Garcia, Jones a good use of $1.5 million

If you didn’t buy White Sox Outsider 2010 (and why didn’t you? Did I do something wrong?), here’s an excerpt from Freddy Garcia’s season outlook:

Let’s look at it this way — Garcia’s main goal will be to give Guillen and Kenny Williams the option of doing whatever they want with Daniel Hudson.  If Garcia can get through the cold bats of April and early May, Hudson can either add polish to his slider at Charlotte, or gain experience against major-league hitters in medium-leverage situations out of the bullpen.
The Sox shouldn’t plan around Garcia beyond the first five or six weeks of the season. That’s not saying he can’t survive when summer rolls around, but he has no history of doing so over the past three seasons. Banking on that is one of the many, many things that got the Mets in trouble last year.

Five weeks into the season, Sweaty Freddy has given the Sox exactly what they needed — three quality starts in five outings, and a fourth that was good enough. It was nice to see him rewarded for his efforts with his first victory on Wednesday, and Ozzie Guillen recognized this as well.  He let Garcia warm up before the seventh inning, and then took him out — to a warm ovation from the fans, with a wad of Guillen’s gum on the front of his home black jersey.
But slowly, discreetly, we should turn our attention to Daniel Hudson, because the cracks in the levee are beginning to show.
First, there’s the matter of his fastball velocity.  He’s been on a downward zig-zag so far, losing, then rallying, then losing some more:

There is some silver lining in that he’s not as much of an American League outlier as he was last year.   He has some company in the 89-and-below range, including Justin Duchscherer, Shaun Marcum, Joel Piniero and Doug Fister.  The first is hurt, the third is struggling and the fourth screams “fluke,” but I’m just saying.  I’ll also say that Garcia is the only one of the group who doesn’t throw a cutter.
And then there are the hits.  Garcia entered having allowed just a .217 batting average against him (and a .216 BABIP), both of which were bound to rise.  That they did on Wednesday, with the Royals racking up 10 hits over just six innings.   He was lucky to escape having allowed just two runs, thanks to Chris Getz’s screaming liner finding the webbing of Garcia’s mitt instead of center field.
One could soften this point as well by pointing out Garcia’s zero walks, as well as the low-trajectory and velocity of many of the batted balls.  He may have only been facing the Royals, but they’re (currently) a middle-of-the-pack offense with a history of forcing him to exit early.
This is the precarious balance Garcia the Junkballer (cue music) has struck at this point in his career.  He has turned in 10 quality starts in 14 outings since returning to the White Sox while living on the edge.
It’s entirely possible that Garcia is some kind of sorcerer.  There aren’t many right-handers who can baffle ’em with BS, but exceptions pop up from time to time, and I find it absolutely fascinating when they do.
He’s contending with reality, though, and right now it’s not of his own making.  The Sox are four games below .500; the Minnesota Twins are now 10 games above the break-even mark.  That’s a big, big early deficit, and it’s going to require some aggressive decision-making.
Reading Garcia will be at the center of it all.  He’s given the Sox what they need, and now the Sox will see if they can get what they want from him.  They can’t get greedy.  If he gets lit up two starts in a row like certain factors suggest is likely — and Hudson has officially righted the ship — the time for change will be nigh.  Whether Guillen can and will act on it could be the first half’s biggest question.
What about the second half’s biggest question?
While discussing Andruw Jones, Hawk Harrelson said that he would like to see Jones hit his 500th home run as a member of the White Sox.  Jones just hit his 397th, so he’s got just a little bit of work to do, but Harrelson suggested that the joie de vivre is back, and his numbers will make the same return.
The conversation reminded me that Jones is a Scott Boras client making $500,000.  He didn’t wait to sign his contract with the Sox, going about his business unusually fast for a Boras client.  He said he liked the fit, and while he may have defined “fit” as “major-league contract,” we won’t know for sure.
It seems to be gravy so far.  Jones is turning on fastballs and turning on the South Side with his smile.  Should he carry it through to the trade deadline and beyond — not his current 1.000 OPS, but even .800-.850 — that’s going to be all sorts of fun, with lots to be learned.  It’s hard to consider it anything more contentious, because it’s a problem everybody would love to have.
Christian Marrero Reading Room:
*Mark Teahen admits he has a problem, which is at least remotely encouraging.  He says he needs to work on his pre-pitch setup.
*Mark Buehrle places the blame on the starting rotation; Guillen thinks it’s more on the offense.
*Ramon Castro will make his debut tonight against Toronto lefty Dana Eveland.
Minor league roundup:

  • Mississippi 7, Birmingham 6
    • Brent Morel went 2-for-5 with an RBI and a strikeout.
    • Christian Marrero went 2-for-4 with two RBI, but committed an error in left.
    • John Shelby had one hit in five at-bats, striking out once.
  • Winston-Salem 3, Frederick 0
    • Justin Edwards threw six shutout innings, allowing six hits and two walks. He struck out just one, but induced 11 groundouts.
    • Kyle Bellamy threw two shutout innings, striking out two. He allowed just a hit.
    • Jon Gilmore and Brandon Short each went 1-for-4.
    • Eduardo Escobar had two singles and a strikeout in four at-bats.
    • Justin Greene was held hitless, striking out twice.
    • Gregory Infante worked a scoreless ninth, with a hit and a strikeout.
  • Lexington 17, Kannapolis 4
    • Kyle Colligan went 2-for-5 with an RBI.
    • Nick Ciolli, 1-for-4 with a K. Trayce Thompson did the same, and drove in a run.
    • Justin Collop was rocked for 10 runs on 11 hits and two walks over three innings. He walked two and struck out two.
Take a second to support Sox Machine on Patreon
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Andruw looks great right now. That said, he tore it up early for Texas before crashing back to reality last season, too. That seemed to be more of a conditioning issue than anything, and he’s in much better shape this season so I remain hopeful. He also looks better now than he did last year- not just shape-wise, but in terms of his bat speed too.
Unrelated: should we be trying to make anything of the recent minor league acquisition activity, or is it just your standard minor league activity? I don’t follow the farm systems as closely as I should (pretty much just keep tabs on the brighter prospects) but it sure seems like the recent rash of new arrivals at Birmingham is somewhat out of the ordinary. Not only did they add OF Buck Coats (released by Jays) and SS Luis Rodriguez (released by Indians), but they traded for SS Rafael Vera (from Indians for future considerations). They released a pair of corner infielders named J. Castillo too so maybe I’m looking too closely into this and they’re simply minor league depth moves.


from the Teahen link, Santos on the eventual end to his scoreless streak: “If God wants to humble me a bit or whatever he has got in his plans, then so be it.”
Which leads to another question: How big of a Sergio! fan is God? And what the hell does he have against Gavin (.385 BABIP)?!


If memory serves, God wasn’t a big fan of Jerry Owens either.


And now he thinks Brian Anderson needs humbled at a second position.


It always kills me when these athletes invoke God after they win a championship or whatever I mean, do they seriously think God gives two shits about their meaningless little game? I always figured He had bigger fish to fry. Plauges, natural disasters, a little Armegeddon here and there. Perhaps he should make a little time to smite Brian Anderson though.


Any future deal with andru jones has to be made very very very carefully, if he is hot thru june, I offer a 5 mil deal for 2011 with a 7 mil 2nd year attached if he reaches 500 plate appearances or something… Its really hard to gadge what his market would be but a return to hitting and his ability to still play the field pretty well certainly has raised his stock tremendously.


He’d have to sign that contract over Boras’ dead body – he makes awful clear how opposed he is to signing mid-season, and a guy who has a chance to add an extra zero to his current paycheck, I’d figure he’ll want to see what the highest bidder has to offer.
I’m pretty much resigned to him not being here next year, and just enjoying his re-invention while he’s here. The dude hasn’t been this big at the plate and on the bases since he was 23, 10 years ago. It’s been great to see and we’ve been awfully lucky, but he’s lost his motivation once before and it’ll probably happen again – I’d rather see someone else overpay him when that time comes than it be us trying to press our luck.


yea probably boras would have to die
im with you, let someone else over pay, jones cant be trusted


I’m not convinced that Freddy’s 2010 velocity fluxuations are meaningful. For the last four years he has stayed very close in that 88-and-change range. A tick up or down from start to start might not mean much.
What’s changed during that time is he’s used the fastball less each year and gone to the slider and change more. I haven’t been able to watch one of his starts, but it looks like that changeup has been what’s carried him. Does that square with what people have observed?
Re: Andruw, I’ll be curious to see how his splits level out. He’s hitting for power against both righties and lefties, but righties are striking him out a lot, while lefties can’t get him out in any fashion.


i believe those are hudson’s velocity readings…


nvm…i’m an idiot.


Hah you scared me there, for a moment I was worried that Hudson had somehow lost 5 MPH off his fastball.


I don’t want to seem overly optimistic here, or jinx some shit, but I think we can stop bringing up Andruw’s previous season with Texas at this point.
Everyone is quick to point out that “he fell off” last year after a hot start, but we’re talking about an April in which he hit .344 with 3 homeruns in 32AB. He was pretty abysmal after that, and even August, when he hit .209 with 8 homeruns…he still wasn’t looking this good. I guess my point is…he had 17 homeruns last year. He already has 9, in addition to looking much better on the basepaths and at the plate as far as physical condition goes.
Jones currently has a .244 BABIP, which is significantly lower than his curiously low career mark of .275, which means there’s still room for a natural improvement in those numbers. Certainly his .405 ISO isn’t going to last, but his LD% is down from both last year and his career.
The updated ZIPS projection for Andruw are pretty favorable: .231/.333 /.496 with 27 HR. I think, at this point, he can hit it or exceed it if he doesn’t just all of the sudden die.