Chicago’s baseball landscape has taken many turns over the last four months of regular season action. On the Southside, the White Sox are on pace to realize one of the worst seasons in 40 years. Their starting pitching has never really gelled, and the offense hasn’t lived up to expectations formed by last year’s performance. At this time last year, the White Sox were 56-47 and had a 2.5 game lead in their division. Today the White Sox are 40-64 and currently trail Detroit by 17.5 games. So, over the last year of baseball, the White Sox have lost 20 games to their rivals in the division. That’s not pretty but it’s so. Last year the White Sox lost the AL Central by 3 games, but far worse is that they’ve given up 14.5 since the end of last year.
Kenny Williams had no choice but to force Detroit to rob Peter to pay Paul. With Jhonny Perralta likely to be suspended in the Biogenesis Report, the Tigers looked to grab an insurance piece, as well as someone that could be a long-term solution. That someone was Red Sox utility infielder Jose Iglesias, who at 23 has shown amazing range and throwing ability even though he has started to decline as an everyday ballplayer at the plate. While Iglesias does have a lot of years before he’s able to reach free agency, his inability to hit the ball with power and get the ball out of the infield became too much to overcome. Iglesias is the perfect fit for a team like Detroit that has hits to burn with its potent offense.
The money that Rick Hahn is saving from Peavy will give the White Sox the ability to lock up some of their own players, as well as attract free agents, which presumes that Sale and Quintana remain as aces of the future. The White Sox also got Dombrowski to throw in Avisail Garcia who appeared in the ALCS last year going 5 for 11 with 3 RBI’s and a stolen base. However in the World Series he struggled along with the rest of his team, going 0-5 with 2 strikeouts.
The White Sox did a lot of business with the Boston Red Sox and for the most part the two parties were satisfied with their dealings. Boston picked up the tab on Peavy, giving Hahn more flexibility while adding two very good prospects in the negotiations: Garcia from Detroit and Jacobs from Boston (who’s part of the Thornton trade). The White Sox also moved Jesse Crain to Tampa, and will more than likely get a pretty good return for the former All-Star when it’s named.
Hahn didn’t end up moving Rios or Dunn as discussed, both of whom would have been difficult moves because of their salaries. If either of the two would’ve been dealt it’d be Rios who hits for power, steals bases, and is solid in right. At season’s end the White Sox will be happy they didn’t trade him because his value will rise when Free Agency kicks off. I really like net gain between players kept and moved, which allows the White Sox to build for the future while simultaneously detracting from a division rival.
The Cubs, on other hand, are still riding high from their draft and international signings. Going back to the trades that saw Reed Johnson and Paul Maholm go to Atlanta and Dempster to the Rangers, it’s tough not to look at the last calendar year as a total success. Let’s not forget that Epstein got Sappelt and Wood for Sean Marshall.
This year the Cubs seemed to credibly entertain the idea of a postseason, but after this terrible start to the home stand the path is just about gone. Fate is on-deck when the Vegas favorites come to town.
This says a lot about how much change the team has gone through. The Cubs moved Matt Garza in return for one of the top 3B prospects in the game. The Cubs signed Kris Bryant, and built on a already strong Caribbean talent pool with the addition of Jimenez to go with Soler, Vizcaino, Chapman, Amaya, Cabrera and Alcantara. The Cubs have Javier Baez in the fold on the left side of the infield, while boasting a 200-hit guy there already who just happens to be going through growing pains.
The Cubs were reported to have received interest in Schierholtz, but he’s not playing well right now and obviously wouldn’t fetch much of a return on the open market. Dejesus was also bandied about, but with team control under 2014 there’s no way the front office is moving him unless it’s bountiful. This is the same scenario with Scheirholtz. A lot of people didn’t move, and there wasn’t some blockbuster to be had like some of the past trades. The biggest names mentioned as trade prospects were Cliff Lee and Giancarlo Stanton but nothing came to pass. Deals that were done were of the lesser variety and made merely to tweak the pennant race.
The Cubs have had a great last two years under Theo and Hoyer with only bright prospects ahead. Looking at Arrieta’s pitching performance last night and the rotation as it currently stands, you can definitely see why the Cubs are stacking up on quality position players for the future.
Chicago was the most active market leading into this year’s trading deadline, but sometimes it’s not about the volume of trades made so much as the return on them. In retrospect both teams did well to position themselves for the future, with the Cubs on an Acela track.