Baseball

Well that’s not what I was expecting.

Honestly, when I heard that today was the day for Rick Hahn’s “End Of Season” press conference/wrap party I assumed that this was going to be more of the same from him. You know, the “we like our team, we like our players, obviously this isn’t what we wanted for an end result but we’re happy with the progress…” etc, etc, etc. What I absolutely did not expect was what went down today, which was basically a bloodletting from Renteria on down. So where does this all leave us?

Well first off, it’s obviously the end of Ricky’s time here with the White Sox organization. His tenure was basically what everyone expected it to be when sold the Rebuild by Rick Hahn. His end record of 236-309 was actually better than what one would expect with the talent he was given. While it’s a surprise that he was let go (moreso because of the history of Reinsdorf loyally holding onto managers until well beyond their expiration date), looking at the last 10 days of his career with the Sox, it’s also understandable.

Don Cooper’s exit was also a surprise, but one that I thought at the end of the season had a better chance of occurring than Ricky getting the boot. Cooper had been with the team since 2002, shepherding some of the best pitchers the organization had ever seen. Yet time comes for all coaches, and in Coop’s case the science of pitching had passed him by about 8 years ago. Not the type of guy to give a shit about spin rate or advanced stats, Coop’s welcome seemed to wear out just before Chris Sale went full Michael Meyers on the throwback jerseys. The fact that guys like Lucas Giolito were buying Rapsodo machines on their own to analyze their deliveries, or that Zack Burdi was making mechanical adjustments by watching videos on YouTube doesn’t speak much to the impact that Cooper was having on the younger arms.

So now the Sox are left with openings at the top of their coaching pyramid, at a time where there aren’t a ton of options that don’t either come with baggage (AJ Hinch and Alex Cora), a ton of experience (Sandy Alomar Jr), or a functioning parietal lobe of their brain (Ned Yost). In a perfect world Cleveland would move on from Terry Francona leaving him in the cold for the Sox to snap up, but this probably isn’t gonna happen. With the comments Rick Hahn made today about playoff experience being something they’d be focusing on in their search leads me to believe one of the 4 guys mentioned above may have the inside track.

Hinch and Cora are both seasoned managers, and have taken a team with a young core group of players to the promised land. They’ve also both had good relationships with the top available RF free agent in George Springer, which is probably the most Rick Hahn thing ever. They also both come with the concrete shoes of having been managers of a team who laid down Cheat Beats all the way to the World Series. Is that something that we as fans would be OK with? I honestly don’t know.

Sandy Alomar Jr. checks all of Rick Hahn’s boxes for having playoff experience with the Indians, but not as a head coach. He also has the added benefit of being a manager with a Spanish speaking background, which for the Sox core is almost like being able to speak French while coaching the Montreal Canadiens. Plus he’s familiar with the team after spending a few seasons here as a player.

Ned Yost is a neanderthal, and if Rick Hahn considers hiring him Tim Anderson should push him onto the Dan Ryan during rush hour.

As far as pitching coach goes, it seems like the Sox have been grooming Matt Zaleski in the minors for quite some time now. He’s a fan of advanced stats and biomechanics, and has helped most of the Sox young pitching core at one point or another in their minor league careers. It wouldn’t shock me if he got the call to fill in Coop’s shoes.

Ultimately the thing that a move like this signifies that the Sox front office is no longer satisfied with simple progression as a whole. It also changes my thinking about them crying poor this off-season and not filling the holes in the lineup that need to be filled in. I fully expect Nomar Mazara to be non-tendered and replaced by a player outside the system. With COVID affecting the amount of money teams will be willing to spend, the Sox could find themselves in a situation where if they’re willing to shell out the cash, there could be bargains to be had (which is extremely On Brand for Jerry Reinsdorf).

If they’re not willing to open the purse strings and jump into the free agent pool, then this shakeup was all a giant waste of time.

 

Other Notes From Hahn’s Presser:

-The Sox are treating the DH position this off-season as Andrew Vaughn’s to lose, much like CF for Luis Robert and 2B for Nick Madrigal were this year.

-Garret Crochet’s UCL is still in one piece, and it was a flexor strain that caused his forearm stress. Flexor strains can still be harbingers for TJ, so he’s not out of the woods yet, but for now he should be ready for spring training

-Jimmy Lambert also has a forearm issue, albeit one more severe than Crochet’s. Still should be ready for spring training.

-Nick Madrigal underwent his expected shoulder surgery this last week, and if his rehab goes according to timeline may miss the beginning of spring training.

-Eloy’s foot strain was nothing more than that, and should be good to go.

-Ozzie Guillen is not a candidate to fill the coaching vacancy (nor should he ever have been).

 

That’s about it for now. I hadn’t expected to be writing again this soon, but Hahn threw the curveball today. I’ll be back after the Rays win the World Series to talk about who stays and who goes this off-season.

Rest in peace, Joe Morgan.

Baseball

BOX SCORES

Game 1: White Sox 3 – Indians 4

Game 2: White Sox 3 – Indians 5

Game 3: White Sox 4 –  Indians 0

 

With the second series for the Sox in the books, some familiar trends are starting to take shape. One good pitching start and two not so great ones, combined with a few…interesting lineup decisions resulted in the Sox dropping 2 of 3 to the Tribe. While the end result is the same, this series at least feels far more positive than the previous thwacking at the hands of the Twins. If you squint really hard, I believe there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. We can discuss further IN THE BULLETS

 

Numbers Don’t Lie

-Let’s get this out of the way right at the top: Nicky Delmonico sucks, and Rick Renteria’s love affair with him is puzzling to the extreme. While I get the desire to mix up the handedness of Sox at bats, in no possible reality is putting him in the cleanup spot an acceptable setup. I don’t care if it’s the 3rd game of a triple header, batting him in front of Luis Robert qualifies as coaching High Crimes and Misdemeanors. If you’re worried about his knees, Yasmani Grandal can still DH in that spot instead of Zack Collins and either put Delmonico at 9 or play Adam Engel. Matchups don’t matter when the guy you’re matching with can’t hit the ball out of the infield. Shit, bat Leury Garcia 4th, at least he’s hit a few dingers.

-Phew. Anyways, Dylan Cease and Carlos Rodon continued the new Sox rotation tradition of not being able to command their fastballs and getting the piss hit out of them in the first 3 innings. Walks were an issue particularly for Rodon, who loaded the bases with them in the 4th during game 2. While my initial reaction to their two starts was a calm and predictable “FUCKING COOP IS TRASH FIRE HIM AND MAKE ONEY GUILLEN PITCHING COACH,” after watching Lucas Giolito pull himself together in his start last night I retract my previous outburst. This season is weird, and a 3 week wind up for pitchers is clearly not enough to get younger starters ready. If Cease and Rodon struggle again with their command in the next starts they have we can revisit. For now I’m willing to chalk it up to rust.

-The Sox bullpen, on the other hand, was nails in this series. Evan Marshall in particular has been pretty much unhittable thus far, and his breaking pitches have “shit yourself” quality. Aaron Bummer even had a good night on Wednesday, vulturing the win after pitching a scoreless 8th. Colome made it interesting in the 9th, but eventually locked down his first save of the new season. More of this, please.

-In true Sox fashion however, we can’t continue to just have nice things in the bullpen. Jimmy Lambert went on the 10 day IL with a “forearm strain,” which for someone returning from Tommy John surgery is never a good thing to hear. Hopefully it really IS just a strain and not a herald of something much much worse.

-While looking at the box scores it would seem that the Sox bats failed against some less than quality pitching, the Indians D had something to do with it as well. Oscar Mercado absolutely robbed Zack Collins of what should have been an RBI triple in the 8th inning of game 2. The Sox also threatened in the 9th in both games of the double header, falling just short. I’m not super concerned about the offense…yet.

-Being 2-4 after the first two series is less than optimal, but looking around the league you can see that shit is super weird right now. The Giants took 2 of 4 with the Dodgers, the Tigers are 4-2 and the fucking Orioles (the team actively trying to get worse) is .500. Yes, 60 games is very short and you can’t fall too far behind but I’m not convinced what we’re seeing around the league at this moment is genuinely how it’s gonna go the entire season. If we even get to finish a whole season, which is questionable at best.

-Next up is the exactly what the doctor ordered, the Royals. With the potential debut of Nomar Mazara sending Delmonico back to the utility role where he belongs combined with Dallas Keuchel taking the bump, Friday SHOULD go a long way in putting some perspective on the first 6 games. If we’re in the same spot Sunday as we are today…the panic button may have to be smushed.

 

Baseball

September 5th, 2018. A day that will live in infamy, as it was the last major league start where Michael Kopech took the bump for the White Sox. He only lasted 3-1/3rd innings in a game beset by weather delays. The whole start Kopech just didn’t look right. His velocity was down, and none of his stuff was dancing like we’d seen during his first couple starts. After the game came the news he was going for a scan on his pitching arm, and all of us Sox fans knew in our hearts what that was going to lead to.

Two weeks later he underwent successful Tommy John surgery, putting the final nail in the Shit Coffin that was the Sox 2018 season. It wasn’t so much that he was lost for the rest of 2018, that turd was flushed long before he ever came up from the minors. It was more that he was the only bright spot that year. A reminder to the loyal that while this season may suck, it sucks for a REASON. A brighter future awaits next year. Then in a puff of smoke and 6 hours of elbow surgery that brighter 2019 we dreamed of was gone like a hanging Ross Detwiler curve.

Every five days last season I wondered “man, how different would this game have been if it was Kopech starting instead of Dylan Covey-Detwiler-Despaigne?” How much closer to .500 would they have been if Kopech had been firing 99 mph fastballs and punching out chumps instead of us watching yet another Dylan Covey “sinkerball” penetrate the stratosphere with a 300 mph exit velocity? Now, with the 2020 season (eventually) here, (hopefully) we get to see what kind of devastation a bionic Michael Kopech can unleash upon the league.

 

2018 Stats (AAA Charlotte)

Games Started: 24

7 Wins and 7 Losses

3.70 ERA   1.27 WHIP

170 K  60 BB  9 HR

12.11 K/9 Innings  4.27 BB/9 Innings

3.30 FIP

 

Last Week On Nitro: Since Kopech only started 5 games at the major league level in 2018 (and I’m assuming at least a few of those were with his UCL in tatters) I decided to eschew the normal stats and post what he did at AAA Charlotte in 2018. A few of those things jump out at you, the obvious one being the 170 strikeouts in 120 innings for a 12.11 K/9. That strikeout level is cartoonishly awesome, and I have a hard time getting stats like that playing on rookie level in The Show on PS4 (gamertag Ahota88, come at me) (Actually don’t, I’m not very good at all). For comparison his 12.11 K/9 would’ve tied for 4th in the league last year with Justin Verlander. Granted, those stats came against minor leaguers but hitting stats in AAA have been crazy inflated for the past few years since they switched to the plutonium ball, so it’s not totally dismissive.

The other thing that stands out is the 4.27 walks per nine innings. That’s…not great. It would’ve landed him 3rd from the bottom in all qualified starters last year. Looking a little closer, a majority of those walks came in the first two months of the season where (if you’ll remember, and it was 2018 so I’ll forgive you if you don’t) he was famously struggling with his command. Once the calendar flipped to July, he found his command and never looked back. Up through June, he walked 52 batters and then from July through the end of August when he was called up he only walked 8 in 8 starts. That’s WAAAAY more what we would want to see command wise. I’d also point out that despite the crazy high walk rate, his WHIP was only 1.27 and that’s with getting sub par defense behind him as evident by his 3.30 FIP! If he would’ve kept the walk rate that he had in the last few months of his time in AAA his WHIP would’ve been close to 1, which is pretty bananas.

After his stint skull-punching his way through AAA rosters, he finally got the call from Rick Hahn to the big league team on August 21st against the Twins. In what would become an ongoing theme for his short time in the majors, rain cut that start short. In that brief glimpse, however, we saw more of the same stuff he displayed down in AAA with his fastball touching 99 mph and his slider diving away from right handed hitters. He struck out 4 in 3 and 1/3rd innings, and looked every bit the top prospect arm he was billed as. Sadly for us, a little over a month later he was done and we’ve barely seen him since. Before the league shut down due to the pandemic, he logged a single inning down in spring training. In that single inning, he threw 11 pitches, 4 of which were clocked at over 100 mph. *shocked face emoji*

 

Too Sweet! (WHOOP WHOOP): Best case scenario for Kopech this year? Honestly at this point it will completely depend on how long we are without baseball. I’m sure he’s back home right now throwing into a net or something but if the season was normal the Sox were not planning on having him with the big league team until May at the earliest. If the league starts play at some point in June the possibility exists that he’s on the “opening day” roster as the Sox 6th starter.

If that’s the case, then the best scenario for him is probably 10 starts or so over the course of the shortened season, with 75-90 strikeouts and a 3.10 ERA.  The possibility exists for him to log more innings than that, given Gio Gonzalez’ recent injury history and need for maintenance days. Really, though, as long as he can stay healthy and take the ball every 6 days or so I will consider the 2020 season a win for Michael Kopech and the White Sox.

 

You Fucked Up! You Fucked Up!: Absolute worst case scenario for the Sox here is an injury filled return for Kopech, and he ends up as the White Sox version of Brent Honeywell: infinite talent, but infinite injury. The other issue here is the original Tommy John surgery itself. Pitchers on average are about 78% successful at returning to peak form after a TJ surgery, which while very high, still leaves the possibility that he comes back not as he was.

In this scenario, he’s forced to completely overhaul his approach to challenging hitters. This brings to mind John Danks after his shoulder surgery, and that may have set back Jerry Reinsdorf’s willingness to pay for a pitcher back about a decade. If this were to happen, he goes from a potential ace to maybe a 5th starter or more likely a long reliever. This would make us all very sad, as I don’t want anything other than Kopech destroying the world with 100 mph fastballs.

 

Bah Gawd That’s Kopech’s Music!: If the season starts at some point in June, the odds are either Kopech starts in the bullpen to stretch him out or Ricky Renteria gets with the times and provides him with an opener. In both these scenarios there is no reason not to let him off the chain and have him throw smoke right out of the gate. I would think the Sox are going to try and get him close to 100 innings in a shortened season. A 3.90 ERA with over 100 strikeouts would be acceptable in this situation as long as his velocity and movement is still close to where it was.

In reality, just getting to watch Kopech on the mound again for the first time in almost 20+ months will be enough to put a smile on most Sox fans faces. Shortening the season by a few months and having him ready to go for a late opening day could be the only side benefit of having this awful pandemic sweeping the world. Hopefully we will see him sooner rather than later, and all of you are safe and healthy out there. Cheers!

Baseball

The first roster-fringe player we cover on our 2020 Sox Preview series is Zack Collins. While there is not a guarantee that Collins will make the Opening Day roster, he probably should get a good long look before the Sox decide to burn another option and send him down to AAA for however long, as he has very little left to prove in the minors. In a world without James McCann, Collins would be the obvious backup catcher, but as long as McCann is here Collins’ roster spot is in a bit of doubt. But we will touch on that. Let’s dig in

2019 MLB Stats

27 GP, .186/.307/.349, 3 HR, 12 RBI

-0.3 fWAR, -0.2 bWAR, -0.3 WARP

13.7 BB%, 38.8 K%

.285 wOBA, 77 wRC+ .656 OPS

-4 DRS, -3.1 FRAA

Last Week on Nitro: Collins spent most of 2019 in AAA, where his numbers were infinitely better than that drivel above us. I listed his MLB stats because, as I said in the open, he has almost nothing left to prove in the minors and should be an MLB player moving forward. But don’t let those rough stats from limited action as a rookie scare you off – Collins’ slash line in 88 AAA games was a much more encouraging .282/.403/.548 with 19 HR and 74 RBI, good for a .401 wOBA and 140 wRC+. Among the most encouraging aspects of Collins’ numbers at all levels of the minors and even his short MLB spell is the walk-rate and OBP, as that 13.7% he posted in the bigs last year counts as the lowest that number has been for him at any level of the minors. Collins simply does not chase bad pitching, forcing pitchers to come into the zone where he is a legitimate threat to take them deep on every pitch.

Another reason you can quite easily disregard any concern that could come from looking at those 2019 MLB stats is the way Rick Renteria used Collins when he was first called up. Despite the fact that the Sox had no one on the MLB roster who could serve as a reliable DH, Ricky kept Collins out of the everyday lineup and only had him playing sporadically every 3-to-5 days, and two of his first eight appearances (including his freakin’ MLB debut) came as nothing more than a pinch hitter. Going from an everyday impact bat in the minors to bench piece is a tough situation to be in when you’re also trying to adjust to MLB pitching. Obviously that was still when McCann was one of the Sox best hitters, but it was still poorly handled, in my opinion.

There are a few concerns about Collins’ future in the bigs, but I don’t think his 2019 should lose you any sleep.

TOO SWEET (WHOOP WHOOP): The best case scenario for Collins in 2020 is that some catcher elsewhere in MLB gets hurt and the Sox are able to trade McCann to fill that void, opening up the roster spot for Collins to walk into. There is a legitimate case to be made that Collins is a better fit for the 2020 Sox’ roster than McCann, anyway. With the presence of Jose Abreu, Edwin Encarnacion, and Yasmani Grandal, all of whom hit lefties extremely well and should never sit when the Sox are facing a lefty, McCann is kinda crowded out of the only lineup where it makes sense to play him consistently. On the flip side, Collins absolutely raked righties throughout his MiLB career and in a perfect world might even feature in a lineup vs RHP over Abreu, although now we are just dreaming.

Regardless of McCann’s presence on the roster, Collins needs to spend significant time at the MLB level in 2020, and the ideal outcome would be that he gets platooned almost exclusively into those lineups vs RHP. That would eliminate a huge weakness from Collins’ game immediately. The walk rate is far from a concern, though you definitely want to see the K-rate come crashing down. He’s never struck out at a rate lower than 24.4% in the minors, but being below 30% is all I ask. Getting him into those RHP lineups on a semi-consistent basis and bringing the K-rate down should allow him to bump that OBP up closer to .350, and if he starts putting the bat on the ball more he is going to hit very hard and very far, so the slugging percentage will be nice as well. No, I don’t give a shit about his batting average.

Lastly, an ideal 2020 sees Collins’ work with his good buddy Grandal behind the plate take him from a downright liability at the backstop to a reliable backup option. That’s not too much to ask, is it?

YOU FUCKED UP! YOU FUCKED UP!: The nightmare outcome for Collins’ 2020 season is that it ends up looking an awful lot like his 2019 did. You don’t need a hell of a lot out of a backup catcher, but when you draft a guy in the first round of the MLB draft because his best position is hitter, you need to see that hitter come through. I don’t think he will ever stop walking, but if he can’t at least make more contact he will never really get to take advantage of all his power, and he will probably need to have at least a .210 average to really let his OBP be any semblance of productive. If 2020 looks like 2019 and he stays below the Mendoza line, the walking will only be worth so much.

I don’t actually think his fielding will get worse, but if he doesn’t improve behind the plate there could be some major problems.

BAH GAWD THAT’S COLLINS’ MUSIC: I think that at some point in the season, McCann will no longer be the primary backup catcher for the White Sox and Collins will take over that mantle, either via McCann getting traded or the Sox just doing the prudent thing from a organizational future standpoint, prioritizing the young controllable player instead of the pending free agent. Collins could also end up being the backup 1B and DH, giving Ricky three different ways to work him into lineups at various times throughout the year and get him more consistent at bats.

In terms of results, I would expect Collins line to wind up more in he realm of a .220/.350/.450 kinda player, as I really believe that even getting above .200 on the average will turn Collins into a damn near elite OBP guy. I still think he will strike out too much – more than the ideal 30% mark I said in best case – and that will prevent him from getting to all of his power, but he should hit 15-20 dingers if he appears in 60+ games. Unless his defense vastly improves, it will bring his WAR metrics down, but I think he can still be worth 1.0 to 1.5 wins in a semi-regular backup role in 2020.

Previous Player Previews

Yasmani Grandal

James McCann

Baseball

BOX SCORES

Game 1: Sox 6, Twins 4

Game 2: Sox 4, Twins 14

Game 3: Sox 4, Twins 0

There are few things as frustrating as the White Sox getting their shit kicked in by the Minnesota Twins, but also few things more incredible than the White Sox kicking the Twins’ shit in. This week we got to witness both of these things happen, and it was a little strange but given that Lucas Gi0lito shoved in Wednesday’s game for the dominant win, it felt far more satisfying. Any time we can beat the shit out of those lousy idiots up north is a good time. Let’s do this:

Ivan Nova has slowly grown on me this year, but I feel like it’s more like a disgusting zit and less like a nice beard. Not to say that Nova hasn’t been good, because he has been nothing short of solid in most of his starts for a while now (did I hedge this sentence enough?).  In reality, though, he was just so bad early in the season that he is now pitching less bad and this really is what the Sox were expecting and hoping for when they traded for him to be their innings eater rather than adding someone who could, you know, actually be a difference making starter.

– Fresh among a week in which Rick Renteria adopted the company line and told any fans who might criticize his lineup construction and in game decisions to kiss his ass, he made yet another extremely questionable and crticizable (?) decision by putting on a suicide squeeze with a two run lead and an 0-2 count in the seventh inning. Now to be fair, I also would probably rather not watch Yolmer Sanchez swing  a bat in an important situation, and it’s not like Ricky has a lot of options at his disposal (which I think was at the heart of his comments about critics), but I am just hoping that all of the bunting will go away next year when there is hopefully some real talent here.

– I do not want to talk much about Game 2, because it was very very bad. But Nelson Cruz is still fucking awesome and I am not looking forward to the Sox having to face him next year as well.

– Last comment about Game 2, but it’s tough to see Reynaldo Lopez get shelled after he had been having a strong second half of the season. Hopefully it was just one bad start and we move on.

– I am not sure what more I can say about Lucas Giolito at this point. The man is simply incredible, and it’s pretty cool to think that a huge part of his early struggles were mostly mental. It definitely seemed that way last year, and hearing about all of his neural pathway training (that inspired this recap title, thank you) was pretty fascinating. It was the kinda thing that makes you want to do the weird computer thing and figure out your own brain. But if you put me at full brain power I’d obviousbly be unstobbale and the whole world would be fucked.

– We should get Yoan Moncada back for this next series against the Rangers. So this team will become slightly more likeable and watchable. Thank you God.

Baseball

Ok, sorry about that.

It’s been a cantankerous few days on the Southside. I suppose this is where a joke about it always being cantankerous around 35th and Shields would go, and that’s just the Sox Experience, but I’m trying to turn a new leaf here. So we’ll just leave it. A couple days ago you had Rick Hahn making the mistake of thinking Twitter represents all Sox fans and lashing out. And today in the Athletic, Rick Renteria has just about had it with people criticizing his lineup construction.

It’s not hard to see where Renteria’s anger, or insecurity, or frustration boils from. This is his second managerial job, and the first one lasted only one season before he was replaced by Joe Maddon and the Cubs went on to this era. His one season on the Northside was seen merely as a caretaker, someone to smile at Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro to aid their development after having their souls broken by Dale Sveum. And it was generally understood that Renteria would be moved along when things mattered again, which happened much faster than anyone anticipated. It felt like Renteria was never judged on what he could do as a manager, and though his one season didn’t mean much, we never got much of an answer.

The thing is though, both Rizzo and Castro had their best seasons in the majors in 2014, Rizzo’s by far. Now maybe you can chalk that up to just natural maturation and growth, but it would be a stretch to say Renteria didn’t have anything to do with it all. Moreover, Jake Arrieta became a star that campaign, Kyle Hendricks, Jorge Soler, and Javy Baez came up late in that season (though the latter certainly had some issues with the whole whiffing-at-the-world thing), and at least some seeds were planted. We can even throw in Hector Rondon having a great season as a Rule-5 pick, and he would be a valuable piece going forward. It feels like all of this couldn’t have happened in spite of or around the manager, smiling politely the whole way.

So to the Sox, and once again Renteria is being viewed as merely a placeholder or glorified mascot, even in his third year of managing. And for the most part, at least to start, he wasn’t given really anything to work with. You don’t want to look at that 2017 team if you’ve eaten in the last hour or are planning to in the next. Basically, it had one pitcher who was then flipped across town halfway through and not much else.

Still, this season, Yoan Moncada, Tim Anderson, and Lucas Giolito have all taken major steps forward–along with at least half of a breakout campaign from James McCann–and it’s easy to pass that off as them just being naturally talented and gaining experience. But this seems to keep happening with Renteria around, so either he’s one of the luckiest guys in the world when it comes to young talent or he at least can provide an environment for it to progress and even flourish. There are more than a few managers who couldn’t even figure that one out.

As the article is based around. Renteria gets a lot of shit for his lineup choices, and as it also points out he’s behind a handful of eight-balls when it comes to it. Earlier in the year it was Anderson batting seventh, though now he’s batted second even more. Some would have liked to have seen Eloy moved up, but he hasn’t really done anything yet to merit that. Overall, I’m of the opinion batting order is a touch overblown, but it’s easy to see where hitting third or fourth would add extra pressure to a rookie still trying to navigate the heavy waters of The Show.

Renteria doesn’t have an OBP-heavy leadoff hitter anywhere, which isn’t his fault. It also would seem that Jose Abreu is entrenched in the third spot as organizational policy, so someone has to go cleanup which we’ve come to find out isn’t really where you want your best hitters. In an ideal world where everyone was healthy and producing, your top three would be some combo of Moncada, Jimenez, and Anderson, but it just hasn’t worked out like that for various reasons. Renteria has black holes essentially in center, right, DH, and second base. That’s a lot to navigate around.

Of course, he can’t escape the criticisms of his in-game managing, and there’s way too much bunting and playing for one-run. And while James Fegan here leans to the “having no choice with the talent on hand” button, which is defensible, to me if the season isn’t really about wins and losses (and it isn’t) then you have to establish what you’re going to do going forward. How you’re going to play. Show the kids who will be here that no, we don’t bunt here or we don’t go for moving the runner over, just bash the shit out of the ball and let’s get two or three at once. But at the same time, does it really matter what he decides to do with Yolmer or Cordell at the plate? How much of a tone does that set going forward for Moncada or Jimenez? I’m guessing not much of one.

As for bullpen management, we know Renteria likes to go hard at times, and get the matchups he wants. There is something to be said of showing everyone that you want to get wins, that their hard work should be rewarded at times with the manager doing just as much to get those rewards. Though beyond Aaron Bummer and Jace Fry (maybe Jimmy Cordero), it’s hard to see out of the pen who is going to matter long term. But getting them in as many big spots as you can isn’t the worst idea in the world.

None of this means I or anyone else would expect Renteria to be around when the Sox are contending again, be that next year or probably more likely 2021. Which might be harsh on Rick for a second time, but that’s reality. But it would seem the main crux of his job–moving the players forward who are going to be the driving force for that contending team–he’s done. And he’s done it for a second time.

Baseball

  VS

Records: White Sox 35-37  / Rangers 40-35

Gametimes: Friday/Saturday 7:05  Sunday 2:05

TV: NBCSN

Where The Buffalo Roam:  Lone Star Ball

Probable Starters:

Reynaldo Lopez vs Ariel Jurado

Odrisamer Despaigne vs Lance Lynn

Chevy Nova vs Adrian Simpson

PROBABLE LINEUPS:

RANGERS

  1. Shin-Soo Choo – DH
  2. Delino DeShields – CF
  3. Elvis Andrus – SS
  4. Nomar Mazara – RF
  5. Willie Calhoun – LF
  6. Asdrubal Cabrera – 3B
  7. Rougned Odor – 2B
  8. Ronald Guzman – 1B
  9. Jeff Mathis – C

 

WHITE SOX

  1. Leury Garcia – CF
  2. Tim Anderson – SS
  3. Jose Abreu – 1B
  4. James McCann (C/DH)
  5. Eloy Jimenez – LF
  6. Yoan Moncada – 3B
  7. Zack Collins (C/DH)
  8. Yolmer Sanchez (2B)
  9. Ryan Cordell (RF)

 

The Sox travel to the deep south this weekend after their backwards split with the North Siders in the middle of the week.  Down in Arlington they find a team that…should not be.  The Rangers currently sit in 2nd place in the AL West despite what was supposedly a rebuilding year for them, especially after a dead last finish the previous season.  Looking at the Rangers lineup, there really is no reason for them to be in 2nd place, or in wild card contention yet here we are.  Baseball is weird sometimes.

Their two biggest additions this past offseason were Lance Lynn and Hunter Pence, two guys who were expected to be just that.  Guys.  Position fillers until they’re either moved at the deadline for future assets, or placeholders until the next generation shows up to take their jobs.  They certainly weren’t expected to be doing what they’re currently doing.  Lance Lynn is the 2nd best pitcher in the entire league according to Fangraphs, and Hunter Pence (before he exploded his groin a few days ago) was expected to compete for an All Star spot in a crowded AL outfield.  Pence’s OBPS currently sits at a goofy .962, almost .200 points higher than his career average.  While Lynn’s peripheral stats suggest that this year might actually be sustainable, Pence’s ones really do not.

After those two, the monsters were supposed to be Joey Gallo and Elvis Andrus.  Gallo was tearing his way to an MVP level season before being felled by an oblique issue a few weeks ago.  Andrus continues to be what the Rangers hoped he would be, continuing his pseudo-breakout season from 2018.  He hits for pop, and plays well enough defense as to not be worried every time a ball shoots his way.  Shin-Soo Choo continues to be the most consistent thing about this roster, despite entering into his 37th year of existence.

The Rangers rotation is basically Lynn and Mike Minor, then a bunch of spare parts (sound familiar?). Minor is having an excellent year, and the pair of them are basically dragging the rest of the rotation into normalcy.  The bullpen is constantly in flux, as is the closer role.  Jose Leclerc was supposed to continue his breakout season from last year, but instead started off the year giving up somewhere around 389 earned runs.  Shawn Kelley has taken the reigns, but not to the point that Leclerc has been removed from the conversation.

The Sox come into the series after an ass backwards split with the Cubs that saw Ivan Nova and not Lucas Giolito hold the Cubs bats at bay.  The most concerning thing that came out of the series is that it seems Ricky Renteria is continuing his tradition of pushing his players to play through injuries.  Yoan Moncada has outright said that his back is more painful hitting from the right side, yet there he was Wednesday night being part of a double switch and attempting to bunt.  Leury Garcia is clearly nursing some type of lower body injury, as he doesn’t have his usual explosive speed and first step.  It brings to mind the dumbshittery Renteria pulled with Avi Garcia and his knee last season.

At any rate, if the Sox want to take this series the bats are going to have to be they way it’s done, as the combined ERA of all 3 Sox starters requires a TI-82 to calculate.  The Rangers lineup might not look threatening, especially missing Gallo and Pence, but they’ve been making it work all season.  Time to solve the puzzle and take 2 of 3 because you know O-Driss is gonna give up 9.

LETS GO SOX

Baseball

The Baltimore Orioles are quite possibly the worst collection of baseball talent among 25 men to ever be assembled at the Major League Level. I truly do not believe that is hyperbole. That team did not win even 50 games last year and will be lucky to get there this year. A guy on their team set the record for the longest hitless streak ever and still is playing in the MLB. Andrew Cashner was their Opening Day starter. None of it is good.

The Chicago White Sox are 3-3 against them this year and and needed a walk off to win the second game of the double header yesterday. I thought I knew embarrassment as a Sox fan, but now I know that I know embarrassment as a Sox fan. Let’s do this:

THE BULLETS

– If there has been any one thing to take away from this series, it’s that Manny Banuelos might really be a serviceable starter for this team, at least for the time being. That makes two straight starts in which he was solid, and he earned a quality start for his efforts this time. Of course, both of his solid starts came against this trash Orioles team, but considering that Carlos Rodon looked like shit against the same lineup yesterday, I will choose to be optimistic. It’s one of few opportunities to do so with this team anymore.

– Speaking of Rodon, can this guy please pick a fucking lane on what kind of pitcher he is? His game log for the year is among the most perplexing I’ve looked at. He flashes the ace-level stuff he had that made him a No. 3 pick in the draft one week, then the next week gets shelled by the Tigers and Orioles. It’s clear that whatever his ceiling once was will never be touched, and I am at the point where I think he might be better as trade bait than a part of this rotation in the future.

– Keeping with the recent theme, the Sox had a game postponed in this series. If they keep this up, they might run out of make up days, and since they won’t be in contention, MLB can just cancel those games and we might get saved from a few outings here.

Ivan Nova is a crime against humanity. Straight up. I wouldn’t wish watching one of his starts upon my worst enemy. This guy could take 15 minutes to get a 1-2-3 inning. I think people have closed on houses quicker than one of his starts. It’s horrible. Fucking sick of it. Get rid of it.

– Let’s wrap this up with a few complaints about Rick Renteria, and specifically how Rick Renteria used Yoan Moncada in Game 2 of the double header yesterday. Starting with the fact that Moncada was leading off. Moncada fits the leadoff profile very well, but having him hit there sets him up for failure in his first at bat of the game because he has to change his mindset. Moncada worked on adjusting his approach to a more aggressive one all offseason, and has attacked pitches in the zone with more consistency this year, and it’s a huge part of why he became this team’s best hitter. Making him lead off forces him to take a few pitches, and he can’t be aggressive. Just leave him in the fucking 2-hole and don’t touch it.

– Secondly, why the fuck is Moncada bunting in the 9th inning? You’re down one in the game and you’re taking the bat out of his hand in favor of a fucking suicide squeeze attempt? Get the fucking fuck out of here. Let him swing the bat and be the hero. I’m pissed.

– The Sox had a terrible schedule in April and could’ve come out of this month with a winning record. Instead, they floundered and are 13-15 and their schedule only gets tougher from here. This could be a loooooong season.

Baseball

 vs.

RECORDS:  White Sox 3-8, Yankees 5-7

GAMETIMES: Friday, 6:05, Saturday 12:05, Sunday, 12:05

TV: WGN Friday, NBCSN Chicago Saturday and Sunday

EVEN THE BLOGGERS ARE INJURED: Pinstripe Alley

PROBABLE STARTERS

Lucas Giolito vs. J.A. Happ

Ivan Nova vs. CC Sabathia

Carlos Rodon vs. Domingo German

Probable White Sox Lineup

1. Leury Garcia (S) RF

2. Tim Anderson (R) SS

3. Jose Abreu (R) 1B/DH

4. Welington Castillo (R) C

5. Yoan Moncada (S) 3B

6. Eloy Jimenez (R) LF

7. Yonder Alonso (L) DH/1B

8. Jose Rondon (R) 2B

9. Adam Engel (R) CF

Probable Yankees Lineup

1. Brett Gardner (L) CF

2. Aaron Judge (R) RF

3. Luke Voit (R) 1B

4. Gary Sanchez (R) DH

5. Gleyber Torres (R) SS

6. DJ LeMahieu (R) 2B

7. Clint Frazier (R) LF

8. Gio Urshela (L) 3B

9. Austin Romine (R) C

If ever there was such an indictment on what a nightmare of an offseason the White Sox had, even outside of the most obvious of fuck ups that I’d rather just not think about anymore but am constantly forced to, it’s the fact that even with half of their ideal starting lineup on the mend, the  Yankees lineup looks better overall than their own. Just since the season started, the Yankees have placed Giancarlo Stanton, Miguel Andujar, and Troy Tulowitzki on the IL, and that was in addition to Didi Gregorious and Aaron Hicks who both started the year there. Even if you don’t count the remnants of Tulo as an ideal starter for the Yankees, that’s still four guys who would be everyday players for them when healthy who are, instead, not healthy.

And yet I look up and down that Yankees lineup and find plenty of room for jealousy, primarily for the fact that they don’t have to watch Adam Engel take at-bats and instead have a real hitter playing in CF, even if Brett Gardner hasn’t been a major threat since I was in college. I’ll also take what Gary Sanchez brings to the table at DH over the Daniel Palka Experience everyday of the week. And of course a superstar in Aaron Judge would be fine as well, strikeouts and all.

On top of the Yankees injuries in the lineup, their arms have been bitten by the injury bug as well. Luis Severino looked like he was on the ascent to become one of the best in the game back in 2017, but 2018 wasn’t quite as kind (he was still good, but didn’t have ace level stuff again) and after he started 2019 on the IL, he suffered a setback earlier this week that shut him down for another six weeks. Along with him, bullpen mercenary Dellin Betances found his way to the IL before the season officially started and he isn’t expected back until the end of the month at the earliest. Then there is CC Sabathia, who has been forced to sit out thus far but will make his season debut on Saturday.

So if you’re keeping count, that’s eight players who figured to play either a major role or a priority backup role for this team that have been hurt, and yet the Yankees find themselves in a decent position, still just two games below .500 and in second place in the AL East, thanks in large part to the righteous embarrassment that the Red Sox have started the season with. If they can take care of business against the Sox this weekend, they could be in a really good spot early on despite all the misfortune.

For the Sox, the key to this weekend is going to be two-fold. Primarily, they need Lucas Giolito to be the version of himself that pitched in their third game against the Royals (and early on against the Mariners) and not the 2018 version that started to creep out just a bit in his last start. While I still wouldn’t call what he did against Seattle “bad,” the lack of fastball command has to be considered concerning at the very least. His curveball has been nasty, so if he can just locate the damn fastball and keep it around 93 MPH, that one-two combo is probably enough for him to start on his path toward being a true major league starter.

Secondarily, they’re going to need the talent to overcome this asinine experiment that is Rick Renteria‘s left-handed pitcher lineup. I understand the desire to play the matchups, and that inclination is the correct one, but any time that goal sees you bat Yoan Monada fifth in your lineup and Welington Castillo CLEANUP (not a typo, that has really been happening in 2019), you need to re-evaluate how you’re going about this. Moncada did struggle a bit against lefties last year, but hitting right handed is his natural spot, and the lack of pop he had from that side of the plate in 2018 was basically an anomaly that even he couldn’t figure out.

Also, since this season doesn’t matter for anyone but him and like three other guys, he needs to get the maximum number of AB’s possible. Especially given the tear he’s on to start the year, he needs to be second or third in the order every day. And move Eloy up too, because he’s one of the guys for whom this season matters, and the maximum AB’s sentiment applies to him as well. If you slid Castillo down to 6 and went Monada-Abreu-Eloy in your 3-4-5 holes, is this lineup really missing a beat? Probably not.

Instead, we will watch this lineup get dominated by J.A. Happ and CC Sabathia because there are only two real hitters in the top four batting spots, and I can already picture one of these games ending with the Sox down by one, Anderson on second base and Moncada in the on deck circle. Because that’s the White Sox’ luck in 2019.