The Chicago White Sox are heading into the All-Star Break with their worst record since 1989. The team has been tough to watch, and the next four days off gives the players and fans time to forget about the first half.
The most important days for the White Sox will be the few weeks that end July, as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches. Reliever Matt Thornton was traded to Boston for an outfield prospect, so general manager Rick Hahn is selling off the pieces he can get value for. The outfielder, Brandon Jacobs, was considered the Red Sox 11th best prospect. While the Chicago White Sox have a loaded outfield in the minor league system, getting a player just outside an organization’s top 10 for a 37-year old relief pitcher is a value.
Expect to hear a lot of trade rumors before July 31 about Alex Rios, Alexei Ramirez, John Danks, Jake Peavy (if healthy), and Jesse Crain.
The Chicago White Sox have dealt with a lot of injuries in 2013, but have seen some players return with positive results and could see more returns soon. John Danks has been pitching well since returning from a shoulder injury that required surgery to repair a capsule tear. Danks has a paltry two wins in 2013, but has recorded seven quality starts, a much better indicator of his solid return.
Gordon Beckham was on a hitting tear before a broken bone in his left hand put him on the shelf in early April. The long layoff has not slowed him down, as Beckham is hitting .335 overall in 2013. He did leave the second game of the doubleheader against Philadelphia July 13 with a quad bruise, but the break should give him enough time to return. Beckham may be one of the few players to watch for the Chicago White Sox during the final months of the season.
There is the hope that Paul Konerko comes back in the next 10-14 days. His rehab assignment starts July 18, and should last a week or so. A timetable for Konerko’s return is on his wonky back. Any return to form to get his .230 average closer to .275 will make 2013 a little less disappointing for one of the White Sox best players in team history.
Josh Phegley will be one of a handful of young players to keep an eye on going forward. Phegley has made himself a household name with Sox fans already with clutch home runs and good play on defense. Expect Phegley to get majority of the at-bats from the catcher position.
The other three who could make some noise later in the season are Erik Johnson, Andre Rienzo, and Carlos Sanchez. Johnson is the team’s best pitching prospect. He sat out most of 2013 with shoulder fatigue, but pitched well enough to get to AAA Charlotte. He left his first start with the Knights because of a groin issue. With that said if Chicago trades any starters, Johnson could get a spot start or two towards the end of 2013. I saw Rienzo pitch in late June against Indianapolis, and he has a chance to be successful in the majors. His control is an issue throughout his career, but a 3/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 2013 is promising. Carlos Sanchez is just a solid second baseman. He hits, fields, and can steal a base here and there. If Beckham or Ramirez is moved, Sanchez should see time in the majors.
2013 has been unkind to a franchise that is used to being in the chase for the playoffs. Most days will include really bad baseball, but the ones that include a healthy core and young talent playing for 2014 will be worth it on the south side.
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