Rick Hahn celebrated Labor Day by exerting his power as management.
Hey, nobody can accuse him of forgetting the reason for the season.
Hahn confirmed Bob Nightengale’s scoop/relayed message to reporters on Monday, saying that Eloy Jimenez would not be coming up to Chicago this season despite being eminently more qualified to play a major league outfield position than every other outfielder in the organization.
He took the path of least resistance: magnifying a prospect’s greatest flaw beyond recognition:
“We’re not looking to develop a 21-year-old DH,” Hahn said. “Offensively, he’s in a very good spot, but we view him much higher. Just as we didn’t view Michael [Kopech] as a bullpen guy, we viewed him as a potential front-end starter, we view Eloy as a potentially elite all-around player, and although offensively he might be in a real good spot, he’s had a very good year offensively, we’re looking to develop him as a well-rounded, impact player.”
This is the first time that I’m aware the White Sox have standards for corner outfield defense.
It’s not a ridiculous notion that the White Sox would rate Jimenez’s defense below-average. It is a ridiculous notion that 1) Jimenez’s defense is worth keeping him down, and 2) the road to improving starts by not playing. That rationale crumbles immediately, although it doesn’t really matter if it does. Its importance lies in merely existing, because as Minnesota GM Thad Levine discovered, acknowledging service time as even a factor under a suspicious set of circumstances creates a whole host of problems.
Separating service time from the equation the best I can, Hahn’s best argument for sympathy can be found here:
“We view this player as having the potential to be a very special, impactful White Sox for a very long time, and if we’re going to err as player development, it’s going to be to err on the side of patience.”
With Jimenez being so crucial to the rebuild, I can understand why the Sox would never want to be accused of rushing such an important player, even if all the criticism would be of the unfair, ex post facto variety. The Sox have undercooked players before, and James Fegan says it still looms large in their thinking:
For now, the White Sox say that Jiménez’s importance is why they’re doing this, but not in the way everyone is thinking. Catch a member of the Sox front office in an honest moment and they’ll mention that the way Gordon Beckham’s career stalled still bothers them, and that they’re dedicated to not repeating that mistake. In the meantime, they will get hammered with accusations of service time manipulation, and will struggle to convince anyone it’s just a coincidence.
So that does the best to explain why the White Sox might opt for a very conservative path even if the club weren’t rewarded financially for doing so. Indeed, Hahn doesn’t have a rich history of manipulating service time, and while he doesn’t deserve credit for simply acting in good faith — and it’s also partially because the Sox didn’t draft and develop a ton of exciting prospects — he’s not some kind of monster.
My sympathy is limited, however, when Hahn treats the advocacy of the opposite course as less virtuous. He opened by reiterating that “patience is going to be of the utmost importance,” and later added that, “We are not going to shortcut this thing for good emotion or for positive reinforcement of this process as a whole.”
Nobody advocating for Jimenez is doing so simply because it’d be fun and exciting. The fun and excitement is a byproduct of watching a prospect who looks so prepared for the challenge that the front office can’t even come up with a legitimate baseball reason for keeping him in the minors. And hell, even if there are fans whose thinking starts and stops with “DINGERS! DINGERS! YAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!” they’re still probably correct and way more efficient with their resources.
If the scar tissue from previous failures impinges the front office’s range of motion, I can understand that. That’s also an argument against retaining all key decision-makers after they botched the first rebuild, but Jerry Reinsdorf can’t be changed. It’s your fault for not reading the fine print before you signed the contract.
Even after accounting for the givens, the Jimenez situation is profoundly annoying when framed like this. Jimenez came to mind during one of the few grand lines of Hawk Harrelson’s speech on Sunday:
“When you take a man’s money, you take a man’s money. When you take a man’s time, you take a part of his life. And I want to thank you all, thank you all, for giving me almost 35 years of your time.”
Whether it’s Sox fans or Jimenez, Hahn is dealing with people’s money and time, and it hasn’t been a fair exchange for most of the decade. As he gets tuned up for SoxFest, I’d examine the patter for patronizing parts. He doesn’t really have the ground to high-hat Sox fans, because if he were truly going the virtuous route, his leading “reason” wouldn’t fall apart under the slightest amount of scrutiny.
Excellent post as usual, Jim. The frustrating part of this is that even if the reason he is not up is because of his outfield defense, how is sitting for the next month going to help that? He didn’t say that he will be getting defensive instruction, or working with an outfield guru. I would imagine they thought long and hard about how to rationalize him not coming up, but if this is the best they could do, that doesn’t say a lot about their intelligence. I will really like to hear what Eloy and his agents say about this. That being said, I think it’s time to move on and enjoy the last month of baseball. Our young pitchers have been really good lately and Palka/Davidson/Engel are making good cases to try to be bench pieces on the next contending team. I’m hoping they can get to 70 wins- that would be quite an achievement from where they were a month and a half ago.
They hold off season instucts. Last year they proved helpful to Luis Gonzalez, it was noted.
Unpaid offseason instructs.
The kind of instructs Renisdorf loves the most.
But neither those offseason instructs nor spring training will be enough to show he belongs with the Sox. He will undergo an amazing transformation those first few weeks at AAA next April, and will be ready at the same time they gain another year of control of his services. But that will just be an odd coincidence.
There is a reason why Jiménez hasn’t been called up. Some people just don’t like the reason.
Their stated reason is bullshit. Their unstated reason violates the spirit of the CBA.
So many of us support the players we love, and we would rather see them get the money and opportunity they deserve, even if it is not against the rules for the Sox to deprive them of those things.
This and….see below
So, it alienates a player that both the fans and the FO view as a future superstar and it’s sole benefit is threatened both by the looming fight over the CBA in 2021 and by a grievance case.
Management intentionally suppressing labor wages always bothers me greatly.
So they’re doing something that makes dubious business sense, no baseball sense, breaches contractual obligations, and is unethical and exploitative.
They may have an explanation for the action but I wouldn’t allow “reason” anywhere near it as a descriptor.
Service time. That’s the only reason. Defense is just the only excuse they can point to that can’t be easily disputed by numbers.
If Beckham’s their scare story and they want their top prospects arriving as totally polished products, then what’s their excuse for Anderson and Moncada?
Rick’s explanation and the disparate treatment build as much of a case for a grievance as what the Astros did with Springer and Singleton. He really said too much.
The more he says, the more unbelievable his story becomes. I can’t wait to see what he says at Soxfest. And I doubt Eloy will be there. That would be a very awkward situation.
Eloy should absolutely go to Soxfest. Just to screw with Hahn, he should also demand to only appear right before, after or with Hahn.
Can you imagine the two sitting next to each other at a Q&A? It would sell out the event. You could even sell special packages that gives one the right to throw a shoe at Hahn.
I agree. I hope he goes, but it would be a nightmare for Hahn. He’ll probably schedule Eloy’s fielding instruction for that weekend.
Great article, bad headline. “No Eloy for poor reason” would’ve been better. There is a reason they’re not promoting him, it’s just a cheap, cowardly and short-sighted one (and the org is lying about it anyway).
A poor reason is no reason to me.
As you implied in the podcast, it would have been better for Mr. Hahn to just keep his mouth shut. Instead, he chose to embarrass himself and insult the rest of us when everyone knows they’re just taking advantage of a loophole in the CBA.
Beckham!?!? The gift that keeps on giving.
If the Sox were in it to win it (while winning over the City!), they would be sitting down with Moreno (Angels owner) who has his own problem with winning over a city. The Angels can never afford a full rebuild. They need younger players now.
Package Avi, Yoyo, and Gio (back to LaLaLand) and/or Rey for Mike Trout on the condition that they can extend Trout and pay him Top 3 dollars.
That’s the kind of bold move Jerry would never make.
So that leaves only one conclusion/answer.
They would need to start with Eloy and Kopech if they want Trout. No team will pay what the Angels would want.
Angels have to make a move. They know it and a manager change is all but assured. Pitchers are expendable. They break. Winners can always buy a Lister or Verlander. And, wouldn’t you take the best player in baseball over Eloy?
Yes, I would, but it would take a whole lot more than just Eloy and Kopech to get the best player on the planet.
Tiny Lister should totally be on the team. He’s be like a reverse Eddie Gaedel. Everyone would walk him because he’d scare the crap out of them when he made his Zeus face.
I really don’t get all the clamoring for what amounts to 6 weeks of playing time for Eloy if he is brought up right now. Do I want to see him play for the big league team? Yes!! Do I think him not being brought up is about anything other than service time? Not at all. Do I think, as a Sox fan, that I’m better served by putting pressure on Sox management about this? I can’t see how I am. Mid-April next season works for me, not as much as right now, but I can still enjoy it then as much as I would now.
The clamoring started well before September.
The best players in the organization should be playing for the White Sox, not Charlotte or Birmingham. And it’s been clear for several months now that Eloy is one of the best players in the organization. By May of next year, this will all be behind us and we will be enjoying Eloy on the south side. But it has been very frustrating to watch a revolving door of players try their hand at left field, just so we can secure Eloy’s services in 2026, or whatever year it is that they are saving him for.
It won’t be behind us in May. Or at least, it’ll only be behind us until the looming work stoppage around 2022, in the middle of what ought to be multiple consecutive postseason appearances.
Also the factor that most players usually struggle to start MLB, I’d rather he get his early chops out of the way in a meaningless September than early next year when they just might have an outside chance to stay competitive for a wild card into August or September.
That may bother me more than him not playing this year. This year is a lost season, but next year we have a chance to be competitive. That will almost certainly require a strong start. But Hahn will come up with yet another lie as to why Eloy isn’t starting the season with the Sox. Not having one of your best hitters on the roster at the start of the season will be inexcusable.
e.g. Trout’s first 100 or so PAs left a bit to be desired.
I just don’t feel the outrage that others feel. If he comes up May 1st, I’m OK with that. People around here I always agree with feel differently, I know.
I’m not clamoring for Jimenez to have playing time in meaningless games. I am clamoring against being lied to by Sox management. How can Hahn say, with a straight face, that Jimenez’s defense is not MLB-ready when he’s started an outfield with Delmonico and Palka at the corners? And where exactly is Jimenez going to get that work now that Charlotte’s season has ended? Just a total load of crap.
I suppose one could argue Delmonico / Palka are not comparable situations. Jimenez is clearly part of the future, a potential star and is expected to make it as an OF. Whereas because Palka and Delmonico don’t necessarily figure to be part of the long term plan, nothing is demanded defensively. If Palka could somehow make it as an everyday DH, that would be outstanding. Same for Delmonico as an NL bench bat.
Right now, Palka stands alone as a LHH who can launch one at any moment. That’s not nothing. The Cell is a bandbox, and home runs are required.
Hence, “If Palka could somehow make it as an everyday DH, that would be outstanding”
But no defense required in this case.
Padres don’t care about service time manipulation
Kudos to the Padres.
Mejia is probably more comparable to Moncada last year than Jimenez this year since he had accumulated some service time prior to being traded.
He also dropped his lawsuit against Big League Advance.
Are the Padres now the bastion of morality?
The Padres are so packed with prospects that Jose Rondon and Jose Ruiz dropped right into our laps.
Morality? No, they’re assholes… San Diego is nice though.
I learned a long time ago the stealing isn’t very nice, and considering that the trade was highway robbery, I agree, the Padres are clearly dicks.
The Team America monologoue conclusively proves they’re assholes.
I’m surprised he wasn’t brought up a couple weeks ago, but the rumor about the agent turning down a contract offer now seems like it has a lot of truth in it. The idea that Eloy just decided to write an article for the union newsletter always felt weird to me – at the time it seemed like the agent got that out as a negotiating ploy. Contract negotiations are hardball too and this is a part of it. As a fan it sucks but I understand it. I think we’re better served by a GM that has the long-term interests of the organization in mind after years of short-term strategies that brought us the Ventura-managed years.
Something the Astros did with both Singleton and Springer. One declined and got held down. One accepted and got called up. Which goes some way to showing where the battle lines really are and how much teams are looking to put an even tighter squeeze on pre-FA compensation than arb already provided.
The GM you are speaking about that “has the long-term interests of the organization” and “after years of short-term strategies that brought us the Ventura-managed years” is the same guy.
MLBPA is getting themselves ready for 2021
The part about IP is really interesting because if Bruce Meyer can help the MLBPA control their likeness, that impacts a lot of revenue generating sources. Video games, daily fantasy sports, and sports betting to name three. Opportunity to earn more money as MLB is already in plans of wanting 1% of all bets.
You’re right, Josh. This whole IP idea changes the entire focus for the MLBPA. These will be very interesting negotiations. And it looks like the MLBPA just got one of the best in the business on their side.
Disclaimer: Yes, I think he should have been called up. Yes, I believe even if his defense was the issue that he could have been better served working on it in Chicago for a month. That said…
The little I have seen him play in Charlotte this year, I was kinda taken a back by how plodding he looks out there. Just real slow. I’m not sure how much of that is “defense” or he’s just not fast. His reps said he lost 20lbs and I think that’s a good thing. He’s not gonna be a burner and he’s not gonna win a gold glove, I get it, but let’s not have him be a liability out there or a base clogger either. Seen enough of those over the years.
So again – agree this was about extra year of control. But also like that they’re pushing him to get a little quicker
Ya i feel like he will prolly be a 1b/dh once the winston salem outfielders get to the big leagues
They can wish that he was faster, but his speed is unlikely to change for the better.
Sure. They called up Carlos Lee, Avisail Garcia, plus any number of other players, when their bats were ready but were defensive butchers then let them figure it out. For the most part, they’ve actually shown improvement when exposed to major league coaching. Including both Avi and Eaton among recent successes.
He’s arguably no more of a liability than anyone except Engel and Avi.
Being in the place where they also have all of the StatCast tools for evaluating and coaching might also, ya know, be beneficial.
Maybe they’ll hold Madrigal in Charlotte hoping that, given enough time, he’ll grow taller.
Expect Merkin to file a story about the Sox deploying an innovative off-season training routine for him.
He can’t check the box if he can’t reach it.
They could hang in the closet by the neck, like Barney Fife.
That’s funny, I actually thought he looked faster than I expected the few times I’ve watched the Knights. Over the past month or so, I’ve seen him leg out a few infield singles, which completely took me by surprise.
His defense is what it is. He’s never going to turn into a speed guy, and he’s probably never going to save a lot of runs with his glove, but he’ll make the routine plays, and his routes will likely become more efficient with more playing time. If you’re expecting anything more than that, you’re going to be disappointed.
Since the press conference, I have found myself wondering if we should believe Hahn (if only a little). It does still seems ridiculous that Eloy isn’t up (and hasn’t been for weeks). But Hahn has had the opportunity to manipulate service time before (Moncada, Giolito, Lopez, and Kopech) and hasn’t done it.
Why Eloy and not Kopech? Especially since Kopech was an easier sell to stay down longer, or at least seemed to be the prevailing opinion of analysts. Maybe because Kopech is a pitcher and they are more volatile? But that seems weird, especially given the success the Sox have had in recent years with pitchers being good until they are 27+.
Service time *surely* is part of the equation, but why do we assume that his track record is completely irrelevant on this point? I am genuinely curious.
Because if they want him to work on his defense, then extending his season in Chicago is the best way to do that. Being called up in September also doesn’t have to be a permanent solution–they can still send him back to the minors if he really needs reps the team can’t afford in the majors. So Rick’s excuse falls flat.
We can only speculate about the different treatment given to other callups but their situations provide more reason to complain not less.
Sure, but Hahn has repeatedly said they don’t want to bring up these cornerstone-type players unless they feel they are absolutely ready to stick in the big leagues. The patience they show in these guys up is returned by not sending them down when they struggle (Moncada & Giolito early this year).
As for speculation, my point is that it would be odd for Hahn to so blatantly diverge from a pattern. Namely, not performing egregious service time manipulation. In this case, I think both of things things are true in Rick Hahn’s head:
(1) When we bring a prospect up, we want to keep him up for good.
(2) Eloy has a facet of his game that needs more development prior to being exposed to the major leagues.
More or less, he has repeatedly said both of these things. Unless he is baldly lying about one or the other, then he actually does have a reason that is not service time manipulation such that, if manipulation is a factor, it is not the main one.
To be clear, I am not suggesting that this is a good reason. I am just saying there is a pretty reasonable chance that Hahn actually isn’t manipulating service time, despite appearances.
If that is the case, I think the more pertinent conversation to have is whether (1) is a good idea or (2) is true. If (1) is a good idea and (2) is true, then I think Hahn is justified in doing what he is doing.