Rick Hahn didn’t want Eloy Jiménez on that wall. He didn’t need Eloy Jiménez on that wall.
But because Eloy Jiménez decided to put himself on the wall, he’s put himself on the shelf for five to six months with a ruptured pectoral tendon.
We’d discussed a couple times whether Jiménez’s lack of coordination would ultimately relegate him to DH, an end that Hahn and the White Sox had previously refused to indulge. After this injury, it seems as though the Sox may be willing to entertain it.
“At some point in the much distant future, we’ll talk to him and talk through a plan about perhaps making some better decisions or what we are expecting of him going forward from a defensive standpoint,” Hahn said. “For now, and for the immediate future, it’s going to be about getting him healthy again and getting him back contributing. For now, it’s about health.
“We’ll discuss keeping him on the field at a later date.”
The phrase “what we are expecting of him” is as notable as the “keeping him on the field” part, because that’s where the tension lies. Unlike the typical corner plodder, Jiménez is fast enough to make more plays than he does, so there’s always going to be the temptation to make up that deficit. Perhaps this trauma will allow a “do less” message to register, but professional athletes typically try to do the most.
At any rate, Hahn now has to figure out how to supplement the corner outfield situation, which was already compromised with Adam Engel‘s hamstring strain. Engel’s injury was a hindrance and unfortunate, but it didn’t nearly resonate as much since he was merely half a platoon, and Leury García can do the same thing. Alas, Engel’s injury is no longer an isolated episode of misfortune. Jiménez’s absence will require him to come back on time, and with minimal effects.
That’s the double-bummer of Jiménez’s injury. Everybody around the White Sox loses the enjoyment of what Jiménez brings to the clubhouse, field and box scores, and everybody left has to make sure they’re holding up their end of the bargain. An AL Central title is still possible, but their win projection dipping from 88 to 85 wins means that they’ve just about exhausted their supply of bad breaks before April.
Perhaps Hahn can take advantage of the Mike Tauchman/Jay Bruce situation with the Yankees, or maybe Yoenis Céspedes was waiting for this kind of opportunity. In the more likely event that Hahn has to deal with the consequences of amassing no compelling emergency depth, everybody else has to step up. Yoán Moncada has to look like COVID never existed. José Abreu doesn’t have to win the MVP again, but he can’t resume his decline, either. Tim Anderson‘s hyperaggressive approach must continue defying conventional wisdom.
Fortunately, all of those were already necessary for the White Sox’s highest aspirations. They’re now just more acutely felt.
For a number of other White Sox personnel, their jobs become different, more vital, more crucial. In some particular order…
Tony La Russa
I mentioned on the podcast that while Jiménez’s injury is devastating, it’d probably be costlier if Rick Renteria were still in charge. Renteria had a number of assets as manager, but imagination and flexibility weren’t among them, and this situation will require both. La Russa has dealt with all sorts of crises over his 34 years of managing mostly contenders, and doing what he can to make players comfortable when asked to do things outside their comfort zones.
This also puts increased emphasis on his management of the pitching staff. You may look at investing in Liam Hendriks as an unnecessary expenditure in the face of a devastating injury to the lineup, and consistency demands I agree. But since Hendriks’ money can’t be reallocated, a glass-half-full outlook says that protecting every late inning lead is even more important now, and Hendriks helps the Sox toward that end.* You can add the Sox’s high-leverage relievers to the Moncada/Abreu group of guys who need to perform, but at least the depth was and is there.
(*This assumes that Hendriks can smoothly return from the kidney stones that might make him reconsider his Dr. Pepper habit.)
One of the players La Russa will have to manage is Vaughn, who was already asked to do more than advisable by making him the best call for Opening Day DH. On top of that, he’s now going to try handling a position that he’s never played meaningfully. Hey, at least all his value won’t be riding on his bat!
La Russa’s staff and former players raved about his ability to put players in a position to succeed. Here, “success” seems like too high a standard, at least as traditionally defined. I’d lower the threshold to “avoid embarrassment,” and adjust as Vaughn’s acumen for the duties becomes more apparent. His lack of speed is likely to make him a negative, but if he understands that he can’t do much in left field, perhaps he’ll avoid the pitfall that Jiménez encountered by trying to do too much.
If Vaughn can stand in left field a few times a week, then a vacancy opens at DH. Collins is a good use of those at-bats, in the sense that he’d finally get a steady chance in the majors to prove that he can or can’t hack it in the bigs. This version of Collins, with a .956 OPS and just four strikeouts over 42 plate appearances, is actually worth trying. A cromulent Collins who can rotate with Yasmani Grandal between catcher and DH would soften the blow considerably.
When Eaton was at the top of his game, he was a left-handed bat who could hit at the top or the order no matter the pitcher. In the abbreviated 2020 season, his production against lefties plummeted (4-for-39) after he’d hit .290/.359/.428 against them the year before. Was that small-sample weirdness, or is that a specific way the aging process is sapping his production?
With Jiménez in left and Adam Engel providing a right-handed complement in right, the White Sox didn’t have to answer that question if they didn’t want to. Now, it might be worth playing Eaton every day just to see if he can rediscover some of his past form, which would free up resources to attack left field. Of course, that relies on Eaton overcoming his self-described slow start issues to be able to tell the difference.
I’ve already mentioned the stress on Engel living up to expectations, and García has the same thing going on. He’s probably the most comfortable option for everybody involved, because he plays good defense and we generally know not to expect too much. He’s also a low-upside option, because his 142 games in center field back in 2019 highlights the threat of overexposure.
- April-May: .301/.338/.378 over 206 PA
- June-July: .268/.298/.378 over 412 PA
García figures to play more with Jiménez out, and he can get on streaks where you don’t mind seeing him. He also presents a threat of complacency, at least among decision-makers, and that’s if García doesn’t remove himself from the roster with one of his own ill-advised efforts.
Danny Mendick/Nick Williams/Billy Hamilton
If the White Sox want to get by with García and Engel, then Mendick is a natural choice for supplementing infield depth, especially since he’s already on the 40-man roster. If circumstances take García out of the outfield, then Williams and Hamilton enter the chat.
The fringe outfielders define the concept of replacement level in different ways. Williams can hit a little, but his defensive metrics are atrocious. Hamilton can flag them down and run the bases, but he can’t get on base. Both are fine/negligible if they’re truly regarded as bench players, rather than attempts to fill Jiménez’s production.
If they’re asked to do more, then the White Sox would be running into the lack-of-imagination issues that hampered the Renteria era. The White Sox are supposed to be beyond that, but they were also supposed to be beyond early-season depth issues. Yet here we are.
(Photo via @whitesox on Twitter)
Great write-up Jim! You summed everything up perfectly. I think Vaughn gets a crash-course in left to see if he at least has a clue what to do (or not do) out there. Then that gives Collins the DH slot. If that doesn’t work, then they need to get someone else (Cespedes, Tauchman, Bruce?). 600+ PA from a combination of Williams, Hamilton, Leury, Gonzalez just isn’t going to cut it. Like you said, At least Ricky’s not still here. He would have stuck Garcia in left for the entire season.
The big question (as it always f*ing is) is how much are the Sox willing to expand their budget in order to bring in help if the internal options prove less than adequate?
There are likely to be some decent rental options available by July (Corey Dickerson, Sterling Marte, Kohl Calhoun) but they are all being paid relatively well. Maybe if the Sox keep selling out their limited-capacity for the next few months…
I’m really curious what Cespedes wants in terms of money. If he actually wants to play, it can’t be anything too crazy.
Many have been made fools underestimating the craziness of Yoenis Cespedes
I believe Reddick is still out there. Not sure how ready he is for the season, but he wouldn’t cost much. If nothing else, could add him into the mix and then see how things develop
For those of us hoping for Tauchman, here’s a New Jersey writer speculating what a Sox-Yanks deal for Tauchman could look like. He lists Heuer, Foster, and Burdi as targets. That sounds about right. The Yanks ask for Heuer, the Sox counter Burdi, they settle on Foster. Sign me up.
With Tauchman out of options, it seems to me that the Yankees have even less leverage than the Sox in this situation. I don’t think they should have to go any higher than Burdi or Johnson.
What if the Yanks choose Tauchman over Bruce. would you take Bruce?
Maybe? As long as he didn’t cost anything.
Don’t know much about Tauchman, but are we arguing about a guy that the Yanks would opt for Jay Bruce over?
Yeah, I would trade Foster, but not Heuer.
Thats a massive over pay.
Yes, the Yanks are desperate, but so are the Sox. Foster is our 7th most important reliever, behind Hendriks, Bummer, Marshall, Heuer, Crochet, Kopech. We could really use Tauchman.
There is nothing in Tauchmans past that says he is even better the Garcia.
Stop the madness, this is pure knee jerk reaction to losing Eloy.
Tauchman had a bad year last year and had an OBP of .342. Leury’s BEST OBP for a season is .317. Tauchman had an .865 OPS in 2019. Leury’s BEST OBP is .758. How can you say that nothing in Tauchman’s past says he’s better than Leury?
L Garcia has been above replacement level for 5 different seasons in the MLB Tauchman has managed that feat 1 time
Rick Hahn should be fired if he trades Foster for that in a panic move. Tauchman is better comped to Nick WIlliams then he is Leury Garcia.
You really want Leury as your everyday left fielder, with his.653 lieftime OPS?
Tauchman exceeded a .653 OPS literally once his entire career. Giving up anything for him places a LOT of faith in his 2019 not being a mirage. In his defense, he does bring plate discipline (and a lefty bat) that this team is generally lacking.
2019 literally accounts for more than half of his MLB PA. The resistance to trading Matt Foster for Tauchman is utterly *baffling* to me. It makes absolutely no sense. Someone please help me out.
ZIPS thinks Tauchman is a 2.0 fWAR player (Eloy was at 2.5). And it thinks Foster is a -0.3 player. And, frankly, those seem like reasonable estimates. Foster is a 4.00 ERA/FIP guy. He was in AAA in 2019 and he was in the 2nd half last season. He had a fantastic 13 inning run, yes. But the Sox somehow need to keep him around instead of getting a starting LF? He’s the 7th best reliever!
I don’t think it’s unusual that people don’t want to trade six years of control of a guy who looks to be a solid young reliever for one year of a 30-year old outfielder with questionable upside who, in four seasons, has played the equivalent of a single season, and kinda stunk in half of that time played. Like, if Ryan Cordell had a breakout season this year in 80 games, he would not be on my short list of candidates to for the roster in 2022.
So, I guess there are two separate issues: perception of Foster & perception of Tauchman.
I get not being excited about Tauchman (he’s not plan A, after all). But the Cordell comparison shows a disconnect. Look at Tauchman’s AAA numbers: 139 wRC+ in ’17; 153 in ’18; 126 in ’19. His 2019 wasn’t some out of this world fluke: the AAA numbers are there. Cordell also had 3 AAA stints, but only one above average: 118 wRC+ in 2017.
The perception of Foster must be either blind optimism, homerism, or both. I mean, has anyone here looked at his numbers or projections? Or does everyone just remember that he had 13 scoreless innings as a rookie? I’d recommend Sox fans look at his 1st half/2nd half split for his 2020 season, his AAA numbers, and his projections. Spoiler alert: they aren’t good. He’s about as safe a bet as you could find to be a 4.00+ ERA/FIP guy.
Perhaps the last 5 years have trained us to elevate service time above all else. Because if Sox fans won’t trade a 26 year old reliever projected to be worth negative wins in each of the next three seasons for their *starting LF* (who’d add depth later) because he has 6 years of control, then we’ve lost our minds.
Excellent points Frank. I too don’t get the reluctance to trade Foster for someone who could be our starting left fielder against righties. Foster was an afterthought last year. He exploded on the scene, then settled in as a decent relief arm. But relief arms are so volatile, especially those who didn’t seem to have much going for them in the minors. To say Tauchman has only had one good half year is not saying much, since he had only 1 full year in the majors. And Frank rightly points out that he has a pretty good resume from the minors. Again, Foster is our 7th reliever!!!
Projections for the current year are often wildly inaccurate. Using projections two and three years down the road for a young pitcher to justify a trade for your favorite DFA candidate? That’s just silly,
Notice I didn’t just use projections. I also used his second half from last year & minor league numbers. I’m happy to include talent and prospect pedigree, but that doesn’t look good for Foster either. What else do you want to look at?
Frank, Tauchman is not worth trading someone on your opening day roster. He’s just not.
Okay, Billy Hamilton or Nick Williams. You got me there.
You do realize six years of control for a reliever who can hover around a 4.00 ERA is not a bad thing, right? I know it’s not very good, but then again, neither is Tauchman.
“Hover around a 4.00 ERA” is different from “good bet to be 4.00+.” And having control over any player “isn’t a bad thing.” But Foster is not the kind of player that you care that much about control. I would be *shocked* if he stuck in this bullpen for 6 years.
And yet, Tauchman strikes me as exactly the kind of guy who just perpetuates the shittiness in right field and is gone after a year.
I’m glad you have that gut feeling, but the guy mashed in AAA for the last 3 years and, despite getting spotty playing time in a loaded Yankees OF, still managed to make a place for himself and produce. ZIPS thinks he’ll be worth 2.0 WAR. But, hey, I guess just go with your gut? I guess we’ll cross our fingers and hope Nick Williams or Billy Hamilton transform in Major Leaguers.
García, Robert, and Eaton are your OF, with Engel back probably mid-April and Vaughn even able to make a start in left. Williams and/or Hamilton won’t be around long (unless they’re performing well). Don’t panic.
It’s not a panic move. Tauchman would have fit in before the Eloy loss.
If it was a one-ply OF before, what is it now? A half-play roster? Good thing García, Eaton, and Robert have no injury history…
How did he fit before Eloy went down? They’re gonna carry six outfielders? Eloy, Robert, Eaton, Engel and García were roster locks.
Unless Mendick is on your roster, Garcia is your backup infielder. He played 15 games in the infield last season to 3 in the OF.
I’m really not sure why you or anyone else is against having Tauchman on this roster at any point. The dude is projected (2.0) to be only .5 wins less valuable than Eloy (2.5) in less PAs. If you have a gut feeling that he’ll be bad, cool. But the numbers and projections suggest Foster for Tauchman is an absolute steal for the White Sox. And that’s before we factor in the fact that the bullpen is the deepest part of this team and the Sox literally don’t yet have a starting LF. Just baffling to me.
Let’s see what happens with Tauchman, if he stays with the Yanks or, if traded, what kind of player they get in return.
I don’t think anybody argues that Tauchman fits. The problem is he’s not worth jettisoning a current piece of their paper-thin roster to get.
Daniel Palka and Matt Skole mashed in AAA. Sorry if a 27-year old conquering the highest level of the minors doesn’t exactly instill me with confidence he’s a worthwhile MLB player.
And we need more help against RHP. Leury provides absolutely no value there.
Leury can play any position except, perhaps, catcher. Stop yourself.
Being above replacement level is not an achievement to say wow… Mazara has been above replacement level for various years too. He still sucks.
And yet Tauchman is worth more career fWAR despite having 1,200 less PA.
Is this just a gut thing for you? Rick Hahn should really be fired for trading his 7th best reliever (who literally had just a good 13 inning stretch last year but is otherwise a good bet for a 4.00+ ERA/FIP) for guy ZIPS projects to be worth 2.0 fWAR and who would be their starting left-fielder? Fired?!
Thanks, Frank. You said it much better than I could have!!
ZIPS and Steamer like Tauchman better than Leury, so, yeah, I’d guess there is something.
You would rather have Tauchman on your roster than Leury?
Yeah, but the Yankees have a time limit on this decision. The Sox don’t have to get this solved by opening day (although that would be nice).
They want one of two elite set up guys with 5 years control left for an out of options 30 year old who just ops’d 600 something last season and they have 0 chance of rostering this year… come on.
Burdi would be a huge get for them at this point. They are likely to lose him for nothing in a few more days.
Counter proposal: they want a guy who ZIPS projects to be worth -0.3 fWAR for a guy who is projected to be only 0.5 fWAR less than Eloy Jimenez (2.0 to 2.5). And a position of dire need for a position of extreme wealth.
You characterized it as an overreaction to Eloy. No. It is in response, but this would be a decent idea even before Eloy. When Eloy returns, this would be a nice player to have around.
But we don’t know if the Yanks are getting any other legit offers
Trading Heuer or Foster for Tauchman would be compounding a problem, not solving one. The Yanks issue is lack of 40-man spots. The Sox should not subtract from the active roster for a bandaid solution.
What problem would it be compounding? Matt Foster is on the active roster, but barely. In 2019 he had a 4.59 FIP in AAA. He had an incredible run to begin last year (all of 13.1 IP) but looked very meh in the 2nd half (4.11 ERA; 4.23 FIP; 5.05 xFIP).
He’s, what, the 7th reliever? How is trading your 7th best reliever for your starting LF compounding a problem?
I agree completely, Frank. A year ago at this time, Foster was an afterthought. With the volatility of relievers, especially those with no pedigree, selling high on Foster for a player who can play everyday is a move I would make.
Definitely not for the tauchman idea. The dude is 30 and has had 1/2 of a good season so it’s a gamble what guy you are gonna get. There will be better options closer to the deadline
So potentially throwing away the first half of the season without trying to upgrade is a good idea? Yes there will be better option closer to the deadline, and if Tauchman doesn’t do well, they can address that then. But they need some depth now.
Trading away pieces we need now for another piece we need now is indicative of how badly Hahn failed at creating organizational depth (re: Dunning for Lynn).
Hahn traded away a piece we need now for another piece we need now because they’d rather jettison organizational depth than spend big money (re: Dunning for Lynn).
Yes, and that’s on ownership. But lacking depth pieces to spare is on Hahn. The failure of so many prominent prospects to make meaningful strides is as much a handicap on their talent acquisition as the budget.
Voit out.Reports now that both Bruce and Tauchman start with the Yankees
From a lineup responsibility perspective, I think this negatively affects Moncada the most. Since the Andersons/Vaughns/Madrigals of the world can provide the OBP presence, and Abreu/Jimenez/Grandals can provide the pop, Moncada has the latitude (in a fully healthy lineup) to organically return to form without being the primary hitter responsible for either type of production.
However, Moncada’s return to XBH power is now a necessity, not a possible luxury. With no Jimenez, Abreu is the pre-eminent power option with no clear secondary. There is a lot more pressure on Yo-Yo not to let 2021 be a Desastre Personal at the plate.
Vaughn should help out in the power department too, no?
A lot of guys, including Vaughn and Collins, can help in this department but aren’t known quantities like Moncada, relatively speaking
How about Charlie Blackmon? I’m sure Colorado would chip in a lot of money to get rid of him.
I’ve always liked him and I think he could be a good fit for this team and situation, but his contract has some pricey player options after this year.
I like Blackmon…for the right price
Home/Road splits suggest he benefits from playing in CO
I’m with Knoxfire. Let’s relax and see what Vaughn looks like in left. The Sox are doing due diligence by giving him a “tryout”. No more no less. I think we might be surprised. I for one think he has almost avg foot speed. He’s probably taken fly balls at every level of ball he’s played. I did. Shagging fungoes was a staple for every position player. Couple that with infield flies and he’s probably handled thousands running in all different directions. He’s had more wall experience than Eloy. That is to say not hurting yourself by running into it! I’m intrigued by this “tryout”. I’m thinking positive. What a boon to him and the Sox if he is “adequate”!!
I agree with that, except now a team with no depth has even less. They need to acquire someone with major league ability to add to the depth. Because another injury spells disaster.
Not quite fair. Solid pitching depth although I’m knocking on wood as I write this! Catching (pleasant surprise with Lucroy/Collins) has depth. However, like any team, that has a stud at a certain position, the replacement level player is a big step down. Mendick/Garcia for Yoan and/or Timmy would be a big step down etc. I actually thought our outfield was strong with depth. Now, it’s being tested. Engel will be back in 2 to 3 weeks I think/hope. Vaughn is getting his tryout. I’d prefer to wait and see. If we incur another set back than I’m in full agreement to troll every possible option. But, not yet!
If Vaughn has taken fly balls at every level of his career and is still a First Baseman/DH, then he is not a major league outfielder. Can live with Leury and Eaton, but do not love it for a “contender.” Do not know Tauchman, but have seen Foster. I like him, but do not see him as a must keep and we have a little bullpen depth.
So if, for example, Timmy has only played SS he may not be an average MLB outfielder if I understand your reply. Kinda like Kris Bryant can’t play left field because heretofore he only played 3B. Thankfully Tony can think outside the box. Not everyone can!
I believe the thinking is that guys usually are not relegated to 1B at a young age if they can handle other positions. TA played a premium position from the beginning.
Just saw my favorite trade idea so far on BTV: Reynaldo López for Kole Calhoun.
If Cespedes isn’t looking for this kind of opportunity (fellow countrymen, regular playing time, contender, a city with both 90 Miles and El Cubanito), then what in the hell is he looking hoping to find exactly?
Is that what you’re hearing? Pretty crazy ask for a guy who’s barely played baseball the past few years.
I’ve seen no indication that teams were impressed by Cespedes’ showcase. I think his legs might be toast.
Yeah. Sox were supposedly there, so they should have a good idea of what to expect if they signed him.
No mar Mazara’s looking pretty good now, isn’t he? ????
No. I’d take Leury in left any day of the week over that bum.
Thinking about this makes me feel better about Vaughn.
id take Jordan Danks over Mazara.
Rodon gave up a run. What a bum!!
Any action for Vaughn in LF yet?
I haven’t seen. But Rodon has struck out 5 thru 3 innings. He really looks good. So free and easy.
Laser line drive just foul by Hiura, Vaughn handled the carom like a competent dog catcher.
Seeing lots of familiar names in an appropriate context as I scroll down mlbtraderumors:
+ Angels release Jon Jay
+ Astros release Steve Cishek
+ Gio Gonzalez announces retirement
+ Ivan Nova granted release by Phillies
Hey, Jon Jay is available!!
Yasiel Puig is still available, no?
He’s good for a solid 2 WAR, he’s Cuban, and honestly if anyone can handle his fierceness it’s LaRussa.
I’ve been feeling like every other Sox fan on earth somehow missed the news about Puig. It doesn’t even seem like people not caring about the allegations. They just genuinely have no idea.
Yipes–indeed I had not seen that headline
Let’s not underestimate the effect this injury will have on Abreu. I’d argue that a big part of his MVP award was the best guy Jose’s ever had hitting behind him. No one else in our lineup will scare pitchers enough to give Abreu pitches to hit.
Three seasons of failing to find a competent right fielder in free agency is the gift that just keeps on giving. To think two years ago we thought the outfield was possibly our area of greatest organizational depth.
I’m just saying what has been said 100 times before, but it is simply irresponsible and dumb of Jerry K. Hahn to have not gone after a really good rightfielder and sought added depth with a DH/OF type — if the goal was really to contend for the AL pennant or something along those lines. It’s like a convenience store choosing not to stock back-up quantities of beer and Doritos Hot Nachos. Either you are in the game to win, or you just performing. I’m deeply sad and frustrated about Eloy’s injury, and I can’t imagine what a setback it is to him and the team. The White Sox front office and ownership is simply not committed to winning at the highest level. They are not. Good luck to Andrew Vaughn, Zack Collins and Tony LaRussa — I wish them the best and a FO that wakes the hell up.
Always gotta dangle that carrot.
Wasn’t that a quote of Mr. Reinsdorf?
I really didn’t think Vaughn looked too horrible in LF today, be didn’t have a bevy of chances, but looked relatively comfortable on the couple fly balls hit his way, and played the angles properly and got the ball in quickly on the hits that went his way. He does seem a bit timid on ground balls, I believe he dropped to a knee on at least one of them, and he won’t have many assists, but I think he’s more athletic and simply a more intuitive player than people give him credit for.
I think at worst he can play a conservative left and not embarrass himself for a couple weeks until Engel returns, and maybe even be decent enough to stay in LF if Collins sticks at DH
I’m sure Viciedo looked like he could swing it out there his first game too.
Rolling with Vaughn just feels like desperation. Reminds me of the time when the Sox wildly overachieved to start the season, it began going south, they needed a pitcher, and then acquired Shields. And being cheap, they sent a legitimate lottery ticket when they could have paid more of the contract and sent back a AAAA type. Or, frankly, just negotiated better. Not quite the same situation, but the same mindset.
Jim, or somebody smarter and more resourceful than me, how many balls a year are hit in the LF “zone” in recent years? I would imagine with the rise in K’s that number is much less than it was 20 years ago, no? Not trying to trivialize the importance of LF defense, but I would imagine if you needed to hide a poor defender LF would be the ideal place to do it (other than DH of course)
I fear that Jerry remembers Eddie Feigner and feels that paying 9 players is wasteful. If Roberts starts pitching from center field, will Manfred step in?