TCS Morning 10: A worthwhile Frankie Montas disaster

1. Well, shoot, that didn't work.

Frankie Montas got his big, compromised chance to start a big league game Wednesday afternoon and for the most part got blow'd up over three disastrous, defensively challenged innings. He had absolutely no favors done for him by management or defense, but ultimately he's the only one who got tuned up for 3 IP, 6 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, HR in a 7-4 loss.

Montas just pitched three days prior, had been working as a short reliever for weeks now, didn't really look comfortable out of the stretch and dipped his fastball as low as 94 mph as he tried to pace himself, particularly on that first fastball Victor Martinez boomed out to right. For a rookie who came straight out of Double-A, this was hardly an even shake, but this is the kind of opportunity you get when you're a two-pitch guy with low delivery repeatability that the organization sees as a super-reliever.

2. Of particular egregiousness, Ventura had Montas intentionally walk Victor Martinez in the third inning to load the bases for the best hitter in the lineup on Wednesday, J.D. Martinez. If this was based simply on antiquated fear of Victor Martinez being a stud and not a 36-year-old having a terrible year, it was bad. If this was based on fear because Victor Martinez homered his last time up, it was bad. If this was based on specific observations suggesting Montas' matchup with Victor Martinez was far more doomed than his matchup with J.D. Martinez, well, was it worth forcing an overwhelmed rookie with control problems to work with the bases loaded against a slugger? Has Ventura simply been an abysmal tactician for years so that when he needs to tank nobody thinks he's doing it in bad faith? Probably not, it was probably just bad.

3. Montas also had to deal with Mike Olt's defense, who had an RBI single bounce off his glove as things burned down during the third inning, and was so off-balance on a throw to first later on that pitcher Scott Carroll cut it off at the mound. Olt also struck out, and got caught stealing the one time he reached base.

I nonchalantly approved of testing to see what Olt has got because I figured he could teach us more than watching Tyler Saladino being a good-glove, no-hit infielder, but shoutout to Olt for making me question that logic every single day.

4. Melky Cabrera's 3-4 day with a homer and double dragged him to up to four-straight months with an OPS over .700. Combine that with the fact that he went absolutely nuclear in July (.369/.393/.631 with 13 doubles), and that's the steady presence in the lineup that the Sox paid for.

Except he went through two months in the wilderness to start where the team's hopes died and he looked washed up. Now we have a total year that looks similar enough to the rest of his career but lacks the solid-average power, and the elite contact levels to make him consistently above-average. The Sox can't afford to worry about Melky, because even a diminished version of him doesn't compare to the depth of their real problems, but if we had the time, I'd be a little curious about him.

5. With Wednesday's loss the White Sox will need a three-game sweep over the Tigers in the last games of the season to win their first season series over Detroit since...2008. Say, that's the last time they made the playoffs! Have we been over what has happened since the last time the Sox made the playoffs?

6. In exciting Adam LaRoche news, he's expected to return from the right knee patella tendinosis that has kept him out of action since Sept. 13 and has limited him to just six games this month. LaRoche's description of his condition would have you worried about how he would hold up even if he had been murdering the ball when he went down. 

The injury was suffered two months ago, was diagnosed after it got bad enough to merit an MRI, needed an injection from "a big needle" before the pain went down enough for him to return to physical activity, and he's been unable to go through the normal rehab process because there's no minor league season still going.

Oh, and he wasn't murdering the ball. He's hitting .195/.254/.318 in 77 games since June 1, with a 26% strikeout rate and a very pedestrian 6.7% walk rate, seeing as his only glimmer of good play was powered by him just taking a ton of walks early on. Perhaps pumping him up full of painkillers will produce wonderful results, though that's not really how Paul Konerko's post age-35 career went, and LaRoche is no Konerko.

7. RANDOM SPECULATION TIME: "I bet the Astros are going to DFA Chris Carter after this season. Could he DH?" - Basically what Ethan texted me.


--Price reduced due to career-worst 2015 season, but is still only 29-years-old with a career 108 wRC+.

--Huge raw power game will play fine in US Cellular and augment a team with the worst isolated-power in baseball. 20+ home runs each of the past three seasons. 37 in 2014.

--In case the Sox did not already win the Carlos Quentin for Chris Carter trade, they will now have really won that trade. That's how trades work, duh.

--He is better than Adam LaRoche, and is better against lefties, in case you, you know, have to keep LaRoche.

--He's having his career-worst year now, but his career-best year was 2014. So who knows what you'll get! Surprises can be fun.



--Is a massive baseball-playing statue with no defensive value, and will make Jose Abreu look like Gene Kelly at first base.

--Is the actual all-or-nothing home run hitter that Sox fans have been complaining about for years without actually having on their team yet. He's an offense-only player with a career .215 batting average and a .189 average this year. People will literally die from rage.

--The Sox lineup needs power, but probably not massive contact problems.

--How well do six-foot, four-inch, 250 pound guys age?

--Maybe don't stack your offense full of dead cat bounce candidates. Some of these cats are just dead.

8. The loss to the Tigers also places the Sox in sole possession of the No. 10 slot for the worst records in baseball. They are a half-game ahead of the enigmatic Red Sox, who probably don't even really need a protected draft pick (they're rich), and a game ahead of the stupid Diamondbacks, who couldn't take advantage of Zack Greinke getting scratched from a start to score more than a single run. Then again, it could be that the D-Backs are just tanking a lot harder than we can imagine.

9. At 72-80, a .500 finish would give the Sox three-straight 85-loss seasons for the the first time since 1989, the year Robin Ventura got his first September call-up. Be sure to pull that one out when you're challenged by your elders about whether this most recent slate of play is really that hard to sit through, and really cements Ventura's regime as a landmark of a significant period of downturn in franchise history. This is the type of resume-building that justifies a termination, even if a sense that such a level of front office contempt for Robin's work has never materialized.

Fatalism and familiarity with Murphy's Law fits like an old glove these days, but it wasn't that long ago that I didn't associate the Sox with errors, or all-consuming offensive droughts. Recent history has just been so consistent and reliable that the idea of the White Sox being unworthy and perpetually overmatched has become second nature, and you know, I very sincerely hate it.

10. Chris Sale faces Michael Pineda and a Yankees team with every reason to keep pushing toward their slim shot of an AL East title. Sale needs 11 strikeouts to tie the franchise single-season record. I need at least six innings with two runs or less from Sale to keep faith that there are good things in this world that we can place our trust in.