Besides an eleventh hour trade proposal that fell apart as quickly as it came about, the Wednesday non-waiver trade deadline was spent picking apart the Jake Peavy trade to the umpteenth degree, and trying to figure out what it means when it has no accompaniment.
The White Sox, fully destitute at 40-65 (and ahead of the game on 66), traded away relievers and drew from their one true area of organizational strength. They were as active as any sellers in a not particularly active deadline, but not all that different from the type of deals a team shifting resources around during a transitional offseason might make.
And then there’s that “financial flexibility” bit. The White Sox are down to just under $60 million in contractual obligations for 2014.
In a vacuum, no White Sox fan should care about the team saving money. The franchise is not some city landmark that the community has to vigilantly maintain, it’s a private enterprise run by a hyper-shrewd businessman, who accounted for the scenario of “How will I make it through if the team stinks and the fans stop coming?” a long time ago, before even when he was carving up the state for the terms of the U.S. Cellular Field lease. Since their collective worth is regularly assessed on their inexhaustible willingness to be consumers, the benefit for fans should be that their relationship with the team can be simplified to just getting scrutinize the living hell out of the on-field product.
“Financial flexibility” is only as interesting as whatever is done with it.
Not that it has any particular bearing on his job performance or is something he should care about, but specific transparency hasn’t been a big hallmark of the Rick Hahn regime thus far, so his words are all about laying out options.
“We’re starting to transition this club to a new core,” he said. “We do feel we’re in a very good position with our pitching that’s going to allow us to be competitive in the very near future. But we need to make improvements offensively. We need a more diversified offensive attack. We need better defense. We need a more athletic combination of position players on our roster. And we’ll get there.”
That’s so White Sox.
Both in the refusal to ever concede a season, even in the face of trying to turnaround the second-worst team in the American League…
Hahn: “we’re never going to write off a season, especially when you have the starting pitching we have.”
— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) July 31, 2013
…and a larger truth that the Sox are so consistent in developing pitching, to where being slightly ahead of the middle of the pack in 2012 was a down year, that it’s hard for them to really bottom out unless they get stuck with something like the worst offense in the league and a hilariously long stretch of errors and baserunning blunders.
If the goal is putting together a playable offense that, I donno, let’s say Andre Rienzo can drag to the playoffs with a 250-inning season or something, then “financial flexibility” becomes useful in adding bats. “Free agency” is a term often used these days in articles about cautionary tales, or albatrosses or Albert Pujols‘ feet, but it offers a better recent history for the team than developing hitters, strangely enough.
Or there could be more.
Alex Rios has been told that he could still be moved in a waiver trade, and the beats are convinced that more moves are on the way. A more substantive overhaul would seem to be a more logical response to an offense lacking even a top-40 hitter in the American League.
But even moving Rios would just serve to free up room for Garcia. Part of the scheme of insisting upon MLB-ready talent in return in trades is that the Sox never abandon the immediate concern of the major league roster. Their youth movement takes place in Chicago as much as it ever does in Birmingham and Charlotte.
Trading away the unnecessary expenses and marketable commodities of a bad team is a stage of “rebuilding” that comes along very obviously. Having the major league club turtle for a few years and focus all resources on building from within is another step entirely and until they show otherwise, not something the Sox seem inclined to do. With their market size, it’s not the most unreasonable stance, but it’s not the most soothing either.
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan