Avisail: A Rebuilding Project on a Would-be Contender

I've seen this movie before. White Sox acquire a "raw / toolsy prospect" with arguably zero defensive value, no control of the strike zone, and minimal athleticism. Somehow, even though power is that prospect's raison d'etre, they still cannot pull the ball like...ever and wind up being one of the least valuable players in the majors. Hundreds and then thousands of plate appearances go by while the White Sox posture themselves to compete, but hamstring themselves by treating this utterly useless prospect as a cornerstone of the offense. Rinse repeat.

If you haven't guessed, this version of this movie is called "Avisail Garcia".

The reason I write this article today instead of at the end of September is because rosters expand today. Avisail is about to start facing diluted opposition - weaker defenses, quad-A pitchers, raw prospects, etc. - as minor league-caliber players will be making up a bigger proportion of what he's facing, both as pitchers and defenders.  In light of that context, arguably the worst thing for the White Sox would be if Avisail went on a hot streak against this diminished competition and inflated their hope to the point where they don't try to upgrade on RF this offseason. Because they absolutely do need to upgrade RF if they want to justify the "We're not selling!" position they have awkwardly announced.

It's hard to get prospects with zero pitch recognition and zero plate discipline to work out for pretty much any organization.  It is even harder for an organization like the White Sox who cannot seem to get ANY hitting prospect to work out under any circumstances.

Meanwhile, Avisail Garcia will cross the 1,000 career PA threshold in the next week or so. I suppose the argument to keep him around is that he doesn't become arbitration eligible until 2016, he doesn't turn 25 until next June, and hey - he looks great when he's hitting a home run! 

The problem is, the White Sox have geared their entire organizational plan toward competing in 2016. Avisail is wrapping up a season where he is one of the worst position players in all of baseball and he happens to play a position where there will be three strong free agent options this winter - Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, and Yoenis Cespedes. If indeed the White Sox want to compete in 2016, they cannot afford to keep crossing their fingers in the hope that Avisail figures it out at the plate. 

What's more - when you look closer, there is no indication Avisail has made any progress this year with full playing time. Quite the opposite. His K%, BB%, ISO, and wRC+ have all taken steps in the wrong direction this year. Indeed, his wRC+ has dropped 10 points even while his BABIP took a huge spike of about 60 points from last year. And for a guy whose existence is justified by his "tools" he plods in the outfield and has been caught stealing 7 times in 13 attempts this year. What evidence is there that Avisail has any prayer of "figuring it out" in 2016? 

You can watch him hit. He has no freaking clue what pitchers are throwing him and pitchers know it. I've seen them give him the Viciedo treatment - throw sliders a foot outside and watch Garcia get himself out. Even guys with mediocre velocity are able to challenge Garcia up in the zone and get away with it because he just sucks at hitting and is guessing. Given how horrid his glove is and given that he plays a position where you're supposed to hit...What is the point of this guy? 

For 2016, you have three assets on offense - Jose Abreu, Adam Eaton, and Melky Cabrera. You also have guys who are passable in a vacuum due to their glove and the fact that they play premium defensive positions - Alexei Ramirez, Carlos Sanchez, and Tyler Flowers. If you are going to be stuck with 1/3 of your lineup as Defense Only guys, that puts tremendous pressure on the remaining third of your lineup to make up for that. That leaves 3B, DH, and RF in order to construct even a passable major league offense. Given the circumstances, RF looks to be by far the easiest to improve.

It is my position that if the White Sox are serious about contending in 2016, they need to aggressively work to replace Avisail Garcia, because there is no way this roster can carry his drag on both the lineup and the defense. If they aren't serious about contending in 2016 then why on earth are Jeff Samardzija, Geovany Soto, and David Robertson still on the team? 

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