The buzzards, they circle
June 23, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Chicago White Sox first basemen Paul Konerko (14) reacts to being called out on strikes by home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman (1) to end the top of the sixth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
On Wednesday, I allowed myself to get momentarily encouraged by a Jim Bowden ESPN Insider article of ‘20 hitters who could be traded.’ It had three White Sox players on it.This was the first red flag.
How often do you see a car on fire on the street? Ok, now how often do you see people rushing and trying to strip it for parts while it’s burning?
But drunk on the idea of the Sox not just competently flipping their one real offensive asset–Alex Rios–but also getting something out of the dying embers of Paul Konerko and ducking out of the meaty years of the increasingly dicey-looking final two years of Alexei Ramirez’s contract, I made rationalizations like “Hey, this guy was a GM for two different teams and has broken a few trades and signings,” and ignoring voices like “OPSRBI’S WAS A REAL THING THAT HAPPENED.”
Another hot streak is overdue and would really help, but Rios remains the one clearly movable offensive piece. Konerko’s lists of necessary conditions–personal willingness, health, other team that’s willing/able to accomodate his increasing frailty while being completely bankrupt at 1B/DH to the point of taking a flier on his history–is daunting. And while nearly everyone with a shortstop problem at mid-season is willing to settle for basically a designated fielder, I cannot be the only one that notices that Alexei Ramirez has trouble hitting the ball 200 feet away from the plate and is owed $19.5 million through 2015.
While we’re on the topic–Jake Peavy
Peavy played catch in the White Sox outfield on Wednesday to the approval of all observers, testing out his healing rib and sticking to the six-week recovery time that was initially projected as the high-end projection for his absence.
His ERA ballooned to 4.30 for the year at the end of his struggles and he’ll be working with just two-to-three audition starts before the non-waiver trade deadline, but in a market squeezed by league parody, a muddled AL East and additional playoff spots and where Ricky Nolasco is commanding attention, the rush to declare Peavy’s trade value dead at the for a non-arm injury still reads as premature.
The end of the soft underbelly
I had forgotten about it since it was such an instantaneous disaster but with nine of the next 10 games (there’s a Cubs makeup date stuffed in there) against winning teams and the first series with the Tigers approaching, Doug Padilla reminded that the easy stretch is officially over and the Sox went 11-19.
The implication is that management noticed this and was likely unimpressed.
11 games under .500 is already a pretty thorough statement on what the White Sox will be doing at the end of July, but the potential for things to get much uglier quickly should have teams picking at the Sox detritus more brazenly.
Right-handed pitcher Andre Rienzo and catcher Josh Phegley were both named as participants in next month’s All-Star Futures Game. Amid rosters full of elite, precocious prospects, Rienzo and Phegley are both 25 year-olds in Triple-A with relatively limited fanfare.
Phegley is riding his early hot streak to a spot as a backup to 20 year-old Austin Hedges (who possesses a defensive reputation Phegley can only dream about), while Rienzo is actually struggling as a starter in Charlotte but is performing better as of recent and acknowledged to have the profile to be a solid reliever. Both should see time in Chicago this season, especially with Tyler Flowers’ season spiraling further and further into disaster, but their presence here is a weird fit.
Speaking of weird fits, MLB has brought the “Last Man Ballot” idea to this game as well, and Courtney Hawkins–in all his 47% strikeout rate, .184 batting average but .475 slugging percentage glory–is listed as an option. Voting for him provides a great opportunity to watch last year’s first round pick in high-quality video, but there’s no guarantee that you’ll like what you see from the 19 year-old who is clearly making a hard adjustment to High-A pitching.
Getting the call-up after Conor Gillaspie went on paternity leave Wednesday, Morel got a start, had one of the White Sox four hits (a little liner up the middle on an 0-2 count) and cannoned a few balls across the diamond in the field. With the state of the White Sox offense, Morel’s interesting just because he hasn’t been proven to be woefully incompetent recently, but with both Konerko and Gillaspie likely returning for the weekend, it doesn’t sound like he’ll be around any longer than Friday.
However, if the Sox were to jettison of their first basemen, he seems like the next guy up. Dan Johnson ain’t walking through that door.
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan