A word to describe the White Sox activity of the past two days might be…
Well, I looked up the thesaurus entries for both “boring” and “vapid”, but none of the options laid forth really spoke to me.
Similarly, it’s unlikely that the signing of Jeff Keppinger, and certainly not the pickup of Angel Sanchez in the Rule 5 draft, speaks to any White Sox fan in any viscerally inspiring way. Keppinger is a utility infielder being asked to masquerade as a starting 3rd basemen, because he’s the only one who can approximate offensive competence, and Angel Sanchez…can field the shortstop position.
It is honestly not a whole hell of a lot, but it removes the White Sox from assessing the reality of having to do some things they really cannot be excited about–actually entrusting Brent Morel to produce again, and for the time being, plugs a hole in the backup infielder sinkhole that has gone to unfavorable places before.
Last year, that was Eduardo Escobar followed by Ray Olmedo. Escobar was the prospect who got promoted by simply outplaying all the other candidates too egregiously to be ignored, and Olmedo was as close as a major league team comes to actually rolling with the proverbial “guy off the street”.
It’s unclear how much Angel Sanchez can really outperform Ray Olmedo. His glove is well-regarded, but Olmedo was actually a pleasant surprise for the most part defensively. Sanchez’s scant major league numbers (.255/.304/.308) are only a slightly more pleasing shade of pathetic, but he has at least has proved himself capable of excelling against AAA competition, which is beyond anything Olmedo ever accomplished.
It’s more important that Angel Sanchez, and his Rule 5 roster situation, is another body standing in the way of another Eduardo Escobar; which in this case is Carlos Sanchez. To hear Buddy Bell tell it, Angel will have a fine chance to offer the necessary performance to protect Carlos from his own success.
“This is a lot different than finding a guy that is throwing 95 or 100, then you can just hope you can hide on your roster somewhere. This guy here, we think if it works out, it can really help our club from Opening Day beyond that.”
Keppinger and Angel Sanchez remove the emergency that could have produced a desperate rush job of the 20 year-old prospect, and that’s certainly necessary. Even counting the Arizona Fall League, Carlos Sanchez has under 300 plate appearances–and mixed results–above A-ball. But while it’s nice to hear protective talk from the organization about a prospect’s development, it also make sense financially.
The benefits of holding back the start of Sanchez’s service clock are such that it’s not worth it to ever break camp with a rookie unless their immediate impact is virtually assured and desperately needed. Carlos Sanchez is far too raw to be a sure shot, and now there’s no longer a reason to throw caution to the wind for him.
The White Sox aren’t going to win a division just by removing all of their disasters. In fact, accepting the mediocrity of Keppinger and Angel Sanchez on the roster might be looked back on as the indication that the Sox would not put up a fight against Detroit in 2013. But after the peril and damage done by individual spots like the DH slots from 2010 and 2011, and 3rd base in 2012, making a point of looking for security, looking for assurance and an acceptable baseline level of performance from every place on the diamond is hardly a bad habit for Rick Hahn to get into.
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan