Things aren’t looking so good for Brent Morel. His rehab stint in Charlotte ended after nine increasingly mediocre games when the same pain began creeping in again.
‘‘It felt good for a couple of days, and then it just got back to where it was and not being able to play,” said Morel.
Now he’s in Chicago visiting a spine specialist–possibly multiple ones–in the name of “doing everything [he] can” to avoid surgery. Since the path of rest and a cortisone shot has already resulted in three weeks lost with no progress, his manager is no longer viewing going under the knife as taboo.
“If there has to be surgery, just do it. But I think at this point they’ve done a lot of things you can do without that.”
And rightly so. Brent Morel at half-strength might not be worth a roster spot, let alone the pain and treatment needed to facilitate it.
Either way, Morel’s going to be hard-pressed to see action again before the All-Star break, since he’ll need to spend time in AAA proving he’s healthy.
That means a lot more Orlando Hudson, who was more exciting a few weeks ago when he was welcome respite from Brent Morel’s nightmare season, than he is now as someone who could possibly start for the next four months.
Hudson is still athletic enough with a strong arm, so most of his defensive issues at 3rd have smacked of a lack of familiarity, which is quality that logically will depreciate some, even if his reaction times are stuck where they are. The Sox have other options though if they just want great defense and punt the 9th spot in the order, so Hudson needs to provide with his bat to make this worth everyone’s time.
His current .182/.274/.309 line as a White Sox is pretty much in ‘why not just play Eduardo Escobar?’ territory. However, he’s walked in seven of his 63 plate appearances on the South side, and four of his ten hits have gone for extra bases.
There’s patience, contact, and slight amounts of pop. His main hindrance has been bad luck on balls in play (just a .205 average), and that should rebound. His ZiPS projection for the rest of the season reflects that, predicting him to hit .244/.322/.371 for the rest of the season.
That’s not much, but it’s certainly playable.
Playable, but also well above what he’s been able to put up all season, and even then it’s pretty poor for a 3rd basemen.
If the White Sox want to upgrade the offense, 3rd base remains the obvious place to upgrade, and perhaps the only one that’s really tenable with the organization’s long-term plan.
Kevin Youkilis is an obvious fit, and was an elite hitter in his day, but also brings his own set of troublesome, likely age-related declining offensive stats. Such a target also brings up the question of what kind of package the White Sox can build. They’re not the Braves; they don’t simply allot a budget at the beginning of the season and throw up their hands if it’s not enough, but this was supposed to be a season spent re-stocking organizational depth.
As fate would have it, just when the Sox look to rebuild, the major league club isn’t terrible, and there’s an obvious reason to buy.
If nothing else, Hudson–simply by being an underwhelming fill-in–should serve as a fine litmus test for how the front office views this season, and their trade and financial flexibility overall.
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