When John Danks became the most-mentioned White Sox trade candidate leading up to the deadline, that signaled bad news for those of us hoping for action. Danks has been doing what he can, but he has more than $30 million remaining on his contract and a significant shoulder surgery in his recent past ... and yet he received more press than the expendable Sox carrying a fraction of the financial obligations.
To say the Sox-blocks didn't cooperate undersells it. It's more like their trade values spent July carrying out a suicide pact.
The White Sox' hopes of revamping their roster for a productive two-month evaluation period didn't die with the trade deadline, though. It just cost Dayan Viciedo and Gordon Beckham the possibility of a gentler, face-saving transition. It's no longer about finding a match with a contender. It's about replacing them with somebody who can offer more.
We've been following Viciedo and Beckham throughout this season, because their White Sox careers are on month-to-month leases after two-plus years of falling short.
Dayan Viciedo's career is stuck in the mud:
Putting it a better way:
Viciedo is now the least valuable White Sox by a comfortable margin according to bWAR, which is remarkable considering April gave him a nice head start. There's just been nothing there over a full three months, and judging by the swings he took in the finales of the Twins and Tigers series, he's failing the eye test even harder.
Robin Ventura tried to be diplomatic about it ...
"He'll go through periods where he gets really hot and he can carry you for a week and a half or two weeks, and there will be times that no matter what he does he doesn't seem like he can get a hit," Ventura said.
... but I'd like to think he knows this no longer applies to Viciedo, because he hit .200 over a three-month period. His hot streaks are isolated to games at a time -- he had two four-hit games in July, and both were followed by nosedives. Couple it with his problems in the outfield, and Viciedo falls well short of a major-league standard in just about every respect.
Beckham traveled a different route toward repelling all potential suitors, packing all of the disappointment into a July for the ages:
He struggled so much that his final game of July represented a relative upswing (1-for-5 with a double and no strikeouts). That's about as good as it gets for Beckham these days. His last multi-hit game came on July 2, but maybe the 1-for-32 slump that followed scared him away from getting greedy.
Either way, Beckham's July should live on in ignominy. To explain, let's go back to a post about Alex Rios in spring of 2012:
And in that July, [Rios] hit .163/.183/.200 over 82 plate appearances. His .383 OPS was the worst single monthly OPS by any White Sox regular last year ... or the last 20 years. You have to go back to Scott Fletcher, who hit .152/.209/.165 over 87 PA in May of 1991, to find somebody who contributed so little to the White Sox over so many plate appearances in any month.
Beckham underperformed Fletcher by three points of OPS, which means he's had the worst month of any White Sox hitter in the franchise's modern (U.S. Cellular Field) era. In fact, you have to go all the way back to the Year of the Pitcher in 1968 to find lower monthly OPS over a comparable amount of plate appearances.
That May, 24-year-old outfielder Bill Voss hit .119/.221/.131 over 96 plate appearances, good for a .352 OPS. That was his first month of everyday action, and he wouldn't get another one. The Sox traded for Leon Wagner in mid-June, knocking Voss out of regular starting duty for the rest of the year.
Since then, a few players -- Mike Andrews, Rich Morales, Sandy Alomar, Jim Essian -- have posted lower OPS than Beckham's in a month, but they didn't come close to getting Beckham's playing time. We're talking 60-70 plate appearances instead of 102. Even Voss falls short, but at least he's one extra-inning game away from matching him.
It's nearly impossible to match Beckham's July because a number of factors have to line up:
- Timing: A rough 25-30 games usually spreads out over parts of two months, preceded or followed by a hot streak.
- Talent: Beckham was good enough to get the starting job.
- Zero alternatives: The Sox do not have a Plan B on the 25-man roster.
You could say Beckham presently owes his career to Paul Konerko, not because Konerko has imparted secrets to success, but because Konerko's presence on the bench prevents the Sox from carrying somebody who could challenge Beckham's playing time.
There's no point in playing Leury Garcia more, because his OPS is an even .400 since May 1, so you may as well let Beckham try to work his way into value. But Konerko's bench spot would normally go to somebody like Marcus Semien, and under most circumstances, Semien would get a chance to cut into Beckham's playing time by now. Alas, Semien bides his time in Charlotte, where he crushed the ball last month. His July OBP (.384) topped Beckham's July OPS.
Now it's August, and it's a long, important 31 days before rosters expand. The opportunity for Semien, Carlos Sanchez and/or Micah Johnson is so valuable that the Sox could probably DFA Viciedo and Beckham now and stand a chance of making the money back by the end of the year. That's especially true if Avisail Garcia's rehab stint goes smoothly. He could be back by the middle of the month, although nobody's going to rush him.
For the time being, Viciedo and Beckham will be placed on waivers, in all likelihood. If either player is claimed, the Sox shouldn't be hellbent on driving a deal. because the playing time for the in-house replacements matters more than anything. If the Sox can save seven figures in the process, all the better.
However it happens, the Sox need to treat these two roster spots with a sense of urgency. The Sox have shot at contending in 2015, and now it's paramount to figure out which players they can ride with next season. Viciedo and Beckham played themselves out of such plans, and emphatically.