TCS Morning 5: Staring at the stove, which is not yet hot

1. It is nearly the deadline for activating club options, also known as the long-awaited decision day on Alexei Ramirez's future with the White Sox. Or, is better said, it's the deadline for determining whether their desire to purge $9 million from the 2016 payroll outstrips any interest in shopping the veteran for talent in return, or any interest in just not giving 600+ plate appearances to Tyler Saladino.

The beats seem to have felt a change in the breeze of recent about Ramirez's potential return. 

They're probably a better indicator than my constant prattling about what makes logical sense for them, but Ramirez's resilient second half and the absolute tanking of Saladino's at-bats, combined with the team's somewhat surprising decision to abandon playing him in favor of Mike Olt, all signaled that no in-house replacement had built up enough steam to unseat Ramirez.

2. This doesn't bode well. Sandy Alomar Jr. is only the first publicly reported candidate, not the entirety of the candidate pool, but it's not a good sign that he completely sniffed out the problems with accepting the White Sox bench coach role with an embattled manager.

‘I didn’t want it to seem like I was coming in to replace Robin in case they stumbled out of the gate,’ said Alomar. ‘I like and respect Robin too much for that.’
— Daryl Van Schouwen

Not only would Sandy's presence be hanging over Robin during a make-or-break year, if he took over mid-year, rather than getting a clean start, he would be the guy who undermined a well-liked clubhouse presence. It's the type of awkward situation you foment when you can neither make a clean break nor a firm commitment with your current manager, and it looks like they're going to need a candidate more desperate than Sandy is to leave a stable coaching staff for a small promotion.

In other words, probably a worse candidate. Maybe Bud Black will get really desperate.

3. Monday was also the day to officially file for free agency, and Jeff Samardzija, Geovany Soto, Gordon Beckham and Matt Albers took the opportunity to file.

Samardzija is surely gone but due a qualifying offer that he'll decline, Soto was a ghost for the last month, his bat cooled and the only pitcher who preferred to work with him at all is on his way out of town. He showed enough pop that someone should give him an MLB contract to be their backup next season, and the Sox don't seem like the team. Albers' 2015 was a similarly low-price gift, but his performance outstripped his talent level.

If that's the case, while Jake Petricka and Zach Putnam aren't Wade Davis and Kelvin Herrera, they've got more upside than the 32-year-old and the Sox shouldn't be the ones paying for his uptick in value.

Gordon Beckham, I would say he could always come back on a MiLB deal, but...


The advantages Beckham offers over the likes of Steve Lombardozzi are slim, and harder to argue given the meat of his career OPS advantage (.676 to .631, ooh-whee!) came from a player in 2009 who has long since disappeared. The Sox are good on replacement-level middle infield depth, so they'll have a really hard time bringing back Gordon Beckham for any other reason than he's Gordon Beckham.

5. From the land of "Why is Tyler Flowers a revered defensive catcher despite being the size of a trash barge and only somewhat more agile?"

Framing runs are still treated with skepticism around these parts, but Flowers was vocal before the season about focusing on how he showed pitches to the umps, and here are the results. While we're piling up circumstantial evidence, Sox pitching was nearly a run better with Flowers than Soto. Trading 200 innings of catching Chris Sale for Jeff Samardzija will widen the gap, but it's an interesting tidbit to run across among the the pile of observational evidence, such as the fact that Carlos Rodon should never be allowed in the same room as Soto again.