Indians back atop AL Central, and how

It was less than two months ago — June 15, to be exact — that the Minnesota Twins appeared to have locked up the American League Central.

Now look at the standings following Monday night, when Carlos Santana delivered a walk-off homer for the Cleveland Indians in a 6-5 victory over the Red Sox while Minnesota was idle:

Putting it another way, since the Indians fell below .500 at 29-30, they’ve rallied to post the best record in baseball at 43-17.

It’d be overly simple to chalk up the entire difference to Jose Ramirez, but then again, the Indians effectively got Good Jose Ramirez to replace one who hurt the team more than he helped:

  • Before June 15: .202/.298/.302 over 285 PA
  • After June 15: .313/.352/.630 over 210 PA

The Indians also found Plan B’s after their Plan A outfield fell through. Oscar Mercado replaced Leonys Martin, and Yasiel Puig effectively replaced Jake Bauers.

Improving their outfield wouldn’t have been possible if their pitching development didn’t allow them to deal from a strength. The could afford to trade Trevor Bauer because Shane Bieber is outpitching Bauer in his first full pro season (3.28 ERA, 3.22 FIP, 193 strikeouts over 156⅓ innings).

Bieber was drafted in the fourth round of the 2016 draft. Eight rounds later, they selected Zach Plesac, who stepped up and is providing a 3.27 ERA over his first 14 MLB starts. Plesac’s peripherals suggest the end is nigh (5.02 FIP), but when talking about what a pitcher contributed to a 43-17 run, ERA does the job.

Aaron Civale — selected by the Indians in the third round of the 2016 draft — is putting a good foot forward himself. He’s allowed two runs total over his first three MLB starts, with far more strikeouts (18) than baserunners allowed (13) over 18 innings.

It remains to be seen whether Plesac and Civale can show Bieber’s staying power, but if the Indians found three-fifths of a rotation in one draft, their window probably won’t simply close whenever Francisco Lindor leaves town.

In the same year the Indians found Bieber, Plesac and Civale, the White Sox drafted a comparable amount of pitchers over the first 12 rounds. But while Bieber and Plesac made jumps by gaining velocity, Zack Burdi, Alec Hansen and Bernardo Flores have all lost ground in that department. Jimmy Lambert is the exception, although now he’ll have to prove that his enhanced power will return after Tommy John surgery.

When answering and not answering P.O. Sox questions on Monday’s podcast, I said the scariest aspect about the White Sox rebuild is that they haven’t shown the ability to groom top farm talent without prohibitive acquisition costs. The Sox built their farm system by trading significant MLB talent, amassing top-five draft picks and signing Luis Robert to an amount no longer allowed. That’s a great way to start a rebuild, but the Sox need to show the ability to create contributors out of whole cloth in order to believe they can sustain it.

A farm system is called a farm system because it’s supposed to be a renewable resource. The White Sox instead built a pipeline with slant drilling, which is fine as long as you can get away with it. The problem is that you can start seeing how the White Sox will no longer be able to get away with it. Maybe their player development will have better luck next year, but as we’re seeing across baseball, teams seem to be getting better at diminishing luck’s importance.

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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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I do not understand why such a cheap organization, that operates like a small market team, doesn’t put substantially more money into development. That would seem like the ideal situation for Jerry. Get good young talent, and then when they get expensive let them walk. It seems as always the emphasis for this org is relationships, and not quality as it should be.

karkovice squad

For the same reason a cheap organization didn’t spend on analytics and R&D. They’re Baseball Dads in a Try Hard league.


Yes. The Sox discarding $1 million in international signing slots to be rid of Nate Jones’s contract showed a lack of commitment to developing talent. If you have faith in Marco Paddy’s staff, giving him the chance to sign a handful of $300k-rated teenagers (and take fliers on several guys like Reynaldo Lopez, who Washington signed for $17k) and – I know this is crazy – fielding 2 or 3 DSL teams with the signed players would represent a commitment to development that costs a fraction of the money they wasted on Yonder Alonso. What they’re doing seems like an exercise in cost control in waiting for Jerry’s estate to sell whenever that time comes.

Trooper Galactus

That last sentence is what I fear the most. Jerry will continue to maximize profits and minimize payroll to the team’s detriment in order to extract as much money from the franchise as possible before he dies while still reaping 5-10% growth in its value every year.

Papa Giorgio

I seem to end up finishing a lot of Sox Machine articles more depressed than when I started them.

This is no fault of Sox Machine obviously.


Can wait to see what kind of packages we get for Moncada and Giolito in 2 years

As Cirensica

And some fans will praise Hahn for the excellent haul to revamp the minor league system which will be top 10 again. Congratulations to every one. Here it is a GM extension.

Trooper Galactus

Really no need to extend what’s apparently a lifetime appointment.


With the way the Indians develop players who aren’t top prospects (Kluber, Clevinger, Ramirez, Bieber, Brantley, etc.), they may not have to rebuild soon. And the Tigers will probably start to spend big money for hitters once their pitchers begin to come up, which is likely in the next 2 years. And with our F/O’s ineptitude and now idiot Hahn saying he’s not sure when this rebuild will be over, I’m not sure we’ll ever see a wide open window of contention. Following this organization run by a bunch of clowns is so depressing.

karkovice squad

And that might be easier than chasing down 4+/- for a Wild Card.


Yeah, the big question with Detroit is whether Ilitch’s kids will show the same willingness to spend as their dad. If they follow Hal Steinbrenner, then you’re absolutely right, they won’t be as big a problem for awhile. But it looked like Cleveland was starting to spiral toward a rebuild. That probably won’t happen. And unless the Twins don’t spend any money this winter, they will be a force for many years. It just doesn’t look good as long as the current management team is in place for the Sox.

Trooper Galactus

They’re also sunk under the weight of Miggy’s contract for several more years. I wouldn’t be surprised if they eventually negotiate some sort of settlement to get insurance to cover some of it; just seems like he’s not physically capable of handling the rigors of MLB any longer.

As Cirensica

Miggy’s knee is his biggest problem. He still has the eye and bat speed to contribute at the major league level, but he no longer can prop his massive weight in the right knee. Cabrera has changed his batting stance to compensate, but his power disappeared because of it. He could have a season ending knee surgery, but he refuses to take that path.

Trooper Galactus

He’s been sub-replacement level over the last three years. I don’t know that there’s any return to form for him, even if his knee is fully repaired.


From James Fegan’s piece today on

the new ‘data-driven’ player development.

“It’s near the same,” Destino said when asked to compare the level of information to that of his college days playing in the SEC. “We were given a lot of things at South Carolina, I was very fortunate playing there. The environments we played in front of were a lot different from here, but the metrics, I mean it’s kind of the same thing.”

..nice to see the Sox have moved up to ‘on par with the SEC’

Patrick Nolan

This quote is particularly damning and explains a lot.

As Cirensica

This is sad. It means the White Sox started to take into account analytics in the minors as recent as 2 years ago. As usual, Hahn zagging when other are already zigging


Yep. I was reading this article on the Athletic and had to close the tab right after reading the quoted paragraph.

I realize this is ‘Just’ Low-A. But its still incredibly embarrasing. Giving your prospects this information in Low-A is part of player development. They should be practicing how to prep for a pitcher in the minors, not learning how to do it in the damn MLB.

And they just got this stuff THIS YEAR. Over the past 3 years we’ve not been giving our minor league players even the most basic of information.

It will be astonishing if we can put together any sort of contender knwoing how pre historic our organization is, to be honest.

karkovice squad

For reference, Trackman systems started being installed in MiLB parks in ’15.

So they only let 4 seasons elapse without making an attempt at full use of it.

As Cirensica

4 years is actually a lot.

karkovice squad

I believe that sarcasm font and “clearly” are cheating.

As Cirensica

Ohhh… your comment had the sarcasm font.


This is at least the second prospect to say he got more info in college.
While the Sox are finally installing these in their own parks, others are paying colleges to install trackman systems in their stadiums for draft scouting.


That’s embarrassing…


I forgot which article it was from but Jim summed up the White Sox perfectly when he said the team was the blackberry to the rest of the leagues iphones. This just adds more truth to the analogy.


Maybe Abreu should fly down to NC with a pallet of iPads. That might be what gets Hahn to extend him.


Or Leury could clue them in on some good YouTube channels.

As Cirensica

Security Exchange Commission?


Patrick Nolan

SEC is a college athletics conference.

Trooper Galactus

I wouldn’t be surprised if Renisdorf has ten times as many employees scouting the Security Exchange Commission, though.

Ok you guys are clearly overlooking the double monitor technology that the Bulls just started using and they will transfer to the White Sox