Maybe Jake Peavy's injury has overshadowed it, maybe it's the lack of compelling competition, or maybe it's just me, but I'm befuddled by how easily Jeff Marquez has snuck onto the 25-man roster.
In the words of Lee Elia, the layers of surprise are multifold. (Everybody pays attention to the cursing, but I'm most impressed that he found "multifold" in the middle of all those f-bombs.)
For one, I'm surprised it's happened at all. I would've bet on a DFA at the end of the spring. Everything about Marquez says he's the newest Lance Broadway or Jack Egbert - a pseudo-sinkerballer with neither the grounders nor strikeouts to make a difference in the majors, especially in a bullpen. The only difference is that the Sox drafted Broadway and Egbert - they weren't the centerpiece in an underwhelming return package for a very valuable player. The stink of Nick Swisher trade amplifies the scorn.
Moreover, it's startling how quietly Marquez passed through the final pitching cuts. His lack of options certainly helped, because Mike MacDougal and Nick Masset benefited under similar circumstances in previous years.
But options or no options, Marquez actually deserves to be on the roster. That's the weird thing. His spring line is nuts:
Sure, it's a small sample, but Marquez hasn't been good in any previous small samples, either. He's been thoroughly unremarkable in every way during his White Sox career, even in terms of health.
Of course, you don't have to look far to find a White Sox reliever who turned in a shockingly good spring, then got spanked in the big leagues. We all remember Randy Williams, right? Not only did he maintain a 0.00 ERA through 13 1/3 innings last spring, but he didn't even walk a batter. Then the season started, and he couldn't throw strikes. Such are the vagaries of spring training stats, but hey - maybe the vagaries of reliever stats won't abandon the Sox this time around.
Right now, I'll give credit to Marquez. He couldn't have picked a better time to look good, and he's looked better than the rest, too. That's a result of the dearth of depth as much as anything, and a thought worth keeping in your back pocket should injury strike.
That's not Marquez's fault. He's taken care of everything he's responsible for, and now he has a chance to improve that 18.00 ERA, and maybe put the Swisher package's cumulative WAR in the black (Marquez, Wilson Betemit and Jhonny Nunez are at -0.7). We're not shooting for the stars here, it could be worse. In fact, it was supposed to be worse.
Speaking of worse, the Sox finally cut ties with Kyle McCulloch, sending him to the Cincinnati Reds for future considerations. I imagine the deal being hammered out like this:
Kenny Williams: "We'll give you McCulloch, but we need something back."
Walt Jocketty: "I'll think about it."
Williams: "You've got yourself a deal!"
The McCulloch trade just about closes the book on the Duane Shaffer era of White Sox drafts. That pick effectively got Shaffer fired - McCulloch was pegged as a poor man's Broadway when the Sox selected him, and that's exactly how it shook out.
Selecting McCulloch in the first round set the tone for a truly abysmal draft. I've mentioned this off-hand before, but of the 50 players selected, only one has even made the big leagues, and he didn't even do it for the Sox.
I'm sure you guessed it right away: Kanekoa Texeira, whom the Sox selected in the 22nd round and later shipped to the Yankees in ... wait for it ... the Nick Swisher trade. At this moment, he's the second-most valuble player in that deal, and now we've come full circle.