Following up: Another day discussing starter struggles

It’s time to once again pretend Rick Renteria has an anarchic streak. Take this quote out of context…

‘We had a nice run of guys that were going to give us an opportunity,’ Sox manager Rick Renteria said. ‘We just fell short.’

… and he could very well be talking about the last 10 years of White Sox baseball.

Instead, he’s only talking about Wednesday night, which featured another disappointing performance by a White Sox starter, more poor plate appearances with runners in scoring position, resulting in another loss to a rebuilding team that should be in clearly worse shape than the Sox.

Ervin Santana followed Iván Nova with another start of fewer than five innings. Unlike Nova, he found footing as the game went on by throwing sliders most of the time, but he was also doing so against an offense with little to any name-brand talent.

Santana is 0-2 with a 9.45 ERA through three starts, and it’s the rare ERA that features a FIP that’s just as bad (9.56). That’s what you get when combine a 7.8 percent strikeout rate with a 9.4 percent walk rate and four homers per nine innings.

Once the White Sox are certain that Lucas Giolito is past his hamstring issue — it sounds like he’s on track for recovery sooner rather than later — I’d rather see Manny Bañuelos get the opportunities to fashion himself as a crafty, back-of-the-rotation starter, then get ready to turn to Charlotte for their next audition. The Sox stuck with James Shields because they were paying him for years and needed anybody who could feasibly serve as rotation depth. The third year of the rebuild shouldn’t be as desperate as the second.

* * * * * * * * *

After serving his one-game suspension, Tim Anderson talked a little bit about the language that got him in trouble, which Daryl Van Schouwen related from his position as the only beat writer making the Baltimore trip:

‘People don’t know what we go through as black men,’ he told the Sun-Times before the Sox’ 12-2 rout of the Orioles. ‘And they don’t know exactly where we come from being a black man and the culture of being a black man. What I said was one of those things that happens when black men get mad. When we’re angry, that’s like the go-to word. That lets them know that this guy is serious. It’s a culture thing. I didn’t mean anything by it, but that’s just in my language.’

At Baseball Prospectus, Shakeia Taylor zeroed in on this idea of language, and specifically how disingenuous the league comes across feigning ignorance of gray areas when it incorporates so much else of African American culture into its marketing.

For the league, Black culture is an accessory to bring in revenue and appear cool. Just one look across the league’s various social media accounts, you’ll quickly notice the use of AAVE (African American Vernacular English), rap music, and other things popularized by the Black community. MLB used Migos’ “Is You Ready” as its 2018 postseason anthem and for 2019 Spring Training, teams wore shirts and hoodies with the slogan “Whole Squad Ready” another nod to the Atlanta-based rap trio.

She goes on to embed a number of tweets from league properties with such lines as:

  • “When the squad too lit.”
  • “What is you doin’?
  • “Y’all stay wildin'”
  • “Pitches Aint Hit”

This isn’t to say that Anderson’s use of the word needs to be encouraged or sanctioned by the league. It just didn’t need to be reported in the first place, because it’s not like the league releases a thorough index of every insult used in a bench-clearing brawl for the public to review. Anderson, the way he used it and to whom he used it, issued just another insult. As his former teammate Micah Johnson wrote in a tweet supporting Anderson:

In a game where failure is king and frustration is abundant, suspending people for inappropriate language will leave you with empty benches.

Suspending one of your few black players for language after getting hit (after MLB celebrated the bat flip with its #LetTheKidsPlay) will leave you with white benches.

If the league didn’t feel compelled to suspend and fine Anderson, I wonder if anybody would’ve even known what he said. The ejection might not have been sufficiently explained, but a lot of them never are. Maybe the word would’ve leaked from some salty source, but then the league could’ve collected itself and made an effort to understand where it comes from, even if it can’t be turned into hashtags and t-shirts. If not, that would’ve been a great time to pretend it didn’t know what anybody was talking about.

By the way, Brad Keller dropped his appeal and will serve his five-game suspension, timing it with an off day so the Royals can rearrange their rotation and he will miss no starts. In terms of time served, Anderson received a harsher suspension for insulting the guy who hit him.

And here’s Nippon Professional Baseball letting everybody know none of this has to be this way.

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roke1960

This rebuild is going nowhere. Losing 5 of the last 7 to the Royals, Tigers and Orioles is inexcusable. Now Robert has missed 3 days with a hand issue. Will he ever be able to stay injury free?

gooch

I understand giving Santana the chance to come back to 2017 form, but its pretty clear that isn’t happening. Cut him and give someone younger a chance to be better.

As Cirensica

He is 36 years old!!!!

You give a 28 or a 32 year old pitcher the opportunity to regain past form. You gamble signing Brett Anderson, or Matt Shoemaker or Gio Gonzalez… but a 36 yr old washed off veteran? Are you flipping kidding me?

lil jimmy

This from the man who wanted to resign James Shields

As Cirensica

Oh please…I didn’t want to bring Shields to “rebuild” his value or to resurrect past glories. If you read my off-season plan, I wanted to bring Shields to bring a guy who can cheaply EAT INNINGS. A pitcher that can cheaply give us 200 innings. Santana is definitely NOT that pitcher. Probably not even Nova.

PauliePaulie

There is an argument to be made that the Sox attempting to find a flippable reclamation project over an untradeable innings eater was the correct path at this stage of the rebuild. The issue, once again, is the major league scouting that chose these flippable reclamation projects.

karkovice squad

That’s not even what the Sox did. They went in search of broken players they thought they could get at below-market cost and fix. Now, they find out they don’t have the fix and overpaid.

As Cirensica

Ervin Santana is untradable. He never was, and never will be tradable. He is OLD and injury prone

PauliePaulie

But that’s an indictment against the execution, not the plan.

As Cirensica

Hahn’s plan was atrocious. We should have Manny Machado at least, and we don’t. The subplot “bring family & amigos” on board failed miserably. The trading for a veteran estabilizing pitcher (Nova) does not look good. The signing of a veteran pitcher (Santana) was a terrible idea. Only thing working out now are McCaan, Herrera and Colome.

Trooper Galactus

I’m not going to give him credit for Colome. He traded four years of a catcher currently posting an OPS just shy of .900 with astonishingly average framing numbers for two years of an above average reliever. That’s not a notch in the positive.

John SF

Omar Narvaez has 0.8 fWAR with the mariners and a wRC+ of 144. And four years of control.

So as good as Colomé has been, that trade isn’t looking too hot. Even if we trade Colomé at the deadline for a prospect, our best hope would be the prospect turned into someone as good as Omar Narvaez. Ugh

karkovice squad

A plan without a path to success isn’t a good plan. The Sox still think they’re Trojan War Odysseus when they’re Odyssey Odysseus.

Or, if you’d rather go less ancient history, it’s Underpants Gnome thinking.

PauliePaulie

2017 MiGo for Ti’Quan is certainly a poor track record of Starting Pitcher flips. Nowhere near the 2013 Scott Feldman for Jake Arrieta they’re dreaming on.

Trooper Galactus

Forbes is still in their system and MiGo was a mediocre starting pitcher at his best and was re-signed as a free agent the following offseason. Not saying it bears any fruit, but it’s not really something to be upset about.

lil jimmy

insert “Grasshopper” after, isn’t a good plan.

Trooper Galactus

Hahn: “Jerry, we need to string this bow to finish the rebuild.”

Jerry: “Fine, but you have to do it with 4/5 of the string required.”

metasox

For whatever reason, the Sox didn’t have Santana start out in the minors. This is basically his spring training. Too early too conclude anything. And, with all the injuries pitching staffs face, the team will plenty of depth over the course of the season.

karkovice squad

This didn’t age well.

roke1960

I do like the fact that they are giving Cordell regular at bats. He will most likely be exposed as a below average hitter over the next month or two, but at least then we’ll know. Now it’s time to do the same with Rondon and Tilson. We haven’t seen what Rondon can do with regular at bats over an extended period of time. We know what Yolmer is, an average player at best who has value as a versatile bench piece. And Tilson is hitting .388 at Charlotte. Engel couldn’t hit .388 in a slow-pitch softball league. To keep sending the same average/below average players out there day after day without trying something different is just stupid. But, then again, look who’s in charge.

PauliePaulie

Why do players like Rondon, Tilson or Cordell matter to you? Why do you think they are any different than Engel, Delmonico, Palka or Davidson? I’m genuinley curious, because I see them all as different versions of the same insignificant AAAA placeholder.

gooch

They are different because they still fall into the “unknown commodity” section. Give them a chance to be accurately labelled as AAAA, or to be better than that.

PauliePaulie

Is it being sick of who’s out there and just wanting something new, or a belief that these guys could actually be first division contributors?

roke1960

We don’t know for sure if they can’t be solid contributors. We know what Engel and Yolmer and Delmonico are. we have seen them for multiple years- they will NOT be a significant part of any future championship teams. In all likelihood Tilson, Cordell and Rondon won’t be either, but it would be nice to see what they can do if given the chance to be everyday players. At this point, what have we got to lose? I’m so tired of being pleasantly surprised when Engel doesn’t strike out.

John SF

I disagree re: Delmonico. I’m not saying he’s a sure thing but I wouldn’t bet against him.

roke1960

It’s both- I’m sick of watching the same old failures day after day, year after year. But who says they can’t be contributors. I know it’s rare when guys like these make it, but Jose Ramirez and Michael Brantley came out of nowhere to be major contributors for the Indians. Let’s give em a shot.

PauliePaulie

Got it. Thank You.

Eagle Bones

Pnoles has brought this up repeatedly. The teams that end up with successful rebuilds find a few contributors from these kinds of bleh AAAA-ish guys. Maybe they don’t find a first division starter, but they might find a 2 win regular somehow or a valuable platoon guy or something. As stated above, these guys area all probably nothing, but they’re at least unknown nothings at this point (unlike the guys they keep running out there). Give them a chance to fail.

karkovice squad

The thing about this discussion is it treats finding, evaluating, and developing those AAAA into useful players like it’s luck. While that’s probably the case if this front office manages it, it’s not the case for the successful teams.

Eagle Bones

Oh sure, it’s no wonder there are a few teams that seem to continually find these types of guys. Even if the Sox aren’t traditionally good at this, they should still try. Blind squirrel, nut, etc.

karkovice squad

Even if the Sox aren’t traditionally good at this

More like they aren’t good at this because they’re traditional.

Eagle Bones

No arguments here.

PauliePaulie

Yep. Others see skillsets or potential that I don’t.
I see those tools and upside in Collins, Rutherford, Adolfo and Basabe. So my concern focuses on the decision making surrounding their development and handling. Admittedly, things have not gone well there either.

Greg Nix

Huh? It’s pretty clear what the tools and skillsets of guys like Palka and Engel are. The problem is the Sox have been unable to develop anything beyond what they’re naturally good at. 

PauliePaulie

I don’t see it.
Palka, Engel, Delmonico, Rondon, Tilson and the rest are, IMO, tools limited.(have 1 tool or no carrying tools)
No amount of tweaking or playing time will fix them. They are AAAA talents in any org.

I believe Collins, Rutherford, Basabe and Adolfo have necessary tools and are potential tweaks and PA’s away from 1st division contributors.

Eagle Bones

I think you’re selling some of these guys short. Cordell is pretty tooled up for a guy of his stature. Ditto Engel. Rondon has some interesting tools now that he’s seemingly developed some pop out of nowhere. Hell Leury has some well above average tools. The problem isn’t that these guys don’t have tools, it’s that the Sox haven’t helped them figure out how to paper the ones they DON’T have (hit tool in most cases).

PauliePaulie

My opinion-
Cordell is a tweaner. Not enough leg or glove for center, not enough pop for a corner.

Engel does not have the pitch recognition or hand eye coordination to hit, also a noodle arm. He’s just fast.
Rondon does not pick up pitches thrown by Righties. He’s the weak side of a platoon, without the elite glove or legs to make up for it.

These are tool issues. No amount of tweaking or repetition from any org. will overcome this.

It appears I’m in the minority here. I’m more thasn OK with that.

PauliePaulie

On Leury we are in agreement. He has tools and was mishandled by Renteria in favor of playing time/bunting practice for Engel. I don’t know why.

Trooper Galactus

Yes, Engel has tools, but they’re completely done in by his faults. Plus speed, not a particularly good baserunner and never on base for it to matter. Plus fielder, but done in by a noodle arm. Useful raw power, completely negated by a hit tool that has to rate around 35 on the 20-80 scale. In Cordell’s case, he’s a bit more all-around with his skill set, and while the hit tool is probably a limiting factor, he’s had so little actual playing time that you could see it improving to a useful level.

HallofFrank

I certainly don’t mind cycling through players, and I think Tilson will get a chance if he keeps hitting, but I think Engel still has the best chance of being a contributor on a contending team of all these AAAA guys. He’s an elite defender and runner which, I’d guess, will turn out to be more valuable on a 26 man roster than 25.

Trooper Galactus

Yes, we know what Yolmer peaks at by now, and that’s a useful major league player. There is some sense in letting his stats recover to his norms from the last two seasons then trying to move him to a team that needs a good depth piece.

Lurker Laura

Excellent follow-up on the Anderson suspension, and MLB’s hypocrisy. 

It just didn’t need to be reported in the first place

Joe West tattled on Anderson. You won’t convince me otherwise.

NateDPT12

I don’t know how anyone can look at the Sox approach to free agency and how they spent money this off-season and have any confidence this front office will ever be able to put together a complete championship caliber roster.

roke1960

You’re so right. All of the other successful rebuilds had a regime change accompanying the rebuild. Allowing the guys responsible for having to rebuild to remain in charge throughout the entire process is just bad management. But we all know that.

jorgefabregas

I think larry wrote the definitive take on this before the rebuild and it’s still right.

karkovice squad

It’s even worse than larry thought at the time.

As Cirensica

Yup… at that time, it appeared Hahn and Williams knew a bit what they were doing and have their hands tied by JR. Now we know they are completely inept at what they do on top of JR being cheap. 2005 was just luck.

Patrick Nolan

who?

Eagle Bones

*Larry

Brett R. Bobysud

So when are people thinking Cease gets called up?

PauliePaulie

Sept. 1
IF the 3rd pitch develops.

Brett R. Bobysud

*sigh*

This is gonna be a long year on the pitching front, isn’t it?

Patrick Nolan

He’ll probably be shut down close to Sept 1.

lil jimmy

shut him down Sept.1, but bring him up in July first

HallofFrank

My guess will be June 28th against the Twins. 

roke1960

My guess is 2020. He has not pitched as much as Kopech had- last year was the first complete year for him. If they waited until August for Kopech, then the earliest we will see him is Sept 1. But my guess is he will have reached his innings limit and they will just shut him down when Charlotte’s season ends. Remember this is the White Sox front office we are talking about.

HallofFrank

Yeah, that certainly wouldn’t shock me. Especially given Cease’s injury. Although I do think there are a few important differences between the two cases that could put Cease up earlier. 

1. Cease has just been better and more consistent. In AA, Cease had more strikeouts (13.4 to 11.7 per 9) and less walks (3.8 to 4.5 per 9). It’s still early (obviously), but the returns in AAA are encouraging. Cease’s strikeouts are a little down (8.6 per 9) but so are his walks (1.8 per 9). His WHIP is 0.81. Kopech’s walks were still fairly high (4.3 per 9), which was the main reason he was held down.

I’m sure Cease will cool off a bit, but if he keeps his walks down around 3 per 9 I’m not sure what reason they would have for keeping him down.  

2. The team is a year further into the rebuild. Winning and seeing results just mattered a little less last year. 

3. Cease is a year older. 

These are a few things that I think will factor into the decision, with #1 being clearly the most important. 

roke1960

I certainly hope you’re right, and you should be right, but the idiots in charge probably think differently.

Eagle Bones

I’m still hoping they won’t be as cautious as they get deeper into the rebuild (i.e. that they realize they need to be a little more aggressive with the promotions now to get a critical mass moving forward). Not holding my breath though as you stated.

lil jimmy

how about June 30, since I will be there.