Showing posts with label Moises Sierra. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Moises Sierra. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

White Sox claim J.B. Shuck, reinstate Nate Jones from 60-day DL

With the World Series over, teams are now free to start making offseason transactions.

The White Sox made a couple of minor moves Monday, claiming outfielder J.B. Shuck off waivers from the Cleveland Indians and reinstating relief pitcher Nate Jones from the 60-day disabled list.

Shuck finished fifth in the American League Rookie of the Year voting in 2013, when he posted a .293/.331/.366 slash line in 478 plate appearances with the Los Angeles Angels. Injuries to other players opened the door for Shuck to play 129 games that season, and he did pretty well with the opportunity.

However, 2014 was a different story for the 27-year-old outfielder. He hit .167/.195/.250 for the Angels in April and was sent back to Triple-A, where he stayed until August. Just before the non-waiver trading deadline, he was sent to Cleveland for cash considerations. Shuck had a miserable time with the Tribe, going 2 for 26 in September. He ended up hitting just .145 in 110 at-bats in the majors for the season.

He did, however, bat .320 in 102 minor league games, so perhaps the Sox saw some signs he could regain his 2013 form. He is a left-handed hitter and can play all three outfield spots competently.

Obviously, this isn't the kind of pickup that will excite fans. If you look around the Internet, you'll find the meathead fans screaming at the sky, wondering what Sox management is thinking, asking why they would make such a low-impact move.

Those folks, as always, need to relax. I'm sure this isn't the biggest move the Sox will make this offseason. It's just the first. I'm sure the club knows it needs more impact talent, and I'm sure they know Shuck doesn't fall into that category.

However, while seeking those impact players, it's also important to try to improve your roster around the margins. You want more depth. You want more competition in camp. If you look at the Sox bench last season,  for most of the year it consisted of players such as Jordan Danks, Moises Sierra, Leury Garcia, Adrian Nieto and an end-of-career version of Paul Konerko. That's not a good bench, friends.

If Shuck in 2015 plays better outfield than Danks or Sierra did in 2014, then this is a good acquisition. Maybe this guy turns out to be the fourth outfielder the Sox need. Or, maybe he stinks, in which case he'll be spending the season in Charlotte. However, there's little for the Sox to lose in picking up guys like Shuck.

As for Jones, he's expected to miss most -- if not all -- of 2015 after Tommy John surgery. I wouldn't expect much production from him until 2016.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

White Sox trade Adam Dunn to A's; deal Alejandro De Aza to Orioles

When the Oakland Athletics visit U.S. Cellular Field for a four-game series starting Sept. 8, White Sox fans will get their first opportunity to boo Adam Dunn as a member of the visiting team.

That's because the Sox traded Dunn and cash considerations to Oakland on Sunday morning for minor-league pitcher Nolan Sanburn.

Dunn, who was hitting .220 with 20 home runs and 54 RBIs at the time of the deal, finishes his White Sox career with a .201/.321/.410 slash line. Dunn hit 106 home runs during his nearly four-year tenure on the South Side, but he leaves town as a symbol of the franchise's failings over the past four seasons.

Dunn fell out of favor with the fans after an historically bad 2011 campaign, and while he rebounded somewhat the past three years, he never performed to his previous career norms while wearing a Sox uniform.

So why would Oakland want him, you ask? The A's are leading the majors in runs scored, but that's a bit deceiving. The A's traded their cleanup hitter, Yoenis Cespedes, to the Boston Red Sox for ace left-hander Jon Lester on July 31. While Lester has performed well (2.66 ERA in 6 starts), Oakland's offense has slumped. The A's rank 20th in baseball in runs scored during August, and no doubt they are hoping Dunn can give them a boost.

The Sox, meanwhile, save themselves about $1.25 million and acquire some organizational pitching depth with Sanburn, who has been working in relief at Class-A Stockton this year. He has a 3.28 ERA in 71.1 IP with 73 strikeouts and 25 walks.

The Dunn deal comes on the heels of another move the Sox made Saturday night, in which they traded left fielder Alejandro De Aza to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for minor-league pitchers Mark Blackmar and Miguel Chalas.

De Aza figures to be a fourth outfielder with Baltimore. He was hitting .243 overall at the time of the trade, but as we've noted before on this blog, De Aza is a left-handed hitter who can produce against right-handed pitchers. He owns a .279/.347/.410 slash line against righties, and he will be a useful offensive player for Baltimore if spotted correctly in matchups that are favorable for him.

Of course, baserunning blunders, defensive gaffes and lollipop throws from left field also are part of the package with De Aza. To put it mildly, the Sox will not miss those things.

Blackmar owns a 10-1 record with a 3.18 ERA in 26 games (18 starts) with Class-A Frederick this season. Chalas (2-3, 4.80 ERA) has been working in relief at Frederick for most of the year. He was recently promoted to Triple-A Norfolk.

Nobody can say for certain whether any of these three pitchers will one day contribute to the White Sox. If nothing else, these are moves that help replenish organizational depth. If one of the three pans out and becomes a major-league pitcher, that would be great news for the South Siders.

The best part of these trades for the Sox? Neither Dunn nor De Aza was going to be back with the team for the 2015 season, and these moves open up playing time for younger players. It's evaluation time for the organization.

We know Adam Eaton and Avisail Garcia are part of the White Sox outfield plans, both now and in the future. One spot remains open. Now, instead of wasting their time with De Aza, the Sox can take a longer look at Jordan Danks, Moises Sierra or even Jared Mitchell, if they wish.

With the subtraction of Dunn, the door opens for 1B/DH Andy Wilkins, who was recalled from Triple-A Charlotte and is making his big-league debut Sunday for the Sox. Wilkins is a left-handed bat who hit .293 with 30 home runs, 38 doubles and 85 RBIs for the Knights this year. Can he help the Sox in the middle of the order? I don't know, but now is the time to let Wilkins play and gather more information about him.

Of the 25 roster spots available on the 2015 White Sox, you have to figure at least half of them are still open. Some younger players are about to receive an opportunity to put themselves in the picture for a job on next year's club.

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? 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Avisail Garcia's return will create an interesting roster decision for the White Sox

White Sox outfielder Avisail Garcia was once believed to be out for the year after tearing the labrum in his shoulder the second week of the season.

However, the timetable for his return keeps accelerating. Garcia is currently 10 for 19 with a home run in five games on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Charlotte, and White Sox manager Robin Ventura has said the 23-year-old could return to the major leagues before the end of the month if he avoids setbacks.

If Garcia stays on track, he'll be back with the White Sox before the Sept. 1 roster expansion, so that means somebody on the current 25-man roster will have to go.

A lot of times in these situations, the club will just tell its backup outfielder to hit the bricks. But for the Sox, it's not that simple in this case. Fourth outfielder Moises Sierra is out of options and cannot be sent back to the minors without first clearing waivers.

It would be a mistake for the Sox to expose Sierra to waivers. There's a good chance he'd be claimed. He has posted a respectable .295./.318/.448 slash line in a reserve role. Defensively, he's the best corner outfielder on the 25-man roster, and he's still only 25 years old.

If you're the White Sox and you're five games below .500 the first week of August, it's time to start thinking about what your team might look like next season. Sierra has shown enough this year that the club should consider bringing him back in 2015 in some capacity, even if it is just in the part-time role he has filled capably this year.

But, if the Sox are going to hold on to Sierra, that means one of three players -- Adam Dunn, Alejandro De Aza or Dayan Viciedo -- has to go when Garcia comes off the DL. Ideally, general manager Rick Hahn would be able to swing a waiver-wire deal to move one of those three players.

Unfortunately, hopes for trading Dunn are getting less and less by the day. The left-handed slugger is mired in an 0-for-15 skid. He did not reach base a single time on the Sox' most recent homestand, and he is hitting just .129 with two home runs over the past two weeks. Jose Abreu is starting to see fewer pitches to hit, because opposing pitchers know Dunn is an automatic out behind him right now.

If Dunn were swinging the bat well, a contender would be able to use him for the last 40 or so games of the season. Unfortunately, that's not the case, and Dunn might stuck playing out the string in Chicago.

Viciedo is the player who benefited most when Garcia went down. The Sox seemed ready to move on from him as an everyday guy coming into the year, but Garcia's injury created a second chance for him to play on a daily basis. He has failed to capitalize. Viciedo is a poor defender, so he needs to hit to justify his roster spot. Despite 14 home runs, his .238/.286/.400 slash has impressed nobody, and in fact, his batting average and slugging percentage are both below his career norms.

Like Sierra, Viciedo has age on his side. He's only 25, but he doesn't seem to be making progress as a hitter. His previous perceived strength -- hitting left-handed pitching -- hasn't been much of a factor. His platoon splits show him as being only slightly better against lefties than he is against righties:

vs. RHP: .236/.276/.398
vs. LHP: .247/.317/.409

Hahn will only be able to move Viciedo if there is another GM who thinks the outfielder might benefit from a change of scenery. There's nothing about Viciedo's game right now that suggests he could help a contender.

That brings us to De Aza, who like Dunn almost certainly will be somewhere other than Chicago when the 2015 season begins. De Aza cannot hit lefties at all this year (.091/.155/.136), but he still gets on base at a respectable clip against right-handed pitching (.283/.349/.416).

And, De Aza has been trending in the right direction over the past two months. He was awful in April and May (.173/.240/.250), but since Sierra was added to the roster, Ventura has been able to limit De Aza's exposure to left-handed pitching.

As a result, De Aza has posted a .327/.375/.455 slash line since June 1.

Yeah, you read that right: De Aza has been almost a .330 hitter for a full one-third of the season.

If there's a team that could use a left-handed bat to help against right-handed pitching, De Aza is a fit. He represents Hahn's best chance to make a waiver-wire deal before Garcia comes off the disabled list.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Best-laid plans (and platoons) going awry for Sox

One of the big ways the White Sox were hoping to improve their offense this season was by taking a group of guys that were each a net-negative when playing full time, and partnering them with someone who could perhaps compliment the other's weaknesses.

Thus Adam Dunn, who has struggled to hit left-handers, would be joined with Paul Konerko as a two-headed designated hitter. Alejandro De Aza's defense would look better in left field than in center, and with his own slight deficiency against lefties, could maybe be combined with the poor-fielding-but-southpaw-mashing Dayan Viciedo.

Things started out well. Dunn is hitting a respectable .246/.388/.458, even with a recent power outage. Konerko has flailed in his new role (.192/.241/.309), but that was somewhat made up for by Viciedo, for now excelling (.291/.352/.447) while being pressed into a bigger role when right fielder Avisail Garcia was lost for the season.

Unfortunately that's left De Aza to struggle miserably (.190/.248/.306). First he was needed in left field, but even with Moises Sierra (.303/.351/.424) added, De Aza was still the best choice to fill in when center fielder Adam Eaton missed time on the disabled list.

Eaton is back, and De Aza with his track record probably remains the best option to play as a fourth outfielder on this team, at least as long as the Sox are on the fringes of contention. He's otherwise having a season that would have him designated for assignment (which might yet happen).

Now a new crisis has emerged. First baseman Jose Abreu -- the team's best and most exciting hitter -- is headed to the DL. In the meantime, it looks like Dunn and Konerko will be pushed back into the full-time roles in which they struggled to produce value a year ago. And if Viciedo and Sierra both cool off along with that surprising catching tandem of Tyler Flowers and Adrian Nieto?

Things could get ugly fast with Abreu gone.

That's not to say it was the wrong idea for the Sox to try cobbling together something from what they had on hand instead of overpaying for a free agent who might not do any better than a healthy platoon pair. They've been one of the highest-scoring teams in the American League by effectively playing a shell game around injuries and the limitations of the guys populating their roster.

There might just be so many injuries now that the Sox are looking at turning over a series of empty shells.

It goes without saying the Sox hope Abreu is back soon, and that Eaton stays healthy, because the chewing gum that's holding together the rest of the offense is getting stretched too thin.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Jordan Danks down because Moises Sierra might be a better hitter

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Unless something better comes along than either Sierra or Danks.

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.