Showing posts with label Marcus Semien. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Marcus Semien. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

White Sox acquire Jeff Samardzija from A's in six-player deal

The White Sox on Tuesday signaled their intention to contend in 2015, acquiring starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija and minor leaguer pitcher Michael Ynoa from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for infielder Marcus Semien, pitcher Chris Bassitt, catcher Josh Phegley and first baseman Rangel Ravelo.

From a purely baseball perspective, Samardzija is exactly what the Sox need. He's a legitimate No. 2 starter, a right-hander who can be slotted nicely in between ace left-hander Chris Sale and left-hander Jose Quintana in the rotation. One through three, the Sox can now match up with just about everybody in terms of starting pitching.

The downside to this deal from the Sox perspective? Samardzija is entering the last year of his contract. He could be here today, gone tomorrow, and if the Sox don't win in 2015, this deal is a waste.

The good news is the Sox did not include any of their top prospects in this deal. Carlos Rodon, Tim Anderson, Micah Johnson and Francellis Montas are all still in the organization. It would have been a questionable move to give up any of the top young guys for potentially just one year of Samardzija.

The four guys the Sox parted with are all guys you can replace. Semien is an athletic, versatile player with some pop in his bat. However, he was a player without a position. The Sox even had him play some outfield in Triple-A last year just to see how he would react. He projects as a utility player. There are plenty of those around.

Bassitt has a good arm and got a look in the major leagues at the tail end of the 2014 season. The Sox were using him as a starter, but most believe his eventual role will be in the bullpen. An interesting pitcher, sure, but not an untouchable.

The White Sox coaching staff never warmed up to Phegley, primarily because of his defensive limitations. He was not in the organization's plans. Good riddance.

Ravelo is a guy who needed to change organizations. He has some promise as a hitter, but he's a right-handed hitting first baseman. The Sox already have one of the best right-handed hitting first basemen in the game in Jose Abreu. Ravelo is not a candidate to take Abreu's job anytime soon. He was expendable.

The Sox have eroded some of their organizational depth with this trade, but you can live with that if Samardzija pushes you into the playoffs next season.

Here's the key moving forward: The Sox can't stop here. With the addition of Samardzija and closer David Robertson, this is now an 85-win team. That's a huge step forward over last year, but it's still not good enough.

You may have Sale and Samardzija at the top of the rotation for just one year, so general manager Rick Hahn needs to keep pushing and make this team a potential 95-game winner. The time to go for it is right now.

Do something to upgrade left field. There is no more time to be patient with Dayan Viciedo. Add another bullpen pitcher to set Robertson up. Maybe think about a veteran to help at the back end of the rotation. There are mediocre incumbents at catcher, third base and second base. Upgrade at one of those spots, if possible.

The White Sox are close to being a good team, but they aren't quite there yet. Hahn has now put himself in position to get to that point before the offseason is over.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Jose Abreu named the Sporting News AL Rookie of the Year

White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu on Monday was named the AL Rookie of the Year by the Sporting News. This award is voted on by players, and Abreu received 149 of 160 votes in a landslide victory.

The honor comes as no surprise. This year, Abreu became the first major league rookie to rank in the top five in each of the Triple Crown categories -- average (.317), home runs (36) and RBIs (107).

He led the league with a .581 slugging percentage and became the fourth player ever to top 30 home runs, 30 doubles and 100 RBIs in his rookie season. The other names on that list are Hal Trosky, Ted Williams and Albert Pujols.

Angels pitcher Matt Shoemaker finished second with four votes. Yankees pitchers Dellin Betances and Masahiro Tanaka tied for third with three votes each. Amusingly, White Sox infielder Marcus Semien finished fifth with one vote.

Semien spent about half the season at Triple-A Charlotte, so you have to wonder which knucklehead player submitted that vote.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Carlos Rodon not among White Sox's September roster additions

The White Sox added seven players to their roster before Tuesday night's 6-3 win over the Minnesota Twins as part of the annual Sept. 1 roster expansion. However, the players who were not included on that list are more notable than the players who were.

The team's No. 1 draft pick in June, left-hander Carlos Rodon, was conspicuous by his absence. Rodon made a quick rise through the Sox's minor-league system and finished the year at Triple-A Charlotte, where he had 18 strikeouts and a 3.00 ERA in 12 innings pitched. Rodon struck 38 hitters in 24.2 innings over three minor-league stops this season.

But, he also walked 13 batters over those innings, and all reports indicate his fastball command could use some improvement. Perhaps that's the reason the Sox have decided not to bring him up for the last month.

“We are absolutely thrilled with where he is and how quickly he has progressed through the system,” Sox GM Rick Hahn told CSN Chicago. “Fundamentally the decision came down to it just wasn’t the right time in his development to bring him to the big leagues to continue his development here and ask him to get big league hitters out. He has responded to all the challenges we’ve put in front of him. We’re very pleased with how he’s finished up his first several weeks as a pro and we fully expect him to come to big league camp next year and compete for a spot on the 2015 White Sox, that’s how far along he is in his development.”

Matt Davidson is another notable player who did not get a September call-up. The would-be third baseman of the future had a miserable year in Charlotte. He hit 20 home runs, but his .199/.283/.362 slash line is downright ugly, especially considering his 164 strikeouts in 539 plate appearances.

Davidson's poor performance ranks as one of the biggest disappointments for the Sox organization in 2014, and it's for the best that he was sent home to clear his head. There would be little or no benefit in bringing him to the majors for the final month. The Sox will go into the offseason with some decisions to make at third base. Conor Gillaspie hits right-handed pitching exceptionally well, but he struggles against lefties and is a question mark defensively. But at this point, Davidson is not a candidate to take Gillaspie's job.

Here are the seven guys who joined the Sox on Tuesday. Most are familiar names. Six have been in Chicago before:

Chris Bassitt, RHP: Bassitt made his big-league debut in the second game of a doubleheader Saturday against Detroit. He allowed five runs and took the loss in that game, but he pitched better than his line indicated. He had good life on his fastball and at one point struck out Detroit superstar Miguel Cabrera with a knee-buckling curveball. Some bad luck with BABIP doomed Bassitt in his first outing, as the Tigers blooped him to death with well-placed, softly hit singles. After being returned to Charlotte for a couple days, he's back with the Sox and will probably get a couple more starts before the year is over.

Scott Carroll, RHP: The less-than-mediocre right-hander has been in the Sox rotation for much of the year, compiling a 5-9 record with a 5.07 ERA in 22 games. He started a game for Chicago as recently as Friday, but he was sent to the minors briefly in a procedural move that ensured the Sox had enough available arms for the Saturday doubleheader. He has been brought right back with the roster expansion, but may be relegated to long-relief duty for the rest of the year.

Jordan Danks, OF: The 28-year-old veteran remains on the shuttle between Chicago and Charlotte. He played well in his last stint with the Sox while Adam Eaton was on the disabled list. His ceiling is that of a fourth outfielder, but it will be interesting to see if he gets more ABs in September now that Alejandro De Aza is off the roster. Will Danks' strong defense be enough to get him playing time ahead of Dayan Viciedo? We'll see.

Josh Phegley, C: The 38th overall pick in the 2009 draft is being rewarded for a strong season in Charlotte that saw him hit .274/.331/.530 with 23 home runs and 75 RBIs. Questions remain about Phegley's defense. Coaches and pitchers alike were not fond of his work as a receiver during his 2013 stint with the Sox. Phegley's pitch-calling received pointed criticism from Sox bench coach Mark Parent, a former catcher, and you wonder if Phegley's defense will ever progress enough to satisfy the Sox.

Marcus Semien, INF: The versatile, athletic Semien came on strong in August, hitting .345 over that span at Charlotte. In 83 games with the Knights, he posted a .267/.380/.502 slash line with 15 home runs and 52 RBIs. You can't help but wonder if Semien would be more useful than Leury Garcia as an all-purpose player, but the University of California product needs to cut down his strikeouts. He's fanned 58 times in the 170 plate appearances he's had with the Sox this season.

Eric Surkamp, LHP: The relief pitcher has joined Danks on the shuttle between Chicago and Charlotte over the past few months. He has a 6.46 ERA in 24 appearances with the Sox this year and will likely continue to receive situational work against left-handed batters late in games.

Michael Taylor, OF: The 28-year-old was once a top-100 prospect in the Oakland organization, but has failed to distinguish himself in the previous limited big-league opportunities he's received. The Sox acquired him from Oakland in June for some guy named Jake Sanchez, and Taylor hit .306 with six home runs and 38 RBIs in 64 games at Charlotte. Like Danks and Moises Sierra, he's likely competing for a spot as the Sox's fourth outfielder in 2015.

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, 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.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Paul Konerko gets a parting gift, then gives a parting shot

We don't often say nice things about North Siders on this blog, but give the Cubs credit for a classy gesture before Tuesday night's crosstown game at Wrigley Field.

White Sox captain Paul Konerko, playing his last game on the North Side, was presented with a green No. 14 placard from the Wrigley Field scoreboard by Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija. Fans from both teams applauded, and it was nice moment recognizing Konerko's long and successful career with the Sox.

I'll bet the Cubs are glad Konerko is finally retiring at the end of the season. The veteran first baseman has tormented the Cubs with big hit after big hit for years. In 75 career games against the Cubs, Konerko has posted a .300/.361/.592 slash line with 20 home runs and 59 RBIs. That's a pretty good track record.

On Wednesday night, the crosstown series shifted to U.S. Cellular Field, and Konerko received what will probably be his last starting nod in a game against the Cubs. He responded with two doubles, including perhaps the biggest hit of the night in the White Sox's 8-3 victory.

With the Sox leading 4-3 in the fifth inning, Konerko stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and ripped a three-run double into the left-field corner off Cubs starter Travis Wood. Later in the inning, Konerko scored on an RBI single by Marcus Semien to cap a four-run rally, and the Sox coasted from there to their fourth straight win overall and third consecutive win over the Cubs.

For what it's worth, the Sox have clinched the 2014 Crosstown Cup with this victory. The fourth and final game of the series will be Thursday night at the Cell. The Cubs will be starting a right-handed pitcher, Jake Arrieta, so that means Konerko probably will not be in the starting lineup.

No matter. He delivered his parting shot to the Sox's crosstown rival with that laser-beam double on Wednesday night. It was a fitting end to a career spent beating up on Cubs pitching.

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.

Monday, March 3, 2014

If Gordon Beckham is traded, it probably won't be soon

It's become a White Sox spring training tradition to wonder if Gordon Beckham can fix what's been wrong for him at the plate since the start of the 2010 season.

After posting promising numbers (.270/.347/.460) as a 22-year-old call-up during the 2009 season, Beckham has mostly fallen flat with the bat (.244/.306/.364). Gone is the power he flashed during his debut, and with it his ability to get on base and hit for much average.

Beckham's saving graces have been been his solid defense at second base, and his affordable paychecks that have made him a decent value for his salary while his offense only approaches adequacy.

Here's the problem for the Sox: Because of his glove and contract status, Beckham has value, just not much value to them as they seek to rebuild.

Beckham, and his two relatively cheap years of team control remaining, are probably enticing to a team in need of a second baseman. It makes more sense to kick the tires on him and at least get good glove work at second base than to trade for someone like Brandon Phillips, Rickie Weeks or Dan Uggla, who are all available because they were worse than Beckham last year and have huge, expensive contracts.

He's less useful to the rebuilding Sox because they're not a contender looking to fill a hole with a guy who is minimally useful. He's also less useful because they have at least one guy (Marcus Semien) who might be as good or better, and cheaper, right now. They've got another guy who might be near as good and cheaper right now (Leury Garcia). They've got another guy (Micah Johnson) rocketing through their system at second base, and another guy at the position (Carlos Sanchez) who the Sox hope can overcome a tough year to return to his top-prospect status.

With the cheaper in-house alternatives, the second base situation is similar to the one GM Rick Hahn had on his hands last August after trading Jake Peavy for Avisail Garcia. The Sox still had Alex Rios in right field, but suddenly had a player who was maybe just as good, certainly cheaper, and definitely more likely to be a part of the team's future.

Instead of pulling the trigger right away on a Rios deal in which he had to eat money, Hahn waited it out until the Rangers agreed to take on most of the remaining contract and send the Sox a useful player in return (Leury Garcia).

Here's why Hahn is likely to exercise patience again:
  • Beckham's value will only go up if he hits well to start the year. 
  • If Semien plays a while in Charlotte before a Beckham trade, the Sox limit his service time and maybe get an extra team-controlled year.  
  • It probably wouldn't hurt to make sure Semien doesn't implode like Sanchez a year ago. If he does and the Sox haven't dealt Beckham, the team at least has another option for 2015 depending on how everything else pans out. 
At this moment, it's hard to envision Beckham as part of the Sox's long-term future. While the natural temptation is to rush to turn the page, there's no need to act fast, so the Sox probably won't.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Jose Abreu, other White Sox prospects hit the field in Glendale

The biggest curiosity surrounding the White Sox coming into 2014 has to be newly signed Cuban slugger Jose Abreu. How much of an impact will he make in his first season in the United States? Nobody knows, but we all know he needs to be good if the Sox have any hope of hanging around in the AL Central race this year.

The Sox are getting a look at Abreu and some of their other young players this week at a three-day hitting camp at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz. Newly acquired third baseman Matt Davidson and center fielder Adam Eaton also are participating, along with Josh Phegley, Marcus Semien, Courtney Hawkins, Jared Mitchell, Trayce Thompson and Keenyn Walker.

According to a report by CSN's Dan Hayes, the Sox are pleased with what they've seen from Abreu so far. Of course, what else would they say? Even if he looked bad, they would still say he looked good. But now is the time of year for optimism, and Sox fans can hope Abreu's prodigious power will come to the forefront when the season begins March 31.

“That’s a strong man right here,” new hitting coach Todd Steverson said of Abreu. “That’s a big man. He has a nice smooth, compact approach. He didn’t try to do too much with the ball and the ball was flying off his bat. I think he has a nice bright future coming up with him.”

“We try to keep in mind that it’s Jan. 14 and we still have a ways to go,” GM Rick Hahn added in Hayes' report. “But just watching Jose go through his work, you saw that professionalism as well as the plus-plus power on display today in only his first couple of rounds of BP. He’s a very serious hitter. He’s one who goes up there with a plan and has a great deal of ability and it’s going to be fun to see how this plays out over the next couple of years.”

It's good to hear that Abreu goes to the plate with a plan. The same couldn't be said of a lot of White Sox hitters last year. Hopefully, Steverson can help in that regard. After scoring a league-worst 598 runs last year, the Sox have nowhere to go but up offensively.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

White Sox have post-holiday clearance items for sale

White Sox GM Rick Hahn has come a long way in reshaping his roster since last year's trade deadline, adding MLB-ready prospects at third base (Matt Davidson), center field (Adam Eaton) and right field (Avisail Garcia), while adding a handful of other potentially useful parts.

Don't forget the bow.
The turnover might not be over as the Sox still have some players that might be more useful to other teams, and could fetch something interesting in return.

Here are the guys who weren't tucked into another team's stocking and will have their price marked down.

Alejandro De Aza (OF)
This is the guy I think the Sox are most likely to trade. De Aza is either a good-hitting, poor-fielding centerfielder, or a poor-hitting, good-fielding left fielder. With the addition of Eaton, De Aza is now in a platoon with Dayan Viciedo in left. De Aza is probably the better player, hitting just as well as Viciedo while also being able to catch the ball, but that he could still slot into left or center gives a team a little more flexibility, and maybe opens up more trade avenues.

Gordon Beckham (2B)
Top infield prospects Marcus Semien was ticketed to play third base until the acquisition of Davidson, but now if the Sox think he's MLB-ready, they might move Beckham to install Semien at second base. Beckham, a former top-10 draft pick, had star potential. Right now he might just be what he's been, which is an OK hitting, good-fielding second baseman. That's not very sexy, but with two years left before free agency and the Sox looking to move him, Beckham might be a more attractive pickup for a 2B-needy team that doesn't like what's left on the free agent market, or the idea of swallowing the huge contracts of other potential trade targets like Brandon Phillips, Rickie Weeks or Dan Uggla.

Dayan Viciedo (OF/DH)
As noted, he's a worse player than De Aza, and shouldn't be in the outfield. He is younger and cheaper for now, and maybe still has potential if he can improve his hitting against right-handed pitching. While the Sox will listen, I doubt he'll be moved unless another team overpays, especially if he's being counted on to help fellow Cuban Jose Abreu adjust to life in the US.

Alexei Ramirez (SS)
Ramirez is a fine shortstop signed to a reasonable contract (2 years, $20.5 million left, plus an option). He can hit a little and is a good defender. He is better than the top in-house alternative, Leury Garcia, who can't hit even by middle-infielder standards. But if the Sox aren't going to contend, they might want to install Garcia at short where his excellent defense will have the most impact and just give him the at-bats to see if that part of his game can ever become adequate enough to make him a starter. Like Viciedo, the Cuban Ramirez might help with Abreu's integration in the clubhouse, but the Sox might not feel like they need both of them to hang around to make Abreu comfortable. Ramirez can go for the right price.

Adam Dunn (1B/DH)
Dunn has been a disappointment since signing a four-year, $56 million contract. He is in the last year of it, and still hits well against right-handed pitchers. If the White Sox ate a good chunk of his salary, he could be moved to clear room for Viciedo. If that's unlikely, it's because the Sox don't like to pay guys to play for other teams. Plus Viciedo isn't an ideal platoon partner for the re-signed Paul Konerko as they both need help against righties. Still, if a team desperate for a designated hitter or first baseman offered to go halfsies on the remainder of the contract, it's hard to see the Sox saying no.

John Danks (SP)
Danks is another guy who might not go anywhere because the Sox won't eat any money on the contract. He's got three years and $43 million left. That sounds like a lot for a guy that just posted a 4.75 ERA while coming back from shoulder surgery. Those results still weren't that much worse than Jason Vargas' last season, or Phil Hughes', both of whom just got big bucks in free agency, and both have worse track records than pre-surgery Danks. The Sox might not have to eat that much to move him this offseason, but might just wait to give him the chance to pitch this season and prove he's healthier and worth a team taking on a much better chunk of salary.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Thanks Uribe for the memories, no thanks for a White Sox return

Somehow, despite the White Sox openly rolling with the rebuilding label (ok, I'm sorry, retooling), the team has been linked to free agent Juan Uribe.

Juan Uribe.
Sox fans remember Uribe as the slick-fielding shortstop who was part of a championship team in 2005, who had a terrific offensive year when he first arrived in 2004, who lost his job in 2008 when the Sox acquired Orlando Cabrera and Alexei Ramirez, but still helped save the day for the playoff-bound Sox by filling in at third base when Joe Crede was lost to injury.

Since then Uribe had a couple nice season with Giants before signing a three-year deal with Dodgers. He's coming off a season in Los Angeles in which he hit .278/.331/.438 and played very good defense at third base.

You do have to hand it to Uribe, if you had asked me eight years ago which member of the 2005 Sox would have the best 2013 performance, he might not have been in my first 10 guesses. (Neal Cotts wouldn't have been either!).

Presumably, Uribe would fill the third base hole on the Sox roster, at least as an option instead internal choices of Conor Gillaspie or Marcus Semien.

Except here's the thing. Here are two guys and what they've done the last three seasons:

Player A: .237/.295/.360
Player B: .284/.316/.376

Ok, in this Rob Neyer-patented shell game, Uribe is obviously Player A. Despite a very nice 2013, Uribe wasn't very good during his three years with the Dodgers. That he had a .322 batting average on balls in play -- not an outrageous figure, but certainly well above his career .282 mark -- means Uribe was almost certainly a little lucky to produce as fine of an offensive year as he did last season.

Player B is Jeff Keppinger, who is last year's attempt to paper over the hole at third base with a utility infielder. That was obviously a disaster, though at least a modestly priced one.

The rationale for bringing Keppinger aboard was different a year ago, and I largely agreed with it. The Sox were coming off a season in which they led their division most of the year, were hoping to be good enough to contend, but not so good that a huge investment in third base seemed terribly prudent. So they signed Keppinger for a reasonable 3-year, $12 million deal figuring that if a better option sprang up, they'd have an overpaid utility infielder.

The problem is that Keppinger, like just about everyone on the Sox last year, hit much worse than expected. He didn't fill the hole at third base, and presently looks like he doesn't even have a place on the roster now that Leury Garcia is here. In Garcia, the Sox have a guy who even with limited offensive potential, can probably hit as well as Keppinger last year, but has a fantastic glove all over the field.

With the pretense of being a contender cast to the side, it makes much more sense to see if Gillaspie can take a step forward, or Semien can take a step up, than it does to mess around with another year of Keppinger, or two or three years with a Uribe reunion.

I get that guys from championship teams are remembered fondly. I even understood the desire by many to bring catcher A.J. Pierzynski back -- that's a position where the Sox have another black hole instead of production, and unlike third base, the alternatives there seem even less credible.

Still, it's time to give up the ghosts of past glory. While Uribe returning to the team he helped to a title might make for a good puff piece during spring training, the reality is that he's just not a good fit for the Sox. It's time for Sox fans to just collectively, please, let it go.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Who will the White Sox recall Sept. 1?

It's the last week of August, and no doubt baseball fans around the country are wondering just who will be recalled from the minors to play for their favorite teams when the rosters expand Sept. 1.

I don't expect the White Sox to go crazy and call up 10 players or anything like that. The majority of their major-league ready prospects (Avisail Garcia, Josh Phegley, Andre Rienzo, Jake Petricka and Leury Garcia) are already on the 25-man roster.

But, the Sox do have three holes on their 40-man roster.  They could create a fourth spot later this week if they transfer relief pitcher Brian Omogrosso from the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL. That means we will see at least four players recalled, and maybe as many as seven. Here are some guys that Southpaw (pictured) might be cheering for by the time the next homestand rolls around:

1. Erik Johnson, RHP: The 23-year-old is a combined 11-3 with a 2.07 ERA in 23 starts at Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte. He is 3-1 with a 1.79 ERA in nine starts since his promotion to Charlotte. The Sox will keep a careful watch on Johnson because he has thrown a career-high 135 innings this season. But he is a candidate for the 2014 starting rotation, so the team is going to want him to get his feet wet at the big-league level this year.

2. Daniel Webb, RHP: A 24-year-old potential closer, Webb hasn't allowed an earned run at Charlotte in over a month. He has struck out 36 batters in 24.1 innings since his promotion to Triple-A. Walks remain an issue -- he has 17 of them in those same 24.1 innings. But, Webb could be a bullpen piece for the Sox as soon as next season if he can refine his control just a little bit more.

3. Charlie Leesman, LHP: He's already on the 40-man roster, having started one game for the Sox earlier this month. At age 26, he's probably not considered a prospect anymore, but he might be handy as the 11th or 12th man on a pitching staff in the future. Look for Leesman to get a start or two in September as the Sox seek to lighten the workload of some of the young pitchers who have been in the big-league rotation all season.

4. Marcus Semien, IF: Here's a guy who really wasn't on the radar this year until he tore up Double-A to the tune of a .290 average, 21 doubles, 15 home runs and 20 stolen bases. I hesitate to put him on this list because he's struggled a bit since his promotion to Charlotte (.238, 8 doubles, 4 home runs, 1 stolen base), but he can play all over the infield and the Sox are looking for a third baseman for next year. They might call Semien up to see how he reacts in September. I suspect this is a player who will need to start 2014 in Triple-A, however.

Those are the four guys who we haven't seen much of yet that we might be getting a look at in September. The Sox will almost certainly recall another catcher, Hector Gimenez if he is healthy, or Bryan Anderson. Blake Tekotte, Deunte Heath, Brent Morel and Simon Castro are other players we saw earlier this year that could potentially get a recall, although I'm sure Sox fans won't be all that excited to see them again.