Spare Parts: White Sox idle while other AL Central teams suffer injuries

CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 27: Minnesota Twins center fielder Byron Buxton (25) rounds the bases after hitting a home run during the eighth inning of the Major League Baseball game between the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians on April 27, 2021, at Progressive Field in Cleveland, OH. (Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire)

While the Minnesota Twins played themselves out of AL Central contender status with their miserable first 2½ months, they still had the capacity to look like AL Central contenders for any stretch of time from here on out, especially as long as Byron Buxton remained healthy.

Unfortunately for the Twins, that length of time turned out to be three games. Buxton got hit by a pitch and suffered a fracture of his left pinky finger on Monday. He had just returned from a hip strain that cost him six weeks, and now he’s expected to miss another serious chunk of time. Old friend Dan Hayes says Buxton will be out at least a month. During that stretch, the White Sox and Twins will play nine times, and their final meeting of 2021 isn’t far beyond that (Aug. 9-11).

His absence during these series is no small deal. Buxton killed the Sox on both sides of the ball throughout his career, hitting .270/.313/.536 with 11 homers over 58 games, compared to a career line of .238/.289/.430 over that time. The 2021 version of Buxton appeared to be an MVP candidate, with his .369/.409/.767 line and golden glovework generating 3 WAR in just 27 games. If the White Sox never see him this year, it’ll be a boon for them while a loss for baseball as a whole.

Elsewhere in the AL Central on Monday, Aaron Civale departed Cleveland’s 4-0 victory over the Cubs with a finger issue. The severity of the injury is unknown, but should Civale have to visit the IL, it could shove all of Cleveland’s Opening Day rotation off the roster at the same time. Shane Bieber and Zach Plesac are injured, while Logan Allen and Triston McKenzie were demoted to Triple-A Columbus. The White Sox are dealing with health issues for entire units as well, but injury clusters like Cleveland’s are why Chicago is still only middle of the pack for injury woes despite missing a whole outfield.

When assessing the 2021 MLB season from this lens, it’s looking a lot like “War Games,” where the only way to win is not to play. The White Sox were mercifully idle on Monday and are off on Thursday as well.

SPARE PARTS

Another thing the White Sox missed by not playing on Monday? The first day of umpire inspections, which were conducted without incident.

Like many of his brethren, Lucas Giolito isn’t thrilled about the change in the middle of the season, noting Tyler Glasnow’s discomfort and subsequent injury during his start against the White Sox. For what it’s worth, Giolito and Dylan Cease, the two White Sox pitchers whose 2021 spin-rate increases might generate reflexive suspicion, didn’t lose any of it over the phase-out period over the last two-plus weeks. Pitchers as a whole can’t say the same.

There’s a lot that’s remarkable about Yasmani Grandal’s demented .166/.385/.377 line, but what sticks out to me is just how persistent it’s been. He last had an average above the Mendoza Line on April 8. He’s hitting .231/.385/.462 in June with fewer true outcomes, so you might have to (not) enjoy it while is lasts.

One of the reasons I think Lance Lynn will age well: His arsenal of trustworthy fastball varieties allows him to make subtle shifts as hitters start getting used to the way he’s doing things, rather than requiring an advancement of a pitch he’s seldom used or some other reinvention. In this case, he’s increased his effectiveness against righties by using his cutter more against them.

Relievers are affected by rough starts more than any other player, because every later outing that would normally be chalked up to a bout of mortality looks like a relapse. That said, I still don’t know what to make of Evan Marshall. James Fegan relays Marshall’s own assessment of his rocky start:

In another view of how spring training results can be misleading, Marshall was so dominant in the Cactus League that by his assessment, he started experimenting with trying to add extra action and finish to his pitches, subsequently throwing off his mechanics. Reviewing his mechanics revealed that his delivery had become infested with side-to-side movement, and back-to-back two-walk outings in early May prompted him to install delivery adjustments. Since then, he’s walked one hitter and struck out 17 in 12 2/3 innings, not allowing an earned run in 10 of 12 appearances.

All we can do is take his word for it, but it’s a less forgiving world when Codi Heuer and Aaron Bummer have their own battles with what they think they’ve been doing wrong.

While the Elias Sports Bureau is still figuring out how to best incorporate Negro Leagues statistics into the official context of Major League Baseball’s records, Baseball-Reference.com went ahead and combined the records for public presentation and consumption.

As somebody who was so used to seeing Ty Cobb, Rogers Hornsby and Shoeless Joe Jackson at the top of the all-time batting average leaderboard, it’s definitely weird seeing Oscar Charleston sneak into the silver-medal position. It doesn’t strike my brain as “correct” right now, and it may never fully merge, because I know that Charleston didn’t play in the same league. But that also registers to me as the point of this — Charleston was an MLB talent and played in the best stateside professional league that people of his skin color and race were allowed to, so if the record books are way more complicated than they used to be, the sport has nobody to blame but itself.

As I’ve said before, the movement makes a lot more sense at the individual level. I used Minnie Miñoso as a leading example, and sure enough, his page now shows him at 2,110 career hits, rather than 1,944. What’s more important is that it shows his career beginning at age 20 with the New York Cubans, not age 23 with a Cleveland cup of coffee.

What he did over those three years in New York isn’t as complete and thorough as all the MLB seasons that came after. He only played 111 official games, and stats like strikeouts and unsuccessful stolen-base attempts aren’t tracked, so they visually don’t compare to the wall of stats that followed over the remainder of his career. It’s also besides the point. The entirety of his numbers may not yet be accounted for, but the entirety of his career is there for all to see.

As always, consider a donation or membership to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

(Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire)

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ForsterFTOG

White Sox Baseball: Winning the war of attrition!

mikeyb

Every time Yasmani hits a single, it makes me sad. I want him to end the season with 4 times as many walks as singles, and as many home runs as singles. He’s still hanging on with 54 walks to 13 singles, but his next 3 hits need to be homers to catch up to the singles.

Root Cause

Thanks for branching out to discuss the competition. I don’t have time to branch out and seek a lot of outside information. I get 95% of my information. While I don’t wish injuries to anyone specifically, it warms my heart knowing that Cleveland and Minnesota have similar issues.

soxygen

Tom Hamilton was not a happy camper when Civale exited. He seemed to be of the opinion that either it was a really bad blister or Civale should have toughed it out given the standings, other injuries, and that he was only at 71 pitches.

lifelongjd

Will be fascinating to watch how Minnesota approaches the deadline. Will they do a complete sell off, try to rebuild on the fly, or try to make a run. They’ve got some pieces that would fetch some good returns (how good would Jorge Polanco look at second for the Sox?).
Marshall and Heuer have been pitching much better of late. Heuer has been pretty unlucky with BABIP , etc and has a great walk rate. Marshall tweaking his delivery in spring training (while doing great, BTW) to terrible results was something that made me want to scream.

As Cirensica

The Twins are riding a 5 wins streak. They currently have 41 loses, and the White Sox and Cleveland have 29 and 30 respectively. 12 games difference in June 22 can create a mirage for optimism. However, things need to be analyzed beyond the win & loss record.

The Central is a weak division. Detroit and the Royals are clearly inferior than the Twins. The two better teams are marred with injuries. This creates an opportunity for the Twins to close the gap. The Twins have some interesting pitching prospects in the minors, and they have Arraez, Kapler, and Kiriloff back. Nick Gordon is starting to feel comfortable at the plate, and he can play CF. Rogers has been solid out of the bullpen, and he solved Colome’s shortcomings.

I honestly think the Twins won’t be sellers because the way the Central is shaping off. It will be very difficult for them to climb up, but 12 games off on June 22 does not seem unsurmountable. I am keeping an eye on them. I think they can be scary down the stretch.

Last edited 2 years ago by As Cirensica
Amar

Could not resist

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Red_Hair_White_Sox

What do people think about taking on Charlie Blackmon with some cash (the 2 15.5 mil player options aren’t great) in order to get Story?

Story wouldn’t love playing 2B in a contract year, but this is a chance to play for a legit world series contender and he has no veto power.

Solves RF and 2B for minimal prospect capital. AAAA arm like Steiver, an a couple other A-ball starters to include one of Thompson and Dalquist. They probably ask for Kelley, and that’s when we land on one of the aforementioned two

joewho112

I’d want to know Jerry’s plan for the budget. If Jerry is going to stick with budgets under $150M even if the Sox make the playoffs, I am hesitant to take on contracts that run into next year. If he is going to go all in, go for it.

knoxfire30

Its a big problem, before even trying to resign lynn or rodon the sox are gonna have a payroll in the 120-130 mil range that they basically have this year. Any salary being taken on for 2022 needs to be someone who fits very well into the current roster.

Red_Hair_White_Sox

I’d argue that Blackmon looks great on this roster. Lefty with high OBP, lowish strikeout rate, decent pop. Plays a passable corner OF and hits well enough to DH without making us sad.

With the Rockies chipping in ~12 million, we’d be getting him for 9 mil the next two years. That’s barely more than Eaton

knoxfire30

Eaton was a disaster signing.

If they really chipped in 12 mil and we got him at 9 per it might be plausible.

I just really am scared off by his age and the colorado effect… he is 220 ops points lower away from home in his career.

texag10

He’s actually hitting better on the road this year and he is weirdly getting negatively wrecked by Coors when it comes to home run luck. He’s probably still only a league average bat right now but that’s an improvement over Eaton. My biggest concern is playing him in RF where it doesn’t look like he’s been great defensively this year. Maybe not playing in Coors will help?

Red_Hair_White_Sox

The only similarity between Eaton and Blackmon would be pay. Blackmon has played 140+ games every year since 2014 (and 59/60 last year), 30 HRs as recently as 2019, EV stats are consistent, even in the diminished returns of the last 2 years is still a league average bat by wRC+.

Coors effect has largely been disproven as a continuing factor. It certainly creates splits, but as soon as a player leaves for a full season the effects mostly dissipate.

Age is not great, but this is all secondary to the 2021 boost of having Trevor Story.

I’m really talking myself into this. I don’t think it will happen due to Jerry-adjacent effects, but the more I think about it, the more willing I am to include Kelley to get it done

texag10

It just feels like they have more incentive to get prospects back then shedding payroll at this point.

joe blow

If the Sox get Story, he’s playing SS. Anderson can move, Story is much better in the field

Red_Hair_White_Sox

In what world do you move the face of the franchise off of the only position he has ever played for a half-season rental?

joe blow

Then you shouldn’t pay a premium price for Story if you won’t use him at his best position. Makes no sense to have Story play a position he hasn’t played either. Don’t blame me for your illogical trade proposal.

Red_Hair_White_Sox

Story has plenty of value off of SS, Story’s value is in his bat.

He is the best hitting 2B option on the market by a wide margin. Any SS in the league can play 2B. That includes Anderson, the difference is that Anderson would be here in 2022.

The proposal makes plenty of sense even if you don’t like it.

knoxfire30

Engel back to DL with hamstring strain… great

knoxfire30

Gonzalez re-called…

asinwreck

One-ply soft tissue roster.

texag10

Yeah, why didn’t Hahn build the team to withstand the loss of 4 out of 5 major league outfielders.

dwjm3

Hahn has to deliver an outfielder at the deadline. I don’t think there is any debate anymore.

metasox

It isn’t sexy, but Cabrera plus Peralta would net them bodies without giving up much in prospects. That said, I haven’t heard much speculation of how much payroll the Sox are willing to take on for the rest of the season. And do they make a bad prospect deal to get a team to chip in payroll (perhaps somewhat reminiscent of Shields which IIRC had SD chip in cash).

Last edited 2 years ago by metasox
soxygen

Sox-holm syndrome is a condition that afflicts many White Sox fan. First described 4 decades ago by Lazlo Toth as the south side’s (or, if you prefer, “southside’s”) equivalent of Stockholm syndrome.

The condition often leads fans to see roster and budget issues from the perspective of Jerry Reinsdorf. For example, “we can’t take on a salary for this year AND next year!” or “how can they afford to sign free agents- it isn’t like this is New York” or “whoever they sign, it’s gotta be affordable.”

joewho112

When making a suggestion, you have to recognize the relevant constraints. For this team, Reinsdorf is more of a relevant constraint than actual finances.

soxygen

Understood, and I wasn’t responding to your comment.

We don’t have to want what Jerry wants. We can just want a good right fielder on a multi-year deal and, recognizing the reality, expect something like Eduardo Escobar.