What the White Sox need to accomplish in second half
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN firstname.lastname@example.org July 17, 2013 9:56PM
Left-hander John Danks (2-6, 4.31 ERA in 10 starts) has done some encouraging work since returning from shoulder surgery. | David Banks~Getty Images
Updated: July 18, 2013 10:30AM
The White Sox are 18 games below .500 and have looked bad getting there.
In a nutshell, it’s been tough to watch. That said, there are some things worth watching on the South Side after the All-Star break, especially moves the front office will make to trim payroll and make the team competitive again beyond next season.
What to watch:
Between now and the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, familiar faces in the clubhouse will follow Matt Thornton out the door.
Chances are the exodus will involve at least two more players and perhaps five or six, depending on what general manager Rick Hahn is offered for pitchers such as Jake Peavy, Jesse Crain and Matt Lindstrom and position players such as Alex Rios and perhaps Alexei Ramirez. Hahn won’t be peddling just to save money, but he will dump plenty if favorable returns present themselves. The players mentioned above aren’t the only ones who could go.
Not much, especially position players. We shall see, because with each veteran who gets shipped out, a prospect will come up from the Sox’ thin farm system unless Hahn gets a major-league-ready prospect in return.
“We have some guys in mind in talking it through with [assistant GM] Buddy [Bell] and [Director of Player Development] Nick Capra and the other guys in player development,’’ Hahn said. “Some players are on the precipice of being ready for the big-league level and we may potentially have the opportunity here in the coming months to give some guys a chance to get their feet wet and show what they can do. That’s one of the small silver linings to a difficult season. It’s the opportunity that presents for young guys to perform in the big leagues, to see what happens when you add the third deck and the lights get brighter.’’
Catcher Josh Phegley is already here, having replaced Tyler Flowers as the primary starter. Flowers had his shot at showing what he could do on an every-day basis, and now Phegley is getting his.
Ride, captain, ride — into the sunset?
Team captain and Sox great Paul Konerko (low back strain) is starting a four-day minor-league rehab stint at Class AA Birmingham, and his return will bear watching.
Konerko is in his 15th season. In the third year of his contract, this could be his last, especially if he continues to be nagged by back or other physical problems. His pay scale likely wouldn’t fit in the Sox 2014 plans, and a rebuilding phase might not appeal to Konerko, either. Fans will stay tuned, and hopefully they don’t wait till the final series of the year at home against the Kansas City Royals to pay tribute to the last link to the 2005 World Series champions.
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The 20-somethings in the rotation are the strength of this team, strong enough for the Sox to believe they don’t have to accept being bad again next year. The way he’s throwing, John Danks might just make that $65 million contract look acceptable, and prized All-Star Chris Sale will be watched closely to avoid overuse and ensure he is the centerpiece for years to come. More of the same from Jose Quintana (3.71 ERA) and Hector Santiago (3.30) will solidify the foundation for next season, or give Hahn a valuable offseason trade chip.
Beckham finally is sticking to one hitting plan and a lower stance, and his steady .335/.357/.443 slash line over 169 plate appearances presents hope that he will be more than a strong defender at second base and a serviceable bottom-of-the-order hitter. But Beckham has had spurts like this before. The Sox have their fingers crossed that this one will last.