For most franchises, the Eloy Jiménez contract extension would have bought a front office enough flexibility to be aggressive with other areas of their payroll.
For instance, when the Cubs acquired Jose Quintana from the Sox by dealing Jiménez, Theo Epstein said the deal gave them 1) an above-average pitcher who is 2) on a contract small enough to allow them to pursue other big-ticket pitchers.
“When we acquired Jose Quintana, we made the point then that acquiring him with the great contract he had might allow us at some point to bring another pitcher with him,” Epstein said at the Cubs’ spring training home in Mesa on Tuesday. “We almost felt like we were acquiring one-and-a-half pitchers in that deal, because it would go halfway toward acquiring someone else. I think today is that day when you bring in a Yu Darvish.”
Around that same time, Kenny Williams warned fans against a Manny Machado-like contract because it would prevent them from retaining players who are already underpaid. But that was before Jiménez capped his earnings by signing an extension, so maybe the Sox would feel a little more comfortable going out on a limb even with their balance sheet hanging out when the next round of such decisions arrived?
Goodness, no. Once Robert wasn’t called up in late July, it was pretty clear that Rick Hahn would spend August seeing if an injury might provide a convenient excuse. Failing that, he would just lie about motivations.
The Sox proved secondary concerns were a charade with Jiménez, as he suddenly became ready for the majors upon signing the contract. All the talk about Robert’s fatigue is just cover for an attempt to strong-arm Robert into signing an extension. Assuming that doesn’t happen, the Sox will see him in April or June, and hope that he doesn’t break his collarbone running into the learning curve while everybody else is theoretically trying to win.
Maybe this is what you’d expect an MLB team in the White Sox’ position to do, as we’ve seen with Pete Alonso and Fernando Tatis Jr., not every team does it every single time. Good faith occasionally exists, and considering Hahn has long acknowledged/groused about the fans who believe he lacks the desire or ability to pay good players what they’re worth in order to improve the team, you’d think he’d want to start deviating from his previous track record at some point, especially when it doesn’t take two to tango.
As for the players actually called up:
Dylan Covey: There might be an MLB pitcher in here, but the Sox keep asking too much of him to know for sure. We’ll see if the White Sox can avoid putting him in positions to fail.
Zack Collins: He’s back to show that his attempts to develop mechanical keys to resist/fend off high fastballs in the minors will work in the majors. One game in, he’s 1-for-3 with a triple, a walk, and more importantly, no strikeouts.
Danny Mendick: It’s cool that a 22nd-round senior signing from an area (Rochester, N.Y.) and a school (UMass-Lowell) not known for producing baseball players resulted in a deserved cup of coffee. The Mendick promotion is the kind that garners headlines from his hometown paper as a high school alum first, complete with photos from his high school days.
We had a good discussion on Tuesday about whether he can/should be considered a Yolmer Sánchez replacement considering they’re the same age, and Sánchez has had a good August. I just want to know if there’s an MLB player here at all before forging ahead — the Sox could use somebody like him regardless, for play or trade — so here’s hoping Mendick gets a generous number of starts.
That said, Hahn also used Mendick in an attempt to further obscure his rationale with Robert.
Daniel Palka: His call-up is either an exercise in generosity or cruelty, as he went 0-for-4 with two more strikeouts in his first game back to run his line to 1-for-49 on the season. Until he pulls the ball in the air, I’m only interested in what kind of benchmark he’ll set for futility.
As for the players not called up, Yermin Mercedes is the biggest casualty that has nothing to do with service time. Hahn cited difficulty in finding him at-bats, which is probably true. One could find at-bats by designating Welington Castillo for assignment, but if the Sox want to ease up on James McCann’s workload while not abandoning their pitchers, two poorly regarded rookie catchers might do more harm than good at this point, even if Castillo is one of baseball’s worst receivers himself.
no way collins and mercedes are both worse recievers than beef…
Collins is pretty Not Good back there. But they certainly need to give him at bats. Next year’s roster could use a lefty that can mash, and with the 26 man roster having a lefty 1B/DH/emergency C around would certainly be doable, and it isn’t like there’s a ton available in free agency as far as lefty bats. So some of his time up here will probably involve some days at C.
I have no idea about Mercedes back there, but we should keep in mind that “bad receiver for a major league catcher” like Beef doesn’t mean that guys who aren’t good in the minors are going to be better than him. If they’re not good catching lesser stuff in the minors, it’s not gonna get easier trying to catch Cease, Giolito, Reynaldo, Cordero, etc.
I really like the idea of a 1b/dh/emergency C , left hand power bat filling that 26th roster spot, I just dont know if it can be collins or not. He needs every at bat he can get from now until end of the season though to maybe give a little more clarity on the possibility.
I’ve liked the idea of a Grandal/Abreu/Collins/McCann combination between the DH/1B/C positions. Could matchup and get the 3 catchers anywhere from 90 to 130 games in and reduce Jose to maybe 140ish.
absolutely love that yea
One issue: if you want to see if Collins is the C of the future, he needs playing time. 3 catchers doesn’t leave a lot of opportunity to catch assuming Grandal has close to a starter’s workload and McCann isn’t just a pinch hitter. I don’t know if there is a lot of value in having Collins catch like 30-40 games. That’s about once a week. It’s not enough consistent time to get better.
If you’re only giving him rare starts at C, might as well not even bother and dedicate him the 1B/DH.
Grandal is 30, mccann is 29 so I really wouldnt need to see if Collins is the catcher of the future at the point that we have signed Grandal (likely will take a 3-4 year deal).
I like keeping him at C, the 3rd C spot is going to be a thing with expanded rosters and I think it especially helps a team like the sox who have probably used one of their two catchers as a dh this year more then any two other teams in baseball combined.
You also never know when a future trade may lurk, and having collins max his value as still being passable at catcher is a good option.
I think we can use this month to assess Collins as a backup catcher. He seemed to hold his own behind the plate in the brief time he was up earlier. He catch twice a week for the last 3.5 weeks. That would give him 7 starts behind the plate. There is no further use for Castillo on this roster.
He should be catching nearly every day for the rest of the season if you actually want to get a look at him. I would only start McCann at catcher when Giolito starts, and Castillo can pinch hit once in a while.
This. We need to know if he is a catcher so we know if we need to sign/ trade for one
Cease, Covey, and Detwiler have all thrown to the Sox AAA catchers so at least some of that difference can be accounted for. I’m fine with spending a month finding out how strong the correlation is.
And for what it’s worth, BP’s receiving stat grades Mercedes as average-ish.
But Mercedes is just 26 years old. Don’t you think is too early to call him up? He is practically a kid. Years of control in a player in their 30s are very valuable.
Thanks, Jim, for a brilliantly written article. The White Sox are extremely poorly run. Period. You so eloquently said what most of us are thinking.
Since Mendick is from Rochester, can someone ask him to explain how it is both the Flower City and the Flour City? I visited once a long time ago and it seemed everyone I met brought up the homophone city nicknames.
They make flour out of flower.
It’d actually be pretty easy to find Mercedes at bats if Hahn is being truthful with us. Collins is supposed to be a catcher going forward so he takes at bats there. That leaves Mercedes to soak up ABs at DH over such powerhouses as Skole and Palka but Mercedes is a righty and we just can’t have that…
“if Hahn is being truthful with us.”
When has that ever happened?
White Sox DH’s have a .589 OPS this year. It’s just ridiculous to say that there aren’t at bats to go around.
They dry up pretty quickly if you want to play Collins behind the plate but don’t want to bench McCann.
We don’t need to play McCann every day though. We kinda know what he is at this point so we should be figuring out what everyone else is.
That’s kind of a shitty thing to do to a guy who have given more than they reasonably expected.
He’s also playing for his salary going into his last arbitration year.
Honestly, if he were to quit while he were ahead it might work out for him. If he tanks his triple slash at all in the final month (a good possibility given his heavy workload this season), it could do him more harm than good.
So…loyalty? I’m not saying we bench the guy but we aren’t signing anyone in FA so we need to kick over every rock we can. If that means some guys get playing time eaten in to so we can get looks at prospecty type things, so be it. Let Mendick get run at 2B over Yolmer. I mean, for crying out loud we are still seeing Palka!
Collins needs to bat everyday. There are no good LH DH types in FA this year, and unless we want to trade for one year of Joc from LA there aren’t good trade options either. We already have suffered through Alonso/Skole/Reed in that spot, why not give Collins a year and see what he can do? Worse comes to worse we could sign Joc in 2021.
Those positions would be SP and RP.
Just imagine that arm in right field!
They acted in good faith last year with Kopech and it blew up in their faces. Robert has proven to be fragile, so maybe shutting him down to avoid serious injury due to fatigue or simple bad luck is a smart play here. Getting an extra year of control is a side benefit.
I cannot fathom what they’re doing with Castillo other than trying to salvage something from a disastrous signing to save some face. I waited all year to see Mercedes come up to mash.
The truly scary part is they have no pitchers who merited a call up. Just bad on that end that will need to be addressed by a FO running out of time.
Dylan Covey doesn’t count?
Pitchers are always a bigger injury risk, especially a guy like Kopech. That doesn’t mean you act in horrifically bad faith because it turned out badly for you that one time. Not calling up Robert while giving further play to a guy like Palka is utterly indefensible and it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s pointed to as an example of bad faith in CBA negotiations.
Hahn and the Sox are just looking for ways to add one more year onto their already botched rebuild.
This organization totally sucks, is among the worst in baseball and doesn’t deserve good attendance numbers or whatever fan base that they do have.
Yep… During his first years, fans quickly discovered what type of GM he is (a terrible one). The king was left with no clothes. Hahn quickly morphed into a guy that sells what he does not have nor knows where to find.
Finding ways to perennial get the fanbase excited about a future that is never a present. That’s Rick Hahn nowadays.
People were willing to give Hahn a pass in 2015-16 because they were willing to pin the blame on Kenny for forcing him to reload the team early and assumed Kenny was the one pining for guys like Smarch, Melky, and Laroche. Some people STILL try to pin the bad moves on Kenny for some reason, but the body of work post-rebuild suggests that Hahn is making those same mistakes in free agency still.
Always warms my heart to see a guy who’s been working for shamefully low pay get called up and win free health insurance….
One minor difference between Eloy last year and Robert this year is that Eloy was already on the 40-man roster last September and Robert is not. Costing yourself service time on meaningless games would be criminally stupid management. I’m not even sure I want to see Robert make his debut in 37-degree April weather.
It was criminally stupid that he wasn’t up almost two months ago. It’s even more criminally stupid that this front office seems dead set on pushing back its own timetable on their rebuild and, quite frankly, has done a good job of creating their own setbacks.
@Jim Margalus, You said about Palka, “His call-up is either an exercise in generosity or cruelty”… He hit 27 homeruns, 67 RBIs and had been in the conversation of making a run at rookie of the year… Yes he has had a horrible sophomore year, but to say the sox are being cruel or generous to me is a bit blind seeing his potential especially in 2018. I watched Palka hit one out and after reviewing the homer the officials called it foul in the same at bat he hit one out fair. He won several games last year with his 67 RBIs. I believe his call up was for his potential and not charity!