That’s the lineup for the White Sox tonight, and I’m genuinely interested in watching this game because of that lineup.
It’s a lineup that would probably win somewhere between 50-65 games over the course of an entire season, but I don’t care. I want to watch it. I gave up on the White Sox being a contender months ago, and have basically spent the last few months hoping that they’d trade the dead weight away and move on to the next step of this rebuild that must certainly not be called a rebuild.
Then the trade deadline came and went in July and guys like Adam Dunn, Gordon Beckham, Alejandro De Aza and Dayan Viciedo were still here. I thought the Sox might be able to move one of them through waivers, maybe even two of them if they got lucky.
The moved three. Three! Build Rick Hahn a god damn statue already!
First it was Beckham to the Angels, then De Aza was sent to Baltimore, and in the fading hours of August, Adam Dunn was sent to Oakland. Dayan Viciedo remains, and he’s batting cleanup tonight. Okay, so maybe we shouldn’t build Hahn a statue just yet, but at least Viciedo is at DH where he can minimize the damage to the team.
In the place of those three are new faces. They aren’t Javier Baez, or Jorge Soler, but they’re new faces, and somewhat familiar faces I wouldn’t mind seeing more of. It’s because of these newbies that I’m actually interested in watching tonight.
The most intriguing name in tonight’s lineup is that of Michael Taylor. Odds are you’ve never heard of him until just reading his name now. Even in a White Sox farm system devoid of talent, he’s never been listed as one of the team’s top prospects, but that’s because he hasn’t been with the White Sox very long.
Taylor came to the Sox in June from Oakland. He was traded for another minor leaguer named Jake Sanchez. It wasn’t the kind of trade that people notice, let alone write about.
But I’m interested in Taylor because, even though he’s currently 28, he used to be a somewhat highly-regarded prospect. In 2010 Baseball America had the former Stanford outfielder ranked as the No. 29 prospect in baseball while Baseball Prospectus had him at No. 20. Since then his progress stalled a bit. He reached the Majors for the first time in 2011, and saw some time over the next three seasons with the Athletics, putting up a line of .135/.210/.189.
That’s not good, but it doesn’t even tell the whole story. The 2012 and 2013 stints were nightmares for Taylor. In 2012 he went 3-for-21 with 10 strikeouts in six games and in 2013 it got worse, as Taylor went 1-for-23, though he did cut the strikeouts down to five.
So it’s not much of a surprise that he fell out of favor in Oakland.
Before that happened, though, Taylor worked with current White Sox hitting coach Todd Steverson, who was Oakland’s hitting coach at the time. You have to think that Steverson had some say in bringing Taylor to Chicago, or at the very least, Rick Hahn asked Steverson for his thoughts about the player.
And while Taylor’s numbers in Oakland were hideous, he’s actually been somewhat productive in the minors. In six Triple A seasons he’s put up a line of .278/.369/.441. He’s shown an ability to get on base with a 13.2% walk rate, which helps explain the .369 OBP. In his short time with Charlotte he’s put up a line of .306/.386/.489, bouncing back from a slow start at Sacramento that no doubt helped make him even more expendable in the eyes of the Athletics.
In other words, Michael Taylor is one of those players that September is all about for a team like the White Sox. No, there aren’t high expectations for him, but this serves as a reward for him based on how he played in Charlotte after the trade.
And maybe he’ll give us all a reason to remember his name for next season too.
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