White Sox 6, Red Sox 4: Thank you for not bunting

White Sox win

The tougher part of the schedule showed up tonight, and the White Sox played tougher. They had some good at-bats, they had some bad at-bats. They made some good pitches, they made some bad ones. But they didn’t make the kind of mistakes that plagued the Baltimore series and foreshadowed doom for this month, and being on the positive side of the error ledger allowed somebody to be the hero in the ninth inning.

That somebody was Nicky Delmonico. He came up to the plate with runners on the corners and one out after José Rondón reached on a Rafael Devers error and Yonder Alonso singled him to third. Rick Renteria let him swing away, and after his first hack at a Ryan Brasier slider resulted in a foul ball that just landed in the first-base dugout, he squared up the second one and cleared the better barrier — the right-center wall — for a walk-off three-run homer.

It’s the second walk-off in as many days for the White Sox, and this one felt honestly earned. They played errorless ball, and while Lucas Giolito only lasted five innings and gave up three runs, it was a respectable showing coming off the injured list, and he kept his team within striking distance all evening.

Giolito got beat up by the talented top of the Boston lineup, as Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez combined to go 8-for-13 with a homer, a walk and all four runs scored.

However, he didn’t let lesser hitters beat him. The rest of the Boston lineup went 0-for-20 on the evening, and the lineup as a whole went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

Giolito’s fastball had power and his secondary pitches had moments. He rolled a curve to Benintendi for a solo shot, but the other six hits were singles, and most of them on decent pitches. He issued two walks and struck out seven, and threw 64 of 98 pitches for strikes.

David Price had an easier time of it, at least after a first-inning two-run shot by James McCann, but the White Sox found a way to kick him out the door.

Trailing 3-2 in the sixth, Jose Abreu drew a one-out walk. McCann followed with a double to the right-center gap, but Abreu held up a little past halfway to second to make sure it fell, and it wasn’t the greatest idea to send him home. Nick Capra tried, and Abreu was cut down at the plate.

The rally didn’t die there, though. Yoan Moncada reached on a grounder to the hole after Xander Bogaerts double-clutched, and Rondón came through with the game-tying single by staying down on an 0-1 changeup.

The White Sox bullpen — the front end of it, with Renteria staying away from his core relievers after a doubleheader the night before — gave the lead back in the seventh. Josh Osich walked Benintendi on five pitches, and while Evan Marshall got a couple of grounders, one got through the middle for a single that moved Benintendi to third, and another ended up getting past a diving Moncada, allowing Benintendi to score. Anderson backed up Moncada and forced out Betts at second, so at least that stunted the Red Sox rally and allowed one swing to settle it in the ninth.

Bullet points:

*Anderson and Abreu were both held hitless, which is a rare sight these days.

*Aaron Bummer went four-up-four-down as he stakes his claim to the second lefty job.

*Carson Fulmer picked up the win even though he walked half the batters he faced.

*It was 43 degrees and misting all evening, which had a hand in limiting a Boston game to 15,118 fans.

*Alonso had another double-play ball ruled foul by the umpire behind him for the second time this season. However, Jackie Bradley Jr. grounded into a 4-6-3 double play, so CB Bucknor’s unusual ruling didn’t matter, unlike Angel Hernandez’s from April 1.

Record: 14-15 | Box score

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I was totally expecting the safety squeeze from Delmonico.

KenWo4LiFe

Bummer looks like the best lefty to me.

roke1960

For as bad as this team has looked at times, they are only one under .500. These players are playing hard and never quit. Now if we could say the same thing about the front office…

Steve

I’m just happy I got a reason to repost the Jordan Danks grilling steaks picture again.

Jeff

Keep trying to find positives this year. Tonight – nice to see Nicky D – seems like a great guy and works hard. What a great moment for him. And, although a bit rocky, pretty gutty start for Gio. Battled adversity, had lots of K’s and kept the team in the game despite having to work through a lot of traffic on the bases.

Would be great to see Rey-lo have a good one tonight – pretty electric last time out.

Amar

So is McCann wiping out all his value from offense with poor framing?

lil jimmy

Please don’t interfere with the McCann bashing. He’s a bad signing. The story has been written.

Patrick Nolan

He was a bad signing. He could hit .365/.412/.587 the rest of the year (and obv let’s hope he does), but that doesn’t change the fact that there was no logic to it whatsoever.

“Let’s hope this guy plays far better than he has in his entire career” isn’t a strategy. Sometimes 7-2 offsuit beats pocket aces.

If you don’t mind, I’d rather enjoy a rare White Sox free agent that exceeds expectations rather than re-litigating whether offseason assessments of the move were sensible (they were).

Amar

See my comment above (yes I agree)

gibby32

I don’t know how McCann is going to do for the rest of the season. But it’s pretty convenient for you (and others) that, no matter how he does, you were right and Hahn was wrong, at least in your own mind.

Patrick Nolan

@gibby32 You walk up to the roulette wheel in the casino. You put $100 on the number 32. The wheel is spun, and sure enough, the number 32 comes up. Did you make the “right” decision, or were you lucky?

karkovice squad

Or to put it more directly:

The problem is, as it was, the overall decision-making that left Castillo as the last man standing and then paired him with McCann. In those circumstances, plus the rest of their recent history at the position, his performance looks like they got lucky.

If they’d cut Castillo, replaced him with a genuine talent, and then paired McCann, they might look smart rather than lucky.

lil jimmy

so the problem was the Castillo signing. That is a thought I can get behind.

karkovice squad

If we’re going only by recent history, then the mistake was not signing Castro in ’17. Last year’s injury aside.

gibby32

Patrick, there is no doubt that you are correct that a “wrong” decision can work out for a while and a “correct” decision can go bad. But there is an arrogance that has infected this site, and probably more dramatically the other site, that is hard to miss. You are far from the worst example of it, in my mind. (As a matter of fact, I would be better served to place this rant elsewhere. But here I am.) Nonetheless, an over-reliance on advanced stats and an individualized interpretation of those stats have caused many to assume—bizarrely, in my mind—-that they are smarter IN EVERY INSTANCE than the people that do this for a living. It would serve us well to recognize that sometimes Hahn might have information that we don’t and, sometimes, might know what he’s doing. Karko provided a more nuanced criticism in response to my initial comment that I think I agree with. It avoids the “I’m always right and if Hahn doesn’t agree with me, he’s wrong” trope. But I want to emphasize, you caught me at an inopportune moment. In my mind, you are not in the top fifty folk that fall into this trap. But your comment punched my button.

Patrick Nolan

@gibby32 After writing up the offseason grades for years, I’ve had enough wind up looking weird in retrospect that I don’t think I have some sort of special gift for this. However, I do feel strongly about my assessments on the extremes of the spectrum. I felt that Rick Hahn did great in the Sale trade (grade: “A”), and that even if Kopech/Moncada were to not have good careers, it’d be hard to fault Hahn for securing the value he got. Likewise, the Flowers/Navarro situation (grade: “F”) made no sense, and even if Navarro hit great for us I would have stuck to my guns that it was a bad decision. For things in the “B”/”C” range, there’s a lot more nuance, but for me to hand out an “A” or an “F”, I’m pretty damn sure that it was either great or a mistake.

I think that given how the White Sox have struggled with decision-making both on the grand and small scales, criticism is warranted when something smells like it makes no sense. If it were say, the Astros signing James McCann, I’d probably be more inclined to take a step back and be like “okay, what’s going on here that I don’t see.”

gibby32

I get it. For reasons described in this chain, I believe that McCann was in the “B-C” range. But you said “bad signing” and “no logic to it whatsoever”. I did not think those comments exhibited enough nuance. And for what it’s worth, I do not think that a measured analysis of a transaction should depend on whether Houston or the White Sox made the decision, but whatever.

Patrick Nolan

@gibby32 Well here’s what I wrote…you can feel free to point out which pieces of my rationale you think were faulty.

https://soxmachine.com/2019/03/01/grading-the-white-sox-2018-19-offseason/

It is interesting to note, however, that McCann was non-tendered (at a projected arb salary similar to what the White Sox gave him) by a different rebuilding team with little-to-no catching depth, so if the thought is that Rick Hahn knows something I don’t, he also must know something that the Tigers — a team intimately familiar with McCann — don’t.

gibby32

I don’t think your rationale was faulty. But the tone of your comment then was markedly different than the tone of your comment here. We’ve moved into talking for the sake of talking. I’ve finished my rant.

Patrick Nolan

@gibby32 OK, sounds good.

Patrick Nolan

@Jim I guess it’s my poker background that leads me to evaluate things this way. I take all the information I have at hand to make an evaluation at a particular time and try not to let anything that happens afterwards affect how I feel about the assessment I made. I admit that the language I chose probably doesn’t land right for those who haven’t spent a great deal of time at a card table. I’m all too familiar with the feeling of winning a big hand despite having the knowledge that I played it wrong, and while it’s not quite an apples-to-apples comparison, that happens in baseball plenty as well.

I think the reason I came off aggressively is the reason I mentioned later in the comment. James McCann is killing the ball, and as a White Sox fan starved for neat stuff to happen, I want to be able to enjoy that for what it is without being needled for eminently reasonable things I said about him in the offseason. I guess that comes with the territory and I need to handle it better, but honestly I expected to only really hear it from the goons on Twitter.

Eagle Bones

I think pnoles point about the Sox not earning the benefits of the doubt is actually a pretty salient point here. To your point above, it’s been pretty well established that teams will find things through scouting and their own in-house metrics that we just won’t know about as fans. So, as pnoles said, if I’m a fan of the Astros or the Cardinals or Yankees, I’m probably annoyed by a signing like this, but in the same breath I’ll say “well I don’t like it, but maybe Lunhow knows something I don’t”. The Sox haven’t come even close to earning that benefit of the doubt. Sadly they’d probably have more of that if this was a completely new regime (let alone an experienced and successful one), but it’s not. It’s one that’s failed several times over. When the current regime hasn’t made many (if any) of those kinds of moves that have made you eat your doubting words, why would you give them that benefit of the doubt?

gibby32

My meaning seems pretty obvious.

lil jimmy

I don’t think he is speaking of you or Pnoles. This whole chain has been quite reasoned.

gibby32

Jim, it is hard to call out in real time because, to my mind, it’s cumulative. I have not been participating as much the last few months, either in comments or in reading posts, so my reaction is impressionistic. But, for what it’s worth, I have never considered you even remotely “arrogant”. And I think that Patrick and I have sorted out our immediate disagreement on this issue; I don’t consider him arrogant either, although I thought that his initial comment played into that trope.

soxfan

That guy that bet his life savings on Tiger winning the Master’s was wicked smart.

Neat_on_the_rocks

To be fair, we cant have it both ways. I’ve bashed Hahn and co as much as anyone for their veteran scouting throughout the years.

If we are going to bash these guys for bringing in vets in their young 30s who come in and suck way worse than the “back of their baseball card” than we also have to tip a cap to them if a signing goes their way.

Ivan Nova for example. If he continues to suck more than double as much as he has ever sucked in the past when hes still just 32, we can criticize the sox for whiffing on that target. But if we do, then we have to give SOME credit for the Mccann signing.

McCann is just 29 years old that has always had all the “tools” to bee a good catcher. Hes been in division so the Whitesox have seen more of him than any non-Tigers team in the league. Catchers often times are said to develop “Slower” than other positions. Who knows, maybe they saw something in him that we didnt?

Now of course with all that said, I dont expect McCan to continue to be a 170 OPS+ player the whole year lol.

Patrick Nolan

@Neat_on_the_rocks You have to tell me what exactly they saw in him. He couldn’t hit. Couldn’t frame. Couldn’t block. About all he could do is throw. But when a fringe major leaguer randomly OPS’s 1.000 over 68 plate appearances, you’re going to tell me I have to credit a front office with no proven ability whatsoever for identifying free agent talent for “discovering” James McCann? Please.

They didn’t want to spend on the catcher position. They signed McCann to be a backup catcher, and at 29 years old, he’s randomly hit well in a very small sample after having a career OPS+ of 77 to this point. They fell backward into this and got lucky; that’s all there is to learn here.

If you want to talk about their ability to assess talent, let’s talk about great Omar Narvaez has looked in Seattle so far.

karkovice squad

Game calling and the related “familiar with the Central.”

Though that worked out so well for them with Avila.

Patrick Nolan

That’s the recipe for a 1.000 OPS, I guess.

lil jimmy

Apples and Oranges.
Things didn’t work out with the Blonde, no more Blondes for me.

karkovice squad

You’d have a point if they’d only had bad taste in catchers once. Or if we were talking superficial issues with appearance rather than something like an introvert trying to make it with a party animal.

lil jimmy

yeah, I never swore off Blondes. Anyway, I like watching McCann. I am glad he’s on the team.

roke1960

I’m not going to take sides on this one, but I will give some defense of McCann. He was an average player in 2017 (.733 OPS, 1.5 WAR). I was listening to the Tigers broadcast of a Sox-Tigers game recently and they said that in December 2017, his wife had twins born prematurely and he spent most of the next few months in the hospital with his wife/kids. He basically had no spring training and never really got going last year. They thought the Sox made a good signing.

karkovice squad

WARP and fWAR, which include catcher receiving, don’t agree that he was an average player before 2018. They credit him for 1 season above replacement level in 2016. Replacement-level or worse the rest of the time.

Patrick Nolan

@roke1960 you are correct that he hit well in 2017 and Statcast thinks he may have even been a little unlucky. Unfortunately, he lost all that value and then some by being one of the worst defensive catchers in the game. Baseball Prospectus has him at -0.5 WARP for 2017.

Granted, that was by far his worst defensive season.

roke1960

Like I said, I’m not taking sides in this. I didn’t like the signing when it happened, but the Tigers announcers who know him thought it was a very good signing for the Sox. They said the Tigers were committed to giving Greiner the regular catchers job.

Neat_on_the_rocks

Defensively, Both Fangraphs and bref agree that Mccann has been up and down in his career. Mccann Provided average, decent overall defensive value in both 2016 and 2018, and was bad in 2017. Hes always had that Cannon for an arm that has propped up other defensive deficiencies a bit. Perhaps The Whitesox Saw a Catcher who was growing into a good game caller and better framer as he has aged. If you’re a bad framer 4 years ago, that doesn’t mean you’re a bad framer now.

Offensively, again I expect this is just a major hot streak. And most peripheral stats agree with that. But hes always had more Raw power than his ISO would indicate. And I do believe that Cathers develop slower than other positions by virtue of getting less ABs per season than other players.

I’m not saying I think McCann is a changed player for good but we dont have all the evaluation tools that Whitesox have and its not impossible to argue they so enough upside in Mccann to go with him rather than the “better” options, like Maldanado, that were available. And to be clear, I HATED the McCann signing when it was made! lol.

As for Omar, I’ve always loved him and wasn’t the biggest fan of that trade. That said, he is still very much a contributor to the worse defensive team in the league so far. And he did get us Colome.

Patrick Nolan

Baseball Reference should be ignored for catcher defense — it doesn’t value framing.

Torpedo Jones

@Patrick Nolan Is that to say that they don’t sufficiently value framing, or that it isn’t factored in at all over at bref?

Patrick Nolan

@Torpedo Jones They post a framing metric in the guts of their catcher stats, but for whatever reason, they don’t factor it into their WAR calculation. I traced the calculations myself to confirm this, but you can easily tell by looking at the comparative valuation of e.g. Tyler Flowers on B-ref vs Baseball Prospectus / FanGraphs.

FanGraphs only recently (like a month or two ago) started to incorporate framing into their WAR metric.

Torpedo Jones

I never thought the McCann signing was worth getting worked up over, personally. No, he wasn’t particularly good but he was being signed to be the backup catcher, right? What bothered me was missing on someone like Grandal – a top-tier free agent catcher. At the risk of sounding like a baseball caveman, a questionable backup catcher signing annoys me far less than their inability to sufficiently pay to get difference-making talent. Would signing Martin Maldonado turn this team into a winner? No. Did they overpay for McCann? Probably. Does any of this change the fact that they weren’t willing to do what was necessary to get the best available catcher (by a mile)? Nope.

karkovice squad

But that’s the point, it’s not the McCann signing alone. It’s every decision at the position up to that point and including letting themselves be trapped by Castillo’s sunk costs.

Torpedo Jones

Agreed, and I think that’s why folks are talking past each other. It’s two different issues being discussed and both can be right.

1. The front office continues to bungle the catcher position (and a few other spots as well) by combining poor pro scouting and poor amateur drafting/development. That’s what put them in the spot with Castillo and we can all agree on that.

2. McCann has been a pleasant surprise so far and that can be noted without absolving the many failed acquisitions the team has made in recent memory. The blind squirrels may have found an acorn with McCann – that’s all.

Patrick Nolan

@Torpedo Jones I certainly acknowledge the small scale of the move (and did so in my writeup).

Part of the problem was, as you mention, that the White Sox had a lot of choices at the catcher position (including multiple internal ones!) and went this route in the face of both the (superior) path of least resistance and actual upgrades.

lil jimmy

Why the rush? How about he’s 28 and will be 29.

karkovice squad

Most 29 year olds are 30 at that age.

lil jimmy

” there was no logic to it whatsoever.”
The Sox followed him since high school, so maybe they know things about him that you and I don’t. He knows every team and every player in the Central, he knows how to pitch them and where to play them. He knew that walking in the door. That was the logic, and that was where they saw value. He was signed as a back up catcher. At the cost of a back up catcher.
Just because you wanted another catcher does not make him a bad signing.

Patrick Nolan

@lil jimmy None of this explains why he’s OPSing 1.000, which is the only reason this discussion is being had in the first place.

Neat_on_the_rocks

james Mccan so far:

BABIP .444 (career average .304). ISO .222 (career average .130). BB% 7.4 (career average 5.6%).

Hard Hit ball 41.7% (career avg 33.7), Ground Ball 38.4% (career avg 33.5%)

So his BABIP is WAY up. But hes also hitting the ball harder, with more line drives and less ground balls. Taking his walks more too.

Obviously this is a small sample size. I think this all suggests that obviously, his numbers are going to crater. But that said, if he continues to tap into that raw power of his better than he ever has in his entire career, he the peripherals DO Support a much better offensive year. I think we can expect his average to crater quite a bit, but maybe his OBP and SLG will be career highs.

lil jimmy

Truly, I did not see his strong production at the plate coming. The season is long. I expect he comes back to earth.

Eagle Bones

Since Hahn obviously saw this coming (and obviously knows it’s for real), I expect an extension announcement any day now. Can’t wait!

lil jimmy

watch what you wish for. Extending McCann is a real possibility.

Amar

It was a sincere question without snark. Pleasant surprise (at the plate) thus far but a bad signing nonetheless. 

Patrick Nolan

My comment was directed at Jimmy. I interpreted yours as sincere.

Amar

Thx, and thx to Jim. I haven’t been following as much this year, and I almost spit out my coffee I response to seeing McCanns line this morning lol

lil jimmy

I’m not sincere?
That hurts Pnoles.

roke1960

Wow, all this over a backup catcher?!?

lil jimmy

back up catcher to you! To his twins he’s Dad!

Patrick Nolan

@lil jimmy As in, I knew your comment was sarcasm.

lil jimmy

Well, that’s me then. Better sarcasm than anger. I’m just happy to be one game under .500, and seeing some exciting baseball. Last year was a death march.

karkovice squad

There’s still time!

roke1960

Hey, 14-15 is much better that the 9-27 they started with last year. And despite all their weaknesses, they’re a lot more fun to watch this year.

karkovice squad

If I’d just said the Sox were 24-12 mid-May of ’16, went 18 games below .500 the rest of the season, made the trade that shall not be named, and then traded all their best players over the next 9 months or so, it would’ve been a much more depressing way to make the point about high water marks.

Greg Nix

The funny thing about this whole McCann kerfuffle is that’s Omar Narvaez has been twice as valuable this year. 

roke1960

I really liked what I saw out of Giolito yesterday. His fastball had life and he was mixing his pitches well. He wasn’t that sharp, but that can be expected after a DL-stint. His demeanor on the mound is markedly different from last year. I’m cautiously optimistic that he has turned a corner.

JB98

This is similar to supporting the soldiers while not supporting the war. I hate the front office with the fire of a thousand suns. I don’t think the manager is a good strategist. There’s a lot of people in the organization who need to be gone. But hey, the guys who make up this poorly constructed roster play hard. 

Yolmer

If McCann plays decently well over the rest of the season, he was a good signing. Period. I don’t see how you can criticize the Sox’s major league scouting and not give them credit when they make a good signing. It is perfectly reasonable to think that they saw a few adjustments McCann could make to realize his potential. There is analytics, then there is scouting. You can’t totally get ride of the scouting side of an organization. If you want to extend the poker analogy, it is like playing poker only based on the math and not even thinking about the opponent’s and your tells.

Patrick Nolan

It is perfectly reasonable to think that they saw a few adjustments McCann could make to realize his potential.

Don’t overthink this. McCann’s turning 29 soon and had over 1,600 plate appearances of 77 OPS+ performance before this year. The Sox signed him presumably because of AL Central knowledge, reputed game-calling ability and/or throwing arm. They have an awful track record with free agents, and particularly catcher free agents. Attributing 68 plate appearances to anything other than short-term luck or an unforeseeable breakout is a stretch. Sometimes guys play hot for a month, sometimes guys take a thoroughly unexpected step forward.

Yolmer

The is no proof for either position. The team would never announce to the media all the changes McCann has made to hit the ball well. The point I want to make is if you are going to shit on the Sox major league scouting, which there have been reasons to do, you have to give them credit when a player performs well.

karkovice squad

Please dig in to what James McCann is doing differently to generate these results. To my eye, there’s more noise than signal.

The obvious positives are hitting the ball harder, getting a bit more lift against off-speed stuff when he connects, and being a tougher 2-strike out.

The big negative is he’s been whiffing a lot more on off-speed pitches despite swinging at fewer of them.

PauliePaulie

C’mon, Karko. His .444 BABIP is absolutely real and sustainable.

karkovice squad

On the other hand, Statcasts’ x-stats and BP’s Deserved Runs Created say his results on contact aren’t a complete fluke, @PauliePaulie.
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