Game 91, Mariners at Wheeling,Dealing White Sox

marc w · July 14, 2017 at 2:25 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

James Paxton vs. James Shields, 5:10pm

Wow. This past offseason, the White Sox prized the #1 international prospect, Yoan Moncada, away from the Red Sox in the Chris Sale blockbuster. Not content with ONE #1 international prospect, they spent $26 million to secure the rights to Cuban sensation Luis Robert, and then spent an additional $26 million to MLB as penalty for obliterating their international draft pool limit. What’s a team to do when it craves #1 international prospects and can’t get one at the J2 deadline? Trade again, of course. Yesterday morning, the White Sox traded Jose Quintana to their cross-town rivals, the Cubs. In exchange, they received a package headlined by 2015 #1 international prospect, Eloy Jimenez. They also get hard-throwing SP prospect Dylan Cease, making it surprisingly hard to argue that the White Sox suffered by waiting to deal Quintana and watching him put up his worst season in the majors (not a bad season, by any stretch, but not what you’d want as the last thing in the minds of potential buyers).

It was always a bit surprising that the White Sox launched into a rebuild with a young, cost-controlled core about a year or 18 months after a flurry of win-now moves propelled the club to the fringes of contention. In 2015, the Sox acquired Jeff Samardzija from Oakland and then added closer David Robertson in free agency. The club had a young Adam Eaton in the OF, and a rotation headed by Sale and Quintana, both of whom were signed to what were by then almost insultingly low-paying extensions.* Their abysmal 2013 allowed them the opportunity to draft Carlos Rodon in 2014, who made the majors midway through 2015. The rotation was just about set (despite Shark’s impending free agency), and it was *cheap*. And like a slightly less manic AJ Preller, Rick Hahn decided to undo most of what he’d done, scattering the pieces to the winds. In the process, he’s amassed one of the most talented collections of prospects ever. What he hasn’t yet done is come close to assembling a .500 team in the majors.

This all feels very relevant to the M’s, who are once again threading the needle between going for it and rebuilding, as this great Bob Dutton piece outlines. The M’s, according to GM Jerry Dipoto, have no need for anything so vulgar as a fire sale. Despite a roster that is once again older than most teams in the AL, and essentially all of their rivals, “”We’ve got, I think, 11 players on this team,” [Dipoto] said, “who are in their 20s, who are controllable for five more years and who are all making positive contributions in some way or another.” This is true, and it’s essentially the pithy version of the hopeful-ish post I had yesterday. The problem is that it might not be enough.

There’s something to be said for waiting things out, for avoiding the boom-and-bust cycle of tear-down and rebuild. As great as it is to stockpile prospects, it’s not any sort of guarantee, as the Padres know well. The Royals and their lauded/mocked “best system in a generation” didn’t actually turn into winners until they traded some of their golden boys for today’s Sox starter, James Shields. And Shields himself (*and* the guy he was traded for) was then part of Preller’s seemingly coke-addled win-now splurge in 2015, before moving on in 2016’s sell-everything-that-isn’t-bolted-down rebuild. Dipoto’s not wrong: the M’s are as talented as their wildcard opponents, with the possible exception of the Yankees. They’ve shown they’re capable of hanging around the wildcard hunt, but then, so has literally everyone. That’s what makes the White Sox full-bore tear down so interesting. They were at least as well prepared to make a run at the 2nd wildcard this year as the M’s, but they wanted no part of it. Why not? Why do the Mariners care, and why don’t the Sox?

At this point, it’s harder and harder to argue that the M’s front office has its hands tied by miserly owners. When you commit $250 million to Cano, extend Felix, Seager and now Segura, sign Nelson Cruz, etc., the argument just doesn’t work. On the other hand, I think it’s easier and easier to say that the M’s playoff drought may be a factor – maybe a tacit one, maybe explicit, I don’t know – in at least some of their decision-making processes. This is a team that feels pressure, and a lot of it, to end the streak. That sounds like a good thing, but I wonder about it. The White Sox, with a relatively recent World Series win, can focus on becoming the Next Cubs, something pretty much every team is trying to do. The Sox are on their way, though, as they just picked up a third player ranked in the top 20 in all of baseball. They now have 2 of the top 6-7 position players in their system, along with 3-4 pitching prospects touching 100 MPH. Lucas Giolito, who came in the Adam Eaton trade, has disappointed, but they still have Michael Kopech, Reynaldo Lopez and Nick Burdi to go with Dylan Cease, Giolito, Carson Fulmer and Alec Hansen. This is a ridiculous assemblage of talent. The White Sox have long had one of the worst farm systems in the game. In 2012, their BP top 10 list was literally a ranking of characters in the movie Real Genius to avoid talking about a system headlined by Nestor Molina or Courtney Hawkins. Their preseason 2016 list looks utterly unrecognizable, but recognizably bad (and I’m an M’s fan!). Did the WS win give Hahn the latitude to pull this off? Or is this just a case of baseball following a fad – trading a Jeff Samardzija for prospects and being seen as an all-conquering hero?

So, how’s James Shields faring in the HR era sweeping MLB? About as well as you’d think. After giving up an astonishing 73 dingers over 2015-16, he’s given up 10 in 7 starts and 36 IP thus far in 2017. Thanks to his great change-up, he always had really even platoon splits, but these days lefties are hitting him hard. In fact, both LHB and RHBs are hitting well off of him over the past 2-3 years, so platoon splits just aren’t a big factor in setting the line-ups against him anymore.

1: Segura, SS
2: Gamel, LF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, DH
5: Seager, 3B
6: Valencia, 1B
7: Haniger, RF
8: Dyson, CF
9: Zunino, C
SP: Paxton

The PCL won the AAA All-Star Game 6-4 on a big 3R-HR from A’s prospect Renato Nunez.

The Rainiers were back in action yesterday against Fresno, and while Sam Gaviglio was perfect through four, he was significantly less perfect – you might even go so far as to say “bad” – in the next one, giving up 4 runs in an eventual 5-1 loss. Casey Lawrence starts today’s game at beautiful Cheney Stadium.

The Cardinals’ #7 prospect, Sandy Alcantara, has had a rough go-round in AA this year, but he was solid in a 4-1 win over Arkansas last night. He pitched 6 IP with 1 R and 2 H allowed. Control still isn’t there, as he walked 4 to just 3 Ks, but he’s still just 21. Anthony Misiewicz took the loss, but still pitched pretty well in just his 2nd AA outing. Not bad for a guy drafted in the 18th round in 2015. Tonight’s Travelers starter is Lindsey Caughel.

Visalia beat Modesto 6-1 behind a solid start from D-Backs prospect Cody Reed. Braden Bishop and Willie Argo doubled for the Nuts (Argo singled off of rehabbing San Jose starter Madison Bumgarner recently). Reliever Spencer Herrman gets the spot-start tonight for Modesto.

Dayton doubled up Clinton 8-4. The Dragons got a HR from lead-off man Jose Siri, who I’m sure has never heard any jokes about his surname, and racked up 12 hits and 4 walks. The Lumberkings got a dinger from Gareth Morgan, one of his 3 hits on the day. CF Billy Cooke took home a golden sombrero.

Everett’s Andres Torres tossed 6 shutout innings to run his record to 4-0 in the AquaSox 4-1 win in the Tri-Cities. JP Sears allowed batted balls against him, and only had 1 K in his 1 IP, giving up an unearned run. Joe Rose went 0-5 after I wrote him up the other day. Jose Santiago starts today’s game.

I don’t spend a lot of time on the complex leagues, but it’s worth noting that M’s 2nd-round pick Sam Carlson made his pro debut last night with a scoreless inning against the Rangers team. Reports had him sitting 92-93, touching 95. The opposing starter was Rangers’ first-rounder Hans Crouse, another polished prep arm from Southern California. Crouse went 2 scoreless, giving up 3 hits, and sat 95-97 with his fastball.

* I mentioned it whenever the M’s went into the South Side, but the Sox paid more per year for John Danks than Sale and Quintana combined.


One Response to “Game 91, Mariners at Wheeling,Dealing White Sox”

  1. Grayfox3d on July 15th, 2017 2:10 pm

    Way to come out of the break with a win, lets keep it up!

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