The White Sox claimed former Giants left-handed pitcher Eric Surkamp off waivers on Monday. There’s a lot to like about this move.
First, it’s a minor league waiver claim. There’s never really harm in these, or much financial commitment. It’s just adding a potential asset for basically nothing, or adding basically nothing for basically nothing.
Second, the White Sox, though traditionally robust, are running just a bit light on arms that are close to major league level at the moment. Surkamp, though terrible in his brief appearances in the major leagues and still working his way back from Tommy John surgery in 2012, was effective last year in Triple-A during his rehab year (2.78 ERA in 71.1 innings), and dominant in Double-A (2.02 ERA in 142.1 innings with a 3.75 K/BB ratio) as a 23 year-old in 2011.
Surkamp won’t ever dominate in the major leagues. There’s just not much potential in his soft-tossing lefty profile, and his arrival reads more as simple depth than “now you can trade another starter!” depth. The idea is that Surkamp could be better than Dylan Axelrod, or maybe even Andre Rienzo. That will be useful.
Third, look at how irked Giants fans are about the series of events that led to Surkamp being available. That has to be a good sign. The Carlos Villanueva comp is not a player comp, it’s a discontent comp.
Fourth, when a team like the White Sox claim someone off waivers, there’s little reason to worry, because if anyone has to get booted from the 40-man roster, they were likely terrible and without upside.
In the meantime, Brent Morel is now a member of the Toronto Blue Jays organization, claimed off waivers when the White Sox showed as much concern for him as the Giants showed for Surkamp. The trip from ‘third basemen of the future’ to complete afterthought was an alarmingly quick one for Brent. His gonzo month of September at the end of 2011 spurred plenty of curiosity in his potential, often of the delirious variety, but an injury-ruined 2012 pretty much wiped him out of the organization’s plans.
It doesn’t sound entirely fair when the timeline is laid out that way, but Morel never held up his end of the bargain at the plate. He was appealing as a low-floor player who would, failing anything else, pile up singles and keep a pretty bating average up. He never did this. He never effectively sprayed the ball to all fields, his stretches of protecting the inner half with authority were rare, and he went through months looking hopeless at working counts versus major league pitchers.
That his back injury seemed chronic and his Triple-A performance never again matched his 2010 work just provided appealing reasons to avoid a player who had stopped being appealing.
Stalled prospects hurt, and it’s no fun thinking about the days of Morel and Dayan Viciedo both being third base prospects, or how much Morel was responsible for bringing Orlando Hudson to town, or Jeff Keppinger. Probably better to just hang on to this:
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