Podcast: Is James McCann for real?

The Rundown:

Josh and Jim breakdown James McCann’s hot start to 2019. Is this a repeat of Avisail Garcia’s 2017 season? Does extreme BABIP luck lead to an All-Star appearance? If so, is McCann now the primary catcher while Welington Castillo becomes the backup? And does McCann have a long-term future with the White Sox?

We also discuss Charlie Tilson’s staying power, Lucas Giolito’s balanced pitch mix, preview the White Sox vs. Indians series, and answer your questions in P.O. Sox.

Presented by SeatGeek and Wix.com.

Click play below to listen:

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Worst trade by Hahn?  This one is moving up the charts.

2017 Sox send Robertson, Frazier & Kahnle to the Yankees for Tyler Clippard, Clarkin, Tito Polo & Blake Rutherford. Robertson, Frazier and Kahnle are still contributing on the ML level. All the Sox have left to hope for is Rutherford, who’s hitting .163 BA, .469 OPS. 


There’s a reason Jim called it the Kahnle trade at the time. He’s the only one who still would’ve been under contract/team control now.


Sure but if Rutherford flops that trade netted nothing.  Even a trade deadline deal should bring back something of value. 

karkovice squad

If the Sox traded Beckham for Almonte, Almonte for Kahnle, and Kahnle for nothing, that’ll be about right.

As Cirensica

So, if you outsmart someone, then you have a mulligan to be outsmarted by someone.

Sticky notes….Road to Mired in Mediocrity

John SF

There were (although not exactly realistic) speculations that the Nationals might be willing to trade Soto for Robertson if we ate the DRob Salary. He had 1.5 years left and the Nats were both desperate to not spend money and desperate for a good reliever. They gave up Treinen despite his triple digit stuff and multiple years of control because they needed someone reliable and they needed that person now.

Robertson was, starting that year, our big trade chip (other than Quintana of course). Kahnle developed into something potentially even bigger by the deadline too, but he was a risk (as the Yankees have also seen since then).

Frazier was a valuable sweetener.

If the White Sox had salary dumped DRob and included Kahnle in middle June to the nats, we could have had Soto or Robles. The A’s just got there ahead of us because we were being stingy.

But there was no other good landing place for them that year, and it was right to get rid of them. So Rutherford was a perfectly fine second place and you have to judge the trade as it happens. BRuth is still very young, so let’s not give up on hi yet.

IMO the worst three trades / trade that didn’t happen is
1) we didn’t sell high on abreu
2) we didn’t sell high on rodon
3) we didn’t grab verlander at the waiver wire and then flip him with salary relief like we could have (we were ahead of the astros on the wire order. We could have either claimed Verlander and the tigers would have pulled him back, slowing their rebuild; or they might have let him go for nothing and we could have flipped him)

(obviously the tatis jr trade is the worst worst in the last decade, but those other three are since the rebuild “officially” started)

Jim Margalus

There was never a time to sell high on Rodon. The reasons you’d want to dump him are the precise reasons nobody would want him for the asking price.

karkovice squad

I don’t see how the Nats giving up a 29 year old work-in-progress, arb-eligible reliever means they were desperate to trade 1 of the best prospects in baseball or a prospect in the midst of a minor league breakout.


Yes, I don’t see how the fact that the Nats never traded Soto or Robles indicates that the White Sox could have easily acquired Soto or Robles. ?

Chris Pummer

I always enjoy a laugh in the morning before getting on with my day. 


What made you laugh?


The Shields-Tatis deal has the potential to reach Broglio-Brock levels of awfulness when all is said and done.

Lurker Laura

At the very least, Jeff Bagwell for Larry Anderson.



As Cirensica

About the podcast comment on Avi…he has been worth 1 fWAR already this year, and it is not babip fueled.


If it’s not BABIP induced, that would be another indictment on the Sox development. Sox got a lucky year out of a tooled-up OF. Rays developed those tools.


Is there any evidence the Rays did anything? I think Avi is simply healthy. And if he wasn’t part of the long-term it made sense for him to move on.

Yolmer's gatorade

Its not facing left handed pitchers fueled.

As Cirensica

Something the Rays suddenly “figured it out”


Tampa Bay is also paying him less than half of what the Sox would have had to. Non-tendering him made sense and still makes sense.

Now, whether they actually put any of that money they saved to good use?…


Don’t know enough about swing mechanics to call it causation, but:
Robert’s batted ball profile flipped in AA. Nearly double the % of balls to right, and a skyrocketing infield pop-up rate.

Because the BB and K rates don’t point to him being overmatched, could Vizquel be forcing him to go RF only again, causing the pop-ups?

karkovice squad

Need pitch data to rule out being attacked differently in the first place.


Couple games I’ve watched hes looked ultra aggressive on anything near the zone. Wonder if he was smelling a quick move up after the first promotion.

I’m encouraged by the amount of fly balls this year as opposed to before though, maybe the bat path change he worked on in the AFL?


It looks like Fangraphs just moved Bleday ahead of Vaughn and Abrams on their draft prospects rankings.


So am I. Kiley tweeted that they have a lot of draft stuff coming out today.

Vanderbilt OF’s with fewer BB’s than K’s (18% K rate) scare the hell out of me.


Hopefully there in case Misner falls to 45, or to see Sikkema as a potential 3rd rounder?

I’ve trusted FGraphs over the other 3 big prospect evaluators the last 2 years. This is truly baffling.

lil jimmy

I was hoping for another College Outfielder (21.6 years old)to throw on the heap.

Trooper Galactus

Even if they acquired Alonso to be an offensive upgrade, then chalk that up to another failure on the part of the White Sox MLB scouting. Kinda feels like they went with McCann less because scouts saw something and more because he was cheap.


Alonso was relatively low risk recruitment and they got McCann for leadery intangibles.
Got lucky with one and unlucky with the other.

Trooper Galactus

They got McCann because he was cheap and their internal options weren’t ready. Everything else was lip service.


I think the biggest thing about McCann that you guys missed is the game calling. Granted, it’s almost impossible to quantify, which is why we don’t have advanced metrics for it (how can you tell if it was a good pitch call in a good spot and the pitcher misfired and got rocked?)

Much has been made about Giolito’s shorter arm swing and that’s definitely helping him not lose control for innings at a time like last year. But having McCann back there is really what’s making the difference. He’s helping him recognize what works on a given day and how to take advantage of that. After the Cleveland start, McCann said he knew in the bullpen that it wasn’t the day for the slider and he only called it 4 times. He saw Toronto sitting on the change-up and called the slider just often enough to keep them guessing, without exposing Gio too much.

Not to mention Gio’s struggles with runners on last year and how having a catcher who can actually throw is helping that out.

And the pitch blocking! Narvaez and Smith were a mess back there. Being able to throw a pitch in the dirt without worrying gives the pitchers so much more to work with. Stone was right when he said that McCann basically saved that Cleveland game single-handedly with his blocking.

Tl;dr: forget pitch framing metrics with this mess of a staff. McCann is stellar defensively and I was so wrong about the signing. Even if he doesn’t keep the .350 average he’s worth it for the young pitchers to have back there.


That is the thing about catchers. So many intangibles and behind-the-scenes considerations fan don’t see. How well they prepare for games, how effective they are at keeping a book on opposing lineups, working relationship with pitchers, and so on. I know some people responded negatively to the acquisition, but Sox mgmt had their reasons, and they should be allowed some room to maneuver and perhaps to do so without having to go into details about all the behind-the-scenes considerations that went into the decision


Is Giolito now the Sox’s best healthy starting pitcher? His rest of season projections are comparable with Lopez’s.

karkovice squad

BP’s DRA says yes and it’s not particularly close.

I’m inclined to agree because Giolito has both made real mechanical changes and shown more consistency in the quality of his stuff. The question with him is how well it plays against a given opponent.

We just don’t know what Lopez is going to bring to the mound from game to game.


Fegan has a write up on some stats so far. The section on Giolito is encouraging. Yolmer’s less so.

Trooper Galactus

I really want to feel good about the McCann signing, but looking around I can’t help but feel the White Sox continue to screw with a position they’ve had solved on more than one occasion. Just looking around the league right now:

Omar Narvaez – 1.4 fWAR with reasonable framing/defense and a .304/.386/.522 triple-slash

Josh Phegley – Currently leads all AL catchers with 22 RBIs

Tyler Flowers – has posted a .263/.258/.414 triple-slash in 3+ seasons in Atlanta, will have cost them a whopping $19 million for five years of service (assuming $6 million option for 2020 is picked up) with 11.2 fWAR produced for the Braves to date

Kevan Smith – Hitting .296/.397/.444 as the backup for the Angels

Any one of the above could easily still be on this team, but two were allowed to walk for literally no return, one was a throw in for a shitty season out of Jeff Samardzija, and we traded four years of the best hitter of the group to get two years of a high leverage reliever in non-competitive years. It boggles the mind that Hahn keeps trying to “solve” things at the position while Adam Engel somehow got over 800 plate appearances in 2+ seasons and we haven’t had a DH post an OPS over .740 since Adam Dunn.