three seasons, this is his worst of the three. Much like Gordon Beckham, he's regressed despite receiving ample opportunity to right the ship. Maybe the coaching staff has recognized this, and that's the reason Viciedo was the guy who lost playing time upon Garcia's return. At some point, a player goes from having tantalizing offensive potential to being a bust. The White Sox might be at that stage with Viciedo.

I don't think Danks is an everyday outfielder by any means. He's not a good enough hitter. However, I think he's more likely than Viciedo to stick in the majors as a reserve on the basis of his ability to effectively play all three outfield positions. That versatility is a quality you want in a backup player. Viciedo can't play effectively anywhere on the field, and despite his potential, his offensive results are too marginal to keep him around.

Next year, Danks will be out of options. They won't be able to put him on the Triple-A shuttle again. The next time the Sox are faced with a "Viciedo or Danks" decision, whether that comes in the offseason or next spring, would it be out of line to suggest they keep the player who can handle center field and catch the ball? 

Friday, August 22, 2014

White Sox trade Gordon Beckham to Angels

Just hours after we said the White Sox should be eager to move on from Gordon Beckham, the club traded the struggling second baseman to the Los Angeles Angels for a player to be named later.

Beckham will not be a starting player with the AL West-leading Angels, who are set in the infield with Howie Kendrick at second base, Erick Aybar at shortstop and David Freese at third base.

Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said Beckham will come off the bench against left-handed pitchers and play multiple positions, according to a report in the Orange County Register.

Beckham leaves Chicago in the worst slump of his six-year career. He's hitting just .158 since July 1, a span of 163 plate appearances. A recent article on southsidesox.com indicated Beckham's .371 July OPS represented the worst month by a White Sox starting player in 46 years. 

We cited the statistics earlier today, so we won't beat a dead horse. It was time for both Beckham and the White Sox to move on. If anything, the Sox erred on the side of having too much patience with Beckham. The former first-round pick was given nearly 2,900 plate appearances with the South Siders over the past six years. If you're not a good hitter after that many at-bats, you're never going to be a good hitter.

“You want to give everybody a fair opportunity and especially a guy you have drafted and developed and especially those who have had success at the big league level,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn told ESPN Chicago's Doug Padilla. “You want to give them the chance to fulfill and reach and extend on that potential. With Gordon having close to 2,900 plate appearances in a White Sox uniform, I think we are all very comfortable that we did give him that chance.”

Indeed they did.

Carlos Sanchez has been recalled from Triple-A Charlotte to replace Beckham on the Sox' roster. Sanchez was hitting .293 with seven home runs, 57 RBIs and 16 stolen bases in 110 games for the Knights.

I would expect Sanchez to be in the lineup at second base Friday night when the Sox open a three-game set against the New York Yankees.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

White Sox fans won't be seeing Micah Johnson in September

The Sept. 1 roster expansion is still a week and a half away, but we know we won't be seeing White Sox prospect Micah Johnson at U.S. Cellular Field next month.

Johnson, who has hit .294 between Double-A and Triple-A this year, has been shut down for the season due to a left hamstring strain that has plagued him for months.

It's unfortunate because Johnson is one of the best position prospects in the White Sox system. He's considered close to major-league ready, and he plays a position of need -- second base.

However, it's impossible to argue with this decision. It's the right move. Johnson's best asset is his speed, and he's been limited in that area for a significant portion of the season. The proof is in his stolen base numbers.

Johnson attracted a good deal of attention during the 2013 season when he stole 84 bases in 110 attempts over 131 games at three different levels. This year, Johnson has just 22 steals in 36 attempts over 102 games at two levels. He's not running as frequently, and he hasn't been as successful in the limited number of attempts he's made. That shows his legs aren't feeling good.

This is a setback for the White Sox, who have to be eager to replace incumbent second baseman Gordon Beckham at this point.

Even if you're a fan of Beckham's defense, his offense has become so poor that it's impossible to ignore. He's having the worst season of his career by any measure. His slash line is a horrible .221/.263/.336. His season OPS of .598 is well below his career mark of .680. Anytime you have an everyday player with an OPS below .600, that player needs to be replaced. I don't care how good his defense is.

Worse yet, Beckham is regressing with the bat, perhaps fading with the knowledge that his days on the South Side are numbered. His brutal July (.138/.158/.213) has been backed up with almost-as-miserable August (.190/.217/.207). Combined, his OPS has slipped below .400 since July 1.

With that knowledge at hand, the Sox should bench Beckham for the final month and put him out of his misery. Ideally, Johnson would be the guy you play in September, but that just can't happen right now.

Opportunity knocks for the Sox' two other middle infield prospects, Carlos Sanchez and Marcus Semien. Both appear to be candidates for a September recall. Johnson's injury combined with Beckham's ineptness has created an opening for at least one of these two players.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Gordon Beckham is drowning in his 'prove it' season

Time for another round of player comparison. Each of these four slash lines belongs to an everyday player in the White Sox lineup. Which would you say is the worst?

Player A: .235/.292/.328
Player B: .224/.274/.355
Player C: .235/.307/.361
Player D: .236/.287/.400

If you said B, that means you believe Gordon Beckham is the worst hitter in a Chicago lineup that has its share of weak bats.

Beckham is in the process of playing himself out of town with a painful, soul-crushing slump. He is 1 for 22 since the All-Star break. He is 6 for 66 in the month of July, posting a .091/.127/.136 slash line over that period. He has not hit a home run since June 24.

You can always tell when Beckham is in a terrible spin because White Sox TV announcer Ken "Hawk" Harrelson will always protect him by talking up Beckham's "strong arm" at second base, and by noting the number of double plays the Sox have turned on the season. If you watched the broadcast of Wednesday's 2-1 loss to the Kansas City Royals, you heard Harrelson give that speech no fewer than three times.

But no matter what way you slice it, Beckham is drowning in his "prove it" season, and it's time for the Sox to move on. I can live with fewer double plays being turned if I can have a second baseman with an OBP of more than .274. Beckham is on his way to the worst season of his mediocre (at best) career.  He's been in the big leagues for five years now, and it's folly to assume he's ever going to become more than he is. He's not a prospect anymore.

The Sox have other options, too. Marcus Semien (.241/.338/.454) hasn't exactly been tearing it up in the minor leagues, but Carlos Sanchez (.295/.355/.413) is having a nice year at Triple-A Charlotte. Prospect Micah Johnson (.303/.333/.404) is inching closer to being big-league ready, as well. Any of those three stands a decent-to-good chance of equaling or bettering Beckham's production with the bat, and all would cost less than the $4.1 million the Sox are paying this year for Beckham to hit .224.

There are plenty of trade rumors swirling around Beckham, and perhaps that has contributed to his miserable, seemingly distracted July performance. However, it's hard to tell whether trade rumors are the cause of Beckham's woes, because we've seen prolonged slumps like this from him before. I'm forced to come to the conclusion that he's just a poor hitter, and that the Sox can do better at that position. In fact, they must do better.

It's time to trade Beckham. Get whatever you can get and spend the last two months of the season taking a look at one of the infield prospects from Triple-A. The Sox are 10 games out of first in the AL Central. It's time to start looking toward next year. Beckham is part of the problem, and he's not part of the solution. Is there someone else in the organization who can help? Let's find out.

(For the record, Player A above is Tyler Flowers. Player C is Alejandro De Aza. Player D is Dayan Viciedo.)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Justin Verlander takes a beating from White Sox

As a White Sox fan, I used to dread games when the team would have to face Detroit right-hander and former Cy Young award winner Justin Verlander.

I don't have those pangs of fear anymore.

We discussed it on this blog a couple weeks ago: It looks like Verlander's best days are behind him. And, if that's the case, then Detroit can be had in the AL Central Division race.

When I looked at Wednesday night's matchup between Verlander and Chicago left-hander John Danks, my initial instinct was not "Oh crap," as it might have been two or three years ago. Instead it was, "Hey, the Sox could win this one."

Win it they did, 8-2. The victory means the Sox (33-33) have as many wins as the first-place Tigers (33-28) and are just 2.5 games back in the division race.

However, the main story I took out of this game was Verlander's continuing vulnerability. The Sox touched him up for seven runs on eight hits over 5.2 innings. The erstwhile Detroit ace has now given up five runs or more in five of his past six starts. His ERA over that stretch is 8.72. His season ERA has swelled to 4.61. That's Hector Noesi territory right there.

And, anyone who watched this game knows the Sox should have scored more runs than they did. The South Siders loaded the bases with just one out in the third inning, but neither Conor Gillaspie nor Jose Abreu could knock in a run.

The Sox also got a one-out triple from Adam Eaton in the fifth inning, but failed to score after the Sox center fielder was thrown out at the plate on grounder off the bat of Gordon Beckham.

Verlander found himself in bases-loaded, no-outs jam in the sixth, and this time he did not get off the hook. With the score tied 1-1, Dayan Viciedo grounded into a double play that gave the Sox a one-run lead. The twin killing gave Verlander a great chance to minimize damage and keep his team in the game. Instead, he imploded.

Alejandro De Aza singled in a run. Verlander then walked light-hitting catcher Adrian Nieto and Eaton back-to-back to reload the bases. Beckham ended Verlander's night with a two-run single that put the Sox ahead 5-1.

Detroit summoned Naperville product Ian Krol from the bullpen, and the lefty provided little relief. Gillaspie's two-run double increased the Sox' advantage to 7-1. After an intentional walk to Abreu, Adam Dunn singled to make it 8-1. Chicago cruised to victory from there.

How often do you get a seven-run inning in a game started by Justin Verlander? The answer used to be never. Now, it can be done. The Sox proved it Wednesday night.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Little League-style inning costs White Sox

Maybe it's a good thing the White Sox were playing on the West Coast on Monday night. That means most fans had probably already retired for the evening when the Sox played their worst inning of the season to date.

What's really unfortunate about the whole mess is the Sox seemed to be in prime position to beat reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Sox first baseman Jose Abreu had hit a two-run homer in his return from the disabled list to give the South Siders a 2-0 lead, an advantage they enjoyed into the sixth inning.

Jose Quintana was cruising on the mound for Chicago. He had a two-hitter going, and he had thrown only 65 pitches. He was outpitching Kershaw, hitting his spots and looking like he'd be able to blank the Dodgers at least through seven innings -- if not eight innings.

But then the White Sox infield turned in a pathetic, amateurish inning of defense in the sixth inning. Two errors cost Quintana five unearned runs, and the Dodgers went on to claim a 5-2 victory.

Kershaw got a base hit to start the inning, but that didn't seem like too big a deal the way Quintana was pitching. He struck out Chone Figgins for the first out and induced Matt Kemp to hit into what should have been an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play. Too bad Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham forgot to catch the ball.

Instead of being out of the inning, the Dodgers had runners at first and second with one out, with Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez due to hit. That's when it was time for Quintana to toughen up.

Toughen up he did.

He fanned Puig for the second out, and got Ramirez to hit a routine chopper to third baseman Conor Gillaspie, who fielded the ball about eight steps behind the bag. Keep in mind, Kershaw was the runner at second base, so all Gillaspie needed to do was jog to the third-base bag and tag it for the third out. But, no, he for some reason decided to throw across the diamond. A good throw still would have gotten Ramirez by two strides, but he threw it in the dirt and Abreu failed to make a pick that most first baseman probably make.

It should have been inning over for a second time, but instead a run scored and the inning continued. The meltdown was on. Adrian Gonzalez hit an infield single that produced the tying run. Justin Turner hit a two-run bloop single just over the outstretched glove of Beckham that barely dented the outfield grass. Light-hitting Drew Butera hit a 35-hopper with eyes into right field for an RBI single.

All of a sudden, it was 5-2 Dodgers. With Kershaw on the mound, that's ballgame.

Quintana ended up needing six outs to get out of that nightmare, an inning in which he had to throw 40 pitches. After that, his night was done and the Sox were forced to go to the bullpen.

Had Beckham fielded the grounder on the routine double play, Quintana would have thrown just 15 pitches in that inning. Had Gillaspie made his play, Quintana would have gotten out of the inning with a still manageable pitch total of 23. Had either play been made, perhaps the Sox go on to win 2-0. We'll never know.

But those plays were not made, and that's why it's hard to believe the Sox are anything but a pretender this year, despite their hanging around in the muddled American League race.

The Sox are better than they were in 2013, but they still are not contenders. They make too many mistakes and beat themselves too often to be considered a potential playoff team. They've avoided long losing streaks to this point, but I won't be surprised if we see a hope-killing stretch of bad ball sometime in the near future.

A team can only outhit its mistakes for so long. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Don't wanna get picked off here in this situation: Jarrod Dyson edition

As we've noted in blogs past, the first base coach's main job is to tell baserunners that they "don't wanna get picked off here in this situation."

It seems like a ridiculous statement on its face. Nobody wants to get picked off in any situation, and you wouldn't think major league players would need to be reminded of that. Nevertheless, you still occasionally see pickoffs happen at inexplicable times.

Take Jarrod Dyson, for example. The Kansas City outfielder's baserunning gaffe in the ninth inning on Monday took the Royals right out of a potential rally and allowed the White Sox to escape Kauffman Stadium with a 7-6 victory.

In that ninth inning, the Royals had runners at first and second base with one out. Dyson was at second base representing the tying run. Noted Sox killer Billy Butler, who was 3 for 4 to that point in the game and possesses 84 RBIs in 120 career games against Chicago, was at the plate. The on-deck hitter was Alex Gordon, who was coming off a four-hit game on Sunday. Rookie reliever Jake Petricka, who previously had no career saves (and only one career save in the minor leagues), was on the mound in place of the injured Matt Lindstrom for the Sox.

The whole situation was set up nicely for the Royals to at least tie the game, if not win it. Instead, Dyson strayed too far off second base. Petricka whirled around and caught Dyson in a rundown, where he was tagged for the second out of the inning.

The trail runner, Alcides Escobar, did reach second base on the play, so Butler still had a chance for a game-tying RBI. But I'll bet the rookie Petricka felt a little more comfortable with two outs, knowing he was just one pitch away from recording the third out and earning the save. He retired Butler on a routine grounder to second baseman Gordon Beckham, and the Sox escaped with the win.

What Dyson was thinking I'll never know. Stealing third in that situation isn't necessarily a bad play with one out. If Dyson had stolen, with his speed he could have scored the tying run on a fly ball of medium depth. However, when representing the tying run in the last inning you better make sure the pitcher is delivering to the plate before straying too far off base.

A dumb play like that is the exact reason base coaches make seemingly asinine comments reminding runners of the situation. The White Sox and their fans are greatful for Dyson's stupidity.

Hey, Dyson, you don't wanna get picked off there in that situation. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

White Sox designate Jeff Keppinger for assignment

In a move that surprised many observers, the White Sox on Wednesday designated infielder Jeff Keppinger for assignment.

Keppinger, 34, hit a career-best .325 two years ago with the Tampa Bay Rays, but he slumped to a .253/.283/.317 slash line for the 2013 White Sox. He was limited by a right shoulder problem, which ultimately cut his season short and required surgery. He was slow to recover from the injury over the offseason and appeared in just six spring training games before being placed on the disabled list on March 30.

Keppinger has been on a rehab assignment since May 2 at Double-A Birmingham, where he hit .256 in 11 games. With the rehab period set to expire, the Sox decided they'd rather cut Keppinger loose than put him on the major league roster.

The decision is surprising because Keppinger is in just the second year of a three-year, $12 million deal he signed with the Sox prior to the start of the 2013 season. With the move, the Sox are opting to eat approximately $7.5 million dollars, which is a departure from business as usual on the South Side.

Typically in situations such as this, you would expect the Sox to trot Keppinger out to third base every day for the next two months, hoping he would play well enough to entice a contending team to take his salary off their hands.

Not this time. Instead, they recognized there is no place for Keppinger on the roster.

Conor Gillaspie has played well at third base for the Sox this season, and the team has hopes that prospect Matt Davidson will reverse his struggles at the plate and eventually become the long-term answer at the position. There's no room at second base for Keppinger, either, with younger players Gordon Beckham, Marcus Semien and Leury Garcia all ahead of him on the organization's depth chart.

Not to mention, the Sox recently promoted second baseman Micah Johnson, one of their better prospects, to Triple-A Charlotte. With Davidson and middle infield prospect Carlos Sanchez also toiling in Charlotte, there isn't even any room for Keppinger in the Triple-A infield. There is no point in giving Keppinger at-bats over any of these younger infielders, at any level, so it is the right baseball decision to send him packing.

In the past, the Sox have at times let economics get in the way of making the right baseball decision. In this case, I applaud GM Rick Hahn and the Sox front office for doing the right thing. At one point in time, signing Keppinger looked like a good move. It just didn't work out, but at least the Sox aren't compounding the mistake by keeping a useless player around because of money.

Keppinger is out of the organization, and the Sox rebuilding plan is better off for it.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

When Conor Gillaspie returns from the DL, who will the White Sox send down?

White Sox third baseman Conor Gillaspie is on a rehab assignment at Triple-A Charlotte and could come off the disabled list as soon as Wednesday.

Before suffering a bruised hand, Gillaspie was hitting .302 with 12 RBIs in 16 games. Upon his return, he's going to take over for Marcus Semien as the Sox's regular third baseman. And unlike earlier in the year, there isn't much playing time available for Semien at second base, now that Gordon Beckham is back off the disabled list.

So, what do the Sox do with Semien? Is he the guy they send back to the minors when Gillaspie is activated? Or will outfielder Jordan Danks or all-purpose player Leury Garcia be optioned? It's not an easy call, and there is more than likely some internal debate going on among White Sox brass.

If the fans had their way, Beckham would probably be the guy shown the door -- even with his 4-for-5 performance and go-ahead home run in Tuesday's 5-1 victory over the Cubs at Wrigley Field. The disappointing second baseman has become a bit of a whipping boy for fans on Internet message boards, but let's be realistic: The Sox aren't going to cut Beckham loose now or look to trade him when he's just coming off an injury and his value is at its lowest.

For better or for worse, Beckham is the regular second baseman until at least July. Defensively, he's still the Sox's best option at the position. If he rebuilds his value by midseason, he could be shipped off at the trade deadline to clear a starting spot for either Semien or Micah Johnson. But that's a question for another time.

When Gillaspie returns, one of Semien, Danks or Garcia is going to be gone. Of the three, Danks is perhaps the weakest player, but he needs to remain on the roster for as long as Adam Eaton is on the disabled list. With Eaton on the shelf, Danks is the only good defensive outfielder the Sox have. Without him, you're looking at a starting outfield of Moises Sierra, Alejandro De Aza and Dayan Viciedo -- with Garcia, an infielder by trade, and Adam Dunn, a designated hitter by trade, filling backup roles. Not acceptable. If I'm making the decision, Danks stays despite his ugly .098/.229/.195 slash line.

That leaves Semien and Garcia. A lot of Sox fans would disagree with me here, but I think Semien goes to Charlotte for more playing time. Garcia stays as the backup infielder.

It's tough because Semien has shown a flair for the dramatic this season. He's had some big hits for the Sox -- 15 of his 16 RBIs have come in the sixth inning or later. That said, I can't ignore his.213/.267/.346 slash line, nor can I ignore his league-leading 45 strikeouts.

I like Semien and think he could be an everyday player in the majors at some point in the future. I just don't think that day is today. I don't think he would benefit much from sitting on the major league bench, so I support sending him to Triple-A and having him work on closing some of the holes in that swing. Garcia, to me, will never be more than a utility infielder anyway, so I'm fine with leaving him right where he is.

For me, Semien's development is a greater priority than Garcia's development. He's the better of the two players. Semien's the one who needs the everyday at-bats in my book, so the Sox should put him in a place where he can get them. That place, right now, is Charlotte.

We'll probably find out sometime in the next 48 hours whether the Sox agree with me.