Just one week ago I wrote that the Chicago White Sox were, “More than a hope and a prayer away from sniffing the last wild card spot.” At that point in time, the team was in the midst of a painful stretch yielding only three wins in twelve games. What a difference a week makes. Since then, the Sox have won five of six. Three out of four of those wins have come against the two American League wild card leaders, the Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. After Tuesday night’s action, the Pale Hose find themselves 7.5 games out of first place in the American League Central Division and six games back of that last wild card slot. What if the playoffs are not so out of reach, as some, including myself, might have thought? What if the White Sox front office can’t resist the temptation to fill a couple holes and go for it?
Hahn, when asked about the possibility of Garcia returning this season, replied, “Yes, it is possible.”
Rick Hahn’s words and actions have pointed to the White Sox GM being more concerned with rebuilding for sustained success, rather than allowing outside circumstances to result in personnel moves that do not fit the organization’s long term goals. However, what if the Sox find themselves only a few games away from the possibility of playing into October before the deadline passes? What if they wanted to make a run at it, without sacrificing the rebuild? Well, the front office would have to fill some holes.
Another quality starting pitcher is needed on the Southside. As much as I loved watching Hector Noesi and Scott Carroll light it up this week, I don’t think that will happen more often than not. Grab a starter. Gordon Beckham has tailed off immensely since he started the season, hitting a mere .178 over the last thirty days. Fortunately, he is still under team control for 2015. What if the White Sox were to trade him, and a prospect or cash, to the San Diego Padres for Ian Kennedy? His 3.71 ERA and 125 strikeouts would be an immediate upgrade to the back end of the rotation.
Jun 20, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres starting pitcher Ian Kennedy (22) pitches against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the first inning at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
The White Sox have plenty of middle infield options to plug in that will almost certainly be able to manage hitting .200 at the big league level, so as not to precipitate a noticeable drop off in offensive production from the position. Marcus Semien already has big league experience under his belt, while Micah Johnson, who is currently hitting .289 with the Knights, would also provide an exciting option.
The outfield needs help. Both Alejandro De Aza and Dayan Viciedo’s bats have come to life as of late, however, Viciedo leaves much to be desired in the field and on the base paths. Trade him. Gordon Edes from ESPN, has noted the Mariner’s interest in Tank, as well as, a potential suitor in the form of the Boston Red Sox. Edes also points out that each team has talented young arms to send in a potential deal.
So who would take Viciedo’s place? For the time being, Adam Eaton, De Aza, and Moises Sierra could be the main options, with Jordan Danks being recalled to give those three a breather when needed. Or… what if the White Sox recalled Michael Taylor, whom they recently acquired from the Oakland A’s? In a new uniform and new home, the veteran outfielder is hitting .316 with a .903 OPS for the Charlotte Knights per MiLB.com. Either way, the options provide adequate defensive cover for the Sox pitching staff and speed on the bases that allows Robin Ventura to get a little more aggressive than he has been thus far.
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What if Avisail Garcia felt healthy enough to rejoin the team in September, taking his rightful spot in the outfield just in time to warm up for October? It’s a possibility that has been plainly acknowledged by the team. Dan Hayes, from Comcast SportsNet, reported on Monday that Hahn, when asked about the possibility of Garcia returning this season, replied, “Yes, it is possible.” Some might worry about rushing Garcia back too soon, but I don’t believe they would have even brought him along this far in the rehab process if they didn’t know that his shoulder was fully healed.
What if the White Sox squeaked by as the last wild card team? Who would you rather have pitching a winner take all, one-game, wild card round than Chris Sale? What if the White Sox starting pitching staff heading into a divisional playoff series featured Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, John Danks, and Ian Kennedy? That would be a rotation any team would think twice about wanting to face in a five-game series.
Trade Dayan Viciedo for pitching, trade Gordon Beckham for Ian Kenndedy, and let the amazing White Sox medical staff continue to rehabilitate Garcia into the Sox lineup. Upgrade the starting rotation and gain speed on the base paths. Come to think of it, the last time the team had that sort of combination, they didn’t do so bad. I know, it’s a long shot, but what if?