Back on Thursday, Tim Anderson drew the scorn of baseball rule-of-thumbers everywhere by making the third out at third base, and doing so in a way that took a run off the board. A couple days before that, Anderson got Adam Engel caught in a rundown after trying to take second on a throw that pulled Joe Mauer off the bag, but didn’t get away from him.
In both these cases, as well as a handful of others, the question is, “Why was Anderson running?” The answer can be found in the ninth inning of Monday’s game. Anderson scored the Sox’ sixth and final run almost entirely with his legs.
I say “almost entirely” because Luke Voit’s error gave him the first 90 feet. But as it bounced off the heel of Voit’s glove, past the second baseman’s usual position and into the outfield grass, Anderson did the rest. His instinct to keep running won him second base, after which he stole third to give Avisail Garcia a chance to score him with a productive out. Garcia struck out, but Anderson still scored on a not-terribly-wild pitch. He got a great break as Kyle Higashioka failed to initially locate where the ball ended up, and slid underneath the flip to the covering pitcher.
The hope is that Anderson cuts down on the senseless baserunning risks, along the same lines of the way he’s reduced errors and obliterated the discussion to move him off shortstop (he saved a run with a tremendous play to his right). There’s a little bit of overlap in the areas, as they both stem from trying to do too much, although unlike the defense, there’s nothing to correct physically/mechanically.
The good news is that his glovework, which has him on track for a 3 WAR season for either interpretation of the metric, makes it easier to take the other rough edges in stride. If he never quite figures out the risk assessment balance, he’ll still score runs other can’t to make up to cancel out the runs he might’ve removed, but it’s easier to keep track of the ledger when he only makes maddening mistakes in one area. There isn’t much of a line between the way he unsuccessfully broke for second on Mauer, and the way he successfully got home against Higashioka. Maybe he can have one without the other, but I’m prepared for it being too much to ask and adjusting afterward.
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If you missed Sunday’s post, I included a video of Kevan Smith, who describes why he carries Daniel Webb’s name forward, both on his back during Players’ Weekend and with his son.
If you saw it and didn’t have time to watch the video, James Fegan wrote a great story about the Smith-Webb connection.
Is it sentimental? Of course. Does it require deep faith? Surely, but Smith has always had plenty. Long before his drive cleared the fence in Comerica Park Saturday night, his approach to life after losing Webb had switched from taking small comfort in moments like striking up a conversation with a stranger who happened to have the same birthday as Webb, to living his life as if his best friend will always be with him.
“I just always knew I could turn to him for advice and any kind of direction I may have been searching for which is a really cool aspect and something that I really miss about him,” Smith said. “It’s kind of ironic that as soon as I make the big leagues, it was almost like, ‘Alright man, you’re good now. I’m gonna take off and I’ll watch over you. You’ll be fine. I taught you everything I need to.’ That’s just how I look at it.”
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Ryan Burr joined the bullpen because the Luis Avilan trade opened up a spot, but he’ll be the first of a few relievers joining the fray in September. The Sox have Caleb Frare and Jose Ruiz among the pitchers who need immediate 40-man roster consideration, and there’s Ian Hamilton among those who don’t need to be protected, but demands attention with his performance. Maybe Carson Fulmer also comes back as a way to assess his transition into relief work.
Amid all this new talent coming in and foreshadowing considerable turnover, Nate Jones tries to rally.
Nate Jones threw off the mound yesterday for the first time in this rehab stretch. Went fastball/changeup for 20 pitches. Feels good today and still plans on returning to the mound for the White Sox this season
— Scott Merkin (@scottmerkin) August 27, 2018
The mound part is a big deal, as that’s what was missing from his first attempt to gear up in hopes of rejoining the team. Jones last pitched on June 12, after which he headed to the disabled list with a strained pronator muscle in his right arm.
The White Sox possibly guarded themselves against this outcome with his extension, which might’ve knocked his 2019 option from $4.65 million to the league minimum if ulnar repositioning surgery counts as elbow surgery. (The original version didn’t acknowledge this clause.)
If so, it helps him avoid the same conversation about Avisail Garcia, who could make $7 million or so in his final arbitration year after what’s been a replacement-level season. Which is good, since he’ll be 33 in January, whlie Garcia is 27 and just one year removed from an All-Star season. With Garcia, I was on the tender track when he was pulling homers like never before around scattershot production elsewhere. However, he’s hitting .158/.221/.274 with a 31 percent strikeout rate in August, which is the kind of backslide that makes it more of an open question.
Jones will be 33 in January and has absorbed a lot of injury trauma, but as long as he’s making the minimum, his presence is more about whether he should be saved a spot as the injury trauma piles up. They probably have a spot or two to play with during the spring, but when Zack Burdi’s ready, the opportunities should get tighter.
I’m OK with the White Sox moving on from Nate Jones. Give Ian Hamilton that spot in 2019.
Anderson’s 2018 numbers look like they were pulled straight off Alexei Ramirez’s BBRef page. I think I’d be okay with Alexei 2.0.
Let’s hope that a 5.6 bwar season is on the horizon during a contending year.
WRT Jones’ option, isn’t it effectively still an extra $4.6m to keep him because at the very least they’d need to pay the same buy out in 2019?
You mean after the 2019 season? Maybe. I’m framing it more in terms of the 2019 payroll, where deciding to part ways with Jones costs some money regardless, whereas Avi is a clean break.
Yeah, I was talking total financial commitments. Keeping Jones only adds ~$3.4m in 2019, but it will also add $1.2m in 2020.
Avi, I think, is an easier decision than Jones. Like you said, he’s a clean break and only under control for next year anyways.
Considering the small payroll id bring Jones back. I think the team is still in the realm of keeping him around in hopes he puts enough healthy baseball in to gain some trade value. And if the Sox make a surprising jump in their progression as contenders then hes just another helpful arm to have in the bullpen. The team will probably sign a vet reliever to fill that role anyway this offseason so if they feel like Nate could return then it just saves them a move.
I don’t think they could realistically trade him in 2019, at least not for anything in return. Even with a strong first half next year, no team is going to want to part with much of anything for a guy who’s been hurt four of the last five years.
Debatable. No team is going to want to part with much anyways, seeing as he’s not an elite reliever. He comes with another year of relatively cheap control, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see some interest with after a strong first half.
So if no team is going to part with much anyways, then what is the point of mentioning his paltry trade value?
When is the deadline for a decision on Jones?
Five days after the World Series.
Hmm…my gut reaction would be to buy him out given the injury concerns. I would think they’d be able to either find a FA reliever who could give them replacement level value without necessarily the injury risk.
I’m semi-rooting for a Garcia non-tender not so much because I think the financial gamble isn’t worthwhile, but because I’m ready to see (more of) someone else.
I’m not entirely sure that’s a bad reason.
It isn’t, but the someone else you’re going to see in his place at the start of next year probably won’t be much better. With the exception of Eloy, none of the “top” OF prospects in the system like Basabe are probably not going to be in the majors until mid-2019 at the very earliest.
I suppose if you believe there’s a remote chance you might get a prospect back for him, it’s worth keeping Garcia for another year just to occupy a spot.
This begs the question of what is Ryan Cordell’s future with the White Sox? He’s not young and he’s been hurt most of his time in the organization, but he’s hit well at Charlotte over the past month. Maybe that’s a sign of his talent when he’s healthy. Would he be a reasonable replacement for Avi in 2019?
I vote for Avi over Cordell.
At this point, I think we all know Avi is not part of the long-term plan. At best we keep him to move for a little value at the deadline. I’d rather see if Cordell has another level to his play. Both have durability issues, but at least there is some variance to Cordell.
I don’t see Cordell as anything more than a potential placeholder for next year or 4th outfielder.
I agree, Avi doesn’t really serve a purpose anymore. They could use the flexibility to look at more guys, but I would also be cool with them being honest that there may not be anyone internally worth giving those at bats to, and signing a solid pro/mentor type. Sort of like what the Cubs did when they were waiting for dudes and signed DeJesus because he was a pro, set a good example for young guys of not giving away at bats, etc. Looking at the FA list, Hicks having another good year puts the Yanks in a position of deciding if they want Gardner for $13 mil as a 4th OF, and Span/Markakis would also fit the bill. I don’t have delusions of contention, but the young guys who matter might benefit from having a couple pros around instead of AAAA guys, and they could even play semi meaningful games for half a year if the pitching was good.
I think I’d rather take on Ellsbury’s contract and let him have right field. Yankees would have to give us some decent value to take on that contract.
I just don’t see much reason to keep him. Both his upside and downside are worse than other options.
The upside for Avi is that a gangbuster first half allows him to be dealt at the deadline. Think of the return that JD Martinez got and then imagine something much worse. That’s Avi’s best case scenario.
The downside is that you pay $7m for a garbage player when you could have paid $0.5m for a garbage player.
At least with Delmonico or Palka there’s a (slight) chance that they could really improve and be a meaningful part of this team beyond 2019.
It probably comes down to whether you think Nicky/Palka or Avi deserves another half-season of full-time play. I doubt they sign a corner OF.
I’d rather give it to Nicky or Palka. Say there’s ~10% chance that Nicky or Palka develops into a useful player given the proper playing time next year.
Given that either would be controllable for the next five (?) years, they’re both more valuable to this team than Avi.
If only either of them could play defense. I like them both a lot, actually, in their way, just wish I didn’t hold my breath when the ball got hit out there.
Delmonico’s defense hasn’t graded out that poorly UZR and FRAA both put him at about average and Statcast agrees (0 OAA). DRS is the only one that really doesn’t like him.
He has improved. Even at first base, I was cringing, but then he got better over a series of a few games.
Given that Eloy is going to be taking one of the corner OF spots whenever he gets here, that leaves only 1 for Garcia/Palka/Nicky.
The only reason to keep Avi around at this point imo, is that you think he can have a gangbusters first half next year and bring something back in return.
If sustained success ASAP is the goal they need to use their payroll flexibility this offseason. Bump the payroll north of $90M sign Harper, Donaldson and a starter like Harvey. Contend in this division while Jimenez, Moncada, and Anderson continue to develop.
Front load Harper’s deal for the first 4 years and give him an opt out where he will either roll off the payroll or be paid significantly less when Moncada, Jimenez, Kopech start to get expensive.
Yeah, they signed a guy one time for $68 mil (Abreu) so they’ll be spending hundreds of millions real soon. Harper, Donaldson and Machado. Bank on it.
I’m more concerned as to why we’d waste money on Matt Harvey. If we’re going to do something that dumb, we might as well just bring Shields back. He’s every bit as good (or bad) as Harvey, and he at least can serve a purpose while being bad (eat innings).
Certainly the question on Avi isn’t the dollar cost as much as the opportunity cost.
The decision on Shields seems more difficult. It always seemed a given that his option wouldn’t get picked up but he might be worth keeping just for eating the innings and saving the bullpen; trying to find 200 innings on the open market for less than 16 million isn’t easy.
I think Jones should follow Avi out the door.
I’m split on Avi, but I think they’ve gotta keep Jones. Healthy really seems to be the only question there (albeit a big one) and relievers (unlike corner guys) aren’t lacking for suitors at the deadline lately. They’re also not exactly overflowing with RH relievers that NEED to be on the ML roster to start next year.
St. Louis Cardinals have their manager
Both of these decisions are the important to me in the perception they present – has the front office developed or are they going to be overly loyal even after it is warranted. Let’s start churning some roster spots while it’s inconcequential.
Wait, I might be missing something, but didn’t Jones’ surgery the other year trigger the clause in his contract that makes this option next year for the league minimum? Or am I reading that line on BR incorrectly?
You’re right. I reflexively think of ulnar repositioning surgery as forearm, but it qualifies as elbow. Rewriting.
Jeff Sullivan https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/lucas-giolito-is-saving-his-season/
This gives me hope.
Am I mis-remembering him giving credit to Shields for lowering his arm-slot?
Perhaps in an Athletic article?
I remember him crediting Farquhar for telling him to pitch up/down rather than corner to corner. I don’t recall him talking about release point.
IIRC, Soria credited Shields with changes. Could be others
Cease credited Shields with help on his curve.
Sox should pick up Shields’ option and make him a coach
Covey credited him with changing his front foot landing spot.
I keep saying Giolito is fascinating. Sullivan’s visual displays of the data bear that out.
For sure no to Avi and Shields. Keep Jones.
Of course you bring Jones back at a minimum salary!
For all of those concerns about a roster spot: you realize that being on the 60 day DL doesn’t count against the 40 man. .