View from the other side: White Sox questions for Jim Margalus of South Side Sox

Snake face (or was it one word, Snakeface) - Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The Jays host the White Sox for a 4-game weekend series.

Tonight we start a four game series with the Chicago White Sox, who are in last place in the AL Central, sitting at 36-43, 8.5 games back of the Tigers.

After making it through the first two months of the season just one game under .500 at 28-29, they've had a rough June (we can relate). They are 8-14 so far this month.

I sent off some questions to Jim Margalus, manager of South Side Sox, SB Nation's very popular White Sox blog and he was nice enough to answer them for us. Thanks Jim.

You have one of my favourite former Jay, Scott Downs, and another former Jay, though not really a favourite, Moises Sierra. How are they doing? Any misadventures in the outfield to share?

Scott Downs isn't anybody's favo(u)rite in Chicago. In fact, it looks like he's going to be DFA'd before the start of the series, because teammates were wishing him luck as they got ready to head to Toronto. He just doesn't have the ability to fool a decent lefty twice in an at-bat on a reliable basis.

Sierra hasn't done anything to distinguish himself in either direction, either offensively or defensively, and the Sox have such a weak crop of outfielders in their upper levels that there aren't any in-house replacements that can do better. It's fun to watch him throw, though, and it's fun to watch him really want to throw, even on "casual" tosses back to the infield.

UPDATE: Scott Downs was designated for assignment this morning, reports CBS's Jon Heyman.

Are the White Sox going to be sellers at the deadline? Is there a starting pitcher or middle infielder the Jays should be inquiring about? Gordon Beckham would seem to be a pretty good fit for us, any chance he'll be moving?

The Sox do have depth at second base, with three potential replacements sharing time around the infield at Triple-A, so Beckham seems like a prime candidate to be moved. It would only be odd because there has been mutual attachment between Beckham and the Sox, more so than his numbers would normally warrant.

Starting pitching, not so much. The Sox really only have a three-man rotation, and John Danks is the only one of them that isn't an intrinsic part of their rebuilding plans. He could be moved, but since he's a shoulder capsule surgery case, I don't know if anybody wants the remainder of his contract, and he's useful enough to the Sox that they wouldn't just give him away and pay some of his freight.

Ronald Belisario hasn't exactly been the model of the modern major closer. Has he lost the role yet? Who would take over for him? Are you comfortable with close leads late in the game?

Nobody's comfortable with the ninth, but it's not necessarily Belisario's fault. The Sox entered the season with Matt Lindstrom and Nate Jones as their top two closer candidates -- Jones had back surgery in April, and Lindstrom had ankle surgery on a weird break in May. So now they're left with a bunch of groundballing, non-strikeout righties to choose from in the ninth inning, and Belisario's the least likely to put himself in a jam with walks.

As far as that last question -- hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaNO.

Any White Sox prospects that you think will be coming up between now and the end of the season?

That whole aforementioned second base queue could work its way up eventaully. Marcus Semien spent a couple months with the Sox before a roster squeeze forced him back to Charlotte. Carlos Sanchez is just about ready for an audition, and Micah Johnson needs the most refinement, but he's close.

Matt Davidson got off to a lousy start over April and May, but he's showing signs of life this month. If he can build on it, he'll be in line for a late-season call-up. Those are the big four right now.

Can you give me a scouting report on manager Robin Ventura? Strengths/weaknesses?

Strengths: I haven't seen/heard anybody in the organization bad-mouth him, even after leaving the team. He doesn't spend much time bad-mouthing them. Literally, he uses an economy of words in the media, so his airings of grievances don't last long. Some young players have been able to find their footing, which hasn't always been the case for the Sox in the past. And the Sox are shifting quite a bit this year, which is a new feature, and may indicate that he's receptive to data.

Weaknesses: When he errs in terms of game management, he errs with tunnel vision. When in a string of tight game, some bad habits emerge -- his good starters will get into questionable pitch-count territory, he'll churn through three relievers (or more) in an inning instead of letting decent bets fail, and the lineup tends to be ironclad. But it's not like he's had a reliable group of hitters or relievers to work with the last nine baseball months, so he's still a hard guy to figure out. The combination of reticence and roster instability has led to him saying one thing and doing another on multiple occasions. Basically, he doesn't make strategic communication a priority outside the clubhouse, which makes it rather difficult to think along with him.

Who is your favourite White Sox to watch?

Chris Sale is the obvious choice, but unlike last year, he actually has some competition. Jose Abreu's contact is so, so satisfying, and Adam Eaton is the grindy-gritty-gutty guy who actually, you know, produces.

Can we have a quick scouting report on the starting pitchers the Jays are likely to see? I was hoping we'd miss Sale, maybe you could suggest they give him an extra day off?

Scott Carroll is your usual AAAA sinkerballer. He lost his rotation spot, but got it back by adding a cutter and pitching well out of the bullpen. We'll see if that makes a difference 5-6 innings at a time. Danks' stuff hasn't returned to its pre-surgery form, but he's figured out how to locate a little better. He's prone to the disaster start, but he's been more reliable than last year would have you believe.

Chris Sale ... he's just the tops. Jose Quintana isn't Sale-great, but everybody's happy to have him on a five-year extension just the same.

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