JABO Mailbag: Why do Chicago White Sox strike out when acquiring sluggers?

We get mail! Oh, not North Pole-type mail. But certainly enough to keep me busy for a while every Thursday night. It’€™s just a good thing I’€™m a man of the people, and enjoy this give-and-take between fellow earthlings. So let’€™s get to it!

Why do proven hitters come to the White Sox and fall off a cliff? Melky and LaRoche, Dunn, Swisher, I could go on. I mean we take these sure-thing acquisitions and their careers completely fall apart. Is there something in the water? We even destroy top prospects like Davidson.

– Dayton Cripe

Man, you got me. But gosh, Matt Davidson’€™s career sure has gone to hell since the Sox got him from the Diamondbacks. He always struck out a lot, but now the strikeouts are eating him alive. It’€™s probably a coincidence, but we know what happened to Adam Dunn, and Adam LaRoche is striking out more than usual, too.

Meanwhile, Melky Cabrera’€™s hardly striking out at all –€“ just 16 strikeouts in 46 games –€“ but of course his power’€™s utterly disappeared: only four extra-base hits all season! Oddly, his batted-ball percentages all seem normal … except he seems to have traded a bunch of hard-hit balls for medium-hit balls. If you believe the data. And of course that would explain some of it.

But I suspect he’€™s also just been snake-bit this season. Which might also go for all the other guys you mentioned.

Or it might not. Baseball’s hard.

What in the world should the Mariners do with Dustin Ackley? He seems completely and utterly useless as a major leaguer.

– Zach Geballe

Yeah, not looking good, huh.

Ever since his strong rookie season, Ackley’€™s been a disappointment. But he has shown occasional flashes, especially last season. Which is reason for optimism. On the other hand, from 2012 through 2015 he’€™s batting .235/.295/.353, and it’€™s not like he’€™s balancing those numbers with tremendous defense in left field.

The good news is that Ackley’€™s 2014 does suggest that he’€™s good enough to play in the majors, at least part-time. I sort of admire management for sticking with him, through the mediocre seasons and especially these dreadful couple of months. Obviously, they’€™re going to have to try something else if Ackley doesn’€™t have a pretty good June.

How long until Marlins manager/GM Dan Jennings fires himself? It’s like Cleavon Little in "Blazing Saddles"€ holding a gun to his own head. Miami is a disaster and they’ve gotta make a change to the change they made if they want to salvage any hope this season.

– Dave Hirschmann

I just don’t see that happening in time, Dave. As I think I wrote somewhere else, I think it’€™s highly unlikely that Jeffrey Loria will fire Jennings or Jennings will quit until he’€™s lost the team. And if he loses the team –€“ which I think he will –€“ it’€™ll be because the Marlins are already so far behind in the standings.

Now, teams have made late charges before. I think the Marlins have even done it once or twice in their history. I just don’€™t know that this team is talented enough for something like that, even with Billy Martin arisen from the grave, unless Jose Fernandez and Henderson Alvarez both come back like gangbusters.

Is Stephen Strasburg broken?

– Colin Christopher

Nope.

He’€™s throwing just as hard as last year. His walk rate’s right in line with the rest of his career. His strikeouts are down a touch, but just a touch. He’€™s surrendered only five homers in nine starts. This is just another classic case of people overreacting to a bloated ERA that’s largely the result of crummy luck.

I’€™m not saying that Strasburg’€™s been great this season, because he hasn’€™t been. He’€™s just a little off his career norms in every important category, so fundamentally you can argue that he’s still having his worst season.

But just as fundamentally, you can argue that he’€™s still a perfectly fine pitcher. Even leaving aside the fact that his outstanding 2014 is still easily visible in the rear-view mirror.

Hey, maybe he’€™ll blow out his shoulder or something tomorrow. But it’€™s a lot more likely that he’€™ll pitch like an All-Star for the rest of this season. A few weeks ago we were worried about Corey Kluber, and last week we were worried about Clayton Kershaw. Turns out we needn’€™t have worried, and we’€™ll soon be saying the same about Stephen Strasburg.

With David Wright out for a while, is there any good reason the Mets haven’t brought up Matt Reynolds to replace him, either at 3B or SS with Flores moving over? He can’t hit worse than non-prospect Eric Campbell and besides seeing if Reynolds is a real prospect, at a minimum, it’ll improve the defense.

– Jerry Skurnik

Jerry, Reynolds hasn’€™t played an inning of third base in his entire professional career. And while he’€™s played plenty of shortstop, the consensus seems to be that he’s best-suited for second base instead. What’€™s more, after an excellent 2014 split between Double- and Triple-A, Reynolds hasn’€™t actually done much back at Triple-A this season.

My guess is that Reynolds simply isn’€™t any better than Wilmer Flores right now. Granted, Campbell’s been a complete bust so far, but (like Reynolds) he’€™s done some nice things in Triple-A Las Vegas, and 101 plate appearances this season just isn’€™t a big sample size. Also granted, Campbell wasn’€™t much good last year in the majors, either. But his pro track record suggests that he’s probably a touch better than Reynolds. Maybe not in two or three years. Probably not. But right now, yeah.

The naked truth is that the Mets don’€™t have any help in the organization for the left side of the infield. Which means they need Flores to play better and Wright to come back healthy. Or they need to make a deal for a legitimate third baseman or shortstop. Because the guys they’€™ve got now are replacement-level players, or maybe (in Campbell’€™s case) just a tick better.