White Sox Stand Pat at Trade Deadline

20140124_mm_soxfest0117One week ago, the White Sox were supposed to be sellers.

One day ago, the White Sox were supposed to be buyers.

What actually happens? They neither buy nor sell.

The Sox decided to stand pat at Friday’s MLB trade deadline and move forward with their current roster. Sure, it’s a less-than-exciting decision for the fans, but it certainly could be the right decision. The team spent a lot of money this past off-season in piecing together a roster that was supposed to compete for a playoff berth. And after finally showing their first sign of life with seven wins in a row before last night’s loss, why disassemble a team that is starting to heat up?

There was a ton of speculation that the team would trade away starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija at the deadline. Samardzija, who was acquired via trade from the Oakland Athletics last winter, is a free agent at season’s end, so it seemed like it would make sense to shop him around considering the Sox had minimal playoff hopes just two weeks ago.

But a recent stretch of offensive prowess and masterful pitching performances forced general manager Rick Hahn to reconsider giving up on 2015. As the Sox enter play with the New York Yankees Friday night, they are 49-51 and 3.5 games out of the American League’s second wild card spot, currently occupied by the Minnesota Twins. Granted, the Sox are not the only American League team that is on the outside looking in at the playoff picture. The Rangers, Rays, Blue Jays, and Orioles all figure to be battling for the last playoff spot throughout the home stretch of the season as well.

But after being statistically the worst offensive team in the American League for most of the season, and being nearly hopelessly out of playoff contention just a couple of weeks ago, 3.5 games back of the second wild card spot with 62 games remaining doesn’t seem bad at all.

Maybe the Sox are fooling everyone because of the weak competition they played against in their recent seven-game winning streak. But then again, maybe they are now finally turning into the team that everyone had envisoined after such a promising off-season. Regardless of what happens, giving this year’s squad one more chance to compete for the post-season is a risk that the front office needed to take.

If the team’s road trip wasn’t as dominant as it was, who knows what would have happened at the trade deadline? It wasn’t just the fact that the Sox went 7-1 on the 8-game trip, it was how they did it. The offense suddenly came to life after being basically non-existent for the first 92 games. Melky Cabrera became the first player in franchise history to record multiple base hits and at least 1 RBI in 7 consecutive games. Alexei Ramirez and Carlos Sanchez began driving the ball out of the park. Adam Eaton’s batting average began to climb even faster.

It’s amazing how much difference just one week of games can make. It’s time to sit back, relax, and strap it down for the final 62 games.