He took his sweet time, but Alejandro De Aza is finally where he should've been all along.
After going 3-for-4 with a double and a walk against Detroit on Wednesday night, De Aza's offensive line is officially De Aza-ish:
- 2013: .280/.337/.443
- 2012: .281/.349/.410
The OBP is down a little bit, mostly because he changed his game for power at the expense of his contact rate. But after spending the first month-plus as a low-OBP slugger type at the top of the order, he was able to tame the whiffs enough and gradually reshape into a slightly different, brawnier version of the guy who made himself so valuable to the offense in 2012 ...
- April: .229/.272/.406
- May: .263/.312/.404
- June: .296/.366/.444
... before exploding in July:
- July: .347/.413/.542
This is just one of the many circuitous routes he's taken this season. His defensive valuations are still hampered by the decline in plays made and his many bouts with fumbilitis, but at least he's ironed out the most measurable part of his game.
And not by coincidence, his MLBTR category boasted its first fresh entry since January thanks to a tweet from Jon Morosi (foxsports.com baseball reporter, Chiburb):
Hearing the Rangers have interest in Alejandro De Aza.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 24, 2013
But after the De Aza rumor reached base, it got picked off:
I need to correct an earlier tweet. The Rangers are not currently pursuing Alejandro De Aza. My initial info on that was incorrect.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 25, 2013
Awesome. You usually see reporters shoot down other journalists' scoops this time of year (see below), but you rarely see a rumor take its own life like that.
It wouldn't shock me if De Aza is under-the-radar trade bait, but he's one of the few Sox producing above his pay grade, and somebody has to play in the outfield if Alex Rios finds a contender. Rick Hahn has enough on his hands trying to deal guys who make more in two months than De Aza makes in a year, and unloading Rios gives him a substantial amount of money to reallocate. Plus, if De Aza maintains this level of play while calming down in other facets, he'll be perfectly marketable in the winter, so I can't imagine the front office is extending itself to drum up interest in a guy who can do it himself with a little more time.
But going back to ...
... the plot has thickened, mostly thanks to the Texas Rangers, who are interested in Rios because he's suitable Nelson Cruz insurance should the Biogenesis hammer drop on the current Rangers right fielder. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram says the Rangers are also looking at Hunter Pence and Kendrys Morales, but the Sox are the only potential partner they can count on to not pull their guy back. Jon Heyman backs up this report, and says the Pirates are still keeping an eye on the proceedings.
Texas' interest in Rios is well-established, but CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler threw a curve into the proceedings when he said the Kansas City Royals might want a piece of Rios. In trading Wil Myers for James Shields, Dayton Moore created a hole while filling another, and he needs to address his outfield in order to contend before Shields' possible exit after the 2014 season.
Let's see how this idea went over in the Royalsphere:
The White Sox and Crain are trying to scramble back to normalcy with a straight face before July 31, but Crain didn't muster a whole lot of enthusiasm about his status, merely saying he "felt OK" after his first bullpen session. He's got a fine line to walk between not harming the Sox's ability to move him to a contender, and making sure he's recovered well enough to find another favorable contract offer after the season.
I updated Wednesday morning's post with Heyman's tweet negating the supposed offer by the Cardinals that involved sending highly touted pitching prospect Carlos Martinez in a deal for Ramirez. St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz took it one step further by explaining why it would be "spectacularly dumb."