Jeff Samardzija said he couldn't quite get a grasp of his mechanical issues until the end of the season. The same can be said for his effectiveness against the Royals.
Prior to stifling Kansas City over seven innings on Tuesday, Samardzija's most triumphant moment in was his bowling over of Royals third-base coach Mike Jirschele during the brawl back in April. He lost to them on Opening Day, lost to them in July, and lost once more in August. It was only until the very last start of the season -- and likely the last start of his White Sox career unless Robin Ventura changes his mind -- that he finally figured out how to get a high fastball past Lorenzo Cain. Better late than never, except not really?
It could've been worse for a guy with a 4.96 ERA (hey, he got it below 5). He gave the Sox 214 innings, and to throw 214 innings in 2015, you have to have had some stretches of success. He just happened to go 0-6 with an 8.82 ERA in August, and that's a very difficult slump to absorb.
He wasn't the best at masking his frustration -- especially with, say, Micah Johnson's defense -- but we've seen more unruly flare-ups with money and reputations on the line. Reports of discontent with coaching were evident by reading between the lines, and he reportedly wanted to be traded, but he kept his quotes boring.
And hey, when his defense bailed him out -- like Trayce Thompson did with his run-saving diving catch -- Samardzija went off script in the good way:
"That guy needs to be in the lineup," Samardzija said. "I think he's proven here in the last few weeks that he's going to be there and be there for awhile. Dude can hit .050 for all I care. If you put that glove out there in the field, he's going to make plays for you, a lot like that (Lorenzo) Cain guy they have out there in their center field. So, he's got to play."
While these last two starts only made it easier for those unfamiliar with qualifying offers to understand why the Sox would readily offer one, it ends up being a little reaffirming. Samardzija doesn't inspire a lot of sympathy, which makes it easy to pile on ...
I feel a lot less bad for Samardzija when he gets booed because I feel like he'd be somebody at the park booing if he wasn't playing.— Matt Adams (@JustDontKnowBro) August 14, 2015
... but it'd be worse if Samardzija never showed fans why the Sox made a pretty hefty deal for a one-year arrangement, because then they just ended up acquiring a total dud. That wasn't the case, but his August nosedive erased all traces of appreciation for the stretch of 10 starts of seven innings or through July 31, not so much because of short memories, but more because it defeated the reason the Sox kept him past the deadline.
Basically, the whole Samardzija experience found ways to cancel itself out.
They tried to create a special geocentric vibe for the Valpo native with the Shark Cage ... but that wasn't going to do anything, because he reaffirmed after his Tuesday start what he'd said about rejecting the Cubs' early extension offer last year:
"I could care less. I had enough money when I signed with the Cubs back in '06," said Samardzija, after throwing 80 of his 111 pitches for strikes in Chicago's fourth straight win over Kansas City. "So, like I said before, for me it's more about a professional thing and respecting the guys that came before me that have put us in this situation in this game."
And while the trade for Samardzija made it easier to sell David Robertson and Melky Cabrera for climbing aboard, neither player has had a season they're all that happy with (Robertson's only problem is a couple blown saves too many, but save rate is how closers usually judge themselves).
So the deal rested almost entirely on Samardzija propelling the rotation toward contending, or perhaps the Sox being able to cut bait and get a different kind of promising player in return. And neither happened, because his hot streak was too hot, and his cold streak was absolute zero.
There is the compensation pick, and it's useful. It adds money to the draft pool and offers protection against a pick lost for a premium free agent signing this upcoming winter. But when projecting the kind of talent the Sox might be able to pick after the first round ... well, Marcus Semien is probably better.
Basically, the Sox didn't accomplish what they'd envisioned, either with the Samardzija trade or the offseason as a whole. There are saving graces for each -- they dealt from depth for Samardzija, and their other signings didn't blow out the payroll -- but if the yield rate is anywhere close to this low next season, it won't be able to be shrugged away.