Showing posts with label Trayce Thompson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Trayce Thompson. Show all posts

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Rumor mill links Andre Ethier to White Sox

Andre Ethier
The rumor started with a report by The Score's Bruce Levine, and continued with speculation from MLB.com's Phil Rogers.

Yeah, I know. I should probably stop right there. But the reports from Levine and Rogers have led White Sox fans to ponder whether Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier would be a good fit on the South Side.

On Thursday, USA Today's Bob Nightengale threw some cold water on the rumor, tweeting that there are no signs of a potential match between the Sox and the Dodgers.

My speculation would lean toward agreeing with Nightengale, but speculation is just speculation, so let's talk a little bit about Ethier's situation.

Ethier has a contract that would scare off teams. He's owed $18 million in 2016 and $17.5 million in 2017, and he has a vesting option for $17.5 million with a $2.5 million buyout for 2018. That's a lot of money owed.

The Dodgers likely are motivated to get out from underneath that contract for a couple reasons. First off, they are looking to trim their payroll. Secondly, they have way too many outfielders: Ethier, Carl Crawford, Yasiel Puig, Joc Pederson, Scott Van Slyke, Alex Guerrero, Enrique Hernandez and former Sox outfielder Trayce Thompson. That's eight outfielders. You only need five. Lastly, Ethier will gain his 10-and-5 rights in April, which means he will become much more difficult to trade once the spring is over.

Ideally, the Dodgers would want to get rid of Crawford, but much like Adam LaRoche on the Sox, his contract and recent poor performance makes him an immovable object. The highest-paid guy on that list of Dodgers outfielders who still has value is Ethier.

What skill does Ethier bring? Well, he hits right-handed pitching.

Here are his 2015 splits:
vs. RHP: .306/.383/.517
vs. LHP: .200/.229/.244

All 14 of his home runs, all seven of his triples and 18 of his 20 doubles came against right-handed pitching last year. He obviously can't hit lefties worth a damn, so he's a platoon player at this stage of his career -- he turns 34 in April.

You can see where this could be a potential fit for the Sox. Their only lefty middle-of-the-order bat is, well, LaRoche, and it's not unreasonable to think he's just washed up at this point.

That said, Ethier makes an awful lot of money for a platoon player. The Sox should not be giving up any top prospects for a high-priced platoon outfielder -- especially given that the Dodgers need to act to address their outfield logjam. Los Angeles doesn't have that much leverage here.

If Sox GM Rick Hahn can get the Dodgers to eat some money and take nothing more than middle-tier prospects for Ethier, then he should consider doing this deal. But if the Dodgers want a top prospect, or if they want the Sox to take on all the contract, then Hahn should pass.

I'm guessing that right now the Dodgers are wanting both salary relief and a good prospect in return for Ethier, and that's why Nightengale is reporting there is no potential match with the Sox. That's simply not a move the Sox should make at the moment.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Trayce Thompson: The right-handed platoon bat the Sox have been looking for?

It's no secret the White Sox are not a good hitting team, but their offensive woes are particularly acute against left-handed pitching. Here are the Sox's team hitting splits:

White Sox vs. RHP: .255/.310/.394
White Sox vs. LHP: .240/.292/.344

The team batting average and on-base percentages take a dip against left-handers, and there's a significant drop-off in slugging percentage. The Sox could use a hitter or two who hit lefties well, and right now the hope is rookie outfielder Trayce Thompson becomes one of those guys.

Thompson went 3 for 4 and finished a home run short of the cycle Tuesday against Boston lefty Wade Miley, leading the Sox to a 5-4 win over the Red Sox. Thompson's two-run double in the bottom of the seventh inning provided the winning margin.

With that performance, Thompson is hitting .522/.560/.957 in 11 games (6 starts) since he was called up. We know, of course, he will never keep up that pace, but his performance thus far against left-handed pitching is worth noting: He's 10 for 17 with two home runs and five RBIs.

It shouldn't be hard for Thompson to keep his roster spot and serve in a platoon role if he can produce above-average numbers against lefty starters.

The Sox lineup is full of guys who struggle against lefties:

Adam LaRoche vs. LHP: .163/.198/.325

Carlos Sanchez vs. LHP: .179/.225/.269

Adam Eaton vs. LHP: .227/.271/.295

Melky Cabrera vs. LHP: .230/.258/.333

Jose Abreu vs. LHP: .240/.307/.375

Even Abreu, the Sox's best hitter, is a mere mortal when he sees a left-handed pitcher. Thompson is a nice luxury for manager Robin Ventura to have, because now he can sit LaRoche on days when the opposition throws a left-handed starter. Thompson can handle any of the three spots in the outfield defensively, so Ventura has his pick of DH'ing Cabrera, Eaton or Avisail Garcia on the days Thompson plays.

We don't know yet how "real" this early hot surge from Thompson is, but it sure is refreshing to see the Sox farm system send a potentially useful position player to the major leagues.

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.