TCS Morning 10: Better to hustle than face the truth

1. How is the main story with the 31-40 White Sox--possibly the owners of the worst offense and defense in baseball, and the team starring the owner of an insane strikeout streak--just your garden-variety griping about hustling, effort and focus?

Well, perhaps because they played exceedingly sloppy baseball Wednesday while getting poleaxed by the Twins for the second time in this week. Eaton himself cost himself a hit failing to run out a liner, biffed a ball in center for an error, while Alexei Ramirez--a familiar whipping boy who is only providing value on defense--screwed up on defense, and Carlos Sanchez forgot a detail like covering second base. It wasn't pretty. It routinely isn't. If the Sox were ever actually in a dogfight for a playoff spot, their pervasive and perpetual sloppiness would probably be that crucial factor that sends them home for October.

But they haven't been good enough to consider such a scenario since 2012, which is probably the bigger issue; a bigger issue that probably can't be addressed appropriately by Robin Ventura between Wednesday and Thursday. So we're caught between this urge to focus on what can actually be fixed, and focus on what is actually meaningful for the future of the franchise, or what is actually meaningful in terms of why they're a bad team or even why they lost 6-1 to a middling Twins team headlined by Phil Hughes dumping low-90's heat in the zone all day.

2. So you want to bench a veteran? Adam Eaton was a particularly popular target since he was particularly awful in the field Wednesday. He also has five hits in the past two days and has been the rare reliable White Sox position player since May began, is a lynchpin of the franchise and is almost by definition a high make-up guy in the fact that he's even playable despite being pint-sized with no standout tools (his only big one is that he's fast, and even then he can't steal bases). Eaton said all the right things after the game and asserted that there's "no excuse" not to run out every ball, but also may have been unintentionally damning Ventura by praising for being a players' manager in contrast to renowned redass Kirk Gibson.

As much as I find myself theoretically agreeing with Eaton's portrayal of a reasonable clubhouse, saying Robin "doesn't need to have a rah-rah meeting every third day. We have a good clubhouse camaraderie in here, good guys who police us and get us on the right track," is terrible optics in light of, well, the whole season. Alexei Ramirez's nine errors is not particularly problematic on its own, but when it comes alongside the complete death of his bat and is met with no dip in playing time and assurances that the players are trusted to hold themselves accountable, it gives the appearance that the inmates have not only taken over the asylum, but have instituted some significant policy reforms.

The White Sox middle infield depth has been proved atrocious all season, so any benching of Ramirez, and really Eaton would be fully demonstrative and not win anymore games, but the Sox are out of it and out of real solutions. Knee-jerk calls for benching are only so many steps above "SEND ALEXEI BACK TO CUBA" cries in Rongey's mentions, but the status quo is real garbage. Make a better plan.

3. This was obviously the worst outing of Chris Sale's now seven game-long 10-strikeout streak. He lacked his upper-stratosphere velocity Wednesday and the Twins jumped on the first slips in command he had, but...

Here's the list of current members of the White Sox starting rotation with ERA's lower than their peripherals:


(This list is blank)

There wasn't a glaring error or misplay at the heart of every rally, but enough futzing around to grease the tracks of an outing that could have been fine with some value added from the defense. Per the Play Index, Sale is the 14th starter ever to give up five or more runs while striking out 10 or more, allowing no more than one walk and no home runs, and the first since 2010.

4. Adam LaRoche's big day at the plate (3-4, HR, 2 2B) means he once again graces the lands of heroes and men who can slug over .400. His .237/.347/.404 line is good for a 111 wRC+ mark for the year, a shade under what the league-average DH is swatting this season. He's just OK on a squad that needs its main contributors to pull more than their weight to account for the spots they're completely punting, and his huge increase in strikeouts combined with his 36th birthday coming in November don't bode well for 2016.

Of course, it's not helping that the Sox are so lacking for depth that platooning LaRoche away from lefties has gotten pushed to the backburner.

5. Negotiations to sign first-round pick Carson Fulmer can now begin in earnest after his Vanderbilt Commodores were defeated in the College World Series Wednesday night. After a dominating start in Game 1, the possibility existed for a Fulmer relief appearance in the finale, but instead he watched helplessly as his team's offense dried up completely after jumping out to an early 2-0 lead. Such an experience will surely prepare him for...oh, nevermind.

Fulmer isn't expected to be too difficult to sign, and Future Sox details that if the Sox can get him to sign under slot, it could give them leeway to make a decent run at some high schoolers with strong college commitments they stashed in some of their later round picks.

6. So this is happening:

Because six years of blogging about this team with no distinctive interruptions like, say, a playoff appearance, to mark the change of seasons makes everything run together, I lumped this in with the SoxFest appearance and thought it already happened. The Cold War with Ozzie seems just about over, which means he can swing around and give enough A+ quotes to fill out a slate of "Chicago NEEDS Ozzie Guillen" columns four-to-six times per year now. 

For the record, of course Ozzie was a good manager when he gave a damn and wasn't operating solely on Kenny Williams spite. Who knows if that guy is ever coming back. I probably wouldn't leverage a multi-million contract on it*

*Not without giving him a six-hour interview and talking to no one else, of course.

7. Daniel Webb is good now? He must've gotten together in a hurry in Triple-A because his stat line didn't give much explanation on why he got promoted at all, but he's come up and thrown 10 scoreless inning, somehow only issuing two walks. He's always had tremendous stuff and large arsenal for a reliever, but just couldn't hit the broad side of a barn for large portions of 2014. In his short time in Chicago, his first-strike percentage has jumped up 20% from last season. Big time stuff is a lot more meaningful ahead of the count.

8. My post got eaten yesterday, but I don't see many positives for the Sox switching their radio broadcast to WLS 890, other than the money they're collecting for the winning bid. Being broadcast on a popular sports talk station is likely a stronger lead-in than a struggling conservative talk station. It's good news for The Score, who have the option to switch to carrying more popular Cubs games, which also feature happier endings.

9. The White Sox should get Arizona Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart on the phone! After getting wildly criticized, or at least, presumed to be working for a completely broke owner when he traded 2014 No. 1 draft pick Touki Toussaint for $9.5 million, Stewart said this to Ken Rosenthal:

The truth is we did not know what Touki’s value would be if we shopped him. There is a lot of speculation on that. People are assuming it would have been better, but we don’t know.

There was an opportunity to make a deal that gave us more flexibility today as well as next year. We took that opportunity. It’s tough to say we could have gotten more. He was drafted at No. 16, given ($2.7) million. In my opinion, that’s his value.

To this point, he has pitched OK, he has pitched well. But guys are mentioning that he throws 96 mph. He hasn’t thrown 96 mph since he’s been here. We haven’t seen 96 once. There is some inflation of what people think Touki is.

We think he’ll be a major-league pitcher. We don’t see it happening in the next three or four years. Maybe five or six years down the road, he’ll show up and be a major-league pitcher. But that is a long ways down the road.
— Dave Stewart

Optimistically, even if we don't think Stewart is saying that draft slot value--a completely artificially suppressed cost-cutting scam by MLB owners--equals actual value, he's still committing the same sins of his predecessor, and trading his own guys based on his pessimistic view of them and not their market value. "Everyone thinks that guy is awesome and that we traded him for too little, but here's a little secret: he sucks" is not a strategy that allows you to get ahead of the competition. For example, knowing that Matt Davidson was going to bust didn't mean you had to trade him for a dead-armed reliever. Moral obligations don't extend this far into the baseball world.

10. Carlos Rodon faces Alfredo Simon and the Tigers Thursday for another inexplicably early 12:08 CT start. The Tigers are not very good and Simon hangs one breaking pitch per inning at a minimum but I'm already annoyed at the possibility for disappointment.