Some see the White Sox surprising

Despite the warranted disenchantment with the White Sox, a few national writers aren’t nearly as down on the prospects of a team that struggled to push its prospects over the finish line in 2019, and didn’t augment it with upside from outside.

Hey, perhaps we’re too close. Maybe the White Sox have composed a potential masterpiece, but all we can see are a few random smears of paint.

Or, taking it down a notch, maybe the AL Central is really, really terrible, and the Sox will look better than they are as the result of forced perspective.

Cleveland’s big moves this winter were trading catcher Yan Gomes for marginal prospects and letting outfielder Michael Brantley and relievers Andrew Miller and Cody Allen depart as free agents without doing much to replace any of them. Cleveland’s lineup thus falls off dramatically after twin MVP candidates José Ramírez and Francisco Lindor, creating the potential for a complete offensive collapse should either of those two miss significant time this season. Lindor is already expected to get a late start to the season due to a calf strain suffered in camp. Even if both fulfill expectations, the Indians have left the door wide open, and it’s a testament to just how weak this division is that there may not be another team capable of walking through it.

The Royals and Tigers are in the same situation as the White Sox, and the former 1) finished in worse shape than the Sox and 2) just lost Sal Perez for the season to Tommy John surgery. The Sox went 18-20 against these two teams last year, so one can’t assume being a step ahead in the rebuild process means they’ll be a step ahead in the standings.

However it happened, a few national voices see the White Sox as being better than the consensus projection of 70-92. Jonah Keri took the over on the White Sox in his debut column at The Athletic, and that over/under was at 74.5 due to the lines being set in advance of the major free agents finding homes:

This is still a team with real upside compared to the 100-loss disaster of 2018. In Carlos Rodón, Reynaldo López, and Lucas Giolito, the Sox boast three starting pitchers 26 or younger with legitimate breakout potential. Yoan Moncada was rated the number-two prospect in all of baseball just two years ago, so his time could be coming soon too. Meanwhile, Eloy Jiménez owns the most major league-ready bat of any prospect not named Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and could instantly turbocharge an offense that finished 23rd in the majors last season by park-adjusted metrics (with pitcher hitting stripped out).

Meanwhile, in Baseball America’s season preview, Matt Eddy picked the White Sox as his biggest surprise of 2019:

Matt Eddy: White Sox. Chicago has young major leaguers with untapped potential, including middle infielders Yoan Moncada and Tim Anderson and young starters Carlos Rodon and Reynaldo Lopez. The White Sox also have prospects who could factor in 2019, from Eloy Jimenez and Nick Madrigal in the lineup to Dylan Cease and Dane Dunning in the rotation. I could see things heading north much faster than expected on the South Side, especially if the White Sox were to add a premium free agent bat.

This prediction might lose some of its power if it was written well in advance of its Tuesday publication, because Dane Dunning is battling a recurrence of his arm problems and the “premium free agent bat” didn’t materalize this winter.

But here’s his Carlos Collazo, his BA colleague, coming in with a fresh prediction a day later:

Between Yoan Moncada, Tim Anderson and Lucas Giolito, the White Sox have enough guys who are supposed to be far better than they showed in 2018, and that could generate a big boost in wins from within. Throw in Jose Abreu coming off hard-to-duplicate maladies and Eloy Jimenez upgrading one of the corners while 40 percent of the division lags, and there’s definitely a path to the mid-70s.

One cause for conservative estimates? The White Sox don’t expect to have much immediate help in the minors behind Jimenez — and Jimenez doesn’t have the soundest health record himself — so the aforementioned candidates for clicking need to do so.

By random fortune alone, the White Sox should benefit from fewer things going so wrong. The question is how many things will go right, allowing the front office to construct a team around established, productive forces under team control since it’s not going to land major free agents. If Moncada settles into a career as an adequate-but-frustrating regular and others follow suit, that might be good enough for the 2019 AL Central, but the big picture will still be lacking.

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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If Santana and Herrera go down and Giolito does not take a step forward, the pitching could be worse than last year. 105 losses is not out of the question.


Right, the knife cuts both ways, TA and Moncada could regress, gioltio could stay the same, lopez pitch more like his FIP then his era… etc etc

I cant believe someone has the sox over the twins… thats just throwing a dart at a board, no logical explanation


I would think the Sox are much more likely to surprise in the opposite direction. The pitching, in particular, looks shambolic.


Could challenge the ’62 Mets.

Patrick Nolan

It’s not out of the question, but I’d put the odds south of 5 percent.

Patrick Nolan

Someone actually picked the White Sox ahead of the Twins? That’s….certifiably insane.

The Indians will be fine unless more than one of their six stars (seven? Shane Bieber anyone?) get hurt.


There’s always some team that finishes much higher than expected, may as well take your shot at a totally irrelevant achievement like “2nd place in AL Central”

Patrick Nolan

Well I of course agree with that, but preseason projections are supposed to reflect what is “expected”.


Yeah I’m just saying you can go out on a limb here without endangering your playoff predictions.


To be fair, that was a prediction, not a projection.


If this somehow wound up happening and it boosted the win total to mid-to-high 70s, that would only highlight the FO’s offseason failures even more. God forbid a cost-controlled and suddenly solid core have an established and reliable star on the team to supplement it.

Lurker Laura

Yes, I’ve said before that a decent season from the Sox will make some fans even more angry.

However, I am going to buy the optimism the national writers are selling, at least for today. Just one day. Back in the dumpster tomorrow.

lil jimmy

The simple fact that they were really trying to lose last year, and, it appears they are really trying to win this year, will make a difference.


The players are trying to win no matter what, but in what way is the front office trying to win this year? They signed no one who will make a difference on this team, and then are keeping their best hitter in the minors for the first several weeks. It sure seems like the same thing from the front office to me.

lil jimmy

I guess we see things differently.


How is the front office trying to win this year? Payroll is about $80 million. For the 3rd largest market in America, that is downright criminal.


And a brand-new TV deal this year.


By any chance, have you seen the AAV for that new TV deal?

lil jimmy

Payroll is 93 million.
I don’t see how I could change your mind, and don’t intend to try. As I said, we see things differently.


Fair enough, it’s just very frustrating to be told one thing, to add players that seemingly don’t fit except that they are related to a superstar, then drop out when someone actually gives him market value. I really hope Moncada, Eloy, Rodon… have good years and the Sox do surprise people, but then that will just make me madder that Machado wasn’t in the middle of that lineup.

Patrick Nolan

@roke1960 Yeah, the Sox are really in a no-win scenario this season with regards to justifying the way they’ve put this together. A pleasant surprise / overperformance still won’t get them a playoff spot, but it might get them close enough such that we can play the “what-if” game on signing Machado.


Mood: if we’re really on the cusp like these writers claim, that only strengthens the disappointment in the front office’s utter failure on Machado.


Someone must not have told Matt Eddy that Moncada is now a corner infield because this team doesn’t have enough problems already


I really thought the Sox could compete with the Indians this year if they added Machado or Harper, another solid bat and a mid-rotation guy, then got expected improvement from Timmy, Moncada, Giolito and Rodon, plus the addition of Eloy and, later, Cease. But then management DIDN’T add Harper/Machado, another solid bat OR a mid-rotation guy. They lied to us and sat on their hands. So now we’re left with a mid-upper 70’s win projection IF everything goes right. They really missed a golden opportunity to open the window much sooner, but then, I don’t think Jerry cares if the window ever opens, as long as he makes money. What a rat!!


I really thought that after a few weeks, I would get over my disgust with management and look forward to this season. But that disgust just gets greater every day.


“Some see the White Sox surprising.”

“Some” are high.

As Cirensica

People keep saying that the Indians are Lindor and Ramirez as if they don’y have Kluber, Carrasco, Salazar, douche Bauer, Clevinger, and McKenzie which is already knocking on the Major’s door.

Kipnis was a 2 WAR player last year, so he still has some gas in the tank left. Carlos Santana gets on base at a healthy clip. Roberto Perez is one of the best framers in the majors, and well round defensive catcher. Leonys Martin is one of the best defensive outfielders out there. SO yeah…the Indians are clearly in trouble.



Clearly the Indians should trade Lindor and Ramirez while they are still on team friendly contracts and aim for a 2024 competitive window.


I went to the rebuild but all I got was this adequate-but-frustrating t-shirt.


The worst thing is… they stole the goofy fun that is spring training.

If they had just said 10 year/300M+ contracts don’t make sense and gone out and signed a decent outfielder and catcher and pitcher and not helped Cleveland with their salary woes – we could be enjoying a maybe we’ll catch lightening in a bottle – too bad our owners are cheap – spring training reverie.

Instead nada.

thanks for nothing


Yes, that is exactly right. They actually got most of us to believe that spending big for a free agent was part of their plan. They did the whole Charlie Brown thing and pulled the football away. But then they planned on doing that all along. And I’ll bet they’re going to try to get us to believe they’re going to spend big next winter. What a bunch of lying morons.


Many are saying


So not only does the FO lie to us but the media joins in as well?

Such is being a White Sox fan I guess. What an absolute joke.


Some see the White Sox surprising

Sure. Surprisingly bad, folks!

Sorry, was back in Statler & Waldorf mode there for a minute

Lurker Laura

Can’t go wrong with S&W.


So, Jerry and Co. were “ready” to give Machado $31.25 million this year, but their “superior” offer was rejected. What are they going to do with that money they had earmarked for Machado? So far they have not spent a dime of it.


I can’t blame Hahn. You have to blame Jerry. I sincerely believe Rick was ready to give Manny the 300 for 10 he sought, but then Jerry inserts himself in the negotiations. Bad sign when the owner takes over from someone who literally oversees the operation, is aware of market trends, is heavily invested in the long-term health of the organization, and is a hell of a lot more knowledgeable in evaluating the worth of a player, certainly a generational talent. The Charlie Brown comparison is appropriate, the ball was pulled from under us, but I attribute it to the very top, Reinsdorf is the Lucy and we’re all Charlie including Hahn.


I don’t disagree with you, but Hahn is still the face of the F/O. 99% of the blame falls to Jerry, but Hahn is the one that spews the lies to the media. I guess he values his job more than his integrity.

Lurker Laura

Would you tell the truth about your boss, publicly, in that scenario?


Like I said, he values his job more than his integrity. If he was good at his job, he could probably find another team who might care about winning, but with his track record, I’m sure no one would be interested.
I would have a hard time working at a job where I had to consistently look like a fool and lie for my boss.

Lurker Laura

Maybe he fooled himself into believing Jerry would come around. I’m not making excuses for him, it’s just in my nature to wonder at people’s inner monologues.


He certainly is in an unenviable position of having to lie about Jerry’s cheapness.


Sarah Sanders says, “Hey!”

lil jimmy

Jerry has his blind spots, but he is good person who does good things. Sarah’s boss is an asshole.

karkovice squad

Rick, Kenny, and Jerry all share the blame.

Jerry sets the parameters but Rick and Kenny also have opportunity to influence those parameters. They’ve also proved incapable of finding success within the restrictions. This time they either didn’t have an adequate Plan B or failed to execute it.

They’re a SS playing out of position and repeatedly botching long hops because they don’t charge for the short hop.


This is the same front office that had Eaton, Q, Sale and Abreu on friendly contracts and couldn’t do anything with them. Now they get to try it again with a new cast? In what year will they trade Eloy, Moncada and Kopech to set up rebuild #3?

Greg Nix

I was listening to a basketball podcast today (in part because the White Sox have been White Soxing so hard), and the guest made the point that one of the main responsibilities of a GM is to manage their owner. Bad GM’s blame their owners when they can’t make a good move, Good GM’s convince their owner to make a good move.

Even if this rests on Jerry for not ponying up, this is still a massive failing by Rick and Kenny too.


That’s a good point, but honestly we really don’t need to go in depth to judge this FO.

Since Hahn took over, they’ve been the worst team in all of baseball. End of argument. He’s not good at his job.


Is that true by W/L record?


Yes. The Sox have an MLB-leading 553 losses since 2013

karkovice squad

Stats nerds should really have a better grasp on probability. Or at least asterisk the unlikelihood.


Here’s a good stat for ya:

Jose Quintana: 32 starts and 174.1 innings in 2018
Lucas Giolito: 32 starts and 173.1innings in 2018

Yeah, Quintana a winner!

I’ll drop this debate here but if you want to discuss anymore, go to the podcast thread, Karko.

karkovice squad

Felix Hernandez: 28 starts, 155.2 IP in 2018. Guess he was never great.

The goalposts are back over there, friendo.


You’re proving my point and you don’t know it? Odd.


There is nothing surprising about the 2019 White Sox. Every year, we play the game of “If’s”. If Giolito figures it out, and Moncada doesn’t strike out, and Rodon doesn’t get injured, and (insert prospect here) can make a splash, etc., etc, etc., then we hava a shot at the playoffs. The Sox always have a mountain of “Ifs” that need to happen. And now, if all the “Ifs” happen, maybe we win 74.5 games. I couldn’t be less excited.

lil jimmy

If I get 12.5 more wins, and 12.5 fewer losses, I’ll feel better, for sure.

David I

We will all be happy if they do really well. What will irritate me is Sox fans saying “See?! They didn’t need Machado!”  When in actually, I’ll even be more irritated– imagine the juggernaut they could have been if they ALSO had signed him!