The Chicago White Sox will enter play Wednesday night with the New York Yankees at a 43-41 clip, just past the official halfway point of the regular season. If Miguel Gonzales can outduel Michael Pineda, chances are the Sox will win the rubber match of the series, meaning they will have won their 5th consecutive series overall.
You would figure that a team who started 23-10 and also won 5 consecutive series in June/July would have a better record than 44-41. But, no. Not these Sox. Not these Sox who lost 26 of their 36 games in-between. Not these Sox who saw a semi-comfortable lead in the AL Central erode in the blink of an eye.
The 2016 White Sox season has been the definition of a roller coaster ride, which makes for another exciting edition of “Buy or Sell”.
Buy or Sell: Tim Anderson Leading Off
When the Sox called up Anderson on June 10th, the ball club received a much-needed adrenalin shot. The team is only two games over .500 during Anderson’s time in the Majors, but you could certainly argue that they would be much worse without him. Anderson has been a base hit machine, recording 12 multi-hit games in the first 24 games of his career. His speed and quickness in the field and on the base paths have also been a sight for the sore eyes of White Sox fans.
He’s not stealing bases or drawing walks yet (two essentials of a good leadoff hitter), but you have to figure that will come in time. He was a premier base stealer in his time spent in the Sox farm system. He swiped 49 bags last season at Double-A; so he will probably discover that art at the Major League level before he discovers how to draw more walks, which he was not good at in the minors.
Nevertheless, I am going to buy Tim Anderson in the leadoff role because he provides a plus bat and plus speed, and already seems to be comfortable at the top of the lineup. Also, Anderson in the leadoff spot means Adam Eaton is in the 2-hole which also seems to be working very well.
Buy or Sell: The White Sox Draft
If you’re the GM of a Major League Baseball team, or if you’re the manager of a fantasy football team, you probably choose either one or two strategies on draft day – “Best Player Available” or “Address Team Needs”. The White Sox opted for the latter in 2016. With their 1st round pick, they chose catcher Zack Collins out of the University of Miami. The day before the draft, I joked with my friends that I don’t recall the White Sox ever having a catching prospect. A.J. Pierzynski was the only serviceable catcher that the team has had for any length of time during my time spent as an avid follower of the team (2002-current), and he was acquired as a free agent signing at age 28. That being said, along with the fact that the Sox have two “past-their-prime”, below average catchers in Alex Avila and Dioner Navarro, I told my friends that I really hope the Sox draft Zack Collins. Sure enough, my wish was granted. Collins was tagged the best catcher in the draft by multiple scouts, most likely because he has the rare power and contact combination at the plate. In three season at Miami, he walked more than he struck out, and his OPS was north of 1.000.
The Sox also had another 1st round pick due to Jeff Samardzija’s decision to turn down the team’s qualifying offer this past offseason, and they selected right-handed reliever Zack Burdi out of the University of Louisville. According to Burdi’s agent, Jeff Furmaniak, Burdi touched 104 mph on the radar gun during a relief appearance in Single-A on Sunday. Burdi was promoted to Double-A on Tuesday; and given the current state of the Sox bullpen, we could see Burdi in the Majors sometime this season. In terms of the future, David Robertson is 31-years old and his contract expires after the 2018 season, so it looks like Burdi will have a chance at being the closer of the future for the Sox.
Buy or Sell: Aggressiveness at the Trade Deadline
We are 84 games into the 2016 season, and it’s still hard to tell if the Sox will be playing meaningful games in the month of September. As noted above, they been among the best of the best, and they have been among the worst of the worst during the season’s first half.
Surely, the Sox could use some help at multiple spots on their roster. A left-handed power bat would be nice. Another dependable reliever would be nice. A good catcher would be nice too. But what do the Sox have to offer than can pry any of those players from another team? The Sox farm system isn’t exactly beaming with talent. There’s last year’s 1st round draft pick Carson Fulmer, there’s the two aforementioned draft picks from this year, and not much else. For the Sox to acquire a difference-maker at the Major League level, they would probably need to give up one of those three prospects. There is the possibility that they could run into another James Shields scenario where they find another team who is just looking to dump salary and won’t require a top-tier prospect in return. But those teams are hard to come by at the deadline.
The bottom line is that Carlos Gonzalez, Andrew Miller, or Jonathan Lucroy won’t be coming to the South Side unless Fulmer, Collins, or Burdi are leaving. Given that the Sox are still hopeful that the returns of Austin Jackson and Justin Morneau can make enough of an impact on the team, I don’t see them making any blockbuster move’s at this year’s trade deadline.
Let’s also not discount the possibility of them being sellers. If the Sox decide to wave the white flag of the Chris Sale era, just imagine what Sale could net in a trade………..Ok, never mind. I don’t want to think about Sale being traded either.
I ultimately think that the Sox will stand pat because they want to see how the lineup will perform with Justin Morneau as the every day DH.
Jeremy Ratajczyk is a White Sox fan from Northwest Indiana and a 2013 graduate of Chicago State University (English). He has been writing about the White Sox for Midway Madness since 2014. Follow him on Twitter: @JeremyChiSox