This is a team from Cuba. Jose Abreu once played on a team from Cuba. Not this one, though. This is the last time I have to do this crap. Mandatory Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports
Oh boy Oh boy Oh boy there’s actually going to be a picture of the White Sox biggest free agent signing in three years in the photo archive I have to use for this site hoooooraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyy!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yessyeseyessyesssyesss!!!!!!!
Seizing upon a rare break in the playoff chug, the White Sox will be introducing Jose Dariel Abreu as the newest name on their 40-man roster on Tuesday. With all the machinations of getting the transaction approved and reeling Abreu in for his physical, it’s possible this was one of the first dates where the introductory press conference was possible. Also, flights are cheaper when they are ordered well in advance.
While it seems like just a formality that’s only anticipated due to the lack of Chicago baseball activities, there is important information to be had.
-How fit is Abreu at the moment? How does he fill out a dress shirt with a jersey over it? Does he look like he can bend over to scoop a grounder without Herm Schneider’s involvement?
-Is he wearing a dress shirt at all? Or is he a casual guy? Jorts?
-Does he struggle to plan ahead? (i.e. wears a poncho or a big puffy vest that makes his jersey fit poorly)
-What’s his command of the English language? How many years away is he from his first Lowe’s commercial with Ed Farmer? Does he tell jokes through his interpreter? Are they full of Sharknado references or surprisingly timeless?
-Will he head out onto the field, take a few pictures giving thumbs up in his suit and ask if anyone has ever hit the ball off the Miller Lite sign?
Right on time to make everyone feel better about the Abreu is a swing analysis on FanGraphs full of glowing praise for his swing path and lower rotational balance, and expressing confidence that these qualities will carry him through concerns about his hand speed. Naturally, voices close to the White Sox have been quick to declare this analysis as stupendous and excellent, but I am having trouble figuring out what about these observations is beyond what professional scouts would take into consideration.
It’s nice to read an optimistic evaluation, and credit is always due for the race-blind, if not still showy comp of Buster Posey, but this doesn’t exactly render the larger debate of whether Abreu’s hitting skill and raw power will conquer shortcomings in his hit tool moot, and I would doubt that such an article is coming.
Konerko doesn’t know where he fits in
The White Sox beats reported Paul Konerko expressing…uncertainty about his role on the team in the wake of the Abreu signing. At face value, the quotes are pretty harmless. Taking from Colleen Kane’s piece here:
"“I guess I really don’t know what the story is behind that,” Konerko said. “I’ll meet with them (to find out).”"
Of course he doesn’t know the story, he hasn’t had his meeting yet. How could he know what’s up? He’s the one who set the timeline that pushed his meeting past the Abreu signing period, but this is essentially a ‘no comment.’
The implication being set up with this type of story, whether he implicated it or not, is that the White Sox have made their plans without Konerko before he could be allowed to make his decision, which would be an upsetting and problematic turn for a number of reasons, most of all being that Abreu’s presence offers little conflict with the “reduced role” that he admitted he’d have to settle for. Konerko was never going to be an efficient use of a roster spot, but with him only being able to hit lefties and Dunn going through his own crisis every couple of weeks, the Sox were bound to pursue a bat to eat up 1B/DH appearances anyway, even if this the most extreme move to reduce Konerko’s playing time possible. Any plan that actually depended on Konerko to produce steadily and consistently would have been unsound by his own admission, and he can still platoon so long as the Sox are cool with Jeff Keppinger being their only backup infielder.
Which they probably shouldn’t be.
The Arizona Fall League
Of minor note is the announcement of the Arizona Fall League All-Star team, a prospect showcase within a prospect showcase. For the White Sox, IF Marcus Semien and RHP Chris Bassitt were named to the squad. Since the teams have played all of 16 games so far and Semien leads the Glendale Devil Dogs with 12 games played, it doesn’t appear like anyone bothered taking in consideration AFL performance in making these team rosters. And that’s good; the less people taking AFL stats seriously, the better. Two home runs on Monday give Semien a .673 OPS for the Fall, while Bassitt has a 1.50 ERA over six innings with a less promising 1:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
IF Micah Johnson would be a fun addition to the All-Star team as well, but he’s busy getting his elbow issue taken care of.
This is a promising Twitter account.
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan