1. The White Sox reportedly tried looking in on acquiring Yasiel Puig at what it can only be hoped is the nadir of his value, per Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. They were promptly rebuffed and re-routed to Andre Etheir, a potential improvement but a very clunky one, and Carl Crawford, whose all-around skill set is less charming now that he's 34, declining and lacks a useful specialty.
But Puig, well, it's an idea. A shot at bringing in a real, premium talent to add to the Sox core.
Pursuing Puig reminds me of the Alex Rios waiver claim; a bold attempt to take on a risky property by a team poor in position talent that would otherwise not have access to a player with such a high ceiling. Rios' tenure in Chicago was full of peril--there was a reason he was let go on waivers--but also gave the Sox two very strong campaigns that saw them push for playoff berths, and needs to be compared with what waiting on returns from a bombed out farm system, or what more expensive free agents would have brought.
A pursuit of Puig can be judged less generously, though, since there's been a historic crop of free agent talent that the Sox have either gotten beaten on (Gordon, Cespedes), opted not to pursue (Heyward, Upton), or are currently staring at dispassionately (Fowler). Puig is a tantalizing talent with a potential for better financial value, and maybe even superior production than any of these guys, so the curiosity makes sense. However, the combination of how much more the Sox would have to carve out from the organizational depth, and even their MLB roster, along with Puig's potential to just detonate the clubhouse makes it unappetizing without understanding why the Sox were reluctant to dive into this free agent class with both feet.
Which I still do not understand.
2. In that struggle to understand what this tremendous slow-play of the free agent market is reason for--Cynicism? Frustration? Rationalization and optimism?--I wasted much of the day looking for previous instances of February acquisitions. Recent years have just been spare bullpen arms; Matt Albers, Mitchell Boggs, but as recently as 2012 they nabbed fourth outfielder Kosuke Fukudome on Valentine's Day.
There's been a sprinkling of meaningful starters, but they have a commonality of being aging veterans who had reasons for not being in demand. 35-year-old Kenny Lofton inked a deal on Feb. 1 of 2002, but was coming off a career-worst batting line while battling a strained ribcage. In back-to-back seasons in the late 90's, the Sox snagged February rotation upgrades by beating out the Cubs to nab a good Kevin Tapani season in 1996, and coaxed Danny Darwin out of retirement in 1997 (where he would later be part of the White Flag trade).
It would be nice if they pulled off that last trick again this year, but all previous iterations of the Sox fishing through the market right before Spring Training involved guys who were on the market, or had their value depressed by factors related to their play. For Fowler, there's nothing keeping him on the board besides his qualifying offer, which has apparently poisoned his market as much as being old, bad or hurt normally would.
But hey, no use rushing into a bad deal, right?
3. Scott Merkin talked with Rick Hahn about the uncertainty at last year's trade deadline caused by the White Sox suddenly playing like the team they were supposed to be, and earlier this week Jon Greenberg examined how the Sox were repeatedly poisoning their seasons with slow starts, and I'm pretty sure the two articles are related.
If it takes Hahn as long to develop a market for trades--just look at how long they had to work the Todd Frazier market for example--as he claims, the Sox on the field not giving a clear directive to the front office on what direction to push and explore opportunities in isn't helpful. For a team that, even after they theoretically sign Dexter Fowler, could very likely to be hunting for a DH midseason, a big start that clearly defines them as contender early is key.
4. Speaking of The Athletic, I enjoyed Greenberg's piece on U.S. Cellular Field's new videoboards more than I thought I would like a story about taxpayer-funded super TVs, perhaps because the actual thrust of the story wasn't about what is so disagreeable about the situation. The Cell got its new videobards because the clause requiring renovations finally got activated, in the sweetheart deal with the state that they scored.
But Greenberg's story is more about tireless promoter Brooks Boyer finally having his ship come in, the delicious irony that having to wait an extra year actually allowed them to get a higher resolution screen than what the north side team just installed, and most importantly a discussion about the stops and starts in the Sox efforts to boost attendance that acknowledges that they've never sustained winning enough to see the attendance growth they crave.
5. Old friend Gavin Floyd is finally a Blue Jay. That smug website wouldn't be so smug now if it was still active!
After being as reliable as it gets (in terms of health!) for five years with the Sox, a Tommy John Surgery and the same fracture of his elbow twice, Floyd might need a team as desperate for rotation help as the Jays to get someone to take a chance on him starting again. Here's to wishing the best for Gavin and hoping to see that big yakker at least one more time.