Quick Thoughts by Jason J. Connor

Quick-Thoughts

“QUICK THOUGHTS”

– I have said on multiple occasions that as bad as the past 10 years have been, 2019 was one of the better years of the decade. That was just a straight up, boldfaced lie. The fact is, 2019 has been as bad as most and worse than many. Five stints in Facebook Jail (including one instance in which I was cleared of any wrongdoing but just left in Facebook Jail for a week anyway) after zero the previous 12 years… Dealing with women I should never have given a second glance to but keeping one around for nearly a month and another for nearly TEN months… Another losing season by the Chicago White Sox (seventh in a row and ten out of 11 overall)… All this promise for a big offseason that just melted away last night with Rick Hahn’s “no urgency to do anything” white flag speech… The only thing that has separated 2019 from any other year is it’s the first time since 2010 that I haven’t wanted to die at some point during the year, so I guess I have that going for me, or something.

– I don’t know what changed with Facebook in 2019 but the Gestapo would fear Facebook had it been around in the 1930s and 1940s. In the old days, you could start an account with an email address, verify the address and you’re good to go. If you violated the ridiculous “too many likes, too fast” rule, you got multiple warnings before they shut down your ability to “like” for 24 hours. And I imagine you would have to go pretty far afield to get put in Facebook jail. In 2019, starting a new account (or attempting to, in my case, because I’m not allowed, for some reason) included email verification, cell phone number verification, head shot photo and, amazingly, driver’s license verification. To start a page on a free social networking site. If you somehow manage to get an account, and you “like” too much, too fast? Instant 30 day block. No warning, no word on how many “likes” are too many, just an instantaneous block for 30 days. And if someone just doesn’t like you? They can report a post and you can go to Facebook jail for offending someone over literally anything.

– For the first time in my life, “I’m not going to date next year” has gotten a 100% positive reaction from everyone I know. That tells you just how bad things have actually gotten. No longer do I get “you just haven’t met the right woman yet” or “things will improve.” Now everyone agrees it’s best if I just remove myself from the situation at large and stop pretending that, at age 42, I’m gonna walk into the forest and find Sleeping Beauty laying there just waiting for me. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but I think in the long run it’s going to be a lot better for me, mentally and emotionally.

– It’s hard being a White Sox fan. Listening to Kenny Williams walk into the GM meetings last month talking about how it’s “business as usual, but much more.” Then a month later hearing that there is no urgency to do anything, straight from the mouth of Rick Hahn. Seven straight losing seasons? There clearly has never been any urgency. We’re just happy to show up, take our ass-whooping and go home. For those who aren’t Sox savvy, the White Sox have won three World Series titles in the past 119 years, the first in 1906, the second in 1917 and the third in 2005. They also played in the 1959 World Series and lost. Now if anything says “no urgency,” I think that speaks volumes.

– I have really high hopes for 2020 and the decade of the 2020s. But every day things just seem a little less optimistic and a little more “here we go again.” My personal failings are generally self-induced, like my awful taste in women and my stubbornness when it comes to walking away from a situation that is not ideal. But other issues, like Facebook, I can’t take much personal responsibility for. A week in Facebook jail over a meme about a plate of bacon? Find one person on earth that would be offended by that. Besides some towelhead, I mean. The beheading videos are fine, just don’t show a plate of bacon or someone will be offended. Yeah, that’s me being singled out. That’s someone with an ax to grind or Facebook itself deciding to make an example of someone. And it’s me.

– I’m dedicating 2020 to good cigars, good liquor, good food, good friends and White Sox baseball. It’s going to be the year I turn my life around and focus on me and not hours in front of my phone with some harlot, or on the couch in my man cave with some harlot, or with some harlot in any way, shape or form. And if 2020 turns out as badly as the previous 15 years, I don’t know what to do.

Thank you for taking the time to read. Peace.

2020: A New Beginning And A New Era

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As I have hopefully made clear in previous posts, I am really ready for the decade of the 2010s to end. This has been the worst decade of my life by a wide margin. In fact, this has been the first decade of my life I would give a failing grade to. I am a generally positive person who can see the good in a bad situation but the good from the 2010s are few and far between.

This blog will not be beating a dead horse and looking back at all that toxic negativity. This blog is about hope, positivity and the future. I think the 2020s have a chance to be great.

I also want to lay out what I want to accomplish as we reach the dawn of a new era.

What has me most excited for the 2020s is the ascension of the Chicago White Sox from laughingstock of Major League Baseball to a viable contender for a World Series title. The decade of the 2010s was just as bad for my favorite baseball team as it was for me. From 2010 through 2019, the White Sox had one (1) winning season out of 10, in 2012, when they finished 85-77 and in second place in the American League Central. Other than that, nothing but negatives.

That is changing, however, as the rebuild that began in late 2016 is starting to bear fruit. It will be fun to follow the team as they continue their improvement for the next several years.

On a personal level, there are a lot of things I want to see change from the 2010s into the 2020s. Physically, mentally and emotionally. I have figured out my mistakes and I am ready to not only stop making them but to move on from them and forget them. Leave the past in the past.

Physically, while I made some strides in 2019, I am far from a finished product. Probably 60 pounds, at least, need to be removed from me when I step on the scale. I want to start making a workout program part of every day, much like I did back in my younger days. In my early 20s, I participated in a weight training program seven days a week and was very happy with myself. I was at my physical peak then. Right now I’m not. I’m still showing the effects of the past ten years and I want to put that in full reversal, with losing weight being the most important. I lost a lot of hair, especially in the latter part of the decade from stress, and am considering just shaving my head. This has been frowned upon by some female acquaintances, but more on that later.

I plan on working out my exercise program in the next week or so, I want to do some combination of weight training and aerobic, while adding endurance exercises later on in 2020.

I debate daily on keeping my beard or trimming it down to a notch above a five-o’clock shadow look. I’ll never go clean-shaven again, but the mountain man look may be a little too much.

I’m thinking maybe a basic buzz cut, not a razor-shaven bald head, with a light beard.

I look young for my age in spite of what stress has done to me in the 2010s and I don’t want to lose that. I have watched my mom age 30 years in the past five and I don’t want to do that at 42 years old. My mom didn’t start to really age until she was 80. I want that kind of longevity.

I also have to start getting more sleep, which means going to bed earlier and actually going to sleep, rather than surfing the web on my phone and being in bed for eight hours but only sleeping for four. I have to make myself understand that the internet will still be there in the morning.

So, if I can drop about 60 pounds, get the “look” that I want and get some sleep, I’ll consider that a victory and a good beginning for the decade. There is no reason I can’t accomplish those goals.

From a mental standpoint, there is a lot I want to do on many fronts. I want to learn. I want to put my mind to work more than I have in the past 15 years. That means exchanging girls for academics, on whatever level of academics I happen to land. I enjoyed scratching the surface on my scientific learning in 2019 and certainly hope to continue that, just on an expanded basis.

Other subjects I would like to study more in-depth include the American Civil War, of which I have been a knowledge sponge for decades. I love American history but haven’t done enough about it. I have a lot of information at my disposal and intend on packing my brain with that info.

Also on the mental side of things, I want to put more time into my MLB The Show franchise on the PlayStation 4. This has been a desire of mine dating back to the mid-1990s, when I was playing Ken Griffey, Jr.’s Winning Run on the Super Nintendo. I want to play the part of general manager and build the White Sox like I was running the team. I have been through a number of video games in an attempt to do this, including every MLB offering from Sony since MLB 98 over 20 years ago. If I fail in this endeavor again, I have a secondary option I would like to give a try to again.

Back in the 1990s, I enjoyed playing NCAA Football games and “creating” myself at UCLA, playing my career there, and then getting drafted into the NFL. The earliest version of this started in 1995, my senior year in high school. I haven’t given it a real try since 2001, but if MLB The Show fails, 2020 may be the time to do it, 25 years after the original run. I have to use outdated games (NCAA Football 14 is the newest to be released due to licensing issues, but it will have to do).

More importantly, from a standpoint of my mental health, is to nurture my friendships with the people who actually care about me and to eliminate the toxic people from my life. This may seem like a no-brainer, but I have a really bad habit of being involved with toxic people. And this is not a new phenomenon, this has followed me for most of my life, for at least 30 years now. I need to stop dealing with people who either don’t have my best interests at heart or who only want me around for what I can do for them, or who just get a kick out of seeing me miserable.

Most importantly, it’s beyond time for me to accept defeat and put an end to my lifelong pointless attempt to meet a woman and fall in love. This exercise in futility was put to bed in 1996 but for some reason in 2005 I decided to try again and from 2005 through 2019 I have experienced one failure after another, in the worst-case scenarios I could have lost my life and in the best-case scenarios I suffered daily anxiety, and there is no way that’s the desired result in a relationship. The fact is, I’ve always known I was better off alone and now I am all in on that theory.

This is not a “you’ll meet the right woman someday” kind of thing, I have put that idea away a long time ago. I live in a low-population area and I’m not doing long distance, so I have exhausted all local options and am going to make a point of avoiding anything that may introduce anyone new into the equation. The only way I would even consider entering the dating pool again is if I move out of this God-forsaken area and have an entirely new demographic to work through.

Even then, I’ll be a bit standoffish, but I would definitely be a lot more open to “fate.”

Emotionally, a lot of these changes will help me eliminate the stress and anxiety I feel most days that I just try to suppress. The problem is, suppressing stress and anxiety is what got me into the physical wreck I am today. From 2010 to 2017 I put on almost 100 pounds, lost a lot of hair, suffered from stomach ulcers, lack of sleep, twitching eyes, a wrecked immune system and migraine headaches. As I eliminated the stress and anxiety, a lot of these things began to clear up. If I can eliminate all of them, I can begin to rebuild the wreckage that was once my body.

I have also been trying to “clean up my act” a bit on social networking. I am in the midst of a 30-day suspension on Facebook that could lead to a lifetime ban from what I have read and having my account permanently closed, due to memes I have posted that were considered “offensive.” This is borderline hilarious, due to the fact that one of the times I was sent to Facebook jail I reposted a meme I had posted one year previously and nothing was said about it. In fact, I have spent five hitches in Facebook jail in my life and all five were in 2019. In the previous 12 years, I had never been in Facebook jail. Once, I was accused of “posting spam,” which was actually White Sox news stories. I fought the law and I won, as my stories were returned to my wall and no action was taken. I can say 2019 was the worst year I ever spent on Facebook and I hope that will improve going forward, assuming I have a Facebook account to go back to in two weeks time.

I have cleaned up all the sexual posts, bad language posts and the kinds of things that make one look less intelligent or socially unacceptable. I also plan to ravage my friends list and remove people that shouldn’t be there, and I will be very discriminating going forward in terms of who is allowed into my circle. There will be a solid vetting process with who gets into my life.

So, if I can work myself back into shape, get the look I want, eliminate the stress and negativity and toxicity from my life, start learning again, accomplish what I want on MLB The Show (preferably) or NCAA Football, successfully end my dating life and make my social networking pages a reflection of the guy I actually am rather than the off-color comedian I had always wanted to be, I will consider 2020 to be a success. And I think if I accomplish even 10% of my goals, 2020 will be a major improvement over 2019 and a massive improvement over the rest of the 2010s.

I’m staking a claim on the 2020s as “my decade,” the one where I bring out the best in myself and allow God to put me where I should be rather than fighting tooth and nail to make bad decisions and put myself into problem areas that I should never have been involved with in the first place. I have the tools and the ability to make the best of this decade and I’ll do everything I can to accomplish that goal. I want to forget the 2010s ever happened and look strictly forward.

There is no reason I can’t be living my best life in 2020 and every year after that. Its just a matter of actually applying myself to the task at hand and doing it. There is nothing holding me back. If I were to fail, I have no one to blame but myself. But I’m going to do all I can to succeed.

Thank you for taking the time to read. Peace.

Escape From My Toxic Mental Prison

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In my previous blog entry, I discussed the fact that the decade of the 2010s was the worst of my life, by far. I also discussed how I had high hopes for the 2020s.

A major part of what I’m leaving behind in the 2010s and looking forward to in the 2020s is the escape from my toxic mental prison that the 2010s are responsible for.

The fact is, the vast majority of problems I mentioned in the previous blog were self-inflicted. I ended up in a toxic mental prison through my own stupid decisions. My inability to walk away from toxic situations rather than being inundated by them has been at the forefront of my problems for as long as I can remember. They have just gotten worse in the past 15 years and especially in the past nine years. That will be changing now.

I am trimming people out of my life at a rate I have never even come close to previously. Rather than letting other people dictate my life to me, I have become proactive in this area. I’m tired of putting myself second and always kowtowing to people who don’t deserve that kind of respect from me. I’m just tired of always feeling like I’m drowning.

I have even fought with myself about things I should have just let go.

I am making a point of removing any woman from my life who had any kind of romantic interest in me because no matter what the future does hold for me, a relationship will not be among them. There is no kind of toxicity worse than a relationship and I know that from every one I have ever been in, or ever considered or wanted. That’s not for me.

Furthermore, I am eliminating people who only have me around for their own selfish gain. This hitch in Facebook jail has shown me who is and is not a real friend. Some friends have reached out to me through other means (text message, Instagram, Twitter) while others have just sat and waited for my return. Others still have unfriended me.

Good riddance for good to that last group. Whoever they are, they need to stay away.

Basically, it’s time to strip away all the people in my life who are not White Sox networking friends, and my inner circle of one. I need to clear not only my life but my conscience as well. I need this for my mental health, my self-esteem and my will to live.

I’m so tired of living on pins and needles, worrying about what is going to befall me day after day. That doesn’t work for me. I’m tired of being upset, stressed and angry and rotating between those emotions. I’m ready to be happy, I think I have earned it.

In 17 days, I get out of Facebook jail and I will begin blocking people who have caused me to feel this toxicity. In 28 days, the calendar turns over to a new decade and it’s time to turn things around. The 2010s did a lot of damage and it’s time to clean up the mess.

Peace.

The 2010s: The Worst Decade Of My Life

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As we finish up 2019 I have gotten into a nostalgic mood (not that I’m ever in any other kind of mood) and have started talking stock of the past decade. As I am 42 years old, I have lived in 5 different decades, the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s and 2010s. Naturally, I have no memories whatsoever of the 1970s, as my earliest defined memory would be my birthday in 1981, and my memories of it are foggy and disconnected, to say the least.

The 1980s, of course, were my “growing up” decade and I did love that era. The movies, the music, the cartoons, the toys, everything about the 1980s was incredible.

The 1990s, on the other hand, were my “grown up” decade. And still my favorite decade of my life. The 1990s began when I was in junior high, covered high school and college and really helped me to establish who I am today. The 1990s were the best.

The 2000s are kind of a mixed bag, and I would split it in half right down the middle. The first half, from 2000 to mid-2005, was great, right on par with the 1990s, or maybe just a notch below, but great, to say the least. The second half, from mid-2005 through 2009, was not. It was pretty unhappy. Not miserable, but a long way from pleasant. I have come to realize that my life took a nosedive after I began using the internet, which I started using in March 2005. At first I used it strictly for baseball info and downloading rosters, wallpapers and video game information. But once I started meeting people, it was all downhill.

That brings us to the 2010s. Without question, the worst decade of my life. Bar none. It’s not even close. The number of enjoyable things that happened to me in the 2010s I could probably count on one hand and have fingers left over. Truly the pits.

I was going to take a year-by-year look at the decade, but so many of the years run together because the misery stretched so far. I’m not saying it was a total loss, 2010 was the best year of the decade by far (until I hit November) and 2019 was a close second, but neither of those years would hold a candle to anything out of the 1980s or 1990s.

Being a generally happy guy, it’s difficult to look back and see how bad the 2010s really were, but there was nothing of any redeeming value in this decade for me. Oh, there were positives, don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying it was a 100% unsatisfactory decade, even in the worst years. But overall, I’d give the decade an “F” on a grading scale.

A warning in advance, most of this retrospective is going to be lacking in details. This is not because I can’t remember or because I don’t want to embarrass anyone. Quite the contrary, I choose to not remember some of the details because I don’t want to embarrass myself for having made such stupid decisions during this time period. So those details are lost to time.

The year 2010 opened with me in hot pursuit of a woman I had met on MySpace and within the first week I had completely blown that to kingdom come. The woman in question lived about an hour away and had four kids (which would break all kinds of rules I would set for myself later in the year) but she was beautiful and I really wanted to get with her. My refusal to sell out some friends of mine lead to our abrupt demise as a potential couple.

It turned out she was right in the long run, I should have eliminated those friends, both female. I ended up fooling around with one a couple of weeks later in spite of knowing that she was married. The other would cause me problems later in the year, but what’s done is (or was) done and I decided then that I was not going to get in a relationship in 2010. No matter who or what came along. As you’ll see, that wasn’t to be the case at all.

I started flying the flag of “social dating,” a concept I liked and a phrase I had coined at some point in the spring of 2010. Meet a girl, go out, have a nice time, go with the flow and let whatever happens happen, and then move onto the next one. Don’t date to find a relationship, date to have a good time. This was to take all the dramatics out of the equation because there would be no relationship and no one would “belong” to anyone else.

That all worked fine until June when I let a girl catch me who had chased me for around four years. She lived about an hour away and we only got to hang out together three times in the month that we were a couple, but even then I felt like I was a prisoner, I couldn’t do what I wanted, when I wanted, because there was someone else in the equation now. So I gave her an ultimatum in July, open relationship or no relationship and she chose none.

It was around this time that I created “the list,” which was a checklist of prerequisites for any woman I would take an interest in dating. This didn’t apply to hookups or one night stands, this was strictly related to being in an actual relationship. My rules list included no children, the woman in question would have to live within a certain distance, had to be financially secure on some level, have a working car, just something to kind of separate the garbage from the actual legitimate options. Not that it would matter in the long run.

In June I closed my MySpace account, which was jarring in many ways. A woman I had dated in the late 2000s once begged me to close our social media accounts and I told her, point blank, “I will never close my MySpace account.” Less than two years later, it was gone. I also opened a new Facebook account and kind of reorganized my life at that point.

The next three months were similar to the “social dating” era, and much happier for me.

Then, in November, I made the mistake that not only ruined the decade but nearly ruined my entire life. A mammoth mistake I will probably hold against myself forever. This mistake doesn’t need to be delved into, just suffice to say a situation was presented to me with a number of options and I made the worst possible choice and it has haunted me since.

While 2010 was a decent year, all things considered, 2011 was a bad year, though it was far from the worst. There were some good happenings, for instance I bought my first iPod in 2011, and a stereo with a docking station to go with it. I also found my backward-compatible PlayStation 3 which allowed me to play PlayStation 2 games on it, toward the end of 2011. So there were some good parts to 2011, I’ll admit.

On the flip side came 2012, probably the second-worst year of the decade for me.

A near-mistake in August 2012 could have been the fatal mistake of my life, but God was looking out for me and thanks to luck or karma or something, that mistake didn’t happen. And by December, I had actually managed to work myself out of the mistake I had made in November 2010. Things were starting to look up, and I started feeling happy again.

As 2013 turned over, though, things took a drastic turn for the worse before January was over. I allowed myself to get talked into the same bad mistake I had made in November 2010. Only this time, it was going to be even worse and my life was at stake this time.

February 2013. I was told I was going to be a father. I had my doubts, given circumstances surrounding the pregnancy and whom I was dealing with, that lasted the duration of the pregnancy. But would certainly come to question it more extensively in later years.

In May 2013, my tabby cat, Bubbles, passed away. My plan had always been to string myself up when he passed so that we could both be cremated and our ashes preserved together. But now that I had a child on the way, that took the steam out of my demise.

Bubbles was 18 years old, and he passed when I was 36, meaning he was part of half of my life. For a good portion of that time, he was all that I had. I loved him unconditionally. And when he passed, and I needed, for once in my life, some emotional support, I got it from my best friend. A big part of me died along with Bubbles that day. Maybe all of me should have.

My son was born on October 22, 2013, and I had no doubt he was mine, based on comparisons of his baby picture to mine and the bond began to form, but I still ordered an online DNA test, I would swab my mouth as well as the baby’s and then we would send the swabs to the lab and the results would be mailed to us in a matter of weeks.

I had not signed his birth certificate, not because I had doubts to that extent at that time, but because I was deathly sick at the time. I had pneumonia and a temperature that reached 103 degrees. I was told I couldn’t be near him with a fever like that and I was mostly bedridden anyway, weak and going between extreme sweats and freezing to death.

The DNA test results arrived several weeks later in the mail, and I was not on hand for the opening of the envelope, I simply received a text message with a picture of the supposed “results” that could have been doctored in any number of ways, and this was supposed to prove something, which it didn’t. It just furthered my distrust for the whole situation.

The next four years (2014-17) kind of blur together. I loved my son and felt a feeling I had only felt for Bubbles previously, that of complete, unconditional love. He was daddy’s boy, if his mom was going somewhere and I was staying home, he wanted to stay with me. If I was leaving and his mom was staying home, “I go with my dad.” We had a bond I wish my dad had felt with me. I introduced him to things kids his age would never have been aware of because I grew up with them, like Pac-Man and Q-Bert. I bought him a PlayStation 4, and gave him a PlayStation 3 so we could play Ghostbusters and Lego Batman games.

My son was, by far, the best part of the decade of the 2010s. I just wanted to take him away from the people he was with and bring him to my house, where he belonged. His birthright. I never lived with his mother, and would have rather died first and nearly did. I just wanted my son, to make sure he was raised in a good home and wanted for nothing. That was all I ever wanted. I definitely did not, in any way, want anything to do with anyone else connected to the situation and, in fact, wanted away from them as quickly as it could be arranged.

In 2014, I bought my first flatscreen HDTV. By 2016, I had populated my house with them. In 2015, I bought my PlayStation 4, because I was afraid the MLB The Show series was going to be PS4 exclusive. I was a year or two off, but glad I went ahead and upgraded.

One of the biggest happenings for me in the 2010s came in late 2014, when AC/DC released a new album, “Rock Or Bust,” their first studio album since 2008. Definite high point at a time when high points were so few and far between that I was almost devoid of feelings.

My Jeep was involved in an accident in 2015, as I was driving a back road some punk kid in a sports car hit me head on and totaled my Jeep, which I had since 2001. I took the insurance settlement and had the Jeep repaired because my mission was to put 250,000 miles on it and at that point I was about 20,000 miles short and I wasn’t giving up that easily.

My mom had a heart attack on November 5, 2015. She was getting ready to go to a hair appointment and she ended up flat on her back in her recliner and my dad took her to the emergency room. A couple of hours later I got a phone call, that she had a heart attack. She was in the hospital for a little over a week and while she was in there, it was discovered that she had a cancerous lesion on her colon, so after a few weeks at home to recover from the heart attack (and subsequent insertion of stents) she was back in the hospital again for the removal of a couple of feet of colon that included the cancerous area.

My mom was always very youthful in spite of her age (she was 44 when I was born) and I can remember back in the late 1990s and early 2000s taking her to the grocery store and to places like Walmart, Ames and Kmart. At the time, Ames had a special on Tuesday’s, anyone over 55 got 10% off their purchases. Mom was routinely carded because even though she was pushing 65, she didn’t look it. I can honestly say she has aged 30 years in the past five, and her mental capacity has dropped beyond anything I could have ever imagined.

By 2017 my misery was overcoming the good in my life. I sat in my room one night in April and stared at 60 “ZzzQuil” sleeping capsules and a full bottle of Jack Daniel’s whiskey. I worked through the pros and cons of death. Physically and emotionally and mentally I was a mess. My hair was falling out, I had stomach ulcers, I couldn’t sleep, I was stress eating and had gained 80 pounds in about three years, my eyes were constantly twitching, I was sick almost all the time due to my immune system not firing on all cylinders, and finally I was diagnosed with migraine headaches. That was it.

My love for my son turned out to be stronger than my longing for the grave, thank God.

Malcolm Young, rhythm guitarist of AC/DC and my favorite band for decades, passed away in November 2017, casting more of a shadow on an already awful and miserable year.

I struggled through the summer and fall of 2017, trying to find a way out. One was found for me. And it presented me with the most difficult situation I would face the entire decade.

An attempt was made to file charges against me in December 2017 that could have lead to a lengthy prison sentence. And I fought those false charges tooth and nail, no matter what was thrown at me. For the better part of a month I didn’t know if I would live to see another sunrise. But I was not going to be beaten, and in the end, I was cleared of all charges. But the decision to not sign my son’s birth certificate came back to bite me at this point, as in family court, in January 2018, the judge announced that there would need to be a DNA test (an “official” one administered by the state) and a parenting plan for my son.

This didn’t happen, no paternity test was ever done. That spoke volumes, all I needed to know. My questions about the eagerness to open the 2013 DNA test without me there to see it and quickly sweep that under the rug suddenly made a lot of sense to me. So, I had lost my son, or what I was told and thought to be my son. I couldn’t do anything, I had no parental rights whatsoever since I hadn’t signed the birth certificate.

At worst, I had lost my boy. At best, I was out of a miserable, deadly situation I never should have been in to begin with, had I just used common sense way back in November 2010.

I took advantage of my newfound freedom in 2018 and tried to do a complete life overhaul. New TVs, new stereos, a new PC, a new cell phone, I upgraded everything I could think of, right down to a brand-new desk chair and recliner and stand for my new TV. I did not, however, do as I had in 2012 and start new social networking sites. I wish I had. I met a number of women in 2018, all of whom would show themselves to be flakes or liars or something almost as low as the garbage I had left in my rear-view mirror. But not quite. I was ghosted or lied to or lead on by a number of women and finally just stopped altogether, I decided in November 2018 that I was not going to date anyone for at least one year.

While discussing it, I told a friend that 2018 was no better than 2017 or 2016 or 2015, it just had a different cast of characters in it. And I knew that needed to change in 2019.

I made the final major change of my life this year, I bought a new Jeep. I sent my old one to the scrapheap 18 years after buying it and with almost 257,000 miles on it. My new Jeep is an upgrade in every way, and a good symbol of where I want things to go in the future.

While 2019 has been far superior to every year back to 2010, it has still been a clusterfuck in many ways and I’ll be glad to see it, and this decade, come to an end. I hate it.

In 2019, I was placed in Facebook jail four times for mundane memes I posted and am now locked out until December 18. None would have been found to be “offensive” in any other medium short of a church bulletin, but that doesn’t matter. This put a major roadblock in front of my decision to start all new social networking pages. I still may do that, in fact, I would like to start a new Facebook account and simply update the screen name and URL of my other social networking accounts. The problem comes in here, with my blog, which uses the JasonConnor612 URL, which I also use on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.

So, as I close up the final five weeks of 2019, I have high hopes for the 2020s. There will clearly be some bad times coming up, I don’t see any way my elderly mother (or father, for that matter) will live through the next decade, as my mother is 85 (86 in January) and my father is 81 (82 in September). That’s just something I’ll have to deal with when the time comes and I’m hopeful I have the good fortune to live to a ripe old age as well. But I’m hopeful the good times in the 2020s will outweigh the bad, unlike the horrible 2010s.

I always try to see the positive side of things, and in this case the only positive I can come up with is I’ve almost lived through the 2010s, in spite of twice pondering suicide and dealing with health problems brought on by stress that could have easily killed me. I always say that everything happens for a reason, and I’m still standing today for a reason I don’t know.

In closing, here’s to a bright and happy future and a whole new era in my life. God bless.

 

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!