Showing posts with label Oakland Athletics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Oakland Athletics. Show all posts

Friday, April 20, 2018

White Sox bring back Trayce Thompson, trade Tyler Saladino to Milwaukee

Tyler Saladino
In separate deals Thursday, the White Sox acquired outfielder Trayce Thompson from the Oakland Athletics and traded infielder Tyler Saladino to the Milwaukee Brewers.

No other players were involved, as the Sox received cash from the Brewers and sent cash to the Athletics in the transactions.

Chicago fans already are familiar with Thompson, 27, who was drafted by the Sox in the second round of the 2009 draft and made his debut with the team in 2015.

Thompson hit .295 in 44 games with the 2015 Sox before being shipped to the Los Angeles Dodgers the following offseason as part of a three-team trade that brought third baseman Todd Frazier to the South Side.

The move initially was working out well for the Dodgers, as Thompson hit .290 over his first 110 at-bats as a fourth outfielder in Los Angeles, but then back trouble sidelined him and caused him to slump to a .225 average by year's end. Thompson hit only .122 in 27 games with the Dodgers in 2017. Los Angeles designated him for assignment at the end of March.

Thompson appeared in only three games with the A's, going 1 for 7 at the plate. He was designated for assignment earlier this week.

Saladino's story is not much different than Thompson's. The 28-year-old was a seventh-round draft pick of the Sox in 2010, made his major league debut in 2015 and had a respectable season in 2016, when he slashed .282/.315/.409 with eight home runs and 38 RBIs in 93 games.

But, back trouble ruined Saladino's 2017 season. He slumped to a .178/.254/.229 slash line in 78 games, failed to hit a home run and totaled only 10 RBIs.

He managed to make the Sox's roster coming out of camp this season and was 2 for 8 in six games so far.

Why would the Sox make these moves?

We've touched on it in past blogs. The Sox only had two true outfielders on the 25-man roster -- Avisail Garcia and Adam Engel. They've been plugging left field with a platoon of converted infielders in Nick Delmonico and Leury Garcia, and it's been ugly defensively.

Thompson probably will not hit much, but he can play all three outfield spots, and he serves as an insurance policy for center field if Engel (.179/.283/.205) continues to struggle at the plate. Also, Triple-A outfielder Ryan Cordell recently broke his clavicle and is expected to miss at least eight weeks. He was the outfielder in the system considered closest to big-league ready, and his injury left the Sox perilously thin in the outfield both at the major league level and in the high minors.

Enter Thompson to fill that void.

Saladino's best asset is his defensive versatility. He can competently play any position on the infield, but the Sox had a glut of utility guys, with Yolmer Sanchez and Leury Garcia also on the 25-man roster. Saladino was redundant and expendable.

How will Saladino help the Brewers? For now, he won't, because Milwaukee has optioned him to Triple-A Colorado Springs. 

And, in keeping with tradition, since Thompson has returned for a second tour of duty on the South Side, we would be remiss if we did not welcome him back:

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Carson Fulmer continues to struggle in White Sox rotation

The White Sox are wish-casting with Carson Fulmer.

There is plenty of evidence that the 2015 first-round draft pick is not ready to be a major league starting pitcher, but the Sox continue to push forward with the idea that everything will be OK with Fulmer if we just remain patient.

I don't buy it.

Fulmer was handed a golden opportunity to get his first victory of the season Wednesday against the Oakland Athletics. Yoan Moncada's first career grand slam highlighted a five-run second inning that staked Fulmer and the Sox to an early 6-1 lead.

Alas, the right-hander never recorded an out in the bottom half of the inning. The Sox ended up using a franchise-record 10 pitchers in a 12-11, 14-inning loss.

Fulmer's final line: 1 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BBs, 0 Ks.

His season ERA has swelled to 7.59. His WHIP is a hideous 2.156. He has walked nine batters and struck out nine in 10.2 innings pitched over three starts. This is not a recipe for success, friends, and we shouldn't be surprised.

Yes, I know. Fulmer had three good starts in September of last season. But let's remember, those three outings came against the last-place San Francisco Giants, the last-place Detroit Tigers and a Cleveland Indians team that already had secured its playoff positioning and had nothing to play for.

Before that, Fulmer had a struggling season at Triple-A Charlotte. He went 7-9 with a 5.79 ERA in 25 starts. We would expect numbers such as those from veteran journeymen such as Chris Volstad. You'd like to see better from Fulmer, but it's just not there.

Spring training didn't go well for Fulmer either. He didn't throw strikes, walking 13 men over 10.2 IP in the Cactus League. The end result was an 11.81 ERA, 17 runs allowed, 14 of them earned.

The Sox, for some reason, seem to be ignoring the rough season Fulmer had overall in 2017. They also seem to be ignoring the terrible spring he had, instead choosing to believe that good results in three 2017 games against uninterested opponents are going to translate into success this season.

I just don't see it. Fulmer doesn't belong in a major league rotation now. Maybe someday he will, but that day isn't today. For the good of his development, send him back to Triple-A to work on his control. Only bring him back when he's demonstrated that he can throw strikes on a consistent basis.

The Sox seem to be forcing Fulmer into the rotation, hoping and praying that all that has been invested in him now will start to pay off. It isn't working.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Talk about Yoan Moncada masks slow starts by other White Sox players

Avisail Garcia
White Sox second baseman Yoan Moncada has put together two good games in a row this week against the Oakland Athletics.

The Sox have been outscored, 18-3, in the first two games of the three-game set, but Moncada has been a bright spot. He has gone
3 for 7 with a double, a home run, a walk, a sacrifice bunt, two RBIs and two stolen bases.

There's no denying the fact that Moncada is off to a slow start this season. He's struck out a lot -- 28 times in 66 plate appearances -- and his .214/.323/.393 slash line is well below par.

However, I think all the Moncada talk has deflected some criticism away from a couple other Sox hitters who deserve more blame for the team's 4-10 start.

Let's take a look at what happened in the first inning each of the past two nights in Oakland.

On Monday night, Moncada hit the first pitch of the game for a base hit to right field. He stole second base to put himself in scoring position with nobody out.

Did he end up scoring a run to give the Sox an early lead? Of course not.

Avisail Garcia grounded out to move Moncada to third. But Jose Abreu struck out swinging at a bad pitch, and after Matt Davidson walked, Nick Delmonico popped out to the catcher.

Missed opportunity. The Sox lost, 8-1.

On Tuesday night, Moncada saw six pitches and opened the game by drawing a walk. Once again, he stole second base to put himself in scoring position with nobody out.

Did he end up scoring a run to give the Sox an early lead? Of course not.

Garcia struck out, while Abreu and Davidson grounded out.

Missed opportunity. The Sox lost, 10-2.

Moncada set the table. The alleged RBI men are not doing their jobs.

Abreu is hitting .200/.250/.600 with runners in scoring position. Granted, two of the three hits he's had in those situations are home runs, but he's also grounded into two double plays and failed to pick up the easy RBI with a man at third and less than two outs, such as the first-inning situation in Monday's game.

That said, Abreu's clutch numbers make him look like Babe Ruth when compared to Garcia.

Thus far, Garcia is 1 for 15 with runners in scoring position this season. His slash line is .067/.118/.067 in those situations.

Small sample sizes, yes, but let's not point too many fingers at the young Sox second baseman at this stage. If you want to know why the offense is struggling, look no further than the slow starts by the Sox's two most established run producers -- Abreu and Garcia.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Sad offensive numbers for the White Sox in recent games

The only photo I could find of Daniel Mengden ...
So, the White Sox have gone 2-9 with four postponements since the calendar turned to April. And, like most losing streaks, the problem has been of combination of different things.

We've seen bad bullpen work, poor starting pitching and inept defense (three errors in one inning in Monday's 8-1 loss to Oakland!), but most of all, we've seen a teamwide outage in hitting with runners in scoring position.

The Sox went 5 for 10 with runners in scoring position in their season-opening win over the Kansas City Royals. Since that game, they have gone for 12 for 100. You don't need a calculator to know that pencils out to a .120 batting average.

This offense is 3 for 52 with runners in scoring position over the past seven games. I did get out the calculator for that, and it's an .058 batting average. Wouldn't you think a group of major league hitters could do better than that just on accident?

The Sox will never be a good team this year, but the law of averages says they have to be a little better than their 4-9 record indicates, right?

It's one thing to have your bats stuffed up your rear end by Jose Berrios, the talented right-hander of the Minnesota Twins. It's quite another when you're getting owned by Daniel Mengden.

Coming into Monday's game, Mengden was 0-10 with a 6.45 ERA in 13 career starts at the Oakland Coliseum.

He is now 1-10 with a 5.88 ERA in 14 career starts after limiting the Sox to a run on six hits over eight-plus innings. Jose Abreu broke up Mengden's shutout with a solo home run leading off the ninth inning.

Mengden had not made it out of the sixth inning in any of his first three starts of the season, so forgive me if I'm not interested in hearing about how good his stuff was Monday night.

At some point, you stop "tipping your cap" to the opposing pitcher and just say, "This is bad offense."

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Jake Burger done for the season; injuries to prospects a buzzkill for White Sox

First the good news: White Sox pitching prospect Michael Kopech's fastball-changeup combination looked good in his spring debut Monday, when he tossed two scoreless innings against the Oakland Athletics. The Sox are 3-1 this spring after their 7-6 win over the A's.

Too bad that wasn't the story of the day.

Jake Burger, the Sox's first-round draft pick in 2017, was lost for the season Monday with a ruptured Achilles in his left leg. Burger was running out a routine grounder when he collapsed in pain about 15 feet before reaching first base.

Injuries to prospects have become an alarming trend for the Sox, and we're not even to March yet. Micker Adolfo, who has one of the best outfield arms in the farm system, is going to be relegated to DH duty this season because of a sprained UCL and a strain in his flexor tendon.

The Sox don't want Adolfo to lose at-bats, so he's going to try to play through it, but midseason surgery still is an option.

We already know Zack Burdi, a 2016 first-round draft pick, is out after having Tommy John surgery last summer. And top hitting prospect Eloy Jimenez is not playing right now because of a sore knee.

The injury to Jimenez is not severe, but it's hard to maintain optimism for the coming season when bad news is being piled on top of bad news on the injury front.

Burger's injury has led to increased speculation that the Sox might sign veteran third baseman Mike Moustakas, who incredibly remains a free agent after hitting 38 home runs for the Kansas City Royals last season.

My position on Moustakas hasn't changed: If you can get him on a two- or three-year deal at reasonable money, you have to consider it. Before the injury, Burger's projected timeline for arriving in the big leagues was about 2020. Now, you have to back that up to 2021, and questions only will increase in terms of his ability to stick at third base.

So, the Sox need somebody to man that position for the next three years, at least, and there are no other obvious solutions within the system. Time to look outside the organization? Perhaps, but I wouldn't go handing out a five- or six-year contract to the 29-year-old Moustakas as a result of this.

If the Sox want to sign a shorter-term stopgap, I'm cool with that. I would argue they needed a stopgap at third base even before this Burger injury occurred, so nothing has really changed.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

White Sox pitcher Jeff Samardzija turns in the worst performance of his career

The end of the 2015 regular season is less than three weeks away. It can't come soon enough for White Sox starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija, who is enduring a baffling terrible second half.

Samardzija turned in the worst start of his career Tuesday night as the Sox absorbed a 17-6 pounding at the hands of the Oakland Athletics.

The right-hander put the Sox in a 5-0 hole in the first inning. He failed to make it through the fourth inning -- he didn't record an out in that fourth, in fact -- an inning in which the Athletics would score 10 runs.

Samardzija's final line: 3 IP, 11 H, 10 R, 10 ER, 3 BBs, 3 Ks.

From June 7 through July 28, Samardzija posted 10 straight starts of seven innings pitched or more. His season highlight came July 9 when he threw a four-hit shutout against the best offensive team in the league, the Toronto Blue Jays.

But since Aug. 1, it has all gone very wrong. Samardzija is 1-8 with a 9.24 ERA since that date. On Tuesday, he became just the third pitcher in MLB history to allow nine or more earned runs in a game three times in the same season. The others are Jaime Navarro (1997) and Brett Tomko (2003).

Sox fans are all too familiar with Navarro, and he's unfortunately become a convenient comparison to make with Samardzija.

Navarro, like Samardzija, pitched for the Cubs before joining the Sox and had a respectable amount of success. Navarro went a combined 29-18 with a 3.62 ERA from 1995-96 on the North Side. In 1997, he moved eight miles south to the White Sox and put up poor numbers that rival those of Samardzija this season.

Navarro (1997 White Sox): 9-14, 5.79 ERA, 1.622 WHIP
Samardzija (2015 White Sox): 9-13, 5.27 ERA, 1.354 WHIP

Of course, Navarro was a free-agent acquisition who was making some bucks with the Sox, so that meant his spot in the rotation remained secure no matter how poorly he performed. From 1997-99, he made 87 starts for the South Siders, went 25-43 with a 6.06 ERA and stole $5 million a year from Jerry Reinsdorf. That was big money in late 1990s dollars.

The good news for Sox fans is the Samardzija train wreck won't continue on for three years like the Navarro disaster did. Samardzija's contract is up at the end of the season. You have to believe both the player and team are eager to move on.

Position players pitching in September

Another sign of White Sox mismanagement: Two position players pitched in Tuesday's debacle. Utility man Leury Garcia worked a scoreless eighth inning, while shortstop Alexei Ramirez pitched a scoreless ninth.

Sure, the Sox bullpen has been used a lot this week. Chris Sale lasted only three innings in a Sunday loss to the Minnesota Twins. Monday's game lasted 14 innings, and as we've chronicled, Samardzija was knocked out early Tuesday. But with the September roster expansion, a team shouldn't need to resort to risking the health of position players to eat up innings on the mound.

I'm baffled as to why the Sox didn't allow a Quad-A innings-eater such as Scott Carroll or Junior Guerra to join the roster for the last month of the year. Either of those two men could have saved the Sox some embarrassment in this latest loss.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

John Danks has the lowest WHIP of any White Sox starter in the second half of the season

An absurd ninth-inning meltdown by Tyler Flowers and David Robertson prevented White Sox left-hander John Danks from picking up his eighth victory of the season Monday night, but it didn't change the fact that Danks turned in a quality outing in the Sox's 8-7, 14-inning win over the last-place Oakland Athletics.

Danks went seven innings, allowing just three hits. Granted, all of them were solo home runs, but can anyone really complain about the so-called No. 5 starter giving up three runs over seven innings? I don't believe so.

The overall numbers don't look great for Danks; he's 7-12 with a 4.56 ERA this year. But I'll bet you didn't know he has the lowest WHIP of any Sox starter since the All-Star break. His ERA is the second lowest over that same span, behind only Jose Quintana, who has been the Sox's best pitcher over the last two months.

Here are the second-half numbers for each member of the Sox rotation:

1. Quintana: 5-1, 3.28 ERA, 1.369 WHIP
2. Danks 3-4, 3.60 ERA, 1.200 WHIP
3. Carlos Rodon 4-4, 4.10 ERA, 1.298 WHIP
4. Chris Sale 4-5, 5.00 ERA, 1.302 WHIP
5. Jeff Samardzija 3-8, 6.46 ERA, 1.450 WHIP

Not sure what to make of all this, other than to say this isn't the way the Sox drew it up. Quintana has done his job, but Sale and Samardzija are supposed to be the two best pitchers. Samardzija has been consistently terrible. Sale has been up and down, mainly because he keeps inexplicably getting roughed up by the Minnesota Twins.

One thing we can say: Danks is not responsible for the Sox's inability to make a second-half push. He stunk the first half, yes, but he's routinely done his job in more recent outings -- including Monday night.

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.