Leury García buys the White Sox a week at shortstop

Was Eloy Jiménez a Blockbuster Video customer in 1996? Because he went well out of his way to check out “The Net.”

I had two ideas for this morning’s post, but James Fegan took one of them off the board last night when hearing Rick Renteria’s reaction to the Jiménez debacle that yielded Christian Yelich’s inside-the-park homer on Thursday. I had a lede, though, and I’m not going to let him stop me from using it.

You don’t have share Renteria’s faith …

“He’s working every day as we talked about playing nine innings. The story is not finished at all in terms of where he’s at defensively or how he’s going to improve. My expectation is that he will still continue to improve. I’m going to state that this is probably a blip and time will tell if I’m absolutely off my rocker and wrong, but he has been playing pretty decent out there. His jumps have been good, his reads, his drop step.”

… to understand that he really has no recourse.

But Jiménez is not a middle reliever searching for command or an overstretched utilityman in a slump. A stretch of bad play can quickly cost them their jobs. He is a designated franchise cornerstone whose defensive development has been an organizational focus for years. Conceding defeat on that, and having to reorder the roster and trade a collection of bats without clear positions (not the greatest of trade commodities) to make room for Jiménez moving across the diamond would ultimately be a greater disaster than … whatever Thursday’s play was. If a position change ever comes, a lot more would have to come with it. And that’s not coming tomorrow — or this season.

There isn’t any daylight at the first base/DH situation until 2023 at the earliest, so if Renteria sided with the armies amassed at his gate for their satisfaction, it’d just end up making that wait that much longer. Besides, the anger at Nicky Delmonico was byproduct of the team’s corner depth situation, and forcing Jiménez into the DH picture just results in more Delmonico anyway.

The White Sox are backed into a corner on this one, and their only option is to scale the wall behind them. When you don’t know what you’re doing around walls, it can be painful to watch somebody try to learn. This paragraph stopped being figurative.

* * * * * * * * *

Speaking of Delmonico, the White Sox reassigned him to Schaumburg in the process of trimming the roster from 28 to 26. But then Nomar Mazara left the game after taking a Freddy Peralta slider on the ankle. I’m guessing he’s fine, but you never know the kind of dark forces Big Nicky has at his disposal.

The inevitability of overmatched players has been a subplot for the White Sox over the last few years, whether it’s 2020 Delmonico or Dylan Covey getting the chance to go 6-29 for his career. They’ve also had some players who have credible MLB talent, but get overexposed to the point that it feels like they should be in Triple-A. Adam Engel looks a lot better when he’s not the default option for an outfield spot. Yolmer Sánchez was another such player, although back tightness during summer camp relegated him to the San Francisco Giants’ alternate training site to start the year.

Leury García’s the guy who probably best exemplifies the whole idea of the 1 WAR player. On paper, there doesn’t seem to be a huge gap between replacement level and one win above, especially the day after Jiménez’s goof in left field can be viewed as costing the White Sox a win. The nomenclature doesn’t do the metric any favors.

It makes a lot more sense as a scale than as a quantity, and the difference between what we saw from Delmonico and what we’re seeing from García paints a pretty clear picture of the gap between levels.

García has played every inning at shortstop since Tim Anderson departed the July 31 game in Kansas City with a groin injury. Over the last game against the Royals and the four-game set with Milwaukee, he’s 9-for-20 with a homer, double and two walks. He’s also handled all 23 chances without issue, looking more comfortable with the angles at short than he did at second.

That’s not the kind of week anybody would expect from García, but it’s also not completely out of character, either. This variance is why you can hand a position to a Leury type for a week and be in decent shape, whereas a Delmonico type getting multiple starts in a row feels like punting a position.

Anderson says he’s ready to return, so I’m guessing he’ll be back in the mix after the minimum 10 days. If García can have a triumph here and there against Cleveland’s pitching staff, the White Sox will have been no worse the wear.

Of course, García then will likely shift to second to handle the bulk of duties at second base while Nick Madrigal recovers from his separated shoulder. The forecast for Madrigal’s shoulder is a lot more optimistic than it originally looked, and he could be back by the end of the month, but if García is truly a 1 WAR player, the next few weeks is when he’ll overstay his welcome. The breadth of his skills always gives him a chance to no matter what situation he’s thrown into, but the base expectation is that we’ll get a little tired of seeing him, and it’s up to the Sox to keep building depth so they don’t have to keep asking decent, useful players to be something they’re not.

(Leury García portrait by Carl Skanberg)

Take a second to support Sox Machine on Patreon
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.

Articles: 3916
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
karkovice squad

The White Sox are backed into a corner on this one, and their only option is to scale the wall behind them.

Might suggest an active voice revision on that one.

If the ball is somewhat dejuiced this season as BP’s analysis concludes, this is also likely to be relatively more acutely painful–literally and figuratively–even if the shortened season offers some mercy.

Tangential to that, not knowing what ball they’re going to get season to season, or even season to postseason, is kind of a problem for the game and teams’ ability to build rosters with certainty. For example, Jimenez’s value gets punished a lot harder from all sides by more balls to misplay, more injury risk, and his own HRs turning into loud outs but the team couldn’t make an informed decision to plan around that. Retaining Abreu, adding Encarnacion and leaning on offense made a lot more sense if they were still playing with the juiced ball.


IIANM, Anderson is another whose defense is still a question. If so, that makes a couple primary players where we don’t know if they will show improvement, or the org eventually makes some kind of move or just learns to live with things

karkovice squad

While shortstops do get a lot of opportunities, I think Anderson’s close enough to average–and at least by StatCast’s measure was even above average before last year–that the trade-off for offense is more tolerable than it is with Jimenez’s deficits. He’d probably lose a lot more valuable moving off the position and having to learn a new one. Also quite a bit of risk a Sox coaching staff which has left people criticizing his and Jimenez’s gloves can’t help him with the transition.

Either way, the Sox 2 pitching acquisitions this year thriving or failing with batted ball results isn’t helping matters.

karkovice squad

It was interesting watching Brewers OF react to the 8th inning moonshots from Robert and Collins on Wed. & Th. Off the bat they looked like HRs. Statcast said they would’ve at least been hits 60% and 50% of the time. Seemed like Garcia and Mathias played them as way more likely to be caught than that.


Not good.

Two Cardinals players test positive for COVID-19 per source. @markasaxon reported positive test results and game ppd.

— Craig Mish (@CraigMish) August 7, 2020

As Cirensica

At this juncture, baseball players should know what is better for them. I read stories of players being vary diligent about covid19 counter measures, and it shows as many teams are still covid19 free. Players want to play. They want to get paid. At this point something is seriously wrong in what the Cardinals are doing to counter infections. They seriously need to revisit that.