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Behind Enemy Lines: Talking about Luis Robert and White Sox baseball with Outside Pitch

We talked to Matt Enuco about Tyler Saladino’s mustache, too.

Detroit Tigers v Chicago White Sox Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

As the Tigers prepare to face off against the White Sox in a double header today, we spoke with Matt Enuco of Outside Pitch about what the new signing of Luis Robert means for the team, and if he thinks our old friend Mike Pelfrey might actually be any good now.

The Tigers face off against the White Sox so frequently throughout the season, we couldn’t help but poke a little fun and Tyler Saladino’s distinctive facial hair while we were at it.

BYB: First thing’s first: Luis Robert. How exciting is that signing? Obviously, it’s unlikely he’ll live up to his Cuban numbers, but how big of a piece do you think he is for the future of the White Sox?

ME: It’s huge. The White Sox had to open their pocket books to land him but most scouts feel Robert was a top-10 pick, if not first overall type talent. One scout said he’s “the best player on the planet” which sounds a little overzealous to me. And when Robert’s numbers are painted across a watered down Cuban Serie Nacional I’m even more reserved in my judgment. Robert is only 19 years old and has a lengthy resume against international competition – lengthier than his predecessors which could undermine my previous point about weak competition. Still, on physical tools alone, Robert will probably land in the top-5 of White Sox prospects – some say as high as No. 3. Most importantly, signing Robert fills a need for outfield prospects and relieves pressure to trade players for less desirable deals.

Do you think there’s a chance Tyler Saladino made some sort of deal with a warlock that requires him to maintain that facial hair if he wants to keep batting well?

Well, whatever deal he made certainly isn’t worth the .202 batting average he’s suffering through. The only explanation I can muster is that he is the victim of a clubhouse legal battle in kangaroo court, and his sentence was public shaming. Still, come on, hasn’t the guy suffered enough already? Either that or the player formerly known as Carlos Sanchez (now Yolmer) IS the warlock and he’s casting spells on Saladino’s bat with a cursed chicken bone.

What happened to Carlos Rondon?

I wish I could answer this question with an emoji or a GIF – who knows. He was held back from throwing off the mound early in Spring Training because White Sox brass was concerned about the residual effect of elevated innings from last season. When he debuted in the spring he was lights-out and then scratched from his final start of Spring Training with arm tightness. The official word is Rodon had biceps bursitis which is a fancy word for soreness and inflammation. An MRI came back negative a while back and Rodon has been recovering in Arizona – albeit at a glacial pace. He threw 60 pitches in a simulated game on Monday while the big-league squad was in town to play the Diamondbacks and got up and down four times. Rick Hahn says Rodon could begin his rehab assignment very soon while the rest of us hold our breath. The front office has played this hand very close to the chest. There were times when Rodon wasn’t allowed to speak to the media and other times where Rick Renteria read from a script. Taking such a furtive stance naturally fueled a healthy dose of speculation but Rodon appears to be on the right track. And thank goodness; the White Sox rotation has been dreadful.

On the opposite side, what happened to Avisail Garcia? Is his sudden awesomeness sustainable? Did Saladino introduce him to the warlock?

Garcia seems to have finally lassoed Zeus’s thunderbolt. There’s a strange relationship between Avi and the Southside faithful, however. Given his history of disappointment most people are waiting for his inevitable decline, but my feeling is why not enjoy the ride? Hell, he’s only doing what he was supposed to do since 2012. He’s still young and if he keeps swinging Wonder Boy he’ll have a roster spot for a long time.

Regarding the warlock, I can neither confirm nor deny reports of a hooded figure overseeing ritual fowl sacrifice in the White Sox clubhouse.

How are you feeling about the Mike Pelfrey signing so far? After a decent start last week does it feel like he might be a solid part of the rotation?

(palm to the face) No. I understand why they signed Pelfrey, and it makes sense in a rebuilding year, but the White Sox are most certainly the island of misfit toys. Between Derek Holland, Mike Pelfrey, David Holmberg and Chris Volstad there must be an elder statesman component to Hahn’s master plan. The good news is that Holland is shaping up to be a solid trade target in the next two months while Pelfrey and the others provide a cautionary tale for the elite youngsters rising through the minors – not to mention it’s always nice to know that when injuries happen you can promote a veteran rather than a rookie. So, while I’m frustrated with Pelfrey’s 1-4 record and 4.85 ERA I’m glad Hahn wasn’t forced to promote any of the precious prospects at Triple-A too early. And besides, Pelfrey’s ERA is only a smidge behind Jose Quintana’s (palm to the face).

What do you think the likelihood is that Quintana and Frazier are on the trade block come July, if the Sox stay below .500?

Quintana is a toss-up right now. Despite a strong start last Friday where he went into the eighth inning he has been less than impressive. It wasn’t pretty on Wednesday in Arizona either when he gave up eight runs in 4 1/3 innings – something he hasn’t done in two years. Of course, this could all be a function of his adjusted regiment leading into the season with the World Baseball Classic, but he just hasn’t been as sharp as he usually is. Yet, there will be plenty of teams in need of a starter at the trade deadline and Quintana’s history belies his current troubles.

Frazier, on the other hand, has to be aggressively promoted. Unless White Sox officials believe his clubhouse-presence outweighs his lackluster performance – and his veteran presence cannot be understated – they would be smart to fold him into another deal. Given his current performance and a leaky swing, it’s hard to imagine he’s a hot commodity. But teams like the Mets and Red Sox are clearly in need of someone to man the hot corner and Frazier is an attractive solution given his All-Star history and pending free agency at the end of 2017.

Record won’t matter much to Rick Hahn in tearing down the roster. He seems resolute in his direction and if the right deal presents itself there’s no doubt he’ll pull the trigger. However, even though Hahn has vowed to sell anyone with four years or less of club control, that doesn’t mean he wants or is willing to have a fire sale. It simply means everything is on the front lawn -- but customers may not like the price.

We want to thank Matt for taking the time to talk Sox with us. You can check out his writing over at Outside Pitch, or follow him on Twitter.