The Chicago White Sox did what they needed to do by taking three of four games from the American League Central-leading Minnesota Twins before the All-Star break which kept themselves within striking distance at three games back.
Now the White Sox have to take the good vibes from that series win and carry it over into the second half of the season if they plan to play postseason baseball in October.
At 46-46, the White Sox are as average as average gets but they will have to be much better than that to jump both the Cleveland Guardians (46-44) and the Twins (50-44) to win the division. That seems to be the only way a team out of the Central will make the playoffs.
The question is what will the organization do to better its chances of making that become a reality?
When the team bowed out of the 2021 playoffs to the Houston Astros, it had several glaring needs (second baseman, right fielder, starting pitcher) which many thought needed to be filled prior to the start of this season.
The Chicago White Sox needs to make big moves at the MLB trade deadline.
The lockout put a hold on any deals being made but it should have provided General Manager Rick Hahn with additional time to further study what would be needed to make improvements to the roster. However, the team did very little at the time to significantly make upgrades.
There have been a few good additions (Kendall Graveman, Johnny Cueto) but the misses (Josh Harrison, Joe Kelly) coupled with their inactivity to pursue top free agents have done little to make them live up to preseason billing as a potential World Series contender.
The team opted to stay in-house with players to fill the void in right field, and so far, the results have been mediocre at best.
While Andrew Vaughn has done okay when put in right field (he has 17 of his 33 outfield starts in right field), he has had to patrol left field nearly as often due to Eloy Jimenez missing significant time due to hamstring surgery.
That left the revolving door of AJ Pollock, Adam Engel, Gavin Sheets, and Leury Garcia to fill the void and it hasn’t gone well. Injuries have been a problem all season which has put Garcia in the position of playing far more than anticipated.
Heading into the break, Garcia has the sixth most at-bats on the team. His slash line of .205/.232/.262 is an indictment of manager Tony La Russa and his desire to stay with him as well as the front office’s inability or unwillingness to pursue more productive alternatives.
Poor play both offensively and defensively has put the team in a hole. The team’s inability to minimize errors combined with questionable managerial decisions cannot continue into the stretch run or the White Sox will find themselves watching the playoffs from the comforts of their living rooms.
With the trade deadline coming up on August 2nd, it will be very interesting to see what Hahn plans to do for a club that has underachieved. If Hahn does have plans for upgrades, what will he be willing to part with and, perhaps more importantly, what will owner Jerry Reinsdorf be willing to sign off on?
Starting pitchers such as Frankie Montas, Luis Castillo, Martin Perez, and Madison Bumgarner could be had as could reliever David Robertson. Wilson Contreras would be a major addition behind the plate and outfielder Juan Soto is just a pipedream.
The point is that Hahn has work to do to improve the team if it is going to make a run at a World Series title.
Deals are there to be made but how willing will he and ownership be to make those become reality? The White Sox can ill afford to watch other contenders make moves to improve their playoff chances while they sit back and do nothing while hoping things get better.
Cleveland comes to town for a four-game series following the break and how the White Sox play in that series could go a long way in determining what changes will be on the horizon.