Everything Else

We’ve reached the end of the position player portion of these previews and let me thank you, dear reader, for coming this far. The following list will include a few guys that might never see an at bat with the big club, but dang it the MLB added an extra roster spot and I wanna write about THE YERMINATOR. The 2020 team may finally resemble an actual Major League Baseball™ club, which means that guys like Adam Engel and Danny Mendick won’t need to try and make you stop hating them because they were forced into more playing time than they should’ve ever had. No, we finally get to see them in roles that they’re suited for, supplementing the roster, playing every few days and dare I say…maybe excelling at it???

Adam Engel

2019 Stats

.242/.304/.383, 6 HR 26 RBI 26 R

.296 wOBA 84 wRC+, 0.8 WAR +2 DRS 

LAST WEEK ON NITRO: Engel found his way into 89 contests last year and posted a mildly respectable 84 wRC+ in his 248 part-time at bats. He found himself part of a five-six headed OF monster as the Sox churned through Him, Charlie Tilson and Ryan Cordell to fill space and eat time until they would employ real MLB players in their positions with Engel pacing the field (not that there was much of a bar). His real value was realized, as always, in the field where he was one of few Sox to actually SAVE runs in 2019.

TOO SWEET (WHOOP)/YOU FUCKED UP!: So as I stated above, Engel should finally be in the role that best suits him – fourth outfielder. His defense in the OF is still the best on the team until Luis Robert proves it otherwise. He should not eclipse 75 at bats. He will see plenty of time as the late inning replacement for one of the corners, and for my money it’s Nomar Mazara being lifted. Maybe he’ll get some pinch running chances too and can boost his lackluster three SB from 2019. The only way Engel hurts the team is if he’s forced into another 250+ ABs somehow, and with Garcia the real super utility on the team I don’t see how that’s possible.

Danny Mendick

2019 Stats (AAA)

.279/.368/.444, 17 HR 64 RBI 75 R

.355 wOBA 109 wRC+, 0.2 WAR

LAST WEEK ON NITRO: Mendick put together a very fine season at Charlotte, earning himself a September call up and 40 plate appearances with the big club. The audition was successful enough to keep him on the 40-man and in the conversation for a bench spot, something that became a near lock when the team decided to non-tender all-around great human/fan and clubhouse favorite Yolmer Sanchez. Danny showed a keen batting eye, with a very respectable 66:96 K:BB ratio while displaying decent power in a .166 ISO. He’s also versatile in the field, capable of manning any INF position and doing it well (+1 DRS combined at 2B/SS/3B).

TOO SWEET (WHOOP)/YOU FUCKED UP!: Mendick is in a slightly different position than Engel in that he could see more playing time early, especially if the highly touted Nick Madrigal struggles to open the year. The way this Spring is going, no one has staked their claim on the 2B job and that means Mads is likely ticketed for Charlotte until May. Mendick will see more opportunities early since his main competition at 2B is Leury Garcia, and he’ll be spelling Robert/Mazara more than I think many want to believe. Mendick could keep Madrigal down for longer than anticipated with a hot start and some of that power he displayed in 2019; he could also see himself demoted to spelling Yoan Moncada and Tim Anderson very infrequently if he’s terrible and Madrigal earns a promotion sooner than anticipated or Leury take the gig in full.

Yermin Mercedes

2019 Stats (AAA)

.317/.388/.581

23 HR 80 RBI 54 R, 153(!!!) wRC+

LAST WEEK ON NITRO: The Yerminator burst into Sox fans hearts with his towering moon shots straight out of BB&T Stadium in Charlotte. Mercedes has worked his way from the AAA phase of the 2017 Rule 5 draft into the conversation for a roster spot in Chicago via his ability to absolutely destroy pitches, something he’s never really struggled to do. The issue is that our pal Yermin here hasn’t really had a position to call home on the diamond, though Rick Hahn and Co. will tell you he’s REALLY worked on his receiving and if a totally capable backstop. Yermin himself would tell you he can handle 3B, too, but Yoan needn’t break out a different glove. If Yermin did enough in 2019 to secure a roster spot it’s to pinch hit and be the emergency catcher.

TOO SWEET (WHOOP)/YOU FUCKED UP!: Yermin finds glory in 2020 simply by making this team. Zack Collins is what he is and that isn’t changing IMO, but he’s wasted without regular playing time so he’s headed to Charlotte leaving Mercedes in pole position for the newly minted 26th spot. Say he clubs 8-10 dingers in 70ish at bats, a few of which come as walk offs and Yermin reaches Sox legend status. I don’t really see a scenario in which this goes south; he’s either good enough to make the team or he’s back putting on a show for the Knights faithful in AAA.

Nicky Delmonico

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LAST WEEK ON NITRO: Ol’ Nicky D would like for you to believe 2019 did not happen. He labored through an atrocious stretch to open the year in Chicago that lasted just 21 games, got demoted to Charlotte for another 17 forgettable contests and finally called mercy and had shoulder surgery before being released in June. The Sox brought their familiar face back on a minor league deal in December and have seen him work hard in Spring to throw his hat in the ring for that final 26th man spot.

TOO SWEET (WHOOP)/YOU FUCKED UP!: Keeping with the theme here, simply finding his way onto the MLB roster would be the top of the mountain for Delmonico. Returning to the MLB after the disastrous year and a half he spent with the Sox that preceded this Spring is enough, and he’d simply be asked to spell an OF here or there, maybe pinch hit a time or two. You fucked up if you’re actively rooting against him for some reason. Get a life.

PALKAMANIA

LOL, if Palka is somehow on this team, we’re all gonna be so fucking sad at what became of the 202o season that I’m not even going to entertain the idea of writing about it. He’ll always have #fromthe108 from 2018, I guess.

Prediction: Mengel will make up the main bench spots behind James McCann and Leury and I’m going to go ahead and anoint Yermin Mercedes the first ever White Sox 26th man. He can catch in a pinch, he can flat out hit, and he’s an absolute unit. TOUCH ‘EM ALL, YERMINATOR!

(Feature Photo credit to @zsoxwood)

Baseball

Rick Hahn made it a point to call out Right Field as at or near the top of his shopping list for the 2019 off-season. It was well chronicled how historically awful the White Sox were in 2019 at the position, but if you’re unaware they were on pace for a worst-in-history 54 wRC+ before a couple big games in September saved them from immortality. So what was the solution as the team looks to turn the page on the down years of the rebuild and march toward the post-season? A post-hype, RHP mashing/LHP flailing Nomar Mazara. Hahn is eager to prove his club can unlock the untapped potential of the former mega-hype prospect from Texas…

2019 Stats

.268/.318/.469

6.0 BB% 23.0 K%

19 HR 66 RBI 69 R

.327 wOBA 94 wRC+ 0.5 WAR

-4 DRS

LAST WEEK ON NITRO: Mazara turned in his fourth MLB season in much the same fashion as the three that preceded it – by underwhelming. Nothing if not consistent, Mazara posted another season of mediocre production while crushing RHP to the tune of 13 HR/110 wRC+ in 302 ABs and bowing to the whims of LHP with just 6 HR/55 wRC+ in 127 ABs. Mazara seemingly is what he is at the plate at this point, with 64 of 79 career HR coming off RHP and a career 53 wRC+ against LHP that screams for a platoon. Mazara actually went backward in some ways in 2019 as he turned in the worst K/BB ratio of his career with a career high 23% K rate and 6% BB rate.

Mazara is also mediocre (at best) in the field, turning in a -4 DRS and keeping with a theme of being somewhere between -3 and -6 DRS for his career in RF. Nomar was slowed a bit by left oblique strain that kept him to only 116 games played, the lowest of his four full seasons in the bigs. No real speed to his game, Mazara appears to be a curious choice to end the RF woes all on his own.

TOO SWEET! TOO SWEET! (WHOOP WHOOP): Mazara, still just 25 as of late April, finally taps into the unrealized potential that scouts and industry prospect hounds drooled over as he assaulted the minors en route to Texas in 2016. The former top-25 prospect finally figures out how to crush all pitchers the way he’s been able to against RHP (for sizable stretches), allowing him to set a career high in games played and homers as he goes over 150 and 30 for the first time.

“So, sometimes, you need to lean a little more heavily on your scouts, sometimes need a little more heavily on the analytic side. And there’s some projection, especially with younger players involved.” Hahn is rewarded for acquiring such a young player that just never could seem to put it all together and helping him to realize all that potential. Mazara even turns in a passable RF defensively, aided by Luis Robert covering a nice big chunk of Right Center on a regular basis.

YOU FUCKED UP! YOU FUCKED UP!: Mazara is, in fact, a bit worse than what he appears to be. Every once and a while he drives a mistake deep into the Chicago Summer night, but all too often it is he that is the mistake. LHP remains the bane of his existence, exploiting the holes in his swing so harshly that Mazara finds himself in a platoon with Leury Garcia (or Nicky Delmonico??) by June. The K/BB ratio gets even worse as he devolves to a 25%+ K rate and becomes an expensive LH power pinch hitting option off the bench in August and September as the Sox find more a defensively capable replacement at the trade deadline in their quest to reach the first post-season berth in over a decade.

Mazara is then non-tendered in the Winter and drifts through the majors on short term deals with whichever team’s GM convinces himself that his staff can solve this human puzzle. After ‘flirting’ with the top of the market in Mookie Betts and George Springer, Hahn inks Marcell Ozuna to a four-year, $65M deal a year after he probably could’ve had him for 5/70 instead of spending prospect capital on the allure of what Mazara could’ve been.

BAH GAWD, THAT’S MAZARA’S MUSIC!: I tend to think Nomar Mazara is what he is after over 2,000 Major League at bats and he’ll become Hahn’s most regrettable move of the 2019 Winter. Regrettable might not be the right choice of word, considering the cost of Steele Walker(Texas Ranger) probably has a ceiling for essentially what Mazara is right now. This just feels too much like the type of move you make when you’re a year or so out from contention, trying to catch lightening in a bottle and get a few years of cheap-ish quality labor out of a corner OF spot. The problem is that while the Sox may be a year out from REALLY contending, they went ahead and filled basically every other hole they needed to with what amounts to major upgrades, leaving a little more to be desired from the absolute pit that has been Right Field.

This is not Mazara’s fault, and maybe he does have something left to show us. I think it’s foolish to think he’ll give anything more than a .260/.315/.450 line and a wRC+ around 90 overall, and it’d have been a good idea to have a platoon to hit LHP and realize his best usage. Maybe that’s the real plan, that this is the way Garcia gets at bats after he’s moved off 2B for Madrigal in May or so. Garcia did turn in a 110 wRC+ in 183 ABs against LHP in 2019…so a combined 110 wRC+ between the two would be nearly 40 points higher than 2019 amalgamation of shit that was White Sox Right Fielders.

We’d all happily take that, especially if it’s part of a playoff formula.