Even in victory, the Chicago White Sox (52-74) are utterly frustrating. Don’t take this the wrong way, but the Sox—12-5 over their last 17 games—are doing more harm to their future than good.
The wins they are piling up now are hurting their draft status and will have limited carryover into next year.
First off, the White Sox's 25-man roster that opens the season in 2014 isn’t going to look anything like the one that is finally delivering clutch hits, buoying up outstanding pitching with a level of defense that is expected at the major league level and satiating fans that have been impatiently waiting for a prolonged stretch of solid baseball.
Alexei Ramirez, for example, could (should) be traded this offseason. There are options to replace him in the minor leagues, and his recent offensive resurgence—.330/.340/.495, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 30 RBI in his last 21 games—could not be better timed. Hahn should maximize the return on Ramirez and trade him to a club like the Cincinnati Reds or St. Louis Cardinals who would benefit from the shortstop’s skill set.
Alejandro De Aza is another example. He is hitting—a .236/.289/.371 slash line in August—and running—thrown out a staggering 21 times on the bases paths this season—himself out of a position. With free agent options and Avisail Garcia in the fold, De Aza’s time with the White Sox is in question.
Who knows what the bullpen will look like next season. With the exception of Addison Reed, Nate Jones and Matt Lindstrom, each spot will be up for audition during spring training, and another year of Donnie Veal is kind of frightening, actually.
To be fair, there are players who will have an important role in 2014 that are performing at a very high level.
At the plate, Garcia has been nothing short of outstanding since arriving in the trade that sent Jake Peavy to the Boston Red Sox. Sure, he has yet to hit a home run in a White Sox uniform, but he is batting .314 and already has three doubles and one triple in only 51 at-bats going into play on Friday. And with the exception of the first game against the Detroit Tigers on August 12 when he forgot how to play right field for a few plays, Garcia has looked quite good defensively.
Andre Rienzo—1-0, 5 GS, 3.56 ERA, 21 K, 14 BB, 30.1 IP—has been excellent in five starts, while Jose Quintana and Hector Santiago have proven that their breakout performances in 2012 were not aberrations. Meanwhile, Chris Sale’s 6.0 WAR is the highest in the AL and second in MLB.
Unfortunately, the positives are too few, and the recent stretch of victories is a hindrance on rebuilding a viable farm system.
If the season ended today, the White Sox would have the third pick in the 2014 first-year player draft. They are in danger of losing that position, though, as there are nine teams within four games of the Sox in the loss column. Another month of winning baseball and they will have the 11th or 12th pick next June.
This is not a call to throw games or trot out a lineup that is sure to be overmatched. Rather it is one fan screaming “What took you guys so long?”
How ironic would it be if the White Sox fell out of the top 10 in next year’s draft because they finally got their act together in August during what has been one of the worst seasons in franchise history?
All statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.