White Sox Wake-Up Call: April 7, 2021

Good morning. Here’s the rundown:

  • LAST NIGHT: The White Sox belted three homers to overcome three defensive mistakes in the third inning, and now they’re 3-3.
  • TONIGHT: They’ll try to head back to Chicago with a winning record behind Dallas Keuchel.
  • AROUND THE LEAGUE: Fernando Tatis Jr. hits the injured list, other infielders change teams, Dane Dunning impresses, and every team is finally active.

Listen below:

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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I don’t think we need to hear any more Dunning updates unless he ends up on the IL (see: Tatis) or gives up 10 runs.


I don’t think it’s too early to say the Dunning trade was stupid. 6 years of control over someone who looks like an above average starter for 1 year of Lynn is like Jeff Samardzija part 2.

Also, apparently Nomar now hits fly balls: https://blogs.fangraphs.com/nomar-mazara-is-hitting-balls-in-the-air-yes-its-early-april/

The White Sox ability to evaluate their own players seems ridiculously questionable.


Key differences between this and the Shark trade:

1) This team is actually good. Not a patch job like 2015

2) Lynn is a top 10 pitcher in the AL. Samardzjia was a maddeningly inconsistent player who yo-yoed between very good, average, and pitiful years.


We discussed the move obviously at length, to me maybe the biggest determining factor will likely come down to does Lynn get extended for a couple years.

As Cirensica

The Lynn move is only successful if the White Sox make it to the play off, and Lynn himself plays a key role to get us (at least) into the World Series.

This is a good team, and I believe if it makes it to the play offs, it would have done so with Dunning or with Lynn. It is in the playoffs, short series, where the Lynn trade is gonna prove good or not.


Well the other part of it was they traded for Lynn to have payroll flexibility which they then didn’t spend so… it boggles the mind.

I do agree though if you don’t make the playoffs and maybe even win a series its gonna feel like a lost trade.

Trooper Galactus

The entire point of the Lynn trade was to advance them further in 2021 than they got in 2020. If they don’t win a playoff series at a minimum (and, as stated above, with Lynn playing a key role), Hahn blew this trade. If they weren’t going to spend to maximize the one season they’d have Lynn then spending a current Major League asset to acquire him was just plain stupid.


In real time, the trade was a good one. If Lynn tears an ACL tomorrow, it’s not correct to say, “Hahn blew the trade.” Sometimes trades can be good ones with good ideas but just don’t work out. I think this trade was a good idea, no matter what happens to the White Sox in 2021.

Now, I’ll be wrong (and Hahn will have blown the trade) if Dunning turns out better than everybody thinks. If he locks in at 3+ WAR annually, for instance, that’s on Hahn for not recognizing what he has.

Trooper Galactus

The trade was questionable even in real time. Lynn could put forward another top-10 CYA season, but if the team doesn’t build on last year’s success, then what was the benefit of parting with Dunning, who could have helped them build in 2021 and beyond?

As Cirensica

I questioned the trade because it didn’t address a need effectively. Yes, we needed pitching, but trading pitching to get pitching isn’t “addressing” the need of pitching. Sure, I understand Lynn is better than Dunning at this juncture, however, when we trade a SP for another SP we didn’t address the need having pitching depth. We just add seasoning to the one turkey. Sure, it will taste better, but it is still one turkey.

Also, after this year is gone, if Hahn fails to extend Lynn (who is not a young arm per se), we will have a bigger hole to fill in 2022. Of course, I think Kopech will fill in nicely.

Trooper Galactus

I did not understand why they parted with a guy who was needed in the here and now. If they’d parted with Thompson, Dalquist, Kelley, Bailey, or some other long-term piece that was not going to help open the contention window wider, I’d have been pretty well on board. Given Dunning was projected to be their fifth or sixth starter and likely to provide 100+ innings, it seemed like robbing needed depth to improve the top of the rotation.


Yeah, seems like Hahn could’ve swung the same deal with Thompson, Dalquist or Kelly.


And no matter how good Rodon is this year, I believe he’s gone, so there are two SP spots to fill.


The benefit is this team has a much better chance at a deep playoff run or world series with Lynn than with Dunning. That’s why you make the trade. It may fail, but it’s a good idea nonetheless.

Dunning seems to me something like the Madrigal version of pitching, except as a pitcher has less value. Yeah, he’ll probably be a 2 WAR ish pitcher for a few years, but he’s easily replaced. I might be wrong, of course.

Trooper Galactus

2 WAR starting pitchers are not easily replaced. Only 70 starters managed 2.0 fWAR in 2019, and almost a third of them didn’t pitch a qualifying number of innings.

Last edited 1 year ago by Trooper Galactus

Well, I guess I could say relatively easy. The same could be said for 2nd basemen, too, of course. Only 19 2nd basemen had 2.0+ fWAR in 2019, and a handful of those are utility players or even played more in other positions.

Trooper Galactus

19 second basemen covers almost 2/3 of the league. 70 starters accounts for less than half the spots allotted them on rosters.


Well, it doesn’t, because (as I said) a handful of those 19 are utility players or guys who play other positions. Gleyber Torres counted, for instance, even though he played most of his games at SS.

2 WAR starters are relatively easy to replace because the path to being a 2 WAR starter is basically just be competent and stay healthy. The competent part is easy to find (see Reynaldo Lopez, 2018 & 2019) but the staying healthy part is more difficult. But, there’s no reason to think Dunning will stay healthy more than the next guy. So, it is relatively easy to find a 2 WAR guy in terms of talent. That’s different, of course, than him staying healthy for 6 straight years and reaching that number.


Yeah, he’ll probably be a 2 WAR ish pitcher for a few years,

Sounds about right.

but he’s easily replaced

(X) Doubt


Yeah, I’ve been waiting for BP to finally get around to publishing their 10-year PECOTA projections before writing a post for the trade, but viewing the Lynn trade as a good one boils down to:

  • Having a high discount value
  • Thinking Lynn is very underrated by projection systems (which think he’s a ~3 WAR starter)
  • Thinking Dunning is overrated by projection systems (which think he’s a ~2 WAR starter)
  • A bundle of a few other more minor assumptions around playing time, $/WAR etc

It’s not to say that you can’t make an argument for those things after all:

  • The White Sox should have a high discount value. They’re competitive now. Wins now matter quite a bit more than wins in a few years.
  • Lynn did change his pitch mix quite a bit since 2018, using his Sinker considerably less. His career fWAR/190 is 3.3 – exactly what Fangraphs projects for him. In 2019-2020, his fWAR/190 is 5.3. It’s not crazy, given the change in approach, that projection systems might be weighting too heavily on pre-2019 seasons that don’t have as much predictive value.
  • There is a potential argument that the lack of a 2020 MiLB season (and Dunning missing all of 2019) does leave projections systems thin on data to project him with. I’m not sure this is a strong argument that he won’t be as good as projected, so much as it is an argument that there should be even more uncertainty in his projection, but who knows.

That said, the longer your list of extra conditions boils down to, the less likely it is that the trade ends up really making any sense.

I didn’t love it at the time. I’ve come to be more okay with it, but (especially given how the rest of the offseason evolved) I still think it was probably a mistake.


Nice analysis.


Is your position that the the Sox should have retained Nomar Mazara at a likely arb figure of over $5M (per MLBTR)?

I am often up for Sox management bashing. I can rant about the Lemon-Kemp trade till this day. That said, I think using Mazara having a good few days is not a legitimate criticism. Even if Mazara has figured something out and has a great year, it was still the right move to non-tender him.

Trooper Galactus

I don’t think anybody here questioned moving on from Mazara. I don’t believe a single OPP plan retained him in arbitration, and very few tried to bring him back as a free agent.

I didn’t think anyone questioned moving on from Mazara but I think hitlesswonder in the original comment is citing Mazara as an example of the Sox failing to evaluate one of their own players correctly.

Last edited 1 year ago by Joliet Orange Sox

He signed with the Detroit Tigers for comparative peanuts. If he finally has his breakout season I think it’s safe to say most of the league failed to evaluate him correctly. The White Sox needed somebody who had proven performance in their history. They were hoping Mazara would establish that in 2020, but he did not, so he didn’t fit the bill for what was needed in 2021.

We agree completely. The comment we’re responding to agrees completely. I think hitlesswonder may disagree.

As Cirensica

I did bring him back in my OPP plan (resigned him as a cheap free agent). I’m sure we all agree having Mazara in our team will be a much better situation than what we have now.


Don’t think so. I’d rather have Eaton.

Last edited 1 year ago by tommytwonines
Trooper Galactus

We do not agree on that, actually. Much as I hate Eaton, I’m not gonna sit here and declare Mazara a better player after six games.

Trooper Galactus

Mazara: .286/.286/.500
Eaton: .250/.375/.400

Sorry, Mazara is not really producing the same way Eaton is, and what Eaton is providing is more what the White Sox needed because they already have a roster full of guys who hit for huge power but swing at everything.

As Cirensica

Oh no… don’t misread me. I also prefer Eaton, but I was thinking on having Eaton and Mazara…rather than seeing Vaughn uncomfortably chasing flies in LF. Of course, signing both (Eaton and Mazara) makes no sense before Eloy’s injury. My plan was to save up money with a cheap Mazara so we can go after Trevor Bauer. And, on top of that, we still had Dunning.


I think upgrading on Mazara in RF was the right decision but added that link about Nomar because it fit the theme of the Sox not-so-great talent evaluation. I (and fangraphs) am not convinced Nomar will sustain this, but we’ll see.

Letting Nomar go was certainly more than defensible, however….

  1. I don’t think the Sox did upgrade RF…they signed Eaton at 8M and I have no faith that he will have a better year than Nomar…in fact, I bet he won’t. That seems like a horrible misuse of funds by an apparently cash-strapped team.
  2. I think it’s fair to be critical of the Sox being unable to do something that the Tigers may be able to…the Sox got Nomar’s worst career year. Again, we’ll see what happens but I find the Sox inability to generate a positive performance from any non-McCann cheap pickup to be very annoying.
Last edited 1 year ago by hitlesswonder
As Cirensica

Very valid points. I think Eaton will be better than Mazara, but when it comes to the $$$/WAR ratio, I am certain the Mazara deal will be better. However, you don’t win championships by buying cheap WAR, but by having a lot of it.


Trooper Galactus

This is fine.

As Cirensica

Unlike today’s lineup

Trooper Galactus

I guess TLR is all over Lamb’s 1.022 career OPS against Seattle.

Or his .500/.500/.500 triple-slash against Dunn.

Last edited 1 year ago by Trooper Galactus

Yeah, seemed likely.