When it comes to the third base picture with Yoán Moncada out of frame, Yermín Mercedes might be the most exciting option, with Danny Mendick and Cheslor Cuthbert trailing.
But sometimes “exciting” is the last thing you want, especially when it comes to ordinary throws. Regarding Mercedes, if Monday’s intrasquad game is any indication, it may take a while for any kind of play to qualify as “routine.”
Mercedes had three chances, and he threw away two of them. The first play — a successful handling of a Tim Anderson chopper — featured a throw that looked a little tentative.
When Mercedes got another chance off the bat of José Abreu, this throwing motion generated the result I feared from the first time he wound up.
Both of those throws came when he had time to get set, so you can imagine what it might look like when he didn’t have his balance. And if you can’t imagine it, you don’t really have to.
Cheslor Cuthbert, meanwhile, passed the one test he faced. Sure, he needed a great dig from Abreu to complete the out, but his one-hop throw was preceded by a diving stab against a faster runner.
These are extreme examples from a small sample of seven-ninths of a game, but they represent the choice Rick Renteria faces should he stare down a Moncada-less lineup card on a daily basis. If these two players were 27-year-old cars instead of 27-year-old ballplayers, Mercedes is a Jeep Wrangler with no doors, and Cuthbert is a Honda Civic with a tape deck. You can look at Mercedes and imagine driving on beaches and over boulders, but you also know deep down that Cuthbert’s far less likely to break down in the parking lot of Target running errands. You’re then left with the question every mature adult dreads: How much are you really going to get to do the fun stuff?
It’s still worth trying to see how much Mercedes can iron out the basic parts of third base with dedicated practice, just because Cuthbert’s bat has been routinely overexposed throughout his career. Maybe you rule out playing Mercedes against righty-heavy lineups and/or during Dallas Keuchel starts, but the hope is that he can be playable enough to stand there with a flyballer like Reynaldo López on the mound.
We just have to treat this kind of performance from Mercedes as possible, with future turns letting us know how likely. If he can’t get used to making that throw, then I’m not sure his rookie season is a great time to expect him to hit past it.
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*Ever since discovering that Jace Fry threw the lowest percentage of strikes by any White Sox pitcher to throw 1,000 pitches in a season this century while researching the Rob Dibble post, I’m a little more aware of the tightrope he’s trying to walk.
I’m also more aware of how prone he is to tumbling off said tightrope. For instance, he entered this game to face Nomar Mazara and Zack Collins, and he didn’t make either of them swing the bat, walking both on five pitches apiece.
I’d say Fry is operating with little margin for error, but I’m not certain that’s the case, especially early. The White Sox don’t have another proven lefty reliever in the mix behind Aaron Bummer. Maybe Carlos Rodón can be that guy if the Sox have five other starters, but if the rotation needs him, then the best non-Fry option is probably going to be hanging out in Schaumburg.
*Lucas Giolito suffered a couple of nicks from Nicks in the first inning — singles by Madrigal and Delmonico — that turned into an unearned run, but he settled down to retire the last eight batters he faced. His slider wasn’t that impressive, but the changeup looked like last year’s, and his curveball had some extra snap to it.
*Andrew Vaughn struck out on the linked changeup, but his plate appearances were otherwise typical for him. In my short time watching him work in the White Sox organization, I’ve seen him spoil plenty of pitches, but I haven’t seen him rip many. His day concluded with a sharp single to left on a 3-1 Ian Hamilton fastball, which was a nice marriage of the two.
*Luis Robert didn’t set Twitter ablaze with another display of hitting, but he took another base hit away from Madrigal with this running … well, “effort” seems too strong a word. He just seems to have a great sense of how much of the gas pedal he needs for a given play.
*Kelvin Herrera pitched without incident, and certainly looked better after Fry replaced him and failed to complete either of the two innings he “ended” (intrasquad games are like Calvinball). I don’t have much to say about Herrera’s performance, but he came to mind when reading Ken Rosenthal’s initial report of how vesting options are going to work.
Herrera needed to appear in 55 games this year to trigger his $10 million vesting option for 2021, assuming he passed a physical after the season. If I’m understanding the rules for a 60-game slate, Herrera would have to pitch 21 times. He could be on that pace early if starters need time to work six innings with regularity, but he’ll have to earn it, because the Sox are awash in right-handers both proven (Alex Colomé, Steve Cishek, Evan Marshall, Jimmy Cordero) and promising (Codi Heuer, Tyler Johnson, Hamilton).
That car analogy. You kill me, Margalus.
And oh Luis Robert is special. He looks like the big kid playing on the little league fields.
That was Andruw Jonesesque…sort of.
Ahahahhahahahahha. Calvinball. Nostalgia overload.
Pack your bags, move to Kauai, spend evenings with bonfires on Polihale beach. Don’t forget to deflate your tires if you drive out on the sand.
Commit to the lifestyle.