TCS Morning 5: Red-hot Hector Sanchez news

1. Heyman reaffirming that the White Sox are still in on Todd Frazier talks was probably the most juicy Monday news update, but since I already used it for yesterday's morning update....'s Hector Sanchez's day!

Sanchez, 26, is a career 75 wRC+ hitter, which is only slightly worse than Tyler Flowers was last year, but he hasn't even nearly that good in the past two seasons. He's a professional backstop, but such an offensive zero that he ideally sticks around in Charlotte all year, spreading grizzled receiver knowledge to all the minor leaguers passing through and whatnot, and hopefully all the relievers that get promoted over the year will actually know how to execute a pitchout when they come up.

If he's called up for an injury, Avila or Navarro probably would switch to full-time starter reps just to avoid Sanchez's awful bat. And man, the past couple weeks have not been a vote of confidence for Rob Brantly.

2. The White Sox would like to get out ahead of expectations of Carson Fulmer following the Chris Sale/Carlos Rodon schedule to the majors.

Carson is a fairly special talent, and we are lucky to have him. But to expect him to be on the Rodon development path is a little unfair. We are going to let the talent dictate how quickly he moves.
— Rick Hahn

Rodon was unusually advanced and Chris Sale is a top-5 pitcher in the sport, so yes, Fulmer should not be expected to follow their lead, and probably should not be expected to factor seriously into the 2016 rotation lest he just annihilates Double-A--which he has yet to pitch in--right off the bat. The Sox are all about cashing in on their minor league depth as soon as possible, but Fulmer making some September call-up starts or even relief appearances in 2016 would still be a very, very quick graduation.

3. In an attempt to feel better about ourselves, let's look back at an exciting development across the league in Spring Training 2012.

Five talented young pitchers are attempting to enter the rotation this spring after making their first marks in the majors in relief: Neftali Feliz, Daniel Bard, Chris Sale, Aroldis Chapman and Aaron Crow. They have all excelled in the bullpen, but they don’t have a single big league start among them. However, they do have starting experience, as all but Sale, who started in college, have pitched out of the rotation in the minor leagues. Chapman also started in Cuba before signing with the Cincinnati Reds in 2010.

If those pitchers have all bid their final farewells to the bullpen, sabermetricians will celebrate because statistics suggest that starters are the most essential members of the pitching staff.
— Ben Lindbergh

To review:

Sale--Became a top-5 pitcher in the sport.

Feliz--Made seven starts before elbow soreness resulted in eventual Tommy John Surgery. He's never really been the same since.

Chapman & Crow--Spring Training injuries in the bullpen canceled their bids to become starters, and they have yet to revisit the project.

Bard--Irretrievably ruined.

Taking a lesson out of this is risky. Feliz's elbow blowing out is a tough thing to pin on a seven start workload, Sale is a development miracle and Bard is his counterbalance, the uniquely bad idea of identifying him as someone capable of transitioning to starter with the worst possible results. Perhaps the most instructive cases are Chapman & Crow, bullpen aces that both teams eventually decided they couldn't stand to lose from their relief corps.

4. Which leads to a point that Ken Rosenthal made in a recent column, albeit with too much specifically motivated rebuke to a particular line of now dated sabermetric thinking, that the age of waving off the value of relievers is gone. Rosenthal points to recent big trades packages for Craig Kimbrel and Ken Giles to illustrate this, but really it's been in plain sight for the last two years as teams react--and likely overreact--to the Royals' success. 

Sale was likely always going to get a shot at the rotation, but the huge glut of relief aces that were pushed to start in 2012 is likely to look more like a strange relic as the years stretch on. Relatedly, this is why David Robertson would have been an ideal guy to shop around for offensive help if the Sox were really on a drive to cut payroll this year, but hopefully that is not the case.

5. On the question of why TCS is so focused on Justin Upton over Yoenis Cespedes, well...

--It's more useful to just have one in mind when writing about theoretical future rosters. Who wants to keep writing Cespedes/Upton over and over? Also, focusing in on Upton exclusively makes it easier to characterize this as an absurd fantasy that I do not believe will ever actually happen.

--Upton is younger by two years, and has a near-identical ~120 wRC+ to Cespedes, and has played 149 games or more five years in a row now. The Sox need a long-term fix for their offense, because there's not a big torrent of help coming anytime soon. He seems like a better guy to invest in than who had a sub-.300 OBP over the 2013-14 period.

--Cespedes doesn't cost the supplemental round pick whereas Upton does, but if the White Sox are going to let a decision this big be swung on that kind of detail, their priorities are out of whack and that's not really my ideal scenario. Speaking of which, Upton is coming off a year where he spit out his exact career baseline in relative obscurity, rather than Cespedes, who had probably the best hot streak of his MLB career after switching over to a big market team that made a surprisingly deep playoff run. I'm picking the guy who feels like investing in a well-reviewed mutual fund over the guy who feels like buying the display Corvette they have sitting in the lobby of the mall.

Follow The Catbird Seat on Twitter @TheCatbird_Seat and James @JRFegan