At this point, the extent of Eloy Jiménez’s shoulder injury is unclear. What’s not unclear? The problem looming over the White Sox if Jiménez has to miss any significant amount of time.
It’d be pretty bad! Especially when an injury in the other corner is already requiring the White Sox to use all their resources to find adequacy.
If you missed it, Jiménez hurt his shoulder making an awkward attempt at a home-run robbery in left field on Wednesday. He leapt at the wall with his glove extended, then hooked that arm over the fence as gravity did its thing with the rest of him.
He departed the game with what the White Sox called “left shoulder discomfort,” and they’ll provide an update today. In between, Lance Lynn said he saw Jiménez in the training room and told reporters the outfielder appeared to be “in good spirits,” for what that’s worth.
Some might consider it premature to ponder how the White Sox would proceed in the face of a prolonged Jiménez absence. I’d argue it’s worthwhile even if the White Sox provide an update before I finish this post. Having your life flash before your eyes should be a cause to reconsider some choices.
One’s completely out the door this time around. The White Sox could have insulated themselves against this kind of misfortune by signing a bat that would relegate Andrew Vaughn to waiting his turn, which isn’t that sharp of an insult when incidents like these allow his turn to happen. The Sox let a rare opportunity to have more bats than spots pass them by, and this is one way a refusal to capitalize reveals itself. Unless Yoenis Céspedes is somehow an option — and there hasn’t been much said about him since his showcase weeks ago — there’s not much that can be done here.
From there, we move on to Jiménez’s defense in left field, and what’s to be done with that. In January, I wrote about the tension between Jiménez’s physical capabilities of making difficult plays, and the finer movements that could forever elude him. I came to the counterintuitive conclusion that the Sox might be in a better situation if Jiménez were worse in left field, because at least they wouldn’t have to wrestle with the future.
Like Jiménez on a hard-hit line drive, the White Sox are stuck in between. Take the issue with Jiménez’s first steps putting relatively routine plays in jeopardy. Last weekend, Scott Merkin talked to Jiménez and Daryl Boston about the topic, and the Sox personnel interviewed treated it like a physical shortcoming:
“Once he’s rolling, he can move a little bit. But it does take him a minute to get started,” said Boston of Jiménez, who checks in at 6-foot-4, 240 pounds. “He’s working with AT [director of conditioning Allen Thomas], working on his first step agility and first step quickness. Hopefully, that pays off and gets him some added range. “What he does well for him, he’s better at coming in on balls. He does a better job getting rid of the ball.”
It’s possible that’s the root cause, because Jiménez wasn’t always this rough. His frame filled out over the course of his minor league ascension, and maybe the added bulk exacerbated the natural inefficiencies in his movements. Once it became abundantly clear that reps alone weren’t closing the gap, the Sox shifted to a more hands-on approach.
But phrases like “finer movements that elude him” and “natural inefficiencies” are a gentler way of saying “clumsy,” and that’s a lot harder to solve. Maybe the Sox can reshape his body into something that accelerates and handles corners better. Maybe they’d have better luck asking him to land a triple lutz.
Unless the Sox grow a willingness to try infielders in the outfield, they’re kinda stuck with Jiménez in left, and the Nick Williamses of the world when Jiménez isn’t available. At least Tony La Russa has a little experience in generating options out of nowhere. During his last year with the Cardinals, one of his finest moves was turning Allen Craig, who had fumbled his way out of a corner-infield job in the minors, into a valuable utility man during his first full season in the majors. Craig appeared at six positions and hit .315/.362/.555 in 75 games around a knee injury, capping off his season with three homers in the World Series.
Then again, the Cardinals helped him by transitioning Craig to outfield work in the minors the year before. The Sox have experimented with Vaughn playing other positions than first, but they haven’t committed to it. Gavin Sheets is the better comp for a focused effort on expanding utility, but he wasn’t even involved at the alternate training site last year, and he looked rusty in the spring.
This uneasiness will remain until a better option reveals itself at the alternate training site or the minor leagues. I don’t think Jiménez will be able to meet everybody halfway by gearing down his efforts, because he’s a young athlete trying to prove himself. How many walls did Adam Eaton run into at the same point in his career before he calibrated useful hustle? Jiménez has that problem, except worse, because he’s more likely to make a mess of realistic plays, too. He can’t be expected to try less on those, what with it being a team game and all.
What’s left is a fragile state, and one worth reconsidering when the opportunity for greater stability next arises. Everybody’s just going to hold their breath for the time being. First up: waiting for the injury update. If Jiménez is able to take the field in short order, then we’ll be back to doing it during mildly challenging drives hit his way. Just try not to pass out.
* * * * * * * * *
Some good news: It appears as though the White Sox will have another prospect to consider after the season.
The White Sox had been tied to Oscar Colás throughout the process, which had been complicated by the shifting international signing dates. Instead of settling for less money from teams with committed budgets, Colás chose to wait for a bigger lump sum at the next signing period. If Romero’s figures are right, he’ll get $1 million more for waiting.
The Sox need to keep Eloy from playing left field when he returns. He gets hurt on totally avoidable plays. Yesterday’s home run was nowhere near him, yet he made a foolish attempt at it. It’s hard to reign in that exuberance (or is it stupidity). The problem is that they made no reasonable attempt at finding an alternative for him in left. Eddie Rosario (or Joc Pederson or Kyle Schwarber) was there for the taking , but they decided to stick with Eloy in left, Vaughn at DH, and hope they remain healthy (Eloy) and are effective (Vaughn). The lack of quality major league depth will be their undoing this year, if they need replacements. And for $10-20 million extra, they could have solved that problem. Fortunately, they finally have a manager who is capable of thinking outside the box, and who will likely make the moves needed to maximize their talents.
I agree the Sox should have done more to prepare for this foreseeable problem, but the “keep Eloy out of LF” sentiment is an overreaction. His injuries last year were from running the bases (not OF) and, anecdotally, I think he’s looked better in LF than in ’19. He’s missed more time than you’d like, but he’s played 177 out of 222 games in the last two seasons. For reference, that’s more than Tim Anderson (172) and just behind Moncada (184).
The fact is he’s still a 23 year old adjusting the game in LF over a relatively small sample size. His career value will be immensely greater if he can stick as a serviceable LF. It’s a worthy goal, even if the cost is him missing a week or two here or there. I’m not saying he will stick, but the Sox shouldn’t give up on him in LF yet.
Eloy is probably the best all-around hitter the Sox have. He needs to be in the lineup 150-160 games. a year. The Sox should not risk him missing a week or two here or there because they want to make him a serviceable LF, they need him mashing 40-50 HRs per year.
I also worry about the hazard for Robert (and hell, for Moncada and Anderson too)….
I don’t disagree that Eloy is a danger to himself in left field. The only thing that moving him to DH does is create a hole in left field. Can Vaughn play out there? I read that he played several different positions in high school including some outfield. He might be the equivalent of Schwarber out there but seems like a guy who would not be worse than that, or Eloy for that matter. Otherwise they have 3 guys in Eloy, Abreu, Vaughn for 1b/DH, and nobody for LF. My guess is they will have a talk with him and Eloy will remain out there, despite our best intentions. Maybe he can still be coached into being safer out there, but this is getting old.
I read a report that the Sox are linked to Colas, said they will sign him next winter for 2.7M. That’s great news, I hope it turns out to be true. It won’t help this year, but I wonder how ready that guy is to play in the bigs, if next year might be possible. Seems like they may need outfield help sooner than later. I hope we get confirmation on the Colas story being true. You would think at least one out of Colas, Vera, or Cespedes will be good at some point, although it was mentioned on this site that Cespedes does not have as high as ceiling as we would like according to Keith Law. Hope he is better than they think.
Where did you read the report?
SB Nation. Google “white sox news” or “white sox colas” and you should see it. It’s also in the Athletic, Sox on 35th, and Ontapsportsnet. No mainstream sources like ESPN yet so hoping it is legit.
It’s also on Sox Machine, at the bottom of this very post.
Never heard of it. Any legit sources?
I hope we see an official announcement soon. I just recall the Ozuna fiasco a year ago with some similar Twitter post where they were set to announce his signing, that sounded completely legit also. I’m sure this likely has more substance but just want to be sure this is real.
The day Abreu signed an extension you could see the writing on the wall. Vaughn should have gotten a lot of reps in LF, I find it hard to believe he could be that much worse then Eloy defensively and its impossible to believe he could hurt himself as much.
For the time being lets pray Eloy is ok, he is stuck having to man left at least for the rest of this season. A roster reshuffle isn’t possible until the off season and even then it would be a bit murky.
If I were Tony, I would have Vaughn playing left field today.
If Eloy misses any time, they could have Vaughn LF, Collins DH vs. righties and Vaughn DH, Leury lf vs lefties (when Engel returns).
Why think Vaughn in LF will work out any better than Eloy? The scouting report is that he’s about as unathletic as it gets outside of the batter’s box.
The upside is Vaughn simply runs too slowly to hurt himself out there.
Unless he accidentally trips Robert, who has run over to catch a ball 4 steps to Vaughn’s left.
White Sox world: the only baseball team where a downside is also an upside
That’s the kind of decision you make in November, not the end of March.
This organization gave carlos lee like 7 minor league games in the OF and plugged him in Left Field.
I agree wholeheartedly, which is why they should have signed a quality major league bat then.
Very excited about Colas, all the Cubans!
Eloy in CF, Robert in RF, Engel in LF. Now he’s only got 1 wall to worry about.
Or go sign Puig.
Maybe don’t sign Puig.
Ooof good call, had somehow missed that.
With Robert in center and this bullpen, I think Vaughn in left could be considered if it’s a significant injury. Get him out of there in later innings with the lead. More likely, give Williams a look. He’s been hitterish this spring.
I don’t know what they do going forward with the clown car of DH types they have bred in their system.
The WST Pod this morning was actually one of their better performances because they take each outcome to its logical conclusion (spoiler: it’s very much a snake eating its own tail). Putting Eloy in DH isn’t an immediate option because it takes Vaughn’s bat out of the lineup, and putting Vaughn in LF is foolhardy because we risk the same outcome we received from Eloy, an inexperienced LF injuring himself and an even thinner lineup.
Leaving Eloy in LF isn’t an option because this occurrence is regular enough that it is an inevitability, and it’s not Eloy’s lack of experience or skill that causes the injuries–it’s quite literally who he is, his character/personality. Coaching this out of him seems like a long-shot.
The route forward is probably a worst-of-both-worlds situation. Keep Eloy in bubble wrap in LF for the next 2 year, and let Luis Robert patrol everything from Engel to the 3B foul line, until Abreu is on his way out. Give Vaughn 1B and Eloy DH and put all the eggs in the OF basket the next few years. The fallacies here of course are 1. the next two years are possibly the best in the contention window and 2. who knows what Abreu is doing in 2 years?
Eloy is by far my favorite player on this team but days like this just make it so hard.
I see a lot of Andrew Vaughn to LF takes.
One of the reasons Cal didn’t put Vaughn in the OF was slow foot speed. While Vaughn has a good arm (he pitched his Freshman year), the White Sox would be stuck with another LF who will have to overcome some physical limitations. Vaughn’s good at 1B, and that’s his future.
In a perfect world Cespedes takes over for Eaton in 2022, Colas takes over for Eloy in 2023, pushing Eloy to DH, and Vaughn to 1st which is left vacant by Abreu… right?
But depending on the seriousness of Eloy’s injury in 2021, I wouldnt pull any scenarios off the table, tell Vaughn to be a scare crow with a mitt in left field and lets outslug teams and when the bullpen comes in to shut the door move Engle (when healthy) or Garcia into LF defensively.
Missing Eloy hurts offensively, but if Opening Day OF is Leury, Robert, and Eaton that should be good defensively.
I hope Eloy’s injury doesn’t require immediate surgery. That’s what will extend the timeline of him being out.
Losing Eloy for any length of time is a HUGE blow to the offense. Leury-Robert-Eaton outfield might be ok for Opening Day, but if it lasts into May, we’re in trouble.
I agree wholeheartedly. Eloy’s problem is he tries to make plays he’s not capable of. I’m sure the coaches have talked to him plenty about knowing his limitations, but he obviously hasn’t learned. Vaughn is much more likely to know his limitations in the outfield, and will have a much better chance of staying healthy out there.
Trading Vaughan: unthinkable?
I don’t think trading Vaughn would be unthinkable, personally, but you would have to get an equivalent outfield prospect who is a great hitter, presumably from a team that needs a first baseman and has a surplus of outfielders. Is there even a match out there somewhere in a trade partner? But if Eloy is moved to DH, it’s not a good situation for Vaughn unless they don’t re-sign Abreu after next season. I think we are stuck with Eloy in left if Vaughn can’t play there at all, realistically, no matter what we all think.
He needs more time to learn how to play LF to his potential but within his ability. That takes time.
Asking him to go out and play “cautiously’ will result in worse defense at best and more injuries at worst.
It was needless and a little risky but it really didn’t look like a high percentage act that would result in an injury.
If he is injury prone, then changes or trades need to happen so his bat is available every game.
I don’t think putting Eloy at DH necessarily solves his injury issues. Of his two stints missing time last year, one was an injury that occurred during a celebration of a play here wasn’t even involved in.
I’ve suggested trying out Vaughn in left in the past, but if he solidifies himself as a top 3-4 hitter in the lineup this season, that’s a guy who you want to keep off the IL (and who likely won’t injure himself at DH or 1B).
So Ill concede they are stuck with Eloy in the field for the time being. But one thing I refuse to do (which I’ve seen from fans outside this forum) is give the front office a free pass for a situation they’ve created. Either via trade or free agency, they could have hedged their bet that he could be a competent fielder. Instead they did nothing. The roster has taken the shape it has because of active decisions by the people in charge, they weren’t consigned to the fate of needing Eloy in Left to work out.
Bring in some more help. Get Eloy on an NFL-style strength and agility program. Do something besides hoping and praying that it all works out.
You hit the nail on the head with your last point. Eloy is somehow a 24 yr old professional athlete in advanced stage dadbod
If Vaughn could play a corner outfield position competently, he’d be in right field already. I’m not seeing it.
According to MLBTR, the Yankees are receiving interest in Mike Tauchman. Could the White Sox be in on him? He’s a L/L LF who can shift to the other OF positions. He had a poor 2020, but was worth 3.8 WAR in 2019 while OPS’ing .865. The Yanks are hearing offers because he’s out of options and the OF is full.
I’m not sure what he’d cost, but I can’t imagine it would be much. I’d rather see him in the OF than other internal options and, when Eloy returns, he’ll add some very nice depth.
Interesting… even his poor 2020 had a 340 obp which would be a welcome change from the usual bad obp OF’s the sox ran out the last half decade.
Palatine, IL hometown… go get em!
If they weren’t in on him yesterday, they should be today. He would be a very good pickup.
Can we interest them in a Blake Rutherford perhaps?
Man, now would be an excellent time to have a replacement who is ready in the pipeline. The Sox just are not good at developing their own position players and it’s frustrating. They literally can’t replace Eloy for any amount of time with anyone in the system, which is bonkers to me. Adolfo, Rutherford, Gonzalez, and yes even Sheets are all nowhere close to fulfilling any role at the MLB level, even utility player or temporary replacement. Terrible player development.
Maybe Mendick can pick up the OF quickly?
Given his type of defensive limitations, it doesn’t appear Eloy would be a particularly good first baseman, though the larger bases might keep him from entanglement dangers. Have to hope his bat won’t be effected as a DH as some players have experienced. Eloy may be the best Sox hitter since Frank Thomas.
JFC, can people just stop hassling Eloy about his defense? I don’t understand the obsession with wanting him to be Ichiro or Willie Mays out there. Look at the garbage outfielders this team has trotted out, and then go look at his stat line already in his young career. FYI, he’s playing left field, not shortstop. This guy should be a force in the middle of our order for a long time. He’s not a great outfielder and he never will be, but he is trying to improve all the time, and luckily he has a badass CF next to him that can almost cover the entire outfield on his own. Stay the hell out of his way.
Sit Eloy down, and explain to him that his value is his bat, and nothing is more important than him staying healthy and keeping that bat in the lineup. Everyone makes errors, and they are not the end of the world.
Also, it would be so absurd to just make him a full-time DH and call it a day. That is such an awful, stupid idea. He needs to play a position, and I guarantee you if he isn’t playing the field regularly and then you are forced to put him there one day, he is going to be a lot worse.
Bottom line: GET OFF HIS ASS. If you want to be one of those nagging a-hole fans, go root for the team on the north side where you’ll fit right in.
Who hassling him about his defense not being good enough? They are hassling him about being reckless. We want him to be Carlos Lee 2.0 (make the easy plays and don’t be a hero)
Who is hassling him about his defense not being good enough? You’re joking right? He’s literally been nagged about it so much that he has said that he’s out to prove that he can play the position competently, and reporters say he gets visibly upset when the subject comes up.
But oh well, looks like people succeeded in making him think he had to prove something, and now here we are. Hooray.
Have you read a single comment here that says he need to play better defense (as opposed to less reckless defense)? People aren’t upset he missed the catch. They’re upset he even tried to make it.
Lol. Why would I care about the comments here? It’s a moot point now.
Why are you commenting here telling people to stop nagging Jimenez about his defense if you don’t care about the comments here? … and if no one here is nagging him about his defense?
Here’s the timeline:
Before 3/24/21: Sox fans and reporters constantly bust Eloy’s balls about his defense.
3/24/21: Eloy suffers injury trying to prove himself to those idiots.
3/25/21 AM: This article is written.
3/25/21 PM: Diagnosis: ruptured left pectoral tendon.
So yeah, as I said it’s a moot point now. I was hoping we could learn lessons moving forward, but it turns out his season is now f**ked regardless.
Seeing how Eloy is universally loved by fans and media, I’d be surprised if you could produce a single piece of evidence that would plausibly count as “busting Eloy’s balls about his defense.”
And, no, asking a player about the weakest part of his game does not count as “busting his balls.”
That actually made me laugh pretty hard, but unless you have a subpoena…
This is why I want the minus button
Sorry, didn’t mean to make you think.
Who said he needs to be Willie Mays? The whole reason this is even a conversation today is because he hurt himself, AGAIN!
It’s not like people are pissed he didn’t make the catch. They don’t like that he even tried to make the catch
You don’t think they have explained to him a hundred times that his value is his bat? The injuries he gets in the outfield are just boneheaded. He obviously hasn’t learned. Steal his glove and never give it back.
Dan Bernstein tweeted that Eloy’s injury is serious.
Let’s embrace ourselves for Billy Hamilton
Yeah I saw this…. big bummer. I actually think it’s bad news for Hamilton, though. I was expecting Hamilton for the next 2-4 weeks. But, if we’re talking half a season or more the Sox have to find a replacement elsewhere.
“We feel that getting Eloy back is bigger than any trade deadline move we could have made…”
Let’s hope he’s back by the trade deadline.
Out 5-6 monhts. Torn pec.
I wonder what the long term impact is for a torn pec especially on a lead hitting arm for power hitter. Regardless this sucks
We are fucked.
Hahn needs to trade or sign somebody. We can’t wait or we will be too many games behind the Twins and maybe even behind in the wild card race.
Rick should have done that a couple months ago even with Eloy in the fold. Potentially 40 home runs, 4/5 in the lineup is a huge loss, not even considering we are in pretty much the same spot as we were last year + Andrew Vaughn and Lynn. This is why teams like the Dodgers layer on depth at all positions, but we have Reinsdorf as an owner.
The Eloy in left charade has to be over. We’ll now see how valuable that bat is, when it’s missing for “significant time.” And what is significant time? A month…two months..the whole season. Offer the Yanks Matt Foster for Tauchman.
And the Sox still owe him 35+ million dollars in guaranteed money. That deal is looking really smart on his end right now.
How soon before the Sox frame this as the reason they actually DON’T need to make a trade because they’ll be getting Eloy back in August and that’s the best trade they can hope to make?
Steal his glove. He must never play the outfield again.
This is why you sign a guy like George Springer and still sign Adam Eaton (or someone similar). If we had done that we would have had the depth to better weather the Eloy storm. Jerry preferred to save a buck.
Available OF-ish type players per MLB Trade Rumors:
Oh man, we really are screwed.
He’s not ready yet
Well the internal options are:
Then can I interest you in a Billy Hamilton or Nick Williams?
Hamilton no, Williams yes.
Just sign Puig. I’m guessing he’s the most likely to produce, and I’m pretty sure this organization could give a shit about the optics of signing a player with external baggage based on their managerial hiring process.
So, now it is basically imperative that Adam Eaton stays healthy and doesn’t suck. Hey, it could happen.
yeah…were going to need two OFs
If they can’t get Tauchman, then go get Joey Gallo from the Rangers. Something has to be done now. They can’t start the season with Leury or Nick Williams as the regular left fielder.