It’s amazing how MLB efforts to put teeth behind hard-slotting for draft spending and remove signability as a factor in the order, only resulted in even more elaborate games. With every team assigned a draft pool to spread around the first ten rounds and threatened with brutal punishment for exceeding it, much of the middle rounds are filled with throwaway picks meant to save money.
For a team like the The White Sox, who spent so long being cheapskates on draft day that their activities still warrant a suspicious eye, it makes it hard to tell if they’re backsliding or just playing the game. They spent full slot on first-rounder Tim Anderson, but went so off the beaten path in taking Florida high school phenom and side-arming righty Tyler Danish in the second round that they’re bound to wind up signing him for a bargain even if it that wasn’t their motivation. Their selections in rounds six, nine and ten were all pretty blatantly college seniors who could be signed on the cheap, but they went over slot by $100K for fifth round high school arm Thaddeus Lowry, and took a chance on third basemen Trey Michalczewski in the seventh despite signability concerns.
The crippling fear of high schoolers seems to be gone, so there should be enough faith in their approach to think the cheapness is just a product of the system. Of course, that system is probably the product of their cheapness, so….
Tweaks to the offense
With the White Sox still sporting a .240/.293/.373 batting line halfway through June, I have to applaud those who haven’t completely given in to fatalism regarding the offense’s fate. It takes grit to propose ways to plug holes when there’s more holes than boat.
Scoop Jackson of ESPN preached the necessity of extending patience to a struggling Paul Konerko, rightly calling out how quickly talk of decline comes out whenever an older player slumps–like Christina Kahrl did at the beginning of the season.
His citing of David Ortiz’s resurgence doesn’t offer much comfort, since Ortiz was younger in 2009 when he was getting written off than Konerko is now. And as much as I sympathize with those who get frustrated as legends get counted out unceremoniously, it doesn’t change the probabilities that “decline” (Scoop’s scare quotes, not mine) articles are based off of. Konerko has been beating the odds since 2010, but that doesn’t mean it gets easier. He’d be the first to say it.
There’s no foreseeable circumstances of Konerko being unceremoniously counted out worse than him getting dealt to a contender at the deadline anyway. There are worse ways to go. No one’s getting DFA’d into the sunset here.
The great Cee Angi offered some positivity to the White Sox situation as well, drew parallels to the 1983 White Sox similarly uninspiring position at mid-June and suggested–again, very rightly–that Robin Ventura would do well to stop thinking of the No. 2 hole in the lineup as a spot to slide in a crappier version of his leadoff hitter. Or in the case of Jeff Keppinger and Alexei Ramirez; a version of Alejandro De Aza who can’t walk or hit for gap-power.
Just as Jim Margalus pointed out the other day, a seemingly non-traditional fit like Jose Bautista who actually produced would be far better than chasing a high-contact “bat handler” type that the White Sox don’t have, haven’t had for a while and may never have been that effective of a player to begin with.
However, Cee points out that Adam Dunn as good of a candidate as any that the White Sox have for such a role. That’s not a name that fills me with confidence.
Finally, Fansided’s own Lew Freedman chided the White Sox on Thursday for letting A.J. Pierzynski walk in free agency. Not exactly a new angle but one that certainly has mounting levels of tangible evidence behind it now that Pierzynski has a 102 wRC+ and Tyler Flowers is floating into an ever-darkening fog.
I’ll use Freedman’s own words to make my point here:
"“Chicago is going nowhere in the standings and the biggest guns in the batting order have turned out to be pop guns or firing blanks. That includes the venerable Paul Konerko, who just can’t get anything going this year.”"
Pierzynski is one mistake, or one problem that could have been fixed, among a myriad. One more hitter hitting above league-average would give the Sox lineup a whopping total of two, and bring no long-term answers to a lineup that’s still sitting on zero. A.J. would be better than Tyler, but without the flexibility to play him “judiciously” as Freedman notes and no shot at the playoffs, it wouldn’t be much better for A.J.