TCS Morning 10: The continued ascension of Trayce

1. Jeff Samardzija's White Sox career likely came to a close Tuesday night with seven confusingly efficient innings against a sleepwalking Royals team, as the Sox cruised to a 4-2 victory. There were back-to-back home runs at one point, there was a startlingly low number of whiffs, but he now has a couple of outings to point to say he figured it out as he hits free agency off a season where he posted a 4.96 ERA over 214 innings with a career-worst 17.9% strikeout rate at age 30.

Ever consistent in this, and only this single facet of his baseball existence, Samardzija reiterated his feeling of obligation to pursue his market-value contract in free agency.

For me it’s more about a professional thing and respecting the guys that came before me that have put us in this situation in this game.
— Jeff Samardzija

As much as I admired this position, at this moment I'm more relieved that he's gone.

2. Of course, the belief that he is gone is based on reports that the Sox will let rookies Frankie Montas and Erik Johnson wind out the season on Saturday and Sunday, after Sale pitches Friday. As someone going to the finale on Sunday, I would like to see Montas, but I am also taking my mother, and don't want to argue with her that we should be excited about a guy getting tagged.

3. While it was nice to tune up Johnny Cueto behind the mighty power bat of Adam Eaton--14 home runs now--the White Sox were in peril of falling out of the bottom 10 until the Mariners came from behind and knocked the Astros out of playoff position for the first time in months.

All of our May sniping about the Astros has been suddenly justified, except for when we said the Sox were probably better and are now openly rooting for them to finish in the bottom-third of the sport. The summer contains such wondrous mysteries. Like Tuesday, when the White Sox beat the Royals with the defense of Mike Olt* and Trayce Thompson.

*Olt also overran a pop-up, but I'm embracing the narrative.

4. In Tuesday's edition of telling moments, Trayce Thompson got busted inside by a Johnny Cueto fastball leading off the fourth inning and managed to tuck his hands in just enough to fist a single down the left field line, much to his own surprise. Later that same inning, Avisail Garcia got busted inside by Cueto, and had his bat shatter as he bounced out weakly to short for a double play.

That's a good representation both of how each handles inside pitching, and what's it like to watch each player these days: shocking effectiveness vs. predictable failure.

5. Meanwhile, Thompson hit a drive to the wall that necessitated a brilliant play by Lorenzo Cain, worked a full count walk, scored from first easily on an Alexei Ramirez double to left, and did this on defense.

I'm not entirely sold on TNT as nickname--I would have never thought about what his middle name is previously--but hey, why not throw some marketing oomph behind the first draft and developed position player with a pulse in nearly a decade? Stumping for him after the game was renowned statesman, Jeff Samardzija.

That guy needs to be in the lineup. I think he’s proven here in the last few weeks that he’s going to be there and be there for awhile. Dude can hit .050 for all I care. If you put that glove out there in the field, he’s going to make plays for you, a lot like that (Lorenzo) Cain guy they have out there in their center field. So, he’s got to play.
— Jeff Samardzija

Whoa whoa whoa whoaJeffrey. Maybe you didn't get to absorb all of the culture in your one season here, but "Dude can hit .050" is not just a rhetorical device you can just throw around willy-nilly around here. There's historical precedent.

Also, "that Cain guy?" You drilled that Cain guy. There was a big fight, you were involved, remember? No? Whatever.

6. The White Sox clubhouse is apparently devoid enough of leadership that Jose Abreu is making it a priority to learn English in the offseason, with even more immediacy than when he originally broached the idea.

Colleen Kane's piece paints a clubhouse that's been absent a prominent senior position player since Captain Eeyore retired, especially since "Captain Attitude" Jeff Samardzija obviously fizzled as a proposal. Gordon Beckham, Alexei Ramirez, Melky Cabrera and Adam LaRoche are mentioned as possibilities, but Beckham and LaRoche have shaky playing status, and Ramirez probably isn't becoming some guy he hasn't been for the last eight years.  I imagine people are distinguishing between "Player Leadership" and "Leadership Generally" -- if they aren't, this is yet another area where one might look to the manager and find Ventura brings nothing to the table.

7. Robin Ventura says he wants to keep his entire coaching staff, flummoxing all who thought he was going to spend 45 minutes haranguing Bobby Thigpen for some early 90s clubhouse grievance, or perhaps offering to burn all his assistants alive in exchange for keeping his job.

However, in this obvious statement, Ventura dropped a very, very Robin quote:

You always want to find that stuff out.

I’m hopeful it’s the same group.

You have discussions. You have somewhat of a say, but you don’t have full say. There are people above you, but you do have discussions.
— Robin Ventura

Wow, I feel like I was inside his mind.  It takes about 10 seconds to edit this quote to make it about man's ability to die on his own terms.


A number of theories were offered why the swift, but not exactly elite speed-possessing J.B. Shuck could possibly be topping this list, here they are in descending order of likelihood.

--He is a slap-hitter who has to bust his behind down the line every time to get on base, eliminating the slower jogging times from his average.

--He's a left-hander with a follow-through that pulls him off the plate and up the baseline, giving him a slight head start.

--This data is wrong. Someone should double-check it.


Between Alexei and Sale's impressive chains, the sincere fandom of Freddy Gibbs, Kendrick Lamar wearing a Sox jacket on a Rolling Stone cover, and the sharpness of their uniforms in general, imagine how cool this franchise would be if it were good or popular.

10. Jose Quintana's final start of the season comes Wednesday night. He has a 1.00 ERA in the month of September through four starts and 27 innings, and could match last season's career-best ERA with six innings, one run allowed. He was in the 3.70s, at the beginning of the month, and has lowered a third of a run in less than a month.

Quintana faces Edinson Volquez, who has eviscerated the Sox this year (1.67 ERA in 27 innings over four starts) but still has to deal with what comes up when you google "Edinson Volquez hairline." This is unforgivably petty, but it's what this season has left.