“Mired in mediocrity” is the term that White Sox General Manager Rick Hahn used to summarize the state of his ball club two weeks ago. With the Major League Baseball trade deadline looming at the time of that statement, one would figure that the Sox front office would have a busy day yesterday afternoon.
Shockingly, the Sox were almost completely inactive at the deadline. They made one trade, and it wasn’t one that will make or break this season or next. On Sunday, the Sox traded left-handed relief specialist Zach Duke to the Cardinals for Triple-A outfielder Charlie Tilson. Duke was one of the team’s better relievers, but certainly not a marquis player. Tilson profiles a lot like J.B. Shuck as a defense-first, left-handed outfielder, probably destined to be a 3rd or 4th outfielder for most of his Major League career.
I will be the first to admit that when I woke up Sunday morning to the news of the Duke trade, I thought that the first domino had fallen. Just about every player on the Sox has been rumored to be traded away at the deadline – even Jose Quintana and Chris Sale. But for the 2nd straight year, in the midst of a disappointing season that once had high aspirations in its early stages, the Sox chose to stand pat.
So what exactly does this mean for the rest of the season? Well, it appears that management still has at least a tiny hint of faith that the team can make the playoffs this year; and that hint of faith was prioritized over the possibility of making next year’s team stronger.
Take a player like Miguel Gonzalez, for example. The Sox took a flyer back in April on the 32-year-old pitcher whose career seemed headed for retirement. But in 17 games this season (16 starts), he has done everything that the Sox could have hoped for and then some. With a 4.06 ERA in nearly 100 innings, he could have returned a decent prospect from a team who was in need of a right-handed starter. Instead, the Sox will play out the string with him with the possibility of him losing value by the end of the year. For what? So he can help this year’s team win 80 games and capture 3rd place in the AL Central?
Another player who I thought was sure to be traded was David Robertson. The writing was all over the wall and Hahn ignored it.
- Robertson is being paid like a top tier closer and pitching like a 3rd tier closer.
- Many teams were in need of relief help at the deadline, so trading Robertson would have had a very nice return. The Cubs had to part ways with their #1 prospect in order to get Aroldis Chapman.
- I’m no psychic, but I’m guessing that Nate Jones could probably be a better closer than Robertson.
- Robertson’s $12 million salary off the books in 2017 would have meant the Sox could have afforded significant free agent help at catcher and outfield this offseason.
As the White Sox take the field in Detroit on Tuesday night and begin a 3-game series with the Tigers, it’s safe to say that no one knows where this organization is headed. They are 10 games back in the division and 7.5 back in the wild card; and they decided not to improve this year’s team or next year’s team. Maybe this is why they are “mired in mediocrity”.