About Jason J. Connor

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Chicago White Sox: Offseason Update (November 12, 2019)

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An important week in baseball, the general manager’s meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona began yesterday (Monday) and last through Thursday. While not nearly as important in the big picture as the Winter Meetings, which take place in San Diego, December 8 through 12, the general manager’s meetings help set the foundation for the Winter Meetings.

The White Sox are in the news quite a bit as Bob Nightengale of USA Today has tried to again fan the flames of importance around the Chicago White Sox, as he did last offseason by announcing, at one point, that the White Sox were not only the front runners for shortstop Manny Machado, but that they were also the favorites to sign outfielder Bryce Harper!

Those two combined for $630 million over the length of their respective deals, which last 10 years (Machado) and 13 years (Harper), a bit above the White Sox pay scale.

Now Bob is pushing the concept of the White Sox being all in on every available free agent on the market this offseason, though he was quick to pull back on the top player available, pitcher Gerrit Cole. But continued to push the assertion that third baseman Anthony Rendon is a viable possibility, and maybe even to go so far as to say a legit target.

I don’t want any misunderstandings here, I have nothing negative to say about Rendon whatsoever, he is a legit MVP candidate (.319/.412/.598 with 34 home runs and an MLB-leading 126 RBI in 2019 as well as winning a Silver Slugger and making the All Star team) but he isn’t a fit with this White Sox team. I HATE this idea (which is bandied about regularly on the Sox Talk Podcast) that you just sign the best available players you can get and worry about where to play them later. That concept is totally insane in my opinion.

You build a team and fill in your needs. If you don’t need a third baseman, you don’t sign a third baseman. You find the best player available, either by free agency or trade, at the position you have a need. So as great as Rendon is, you just say “I don’t need a third baseman” and you move on to where you do have a need. It’s simple.

The Sox have three major needs: Starting pitching, right field and designated hitter.

In my perfect world, the names you fill in are Zack Wheeler, Yasiel Puig and Edwin Encarnacion. You’re getting a good strikeout pitcher with outstanding control (195 K’s versus 50 walks in 2019) who will be a perfect fit in the ballpark and the rotation, a right fielder who you can pretty much pencil in for 20+ home runs (maybe 30 playing 81 games a year at Sox Park) and 15 steals per season and a DH who has hit 32+ home runs 8 years in a row.

Yes, each has their negatives, Wheeler has had Tommy John Surgery twice (but worked 195 innings last year and has less than 900 innings on his arm), Puig can be an attitude problem (which I think would be remedied by the strong Cuban culture within the organization) and Encarnacion will turn 37 in January, so he’s not a long term solution, but I think he can help a guy like Jose Abreu adjust to being an everyday DH and that’s a win/win situation.

As starting pitching goes, I just don’t see the White Sox going $250 million (or more) for Gerrit Cole or $150 million (or more) for Stephen Strasburg. Not only is that not something they have done in the past, but I don’t see the Sox spending that kind of money (more on that later). The next group of starters includes Madison Bumgarner, Dallas Keuchel and Wheeler, guys who you could get for under $100 million. While I am a big fan of Bumgarner, I see him staying in the National League and the 1,800+ innings on his arm is a concern. Keuchel is a guy who probably slots as a #4 within the White Sox rotation and I don’t see what’s to be accomplished paying $60 million over three years for a number four who pitches to contact in a hitter’s park and who has never been much of a strikeout guy.

Right field is a conundrum because the Sox have been linked since the offseason began to Nicholas Castellanos. While I am a big fan of his bat (.289/.337/.525 with 27 home runs and 58 doubles in 2019) his defense is well below-average and he’s only been slotted at DH 40 times in 839 career games. So you’re giving up something with him either way, you’re guaranteeing yourself two below-average gloves in the outfield (along with left fielder Eloy Jimenez) or you are giving yourself the unknown of what he can produce at DH.

The DH position is a bit of a monkey in it’s own right, due to the lack of productive ones (Kendrys Morales, Justin Smoak and Mark Trumbo look to be the only full-time DH options outside of Encarnacion. Morales hit .194 with two home runs in 53 games, Smoak hit .208 with 22 home runs and Trumbo hit .172 with no home runs in 31 plate appearances.

I’ll pass on all three. And that leaves Encarnacion and guys like Avi Garcia.

There is also the possibility of rotating the DH (which has been about as productive as the past few full time DH options the White Sox have signed) and letting Zack Collins, Jose Abreu and the right fielder (Castellanos or Kole Calhoun or Corey Dickerson) to split time at the position. Not something I am a big fan of, but I like to have a set lineup every day.

As I have been writing this and doing my research prior to, one guy who keeps catching my attention is the aforementioned Corey Dickerson. While he is a left fielder, not a right fielder which the Sox need (and he has only six games of experience in his career in right field) I realized he has 128 games of experience at DH, mostly during his two-year stint with the Tampa Bay Rays. In addition to his left-handed bat, he also carries a .286 career batting average. He’ll turn 31 in May and maybe could be a good option as an everyday DH.

I hate feeling negative about the team, especially this offseason because the position player that is considered the #1 free agent plays a position they don’t need and if they don’t pursue him fans will take that negatively and I don’t think that’s fair. I wasn’t big on last year’s pursuit of Manny Machado (and was active about pushing that fact in my blog) because he didn’t fill a need; I knew they planned to play him at third base but that wasn’t his preferred position. I don’t want to see the Sox spend money just for the sake of saying “look, we signed Anthony Rendon, now we have to change our infield around to fit him in because we signed a guy at a position we didn’t need to fill, let’s hope Moncada is OK with another position switch.”

That doesn’t work. Spend the money, but spend it responsibly. Spend it on need. But don’t sign the cheapest player available and hope he’s a bounce-back candidate. Don’t sign an outfielder because he had a good season six years ago. Don’t sign a pitcher because he won a Cy Young award five years ago and he’s been awful since then. That doesn’t work.

I am 100% convinced this team can, with the right additions, contend for a Wild Card spot in 2020 and then for a division title in 2021. But there are holes that need to be filled and they need to be filled properly, with players who play the position and have been successful, recently. Winning teams have winning players. Let’s go out and find some.

Thank you for reading. Peace.

The Chicago White Sox 2019-20 Offseason: Preferences vs. Probabilities

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It’s that time of year again, as the World Series is scheduled to begin next week and we can start looking ahead to the offseason happenings. Of course, as a Chicago White Sox fan, I’m usually thinking about the offseason possibilities long before the actual season ends, as the playoffs are usually 15+ games out of reach by the end of August.

This little exercise is going to be a look at what I would like to see the White Sox accomplish this offseason (and what I’m likely to do with my roster on MLB The Show) versus what I think the White Sox will actually do; and I’m going to keep it realistic, as much as possible, basing my forecast on what I have heard in the media and the team itself.

So, let’s begin.

STARTING PITCHING

Preference: Naturally, my preference here would be signing Gerrit Cole of the Houston Astros to a long-term deal with every cent of the Manny Machado money from last offseason. However, I know that’s a pipe dream because of how this team (general manager Rick Hahn, in particular) likes to contradict himself, as one minute the team “has a lot of flexibility” in terms of “cash to spend,” while at the same time having to be “careful” what they spend.

So, my preference for starting pitching would be to sign New York Mets RHP Zack Wheeler. This is one of those moves that I consider a no-brainer. He won’t turn 30 until May, which makes him younger than Madison Bumgarner and Dallas Keuchel and he has FAR less wear and tear on his arm (749 career Major League innings for Wheeler as opposed to 1,302 for Keuchel and 1,846 for Bumgarner) than the other possibilities most linked to the White Sox. In addition, his 11 wins in 2019 were more than either Bumgarner or Keuchel.

For depth, I would not be opposed to resigning Ivan Nova, who lead the American League in starts in 2019 (34) and was durable and reasonably successful given the circumstances. I definitely don’t want to see him leading the staff, but as a depth piece instead.

Probability: While I don’t see the team springing big money for Wheeler, I don’t see them springing big money for Bumgarner or Keuchel either. The name I hear most regularly is Cole Hamels, most recently of the Chicago Cubs, as the big acquisition for the rotation. This makes no sense to me whatsoever, as the Sox would be bringing in a soon-to-be 36-year old pitcher with almost 2,700 innings on his arm, in spite of not reaching 200 innings in a season since 2016. If this move does happen, it reeks of “putting one over on the Cubs.”

For depth I do not see them resigning Nova, who will be able to score a bigger payday with one of the other rebuilding franchises (the Marlins, Orioles, Royals or Tigers) so I picture the White Sox big depth piece being a non-tendered-and-resigned Dylan Covey.  I have also wondered if Kenny Williams would pitch the idea of being on a contender to Felix Hernandez.

RELIEF PITCHING

Preference: I don’t make a big deal over relief pitching but I would like to see Jimmy Cordero back, due to his outstanding 2.75 ERA over 36 innings in 2019. Most relievers are interchangeable but I think a back end of Alex Colome closing with Aaron Bummer and a rejuvenated Kelvin Herrera setting him up, that’s pretty solid and I’ll take it.

Probability: As the White Sox don’t really make a big deal over middle relief and the set-up and closer roles are defined and filled, most anything can happen here. Cordero and Evan Marshall could come back just as easily as they could be replaced. The name I hear mentioned in the press is Dellin Betances, but that doesn’t make sense in a number of ways, not the least of which is his health (2/3 of an inning of work in 2019) as well as the fact that he really wouldn’t have a traditional role, since the back end of the bullpen is set.

I also think he is a little more expensive than the Sox tend to spend on middle relief.

CATCHING

Preference: This is easy for me. Sign James McCann long-term since he can be a free agent following the 2020 season, because even if his offensive numbers regress, and they will, he was a boon to the pitching staff. Zack Collins can serve as the backup and catch two or three times a week. Keep Yermin Mercedes at AAA Charlotte for a time when needed, or bring him up to fill the 26th man spot on the roster, as he certainly seems to be ready for The Show (.317/23 home runs/80 RBI in 2019). No big acquisitions are needed behind the plate.

Probability: The name I keep hearing here is Yasmani Grandal. In addition to the fact that he’ll be 31 when the season starts and hit .246 last year (while establishing career-highs in home runs, RBI and walks, to be fair), he turned down a multi-year contract offer from the White Sox last year in order to take a one-year deal with the Brewers. It doesn’t make much sense to offer more money this time around when he is a year older, with more wear and tear.

… and I see no circumstances whatsoever that Welington Castillo comes back in 2020.

INFIELD

Preference: This is easy. Resign Jose Abreu to a two year deal with a club option for a third and non-tender Yolmer Sanchez. Let Danny Mendick hold down second base until Nick Madrigal is ready and you’re set. Abreu at first, Madrigal at second, Tim Anderson at short and Yoan Moncada at third, with Mendick covering second, short and third and Zack Collins handling first when needed. This should produce the easiest decisions on the roster.

Probability: I’m worried that Sanchez will be tendered at over $6 million to keep a seat warm for Madrigal, then kept on as a utility player in spite of the fact that his bat is worthless and this isn’t the National League where you see a lot of defensive replacements late in games. At one time, I was worried that the Sox would fall over themselves offering Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon a contract, but after he turned down a seven year, $215 million deal from the Nats, I’m not worried about that at all. The White Sox lucked out last year by not spending $250 million for Manny Machado, they won’t repeat the mistake this year and make a garish contract offer to the top offensive player available.

OUTFIELD

Preference: The White Sox are set in LF (Eloy Jimenez) and CF (Luis Robert) but RF is a bottomless pit. In my world, the Sox would sign Yasiel Puig to a four-year deal and park his 20+ home runs and 15+ stolen bases beside Jimenez and Robert in what could be described as a “dream outfield.” Hang onto Adam Engel as a pinch hitter and pinch runner and rare defensive replacement when needed, as well as Leury Garcia, who was solid in 2019.

Probability: This is where I get annoyed, as Kole Calhoun is apparently the overwhelming favorite due to the fact that he hits left-handed and he hit 33 home runs in 2019. It should be noted that (a) Calhoun is almost five years older than Puig, and (b) Calhoun’s 33 home runs in 2019 are not really comparable to his home runs totals in 2018 and 2017 (19) or 2016 (18). Calhoun clearly benefited from the juiced ball in 2019 and if that is remedied in 2020, those home run totals will drop. And that ugly .232 batting average and .325 OBP doesn’t help.

I do hear Corey Dickerson mentioned but I have a feeling the Sox are absolutely set on Kole Calhoun, but I’m not sure he’s going to get more than a one-year contract. I also hear Joc Pederson mentioned a lot but it would require a trade to get him and I’m not sure what the White Sox have of value that the Los Angeles Dodgers would want, maybe Mercedes and a pitcher but it would have to be one of the lower level/lower production pitchers.

DESIGNATED HITTER

Preference: J.D. Martinez. No question. Now, this is assuming he opts out of his current deal with the Detroit Tigers, of course. Offer him a four year deal for $100 million with an opt-out after two years, he’ll blow town after two years and the club would only be on the hook for $50 million, or $7 million more than they spent on Melky Cabrera in 2015. If Martinez is unavailable or too pricey, skip DH and rotate it between Abreu and Collins.

Probability: This is one area where I can see the Sox making the move and spending the money and it paying off. It’s a win/win for everybody. Martinez gets more money than he would have had he stayed with the Red Sox (and there’s has to be a reason to opt out and taking a pay cut would be out of the question), the White Sox shore up the offense and should get 40+ home runs from Martinez the next couple of seasons and don’t have to spend an ungodly amount of money to do so. It all makes too much sense not to do it.

I do worry that, if this option doesn’t work out, they’re going to try going over the top to sign Grandal and work him between catcher, first base and DH, and I don’t like anything about that idea. I’d rather let Collins develop into whatever he is going to be going forward.

So, all in all, it should be a fun offseason regardless of the direction the White Sox go. There is a good talent base on this team and it only needs to be filled in, but with the right pieces. The Sox don’t need a starting catcher, or a third baseman. The needs are obvious, a right fielder, a starting pitcher and a DH, and Puig, Wheeler and Martinez are the guys I want to see on the roster when we get to Spring Training next February. Will it happen? Most likely not. And not a whole lot of the “Machado Money” will be spent this offseason, regardless.

I’ll blog again after the Winter Meetings and hopefully we’ll have a better understanding of where we stand, assuming free agency moves at a better pace than it did last year.

Peace.

2019 Chicago White Sox Wrap Up and Offseason Primer

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Well, here we are again, at the end of another losing season. The seventh in a row. But for the first time, I legitimately have a good feeling about the upcoming season. Now, clearly it’s too early to make any definitive predictions, since the postseason hasn’t even begun and no transactions will be made until after the World Series (and maybe even after the winter meetings, if last year is any indication of the future), but I’m going to do my best to gaze into the future based on what I hear and read from team sources and the Chicago press, as well as my own guesses culled from 30 years of following this franchise.

A lot of what I’m going to touch on will be taken directly from the end-of-season press conference with White Sox GM Rick Hahn, who, I assume, knows more about what’s going on within his own team than the fans who watch, so I will take his word about things that he is being, shall we say, “forceful” about. Because he is the man in charge.

Beginning with the coaching staff. I am not expecting much, if any, turnover. However, Hahn did make two statements that caught me off guard. First, he refused to say that the staff would remain intact. Second, he made a point of saying that this staff was built to foster player development. Which I found interesting considering that Don Cooper has been the pitching coach for 17 years and hitting coach Todd Steverson has been in his position since 2014. First base coach Daryl Boston has also been at his spot since 2013. So why these “player development” coaches were in place in 2016, for instance, I don’t know. I do, however, think that is giving Hahn some leeway to make some changes.

I do NOT, however, think that any of the previously mentioned coaches will be going anywhere. I had thought that, conceivably, third base coach Nick Capra could be moved elsewhere (he won’t be fired considering he’s been in the organization for well over 20 years as a coach and manager) to allow Birmingham Barons manager Omar Vizquel to have a spot on the MLB staff and, eventually, replace Rick Renteria. I now realize I was totally off on that because the Sox seem hellbent on allowing Renteria to manage as long as he wants to and Vizquel’s name has already been mentioned for the San Francisco Giants and Pittsburgh Pirates managerial openings. It’s hard to keep a good manager secret.

So, if there is a move, I don’t know where it would be. I can’t imagine the Sox getting rid of Joe McEwing, who I believe has a future as a manager somewhere. Curt Hasler in the bullpen? I mean, the Sox let Bobby Thigpen go and no reason was given.

Now, on to the 2019 roster. There was some amazing growth, with Tim Anderson winning the American League batting title (.335 average) out of nowhere (after hitting a lackluster .240 last season) and Yoan Moncada (.315, 25 home runs, 79 RBI) and rookie Eloy Jimenez (.267, 31 home runs, 79 RBI) showing what they’re capable of doing in a full season.

Joe Abreu (.284, 33 home runs, an American League-leading 123 RBI) had an outstanding season, as did James McCann (.273, 18 home runs, 60 RBI), the two most-veteran players offensively. Both of whom I feel should be locked up with long-term contracts, as McCann will be a free agent following the 2020 season and Abreu will be in a month.

But there were also holes. Second base and right field and designated hitter. Second base seems to already have a superior replacement, with Nick Madrigal (.311, 4 home runs, 55 RBI, 35 stolen bases across three minor league levels) replacing all-glove, no bat Yolmer Sanchez (.252, 2 home runs, 43 RBI), especially with Yolmer about to hit around $6 million in salary for the 2020 season and better players (like Danny Mendick, who hit .282 overall with 19 home runs, 68 RBI and 19 stolen bases across AAA and at the MLB level) available to hold down second base until Madrigal is “ready” to take over in mid-April.

Right field was beyond awful, being manned by Daniel Palka (.107, 2 home runs, 4 RBI), Jon Jay (.267, 0 home runs, 9 RBI), Charlie Tilson (.229, 1 home run, 12 RBI) and Ryan Cordell (.221, 7 home runs, 24 RBI) during the season. An upgrade is badly needed.

Now we start to get into what’s available and what’s likely. Clearly, the biggest available name will be Mookie Betts, even though he’s not a free agent, he is expected to be traded and spend his final season before free agency somewhere other than Boston. That “somewhere” will definitely not be with the White Sox, as the cost in players wouldn’t be worth one season before he would invariably leave as a free agent for a $250 million deal elsewhere. Among free agents, there’s not much available in terms of guys who would “fit” the rebuild, though my choice (Yasiel Puig), does on every level. He hasn’t yet turned 29, he will not be cost-prohibitive, and his numbers (.267, 24 home runs, 84 RBI, 19 stolen bases) dwarf the combined numbers of 2019 Sox right fielders. Adding to that, he made $9.7 million in 2019, so even with a pay bump, he should fit right in. The fact that he would be on a team with a number of other Cuban players will help as well.

Then there are the right fielders I’m not fond of hearing about, including Kole Calhoun (.232, 33 home runs, 74 RBI), whom I believe benefited greatly from the juiced ball, as his previous three season totals in home runs were 19, 19 and 18, respectively, and he’s just about to turn 32. Also rumored regularly are Nick Castellanos (.289, 27 home runs, 73 RBI), Gerardo Parra (.234, 9 home runs, 48 RBI, about to turn 33) and our old buddy Avisail Garcia (.282, 20 home runs, 72 RBI) coming off a one-year deal with the Rays. Another good option in right is Corey Dickerson (.304, 12 home runs, 59 RBI) who played only 78 games in 2019 due to injury but won’t turn 31 until may and has a .286 career batting average.

I keep hearing and reading that potentially the Sox can trade for a right fielder, but this brings up two questions. First, who would they acquire and second, what would they send back in this hypothetical deal? Two things we know about the White Sox minor league system is that it is top heavy (outstanding top prospects and little depth) and injury-prone. And with the lack of depth on the MLB roster, the Sox can’t afford to be sending prospect packages out in trades because this rebuild has been razor thin from the start.

So, in a perfect world, the first move I make (outside of contract extensions for Jose Abreu and James McCann) is a four-year deal for Yasiel Puig to handle right field.

That leaves us with a pretty solid group in the field, with McCann behind the plate, an infield of Abreu at first, Madrigal at second, Anderson at shortstop and Moncada at third, and an outfield of Jimenez in left, Luis Robert (.328, 32 home runs, 92 RBI, 36 stolen bases and 108 runs scored across three minor league levels) in center and Puig in right. That is a group with power, speed and sufficient defensive ability assuming there is some improvement from Anderson and Jimenez and Robert is as advertised.

It’s here I want to bring up Anthony Rendon, who is mentioned pretty regularly as a possible target and it literally makes me angry to hear it. This would be signing a guy just to sign a guy, he doesn’t fit an area of need and there’s no logic to it. And I’m glad I waited until today to write this piece, because just a couple of hours ago I found out that the Washington Nationals had offered Rendon a seven-year contract for $215 million which instantly removes him from consideration because the word in the media is 100% unified that the Chicago White Sox won’t spend $200 million on a player. There may have been an offer to Manny Machado last year that in some way was in the ballpark of over $200 million and conceivably close to $250 million, but that was a once-in-a-lifetime offer. Machado was considered a legitimate franchise player, which Rendon is not. And the fact that signing Rendon would probably lead to Moncada moving back to second base, where he is not as comfortable and removing Madrigal from the equation entirely, makes absolutely no sense in any way. So I’m glad we know that offer is on the table from the Nats.

There is one offensive spot that I haven’t talked about yet, and that’s the DH spot, which was horrible last season, as White Sox designated hitters combined to hit .205 with 17 home runs. As everyone knows, the name that keeps coming up is J.D. Martinez (.304, 36 home runs, 105 RBI), who may opt out of his five-year, $110 million deal with the Red Sox.

At first, I was completely against this idea. But it’s starting to grow on me. The main reason I held my nose at the idea in the first place was Adam Dunn, Adam LaRoche and Yonder Alonso, all of whom were signed to be the full-time DH and promptly fell flat on their faces. But now I’m figuring lighting can only strike in the same spot so many times, right? And Martinez is a better hitter than any of the three previous mistakes.

My big issue here is money. I heard on a recent White Sox Talk podcast that the White Sox should just offer him his current deal. OK, I’m not a genius, but even I know that there’s no point in opting out of a contract just to sign an identical deal. His only reason for opting out would be to improve on the deal he already has. So you can scratch five years at $110 million off and consider that below the going rate. Would the White Sox be willing to go five years and, say, $130 million for a designated hitter? Time will tell. Most people (fans especially) seem to think it’s a done deal, J.D. Martinez will be the White Sox DH on Opening Day. I’m warming up to it, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.

The other options among guys who are regular DH’s isn’t exactly anything to get excited over, with Edwin Encarnacion (.244, 34 home runs, 86 RBI and about to turn 37) and Nelson Cruz (.311, 41 home runs, 108 RBI and about to turn 40) as the best of the rest.

While Cruz is an incredible slugger, his age clearly doesn’t fit in with the Sox timetable.

So, my choice here is spend the money, see if J.D. Martinez will sign for five years and $130 million and if not, the Sox may be stuck with a revolving door at DH again, with Abreu and Zack Collins and alternating between the spot, with Collins filling in at first base. I think if this turns out to be the plan, the Sox will need to acquire another catcher or hope that Yermin Mercedes or Seby Zavala can somehow hold down the fort for the season.

With Martinez, the Sox have an incredible lineup, assuming Robert and Madrigal play up to their potential and Moncada and Jimenez continue to improve. I’ll take that lineup against most any in baseball. Without Martinez, they still should score some runs.

But no matter how many runs you score, you still have to give up fewer, which brings us to the pitching staff. And before I even begin, Rick Hahn has said as much (and the press has clearly stated) forget Gerrit Cole, the Sox aren’t signing anyone to a $200 million contract and Scott Boras has already said that $200 million will be the opening bid. So the idea of the White Sox signing the best of the best at any position is a pipe dream.

That does not mean there are not some damn good starting pitchers available. My pick would be Zack Wheeler (11-8, 3.96 ERA, 195 K’s in 195 innings), who won’t turn 30 until May, and due to losing the 2015 and 2016 seasons to injury, he has less wear and tear on his arm (749 career innings) than most pitchers at his age. Other reasonable options include Jake Odorizzi (15-7, 3.51 ERA, 178 K’s in 159 innings) and Alex Wood, who is coming off an injury-plagued season of only seven starts but is only 28 years old and was a 16-game winner (and an All Star) as recently as 2017. Any of the three would be a rotation upgrade over Dylan Covey (6-29 career record, 6.54 career ERA) and the other losers who filled in the rotation last season outside of Lucas Giolito, Dylan Cease, Ivan Nova and Reynaldo Lopez.

With Michael Kopech coming back in 2020, we can basically fill in a rotation spot with him, but Nova (11-12, 4.72 ERA, 114 K’s in 187 innings and lead the American League allowing 225 hits) is a free agent, so his spot will need filling, even if he resigns with the Sox.

I think a rotation of Wheeler, Giolito, Kopech, Lopez and Cease is solid and while it’s not at the level of the offense, I think in a couple of years that it could be outstanding.

As starting pitching goes, the name I hear consistently is Dallas Keuchel, and I didn’t like it last year and I don’t like it this year. He’s basically a .500 pitcher now, as he finished 8-8 with the playoff-bound Atlanta Braves and finished 12-11 with the playoff-bound Houston Astros in 2018. He’ll be 32 in January and he’s definitely not a top-of-the-rotation ace anymore, he’s more along the lines of a third or fourth starter, and definitely not worth three years and $60 million. Look how paying that kind of money worked out for the Philadelphia Phillies with Jake Arrieta, who cashed in with a three-year deal for $75 million and has since gone 18-19 with the Phillies, and he’s only a year older than Keuchel.

There’s not much to say about the bullpen, we know Alex Colome will be back in the closer role with Kelvin Herrera and Aaron Bummer representing the best of the rest. I’m hopeful Jimmy Cordero comes back, he was outstanding in 2019 and definitely deserves a spot, along with Evan Marshall. I hope we’ve seen the last of Covey, Ross Detwiler, Jace Fry and Carson Fulmer, as none of them are legit pieces of a playoff team’s pitching staff.

I have heard multiple times that one reliever the White Sox will be in on is Dellin Betances, in spite of the fact that he pitched in a total of one game in 2019 (pitching 2/3 of an inning with 2 K’s) but I’m not sure that’s the smartest move the Sox could make there.

Most of the available free agent relievers are in their mid-30s and probably won’t be around for any kind of long-term run. They’ll be signed and flipped if the Sox fall out of the playoff race in 2020, or replaced from within once the season ends next year.

So, the team I want to see is clear, as I mentioned above. But I am legitimately worried that one of two things could happen that will ruin the offseason, the first being that the Sox, desperate to show they “belong at the big boy table,” will blow their whole wad on Anthony Rendon, who doesn’t fill a need and just upsets the team at two positions and makes a former first-round pick (Madrigal) seem a waste (which rebuilding teams can’t afford to do a lot of) or they are going to play it cozy and we’ll hear “year four” all season and they’ll sign the likes of Drew Smyly for the rotation (4-7, 6.24 ERA, 120 K’s in 114 innings) and Lonnie Chisenhall (didn’t play a single MLB game in 2019) for right field. As a Sox fan, I am conditioned to expect that the team will lowball and try to find players who won’t make much money and probably won’t make much impact and hope to catch lighting in a bottle, as my good friend Paul Scarpelli says. But that rarely works.

So as of now, with the roster in the shape it’s in at this moment, I see a team that should finish 82-80 and probably eight to ten games out of the Wild Card chase. Bring in Wheeler and J.D. Martinez and Yasiel Puig and I think you have a team capable of 88 to 90 wins and a definitive Wild Card contender. This is, of course, barring injuries to any of the main contributors, because the Sox just don’t have the depth to cover a major injury. The fact that Dylan Covey has made 45 starts and made 60 appearances in three years shows just how bad the depth is in this organization. The Yankees can plug and play because they have outstanding talent and outstanding depth, the Sox lack that depth.

I’m excited about the 2020 season and beyond, because even though the White Sox will never compete for top free agents or ever draft exceptionally well, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that a player like Luis Robert or Eloy Jimenez or even Yoan Moncada could be an MVP one day, and Giolito, Cease and Kopech could easily develop into consistent contenders for the Cy Young Award. The talent is here, it just needs to be supplemented with quality players who play positions of need. And they need to stay healthy.

I’ll blog again about this around the Winter Meetings, though I do worry that last year’s lack of activity may be an omen of things to come this year, especially with the possibility of a work stoppage looming in 2021, which would be the ultimate slap in the face to any Chicago White Sox fan after what happened during the last work stoppage in 1994. But we’ll worry about that when the time comes, for now, let’s look forward to the 2019-20 offseason.

Thank you for reading. And GO SOX!

The New Era Begins

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Around noon on Saturday, August 24, 2019, the new era begins.

The new era of me on social media.

There will be changes. Not just cosmetic changes (i.e. a new profile pic) but real change, change in substance and change in style.

My reputation precedes me when it comes to the ladies; I love girls, I always have and I always will. There is nothing more beautiful than the human female form, it’s perfect, down to the last detail. And I have always celebrated the female form on my social networking sites, be it in the form of memes or just basic photos of women in various stages of undress.

My male friends have long enjoyed these posts, as have I. However, due to the changing nature of the beast we call Facebook, I will no longer be posting these memes or photos because one person’s simple photo celebrating a beautiful woman is another person’s reason to come unhinged and report the photo as being something it is not.

This will also apply to my memes that are not about celebrating the female body. In the past I had no reservations about posting memes on any subject, no matter how controversial, so long as they were funny. I have no learned that literally anything can be perceived as “offensive” if a person wants to be despicable enough. So I will no longer post anything that could be in any way perceived as offensive to anyone, which means no memes about women in any way, no memes about relationships or marriage, no political memes or anything connected.

From here on out, my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts will feature Chicago White Sox stories, stat pieces and news, which has been a hallmark of my social media presentations for over a decade, and my memes will be the most mundane I can find, featuring Star Trek, science, cats and dogs, pun humor (as long as it’s not sexual in nature) and nothing featuring any level of bad language. Everything right down to the word “damn” is now persona non grata on my wall. My wall, and profile, will be the height of class and dignity from now on.

And I don’t want it to sound like I am doing this against my will, per se. Yes, I enjoyed posting beautiful women for everyone to enjoy, I enjoy dirty jokes and limericks and puns as much as the next person (and maybe more so), but I am not taking any chances on being locked out of my account for an entire month, especially since I am the only person on earth who is not allowed to have a secondary account; I attempted to start one and it was closed on me.

I also would like to change the narrative about myself.

While there has always been enjoyment in posting as I have posted in the past, there is also the thought of how I am perceived online, and “immature” would probably be the nicest way to word it. No one has ever been openly offended by my posts, at least to my face, though clearly someone has been or I wouldn’t have spent 14 of the past 21 days in Facebook jail. I want to get away from that and be taken more seriously as a man and as a human being.

I am also making a major change in the way I interact with others. I have always been very liberal with the like and love buttons. I enjoyed giving people feedback on their posts and I’m not one to shy away from complimenting when the circumstance dictates. From this point on, it will not matter what circumstance dictates, because I will be refraining from participating to the extent that I have in the past. I will continue to engage in baseball talk with the guys, which is literally the only reason I am on social media in the first place, but everything else is over.

Finally, I am going to be a lot more discriminating when it comes to accepting friend requests. In the past, if you were a White Sox fan or a local single female or I knew you in person, you had an automatic “in,” and others would be included on a case-by-case basis. That will no longer be the case. White Sox fandom will continue to be an automatic acceptance, but other than that, I’m going to be using the “decline” button on a regular basis and be more vigilant.

Maybe at 42 it’s just time to grow up and use social networking for the only reason I got it in the first place, to network with other White Sox fans. That’s what brought me to the show in the first place. I had my first social media account, MySpace, in 2005. I got Facebook in 2007 and Twitter in 2009. I held out on Instagram until 2016. I closed my MySpace account in 2010, but still retain the other three. And I have been going through each one, removing any questionable content as I serve out my sentence in the Facebook Penitentiary. And it has been therapeutic.

Going forward, I hope this makes for a more enjoyable experience for all involved.

Peace.

Facebook …And Justice For All

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Well, here we go again. Back in the slammer for the second time in three weeks.

I have been suspended by Facebook again, this time for promoting “hate speech” with a meme I posted. As I mentioned in my previous post, I was going to start posting more mundane memes, which would keep me out of trouble. No more risque, barely-clothed women. Just funny, G-rated pics.

So, early Saturday afternoon, I posted this meme, part of a group I posted:

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Yes, that meme got me another seven-day hitch in Facebook Penitentiary. To say I was shocked would be an understatement. To say I was dismayed would be a bigger understatement.

“Hate speech.”

Just today, I saw a meme that featured a wet cell phone in a bowl of rice that basically said you put your phone in rice because during the night the rice will draw Asians to your phone and they’ll fix it. Nothing like some good ol’ American racism that gets by without a glance while I’m in FB Jail.

This frustrated me so badly I attempted to start a new Facebook account this weekend. The upshot of that is that Facebook apparently saw I was trying to circumvent the system and put their best detectives on the case. They asked that I supply a cell number for the account, and said mine was not “valid,” and neither was my mom’s, despite the fact that we both have perfectly-functioning cell phones.

I got a fake number from a texting app and used that number to get into my new account. I was then asked to provide a photo of myself to verify myself. I did, and sure enough, my account was immediately closed. I wasn’t going to catch those bumbling fools napping, and they put me right back in the clink.

But still, “hate speech.”

Toward whom? Is saying that women “look good, smell good and taste good” promoting hate toward women? Was it the fact that the meme featured a photo of bacon frying and I was promoting hate toward towelheads? Because if you want hate speech about muslims, you came to the right place. But that’s neither here nor there and I have no desire to start a holy war with those animals.

But I digress.

I don’t ask to be treated any differently than anyone else. And while I was legitimately screwed the last time this happened (and I think all four times I have been sent to the FB Penitentiary I didn’t deserve it) but the fact is I keep seeing way worse on my newsfeed and I have no idea how that stuff passes and my memes don’t. Because my memes are funny 100% of the time and I’m not one for starting trouble or posting anything that could be considered actual “hate speech” or any variation thereof.

So, now I am going to break it down even finer, I won’t be posting memes that mention women, relationships, love, divorce, dating or anything of the kind. It is clearly too controversial. I’ll stick to memes about cats, sports, food, history and pop culture while continuing to post my regular Chicago White Sox news and pics of my cigar selections when I have an opportunity to smoke. Other than that, I am keeping everything else off-limits. I figure this may make me look less like a perverted animal anyway, because any time an attractive, unclothed woman is posted, I seem to get tagged by someone.

Yes, I love women. There is nothing on this earth more perfect than the human female. Nothing more beautiful. But that will have to be celebrated by other people in other places, because I’m done.

I keep thinking someone on my friends list is a snitch and that’s why I’m here for the second time in 21 days, but the fact remains that Facebook did a review on my “bacon” post and did, in fact, verify that it was tantamount to “hate speech,” so this falls at the feet of Facebook, who could have corrected this injustice but instead decided to sit on their hands until they saw I might be starting a new profile.

So, well played, Facebook. You got a desperate, despicable heathen off your site for seven days. Good job. I hope everything is much safer there while I’m gone. I hope it’s a new Garden of Eden.

And I’ll be back. Even more impotent than last time. I’ve spent the past 15 years of my life letting people destroy my happiness and making me miserable. And it just keeps going on, ad infinitum. But that is my burden to bear and I’ll make the best of it. And just keep doing what I do best.

Peace.

 

What’s Next?… My Future On Social Media And In Life

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With this whole “Facebook jail” thing about to end by 10:00 AM Eastern Time tomorrow, I have found myself spending the past week looking at how Facebook has affected my online time as well as my time offline, in terms of what I was doing in relation to Facebook. Like most everyone else, I tended to share pics of certain meals I had prepared, what movies I was watching as well as songs and quotes that fit my mood.

After a week of not doing that, I find myself in the odd spot of not knowing if I’ll ever do any of that again. Some shares were kind of “expected,” for instance I enjoy sharing my cigar selection with the “Cigar Obsession” group when I get a chance to smoke. I enjoy sharing as well as seeing what other group members are smoking and getting feedback on various sticks. But that’s different than posting for posting’s sake.

But it’s not just social media. I have a different outlook on everything.

First, I’ve decided that now is the time to knock off all the “not dating for a specified time” nonsense and just accept things as they are; my “dating” days are over. At 42, my best days are long past, and my options are so few that it’s not worth wasting my time. Every day I see women dating men with police records, no money, drug problems, bad teeth, you name it, and for whatever reason they are a better option than I am. Fair enough. From this day forward, no matter who you are, consider me to be unavailable.

The upshot of me being unavailable is that I am going to dedicate my spare time to many of the things I’ve wanted to do for years and didn’t have the chance to do because of ugly, complaining, exasperating women. There are no more of them in the picture, so now I can focus on my video game pursuits (MLB The Show and the Batman Arkham series, in particular), watching movies and shows I haven’t had the opportunity to see in years (or maybe ever) and spending my money on myself rather than some skank.

Two weeks ago at this time I was in love; one week ago at this time I had a feeling I would be completely taking myself off the market permanently. Today, I have.

I feel like a failure, and most of my problems in life were self-inflicted. I wasted 10 of my prime years in relationships with women I shouldn’t have even given a second glance to. Disgusting, worthless women. That is 100% on me. Instead of pursuing women that were on my level, I consistently aimed low and settled for far less than I should have.

This past week has allowed me to look deep inside my own soul and I am so ready to change the way I live and how I interact on social media and in person with society. I feel happier already and have definitely enjoyed my day. I’m ready to watch DC Comics shows and movies, play video games, smoke cigars, cook, go for long drives and just be happy for a change. I haven’t been consistently happy since 2005. I’m long overdue.

Thank you for reading.

Facebook: Where Justice Goes Out The Window

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I have had a Facebook account, in one way or another, for over 12 years.

My first account was open from the summer of 2007 until June of 2010. I opened a new one then and kept it open until December 2012. I opened the current account I have then and have been using it ever since, though I have wished I had started a new one on a number of occasions. I usually opened a new account when I wanted to erase my past.

From the summer of 2007 until the fall of 2018, I never had my account blocked once due to anything I had posted. In the past nine months, I have been blocked three times. But there’s more to the story than “Jason violated Facebook terms and conditions.”

In 2018, I twice posted memes that were, indeed, tasteless, but they featured no nudity or anything of a sexual context whatsoever, but I didn’t fight it because I figured that someone, somewhere, could have been offended and I made a point of not posting memes or jokes that fell into that area just to save face and not get blocked again.

Monday morning, I posted a meme. This meme:

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This meme earned an immediate seven-day ban due to “nudity.” As you can clearly see, there is no nudity in this meme whatsoever. This time I could not let this stand, so I asked for a review, assuming they would see their mistake and the meme would be restored and I would not remain blocked, which any clear-thinking person would feel the same way.

I received the following response from Facebook in my notifications:

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They are quite explicit in announcing that they were wrong and my meme did not violate community standards. So what is the point of this blog, you may be wondering…

I am still blocked for seven days.

Yes, I was blocked due to a violation that Facebook clearly states was NOT a violation, yet I remain blocked for the full term I would have received under a violation. I likened this to being on trial for murder, and the supposed victim walks into the courtroom, proving beyond doubt that the accused is innocent, yet the judge goes ahead and convicts the accused of murder and sentences him to life in prison. Just because, with no explanation.

I attempted to contact Facebook on three occasions following this miscarriage of justice and my messages remain unread, and nothing has changed. Yet within an hour they were able to verify that my post was not a violation, and within 60 seconds of posting the meme it was flagged. It seems they are quick on the condemnation trigger and very slow at correcting the wrongs they have committed. And this situation is completely over the top.

This has been the cherry on one of the worst weeks of my life. I don’t want to get into specifics on that, it’s all first-world problems. But this has been the flash-point that has put me into one of the lowest moods I’ve ever been in. As a lot of people know, in December 2017, I was accused of something I did not do and was almost dropped into the legal system before the truth came out and I was cleared. I almost feel like I’m suffering from PTSD from going through another situation where I am being punished for something I didn’t do, being blocked on Facebook for a meme that didn’t violate terms of service.

I have spent a lot of time looking back at my life from 1996 to 2005 and remembering how happy I was not having social networking and I’m really wondering if it wouldn’t be in my best interest to just delete Facebook and start my life with a clean slate.

I remain blocked until Monday morning. The next time I get blocked (and I’m sure I will because if I can be even though I haven’t violated any rules, obviously I don’t need to commit a violation in order to get blocked again) will be for 30 days, and once that happens there is no question whatsoever that I will be finished with Facebook for good.

Be vigilant out there, kids. It is very possible that you can get taken down and punished even though you haven’t done anything wrong. I have lived it twice in a year and a half, and that is two more times than anyone should have to deal with it.

Thank you for taking the time to read. Peace.

UPDATE

I write this blog update roughly 15 hours before my seven-day Facebook suspension ends. As I mentioned previously, I had contacted Facebook and attempted to let them know that my suspension was in error, but nearly seven days after I sent in that report, my message remains “submitted” and never “read.”

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I also learned that Facebook has a rather, shall we say, “unique” way of dealing with those of us who have been blocked and attempt to rectify the situation via the links included on the site that were put in place specifically for that purpose: The links do not work if you are blocked. That’s the most Nazi thing I have ever seen.

A link is provided to blocked users to “report” that they have been blocked without proper reason, yet that link leads only to an error message. However, I subsequently learned, using a fake account, that you can click on that link from a blocked account and as long as it opens in a browser that Facebook has been signed into through a non-blocked account, the link will work. It’s simply disabled for blocked users.

The same type of “glitch” works in Facebook Messenger, as well.

The bottom line with all of this is, to quote legendary wrestling manager Jim Cornette, “a God damn bunch of bullshit.” And due to this, I will be drastically altering how I use Facebook. Rather than being the guy who you can count on for memes or pics of beautiful women in as little clothing as Facebook allows, I’ll be sticking strictly to White Sox news and results and memes that have been Sesame Street approved.

Your move, Facebook.