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

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.