The Sox aren’t the most interesting team in the league—let alone Chicago—right now. They are, just kind of… well… there. They aren’t good. But thanks to their starting pitching, most games are at least interesting.
You’re typical non-John-Danks-start Sox game goes something like this: Sox get good starting pitching, no run support, though maybe a 2-1 or 3-1 lead, only for that lead to be blown by the bullpen or poor management from Robin Ventura. Odds are the Sox will have a chance to add to the lead, but a combo of poor hitting and running themselves out of innings happens and the Sox lose 5-4 or 4-2.
Like I said, not that interesting. More frustrating, pathetic, and sad.
However, last week Fangraph's asked a question which actually makes the Sox interesting: should they trade Sale and Abreu?
Dave Cameron’s thought process is this: the Sox aren’t very good, their moves to be competitive in 2015 haven’t and don’t look like they will work, Sale (and Abreu) are great baseball players, the Sox aren’t going anywhere this year or probably next, so trade Sale (and Abreu) attach a bad contract, and get some great prospects back.
What could the team ask for Sale, a +5 to +6 WAR player who is only owed about $50 million over the next four seasons? Realistically, those four years are worth something closer to $125 to $150 million — and that’s not including the in-season trade markup that applies to every July trade — so if you’re Rick Hahn, you can tell Andrew Friedman that it’s going to cost them Corey Seager and Julio Urias, plus they have to take John Danks as well. If the Cubs want to move Sale across town, great, all it will cost them is Kyle Schwarber, Javier Baez, and Arismendy Alcantara, plus they have to absorb Melky Cabrera in the deal as well.
The Dodger deal is at least interesting, something to think about. The Cubs deal? Yuck. Sale for Schwarber is a steal for the Cubs; see how the Sox develop hitters, Baez and Alcantara would probably strike out 50% of the time.
But back to the proposal, it’s interesting and somewhat fun to think about (if depressing at the same time because it means trading Chris Sale), but the Sox, as disappointing as they’ve been this year, are better off keeping Sale. While the return for Sale could be franchise changing, the likelihood of all the prospects dealt becoming annual 3 or 4 fWAR players through 2022 is unlikely. Moving Sale, who is signed to probably the best pitcher contract in baseball, creates as many issues as it solves.
While the Sox have holes up and down the lineup and 2015 is effectively over, things might not be as bad as it seems. Eaton has been much better in May and June. As pointed out in this South Side Sox piece, Melky is showing life after a disastrous first third of the season. Moving him (as suggested in the Fangraphs proposal as a salary) seems foolish because you're selling low.
Is it disappointing that third, second, and catcher never came together for the 2015 White Sox? Sure. Is it a bummer that short has become a problem and after a nice start, there are still major questions about Garcia and right field? Of course. But the Sox might have an answer to the various outfield issues with Trayce Thompson. As bad as he was defensively in the majors, Micah Johnson’s bat looks promising enough and hopefully his glove will improve in AAA this year. And while Carlos Sanchez has been horrible at the plate, it's still a little too soon to say he can't hit; he doesn’t have a ton of at bats under his belt and deserves another two months in the lineup to make adjustments and we can see what he's got.
It will be an interesting offseason for the Sox. They’re looking at another top ten, maybe even top five pick, next year. But the minor league system, which has ever so slowly been rebuilt, will also start yielding returns (in fact, it’s already begun). They’ll add a young player or two when Samardzija is dealt. Competing in 2016 seems like a stretch still, but 2017? Who knows? And if you may in fact be competing for the AL Central in 2017, why trade Sale in 2015?
Baseball is a weird game, filled with a ton of randomness. Things went really horribly for the Sox in 2015, doesn’t mean they’ll get some luck in 2017 or 2018.
Most Interesting Things I’ve Read this Week:
An Incredibly Detailed Map of Europe's Population Shifts (City Lab): A very cool map and interesting overview of population changes in Europe over the last decade.
The chief justice’s dissent is heartless. (Slate):
John Stuart Mill in On Liberty drew an important distinction between what he called “self-regarding acts” and “other-regarding acts.” The former involves doing things to yourself that don’t harm other people, though they may be self-destructive. The latter involves doing things that do harm other people. He thought that government had no business with the former (and hence—his example—the English had no business concerning themselves with polygamy in Utah, though they hated it). Unless it can be shown that same-sex marriage harms people who are not gay (or who are gay but don’t want to marry), there is no compelling reason for state intervention, and specifically for banning same-sex marriage. The dissenters in Obergefell missed this rather obvious point.
Pretty good take down of Roberts and Alito’s logic failures by Posner.
The Greeks deserved better than this (MacroPolis):
What's certain, though, is that it is yet another moment during this crisis when decision-makers (both Greek and European) have shifted the burden caused by their own failings to the Greek people, who have put up with the economic collapse and tough fiscal measures over the last few years but deserved much better – from all sides.
The entire Greece situation has been a cluster youknowwhat for years. They spend years trying to figure out who was going to take the hit, finally coming to a deal in 2012 that got the banks out of the discussions. But that only bought everyone time, and boy oh boy did things change in January when Syriza came to power. And now we’re here, possibly looking at the end of the EU. There’s lots of blame to go around. But if the EU isn’t willing to save a member country… well it never had a chance. Lots can change, but boy oh boy (twice in a graph!) there seems to be far too much short term thinking going on here.