Matthew Pouliot

Marcus Semien

White Sox promote infielder Marcus Semien to Triple-A

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The White Sox still don’t know exactly what they have in Marcus Semien, but they’re moving a little closer to finding out with the decision to promote him from Double-A to Triple-A on Thursday.

Semien, a 2011 sixth-round pick, busted out in the second half of last season after an uninspiring first year as a pro. This season, he had hit .290/.420/.483 with 15 homers, 20 steals in 393 at-bats at-bats in Double-A.

What’s most impressive is the evolution of his strikeout to walk ratio:

2011: 53/22 K/BB in 229 AB
2012: 97/55 K/BB in 418 AB
2013: 66/84 K/BB in 393 AB

Semien, who was projected as a utilityman at the beginning of the season, has appeared in 47 games at short, 41 games at second and 17 at third this year. The White Sox have to decide whether they want to keep rotating him or to hand him a full-time position now that he looks more like a future regular. Gordon Beckham’s impressive rebound could leave the White Sox set at second base for a while longer, and Alexei Ramirez, though a trade candidate just 24 hours ago, is signed to play shortstop through 2015.

We need a later trade deadline next year

Philadelphia Phillies v San Diego Padres
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With 10 teams now reaching the postseason and more than two-thirds of the league still thinking it has a shot as of July 31, it’s time for the trade deadline to be pushed back, at least until Aug. 15.

Too many teams were too afraid to sell to make Wednesday the lively affair we were hoping for. Even the Phillies and Mariners, both six games under .500 (now seven) couldn’t be convinced they were out of the race. The surging Royals could have used a couple of more weeks to figure out whether they should go for it or not.

Of course, waiver deals can be completed in August, but those give an unfair advantage to lesser teams. If the Yankees, Rangers and Red Sox all claim Michael Young, why should only the Yankees, the team with the weakest record in the bunch, be able to trade for him? Plus, waiver deals are subject to complications. While a prospect not on a 40-man roster can be traded at any point, a prospect on the 40-man roster has to clear waivers in a deal, just like a major league veteran. And that typically doesn’t happen.

Yes, there are integrity issues that come into play with a later deadline. It wouldn’t be best for the league as a whole if a contender suddenly lost eight in a row in August and decided to sell off all of its free agents to one team. Aug. 31 would probably be too late. Aug. 15 seems like the reasonable compromise; instead of the deadline coming two-thirds of the way through the season, it’d come at the three-quarters mark instead.

Barry Zito may have just gotten bumped from the Giants rotation

Barry Zito
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After giving up 11 runs and pitching just 10 innings in his last three starts, Barry Zito is apparently on his way out of the Giants rotation. The team has listed its Sunday starter as TBA.

Zito, whose seven-year, $126 million contract finally expires at season’s end, came up big in the Giants’ postseason run last year, going 15-8 with a 4.15 ERA during the regular season and then 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA in the playoffs for the World Series winners. However, he’s slipped to 4-8 with a 5.09 ERA and an ugly 1.68 WHIP this year.

Despite the poor record, Zito has been an effective pitcher more than half of the time this year. Check out his splits:

Home: 4-1, 2.66 ERA, 4 HR in 74 1/3 IP (12 starts)
Road: 0-7, 9.97 ERA, 8 HR in 37 IP (nine starts)

That includes his “road” start in last week’s doubleheader against the Reds counted as a home outing. The game, originally scheduled for Cincinnati, was played in San Francisco with the Reds as the home team.

Zito’s next turn was scheduled to come in Tampa Bay against a Rays team that has an average 36 points higher versus lefties than righties, so it makes a ton of sense to skip him, at the very least. However, with the Giants hoping to get Ryan Vogelsong back from the DL next week, it could be at least a semi-permanent trip to the pen. Guillermo Moscoso could be the choice to start in his place Sunday.