This is the second of three Todd Frazier roundtables today. We can really talk. The first is here.
Collin: Friend of the Blog Mike Musary tweeted earlier that he has the White Sox at about $116M in commitments to the roster right now. They opened last year at $115M per this article, so I guess we’re about to find out how much more money Jerry’s willing to commit to fielding a winning club in 2016.
I do find it interesting that normally, it seems, when a GM is asked about improving an individual position he often defends the incumbent, especially when it is a young incumbent, with some quote about being happy with their development or “they know they’ve got work to do.” But I feel like Rick Hahn has often been open about the desire to improve in right field, and that has me more optimistic that they’re not going to just sit on their hands and hope for some good luck like they did with Dayan Viciedo for so many years.
Again, even if one of the Upton/Cespedes/Gordon trio doesn’t end up being who they acquire, entering 2016 with Avisail as the starting right field would be a huge bummer considering the work they’ve done so far. I tweeted earlier that I wouldn’t be surprised if they go with the next tier of guys, and I mentioned Fowler before. There are even guys like Gerardo Parra, who is limited offensively but Gold Glove-caliber defensively, who is cheap if they’re still trying to pinch pennies but would still be a giant upgrade over Avisail.
James: The thing is, they already have the DH position. That’s a full season of PAs they need to toss somewhere, and they do not want to be in the position of giving it all to LaRoche, who may not be able to physically hold up for that, let alone perform to standards. It’s not like Upton gets signed and Avisail will be holding his hands over a garbage can fire outside the building during Upton’s press conference. There’s work for him, and given the state of that position, and the offense they’re probably going to have to settle for out of shortstop (REAL BAD), it’s not just a measure of improving right field, it’s adding offense at a slot where you still can still add some substantial runs. If this is about maximizing the window, given how well the Sox have done saving money so far, I don’t know why they’re going to risk Alex Gordon breaking down on them, or taking league average offense from a corner to save $5-8 million per year.
But then again, when have I ever been sympathetic to ownership saving money?
I am curious as to what their line of thinking was trying to sell off LaRoche and how much that is still playing into their thinking. It seems like they’re stuck with him, but know he’s likely dead weight and will need to be cut mid-season. In that case, they probably need Avisail to stick around and at least be slightly better, either at DH or playing the field while a new guy hits DH.
If someone put a gun to his head, I’m sure Rick Hahn would still say “We’re considering all options at this point,” so who’s to say what the definitive idea with LaRoche is?
Collin: Yes, the LaRoche situation is an interesting one and they could go a number of ways. If they sign another OF, are you keeping Avisail around as a backup OF/DH and then also keeping another backup OF on your roster who isn’t a defensive liability? That only leaves one other bench spot if my math is right, and I guess that goes to whoever isn’t your starting shortstop between Carlos Sanchez and Tyler Saladino.
Also, there’s still a non-zero chance they could still bring back Alexei to play shortstop, no?
James: I suppose. Him wearing a Sox journey in Cuba is supposed to be some sort of revealing detail, but what the hell else is he supposed to wear? He’s on an MLB tour and everyone is wearing their jerseys. I think he might be the only guy down there not under contract. Is he supposed to wear some sad single dad undershirt?
I just don’t know why you don’t pick up his option if you want him back. I don’t know why you don’t pick up his option in general, since I feel he’s movable, but maybe they just needed the flexibility, or thought they did, since there’s way they could know for sure how the trade market was going to shake out for them.
Collin: Now that the White Sox are starting to patch up some of the holes in their lineup, there was, of course, some Twitter talk concerning the backend of the rotation. Worrying about a team’s No. 5 starting pitcher is obviously foolish while questions remain about right field, shortstop and DH, but does it concern you at all that they might be relying on some combination of Erik Johnson and Jacob Turner to fill that spot?
James: Not in the same dire way? Part of that is the disparate reputations the Sox have for getting 160 decent innings out of some guy compared to the troubles of getting 600 passable PA from anyone.
Collin: My favorite part of talking No. 5 starter woes is it made me think of Dan Wright.
James: Jon Rauch, Arnie Munoz, come to mind. the Sox have in the past explored just how far Cooper Magic can take them and, on multiple occasions, stepped over the line.
My concern would not be Johnson being a No. 5, but that making Danks the No. 4., where he is more challenged to hold up. Johnson projections have all routinely said he could be a No. 4. When we were first all jazzed about Johnson, good scouting guys called him a No. 4, and when he fell apart, there was still hope of him rebounding to that. I haven’t like what I’ve seen from him, but I suppose the operating principle with him going forward is that he has a shot at doing that.
I would like to be overprotected, and have two No. 4’s at the back of my rotation rather than two No. 5’s, and hoping one spazzes out, but if they’re going to spend FA money, the bigger value add would be a real shortstop, not a guaranteed back end starter.
Unless there’s like, a specific Coop project guy, such as an Esteban Loaiza. Not someone who will produce like Loaiza, but a scrap heap vet who could be had under $6 million that they have a specific plan for improving.
But as we’ve said all along about pitching with this team, it’s just a lower priority.