Baseball Everything Else

Now begins the season outside of the season, and potentially the most important one in the tenure of Rick Hahn’s career as general manager of the White Sox. With the team looking poised to possibly contend in 2020, Hahn must now shift gears. Trading away players like Chris Sale is easy. Everybody wants a Cy Young-caliber ace who strikes out 1.5 people per inning. Now Hahn has come full circle, as he was once the seller now he must be the buyer (Darth Vader quote goes here).

As with anything involving Jerry Reinsdorf and the Sox front office the first, last, and only question will be about money. Is he willing to spend it? The implication after the failed pursuit of Manny Machado was that THE MONEY WILL BE SPENT, most likely in ways that our mere fan-brains could not possibly understand. Now it’s time for them to live up to that bold declaration by rolling down the MLB equivalent of Rodeo Drive and making it rain.

What do the Sox really need? Well based on every metric that counts any type of offensive production, the Sox were the god awful-est at the DH position and any outfield spot where Eloy Jimenez is not currently standing, waving at his mom.

On top of that, other than Yoan Moncada and Zack Collins (who is an unfinished product in and of himself) the Sox are very light hitting from the left side of the plate. So who fits the bill?

Enter: Yasmani Grandal

Why Him?: Because he checks almost all the boxes above, and some that I didn’t even mention. Grandal is a switch hitting catcher who hit 17 dingers from the left side of the plate last year. He also tagged 11 of them from the right side, so it’s not a situation like Yoan has where all his pop comes from a single half of the plate. In addition to that, he’s an excellent pitch framer, 6th best overall in the league for any catcher who caught more than 1700 pitches. In the “Runs From Extra Strikes” category (which converts strikes to runs saved on a .125 run/strike basis, and includes park and pitcher adjustments according to Statcast) he’s the 3rd best in the league (the fact that Tyler Flowers has become one of the top framing catchers in the league will not be discussed here.) In addition, while he only had a DRS score of +1 last season, the previous 3 went +9, +17 and +13.

Despite James McCann‘s assistance with turning around the career of Lucas Giolito, he was dead last in framing last year which cost the White Sox 16 runs. Ask Reynaldo Lopez or Dylan Covey (if you can get through to him in his padded room where he mutters “sinker didn’t sink” to himself over and over) what they could’ve done with a few more strike calls going their way last season.

He also can play 1B and DH, which would result in a combo of Jose Abreu, Zack Collins and Grandal at DH at any point in the season which would instantly provide the best output at that position since before Adam Dunn shuffled off into the sunset. Yes, I am operating under the assumption that Jose will be back next season because duh. Did I mention he hits the shit out of the ball?

Why Not Him? Age maybe? He’s entering his 30th year on the planet this season, so by the time his deal is up he will most likely be 35ish? I dunno, this signing makes far too much sense for the Sox to pull it off. Can’t wait for the news media to interview Kenny Williams at spring training in his Mercedes golf cart and have him tell us all if he took off his solid gold Oakley sunglasses you’d see just how shocked he was. /wanking motion

How Much Is This Free Resort Weekend? Ahhh to the meat of the problem for the Sox: he’s not going to work for free. Last offseason he shot down an offer from the Mets (always a wise plan) for four years, $60 million and settled on a one year “prove it” deal with the Brewers. He then proceeded to mash almost 30 home runs with 80 RBI and was worth 5.2 WAR.

I would guess the bidding would start around $22 million for at least four years, and that’s the base. Grandal bet on himself last season and put up when some others thought he was crazy. The Sox had interest in him last year, and with a majority of the stuff they need contained in one human being Rick Hahn needs to find a way to get this done. Offer him four years, $90 million with a team option for a 5th at $25 million/or a $3 million buyout. I would think that would be enough to seal this deal, because I want to see what Giolito and Lopez can do with all those extra strikes Grandal can frame for them. Not to mention the two starting pitchers Hahn should sign this offseason (don’t worry, they’re next).


I sincerely hate the Minnesota Twins, but I have to give them credit where it’s due. In an age where the way you build an MLB team has changed completely from buying through free agency to building through youth and farm systems they’ve managed to land at the forefront of that particular revolution. It’s hard to say if they read the tea leaves correctly 5 years ago and just kept doing what they were doing, or if they just lucked into this by being cheap everywhere but their scouting, but either way it’s working out at an annoyingly high level.

Just looking at their current roster (which as of today still leads the league in team slugging percentage) it’s chock full of home-grown talent that includes the following on offense: Miguel Sano, Max Kepler, Eddie Rosario, Jorge Polanco, Byron Buxton, Mitch Garver and Jake Cave. The total WAR of that science lab creation of slugging so far this season is 17.1.  In comparison to the WAR generated by the homegrown talent of the White Sox offense (which is 27th of 30 in the league for slugging) is merely 9.3 (Eloy, Abreu, Moncada, Anderson, Yolmer and Engel). That’s not a very sightly set of stats for the Sox offense, and it paints the Twins in a pretty impressive light. HOWEVER! If you go back to the same group of players for the Twins last season, you get….9.7 WAR from those guys combined. Take those numbers and add in the fact that the Twins were 78-84 last season makes the differences between the Sox and the Twins a little easier to swallow, and maybe even adds a slight feeling of hope in there.

So you have the 2019 White Sox, who are pretty close to what the 2018 Twins were: Some high level prospects with a ton of talent and not a lot of major league experience combined with an untested pitching staff and shitty hydra for a 5th starter. Does that mean the Sox will lead the league in slugging next year? Probably not, but it provides a little insight into just how much time in the oven baking a professional team takes. It’s been forever since the Sox had to create a contender this way, so fans can be forgiven if they’ve forgotten how this type of rebuild goes. You’d have to go back to the early 2000s to find a team that was as built from the bottom up as this one is now.  Just look at this chart that shows top 10 Sox minor league prospects from the past decade (as decided by Be warned, it’s not a pretty sight.

Hahahaha Trayce Thompson and Courtney Hawkins…good times, good times. That chart before the 2017 time frame is like looking directly into the Ark of the Covenant, except when you look into the Ark your head explodes so you don’t have to see a list with Jared Mitchell in the top 5 prospects anymore. Things after 2017 start to look much, much better (unless your name is Carson Fulmer), and resembles an actual major league farm system.

Now look at the same chart, but for the Twins:

God dammit I fucking hate them.

If there were a blueprint for how to build an MLB team through quality scouting and franchise-wide patience, it would look exactly like that. Even the guys who aren’t with the Twins anymore are pretty quality. Aaron Hicks, Oswaldo Arcia and Ben Revere were/are all serviceable MLB players (In the case of Hicks, a little more than “serviceable”). In addition to that, they still have 2 top 20 ranked prospects in Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff sitting in AAA waiting for their chance. The Twins think so highly of both these players that they passed at legit chances to upgrade their struggling starting rotation a few weeks ago because teams were sniffing around those two.

The Twins have always done it this way, ever since Terry Ryan took over as GM for them back in 1995. He engineered many of the Twins teams that I absolutely despised in the early 2000s by using the “New England Patriots” method of shipping off players just before they were due to get paid for younger, cheaper talent. He snagged Johan Santana off the Marlins in the Rule 5 draft. He traded eventual Sox Legend AJ Pierzynski to the Giants for Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano and Boof Bonser (best fake name ever). He also increased the money the franchise spent on scouting for the first time in decades. Ryan stayed with the Twins until 2016 when Thad Levine was hired away from the Indians after their loss to the Cubs in the World Series. Levine was cut from the same cloth that Ryan was, having helped build Cleveland into the contender it was through the same methods Ryan did. He helped draft Carlos Santana, Francisco Lindor, and Jose Ramierez so he knew how to build through the lower levels of the minors.

The Sox in that same period continued along the path that Kenny Williams set them on in 2006, consistently trading away promising young talent for one last gasp after another, year after year, until finally the team had no choice but to trade away the best pitcher in the history of the organization to jump start a clinically deceased farm system. Now that the team started the season ranked 4th overall in the league for their minor league system, the question that falls before Rick Hahn and company is can they develop players they draft? They’ve been able to trade for other team’s well scouted minor leaguers, and had pretty good success bringing them along. The Sox international scouting crew has been nothing short of aces so far, but the continental US team has been pretty hit or miss. Has Nick Hostetler done enough at the lower levels to reap the kind of benefits the Twins have done for decades? Is Chris Getz the guy to guide the next round of Sox prospects to AAA and beyond?

The Sox farm system was absolutely decimated by a plague of injuries this season that bordered on the biblical, so the only grade that can really be given so far is “incomplete.” It will be very interesting to see how Zack Collins, Nick Madrigal and Andrew Vaughn fare at the higher levels in the next few seasons as they have the potential to solidify the Sox lineup like Kepler and Polanco have done for the Twins thus far.

Fingers crossed.



Rick Hahn, Kenny Williams and the White Sox front office either think you’re stupid or just don’t care. Definitely on that spectrum somewhere, closer to thinking you’re stupid.

The MLB’s new lone trade deadline came and went Wednesday afternoon with exactly one trade to file for Hahn, KW, and Co. No, they didn’t cash in on closer Alex Colome. Jose Abreu gets his wish to continue building on his 0.4 WAR in Chicago. John Jay is still here to amass AB’s for his free agent binder this winter. Welington Castillo remains at best the third most popular BEEF on the Southside (after Loaf #fromthe108 and the Italian Beef+Giardiniera pizza at Beggar’s in centerfield). The Sox, in fact, traded no one from any active roster at any level of their organization on Wednesday. So what the hell kind of trade did they make?

The Chicago White Sox at 46-58, good for eighth worst in the MLB, 13 games out in the wild card and 16 games behind  Minnesota for the division, traded recently operated-on Nate Jones, $750k (to cover half Jones remaining salary) AND $1 million in international bonus pool money to the Texas Rangers for a couple of not-really-prospect pitchers that are highly unlikely to become the CWS version of the Fernando Tatis Jr. debacle. Joe Jarneski is 19, coming off of Tommy John and actually not atrocious thus far in the Arizona League. Ray Castro is 22 and pitching poorly in the Dominican Summer League. Wooooooooof.

The Sox are not good right now, but you can see some potential both on the horizon and in the here and now with players like Lucas Giolito, Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez, Tim Anderson and Dylan Cease waiting for Luis Robert, Nick Madrigal, and Andrew Vaughn to join them in Chicago. The system isn’t exactly stacked after those three, though, with a slow development year and/or injuries to most of the second and third tier prospects. They could have moved out any of the mediocre veteran players on the roster for literally anything and come out looking good, having added more overall talent to the farm. Maybe there really just were no takers for veterans on cheap, expiring deals…and if it’s about opening a 40-man spot, those same players can be stuck on waivers in August, which still exists, freeing up space for Robert and Madrigal. But then their service clocks would start, which is not the White Sox way. It’s all about control, you see.

Why, then, Rick Hahn thought it best to trade away roughly half of their remaining international bonus pool to jettison only $750k owed to a reliever on the 60-Day IL (that can simply have his option declined in the November) is beyond me and everyone else. $2 million on the international market is nothing to dismiss. Money that could have been used to bring in anywhere from one to a handful of very raw but very intriguing young talent to a system that the Sox front office is very clearly going to lean on a great deal going forward. Yes, the international signing system is incredibly messed up, with most top talents locked into hush-hush deals years before they’re even eligible or are straight up hidden from other teams. Looking at you, Detroit. Weirdos. Still, there are plenty of talented players still unsigned and more that could become available later in the signing period that lasts until June 15, 2020. This is an inexcusable waste of resources.

Rick Hahn gave the kind of quotes you could most easily expect him to spit after the deal, playing like he’s smarter than everyone in the room with a dig at the pre-deadline articles being wrong and trying to bump this as a cost saving move while adding “depth” to the system:

“(Jones) was not, I think, on anyone’s hit list or predicted in trades in the columns you’ve been writing, but we had the opportunity to add a little bit of depth to our pitching staffs in the lower levels of the minors as well as trade a little bit of economic savings as we move forward.”

In reality, this is about the guy signing his checks saving $1.75 million; the amount they won’t pay Jones and won’t spend on future talent. The roster space they opened on the 40-man won’t be used on Luis Robert. This had nothing to do with getting better at baseball.

“That money will be spent.” 

That was Rick Hahn after the Sox finished second to San Diego for Manny Machado’s services. It apparently will not be spent on cheap, controllable talent. And you can bet if they won’t spend on that they won’t spend on the top tier players that hit the market. I foresee a lot of second place or worse finishes ahead on the Southside.