TCS Morning 5: And so we wait

1. It's a waiting game on White Sox news of an acquisition that will bridge the gap between "a series of good moves" and "a good offseason," or even "a good team," and at last update they are "quietly in the mix," but it's a good time to remind that the White Sox being at risk for losing a compensatory draft pick is part of what makes this offseason a unique window of opportunity.

With Todd Frazier and Brett Lawrie plugging the gaping holes in the infield, the Sox are unlikely to be top-10 pick protected for free agent compensation for the next two years. Between Adam LaRoche and John Danks, they certainly are not getting a comp pick next year, but at least now they are in a situation where they can lose a pick to FA compensation and still have a normal, complete draft. Combine this with having the chance to improve on the worst full-time right fielder in baseball with a rare crop of All-Star level corner outfielders at a time when their franchise core is in their mid-to-late 20s, and this is quite the confluence of factors for opportunity they got cooking here.

2. As Dan Hayes noted, the Sox acquisitions of Frazier and Lawrie (himself fresh off a career-high 16 home runs in Oakland), should be a tonic to a Sox team that finished last in the AL in home runs (136) and ISO (.130). They also finished next-to-last in OBP to the Twins (their starting pitching is atrocious and they had .305 OBP?!?), so this is not really the offense that the "Sox are too HR-reliant" crowd has asked for as much as a group that couldn't do anything right.

But, it's worth noting that the league sort of rose up around the Sox. 136 dingers would have been more than five teams in 2014 and tied with the 10th-place Mariners, and the .130 ISO would have beaten four. Now, all of this is an atrocity given the Sox play in a bandbox that should place at least that high in the power standings every year at a minimum, but the smallball craze is not really what hit the AL in 2015. Teams on average hit 30 more home runs and stole 20 less bases than the previous year.

3. Besides rumors of the Rockies, the crazy team that wanted to give Daniel Murphy an unreasonable amount of money based on his playoff hot streak never really surfaced either. His value was certainly suppressed by a qualifying offer, which he probably would not have received before rocketing the Mets to the World Series, but he wasn't treated any differently by the market than would have been anticipated before the playoffs. The Nationals' three-year, $37.5 million deal with Murphy pays him to be a sure-thing average or better bat at second or third base as needed, rather than an offensive centerpiece.

4. Avisail Garcia is set to be around in 2016, but is he a better player than J.B. Shuck? Both have below-average career offensive number (90 wRC+ for Avisail, 83 wRC+ for Shuck), but whereas Shuck outperformed Avisail in 2015 (91 to 83), Garcia at least has shown a career-long ability for mild success against lefties (.284/.341/.424, 107 wRC+), which could be useful in spots.

But that gets to the core of the matter; neither of these guys are worth a starting spot, which significantly changes the calculus on a roster spot. Garcia has larger potential overall for full-time value, but for a bench spot, the guy who can run, defend up the middle, hell, even bunt, is going to be more useful to a manager than a pinch-hitter against lefties.

5. Inspired by Scott Merkin's piece over the weekend, and inspired by there not being a damn thing going on, I tried to think of my top White Sox moment of 2015. 

Let's not overthink this. The White Sox were at their best when their small but elite core dominated the show, and there was no clearer example than Chris Sale at the height of his powers, shutting down an increasingly terrifying Cubs lineup with 15 strikeouts over seven shutout innings on Aug. 16. By this point in an awful month for the franchise, playoff hopes were fading, and even Sale was only one start removed from back-to-back outings of seven earned runs allowed, yet he still found the strength to uncork his masterpiece. 

Featuring heat in the upper-90s and a slider with movement so intense he nearly killed Chris Denorfia multiple times, Sale really just struck out too many batters to go all nine innings. He got his last five outs of the game via strikeout, including a knee-buckling backdoor slider to escape a jam against Jorge Soler in the sixth, which was also the same inning where he allowed his only hit of the day. This game also had a Jose Abreu opposite-field home run, and a perfect, three-strikeout inning from Nate Jones, so good luck finding a better White Sox day in 2015

Save for signing Justin Upton on New Year's Eve, of course.