Hey James Shields, I’m Sorry

James Shields is just a guy who got involved in a really bad trade. Still, that hasn’t stopped me from strongly disliking (hating) him.

Back on June 4, 2016, Shields was shipped from the San Diego Padres to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for minor leaguers Erik Johnson (SP) and Fernando Tatis Jr. (SS). Since that day, Johnson has drawn the short straw, undergoing Tommy John surgery, while Tatis has slowly, but surely, come to be touted as the second-coming of whatever great shortstop you can think of.

One time, when I was about six years old, my Dad said he would pay me five dollars to eat a raw portobello mushroom. I ate the mushroom, threw up all over a sidewalk in downtown Naperville and got the five dollars.

The reason I tell you this is because that feeling I had immediately after consuming that mushroom is how I feel each time I see a tweet like the one above. Yeah, Tatis is that good.

“It’s going to provide some stability and depth to the rotation” Sox’ GM Rick Hahn told Scott Merkin immediately following the 2016 trade. “James’ presence is not only going to make that rotation stronger, but it’s going to have a positive effect on the bullpen given his ability to go deeper into games and therefore leave fewer innings for the bullpen to cover on a weekly basis.”

This is the face Rick Hahn makes whenever someone brings up the Shields/Tatis trade (photo via USA Today)

Here’s my translation of what I’d like to think Hahn meant at the time: “Whether James ends up being good or not, we’re going to have him throw innings until his arm falls off.”

For better or worse, Shields has done that for us (I like to say ‘us’ because I think of myself as an integral piece of the Sox’ success), having thrown 273.1 innings since the trade. Just a tiiiiiny little wrinkle on those innings though; they’ve been mostly disgusting given the 5.86 ERA (as of May 7, 2018).

***Wow, you can look up someone’s ERA on the internet, please explain why you’re apologizing to James Shields***

The reason I’m apologizing isn’t because he’s made me say things aloud that I’m not proud of, instead it’s because he’s clearly leaving all he’s got left on the line for this deep-in-a-rebuild team.

The experimentation of dropping his arm angle has been well-documented and we can argue whether it’s worked or not, but at least the dude has been going out and battling.

Look at this picture I found of Shields’ arm-angle drop (Quinn Harris/Icon Sportswire)

Shields will load a set of first inning bases with a similar efficiency to me putting down a Wendy’s double stack, but unlike yours truly, he’s usually out of the woods a minute or two later.

Obviously Sunday’s start against the Twins was an exception to that first inning rule (and Shields’ rule of never making things easy in general), but it just went further to show that I really can’t complain a whole lot whenever “Big Game” James (don’t worry, I can’t say that with a straight face either) takes the bump.

Somehow, someway, he’s gone at least six innings in nine of his last twelve starts that he’s made for the White Sox.

So…since I’ve made my apology, I can now continue by saying, keep burnin’ that arm! We’ve got games to lose and arms that aren’t ready to prevent us from losing them. The ball is waiting for you on the mound, James.

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