Normally, I would hold my yearly retrospective until closer to the end of the year, like I did in 2020 (which was published on December 18, 2020).
However, it wouldn’t matter if I won the lottery every week for the rest of the year and if Paige Spiranac showed up at my door and asked me to marry her, I don’t think this trainwreck of a year could be saved. It’s been that bad.
It’s amazing to think that three short years ago I sat here and penned a blog about how good I thought the 2020’s would be. I suffered through a miserable decade in the 2010’s, I wouldn’t wish a decade like that on my worst enemy.
The 2020’s have been worse, so far.
The year 2020 brought us COVID and the subsequent illegal lockdown. As bad as that year seemed at the time, it would pale in comparison to what was ahead for me. In 2021, I nearly lost one of my closest friends over personal nonsense, and she and I barely spoke the entire year. I got into a relationship I had no business getting into (the “personal nonsense”) and in September I lost my mother after a battle with dementia.
Which brings us to 2022. And the downhill slide continued.
The nonsensical relationship I was in dominated the first nine months of the year. Even though it was of the long-distance variety, I felt like a prisoner. How to explain what it was like? I cringed when my phone went off, whether it was a text or a call. I cried myself to sleep many nights, which in itself is completely pathetic. I could have walked away at any time, but I didn’t. It’s the same story I’ve lived 15 times before, I’m in a situation that makes me want to die but I don’t have the good sense to walk away.
Mercifully, she walked away in late September, and a weight was lifted off me. But a new one quickly emerged. While I was happy that miserable experience was over, it reinforced something that had been bothering me for some time; I have a 100% failure rate when it comes to relationships. I’ve mentioned this in a previous blog, and it’s something I just have a hard time coming to grips with it. A success rate of 0% over 35 years. I don’t know how anything could be more pathetic. And it will never improve.
Having that black cloud of misery hanging over my head for almost 10 months, I also got to experience what may well be the worst baseball season for the Chicago White Sox I have ever seen, and possibly the worst ever for the organization.
While an 81-81 record doesn’t sound as bad as, say, the Pittsburgh Pirates season (62-100), the Pirates went into their season knowing they were likely going to finish in last place. The White Sox were expected to make a run at the World Series. Instead, they finished 11 games out of first place and failed to make the playoffs.
I preached the entire season that this team wasn’t good enough to contend, but I was met at every turn by fan boys who insisted they’d be just fine and just to wait. I waited, and it went just about like I had predicted it would.
Speaking of fan boys, I have begun to wonder lately if every sports team has fan boys, who refuse to criticize the team no matter what happens. I just don’t understand how anyone could support every move a team makes even when they know it’s the wrong one. A real fan wants to see his team succeed, not just kiss their collective asses every time something happens, good or bad. Do all teams have fans like that?
The stress of that stupid relationship and this stupid ball club got me back into stress eating, something I hadn’t done in over a decade. Now I’m even more overweight and even more miserable, and I’m sitting here again placing all my hopes and dreams on the turning over of the calendar to make everything right again.
I’ve started laying out plans for 2023. I’m once again updating the MLB The Show rosters for next season because I hope to start a franchise next spring with the White Sox. If that fails (again, for what would probably be the 23rd straight year), I have made the decision that it may be time to cut ties with the White Sox, and Chicago in general and bring my world closer to home. I may start following the WVU Mountaineers.
So much time has been spent thinking on this situation. I would be walking away from a lot, friends, important connections, an excellent network of fans and a social media presence. I’d be giving all that up to start again at the bottom, going from Major League Baseball back to the college ranks and a university I’ve barely followed at all since the mid 1990s. But if baseball fails me again, I am truly ready to make the move.
I have also made the decision that, if this happens, I will be ready to completely start over with new social media accounts, email accounts and maybe even a new phone number. This is a move I should have made before 2020 began, but I decided to just push forward with where I am now. I won’t make the same mistake twice.
It’s also time to get back into physical fitness. I bought a new weight bench which I plan to put together over the next several weeks, and starting in January I plan on putting my broken, swollen and disgusting body back together again.
The thing that has made this year so much worse than the previous few is that I have completely lost my desire to do anything. I’ve had to force myself to work on the baseball rosters even though I have wanted to do a franchise on MLB The Show for as long as that has been an option. I want to get back into watching The “Chicago” shows (Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D. and Chicago Med). Can’t seem to do that either.
But I’m finally at what feels like rock bottom and I’m ready to start making the climb back up. And I hope that finally, when that calendar turns from 2022 to 2023, things start looking better than they have lately because I can’t deal with much more of this. I’d rather have another 2020 than another 2022. This year can absolutely fuck off. If I could, I’d wipe it from my mind. While admittedly it wasn’t as bad as 2017, it was still bad enough that I’d rank it in the bottom three years of my life (2017, 2022 and 1996).
So, we’ll see where things go from here. One thing is for certain, there’s nowhere to go but up. But I’ve also said that in the past and was wrong. I just want to be happy.
Every year the Sox Machine blog posts a template for what is known as the “offseason plan project,” where anyone can give their thoughts on what they would like the White Sox to do in the offseason, in terms of whether to tender or non-tender eligible players, sign or not sign pending free agents, propose trades and things like that.
This year I’m going to do this a little differently, I’m going to list not only what I would do in terms of roster construction, but what I think the team will do as well, because there will definitely be a lack of consensus between myself and the Sox front office.
This is going to be a difficult season for the White Sox, possibly worse than 2022. The lack of talent, health, depth and camaraderie are going to sink the team for the remainder of the “contention window.” This team was poorly built and too many players were paid before they had actually accomplished anything, thus we have a roster full of overpaid bums who can’t stay healthy and have no reason to try.
Lucas Giolito: $10.8M (tender, I think the Sox will tender)
Dylan Cease: $5.3M (the Sox will tender, I would tender and try to work on an extension)
Reynaldo Lopez: $3.3M (tender, I think the Sox will tender)
Adam Engel: $2.3M (non-tender, I think the Sox will non-tender)
Michael Kopech: $2.2M (tender, I think the Sox will tender)
Kyle Crick: $1.5M (non-tender, I think the Sox will non-tender)
Jose Ruiz: $1M (non-tender, the Sox are in love with him and will tender)
Danny Mendick: $1M (tender, I think the Sox will tender)
Tim Anderson: $12.5M ($1M buyout) (pick up, I would trade if possible, I think the Sox will pick up)
Josh Harrison: $5.625M ($1.5M buyout) (buyout, I think the Sox will tender due to lack of options)
AJ Pollock: $13M ($5 million buyout) (No way he leaves $13 million on the table, exercise option)
OTHER IMPENDING FREE AGENTS
Jose Abreu (Made $18M in 2021) (resign, 2 years for $20 million, I think the Sox let him walk)
Johnny Cueto($4.2M) (let him walk, I think the Sox let him walk)
Vince Velasquez ($3M) (let him walk, I think the Sox let him walk)
Elvis Andrus ($14.25M) (let him walk, I think the Sox let him walk)
My pick: Ozzie Guillen. You want a manager with a successful body of work and championship pedigree? Here he is. You want a guy who knows it’s his final chance and wants to right his previous wrongs? Here he is. I don’t want to hear about what happened in 2011, that’s ancient history. This is 2022.
The Sox pick: Mike Shildt. I know this guy has cooled down considerably as a candidate but here is my rationale: Kenny Williams wants Ron Washington. Rick Hahn wants Joe Espada. I think Tony La Russa will have Jerry Reisndorf’s ear and like the last time the White Sox hired a manager, Jerry gets the final say.
No. 1:Jose Abreu (two years, $20 million). You just don’t let the face of the franchise walk away because you have some kid who was a high draft pick waiting to take his spot. Mark my words, Andrew Vaughn will be more Greg Walker than Jose Abreu or Paul Konerko when all is said and done.
No. 2: Willson Contreras (two years, $32 million). I’m not a huge fan of this signing, but something has to be done. Can’t go into another season with Yasmani Grandal at the top of the depth chart. Let Contreras do the bulk of the catching through the remainder of the contention window, and he can still sign another free agent deal after the 2024 season as a 33-year old.
No. 3: Adam Frazier (one year, $7 million). Frazier is coming off his worst season and should be had for a small amount. He set full-season career lows in just about every category (.238/.301/.311 line with an OPS+ of 80 and a 0.7 WAR) but he plays every day (156 games in 2022 with the Mariners) and his defense is certainly passable (6 errors in 435 chances at second base in 2022). It’s an upgrade from nothing.
As for what I think the White Sox will do in free agency, I see a couple of low-end fifth starter candidates on minor league deals (someone like Jordan Lyles or Michael Pineda), a fourth or fifth outfielder to replace Adam Engel (Ben Gamel? Jackie Bradley? Chad Pinder?). Other than that, and maybe a flier on a bullpen arm or two for “depth,” I don’t see the Sox making any free agent signings. The roster is full.
This is the hardest thing to try to forecast, because no one knows who is available or who could be traded for whom.
No. 1: Trade Yoan Moncada and Colson Montgomery to the Seattle Mariners for Eugenio Suarez and Jarred Kelenic. Yes, it’s giving up the Sox #1 prospect and not getting a ton in return but it’s not a straight salary dump and Suarez fills in third base for the remainder of the contention window and Kelenic isn’t the superstar prospect he was two years ago. This opens up some salary room for the White Sox and eliminates one of the team’s biggest issues, and if Kelenic can outplay Gavin Sheets in RF, you could have a solid OF lineup for years (Kelenic, Luis Robert and Oscar Colas) after the contention window closes.
No. 2: Trade Leury Garcia and Bryan Ramos to the Oakland A’s for Tony Kemp. The A’s take on a little extra salary (Kemp is expected to make around $3.2 million in arbitration this season while Garcia will make a little over $5 million in the second year of his three-year deal) in order to pick up a decent prospect in Ramos and the Sox get their replacement for Garcia. Seems like a win/win trade to me.
No. 3: Trade Yasmani Grandal to any team that will take him for any price they’ll pay, and agree to pay half of his salary. Straight salary dump, find some team that could use an occasional switch hitter at the DH position and could be a once-a-week or even emergency catcher, for $9 million. Trade him for some team’s 50th ranked prospect. Anything to get him off the payroll and out of the organization.
As for what I think the Sox will do in the trade market, I think they’ll strongly consider trading Gavin Sheets (likely to the Orioles in a nice homecoming) because he is still a man without a position (he’s a 1B/DH and those spots are filled) and I think they could get a minor league pitching prospect in return, maybe a future piece for the back end of the rotation. I don’t think the front office has the balls to really move a Moncada or an Eloy Jimenez or a Lucas Giolito for anything.
This would be my every day lineup: Contreras (catcher), Abreu (1B), Frazier (2B), Anderson (SS), Suarez (3B), Pollock (LF), Robert (CF), Kelenic (RF) and Jimenez (DH). Kemp would be my top utility player. For those wondering, I’d either trade Andrew Vaughn or just let him play 1B or DH when Abreu or Eloy need a day off. Remember, he’s making the MLB minimum. At best he’s a .280/20/80 hitter, he’s not the second coming of Frank Thomas.
The pitching rotation: Cease, Lance Lynn, Kopech, Giolito and Davis Martin.
The bullpen: Liam Hendriks (closer), Reynaldo Lopez, Kendall Graveman, Joe Kelly, Tanner Banks, Aaron Bummer and Jake Diekman.
I think the White Sox will try to find someone/anyone to be their fifth starter because they have absolutely no faith in their own homegrown pitchers (Cease came from the Cubs, Lynn from the Rangers, Kopech from the Red Sox and Giolito from the Nationals; Banks and Bummer are the only homegrown relievers), and they’ll sign a guy who is looking to rebound (like Johnny Cueto in 2022 or Ervin Santana in 2019, just showing the extremes of how those kinds of deals can work out).
So, here is what I see the Sox running out there every day:
Everyday lineup: Grandal (catcher), Vaughn (1B), Harrison/Leury (2B), Anderson (SS), Moncada (3B), Pollock (LF), Robert (CF), Sheets/Colas (RF) and Jimenez (DH). Leury will be the top utility player but Danny Mendick is going to get a good look after a solid (but short) 2022 season (.289/.343/.443, OPS+ of 121 and 0.5 WAR in only 97 at-bats).
I can see my version of the 2023 White Sox finishing 85-77, thanks to the power provided by Contreras, Suarez and Kelenic to push a few more runs across the plate. The pitching was middle-of-the-pack and I expect Cease and Kopech to get better, so I think “my” 2023 White Sox could finish second to the Guardians (again) but maybe a little closer (five or six games out).
I see the real 2023 White Sox finishing 79-83, spending the season wondering if Vaughn or Moncada or Robert is going to break out, if they can get anything close to a positive WAR out of second base and hoping Colas finally fills the hole in RF that’s basically been there since Jermaine Dye left. This is not a good team, and removing the best player (Abreu lead the team in WAR, games played, hits and batting average, period) isn’t going to make the offense better, and if you believe that, you’re a moron.
Things may eventually start to look up once Grandal and Moncada and Giolito and Hendriks and the other massive drains on payroll are gone and the Sox could potentially do a legitimate reload in 2025 with all that available cash. However, I have absolutely no faith in this front office. Luckily, as Rick Hahn said, they know when they’re not doing the job anymore so once the guy who has had 2 winning seasons out of 10 as a general manager figures out he can’t do the job, it will get better.
Like last year, I’m posting my season review immediately after the final game so the emotion remains and the fact that I’m beyond annoyed with this franchise isn’t lost on anyone.
I’ve been a fan of the White Sox since 1991. This was, without question, the most aggravating, disappointing and rage-inducing season of my life. A few seasons have been close (1994 due to the player’s strike, 1995 due to the Sox pitching staff completely imploding, definitely 2018 when the Sox bottomed out during the rebuild with a 62-100 record) but nothing was this bad.
For a team with a short contention window (which is generally accepted to be ending after the 2024 season) the fact that the White Sox wasted two years of contention with Tony LaRussa managing the team is unforgivable. Last year, I said the team won in spite of TLR, and in 2022 they couldn’t overcome whatever negative cloud TLR brought back to the organization.
I’ll begin my player review with the offense. And it was not good. Only one player managed to play 140 games this season, and only one player managed to attain a WAR over 2.2, the heart and soul of the White Sox, Jose Abreu, who played 157 games with a 4.2 WAR. The only other player with a WAR over 2.0 was Luis Robert, in 98 games. Truly a pathetic performance.
TEAM LEADERS: OFFENSE
Games: Jose Abreu (157) Hits: Jose Abreu (183) Doubles: Jose Abreu (40) Triples: Josh Harrison (2) Home Runs: Andrew Vaughn (17) RBI: Andrew Vaughn (76) Stolen Bases: Adam Engel (12) Walks: Jose Abreu (62) Batting Average: Jose Abreu (.304) OPS+: Eloy Jimenez (140) WAR: Jose Abreu (4.2)
It was really a very sad season for the White Sox offense. It was the first time since 1990 that the White Sox offense was this bad. That year, Carlton Fisk lead the team in home runs (18) and the team leader in RBI was the late Ivan Calderon (74). That team, amazingly, finished the year in 2nd place with a 94-68 record, a game better than the 2021 AL Central champion White Sox. That was due to exceptional pitching, as the team had two 14-game winners, a 13-game winner, a 12-game winner and an 11-game winner in the bullpen, not to mention Bobby Thigpen and his (at the time) record of 57 saves.
Speaking of pitching, the 2022 White Sox pitching staff didn’t set the world on fire, but it was solid enough that they should have finished in a better position than 81-81. Dylan Cease had his breakout season, but no one else showed any level of superiority in the rotation, though a couple of names did stand out in the bullpen; Reynaldo Lopez and Jimmy Lambert.
Let’s take a look at the White Sox pitching leaders in 2022.
*special mention to Johnny Cueto who finished third on the team in WAR with a 3.4 despite a losing record.
The pitching staff certainly was not as good as the 1990 staff, or the 1993 staff or 1994 or 1983 or 2005 but it also didn’t get the ending it deserved.
I don’t want to bring in a lot of other outside influences into my review, but this will be forever looked at as the worst White Sox season I have ever endured and some of that is due to some outside influences that are not necessarily directly related to the team, but are related to the city. So that’s why I’m keeping my review somewhat short and, dare I say, “sanitized.”
In closing, I can say this was basically the second wasted season in a row of this “contention window,” and with a $190+ million payroll in 2022 (and not a lot coming off and a lot of players getting hefty raises next season due to either long-term contracts or through salary arbitration) there won’t be much wiggle room unless the team is able to unload one of the bigger contracts that’s on the books for next season, especially the dead weight (Yoan Moncada and Yasmani Grandal who will both be making in the neighborhood of $17 to $18 million for minimal production).
I’m hoping this will be a fun offseason, beginning with the search for a new manager and hopefully some improvement to the roster. Time will tell. I’ll go more in-depth when I post my Sox Machine 2022-23 Offseason Plan Project blog entry, which I usually drop around mid-November. By that point, I’m assuming the team will have named a manager and we’ll have some idea what direction the team is going, especially in regard to Jose Abreu.
As I enter the final quarter of 2022, my life hasn’t been this confusing in years.
This has been one of the worst years I’ve had to put it, between my personal life, my spiritual life, my health and my life as a sports fan. In fact, when you put it all together, 2022 may well rank as the worst year of my life. And I can’t wait for 2023 to get here and put an end to this.
To be fair, I need to put the blame where it belongs, right on top of my head. I’m the reason, my poor decisions have lead to everything that today makes my life very confusing and unhappy. But I’ll tackle all of that in my end-of-the-year blog entry. Right now, lets look at the road signs.
This Chicago White Sox season was miserable. A team that was supposed to contend for a World Series championship finished 81-81 and couldn’t even make the playoffs, let alone make an extended playoff run. And I watched all but maybe 5 of those games this season.
In the post season, since 2015, one of my favorite projects has been doing updates to the MLB The Show rosters to upload to the servers for others to use, then I can use it to build my own White Sox roster to play franchise mode on the game, putting myself in the general manager position and making the trades and signings I would make if I had the opportunity to do so.
But I don’t feel the excitement about that this offseason, due to the poor season overall as well as the potential loss of free agent first baseman Jose Abreu, who has been my favorite player on the team since he signed prior to the 2014 season. If he leaves, I am not even sure I want to continue following the White Sox, let alone putting months of work into updating rosters.
So, I look to what I used to do immediately after the season during the White Sox rebuild, I would completely immerse myself in the DC Universe, playing the Batman Arkham video game series, watching Justice League cartoons and The Dark Knight trilogy until the MLB postseason was over, also listening to old Superman radio shows and watching shows like Gotham and the old 1950s The Adventures Of Superman and the 1960s Batman series.
While I’ve started out by playing my way through Batman Arkham Asylum and I’m currently working on Batman Arkham City I don’t have the same excitement I used to have in the past.
Finally, a little project I’ve covered previously in my blog, is my NCAA project, which is basically me running through franchise mode on NCAA Football, NCAA Basketball and MVP NCAA Baseball on the PlayStation, and ultimately moving on to either Madden NFL or MLB The Show after finishing my “college eligibility.” I’ve done the project twice in the past (in 1995 using John Elway’s Quarterback and Tecmo Super Bowl on the NES and again in 2001 with NCAA GameBreaker and NFL GameDay on the PlayStation. At this point, I have everything I need to do the best job I’ve ever done but like everything else, I lack the motivation and desire to do it.
I should say I don’t lack the desire or motivation, because that’s not entirely accurate. I think I’m in the middle of a deep depression based on everything that has happened in 2022 and I’m just waiting for the next “bad thing” to happen. Basically, I’m dealing with a form of mental block.
I have decided, after talking to a number of people, that I’m going to basically take the month of October off before making a decision. I’ll continue playing Arkham City and follow it up with Arkham Origins and at the end of the month, I will make a decision. We’ll see how that works.
In a perfect world, I’d take this month off and focus 100% on the DC Universe and in November, when free agency begins, I’ll start updating my rosters on MLB The Show with a renewed vigor. And there’s every chance that may happen. But the stress of this year has beaten me down physically and spiritually and I need to make improvements there as well. I need to get back into a routine, including a workout program, eating right and finally sleeping again, which is something that I’ve been neglecting for close to 18 months due to my personal life.
On the flip side, I can see me having no desire to do anything when this month-long sabbatical ends. If that’s the case, I’ll know I’m in a deeper depression than I realize. And I’ll have to deal with that when, and if, the time comes. But for now, I want to focus on the potential positives.
So, we’ll see what happens in about a month, and I’ll go from there. Thank you for taking the time to read, I really am not one for posting publicly about my issues, but sometimes just laying it out there is the best way to get it out of my head. Whether anyone sees it or not.
To say the 2022 season has been disappointing would be an understatement of epic proportions. This is easily the sorriest season I’ve seen in 31 years of being a Chicago White Sox fan. Supposedly, help is on the way. But I’m very skeptical.
I don’t have any faith in the White Sox, due to the constant mistakes the club has made since the 2016 rebuild began.
One of the biggest mistakes the organization made was hiring Tony La Russa as the team’s manager prior to the 2021 season. La Russa had been retired as a manager since 2011, and it showed in his poor decision making. The Sox were able to overcome those shortcomings with talent in 2021, winning 93 games and the American League Central Division title.
Fast forward one year and the talent just couldn’t carry the team anymore and they’ll likely finish right around .500 in a year they were considered to be a World Series contender.
As of today (October 3, 2022) La Russa is now officially out as manager of the White Sox. While the decision for La Russa to leave was based on some medical issues (one being a pacemaker and the other La Russa refused to elaborate on), everyone agrees that retirement is the best thing for both La Russa and the organization.
Now, that brings us to his potential replacements.
Some ridiculous names have been thrown around (as usual, a number of former Sox players like A.J. Pierzynski, Jim Thome and Paul Konerko, none of whom have any on-field coaching or managing experience). I’m hopeful the White Sox remember the Robin Ventura era and don’t repeat the mistake of hiring a first-time manager with no experience.
A number of bench coaches and base coaches are being considered, including Astros bench coach Joe Espada and Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro, and Indians, er, Guardians first base coach Sandy Alomar, Jr. Former MLB managers Bruce Bochy and Fredi Gonzalez have also been mentioned.
But the name I keep hearing that fits all the boxes this organization likes to check is Chicago Cubs third base coach Willie Harris.
Former White Sox player? Check. Pulling a fast one on the Cubs? Check. Would make less money than any other potential manager? Check.
The White Sox haven’t hired a manager who didn’t have any White Sox connections since Jerry Manuel, who was hired in 1998. In 2004, the Sox hired former Sox shortstop Ozzie Guillen as manager. In 2012, Ozzie’s former teammate Robin Ventura was hired. In 2017, Ventura’s bench coach, Ricky Renteria was hired, followed by La Russa.
No other team in baseball has such a track record. Most teams hire the best available option, the White Sox hire the best available option who has played for or coached for the team at some point in the past.
While Thome, Konerko and Pierzynski are ridiculous to even consider, Harris does have minor league managerial experience and MLB coaching experience.
This is exactly why he’s going to be the White Sox manager of the future.
Harris will be compared to Ozzie Guillen, as Harris was a member of the 2005 White Sox roster (he played for the organization from 2002 through 2005) and is currently serving as an MLB base coach (Guillen was hired after serving as a coach with the Montreal Expos (2001) and Miami Marlins (2002-03).
Most importantly, Harris will likely command the smallest salary among all the options listed, and that will play a very important role to White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf.
Am I saying Harris would be a poor choice? No, I think he would bring a fresh perspective to the organization and an infusion of youth (Harris is 34 years younger than La Russa). Is he a perfect choice? Absolutely not. A team that is contending should be hiring a manager with managerial experience, not someone who is going to require on the job training.
My first choice? Dave Martinez of the Washington Nationals. Yes, they’re having a horrible season but they’ve also stripped the team down to the bare bones. He has a sub-.500 record but also has a World Series championship, something not a lot of guys can say. And with the Nats in a major rebuild and a sale of the franchise, it seems like the new owner would want to clean house and begin anew. Which would be great for the White Sox.
Martinez also is a former White Sox player so that clicks the important box for the Sox.
A new manager should be in place within the next three weeks, due to the fact that the organization needs to have a staff in place to help sell to potential free agent signings.
So, we’ll wait and see what happens. Right now, I’ll put $100 on Willie Harris as the next White Sox manager. He does seem to be a relatively good fit and I do think there are worse options out there. There are also better options, but I don’t think that’s going to matter.
This is a blog I’ve been thinking of doing for a long time, and something I’ve touched on in previous blog entries stretching back to 2018. This may draw the ire of the Chicago White Sox fan boys, who think this team can do no wrong regardless of what they do, but the fact of the matter is, this rebuild has not gone to plan in spite of the back to back playoff appearances in 2020 and 2021. While the original trades that set off the rebuild were universally praised, I think they need to be revisited, as well as the free agent signings and pursuits that have taken place since the rebuild was instituted following the 2016 season.
I want to take a look at the rebuild in a season-by-season view:
This is where it all began. In December 2016, the White Sox made three moves that would have a profound effect on the organization, two trades and one Rule 5 Draft pick.
– On December 6, the White Sox traded LHP Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox for IF Yoan Moncada (at the time the #1 prospect in baseball), RHP Michael Kopech, OF Luis Alexander Basabe and RHP Victor Diaz.
– On December 7, the White Sox traded OF Adam Eaton to the Washington Nationals for RHP’s Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning.
– And on December 8, the White Sox selected RHP Dylan Covey in the Rule 5 Draft from the Oakland A’s.
This was also the year the White Sox hired career loser Rick Renteria to be their manager, once again sniffing fumes from the Chicago Cubs, who had hired Renteria four years earlier to handle their rebuild on-field.
Now fully into the rebuild, not much was expected in terms of free agent signings or trades, as the Sox had little left with which to deal (though they still made a major deal before the trade deadline).
– On May 27, the White Sox signed OF Luis Robert as an international free agent from Cuba.
– On July 13, the White Sox traded LHP Jose Quintana to the Chicago Cubs for RHP Dylan Cease, OF Eloy Jimenez, 1B Matt Rose and IF Bryant Flete.
– On July 19, the White Sox traded 3B Todd Frazier, RHP David Robertson and RHP Tommy Kahnle to the New York Yankees for RHP Tyler Clippard, OF Blake Rutherford, OF Tito Polo and LHP Ian Clarkin.
In the first season of the rebuild, the Sox finished the 2017 season with a 67-95 record.
The worst season of the rebuild, by far. The Sox finished with a record of 62-100.
– On November 23, 2017, the White Sox signed OF Daniel Palka off waivers from the Minnesota Twins.
– On December 1, 2017, the White Sox signed C Wellington Castillo to a two-year deal with an option to lock down the catcher position that had been in flux since A.J. Pierzynski was let go.
– On December 22, 2017, the White Sox signed RHP Jose Ruiz off waivers from the San Diego Padres.
The Wellington Castillo deal was one of the first ones to implode on this team, as Castillo was suspended 80 games for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy on May 24, 2018. Unaware of it at the time, this was going to be an omen of things to come, not in terms of drug policy violations but in terms of poor free agent signings and a poor performance in free agency, in general.
This is where the rebuild really started to go south. Prior to the season, the White Sox were considered one of the front runners to sign free agents Manny Machado or Bryce Harper. In fact, some media outlets said there was a chance the White Sox could sign both. Instead, their offseason acquisitions amounted to:
– On December 15, 2018, the White Sox traded minor league OF Alex Call to the Cleveland Indians for 1B/DH Yonder Alonso.
– On December 19, 2018, the White Sox signed C James McCann as a free agent from the Detroit Tigers.
– On January 10, the White Sox signed OF Jon Jay as a free agent from the Arizona Diamondbacks.
– On March 22, the White Sox signed OF Eloy Jimenez to a six-year, $43 million extension.
The Chicago press pointed out that Alonso and Jay were offseason workout buddies of Machado, while the Sox front office did everything they could to downplay the connection publicly.
While the Chicago media circled the wagons around the franchise, the rest of the country was laughing at the White Sox over the attempt to sign Machado. After announcing they had made an eight-year, $250 million offer, and Machado had signed a 10-year, $300 million offer, White Sox team president Kenny Williams was left to try to justify that the offer could have reached 10 years and $350 million if all options were exercised and all criteria were met in on-field performance. In the same breath, he said the White Sox just couldn’t afford to go to $300 million guaranteed. I feel like this was lost on most people, saying “we can’t afford to pay you $300 million, but we can afford to pay you $350 million.” The White Sox were the laughingstock of baseball outside of the city of Chicago (and were publicly laughed at during Machado’s press conference announcing his signing with the Padres) and the Sox finished the season with a 72-89 record, a 10-game improvement from hitting rock bottom the previous year with a 100-loss season.
The window of contention begins to open. And the White Sox struck hard and fast.
– On November 21, 2019, the White Sox signed C Yasmani Grandal to the largest contract in team history, four years and $73 million.
– On December 10, 2019, in an attempt to shore up right field for the contention window, they traded OF Steele Walker to the Texas Rangers for OF Nomar Mazara.
– On December 30, 2019, in an attempt to shore up the rotation, they signed free agent LHP Dallas Keuchel.
– On January 2, the White Sox signed minor league OF Luis Robert to a six-year contract worth $50 million with options that could push the deal to $88 million.
– On January 9, the White Sox signed Edwin Encarnacion as a free agent to plug a hole at DH.
The White Sox were rumored for months to be in the market for RHP Zack Wheeler, who signed with the Phillies for less money than the White Sox offered (no monetary information was ever released but the significant facts were never disputed by the White Sox or Wheeler) and for the second straight offseason the Sox were left with egg on their faces, and as I’ll address later, I think this was the end of the big market free agent pursuits by the White Sox. Whether they were scared or just figured it wasn’t worth it, I don’t know.
In the season shortened to 60 games due to COVID-19, the White Sox finished with a 35-25 record.
The White Sox entered 2021 as legitimate World Series contenders, according to the press. They fortified the roster with the following moves:
– On October 29, 2020, the White Sox hired Tony La Russa as manager, replacing Renteria.
– On December 7, 2020, the White Sox traded Dane Dunning to the Texas Rangers for Lance Lynn.
– On December 10, 2020, after failing to acquire Joc Pederson for the third consecutive offseason and releasing Nomar Mazara after he fell flat on his face as the everyday right fielder, the White Sox signed Adam Eaton as a free agent from the Washington Nationals.
And while I can’t find the exact date, at some point during this period, the White Sox signed 3B Yoan Moncada to a five-year, $70 million extension.
– On January 15, the White Sox had a big day. They signed Liam Hendriks and signed international free agents Yoelqui Cespedes and Norge Vera.
The White Sox let C James McCann go, and he signed a $40 million deal with the New York Mets, a little more than half what Yasmani Grandal would make in the same four years.
The Chicago media was all in, thinking the White Sox would acquire everyone from Trevor Bauer to Michael Brantley to George Springer to Kris Bryant. The Chicago fan boys were picturing a $400 million payroll. What the White Sox got was a 93-69 record, an AL Central Division title, and a first-round loss in the playoffs.
Again, the idea that the White Sox were going to break the bank hung over the team as free agency started in November, 2021. Such arrogant statements as “we’re going to sign Marcus Semien but in case we don’t, Eduardo Escobar is our backup plan.” (Escobar signed with the New York Mets before Semien signed with the Texas Rangers and the White Sox were clearly never in on either of them). Another embarrassing situation revolved around OF Michael Conforto, whose name was bandied about for months until it was revealed he wouldn’t be playing in 2022 due to shoulder surgery. (Prior to this announcement, a White Sox “news” site had posted a column saying that the Sox had a massive offer on the table for Conforto, but because he wasn’t vaccinated the team wouldn’t sign the deal. Every bit of that was subsequently proven to be completely fabricated in someone’s brain).
The 2022 MLB lockout lasted from December to March, and the White Sox made two moves prior to the beginning of the lockout (during which MLB transactions were not allowed):
– On November 30, 2021, the White Sox signed RHP Kendall Graveman as a free agent.
– On December 1, 2021, the White Sox resigned IF/OF Leury Garcia.
Following the lockout, and with most of the top-flight talent off the board, the White Sox made the following transactions:
– On March 14, the White Sox signed RHP Joe Kelly as a free agent.
– On March 15, the White Sox signed IF Josh Harrison as a free agent.
– On April 1, the White Sox traded RHP Craig Kimbrel to the Los Angeles Dodgers for OF A.J. Pollock.
– On April 3, the White Sox traded C Zack Collins to the Toronto Blue Jays for C Reese McGuire.
– On April 5, the White Sox signed RHP Johnny Cueto as a free agent.
At the trade deadline, the White Sox sent McGuire to the Boston Red Sox for LHP Jake Diekman.
Not mentioned in the transactions (as I made those strictly important acquisitions) was LHP Dallas Keuchel was designated for assignment on May 28.
Now, I went through all of those transactions so we can look on a case-by-case basis how the rebuilt roster looks and how the players who were acquired for and during the rebuild have fared. I’m going to list the most relevant statistics to each player listed above in bold and these numbers are the stats the player accumulated as a member of the White Sox ONLY. And I’ll start at the beginning:
Yoan Moncada: In six seasons with the White Sox, Moncada has compiled a 13.2 WAR and a .254/.337/.425 stat line. His 2019 season is an outlier, with a 5.2 WAR and .315/.367/.548 line and 25 home runs. A consistent stolen base threat in the minor leagues, he’s stolen 3 bases in 5 attempts since the beginning of the 2020 season.
Michael Kopech: Kopech missed the 2019 season with Tommy John surgery and the 2020 season with “personal problems” as best as I can describe them. He seems to finally be putting it together in 2022, but has compiled a 9-12 career record and a 4.1 WAR (four of those victories and 2.6 WAR coming in 2022). Hopefully his best years are ahead of him because he seems to really be perfecting his craft.
Lucas Giolito: This was the guy I thought would be the centerpiece of the rebuild. Like Moncada, he’s had one very good season and a lot of average-to-below-average seasons around that. In 2019, Gio made the All Star team and finished with 14 wins, a 3.41 ERA, a 134 ERA+ and a 5.5 WAR, all career highs. His 2022 season has been poor, with eight wins, a 4.91 ERA, an 81 ERA+ and a 0.1 WAR.
Reynaldo Lopez: Like Kopech, Lopez has really hit his stride this season, but not as a starter, as a high-leverage reliever. A failed starter (in 2019, Lopez compiled a 10-15 record with a 5.38 ERA in 33 starts, with an 85 ERA+ and 0.3 WAR). In 2022, after corrective eye surgery and a move to the bullpen, Lopez is 5-2 with a 2.84 ERA, 141 ERA+ and 1.0 WAR.
Dylan Covey: My choice for the worst player acquisition during the rebuild (and everyone knows my feelings about Adam Eaton). In three seasons with the White Sox, Dylan Covey compiled a 6-29 record, a 6.54 ERA, a 66 ERA+ and a -3.0 WAR. I don’t know who saw what in this guy, he is literally one of the worst pitchers I have ever seen in 30+ years of watching baseball. Absolutely pathetic. Thankfully he was let go in 2019.
Luis Robert: This is a guy that I can honestly say, the numbers don’t tell the story. Robert has a career .297/.342/.488 line with an OPS+ of 128 and an 8.0 WAR in three seasons. The problem is, he’s played in 206 of 335 games (as of the time of this writing), which means he has missed roughly 40% of the Sox games he’s been eligible to play up to this point. The talent is definitely there. But if you can’t play the game, those “five tools” are completely worthless.
Dylan Cease: The real gem of the rebuild, Dylan has compiled a 34-23 record with a 3.66 ERA, 118 ERA+ and 7.3 WAR since 2019. His 2021 season was excellent, featuring 13 wins and leading the league in starts with 32, to go along with 226 strikeouts in 165.2 innings. His 2022 season has been transcendent, with 12 wins, a 1.96 ERA, 204 ERA+, a 4.4 WAR and 174 strikeouts in 128.2 innings. There is either a Cy Young award or a massive free agent deal with a better team in his future. Or maybe both.
Eloy Jimenez: Being honest, Eloy is my second favorite player on the White Sox after Jose Abreu. But he suffers from the same issue as Luis Robert: An inability to stay healthy. Eloy has played 271 games for the White Sox over the past four seasons, out of 497 possible. That’s roughly 55%. Just a little more than half of the games he could have played in. While his stat line is certainly solid (.273/.319/.498 with an .817 OPS and 118 OPS+), it doesn’t really matter if you can’t stay in the lineup.
Blake Rutherford: Blake was going to be the third outfielder with Robert and Eloy. He was highly-touted coming from the Yankees. However, in his six-year minor league career, he has compiled a .250/.286/.404 stat line with an OPS of .731. Those numbers wouldn’t cut it at the MLB level, let alone the MiLB level, and he was designated for assignment before being brought back off the 40 man roster.
Jose Ruiz: It’s amazing to think this guy is in his fifth season on the south side. Ruiz looked like he had turned a corner in 2021 (3.05 ERA, 144 ERA+, 1.1 WAR) but he has quickly fallen back to earth in 2022 (4.03 ERA, 99 ERA+, 0.5 WAR). Good stuff but nothing more than a spare arm that should never see a high-leverage situation.
James McCann: Even though he’s no longer on the team, I just wanted to point out that McCann signed a four-year, $40 million deal with the Mets the year after Yasmani Grandal signed a four-year, $73 million deal with the White Sox. Considering both of their numbers with those teams, I can’t imagine anyone would want four years of Grandal at $33 million more than McCann. Neither can hit a beach ball but McCann is certainly more mobile behind the plate. For the record, McCann’s stat line with the Mets (.223/.285/.335) compared with Grandal’s line with the Sox (.225/.368/.408 and Grandal’s OBP is out of whack due to his insane 2021 season and .420 OBP). Nothing will ever convince me that Grandal is $33 million better than McCann.
Yasmani Grandal: See above. I don’t know if the Sox thought they were getting Carlton Fisk 2.0 but they didn’t. Grandal was on the wrong side of 30 and was coming off a 2019 season with the Milwaukee Brewers in which he hit a career-high 28 home runs and drove in a career-high 77. He’s come nowhere near those numbers since while making $18 million a year. His 2022 batting line (.203/.307/.264) will be the worst of his career by far and he still has another season to go at $18 million. I know it’s unpopular to say, especially among the fan boys, but that was a truly poor signing.
Nomar Mazara: This deal made me angry because I really started to notice the Sox had decided to take the cheap way out in their future acquisitions. The Chicago press presented him as untapped potential, even though he had over 2,000 plate appearances at the MLB level. I heard numbers thrown about like “35 home runs and 100 RBI” from a guy who had never hit more than 20. I told everyone who would listen it was a bad signing. Come to find out, it was a bad signing. Mazara hit .228/.295/.294 with 3 home runs in 42 games and was not brought back after the season.
Dallas Keuchel: Another deal I didn’t like. Not that I didn’t like the signing at the time but the contract was insane from my perspective. Clearly on the downside of his career, Keuchel got a three-year deal from the White Sox for $55.5 million. This was nothing more than a way for the White Sox to save face after Zack Wheeler signed with the Philadelphia Phillies for less money, embarrassing the White Sox organization in the process. So what did the White Sox get for that $55.5 million? A 17-16 record, a 4.79 ERA, a 91 ERA+ and a 0.9 WAR. Also $18 million wasted that they have to pay him after he was DFA’d.
Edwin Encarnacion: Not much to say here, his contract wasn’t that outlandish (one year for $12 million) but in typical form, he was a free agent signing that woefully under performed. In 44 games, Encarnacion put up a .157/.250/.377 stat line with a 70 OPS+ with 10 home runs and 19 RBI. He topped off what is, in retrospect, and absolutely horrible offseason that was celebrated at the time.
Lance Lynn: I like Lance Lynn, and he’s been relatively successful in his White Sox tenure, but I would have stopped short of giving him the two-year, $38 million extension he received. While his first year was certainly acceptable (2.69 ERA, 163 ERA+, 5.3 WAR), he’s not looking like he’s worth the money in 2022 (5.88 ERA, 68 ERA+, -0.7 WAR). A starting pitcher could be found somewhere to put up better numbers than that at half the price.
Adam Eaton: This is just covering his second round with the White Sox. Eaton was signed to a $7 million deal after perennial target Joc Pederson refused to sign and instead took less money to play across town for the Cubs. Eaton’s return engagement was not quite as productive as his first, as he compiled a .201/.298/.344 stat line with a 75 OPS+ and 0 WAR. The hole in right field that Mazara was supposed to fill ate up Eaton as well. He was designated for assignment after 58 games.
Liam Hendriks: Another sore spot with me. The numbers didn’t tell the story with this guy, either. A failed starter who then became a failed middle reliever somehow caught lightning in a bottle and became a very good closer for a year and a half before the White Sox dumped a three-year, $54 million deal in his lap. Hendriks is a low-leverage closer who does his best work starting a clean inning with a three-run lead. Anything less than that and I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for him to blow it.
Kendall Graveman: A good signing (though a bit expensive for a set-up man at three years and $24 million) who has pitched very well and looks like a good investment so far, with a 2.59 ERA, 155 ERA+ and 1.1 WAR so far in 2022.
Leury Garcia: Longest-tenured White Sox player, been with the team for a full decade. And in that full decade, he has put up a .253/.294/.353 stat line with an OPS+ of 77 (remember, 100 is average and this is over the entire 10 years he’s played for the White Sox) and a WAR, over 10 years, of 4.5. And signed a three-year, $16.5 million contract prior to the 2022 season. I don’t care if he can play every position on the field, pop the corn and clean the toilets, you can pick up utility players every day that would make half that amount and put up superior statistics. No one will ever be able to explain this to me to my satisfaction.
Joe Kelly: “Let’s throw money at the bullpen” seemed to be the mantra of the White Sox front office during the 2021-22 offseason. Joe Kelly was not really a needed asset, and his multiple injuries in 2022 to go along with his 5.84 ERA and -0.4 WAR show this wasn’t a great investment. Yes, his numbers are skewed by his poor start to the season, but this is supposed to be a team that’s contending for a World Series, not nursing guys back to health that shouldn’t have been signed in the first place.
Josh Harrison: I like Josh Harrison, but I didn’t like this signing other than it would have been perfect as a replacement for Leury Garcia. Harrison’s days of being an everyday second baseman should have ended around 2017 in Pittsburgh, and he should be a full time utility player, a role I believe he would excel in. He started extremely poorly in 2022 but has since ramped up his stats to an acceptable level (.245/.312/.381 with a 96 OPS+ and 1.7 WAR) for a utility player, far better than Garcia is producing.
A.J. Pollock: I wanted to see the Sox acquire Pollock in 2019, when he left the Arizona Diamondbacks for the Los Angeles Dodgers as a free agent. That version of Pollock was coming off a 21 home run season, a .257/.316/.484 stat line with an OPS+ of 108 and a 2.2 WAR. The A.J. Pollock the White Sox got is hitting .236/.287/.351 with five home runs and a -0.1 WAR.
Johnny Cueto: After all those acquisitions that failed to pan out or even come close to what was expected, Johnny Cueto was a Godsend. A 2.91 ERA, 137 ERA+ and 2.9 WAR in 15 starts is outstanding, and I’d have to think there’s nothing less than a 100% chance he’ll get a free agent deal this offseason that prices him right out of the White Sox plans. In fact, to put it into perspective, Cueto is making roughly half what Lucas Giolito is making and about about ¼ what Lance Lynn is making.
If we look at this rebuild academically, with our minds instead of our hearts or fandom, it’s clear it’s been a massive failure pretty much across the board. This team, as it is built now, has no chance whatsoever of getting to the World Series. The offense is worse than any I’ve ever seen, regardless of how poor the opposing pitcher is. Pitchers with ERA’s above 5.00 routinely shut down the White Sox offense.
I’m worried about where we go from here. The concept of just saying “well, let’s just take the same group into next season and hope it’s better” isn’t going to do anything for anyone, and I’m sure Jerry Reinsdorf doesn’t want to spend another $200 million on a .500 team. But those long-term contracts that Eloy Jimenez and Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada and Luis Robert signed, along with the overpays for Liam Hendriks and Leury Garcia and Kendall Graveman and Lance Lynn have the Sox in a precarious position, there isn’t going to be a lot of roster turnover (Cueto and Jose Abreu and Josh Harrison are the only pending free agents) unless the White Sox can somehow convince another team to take one of those overstuffed contracts off the books.
That’s not gonna be easy because I can’t picture anyone saying “sure, I’ll take two years of Yoan Moncada at $41 million and I’ll give you a nice prospect package or a serviceable veteran at a lower pay rate in return.” The long-term deals didn’t quite work out the way the deals for Chris Sale, Adam Eaton and Jose Quintana did. Those were the building blocks of the rebuild. This team is in a purgatory where they can’t really move those contracts to rebuild because the players attached to them are not worth the money they’re being paid, pretty much across the board (with the exception being Johnny Cueto). This is basically what happened to the Chicago Cubs, who priced their players right out of their payroll. But at least they got a World Series ring out of the deal. The only White Sox players with rings in their future will be getting wedding rings.
If I were running this organization, this offseason I would trade Tim Anderson and Lucas Giolito (both of whom I don’t expect to be around long term and both of whom are at the height of their value as trade pieces), I would see if Jake Burger is a legitimate full-season third base option and if I can’t trade Moncada, I’d DFA him after next season (it would be easier to accept blowing $20 million than $40 million for absolutely nothing). I’d also DFA Leury Garcia. The Sox were willing to do so with Dallas Keuchel and the money would be less if Garcia were DFA’d next season. The problem is I just don’t see the Sox being willing to either eat that much money in DFA’s or be willing to admit that chances that extreme need to be made. But the Sox managed to get rid of Chris Sale, who had far more success than Lucas Giolito (who is guaranteed gone as a free agent after the 2023 season anyway). The bottom line is, changes need to be made.
If you took the time to read this entire presentation, I thank you. I’ve worked on this for the better part of three days because I’m tired of arguing with people about the state of this franchise. It’s in a bad way right now. The Sox aren’t suddenly going to “get hot” and just mow through the rest of the season and the playoffs and win the World Series. Those things just don’t happen. Or don’t happen often. Everyone uses the 2021 Atlanta Braves as an example but what are the chances of that happening two years in a row?
I sincerely believe the Cleveland Guardians will win the AL Central in 2022, with the White Sox finishing second and the Minnesota Twins finishing third. The Sox will also fall short of the Wild Card. At that point, hopefully changes will be made. Or they’ll stand pat and say “if it wasn’t for all the injuries…”
This is my 11th trip to Facebook Jail, and I consider it to be just about as legitimate as the rest of my trips.
A friend of mine had posted a video on my wall, taken at the MLB All Star Game in Los Angeles. A group of kids were standing behind a fence waiting for a player to sign baseballs for them. At one point, a man with gray hair and a gray beard, forced his way into the line, shoving children in the process, to get a ball autographed. I commented that this man “should be taken behind a building and have a few of his bones broken.” Shortly thereafter, I was told that I would be going to Facebook Jail for 5 days.
My crime? “Inciting violence.”
To be fair, I had 2 prior warnings. In December 2021 I posted a meme featuring a scene from the film National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. In the scene, Clark and Rusty Griswold are hanging Christmas lights on the roof and the caption read “Rusty, like Jeffrey Epstein, these lights aren’t going to hang themselves.” This was a violation for “promoting suicide,” even though Epstein memes are strewn about Facebook like party favors on New Year’s Eve.
In November 2021, I committed the ultimate sin, which I’m surprised didn’t land me in Facebook Jail permanently, or maybe even in “real” jail: I posted that there are two genders and everything else is mental illness. That was removed for “hate speech.”
So, before I jump into where I go from here, I just want to put a few things out there because I’m not ashamed of my beliefs and I will continue to hold them whether or not I’m able to mention them. There’s a fine line between free speech and a complete shutdown on same, so if this also gets me into trouble, well, I’ll talk about that later in this dissertation.
I hate Joe Biden with the fury of 1000 suns. If I woke up tomorrow and he had died from COVID, I’d consider it a national holiday. I think he’s a miserable, lying, good for nothing, worthless piece of garbage and he has been for as long as I can remember. I first became aware of him in 1987, during the 1988 Presidential race, which we covered in my 6th grade social studies class. This was my introduction to politics. Ol’ Joe was running for the Democrat nomination but had to drop out after it was discovered he was falsifying (i.e. lying about) his academic history.
Along with Joe, I hate his entire party, especially the far left liberals. The ones that Malcolm X very eloquently outed in the 1960s who have only become worse over time. The “woke” folks. The “trans community.” You people are all sick. Like mentally ill.
I’ve made no attempt to hide my feelings about these “people” on social media, and to be fair to the Facebook cocksuckers, er, “fact checkers,” it wasn’t my posts on this garbage that landed me in Facebook Jail. To be honest, I’ve had very few problems posting my thoughts on these subjects on social media, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
The issue at hand is that I was at a tipping point anyway. I’m not in a good place in my life. I’m burned out on baseball (I think), but I’m not sure if I’m actually burned out or if its being pushed at me by certain people in my life that I’m burned out. There is a person in my day to day life that is doing everything possible to change everything about me. I don’t like it, and I wouldn’t do that to anyone. I keep hoping it will subside, but if it doesn’t, I will need to extricate this person from my life. However, there’s also a possibility that she’s being honest, I may well BE burned out.
I’ve been trying to roll my life back as much as I can to the last time I was happy, which was anytime between 1995 and 2005. Actually, to be completely fair, I was happy from the day I was born until around May 2005. Since then, it’s been one disaster after another, more misery piled upon more unhappiness, so I’ve been trying to find a way to go back to happier times.
What has been at the center of my unhappiness for 17 years? Social media and the internet. I don’t beat around the bush about this, it’s been women on social media that have made me miserable for 17 years. Every unhappy moment and every aggravation can be traced to some female I never should have been dealing with in the first place. This is not hyperbole in any sense of the word. These are facts. Those who have been around me can verify that this is a fact.
So, part of what I have been looking at doing to try to turn back the clock is getting rid of social media. Beyond that, I have fantasized of getting rid of my smart phone. I recently got my dad a 4G flip phone (which I had no idea still existed) and this has made me yearn for one. I can’t get rid of the internet completely, as I have 2 internet businesses I run so getting completely off the grid is impossible. But it’s possible to remove myself from 90% of it.
However, I’m not positive that’s going to make me any happier, and a large number of friends have agreed that leaving social media isn’t going to make me any happier. One person, though, thinks its a great idea because, as mentioned, she would like to change everything about me. My theory up until now has been if I changed social media to fit me, I might be OK with it.
I’ve been active on Twitter for a decade, and I’ve had less trouble on there with my posts than I have had on Facebook, which seems to be the polar opposite of the problems most people have. I’ve had an Instagram account since around 2016, and my problems on there are pretty much equal to my problems on Facebook (which makes sense because they’re under the same corporate umbrella and are likely policed by the same “keystone cops” who fact check on Facebook.
Ultimately, I don’t think turning back time (or making a half-assed attempt to) is going to be the answer, it might seem novel at first but I think it would get boring very quickly. Yes, I was very happy in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but I’m also not the same person I was back then. Everything has changed, including my mentality. I was naturally happy back then. Now I would be taking an angry and bitter version of myself who is 20 to 25 years older and trying to stick myself into a situation that is devoid of the few things that make me happy NOW but trying to recreate the things that made me happy THEN. Considering how much has changed, I just don’t think it’s possible.
When I look back 25 to 27 years ago, I was in college. I had a girlfriend across the county. I had one video game console, an original Nintendo. I watched Three’s Company and Perry Mason on a daily basis, taping them off television and watching the VHS tapes over and over and over. I had my cat, Bubbles. My mom was still living then, obviously. I didn’t have a lot, but I was so happy.
Fast forward to now. I have everything. PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 5 consoles which play games for every generation, as well as a Retron 5 to play everything else. A 55-inch 4K TV. Those shows I enjoyed? I have the entire series on DVD, not just the ones I mentioned but several others that were a huge part of the 2000s for me. I have more “stuff” than I have room to put it.
And it really doesn’t do anything for me. Back in those days I had a word processor that looked just like a computer from the early 1990s, complete with a full size CRT monitor. I was so happy. Now I have a $1000 gaming computer with a 25” monitor and it’s just kind of “meh.” The 55” TV instead of the 25” TV. A Blu-ray player instead of the old VCR I build out of parts from 3 broken ones. Multiple streaming services instead of cable. But I also have DISH Network. I have everything.
And I have nothing, because none of it is making me happy.
I know a lot of this, and by extension, my unhappiness on social media, is mostly in my head. I do things that annoy me. For example, if I would just completely ignore the news, be it on the radio, the TV or the internet, and I never saw Joe Biden’s face again, that would go a long way toward making me less angry. I need to stop listening to people who want me to change for their benefit. My life is my own, it belongs to no one else and no one else should have any say in it.
So at this moment, what I’m looking at doing is, when I return to Facebook on Tuesday, changing my entire presentation. Instead of anti-Biden memes and “woke is a joke” posts, I need to stick strictly to baseball, maybe a cat meme here and there, and not let politics so much as be a blip on my radar. All the news does is make me angry, and it needs to be cleansed from my life.
I also need to eliminate the people who cause me these problems as well. And there are several of them. Whether or not that means unfriending, unfollowing or just blocking, they need to be where I can’t see them and don’t have to deal with them. I am just at a point in my life where I can’t deal with such flagrant stupidity and mental insanity. Especially when it accomplishes nothing for them and nothing for me. I’m also going to go on Twitter and do the same thing.
Hopefully, this will work. If it doesn’t, I’ll admit I was wrong and consider my other options, including complete disconnection from the world and an attempt to go back to 1999 in 2022. Even though I know it won’t work, at least I will make the attempt. I hope I won’t have to, because it will likely hurt more than just knowing how much unhappier I am today than I thought I was.
In closing, I apologize for the fact that you just spent 15 minutes reading the ramblings of a guy who just let his mind vomit out everything that was going through it and you won’t get those 15 minutes back. But if you happen to see this and you know of a way I can try to close my life off to things I don’t want to see or hear about in the digital age, and how to keep from voicing my displeasure on social media with everything that aggravates me, please fill me in.
I tried. Lord knows, I tried. I tried, and I failed.
Knowing there was going to be an MLB work stoppage as far back as 2019, as my friends and I discussed regularly on Facebook. I started taking steps to ween myself off of baseball and get into something else. But that was an exercise in futility. Starting in the summer of 2021, I started trying to push myself toward other sports I had enjoyed in the past. The NHL, and college football, basketball and baseball. I figured if there was a baseball strike or lockout, I’d have something to do.
At first I started following the Chicago Blackhawks, as I had been a huge NHL fan back in the 1990s and early 2000s. I also tried to follow West Virginia University and UCLA football and basketball, but no matter what I tried, it kept coming back to baseball. Baseball has had a stranglehold on me since 2006, and it’s not letting go.
I basically stopped watching the NFL in 2004, the sport was changing so much I was losing interest on a weekly basis. I had been a fan of the Cleveland Browns since the late 1980s, and the Chicago Bears for several years before that. My college sports fandom hung around until the mid-2000s, and absolutely cratered during all of the conference realignment of the second half of the 2000s.
By that point my time was completely consumed with baseball, And for the past 17 years or so I’ve made a point of following baseball 12 months out of the year, whether it was spring training, the regular season, the post-season or the offseason, I was always involved and following the happenings on a daily basis, 365 days a year.
I’ve always had such an easy time letting things go. In 2005, after almost 25 years as a fan of professional wrestling, I had reached the end of my ability to care. At the time I had posters of Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock in my man cave, a VHS and DVD collection anyone would have been jealous of, a closet full of wrestling t-shirts and a massive action figure collection I displayed. I watched wrestling six days a week (WWF and WCW had their flagship shows on Monday, WCW Thunder on Wednesday, WWF SmackDown on Thursday, ECW on TNN on Friday, and syndicated shows from WWF and WCW as well as independent Pittsburgh-area wrestling shows on the weekends. My only day off was Tuesday, so I would spend Tuesday watching wrestling videos or playing wrestling video games.
You might say I was all in. And then I was all out.
Some people laughed and said I was such a huge fan there was no way I could walk away. But I did. I sold my entire video collection, donated my shirts to Goodwill and sold the vast majority of my action figures and posters. And I never went back. That was 17 years ago and I have had no interest in ever going back. It’s dead to me.
Football and basketball became nothing but thug sports over the years. I read more stories online about arrests than I did transactions or scores.
But I always had baseball. So I absolutely sunk my entire life into baseball and the Chicago White Sox. But don’t misunderstand; I first became a White Sox fan in 1991, when I was a freshman in high school. We’re talking over 30 years. This didn’t happen overnight. Overall, I’ve been a baseball fan since 1988, as I followed the Pittsburgh Pirates prior to jumping on the White Sox bandwagon. While I did follow many sports during the 1990s and early 2000s, baseball was usually number-one on the list.
But now I’m at a point where I can’t picture my life without it. By this point most people are thinking “just wait it out, there will be baseball at some point.” Which, yes, is true, but I’m at the point where I don’t want to hand my money to MLB anymore, they’ve already gotten thousands and thousands of dollars out of me. I was ready to start handing money over to anyone else. I bought an insane amount of Chicago Blackhawks gear (which I still intend to use in the future) as well as WVU and UCLA gear.
So when the deadline came to get a new collective bargaining agreement signed between MLB and the players union, I figured it was time to move on. I was able to do that for roughly 24 hours. And now I’m just physically ill at the thought of moving onto something else because my heart isn’t into it. I want spring training and regular season baseball. And I’m trying to figure out what I can do to fill that void.
I’m still willing to give UCLA sports another go, my favorite college team since the mid 1990s. But at this point, I don’t know how I can get myself mentally motivated for it. My best hope is March Madness, but I feel no real urgency or desire the way I feel for MLB spring training to get underway. I know part of this is because everywhere I look in my house there’s a White Sox logo staring back at me. That’s definitely not helping.
So if jumping ship to UCLA doesn’t work, I figure I’ll do a variation on what got me through the lost 2020 summer due to COVID: I’ll start on a video game. I haven’t played Grand Theft Auto V yet, so I think I’ll start on that. I will also watch Chicago Fire/PD/Med on a nightly basis and that should help me to pass the time as well.
Ultimately, I hope UCLA can extricate me from this mental prison, and I plan to start putting that in motion very soon. But if it doesn’t, all is not lost and at least I know, once and for all, that I won’t be going back to college sports or the NFL ever again.
I have decided, though, that it would be a real good idea to leave baseball alone as soon as the season is over and get back to following the NHL, the Hawks in particular. This should alleviate some of my problems and give me something else to do besides baseball every minute of every day all year long. It can’t keep going like this.
This lockout needs to end, but if it doesn’t I’ll get through it, one way or another.
Every year the Sox Machine blog posts a template for what is known as the “offseason plan project,” where anyone can give their thoughts on what they would like the White Sox to do in the offseason, in terms of whether to tender or non-tender eligible players, sign or not sign pending free agents, propose trades and things like that.
Rather than filling it out and posting on their blog I just decided to pinch their template and fill it out myself, which will make my offseason plans blog a lot easier to follow along with. I don’t want this to end up being 5,000 words like my last entry. And I need to point out, this isn’t what I think the team is going to do, this is what I would do.
I did this last year as well, and was horribly wrong with all of my predictions, so we’ll see how it flies this year. I think things are a little more “defined” this year with the roster so there won’t be a lot of changes except in the bullpen and at second base.
So, here we go.
The White Sox are still the class of the AL Central, though the Detroit Tigers are closing the gap and closing it fast, especially with their young pitching. I still see the White Sox winning the division by at least five games, however.
The number after the player name is what MLB Trade Rumors projects the player will receive in arbitration.
Lucas Giolito: $7.9M – Tender. This is a textbook example of a “no-brainer.” Lance Lynn, Giolito and Dylan Cease are the backbone of the rotation.
Reynaldo Lopez: $2.8 – Tender. He did a great job in the spot I said three years ago he was made for, a long reliever and spot starter. Now that “bullpen games” are a thing, it’s nice to have a former full-time starter in that spot.
Evan Marshall: $2.3M – Non-tender. Some people say bring him back on a Minor League deal since he’s about to have Tommy John Surgery. I say don’t bother, thanks for the help the past few years but it’s time for you to move along.
Brian Goodwin: $1.7M – Non-tender. I like Goodwin alright but at this point he would be a fifth or sixth outfielder and I don’t see that being worth $1.7 million.
Jimmy Cordero: $1.2M – Non-tender. This guy’s career was nearly ruined by Ricky Renteria, but he’s not worth $1.2 million at this point. I would extend a Minor League deal and an invitation to Spring Training, however.
Adam Engel: $2.2M – Tender. Last season I wanted to see Engel start full time in right field, but the Sox brain trust decided that signing Adam Eaton was the answer. I said that wasn’t a good idea, come to find out it wasn’t a good idea. I do like the idea of bringing back Engel but just as a fourth outfielder, pinch hitter and pinch runner.
Jace Fry: $1M – Non-tender. This guy has pitched in 162 games at the Major League level. He has a career ERA of 5.04. He shouldn’t be anywhere near a million dollar salary.
Write “pick up” or “decline” or “rework” after the option. These were already announced but I’m giving my theory behind what I would have done had I been in charge.
Craig Kimbrel: $16M – Pick Up. Yes, he sucked with the White Sox but lights-out closers don’t grow on trees and he’ll be worth something to someone, a team that’s smart enough to use him where he’s comfortable, not as a set-up man. The Sox won’t get a return anywhere near what they paid, but getting anything back at all is a bird in the hand.
Cesar Hernandez: $6M – Pick Up. Yes, he sucked with the White Sox (is there an echo in here?) but given his salary and the lack of good available second basemen, I’d absolutely have brought him back and given him a chance to make us forget 2021.
OTHER IMPENDING FREE AGENTS
Try to retain, or let go?
Leury Garcia (Made $3.5 million in 2021) – Resign – I would bring Leury back at the right price, as insurance at second base and as my main utility player. Having said that, he would NOT play every day or even close to that. Once or twice a week, unless he’s filling in for someone injured.
Carlos Rodon (Made $3M in 2021) – Let Go – So long, Carlos. His inability to stay healthy for a full season in seven years is not lost on anyone, and the idea of him getting a three or four-year deal in this economic climate in baseball is a joke. He’ll get a one-year “prove you can stay healthy just once” deal and I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t get another one-year deal for 2023, or maybe a one-year deal with a club option or vesting options if he pitches a certain number of innings.
Billy Hamilton (Made $1M in 2021) – Resign – I like the idea of bringing Billy back as a fifth or sixth outfielder because there is no one equal with the glove or the speed that he can bring to the roster. I wouldn’t want to see him starting for an extended period but he definitely has a place on the roster.
Ryan Tepera (Made $950,000 in 2021) – Resign – He was absolutely lights out with the Sox in 2021 (and with the Cubs, as well) but he’s going to make up for his paltry salary. Given the lack of arms in the White Sox bullpen right now, I would offer Tepera a two-year deal for $8 million as a starting point and be willing to go two-years for $12 million at most.FREE AGENTS
List three free-agent targets you’d pursue during the offseason, with a reasonable contract.
Ryan Tepera (White Sox relief pitcher) – For the reasons mentioned above. There are few better relief arms available on the market and the White Sox bullpen has been decimated. Hold on to one of the best. Two years, $8 million.
Leury Garcia (White Sox IF/OF) – As I said above, I don’t want to see Leury on the field every day unless there’s an injury. He’s the longest-tenured player on the team and deserves to see it through. He can also play any position on the diamond except first base and catcher and play them well. His bat isn’t gonna win a Silver Slugger anytime soon, but it’s far superior to Danny Mendick and years of experience counts for something too. He’s also go the hottest wife in the organization but that’s neither here nor there. Two-years, $8 million.
Collin McHugh (Rays relief pitcher) – I acquired this guy in 2020 on MLB The Show because (a) he’s got a career ERA under 3.80 and is 20 games over .500, (b) in 37 games last year, including 7 starts, he had a 1.55 ERA and (c) he was born in Naperville. This is the guy you want in your bullpen as a contender, not Jose Ruiz.
Propose trades that you think sound reasonable for both sides, and the rationale behind them.
Dallas Keuchel and $10 million to whatever team will take him for whatever they’ll offer. Some of you will no doubt think I’m crazy but I didn’t realize until just a few days ago that Dallas Keuchel does NOT have a mutual option in his contract, he has a VESTING option: If he pitches 160 innings in 2022, he will then be under contract in 2023 for $20 million. If you think there’s NO chance of that happening, he pitched 162 innings in 2021. Get a Minor League player who ranks between 15-20 on his club and get this guy out of town, fast.
Yoan Moncada to the Seattle Mariners for one of their Minor League outfielders. The Mariners are loaded with top-shelf Minor League outfielders and their starting third baseman for the past decade, Kyle Seager, is a free agent. While I’m a fan of Moncada, his salary more than doubles in 2022 (from $6 million to $13 million) and tops off in 2024 at $24 million. For that kind of money, I’d like more than .263/14/61 and 157 strikeouts. This will also give some payroll relief going forward. I’d give Jake Burger every opportunity to take over at third base, even if that means hitting him in the 9th spot in the order and letting him work through whatever issues he’ll have, just like the Sox did with Robin Ventura over 20 years ago. Robin had an 0-41 streak at one point during his rookie season but they didn’t lose faith and he became one of the best third basemen in franchise history.
Craig Kimbrel to the Philadelphia Phillies for MiLB IF Logan Simmons and LHP Kyle Dohy. These two are not top prospects for the Phillies but given Kimbrel’s poor two months with the White Sox, it’s definitely not a bad return. Dohy made it to the Phillies last season after a tough year at AAA but you can always find room for a LHP in the bullpen. Simmons is more of a long-term flier, he can play second, short and third and he’s only 21 years old, showing good power (21 home runs in 413 career Minor League at-bats) and speed 14 stolen bases). He won’t help now, but when the next rebuild begins in 2024 or 2025, he could be a good piece to have on hand.
My lineup will consist of Yasmani Grandal at catcher, Jose Abreu at first, Cesar Hernandez at second, Tim Anderson at shortstop and Jake Burger at third, with Eloy Jimenez in left, Luis Robert in center and Andrew Vaughn and Gavin Sheets platooning in right. Vaughn and Sheets would also split the DH role with whoever needs a day off. The bench will consist of Zack Collins, Leury Garcia, Adam Engel, Billy Hamilton and a couple of current minor leaguers as depth pieces.
My rotation would consist of Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito, Dylan Cease, Michael Kopech and Jimmy Lambert, with a mix of Reynaldo Lopez and Garret Crochet handling long relief and spot starts. Aaron Bummer and Ryan Burr handling set-up duties with Liam Hendriks closing. The rest of the bullpen would consist of Tepera, McHugh, Matt Foster and whatever Minor League arms have a good Spring Training, possibly Jimmy Cordero.
I know the fan boys are going to hate this, because I’m sure they’re sitting with their phones right now just waiting to hear that the White Sox signed Marcus Semien to play second base and Nick Castellanos or Michael Conforto to play right field. I absolutely guarantee none of those moves are going to happen. The payroll currently sits around $140 million, and that’s before those arbitration numbers are figured in.
This is why I think now is a good time to try moving some excess payroll. Moncada is not so dynamic that he’s worth the money he’s going to be making the next three seasons, Keuchel could be making $38 million over the next two seasons (and definitely making $18 million in 2022). Tim Anderson, Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert are also due raises each year for the next few years as well, and the White Sox only have control over Lucas Giolito until 2024.
I’d love to see the White Sox just go balls out with a $200 million payroll but that has never happened and it’s never going to happen, at least not this decade. So if you’re looking for free agents, don’t look for the $200 or $300 million deals, look for the one-year or two-year deals for under $20 million to fill in the holes. The rebuild is over, for now.
And for everyone who wants to crucify me every year for saying the Sox aren’t signing any $100 million free agents, just remember that they never have, even when they had the payroll flexibility to do so. And by 2024, this team, just as it is now, will have an astronomical payroll, and at that point, a new rebuild will begin. So hopefully, over the next couple of years, the White Sox can get to (and win) a World Series. They have the talent.
I decided that this year I would do an immediate review of the Chicago White Sox season rather than waiting and letting things settle down and taking emotion out of the equation. I wanted to allow myself some feelings in the review instead of being so academic about it. So, immediately following the White Sox ALDS Game Four loss to the Astros, I went to work.
Looking at the big picture, it was a reasonably successful season for the White Sox. A 93-69 record and the American League Central Division title was almost expected, but winning the division by 13 games was not. The Sox were the only AL Central team with a record over .500 and the Minnesota Twins, two-time defending champions, bottomed out with a 73-89 record and a last-place finish. On the surface, it was a dominating performance by the Sox.
But if you look a little closer, you see just how much of a down year it was for the division. The Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals are embarking on rebuilds, the Twins just imploded and the Cleveland Indians were unable to overcome injuries to their starting rotation. And the White Sox, in general, feasted on their division rivals. They were not as good against teams over .500 and that was a known issue when the team headed into the playoffs.
Manager Tony La Russa was a surprise, as much as a Hall of Fame manager can surprise, as a lot of fans thought he would be a poor fit with the team. That was not the case and he had an exceptionally good season, and should finish in the top two for AL Manager of the Year. I hope he’ll be back in 2022 because the options to replace him do not instill much confidence.
The lineup was expected to be a juggernaut and fell well short of expectations. Part of this, of course, was due to injury, as RF Eloy Jimenez, C Yasmani Grandal and CF Luis Robert all spent extensive stretches on the injured list. White Grandal and Robert seemed to catch fire after they returned, Jimenez seemed lost after his return from the IL. Shortstop Tim Anderson and OF Adam Engel also spent time on the IL and injuries were a year-long issue for the franchise.
Among the players who were able to remain healthy, 3B Yoan Moncada saw his numbers take a precipitous drop from 2019 (.315 with 25 home runs and 79 RBI in 149 games in 2019 compared to .263 with 14 home runs and 61 RBI in 144 games in 2021). First baseman Jose Abreu put up extremely similar power numbers (33 home runs and 123 RBI in 2019 with 30 home runs and 117 RBI in 2021) but saw his batting average lose more than 20 points.
The pitching staff was supposed to be one of the league’s best and fell far short, both the starting rotation and the bullpen. Lucas Giolito was an early season Cy Young favorite and finished the year with an 11-9 record and a 3.53 ERA, while Dallas Keuchel completely fell off, with a 9-9 record and an unsightly 5.28 ERA. Lance Lynn and Carlos Rodon both had solid seasons but injuries were an issue, leaving Dylan Cease (13 wins and 226 strikeouts in 165 innings) as the de facto ace, with Jimmy Lambert being the only legit minor league option.
The White Sox bullpen carried the team at times, as closer Liam Hendriks lead the American League in saves (38) despite giving up more home runs (11) than walks (7). The trade deadline move for All Star closer Craig Kimbrel was a complete and total bust, as Kimbrel’s splits between the Cubs (0.49 ERA, 64 strikeouts, 13 walks) and White Sox (5.09 ERA, 36 strikeouts, 10 walks) were shocking. Future starters Michael Kopech and Garrett Crochet were solid but their time in the bullpen should end, if not next season by 2023 at the latest.
The future, however, isn’t as bright as the fan boys would have you think.
No, I’m not expecting a Twins-style fall-off. The Sox will still be contenders. But there are problems and they are significant. For starters, the Sox are going to be looking for a right fielder for the third straight season. The White Sox tried a committee in 2019 after letting Avisail Garcia leave, then brought in Nomar Mazara in 2020 and Adam Eaton in 2021, all small-minded moves made on a budget and all failed miserably and the hole still remains.
Second base is also a question mark now with the trade of former first round pick Nick Madrigal to the Cubs in the Kimbrel deal and the deadline acquisition of Cesar Hernandez from the Indians, though Hernandez hit only .232 (compared to his .270 career average) with three home runs in 53 games. Hernandez has a $6 million club option for 2022 and may return anyway despite his lackluster season due to lack of options and his reasonable salary. Which brings me to the biggest issue this offseason: The payroll.
As of this moment, the White Sox 2022 payroll stands at $141 million, an astronomical sum for this club, and not counting potential free agents or any players with club options, like Hernandez and Kimbrel (for the record, Kimbrel’s option is valued at $16 million). Many of the players the club signed in previous years to long-term extensions are due for large raises, not the least of which is Moncada, who will go from making $6 million in 2021 to $13 million in 2022. Jimenez and Robert will both see their salaries double and Tim Anderson is set to get a $2 million raise. Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez should both expect raises as well.
Adding those numbers to the big salaries for Abreu, Lynn, Grandal and the basically-worthless Keuchel (all of whom are scheduled to make more than $18 million in 2022) will absolutely handcuff the White Sox when it comes to potential free agent upgrades.
The fact is, the 2021-22 free agent class isn’t exactly outstanding, other than the shortstop class, which the Sox have no use for. Second base and right field, the spots the White Sox need help the most, are generally weak, minus second baseman Marcus Semien who should easily score $20 million annually in free agency and right fielder Nick Castellanos, who can opt out of the remaining two years and $34 million on his contract with the Cincinnati Reds. There is no way the White Sox can afford to sign top-shelf talent with the current payroll situation, so they’ll likely continue to do bargain bin shopping and hope to catch lightning in a bottle.
It’s also only going to get worse as by 2024 Moncada will be earning $24 million, and Jimenez and Robert will hit the $10 million mark by 2023. The payroll will be completely out of control by 2023 and at that point I expect a tear down and likely anyone on the roster besides Robert and youngsters like Andrew Vaughn and Gavin Sheets and Kopech and Crochet is likely to be traded for prospects and some payroll relief.
There is no doubt in my mind that 2021 was the year for the White Sox to win the World Series. The division was winnable (though I never imagined winning it by 13 games) and there was no clear-cut dominant team in the American League. Instead, the offense fell flat on it’s face for a large portion of the season and the pitching struggled and another first round playoff exit was the end result. So while it feels like it was a reasonably successful season, the finish was basically the same as last season other than the division title. And things will get a lot more difficult in the division next season as the Twins and Indians attempt to rebound and the Tigers and Royals take the next steps in their rebuilds. While the White Sox should still win the division in 2022 I can’t see next year’s playoffs going much better than the 2021 version. And chances are the Wild Card teams will both come from the AL East again, so finishing second in the AL Central won’t be worth anything.
Besides second base and right field, decisions have to be made regarding the backup catcher situation (where I would keep Zack Collins, but that’s just me), the rotation (where Carlos Rodon is a free agent and Dallas Keuchel is an $18 million question mark) and the bullpen (I can’t see Kimbrel’s option being picked up and Ryan Tepera is a free agent). Also, super-sub Leury Garcia is a free agent and he played all over the diamond in 2021 and drove in 54 runs.
There is also very little talent in the minor leagues that is Major League ready, and the system itself ranks next to last in Major League Baseball, just ahead of the Washington Nationals. While Jared Kelley, Norge Vera, Sean Burke and Matthew Thompson all have future potential, none are even close to being Major League-ready and there are few bats that figure to ever make the transition. The fact that Jake Burger is still a highly-ranked prospect at age 26 shows how thin the talent is in the organization. This lack of depth, on both the MLB and MiLB levels, will hurt when injuries strike.
It’s not going to be easy in 2022 but the White Sox should win the AL Central and make the playoffs again, but another first-round exit is likely. I can’t see Tony La Russa managing more than one more season, and I’m anxious to see what direction the franchise goes in 2023, whether they go “outside the family” for a manager or hand the job to bench coach Miguel Cairo for the inevitable rebuild that should begin in 2024, or 2025 at the latest.
In closing, I’ve been a White Sox fan for 30+ years and that’s not going to change. And while it isn’t pleasant knowing the White Sox likely won’t make it to a World Series during the early to mid-2020’s, its still nice to be able to at least have the chance by being a consistent playoff participant. Hopefully next year the team will show some kind of sense of urgency, even though I don’t think it’s going to matter in the long run, I have no doubt 2021 should have been “the year” and it was, without question, the best chance for a World Series win.