Spare Parts: Two truths and a rumor

On Friday, the Yankees made headlines by signing a non-headliner, mostly because it might reinforce the idea that they’re only halfheartedly pursuing a real headliner.

D.J. LeMahieu is not Manny Machado, but he’s an above-average second baseman. By adding him to an infield that already includes Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andujar and Troy Tulowitzki with Didi Gregorius returning by the second half, it seems to signal that the price they have in mind for Machado might not be one worth offering.

The problem with assessing the Yankees? With their spending power and cachet, they can act like they have the right of last refusal.

But Machado-tangential moves aside, I was more intrigued by the Dodgers’ acquisition of Russell Martin. They traded a couple of low-minor, non-ranked prospects for Martin and $16.4 million, which covers all but $3.6 million of his remaining salary.

While Martin has aged poorly as a hitter, his defensive numbers remained strong, and he maintained the athleticism to stand on the left side of the infield. I liked him as a backup over James McCann, but then again, I liked just about every backup over McCann. It’s more precise and meaningful to say I liked Martin better than most catchers who would willingly agree to be a backup. We’ll see if that hunch means anything.

Also, if Matt Davidson wants to let his freak flag fly, he might get the perfect opportunity to do so:

Spare Parts

Baseball America’s first draft prospect rating of the season has the first eight spots devoted to position players. Fan favorite and Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman is first, while prep shortstop C.J. Abrams is in the third spot.

As a longtime Hall of Fame voter, Jerry Crasnick’s perspective is worth considering in a different light than the non-voting/not-yet-eligible writers who panned the pick: “As a long-time Hall voter, my initial reaction to the news was, “How could we have gotten it this wrong?’’

In a first-person piece, Micker Adolfo talks about how close he came to avoiding Tommy John surgery before his elbow gave way.

It doesn’t seem like the White Sox are going to go there, but seeing Robinson Cano move from Seattle to the Mets five years into a 10-year deal made me indifferent toward the prospect of giving a decade to Machado. I agree with Cliff Corcoran’s conclusion:

Yes, 10-year contracts are, generally speaking, a bad idea, and the track record, overall, isn’t sparkling. However, if the player your team is targeting will still be in his mid-30s in year 10, he’s a true impact player, and a 10-year deal is what it will take to land him — all of which may be the case for both Harper and Machado — there’s not as much risk involved as it seems.

Marcus Semien is one former Sox prospect I’ve followed with interest since his trade, mostly because his improvement at the most demanding position at the highest level, while rare, is one of the things that allows one to have hope for any limited player. His work with Ron Washington transformed him from a defensively limited utility player into an above-average defensive shortstop, and it sounds like it was a lot of work.

“I wasn’t even holding my glove correctly,” Semien said. “Wash had to tell me to spread my hand to give the glove the widest surface, and then give the glove a push through the ball to eliminate any funky hops.” […]

“He was at a level of confusion,” said Washington. “Marcus was playing shortstop and he had no direction; that’s how I saw it. I just didn’t see the knowledge of how to play the position, the little intricacies. That was missing.”

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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Just imagining how the Sox might look today had Semien learned to field in the minors….

karkovice squad

We can observe the many ways that Sox development has left something to be desired. There’s an untold story about how the failures happened, though.


And as part of development, player evaluation. The A’s looked at Semien and said ‘we will make him a shortstop.’ He has played every game there for them. They recognized something.


My point wasn’t that the Sox should have developed Semien as a major league SS. My point was that I don’t know that the Sox recognized the potential or, if they did, didn’t seem to do much about it. He came through the Sox system spending most of his time at SS. He should have learned defensive basics, even if he couldn’t yet fully apply them. Not every player will get equal attention, but based on what he has accomplished, Semien obviously deserved to be getting some. But if I take what Washington said at anything resembling face value, it doesn’t sound like he had been getting much instruction. I don’t mean to jump on the bandwagon of questioning Sox development but I think this is an interesting example.

karkovice squad

We can tie the 2 threads together pretty neatly: a defensively-improved Semien is a major league regular at a premium position rather than a second-division utility player. Even if he’s blocked at SS, the Sox ran out a still-replacement-level Sanchez, Bonifacio’s corpse, and an unpolished Johnson at 2B.

With a better glove, Semien would’ve either locked down 2B (and prevented the need to acquire Lawrie) or brought back a better return than Samardzija.

Semien was also one of their best 2 or 3 infield prospects, so it’s not like there’s an excuse for neglect.


Yeah, I don’t get it


He’s in because I started #HaroldForTheHall last year and am much more successful at promoting my guys than that loser that’s been pushing Edgar for 10 years or the guy that took tim Raines 10 years to get in. And if Minnie is shut out next time I’ll include him too.  I started it last summer and bam within 7 months Harold is in baby! And I couldn’t be more thrilled. 


Clearly, you are one of the “friends in high places” referred to by Jerry Crasnick.

Right Size Wrong Shape

You should have put your powers to use on Harper in Vegas.


I’d take Machado over Harper anyway

Right Size Wrong Shape

Me too, but I’d prefer both.

As Cirensica

That Washington’s quote…

“He was at a level of confusion,” said Washington. “Marcus was playing shortstop and he had no direction; that’s how I saw it. I just didn’t see the knowledge of how to play the position, the little intricacies. That was missing.”

….leaves a lot to be desired about White Sox professional development team (Probably also the As too)


He should be managing Sox. 

Right Size Wrong Shape

You clearly know nothing about Ron Washington.


it’s incredibly hard

lil jimmy

” C.J. Abrams is in the third spot.”
The White Sox have the third pick. Looks like a match.

Right Size Wrong Shape

I think he’s lacking the college credits necessary for the Sox to consider him.

Ha. Ha.

The Sox do need to start thinking about guys who will be ready 4-5+ years down the line. And not just ones who have that timeframe because of injuries or developmental delays.

lil jimmy

So true. I can dream though. That kid is a live wire. Sub four second times down to first all day. anything in the gap could be a triple.


Philadelphia #Phillies emerge as clear-cut favorite to land Bryce Harper after 5-hour meeting. Optimism is high.

— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) January 13, 2019


This complicates my deeply unrealistic plan to get both of them, but might have positive implications for my slightly more realistic plan to get Machado.


Nightengale also says it looks like Machado will end up with the White Sox.


Don’t tease me like this. 


I was afraid to even type the words.


There is always the mystery team to keep us honest


ok — don’t get both, but use that money for Keuchel or Greinke

karkovice squad

All of them, Katie.


Since this post has the word “rumor” in the title, what better place to leave this quote from the deceased 37th president’s Twitter account?

I think the Phillies get Harper and the White Sox get Machado.

— Richard M. Nixon (@dick_nixon) January 14, 2019

jose robcada

Manny Machado is sitting on an eight-year offer from the White Sox and is still engaged with the Philadelphia Phillies, league sources told @JeffPassan.

sausalito pale hose

I would take Avi for 2 years for 8 MM a year; over, Harper for 300MM. They are comparable in abilities. Don’t like Harper; love Machado.


Did you just say Avi is similar in ability to Harper?

sausalito pale hose

Yes and no. If I have
300 Million to spend; I would take Avi; two front line starts, and good CF until the wave of outfielders are ready. Now in some ways they are similar. If you take average over the last two years and the last third of 16, Avi probably averaged around 300. They are comparable fielders with Avi a stronger arm. Avi 330 hitter his last healthy year in 2017. He never got on track in 18 with lingering hamstring problems; although, he did hit 19 HR’s in 90+games. I still don’t have aide on his upside; but he is worth two years as Sox are readying for challenge. Not quite sure on the animosity toward Avi; but it is real. Harper would be a big name that may draw crowds. Avi doesn’t add that dimension. I don’t see much of a difference in performance

sausalito pale hose

RE: Harper. I have this anxiety as to his ability to get along with his team mates. Is he a prima donna is another question I have. The last 250 hitters we got
from the National League with 35 to 40 HR’s and huge K’s were Dunne and La Roach.


Avi is terrible. Harper is probably going to be in the Hall of Fame. I don’t really know what to tell you besides that.

sausalito pale hose

Guess I don’ see Avi as terrible; only as a piece that could save 300 MM for much better rebuid. If healthy, I see Avi with 300 average; 30 to 35 HR’s.
Love feeback as to why the negative bombardment of Avi.

Right Size Wrong Shape

He’s always hurt and only had one good year in his career, which people question the sustainability of due to his very high batting average on balls put in play that year.