A starting rotation of Sale-Samardzija-Quintana-Danks-Noesi is rather hilarious in its division between strengths and weaknesses. Pros: Sale, Samardzija, Quintana. Cons: Danks, Noesi. Given that the team didn't give up too many future resources this offseason - a second and third round pick for Melky and David Robertson, and the useful, cost-controlled fringe starters / bench players surrendered in exchange for Samardzija - normally I would say they can just keep riding out the upswing and roll with what they have. But, their main acquisition this offseason - Shark - will only be here for 2015, and it doesn't make sense to add him and other guys like Melky, Robertson, LaRoche, Duke, etc. etc. only to hamstring your chances at competing by leaning heavily on Danks and Noesi.
Obviously, Jeff Samardzija is a huge upgrade on Scott Carroll / Andre Rienzo / I am so glad Jose Abreu was distracting me last year. The problem is that the team is only one injury to one of their front three away from being in basically the exact same position they were last year, except they had to trade away one of their primary depth options in the form of Bassitt to get Samardzija in the first place.
Carlos Rodon has the potential to be the key to the 2015 rotation, possibly the whole rotation, and by extension the whole roster. If you're reading this blog, you are probably pretty well aware of his credentials, the fact that he pitched his way to Triple-A, and has had a major league ready slider for about two years already. The problem is that he still has a lot of trouble with his fastball command, and he'll need to keep improving his change up if he's going to reach his potential ceiling of front line starting pitcher. Rodon's potential is extremely valuable and his development shouldn't be damaged for the sake of rushing him to the majors. It would be very tempting to call him up even if he weren't ready because he'd be sitting there all tempting in Triple-A while Danks and Noesi will probably stink it up on an otherwise solid team.
I may be worried about nothing - Rodon may not be challenged in Triple-A, he may learn just as much in the majors as he would otherwise, and maybe it just gets him more time with Cooper that way regardless. Still, I'd feel a lot better if they didn't have to be filling - at a minimum - 20-40% of the rotation with either Danks & Noesi's replacement level dreck, or counting on a prospect.
One problem is that there isn't much by way of improvement left on the free agent market. Max Scherzer is cool, but I am skeptical of that happening. James Shields is like half as good as Scherzer at 2/3 the price, so I'm not interested. When you go down the list of free agent SPs, a lot of the projected mid-to-back rotation options have failed to manifest - Hiroki Kuroda, Kenta Maeda, and Chihiro Kaneko are all either remaining in Japan or returning there. Volquez, Peavy, Ervin Santana, Brandon McCarthy - all gone.
That leaves...Ryan Vogelsong...Kyle Kendrick? And I suppose...Paul Maholm?
The benefit of adding one of those guys is insurance in case of injury. The bad news is that they probably wouldn't improve on Danks or Noesi and would cost money. Yuck.
When competing for the playoffs, every marginal win (i.e. win 87 as opposed to 86) is that much more valuable (than, say, win 82 rather than 81). The White Sox have invested a lot into assets to improve the team from 73 wins last year to try to compete in 2015. It would be a shame if they stopped just short of it actually getting them back to the playoffs for the first time since 2008 in a terrible division. Fortunately, Danks and Noesi aren't hard to improve upon, but it looks like it might have to come via trade.
...Please learn pinpoint command right now, Carlos. Please.
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