1. It's cliche, but the NBA and NHL season wrapping really has thrown the full attention of the Chicago sports media engine toward why the Cubs offseason promise has borne fruit and that White Sox are an even bigger disaster than previously remembered. And oh, wow, just as more attention comes to the Sox, they're on a seven-game skid and hurtling out of even the faintest notion of playoff contention at breathtaking speed.
The idea of any meaningful decisions being made because the Sox are going to get a bunch of hot take columns about how bad they are everyday is laughable, but the combination of increased scrutiny, the deadline approaching with the Sox obviously becoming sellers, and guys they can't sell getting DFA'd, life is going to get increasingly unpleasant at 35th & Shields.
And they lost to the Pirates again, 3-2.
2. I don't know who is more responsible for setting the expectations at such extremes; the White Sox offense or Gerrit Cole, but two runs in seven innings vs. a top-5 Cy Young candidate...they're capable of so much worse. Three hits for the night is obviously kind of reprehensible, stranding Adam Eaton in scoring position multiple times despite Cole's struggles with control in the sixth was the difference in the game, and generally letting an elite arm without his best stuff cruise through like the Cell was flyover country was all objectively bad, but at least they didn't get no-hit.
That's what I'm afraid of at this point.
3. Jeff Samardzija was....a game manager? He never slipped into any early-game control problems to nudge him over the edge, but also never steadied out his command nor did he achieve any stretch of fireballing dominance. He just winged the ball all over the zone all night and prayed that the hits stayed singles (10 H in 7 IP), which they did.
Maybe he will get hot and become trade bait by July. Who knows? Who can say what he's going to throw from moment to moment? Marcus Semien has a .587 OPS in June if that makes it better.
4. Center field was a fun adventure Thursday. Eaton started off the game by just kinda fading off a Josh Harrison drive to right-center that an exasperated J.B. Shuck managed to track down. Then he put Samardzija in a hole in the seventh--which his manager of course let him pitch through--when he and Alexei Ramirez both no-commented a ducksnort into a short center field off the bat of Corey Hart.
It's been an odd year to think about Eaton as a centerpiece of the franchise going forward, and Robin Ventura's exasperation that his two Golden Glove finalists are providing the newest, most vivid representation of team incompetence that he has to prove that he's addressing.
5. Hector Noesi was designated for assignment Thursday, while Scott Carroll was recalled, possibly to given Carlos Rodon some breaks in the rotation. Noesi had been completely useless and without a role for weeks, so his being placed on waivers only seems like a relief, or an overdue correction to an accounting error rather than a right and just move. His last few appearances were just blatant shellings that served neither the organization nor Noesi.
Noesi has a 6.89 ERA for the season, and somehow, given his checkered MLB history, was sporting the worst walk rate of his career this year. With 198.2 innings thrown in a White Sox uniform, this is the longest look any organization has given Noesi at the major league level. For all their commitment to developing him and optimism about unlocking his potential, Noesi posted a 79 ERA+ and got kicked out of the rotation ahead of John Danks.
But, he could very easily clear waivers, so maybe we'll get to see more!
6. Just call him "Vaguely Hitterish Geo!" (patent pending). Soto launched his fourth home run of the year off possibly the most center-cut--but still 98 mph--fastball possible from Gerrit Cole, and improved his recent performance line to a .730 OPS since May 1. Soto's played three of four games this week, and mostly hit like crap in line with the rest of the team, but he's doing enough at the plate to distinguish himself from Flowers.
Man, if this isn't the saddest headline I've ever read. They sure seem happy winning all those titles...wish I was that happy.
Williams gave Scott Merkin some quotes about how the Blackhawks dynasty is something he tried to replicate in the years after 2005, and while doing so, he completely misses the point.
It's not that Kenny "tried too hard," it's that he did it the wrong way. In fact, I can't think of a purer counterexample of the White Sox method than the Blackhawks, who identified their essential core and then fearlessly purged role players and beloved glue guys who had either peaked or would be overvalued, and swapped them out for draft picks while continuing to internally develop their major contributors. The Blackhawks drafted Brandon Saad after winning their first Cup. The Sox haven't developed someone as good at generating runs as Saad is at generating goals since before Saad started high school, and have instead spent the last decade hoping to squeeze out the last drops of production of veteran hitters and finding them to already be dead on the vine more often than not.
Cool that it looks like everyone learned a lesson from it, though!
8. In that vein, Matt Spiegel suggested Friday morning that the Sox need to take a lesson from the Blackhawks and start bringing in more talent and expertise from the outside. There's been the addition of Marco Paddy from the Blue Jays to head the international scouting effort, but Spiegel rightly points out the former player manager hired after no outside search, and a long-entrenched baseball operations framework.
They should expect to see more articles like this.
9. The Chris Beck fast track has reached a most unfortunate obstacle. Dan Hayes reported that he left his last start in Charlotte after just four innings and has now been placed on the disabled list with elbow inflammation. Elbow inflammation is not a good thing for a pitcher to have, but it's also probably the most understandable pitcher injury ever.
10. Today is a Chris Sale Day, and also a Colby Lewis Day. It will really take a most extraordinary effort for the Sox to make this an eight-game losing streak but I know they can do it.
Bonus Content - Depressing Optimism Edition!
11. If the White Sox are going to be terrible this year, perhaps it's a mercy that they do so as thoroughly and unambiguously as they have. The American League is wide open this year, so even hovering around .500 into mid-summer would have meant that they had an excuse to be buyers. After being traumatized by the negative press of the "White Flag Trade" (which, frankly, was a pretty good trade for the organization) the team has been loathe to concede before the trade deadline. If they are more than 10 games back as the July trade deadline comes, it will make their decision much easier on whether or not to trade present assets away for future assets.
12. Rick Hahn's timing for signing free agents was pretty good. They wound up losing a 2nd round and 3rd round pick in what has universally been considered a very weak draft, while keeping their Carson Fulmer pick. The buzz is that the 2016 draft is going to be much, much stronger. And right now it looks like the White Sox will have a very high pick in every round. Even if they don't flip Samardzija, he will absolutely decline a qualifying offer, meaning the White Sox will have a compensatory pick at worst as a result.
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