However, Peavy’s rib certainly isn’t the only thing that will suffer due to the setback.
The forecast is gloomy these days on the South Side, and not just because of the unseasonably rigid June temperatures. The Pale Hose have now dropped 10 of their last 12 games, plummeting to last place in the pedestrian AL Central.
In baseball dialect, this directly translates to one meaning: SELL. And sell fast.
Unfortunately for the White Sox, they did not sell fast enough on Peavy. His return will likely happen around the same time the trade deadline arrives, greatly hurting what was once a hot trade market for the veteran right-hander.
“The Jake-meister,” as he is so often referred to by Hawk Harrelson (when he’s awake, at least), was having an exceptional campaign despite the team’s struggles. After his May 25th complete game against the Miami Marlins, Peavy boasted a 6-2 record with a healthy 2.97 ERA in 61 innings of work, according to MLB.com.
We see this time and time again from Major League Baseball franchises. Front offices are reluctant to submit to the idea that they aren’t contenders, when in reality, that mindset is only stunting their rebuilding process.
Which is why, from my ivory tower of 20/20 hindsight vision, I’ve cultivated a list of five reasons why Jake Peavy should not have been in a White Sox uniform at the time of his most recent injury.
Reason #1: The White Sox need to pick a direction. And it shouldn’t be “all In.”
The White Sox have made the playoffs once in the last six years, only to be swept out of the first round by the Tampa Bay Rays. Last year, a late-season collapse spoiled what looked to be an AL Central crown throughout most of the 2012 season. The sad thing? Most of the team’s key players had career years.
Paul Konerko was hitting .400 on Memorial Day. A.J. Pierzynski had, by far, the best offensive season of his career. Alex Rios had his best campaign to date after a rough 2011. Alejandro De Aza was a godsend in the leadoff role, which has notoriously been a problem for Chicago. And last but not least, Adam Dunn actually walked and homered enough to make his colossal number of strikeouts worth the trouble.
And they still couldn’t outlast the Tigers.
If this isn’t a red flag when trying to determine future success, I’m not sure what is.
The White Sox are stuck in a revolving door of mediocrity.
Some seasons happen to end up above average, while others end up below average. This isn’t the “basketball hell” argument, as it’s a bit different in baseball considering the vast differences between the way the leagues handle salary caps. Still, there’s something to be said for taking a step back in order to take two steps forward.
At this point, I’m even a bit envious of what the Cubs have on the North Side. Curses or not, at least sabermetric savant Theo Epstein has a clear direction for the franchise.
At this point, Steve Bartman could be playing every day for the White Sox and batting 6th.
The White Sox need to escape the revolving door of mediocrity. Selling high on Peavy early would have sped up what may be a painstakingly long process.
Reason #2: The White Sox have shown the ability to develop young pitching.
Luckily for the Sox, they do have one important cog in their favor: a knack for getting the most out of their young starting pitchers. Often times, out of guys that were far from being considered heralded prospects.
Need evidence? See Jose Quintana and Dylan Axelrod
Quintana was an under-the-radar minor league signing that has posted a sub-4 ERA in Chicago, while Axelrod was signed from the independent league after being cut by the Padres in 2009. All he’s done is post a 3.73 ERA with a respectable 1.27 WHIP in 2013, according to baseball-reference.com.
Not to mention Hector Santiago, who had a cool 2.96 ERA and a .212 batting average against as a starter until he was ousted to the bullpen due to the return of John Danks.
As good as Peavy has been this season, he was expendable. If the White Sox have earned one thing, it’s the trust that Don Cooper will make the most of whomever is under his tutelage.
Reason #3: The definition of “insanity.”
In May of 2009, Jake Peavy, a San Diego Padres pitcher at the time, became public enemy number one in the eyes of White Sox fans when he initially rejected a trade to Chicago. As it turned out, Peavy had an injured tendon in his ankle that would ultimately lower his trade value anyway, so the point was moot for the White Sox. Still, Peavy and the Sox decided to pull the trigger on a deal in late July that netted the Padres Clayton Richard and many insignificant parts, including first round flame-out Aaron Poreda.
Fast-forward to 2013: doesn’t it seem all too familiar? Instead of being proactive and realizing that Peavy is a likely candidate for injury—his most recent DL stint was his fifth, according to rotoworld.com—the Sox decided to hang on to him.
And boy did it do them dirty.
Which brings us to Reason #4: Did the same thing not just happen with Gavin Floyd?
Like Peavy, Floyd was a likely trade candidate in 2013. That is, until he suffered a season-ending elbow injury that corrupted those chances. In a world where history seems to repeat itself, and delicate pitchers are about as safe of an investment as a Michael Scott Ponzi scheme, it’s important to turn reputation into quality prospects when given the opportunity to do so.
Well, history repeated itself, and the White Sox farm system will continue to pay the price.
Reason #5: Isn’t it fair to say that even if Peavy hadn't gotten injured, the quality of prospects gotten in return in a deal for him would be substantially better in mid-May than late July?
True, Peavy is under contract for 2014. But it’s simple logic—logic that isn’t quite comprehensible if White Sox management hadn’t come to terms with the first reason in this article being true. Not only would a team rather have five months of Jake Peavy than two, but the trade market is also wider due to the concept that more teams still believe they are in the pennant race, warranted or not.
Obviously, a greater value from a larger pool produces a greater return. And until management is willing to admit to itself that they can’t keep spinning their own operation in circles, decisions such as hanging on to Jake Peavy for too long will continue to deplete an already scarce farm system.