My initial reaction of the trade the White Sox made for Adam Eaton was positive simply because I think it's a trade that makes sense for the White Sox and might make them better too. I don't know if Adam Eaton will live up to the player he was in the minors, or if he'll ever be a true upgrade over Alejandro De Aza, but I fully support the decision.
Because if there's anything we know about the White Sox, it's that they're more than capable of producing capable pitchers but aren't very good at producing position players. Particularly outfielders.
The White Sox have drafted somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 outfielders in the last ten years alone -- give or take 450 or so -- and the road to Chicago is littered with the decaying corpses of guys like Jerry Owens, Joe Borchard and Brian Anderson (Jared Mitchell isn't dead yet, but he's standing along the side of the road with his thumb out and looking awfully gaunt).
So the best case is the Sox get a productive outfielder under team control until 2019 and the worst case is Eaton just provides the vultures with more bones to pick clean.
As for which is going to happen, I don't know and I won't pretend to. What I do know is that the one thing that stood out to me following the trade is that Eaton's nickname is apparently "Spanky." I learned this thanks to his Twitter account.
And considering that we heard Rick Hahn describe Eaton as a "dirt bag" and numerous scouting reports have mentioned his grittiness and grindiness, it seems like a fitting nickname. Spanky isn't quite Nails, but in the pantheon of gritty nicknames, it certainly has its place.
But will it have its place with the White Sox?
We all know that Hawk Harrelson is fond of giving players nicknames, but how accommodating will he be to a nickname Eaton brings with him? On the surface the name Spanky seems like one Hawk would love. I can hear him calling Eaton "the Spankmeister" now, but the Spankster will likely have to earn it.
He's not the first Sox player to have the name, after all.
A quick search of the name Spanky on Baseball Reference provided four results -- which was startling low based on my expectations -- and it turns out two of them played for the White Sox (which means three of the now five Spankys will play for the White Sox. If your name is Spanky and you play baseball there's a 60% chance you'll be a White Sox at some point). If you're a Sox fan you probably know about Mike LaValliere, who played for the Sox for three seasons from 1993 to 1995 and provided Hawk and Sox fans a lot of amusement anytime he ran the bases.
I can still hear Hawk yelling "c'mon, Spanky!" anytime he'd be rounding a base.
The Spanky you might not be as familiar with is Mike Squires who played first base for the Sox from 1975-1985.
Now, neither player was what you'd call great, and good might even be a stretch. In his three seasons with the Sox LaValliere provided a slash line of .263/.325/.317 and was worth 1.7 WAR. Meanwhile Squires had a line of .260/.321/.318 in his ten seasons and was worth 0.4 WAR.
Numbers that won't be hard for Eaton to live up to, but did you notice what both Squires and LaValliere's lines had in common? Both of them had a higher on-base percentage than slugging percentage, which, admittedly, takes it's own kind of great.
And that's what's being a Spanky is all about. Grittin and grindin your way on base one weak ass single at a time, and laying down some sacrifice bunts and flies -- in their 13 seasons between them Spanky I and Spanky II combined for 73 sacrifice hits and flies and only 83 extra-base hits -- along the way. Providing that spark for your teammates.
Will Eaton be able to live up to his moniker? I don't know, but looking at scouting reports he seems more than equipped. But as always, Hawk will be the sole arbiter.
You're either "Spanky" or "The Eatmeister," kid. There's no in between.