Aug 23, 2014; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees catcher Brian McCann (34) and relief pitcher David Robertson (30) shake hands at the end of the game against the Chicago White Sox at Yankee Stadium. New York Yankees won 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
Typically in Chicago, winter flurries are reasons to work from home and drink coffee on the couch. However, during MLB’s annual winter meetings in sunny San Diego, the term flurry took on a new meaning in the Windy City, one that brings more warmth and excitement than cold and dreary December skies.
The Chicago White Sox signed David Robertson and traded for Jeff Samardzija on what could become one of the most significant nights in franchise history. General Manager Rick Hahn had a plan and stuck to it, but Robertson was a much bigger deal than Samardzija in the grand scheme of things, for a few reasons.
While Samardzija is undoubtedly a great pitcher, and only getting better it seems, the underrated Jose Quintana would have been a suitable number two in a rotation behind Cy Young-candidate Chris Sale. Robertson on the other hand takes a bullpen that was in shambles last year and adds instant credibility and, more importantly, stability.
Sep 6, 2014; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher David Robertson (30) pitches during the ninth inning of a game against the Kansas City Royals at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees defeated the Royals 6-2. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
According to ESPN.com, the White Sox had fourth-worst save percentage across all of baseball last year, blowing 21 of their 57 save opportunities for a measly 63.16-percent save percentage. The lowest percentage for a division winner in 2014? That would be the White Sox chief rival, the Detroit Tigers. Detroit, despite well known bullpen malaise, converted on 71.9-percent of their team’s save chances.
Robertson was 39 for 44 in save opportunities for the 2014 New York Yankees, good for a 88.6-percent save percentage. Those numbers are a music to the ears of White Sox fans everywhere. That represents a significant upgrade at the back end of the bullpen.
Robertson was 39 for 44 in save opportunities for the 2014 New York Yankees, good for a 88.6% save percentage. Those numbers are a music to the ears of White Sox fans everywhere.
This move, in addition to the Zach Duke signing, allows the younger relievers such as Zach Putnam and Jake Petricka to be used in less-stressful situations which should lead to even better results, and the Kansas City Royals showed the world what a bullpen can do for a team last year.
The reduction of reliance on Putnam and Petricka coupled with the departures of Matt Lindstrom (who was afflicted by injury) and Ronald Belisario (who was just awful) solidify a bullpen beyond belief. (And probably answered manager Robin Ventura’s prayers from all of last season.)
While moves such as Adam LaRoche, Samardzija, Melky Cabrera and Emilio Bonifacio will all help the 2015 Southsiders, this team will only go as far as Robertson takes it. I have no doubt he can handle the pressure being on Chicagos’s “Second Team” if he could follow the greatest closer of all time in the biggest media market playing for baseball’s flagship franchise, the Yankees.
Pitching for the White Sox should be a cinch by comparison, even with heightened expectations, both at home and across the baseball landscape. With another year like 2014 for Robertson, the White Sox could be playing meaningful games in October for the first time since 2008.
Who do you think will have the biggest impact of the White Sox off-season acquisitions? Comment below.