There are 23 days left before the trade deadline and Rick Hahn is considering several options as he decides whether or not to sell.
Prominent in the general manager’s thought process is how far below their career track records many veteran position players are and if they could recover -- even a little -- the White Sox offense would become a much more formidable bunch.
In its current state, the White Sox offense is on pace to score 552 runs this season, which would mark one of the worst outputs in franchise history. And having witnessed it for 81 games, Hahn isn’t oblivious to what has transpired.
He can’t unsee the repeated poor performances and missed chances if he tried.
Still, with the pitching the White Sox possess and parity reigning in the American League, any kind of lengthy run could catapult them back into the playoff picture.
It's clear how real the struggle is for Hahn.
“It is hard having now seen this for 81 games, to not trust what your eyes are showing you,” Hahn said. “And it’s showing you it’s not clicking for whatever reason and you’ve got to change this mix.
“Those are the two avenues in front of us right now.”
This isn’t the street the White Sox believed they’d be on when they added $74.5 million worth of free agents in the offseason. They thought they’d improve upon a group that averaged 4.07 runs per game last season once they added Melky Cabrera and Adam LaRoche, among others.
But instead of Park Place they’re on Baltic Avenue, averaging 3.41 runs per contest.
“I’ve heard people say they’ve never seen anything like this before,” Hahn said.
Look across the board and it’s astonishing.
LaRoche’s .711 OPS is 96 points below his career .807. Alexei Ramirez, who’s at .556, is 151 points below his career mark and he’s struggled in the field, too. Cabrera is 106 points below his norm of .746 and Conor Gillaspie is 100 points below what he did last season.
Those four are hardly alone.
But the White Sox hold out hope because of their pitching. And they’re 27-9 when they score four runs.
“You see the opportunities are there,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “These guys are giving you great outings, and not just the starters, even the bullpen coming in, keeping it close, keeping you within one run to be able to get something done and you can't get it done. I know these guys are frustrated and they're good enough to be able to have it turn and you're waiting for it to turn.”
Two days after starter Jeff Samardzija said he hasn’t even though about the possibility of being traded, Hahn echoed those sentiments. Players aren’t focused on a breakup but how they can improve the current club, Hahn said.
“The sentiment is that, they want to put us in a position where it’s obvious that we’re not sellers over the next few weeks,” Hahn said. “They expect to go on a run and make it clear that we’re fulfilling the expectation we all had.”
And if they don’t complete a turnaround -- something the odds don’t favor and mounting evidence suggests would be extremely difficult -- it doesn’t sound as if a complete makeover is the plan. Hahn intends to evaluate who is part of the core and who isn’t.
“Obviously we felt heading into this season that we put ourselves in a position to contend but it was still, as I said at the time repeatedly over the offseason, it’s part of a process,” Hahn said. “We weren’t done and in our minds going to stop looking to try to add to a core group. We have a fair amount of controllable talent entering or in their primes for the next several years and that’s an enviable position to be in. From our standpoint, if we do start focusing on the future, it’s to figure out how many of this group are going to be part of that core and the best way to add to it.”