1. When discussing Jeff Samardzija's future with the Sox at the beginning of the season, we had to consider three scenarios: the Sox would be able to extend him and he would be the right-handed power arm in the middle of the starting rotation for years to come, or they would have to satisfy themselves with focusing on this year's playoff chase and try to get a compensation pick or see if a qualifying offer could drive his price down.
Or, there was the distant possibility that the season would be a total bust and they would have to try to sadly flip him back out for diminishing returns as a half-season rental.
Welcome to Door No. 3!
Samardzija's nine-inning gem of efficiency for a 2-0 win over Toronto gave the Sox their seventh win in nine games as they continue to bravely churn through a brutal month and a half of teams actually within arms length of the playoff race. But even with that progress, there are still eight teams between them and that second wild card spot, even if it's a seemingly attainable 5.5 games away. The chances of outplaying everyone in that field--not to mention holding off the Mariners and A's, the latter of which have a vastly superior run differential--well, it's real small, folks.
2. Samardzija's April and first inning oddities kept him from being the overpriced gem that someone would alter their organizational plans for like last year, but he's at least become the prize of the middle class market by dragging his ERA down to 4.02 with vastly superior peripherals and huge workloads.
The Blue Jays and Orioles are obvious targets in the muddled AL East, but with Samardzija being a pure rental, the Sox shouldn't shy away from trading in the division where moribund starting staffs are holding back Kansas City, Minnesota and Detroit. Due to typical Sox methods, all connections to Samardzija are theoretical, but concern would be that the Sox inability to develop hitting prospects would either limit them to lower-ceiling MLB-ready guys, or higher-ceiling seemingly MLB-ready dudes who have big tools that haven't coalesced yet...like the guy currently manning right field.
On the plus side of all this sadness, Samardzija is over 30 with a steadily falling strikeout rate. He struck out the side to open the game, struck out his last batter of the day, and had one other K for the rest of his nine innings. He was clearly in command, but damn if it wasn't weird.
3. While we're discussing players not already stuck on this team, the White Sox are one of several teams that have already worked out No. 1 Cuban outfield prospect Eddy Julio Martinez twice. The 20-year-old center fielder is either Andruw Jones reincarnated, or prone to more gap power and corner outfield defense depending on the report. His bonus is expected to be in excess of $10 million, which poses a problem because it would require the Sox to blow their bonus pool allotment out the water; a boundary they have never dared test before.
4. I don't want to necessarily oversell it, but Hawk Harrelson is on Twitter and it might be the end of the world. An entire cottage industry of awful Hawk Harrelson parody accounts snuffed out in a flash. The coming few days will reveal if Hawk is a name-searcher, as I.....I gotta delete some stuff.
Steve Stone joined Twitter as well (again, I think) with an identically modeled account, so clearly there was a "YOU CARE ABOUT TWITTER NOW" memo issued. I imagine this will make it easier to take questions in the booth during the game, which could potentially be a Godsend to their frequently silent broadcast. I just hope they don't read their mentions.
The story is not secretly any better than the headline. Buehrle says reports that he got offered three years, $30 million as a mid-season extension in 2011 were false, because he would have accepted such a deal, and that the Sox never explored how much of a hometown discount he would take to stay once the off-season started.
Every indication from Buehrle is that he felt the Sox were done with him after 2011.
Ok, look, this isn't the craziest thing ever. The Sox had their five going in 2012. They were moving Chris Sale into the rotation with Jake Peavy, Gavin Floyd, and a seemingly cheap and reliable Philip Humber. This was still a Danks vs. Buehrle decision and the Sox bet hard on their young gun over the guy with falling velocity and whiff rates. Buehrle is magic, we knew it then and we know it more now, but you never really know how much he can defy industry standards until he stops, and the Sox thought he might be at the cusp. Plus, if the way they've treated Danks is any indication, the Sox weren't prepared to pay to bring Buehrle back, then be bold enough to slot him behind the other five as a swingman-innings eater if he collapsed.
What's new in this is that price seemed to have no real factor in the decision. The White Sox felt so strongly about Danks over Buehrle that they were willing to pay tens of millions more for it, which makes how catastrophically wrong they were--albeit on a call I understand--all the more painful.
6. Three days of being unusually intense and petty about everything begin this afternoon as the Sox face a superior Cubs team with a slate of seemingly decent pitching matchups that they will have to find a way to fudge up. Rodon > Kyle Hendricks but the Cubs have been killing lefties and taking walks recently, Sale >>> Anyone you got, and Jake Arrieta > Jose Quintana, but could still be competitive if Quintana continues his hot stretch. Watching the Sox find ways to struggle when they have an advantage in starting pitching is kinda like the last five years in a nutshell, though.
I don't like the Cubs-Sox series, but I accept that could be for personal reasons. Part of being able to write about a pretty consistently disappointing ballclub everyday is mastering my emotions and preserving a level of detachment. That becomes harder when childhood memories of being taught to loathe the Cubs, bitterness about the once absurd disparity in media coverage, and the resentment from being a South Sider who had to bus and train up to the north side where the actual good public high schools were, all get dredged up at once.
Everyone's humanity is easier to view when you're not scratching for the same piece of bread.
7. Let's play a fun game of Make the Friendliest Arbitrary Endpoint Snapshot
Melky Cabrera since June 8: .343/.391/.529 with 12 XBH and 14 K in 115 PA.
Adam Eaton since June 23: .300/.344/.583 with 3 HR and 3 3B in 64 PA
8. Someone is due to come up to replace Scott Carroll on the 25-man roster after he was sent down to Triple-A following the game Thursday. It was initially assumed to be Matt Albers--finally healthy after breaking his finger during the Royals brawl--but with Alexei Ramirez missing Thursday's game due to a bruise on his ankle, it could be infield help.
There doesn't seem to be a great reward for being nails in the long-relief role. Carroll has a 3.28 ERA this year and has been eating roughly two innings per appearance in 12 games.
9. Scott Merkin spoke to Hawk Harrelson on the White Sox state of affairs, where in typical fashion, he used hyperbole: "This is the most disappoint season I've ever had," blamed a lack of chemistry, and cited major injuries to stars of divisional rivals (Miguel Cabrera and Alex Gordon) as a reason for hope.
This type of talk never leads anywhere in terms of actual culpability besides a general "we need to get things together" sort of sentiment, but the bigger issue is that we can't even get this sort of engagement with the problem during the game, rather than silence. It's all fine and dandy when he celebrates alongside us during the good times, but we don't need someone equally miserable during the bad times, especially when the game is still going on.
10. July 10 is not a common date for Sox-Cubs games, or Sox games at all since it's usually during the All-Star Break. The last time they played one another on this date was in 1999, when the Cubs torched the Sox 10-2, thanks in no small part to Jaime Navarro allowing six runs, four earned in 5.1 innings.
Jon Lieber pitch eight innings of one-run ball, despite facing a Sox lineup that had SIX GUYS WITH AN OPS OVER .800.