SEATTLE — The White Sox are at a crossroads, where, should they continue on their latest downward trend – they lost four straight games going into their series opener against the Seattle Mariners late Monday — management will lose its zeal to improve the roster before the trade deadline.
In fact, the front office might be inclined to sell off current regulars, a scenario Brett Lawrie for one, has seen transpire before with the Oakland A’s. No thank you, Lawrie says. That’s a bad movie he doesn’t want to see again.
“I’ve never been around baseball when you’re above .500 and competing for the whole season,’’ Lawrie said. “I’ve been below .500, 15 games, with no one giving you any inkling of being close to battling back or fighting for a spot. And our GM last year made that apparent to us as a group. We gave up three of our guys [Ben Zobrist, Tyler Clippard, Scott Kazmir] and didn’t get guys to the big leagues back in return for that. So it was hard to ramp it up as a group.’’
James Shields and Todd Frazier have played on postseason teams and been out of races in the second half. The latter scenario is no place any major leaguer cares to be, playing for nothing but personal stats and pride in August and September having little or no chance to be a postseason qualifier.
With two wild cards, you have to be well below .500 to have almost no shot when the trade deadline rolls around. At a game below .500 going into their important three-game series with the Mariners, another team in the Sox shoes, everyone in the Sox clubhouse seems to believe they’re in the picture.
Shields, whose performances in his last five starts are one reason why, is one of them.
“Yeah. Absolutely,’’ he said Monday. “What we showed before the All-Star break kind of showed what we’re about. We won five straight series before (Atlanta). Our goal is win series and move up in the standings. We definitely have the pieces to work, and these guys are grinding every day and working hard.’’
Four straight losses, one before the break and three after, which included 40 scoreless innings in one 41-inning stretch, also showed what the Sox are about from a consistency standpoint.
“But what I portray to the team is I’ve been on a team that was 10 games back and made the playoffs one year so anything is possible,’’ Shields said. “Obviously you want to get closer as we go here but it’s important to play good baseball in the next month and see how this thing pans out.’’
Manager Robin Ventura agreed Monday there is a sense of urgency in this series.
“Yeah, there is because you come out in the second half and play like that for three days,’’ Ventura said. “And you have Sailor [Chris Sale] going today. You need to make the move at some point.
“Eventually have to get out of it and you’re going to score some runs. You have to continue to fight through it.
“There doesn’t seem like there’s light at the end of the tunnel but there is.’’
Frazier dreads the thought of playing out the season with no incentives, but he doesn’t believe that will happen. Hitters, starting with himself, need to stay within themselves and try not to do too much, he said.
“This clubhouse is really good,’’ he said Monday. “We’ve had a bunch of injuries, no excuse, but some new guys filling some spots and trying to stay for a while. They’re trying to figure stuff out. But the clubhouse is really good – you see us before a game, we’re excited and ready to go. Everybody wants to play and wants to win. The excitement hasn’t stopped, it’s just that losing put a little damper on things especially coming out of the gates in the second half.’’