Week 11: Time to Think about the Future

While some might argue that the Sox are drifting ever so slowly out of contention, let me be the bearer of bad news: the 2015 season is over. To get to 90 wins, the Sox need to play .638 baseball from here on out. That’s not happening. And even if you to argue, “the AL stinks! 86 wins could easily get you into the playoffs” well that means the Sox would have to play .596 baseball from here on out… that’s 96 win pace over 162 games.

It ain’t happening.

So it’s time to focus on 2016. I’m not in the trade/fire everyone mindset. Robin’s gotta go, but what’s the point of firing him right now? And selling low on guys like Melky makes no sense.

But the Sox can start taking a look at guys that may, or may not, be part of the future plans. While we know Tim Anderson is the shortstop of the future, he’s still in AA and developing. There’s little reason to give him burn in the majors (where he’d probably fail). The same is true of anyone who is around 22 or younger… let them to continue to develop in the minors. No need to rush them right now, even if they have a shot of cracking the 2016 lineup. That’s what September is for after all.

I’m talking about guys who have been in the system for a little while, they’re probably 24 or 25, maybe had a cup of coffee even. Either way, I’d rather take a look at these guys sooner rather than later (for the most part).

Trayce Thompson: A favorite of mine for years, things have come along nicely this year in Charlotte. The walks aren’t there this year and there are some legit OBP concerns because of it, but he’s cut down on his strikeouts at AAA. The power has remained and while his batting average may be slightly BABIP inflated, Thompson has some speed. For years people have said his glove is very good. All in all, this is all good, he’s done want he needed to do, for the most part, at AAA. And maybe the walks level back to his A and AA average in the majors.

At 24, another few months in the minors isn’t going to make or break Thompson; he probably is who he is and isn’t going to develop a ton more. In my estimation, he’s proven himself enough at AA and now AAA—specifically cutting the K rate a little—to deserve a call up.

Sure, you’d like to get him in the lineup everyday which won’t be the case with all three outfielders healthy. And while there is nothing wrong with J.B. Shuck, fourth outfielder, he’s also not in the long term plans for the Sox since he has neither power or a good glove; something which Thompson gives you.

Plus getting Thompson three starts a week shouldn’t be too tough. Sitting a bad Melky or an inconsistent Eaton doesn’t change much of anything for the Sox. Plus his brother just won the NBA Title, let’s make this a great week for the Thompson family.

Matt Davidson: A horrible year in AAA in 2014 has yielded an… underwhelming start to 2015 again in AAA. There isn’t a ton to love about Davidson’s 2015, he’s striking out too much, the walk rate is okay, and he’s still struggling to get on base because of all that. But the power is still there, even if it isn’t fantastic.

But here’s the thing… Gillaspie is bad and Beckham is (once again) worse. I fail to see the point of rolling those two out there every day. It’s doubtful that Davidson is the answer at third in 2016, but we might as well find out in the last three months of 2015.

The only issue with calling Davidson up is that there isn’t an obvious move to make on the roster. Releasing Bonifacio makes little financial sense. And in theory you could release Gordon Beckham, but in theory the Laffer Curve works too. Beckham, like Kirk Hinrich, is in the JR Circle of Trust and they will forever haunt my sports life because of it. It’s going to be 2038 and Kirk will be in year 17 as coach of the Bulls while Beckham enters his 11th season as the Sox hitting instructor. Sigh.

But back to Davidson… I’m not nearly as high on him as I am on Thompson, but third base on the Sox is stupid, so why not? Davidson might even clear the low bar of .235/.283/.373 with poor D that Gillaspie and Beckham are giving the Sox.

Erik Johnson: Look who is back? Well sort of…

Johnson was horrible last year in only five starts and was quickly moved back to AAA where he continued to be bad all year. IIRC, he was finally shut down late in the summer as he sure was pitching like someone who was injured.

Johnson’s bounced back a bit this year. The K rate has spiked back up to over 10 per 9 with a solid ERA after an outstanding week. His FIP is even better as he’s been unlucky on the BABIP side of things. The one concern is walks, where Johnson’s BB/9 is higher than you’d like. But all in all, there a solid signs of Johnson bouncing back this year and hopefully putting things back together.

While John Danks isn’t going to be sent packing any time soon, he’d be the guy to go to make room for Johnson. I am pretty agnostic about getting Johnson 12 starts in the majors this year because while Danks isn’t good, he’s also not killing the Sox since they’re not going anywhere this year. Keeping Johnson down in AAA until September makes more sense since he probably has more to work on, confidence to build, than either Thompson or Davidson at this point. However, a good case can be made to move Danks to the pen and let Johnson have a two month run in the rotation… again, because why not? John Danks is at best a below average starter.

But most likely, the Sox are going to move Samardzija sooner rather than later, and Johnson will probably be the guy that takes his spot in the rotation.

Most Interesting Things I’ve Read this Week:
Who’s afraid of America? (The Economist)
And America has been distracted. During 13 years of counter-insurgency and stabilisation missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Pentagon was more focused on churning out mine-resistant armoured cars and surveillance drones than on the kind of game-changing innovation needed to keep well ahead of military competitors. America’s combat aircraft are 28 years old, on average. Only now is the fleet being recapitalised with the expensive and only semi-stealthy F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
Iraq. Again. Ooops. Interesting article on how the US is losing its military edge, partly due to the rise of China (and Russia) and partly because we took our eye off the ball for a decade. Good job, good effort, W.

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