I know it's still relatively early; we're only about a third of the way through the season. But let's face it, the White Sox are playing terrible baseball. They're 26-30, nine games behind the Indians in the division and 6.5 behind the wild card leading Tigers. And, when you look at the Sox stats -- be it runs scored and allowed, or the peripherals that lead to runs scored and allowed -- you see that the Sox deserve to be three of four games worse than that. When Baseball Prospectus ran the rest of the season a million times, the Sox made the playoffs 1.2% of the time. If they adjust player performance for pre-season predictions of production, the Sox make it only .4% of the time. This season is over.
What does that mean? Well, first the Sox should deal any future free agents whom they won't resign. That includes Mark Buehrle, Jermaine Dye, and even Tadahito Iguchi if they don't plan to keep him (Iguchi is the only one of the three who they probably should keep based on performance and likely market rates). They should also move any overrated veterans behind whom they have a young replacement. Fields, Brian Anderson, Ryan Sweeney, Jerry Owens, and Luis Terrero may or may not be the Sox answers at third base and across the outfield, but the Sox believe they are. Now's the time to find out. If guys like Scott Podsenik, Darrin Erstad and Joe Crede can get back on the field, establish that they're somewhat healthy, and seduce some other team, then the Sox should trade them now and get what they can. The same probably goes for aging pitcher Jose Contreras.
The Sox system is one of the weaker one's in baseball. Fields is a nice player, almost certain to be the team's everyday third baseman, and with a decent shot to develop into a star. But Eric Hinske is the best player on PECOTA's list of comparables for the guy. In another system, he wouldn't stand out so much. The Sox need to restock, especially offensively. Use the value in current players to do so now. The window on this group is closed. We got our World Series win while it was open. That's the best thing to happen to Chicago baseball in nearly a century, but let's not set the franchise back by clinging to that core now that it's time is gone.
The Sox have built up some depth of talent on the mound. It's not great, but it's better than their offensive prospects. Lance Broadway, Charlie Haeger, Heath Phillips, Gavin Floyd, Adam Russell, Gio Gonzalez, Jack Egbert, Kyle McCulloch, and Clayton Richard are all prospects who may someday start for the Sox. Few of them have top of the rotation potential though, even if they reach their ceilings. So, even here the Sox have work to do.
They resumed that work yesterday, on day one of the MLB draft. Aaron Poreda was exactly what the Sox needed. He's a high upside guy. While his development has been slow, he has the frame and stuff to end up being outstanding. After overly safe picks like Broadway and McCulloch, the Sox needed to take a bit of a risk, and get a guy who might someday be an ace. Plus, Poreda was allegedly atop Oakland's board, as well, and they've shown a penchant for finding good young pitching, so that's a good sign, right? And, Nevin Griffith is another upside guy (although awfully scrawny at this point) who Bryan Smith thought would go much higher. There's no right way to draft anymore, but it's important for a system to have balance between reliably producing average players and occasionally producing busts and stars. The Sox helped balance their system yesterday, and that's a good thing for the future.
The Sox face the Astros tonight at Comiscular. It's hard, therefore, not to think about the fact that this same group of guys basically won a World Series against these same Astros less than two years ago. But teams age. Injuries take their toll. This group won't reach that summit again. The goal of every team should be to win a championship, and the fastest way for the Sox to reach that goal is to clean house now. And there's no need to wave a white flag when doing so. You can't surrender when you're not even part of the fight.