Week in Review: The AL West is a Beautiful Place to Die

This was a home run

The White Sox have had 2-4 weeks already this season and I'll go out on a limb a predict they'll have another one--and not before long! But this somehow felt worse: the pitching was reliably bad, losing a series to Houston, while increasingly familiar, is also very bad, but it's more the hopelessness of the injury situation.

The Sox couldn't fight back in their 11-0 loss to Oakland, because they simply didn't have the horses for it. They only lost one player to injury this week, and Abreu's situation was more of an acknowledgement of a condition than a sudden tragedy, but it was also to their one sure-shot All-Star of the moment, and their reason for national relevance. It's the number of players missing in total that galls. This team has been capable of playing some very good ball, but the next time they'll be at full force is uncertain.

For portions of the week they were without two-thirds of their Opening Day outfield, and still lack three-fifths of their starting rotation. One of the few familiar faces--John Danks--was torched for four home runs in 10.2 innings, and has the pitching line of someone who should be looking over his shoulder when pitching cavalry arrives.

About that, though. While Sox starting pitching was allowing 25 earned runs in 33 innings,little was being done that threatened the immediate safety of Hector Noesi (occasionally decent-ish) and Scott Carroll (absolutely firebombed and exposed his last two starts in a way that's hard to see a comeback from.

Chris Sale: As inhumane as his Triple-A rehab start seemed (11 K in four innings), it's still an open question as to whether he'll do it again. He's being brought to Kansas City Monday for an evaluation with team staff. The Triple-A dominance raised quite a furor, and it lends some credence to the Sox claims they're being cautious that their evaluation is going beyond simply checking if he's throwing as good as before and checking whether his muscle is responding and recovery on schedule.

This should be the last Week in Review that's uncertain about his status for a while, but even that just empties out one of the slots in the rotation.

Erik Johnson: After being effective while lacking the velocity he once sported, Johnson walked three along with allowing nine hits. He's not getting blown apart, but there's none of the dominance that Johnson showed that made him a prospect in the first place, and by the sound of it, it may be a while.

There's probably not and easy or quick fix for that. Let's not leave things open for interpretation. Updates like that provide a lot of cynicism that Johnson will provide meaningful contribution to the big league club this season. And I prefer to find out what's wrong with him sooner than later, no matter what is is, because he's wasting his time right now.

Felipe Paulino: Speaking of wasting time, Sunday's outing was the first time since joining Charlotte that he recorded more strikeouts than walks, which is a nice change from his previous three times out. But like Johnson, there's not much impressive stuff going on. This isn't someone who be considered for promotion if his name wasn't already recognizable. With Danks, Paulino, and sadly Johnson, their arm issues should put them in a different categories than established guys we just wait for a hint of a sign that they've "found it" again.

They don't have the ability to retire major league hitters until their performance strongly suggests otherwise.

Tommy Hanson: The former Braves phenom certainly fits into that category as well. Remember those six no-hit innings he threw a while back? He's given up four home runs and six walks in ten innings since. It's something that he's staying healthy, but there's no evidence the old guy is lurking around.

Chris Beck: The former second-round pick has a 20:15 K:BB ratio in Double-A. He should stay there.

I don't know if you're picking up on a theme here, but you promote guys when they're overwhelming their competition, and also displaying tools that would enable them to be successful at the next level. No one can even be spotted fulfilling the first of the clauses right now. Eric Surkamp has shown some promise recently...in the Charlotte bullpen.

Scott Carroll doesn't have a whole lot, but at least he was too good for Triple-A. With four starts under his belt, Monday's outing in Kansas City will tip the balance one way or another, to whether he's more often a back-end starter who can get by on perfect execution, or just a sitting duck. "Is he a major-leaguer" is the most interesting question the Sox can spend this supposed rebuilding year figuring out, which is only so useful if the answer is "who cares either way?"

Too often players are projected on what role they would have on a hypothetical dream team, but even a contending team probably works Andre Rienzo out of the bullpen, or maybe as a swingman. Scott Carroll's spot starts is ideally a nice one-week story, and Hector Noesi....I haven't quite figured out where he fits yet. As much of a bummer losing at-bats for Avisail Garcia, Jose Abreu, Adam Eaton and Marcus Semien has been, much of the rotation is where the lineup was last year: bad now, with limited potential.



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