1. The White Sox got predictably kicked around by the Royals in Kansas City this week. Three one-run losses later, they're 3-10 vs. the division leaders on the season, and have yet to win in Kauffman Stadium in 2015. They're now 2-7 since the non-waiver trade deadline expired, as the absurdly great pitching that propped up their hot streak has fizzled to the point of allowing seven runs per game. Jeff Samardzija in particular, ended his 10-game streak of seven innings or more, and has barely cover more than nine frames in his last two outings with a 15.43 ERA.
2. The White Sox were paying opportunity cost for Jeff Samardzija. They were getting a No. 2 starter right right now, with the aim of competing in 2015, whereas the A's seemed to be completely punting 2015 (and man, they got their money worth), their return can be considered in raw value, free of any real context of win-loss results. Samardzija has turned around and had a crappy season, but the plan for competing in 2015 collapsing around him is the larger problem, and probably where the real error occurred. This is a roundabout way of saying that I don't really want to try to argue the trade was stupid now, even if there were miscalculations present, but now that things haven't worked, I pass the hours watching all those OFP 40-45 players the Sox shipped to Oakland be themselves and just feel regret.
--Marcus Semien: Mixed in two good offensive months to open the year with two truly atrocious ones, and the A's have dedicated the year to fully exploring just how dreadful he is at shortstop, but it would be nice to have him to throw at the third base position this year in addition to Tyler Saladino.
--Chris Bassitt: This dude is actually on fire. He struck out 10 Houston Astros on Sunday, threw seven shutout innings against the Orioles the time before that, and has five-straight quality starts. He's also had his average velocity shoot up to 93 mph, which takes this a bit from the realm of 'temporary fifth starter wizardry.' He's probably not anywhere near as good as Samardzija going forward, but watching him be surprisingly good would probably be more fun than watching Samardzija be surprisingly bad right about now.
--Josh Phegley: Rocking a 125 wRC+ boosted good power numbers in friggin' Oakland of all places, but also filling out a backup role because Stephen Vogt is very good and because Phegley is probably still a very bad defensive catcher.
--Rangel Ravelo: Was hurt all year, then came back to Double-A and resumed hitting tons of singles. Probably not a great thing for a first base prospect.
Again none of this is worth getting worked up over, but it would be more fun to monitor this than think about how to salvage a high-profile misfire, since the Sox wound up having the same season as the A's anyway.
3. Jose Abreu has now hit seven home runs in just 23 second-half games and is slugging around .600 since the break, as his 'just fine 2015' campaign continues. He's on pace to finish with 31 home runs, and everyone who though five days off wouldn't be enough to completely fix his bat and nagging injuries should never be allowed to write again.
Nevertheless! Abreu being normal and reliable is quite the relief, since the Sox totally can't afford to have to address that issue anyway.
4. Nate Jones made his triumphant return to major league action this weekend, with two strikeouts amid a scoreless inning of work Friday night. I had heard reports that his velocity was back and he was feeling good, but after he had missed a year and a half with so many different injuries, I couldn't help and drum up false concern about minor league numbers compiled while he was rehabbing. Then he stepped up to the mound in Kansas City, touched 100 mph with ease and threw 92 mph wipeout sliders.
He looks less gangly than the last time we saw him, and his distinctive delivery seems less hitchy and more forceful, but looks like the same combination of dominant elements that we hoped would become a truly elite reliever in 2014. The Sox are wisely taking it slow working him back into reliever rotation, but he's as exciting as anything the Sox have to offer over the next two months.
5. Here's a premature and unreasonable riff on the Nate Jones return.
If the Sox were trying to clear out some money, the Dodgers have unlimited money and a bullpen crisis on their hands. Robertson would probably be claimed sooner, but just saying? I just saw this tweet and it made me curious and that's all these 10 points really are.
6. Adam Eaton spooked everyone by leaving Friday's game with a jammed shoulder after doing a barrel roll on a running catch in center. Instead of going to the DL, which we assume is already the stakes if Eaton is actually coming out of the game, Eaton played the next two days, even if he got the day off the field Sunday--a totally reasonable measure considering he's the second-best hitter on the team--and reached base four times. He seems normal, and even mentioned that the shoulder injury was a few weeks old. He's been fine since an awful April, and a house of fire for the last two months, so it seems reliable enough now that Eaton is more hindered by being healthy and pressing than playing hurt.
7. In Eaton's absence in center, Trayce Thompson looked very smooth in the field, and even has found his way to three hits in seven trips to the plate. His double Friday night could have been a dinger if he hadn't been so geeked at the cookie Luke Hochevar floated to him. Trayce in the field to rest an ailing Eaton, or just to give Avisail a day off from bumbling around or just a day off entirely will probably have enough defensive benefit to offset whatever slim offensive advantage Adam LaRoche can still promise.
Also, the season is toast and he's up here when he otherwise would be getting regular Triple-A at-bats, so maybe try to keep him active.
8. Alexei Ramirez post-All Star break: 22 games, .279/.308/.535, five home runs. It's just power and no sudden realization of approach, but it's competent. He's coming back next year. Don't believe otherwise, not with the way "One of the prospects will step forward!" worked out this year at second base, and not with the current state of third base lopped on top of it. The Sox have no room to purge even the dying embers of competent infielders.
9. Chris Sale is starting Monday night, which means we are just hours away from toasting to our great fortune and wondering why we ever doubted that God has blessed us, or gnawing off our own hands as he continues to flounder, or gives up another backbreaking grand slam to Mike Trout.
10. THIS IS THE FREE T-SHIRT DESIGN YOU MORONS PICKED!?!? ARE YOU SERIOUS?
IMPACT FONT!!?? IS THIS REAL?!? DISGUSTING! DISGUSTING!