Jun 29, 2013; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers center fielderAvisail Garcia
(34) at bat against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Detroit Tigers 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
When Rick Hahn passed through the media that the White Sox intended to build around Jake Peavy, it was obvious posturing to drive up the price from other teams, but it could have been used on the fans too. It reminded us that it’s better that the White Sox have shipped out Jake Peavy, the $23.5 million remaining on his contract through 2014 and his option buyout, in exchange for Avisail Garcia and a package of three low-level prospects than if they had kept him, continued to pay him a near market-value salary to pitch for a losing team, where his ability to out-perform Andre Rienzo, Erik Johnson, Charlie Leesman & Co. would be irrelevant for the last two months and very likely 2014 as well.
They got something, they’re not wasting time.
They also traded for a bat, which is a refreshing dose of reality after all that confusing talk about targeting MLB-ready pitching. However, the fun part of the posturing–where Rikc Hahn is bullying teams into discussing their top prospects–unfortunately did not come to pass, unless the whole version where he asked for Xander Boegarts and Red Sox GM Ben Cherington scoffed with the force of a hurricane was dead accurate.
"“We’re very excited about his upside,” said Hahn, calling Garcia a five-tool player in regards to his ability to hit for average and power, run well, play solid defense and possess a strong arm.“He’s still young and still has a little bit of development ahead of him. But we feel we’ve acquired someone with a great deal of upside who is going to have a big impact on the South Side for many years to come. The other players obviously are farther away.”"
The hope is that there’s a specific reason Garcia stood out from the rest. The White Sox were linked to a half-dozen teams interested in Peavy’s services, so it’s likely they did their due diligence in securing the best they could find from a suitor willing to eat Jake Peavy‘s contracts. And while it’s unknown whether sacrificing cash savings would have brought in more elite talent, given the way the White Sox used the last time they had the top tradable starting pitcher as a means of dumping Mark Teahen on the nation of Canada, there’s not a ton of reason to give them the benefit of the doubt.
That could be just fine, since cash has many uses in professional sports, provided it is actually spent and not on Hunter Pence. But it can’t buy cost-controlled, above-average players, at least not without taking a very long time. That directs the onus onus onto Avisail, and not Cleuluis Rondon, J.B. Wendelken and Francelis Montas, to hit. And that means hit, since it’s the only need in the organization has that’s really worth spending energy filling and despite all the “five-tool” talk, it’s the only service Garcia can provide that can sustain his major league career.
To that end, the White Sox are going to need to exhibit a skill that they will need to demonstrate consistently throughout the next few years as they replace their offensive core and attempt to transform their love of raw power bats into production. Garcia has pitch recognition issues that need to be worked out. Significant ones.
And at the moment, with a White Sox offense bankrupt due in no small part due to an absence of any homegrown offensive stalwarts, it’s easy to cast an eye on Dayan Viciedo‘s current state of affairs and turn a whiter shade of pale. Viciedo, like Garcia, got a cup of coffee at the age of 21, spent much of his age-22 season looking unchallenged by Triple-A pitching, and boasted the combination of power to all fields and bat speed with a howitzer welded to his right shoulder that made plate discipline seem like a minor hurdle.
However, Viciedo’s overeagerness would probably make Garcia blush, he never graced a top-100 prospect list like Garcia has, and is only now 24 years-old himself. Keith Law once discussed the “Moneyball” approach to drafting that he took part in with the Blue Jays that I can’t find a link to at the moment, but the upshot was, they could spend their time targeting players that only had the type of plate approach and statistical profile they coveted…but after those guys were all taken, there would still be 95% of the draft left. If the Sox can’t turn Garcia into anything, there only so much blame that can be pinned on Rick Hahn.
That said, it’s not like he should be on a victory lap in the mean time.
In taking Hahn to the woodshed in his analysis of the deal, Sports on Earth’s Jon Bernhardt points out a fundamental truth, the reasons for Detroit and Boston’s participation are readily apparent, but the burden of proof is on the White Sox to show why the hell they are here making this particular deal. Hahn inherited quite the moldering hand of cards and gets credit for the type of self-aware assessment of his club that has been shirked in this neck of the wood before.
But prospects age, rebuilding cycles run their course, and scorn can only be outrun for so long.
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan