After missing out on their top free agent target

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After missing out on their top free agent target

Postby liny195 » Sun May 12, 2019 10:05 pm , the Sox are hoping their young talent takes a step forward in 2019."Rebuilds are hard. We hear plenty about the success stories, of how teams went from worst to first and achieved postseason glory. The 2006 Detroit Tigers are still a gold standard on that front, going from an American League record 119 losses to the World Series in just three years. Recent examples like the Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros, teams that have stripped their roster to the studs before building a champion, are the new blueprint for other MLB clubs looking to return to the promised land.Everyone forgets about the failures, though. People forget that the Kansas City Royals saw their young core struggle for a few years before finally putting it all together — or that they endured a postseason drought of nearly 30 years before that first World Series appearance in 2014. The Pittsburgh Pirates went 20 years without making the playoffs, and the Seattle Mariners are currently on year 18 of their own skid. Think of how many draft busts and ill-advised signings the Tigers made in the late 1990s and early 2000s.It’s still too early to worry about the Chicago White Sox and their ongoing rebuild... but the last year hasn’t been great. The Sox took a step backward compared to 2017, and suffered the franchise’s first 100-loss season since 1970. Their top prospects reached the majors, but struggled mightily in MLB action — in the way that leaves many questioning if those players are capable of leading the Sox back to the postseason. Yoan Moncada led the majors in strikeouts. Lucas Giolito was baseball’s worst starting pitcher. And while Michael Kopech showed flashes of brilliance in his brief stay in the majors, he ended the year on the operating table.Then there’s everything beyond that. The Sox made a half-hearted offer to Manny Machado, only to see him take more guaranteed money (what a surprise!) with the San Diego Padres. Machado, Chicago’s top target, would have started a lot of the same conversations on the South Side that he has in San Diego. Instead of Fernando Tatis Jr. (oh, what could have been), outfielder Eloy Jimenez could have been Machado’s middle-order partner in crime. And, with how weak the rest of the division projects, that conversation could have started this season.But Machado or not, the success of Chicago’s rebuild depends on their ability to produce good homegrown talent. They have the building blocks in place, with the players mentioned above and several other promising prospects, but still have to execute their vision in order to get back to the postseason.Team at a glance2018 record: 62-100 | 2018 pythag: 62-100 | 2019 farm system rank: 6Manager: Rick Renteria (3rd year)First series vs. Tigers: April 18-21Key additions: RHP Ivan Nova, RHP Alex Colome, 1B Yonder Alonso, RHP Kelvin HerreraKey subtractions: RHP James Shields, OF Avisail Garcia, C Omar Narvaez, LHP Hector Santiago, IF Matt DavidsonDoes Yoan Moncada have a breakout season in him?The fastest way for all of these concerns about Chicago’s rebuild to disappear is for Moncada to make the leap from promising young player to actual star. He was worth 2.0 fWAR in 149 games last year, a respectable total for a player’s age-23 season. He drew plenty of walks, hit for some power, and played passable (if slightly below-average) defense at second base. He also struck out 217 times, the highest total in the majors, and was ultimately a below-average hitter (97 wRC+) in the end.Moncada’s issues are weird, though. He was incredibly passive , swinging at just 41.1 percent of the pitches he saw. Only 20 qualified players swung at a lower percentage of pitches, and many of them are household names. On this front, Moncada is in great company. He also only swung and missed at 12.2 percent of pitches he saw, a respectable rate that, while higher than league average, should not translate to leading the league in strikeouts.So, what gives here? Moncada struck out looking 85 times, representing nearly 40 percent of his punchouts in 2018. He was understandably awful in two-strike counts, with a scant .417 OPS in 372 such plate appearances — over 100 points lower than the league-average hitter. Meanwhile, he was a beast in other situations, with a 1.109 OPS in the 278 plate appearances that ended before a two-strike count. If Moncada can find the right mix of patience and aggression at the plate, he could take the big step forward Sox fans are hoping to see.Can Lucas Giolito regain his old form?Shortly after he was drafted in 2012, Giolito was on a short list of the best pitching prospects in baseball. He quickly moved himself to the top of that heap with dominant seasons in 2013 and 2014. Even after suffering a bit of adversity in 2015 — he still held his own in Double-A as a 20-year-old, let’s not overstate things here — he was still considered one of the five to 10 best prospects in baseball.Since then, things have only gone downhill. There were whispers of mechanical issues and declining fastball velocity even before he was traded to the White Sox, and those issues were further magnified in 2018. Giolito was the worst qualified starter in baseball, with the highest ERA and FIP of any pitcher who threw at least 120 innings. He also led the league in walks and earned runs.We can’t call 2019 a make-or-break season for Giolito. He is still only 24 years old, and the Sox are going to give him another year or two to make adjustments before cutting bait with the once-promising prospect. His fastball is ticking up again after he overhauled his deliver during the offseason, which could also help him rediscover that incredible curveball that made so many scouts drool when he was in the minors. He will need to sustain these changes over a full season, of course — The Athletic’s James Fegan noted that Giolito’s new delivery puts a lot of the onus to generate velocity on his lower half, which could lead to a second-half letdown.But if anyone has the build to sustain this over 30-plus starts, it’s the 6’6, 245 pound Giolito. We’ll have to see how it plays out.Down on the farmThe White Sox have already graduated a few highly regarded prospects to the majors in recent years — including previous top overall prospect Yoan Moncada — but still sit sixth in Baseball America’s 2019 organizational rankings.They are the rare team hoping for a big drop in that number next season.The reason? The Sox have several very talented prospects on the cusp of the majors, including outfielder Eloy Jimenez, a consensus top-five prospect in all of baseball (more on him below). Joining him this year will be righthander Dylan Cease, another former Cubs prospect who is drawing rave reviews across the game. Infielder Nick Madrigal, the No. 4 overall pick in last year’s draft, and Cuban outfielder Luis Robert are also highly regarded, but longshots to play in the majors this year. Both Michael Kopech and Dane Dunning are in the “will definitely not play” camp because they are recovering from Tommy John surgery. Zack Collins and Blake Rutherford have both taken a hit after rave draft day reviews, but also possess a decent ceiling for the Sox to dream on.Player to watch: OF Eloy JimenezNow that Jimenez has signed a team-friendly contract, White Sox fans will (presumably) no longer have to wait three weeks until to see their team’s prized prospect in action. Jimenez, a consensus top-five prospect in all of baseball, struggled in spring training action this year Christian Arroyo Jersey , but posted monster numbers in the minor leagues last season; he hit 22 home runs between Double- and Triple-A ball, and maintained a .961 OPS across the two levels. He was arguably big league ready last year, and would certainly have been called up shortly after service time shenanigans this year before he signed his new deal.With Manny Machado out of the picture, Jimenez will be the top dog in Chicago’s lineup from day one. Fortunately for them, he might be up to the challenge. Statistical projections think he will be a three-win player from the jump, with ZiPS predicting a 133 wRC+ from the 22-year-old slugger this season. He isn’t much of a runner and projects as a below-average defender, but with potentially elite raw power, Jimenez will hit his share of tape measure home runs this year — if not fully turn into the tour de force the White Sox are hoping he will become one day.Projected record: 70-92I don’t know if these White Sox feel like a 70-win team. They seem like a club that will either shoot out of the gate, riding Jimenez, Jose Abreu, and improvements from some of their young players to a hot first half before cooling off. Whether they make the playoffs in this scenario is irrelevant; they would finish well above the 70-win mark if things go well.And if Jimenez falters, and Moncada, Giolito, and Co. don’t improve? The Sox don’t have the veteran depth to pick up the slack, and would likely falter to a 60-ish win season like they did last year. The subpar AL Central may help a bit, but Chicago’s boom-or-bust potential seems a bit more insulated from the rest of the division than one might think. Give me either 60 or 80 wins, not 70. The Astros (1-3, t-4th in AL West) play 3 against the Rangers (2-1, 2nd in AL West) for the first divisional series of the 2019 season"Recency BiasAstrosThe Astros stumble into Arlington after 4 games against the Rays at the accursed Tropicana Field, where the bats would struggle to produce consistent offense, especially near the top of the order.The lineup would struggle to string together clutch hits, leaving a good number of players on the base paths until the 4th game, where the bats seemed to simply fall asleep.Shiny new Astro Michael Brantley didn’t have any problems fitting in during the opening series, slashing a gaudy .385/.385/.692 while driving in 3 in 13 AB’s.He also slammed a mammoth home run in the first game and drove in the Astros’ only two runs of the third.In the small sample size of the first series though, Marisnick actually had the higher OPS at 1.357, but that was in only 8 plate appearances.Chirinos, Springer, and Altuve were next in line for most productive after that so far as total production is concerned, though Chrinos did his damage in only 9 total plate appearances across the series.It was nice to see a healthy Altuve swing the bat with some authority, even if his .214 average is less than what we would expect from him on a regular basis.Though he didn’t hit for much power in these first four games, Tyler White did manage to impress with a .400 OBP.However, his 3:1 strikeout to walk ratio was considerably less so.Beyond that Reddick had an ok series with .300’s across the board for his slash line while everyone else did almost nothing at the plate.The bullpen turned in a rock-solid performance, only surrendering a single run across 9 total IP as a whole.Josh James saw the most action with 3 innings in 2 games to go with 5 strikeouts and only allowing two baserunners.Osuna and Rond贸n would both have perfect innings Nathan Eovaldi Jersey , with Osuna appearing in the 9th in the first game even though it wasn’t a save situation.Pressly and Harris would both pitch a clean inning as well, keeping the drama to a minimum during their appearances on the mound.The only reliever to allow a run was Devo, who would give up a single ER across two innings pitched in the same game.Houston will next turn its sights on what should be an easier challenge as they return to Texas hungry to make up some ground in the standings on this very young season.RangersThe Rangers welcome Houston to town after winning a high-octane three game series against the cubs that featured 51 runs scored between the two teams.Though their pitching certainly left a little something to be desired, the Rangers were able to pull off the series win with their bats and a little bit of luck when they scored the winning run on a walk-off wild pitch by the Cubs’ reliever.Elvis Andrus was red-hot during this series, going 5-for-13 with a walk and belting a homer during the series.Asdr煤bal Cabrera would announce himself to his new city during that series as well, swatting a couple of homers while driving in five runners in 12 PA across all three games of the series.Nomar Mazara was also pretty clutch, doing a little bit of everything with a triple, a homer, and 4 walks in 9 AB.Joey Gallo did Joey Gallo things with a double and a home run in his 3 hits while also taking a couple of walks to go with 4 strikeouts.Old Friend Hunter Pence was not too shabby in limited time at the plate, slashing .429/.500/.429 in the two games he appeared in.After that Isiah Kiner-Falefa was probably the Rangers’ most dangerous hitter during this series.Beyond those players, things begin to head downhill for Arlington, though Delino DeShields would hit his first career grand slam in the series finale against the Cubs, and has managed 3 walks and a stolen base so far, but has not been swinging a hot bat otherwise.As for the relievers, things have swung a little back and forth, but there has also been a good chunk of IP for the relief corps, with relievers accounting for 10.2 of the innings across three games.Kyle Bird, Shawn Kelley, and Jeffrey Springs have all managed to keep runs off the board during their appearances, though Bird did give out 3 free passes during his 1 inning on the mound.Jos茅 Leclerc also pitched to a 0.00 ERA in 2.1 innigs and nabbed himself a save for his efforts.However, the other pitchers coming out of the pen during the Cubs series did not look pretty.Jeanmar G贸mez and Chris Martin were probably the best of the four, and by that I mean they only managed to give up 2 runs apiece in 1.1 and 1.0 innings of work, respectively.Kyle Dowdy was not so lucky, surrendering 3 in 2 innings while former starter Jesse Chave was rather putrid, giving up 4 runs in only 0.2 IP.The Rangers will look to keep Houston down and maybe build a little momentum themselves even though they’re projected to go nowhere this season.Pitching Match UpsGame 1: Brad Peacock, RHP (0-0, -.— ERA) vs. Drew Smyly, LHP (0-0, -.— ERA)Brad Peacock will make his 2019 debut as the #5 starter after winning the job thanks to an excellent Spring Training.He would pitch to a 3.38 ERA and strikeout 13 opposing batters across 13.1 innings of work.He would give up 5 earned runs during that time, though, with an additional 2 unearned runs surrendered as well.He was also one of the Astros’ better starters so far as walks went during the spring, only surrendering 2 during his time in camp.The Rangers will counter with Drew Smyly, who is making his return to the game after recovering from Tommy John surgery.This game will be his first regular season outing since September of 2016.His Spring was somewhat more pedestrian than Peacock’s giving up 7 earned runs and 6 walks across 13 innings.He would have the punch outs working though , setting 16 down on K’s.I feel like Peacock will continue to do what he has always done as an Astro pitcher and quietly go about his craft at a high level, edging out Smyly for this game.Game 2: Justin Verlander, RHP (1-0, 1.29 ERA) vs. Shelby Miller, RHP (0-0, -.— ERA)Verlander had another dominant starting day performance, going 7 strong innings while only giving up 3 hits and striking out 9.The only mars on his performance were the lead off homer he gave up to the first opposing batter of the season, and a single walk later on in the game.Other than that it was smooth sailing, as one would expect from an ace such as Verlander.Shelby Miller will make his debut for the Rangers, who you may remember as the centerpiece of one of the worst trades in recent history.The D-backs gave away the farm for what was one of the best pitching prospects at the time, only to see him completely fall apart in his first season in Arizona before undergoing TJ surgery in 2017.His Spring was not super great for someone who is looking for redemption, turning in a 5.19 ERA in only 8.2 innings of work across 4 starts.He would also walk 6 and only strikeout 8 during that time.Spring is Spring, of course, but things are not quite looking up for Miller.I mean, how can one not take Verlander over Miller here?Game 3: Gerrit Cole, RHP (0-1, 1.50 ERA) vs. Mike Minor, LHP (0-1, 11.57 ERA)Cole was the recipient of some bad luck in his first game of the season.In spite of a solid 6 innings where he would strike out 10, Cole would take the loss thanks to 3 unearned runs in an extended inning due to shoddy defense.He showed excellent command like the rest of the rotation, not allowing a single free pass.Hopefully he can keep it going in his next start if he can get a solid backing from the infield.Mike Minor was the Rangers’ Opening Day starter and he managed to set the tone for the starting pitching by falling flat on his face.The 11.57 ERA is a result of 6 runs surrendered across 4.2 innings where he would strike out just 3 batters.He would also walk 2 and give up a homer.This comes as he begins his second year of a 3-year contract with the Rangers, where they hoped he would anchor the rotation.Cole definitely looked better in his first start and I expect that trend to continue here.Fun FactThe Astros now hold the lead for most consecutive Opening Day wins at 7 thanks to the Orioles getting beat by the Yankees.They have yet to lose an Opening Day as an AL team.For Your Viewing and Listening PleasureGame 1: Monday, April 1st @ 7:05 pm CDTListen: Astros - KBME 790/94.5 FM HD-2, La Ranchera 850 AM / Rangers - 105.3 The Fan, KFLC 1270Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Rangers - FSSWGame 2: Tuesday, April 2nd @ 7:05 pm CDTListen: Astros - KBME 790/94.5 FM HD-2, La Ranchera 850 AM / Rangers - 105.3 The Fan, KFLC 1270Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Rangers - FSSWGame 3: Wednesday, April 3rd @ 7:05 pm CDTListen: Astros - KBME 790/94.5 FM HD-2, La Ranchera 850 AM / Rangers - 105.3 The Fan, KFLC 1270Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Rangers - FSSW+

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