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Simon Castro's call-up first step in White Sox's roster transition

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Upside trumps experience as a massive trade-deadline turnover looms

Jamie Squire

Brian Omogrosso took one for the team on Friday afternoon, and then Simon Castro took his place on Saturday.

That shouldn't have been the way the Sox started officially thinking about the great beyond. It could've happened a week ago, when Omogrosso was recalled to replace Deunte Heath, which set the stage for the kind of pounding -- nine runs over 2⅓ innings -- that figured to be inevitable.

It's only a week in a lost season, though. As long as the White Sox look at Castro as the first step in a rather dramatic bullpen restructuring, rather than merely a fresh arm to replace a tired one, the delay shouldn't matter.

Castro is a recent convert to relief pitching -- like, fortnight-ago recent -- but it's long been considered his most likely destination. The Sox had been keeping him on a starter track since acquiring him from San Diego in the Carlos Quentin trade after the 2011 season, but between injuries and mechanical inconsistency, steadiness proved too elusive. He posted a 4.95 ERA as a starter for the Knights, but that number seldom reflected how he looked on a given start, as his game log shows.

If he were less experienced, running hot and cold like that might be encouraging. Alas, at 25, in his eighth pro season and last option year, the Sox aren't in a position to chase fading dreams. So the Sox moved him to the bullpen, and so far, it's been the same experience, thanks to the impact of home runs on short stints.

While moving to the bullpen is usually considered a demotion, changing roles might be the best thing for everybody involved. The Sox need strong relief arms, and Castro's stuff fits the profile. He's got a heavy mid-90s fastball with a good slider, plus a splitter that can keep lefties honest (and he was equally effective against both this year). The challenge for Castro has been staying on top of his slider, but that might be easier for him pitching only one or two innings at a time, and always out of the stretch.

He certainly offers the best chance at high-leverage relief, and that's what the Sox have to pursue if veterans disappear. A month from now, Jesse Crain and/or Matt Lindstrom and/or Matt Thornton may not be around, and Castro is the Sox's best bet to fill those shoes. Don Cooper seemed to enjoy working with him in the spring based on quotes, if that's worth anything.

Castro should get a few weeks with Cooper to work up to more important situations. It'll be a lot to ask, but he offers the kind of immediate upside that suggest he could survive getting thrown into the deep end when the sell-off takes place. Other areas and players won't be so fortunate.

Trade rumor season approacheth

Jon Heyman reported on Thursday that the Sox are "open for business," with everybody but Chris Sale and Paul Konerko available. Konerko is a strange exclusion, although his back could be making the decision for everybody involved.

Dan Hayes backed that up, and added that if the Sox were to make Sale available, he could get a better haul than the Padres received for Mat Latos. Of course, the Latos trade is an argument against dealing Sale, because they received Edinson Volquez (disappointing), Yonder Alonso (uninspiring), and Yasmani Grandal (promising, aside from the 50-game suspension), along with Brad Boxberger (a toss-in and replacement level).

Or, to use WAR as a quick-and-dirty contribution estimator, over 2012 and 2013:

  • Latos: 5.3 fWAR, 6.3 bWAR
  • Three Padres: 4.7 WAR, 5.0 bWAR

The trade isn't a bust, but it leaves a lot to be desired -- so much so that "More than Latos" isn't nearly enough to be interesting on its face.

Even if Volquez, Alonso and Grandal matched Latos' production in terms of wins, they lose in efficiency, because that's two roster spots down the drain. It's the same principle that made the idea of trading John Danks for Jason Vargas, Mark Lowe and Jose Lopez so ridiculous, and unlike Danks, Sale is a bona fide star.