Following up: Yasmani Grandal doing what he can; relief market shrinks further

The weekend is wrapping up with three themes we’ve discussed over the first few weeks of the offseason.

Yasmani Grandal

If you want to leave open the possibility that Yasmani Grandal won’t be Plan A for the White Sox in 2023, Bruce Levine said the White Sox have inquired about Oakland All-Star Sean Murphy.

In news of catchers who are more likely to be playing for the White Sox in 2023, James Fegan caught up with Grandal during a charity appearance on Friday.

Grandal was previously seen with new manager Pedro Grifol at a Blackhawks game during Grifol’s grand opening, and he’s spending more and more time in Chicago, which is never a bad idea for somebody interested in reversing nature. There’s a lot of detail of all the work Grandal is undertaking to stiff-arm Father Time, which can be seen as a testament to Grandal’s work ethic, and/or throwing everything against the wall in hopes for a dead-cat bounce. They’re not mutually exclusive, but the weighting is in the eye of the self-loather.

The whole thing is worth reading, but this paragraph caught my eye for a couple reasons:

In the past, Grandal has indicated his interest in staying in Chicago beyond the end of his four-year contract, which runs through the end of next season. After a career-worst 2022 season, clearly marred by back and hamstring injuries and the after-effects of right knee surgery in October 2021, the immediate focus is on getting back to a performance level where something like that would be considered. For that, Grandal’s placement in Chicago has allowed him to train with Chicago Blackhawks strength and conditioning coach Paul Goodman. Throughout the season, Grandal repeatedly said his .202/.301/.269 batting line with just five home runs in 99 games was due to his struggles to reestablish the strength and explosiveness in his legs in order to regain power. Healthy enough to train this winter rather than rehabilitating after surgery, Grandal said he’s already had about 30 grueling sessions with Goodman in his effort to get to spring training at full strength.

One of the things that makes it difficult to trust any Grandal self-assessment is the idea that he said a lack of regular playing time behind the plate was what held him back. I’m sure it was pride talking, and it’s better for a competitor to welcome a challenge than shy away from it, but it makes me wait for a proof of concept before mustering any particular enthusiasm for his cause. Because the White Sox have shown no inclination to ever spend past a problem, this really doesn’t matter.

PERTINENT: Free agency opens today, but White Sox aren’t knocking down the door

The part about Grandal training with Goodman reminds me of my dad asking during the Stanley Cup playoffs why all of these players could stop and start while dodging or absorbing contact over 60 minutes (or longer) while so many White Sox crumpled into a heap running in a straight line for three seconds. Maybe they’re on the same wavelength here.

Strength and conditioning

While Grandal is working with the Blackhawks’ strength and conditioning coach, the White Sox appear to be finalizing some changes to their own department, at least if a tweet from a fellow purporting himself to have held a similar job with the Diamondbacks is any indication (h/t Asinwreck):

If you don’t trust Elon Musk’s Twitter for such updates from unknown sources, there’s a matching post on Instagram, and both profiles are linked to this podcast appearance from 2019 where he talks about his first year in the Arizona organization.

The White Sox haven’t confirmed any hires, although Pedro Grifol wanted to talk about some new brains coming aboard during his press conference before Rick Hahn stopped him.

The reliever market

The already shallow pool of free agent relievers took yet another hit, as yet another one of the more promising arms returned to his team. Rafael Montero re-signed with the Houston Astros for three years and $34.5 million, joining Edwin Diaz (five years, $102 million) and Robert Suárez (five years, $46 million) as high-leverage arms who removed their services from the open market.

Again, this continues to be great news for the White Sox if they want to shop Liam Hendriks or Kendall Graveman.

PERTINENT: Free agency opens with a thinner reliever market

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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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jhomeslice

Trade Hendriks and Graveman, both. This team is going nowhere probably for several years anyway. Might as well get a few good prospects, which I am sure they could get for those two. I see almost no reason not to be open to trading everybody and blowing the whole thing up again. Maybe keep Robert and Vaughn. Stack the farm system, start getting higher draft picks again, and just hope that the combination will yield better fruit than they have now. That’s a better plan than doing nothing, which they have since 2020 and appears to be their plan for this offseason as well, at least where free agency is concerned. I mean, what’s the point? You can’t win without better FA’s than Grandal, period. Get rid of all their bad contracts, and start anew in a couple years.

Augusto Barojas

After 2024 Moncada will be thankfully gone. They owe him 41M the next two years, a gut punch for this team. Garcia and TA7 gone as well. Eloy and Bummer they have a club option on. Hendriks, Graveman, Kelly, Diekman, Lynn, Grandal, Giolito all gone after this year or next. That’s a boatload of payroll, leaving only Robert, Vaughn, Kopech, Cease, and possibly Eloy as their new “core”. I think you’re right, they should get what they can for everybody else, by all means, if/while they can. They should be in a good position to enter the FA market after the 2024 season with all those players gone.

That leaves fans hoping for better probably not sooner than 2025, basically. Feel the joy.

David

Moncada will be 2023 Comeback Player of the Year.

Augusto Barojas

LOL

GrabSomeBench

You assume that the Sox would properly develop the prospects into MLB players with an upside or players at star level. I don’t!

a-t

I don’t really see the point in resetting that hard for 2023 in the preseason. They have several large contracts ending and top prospects arriving in a year’s time. Makes more sense to muddle along this year, bc just a little better injury luck & performance has them as a wild card/weak division winning team.

Everyone shouted me down when I repeatedly said that a generally meh 87ish win team, even if flawed with things like dreadful defense, was capable of a deep playoff run, bc in baseball every team in the playoffs is dangerous. I’d hope I don’t need to make that case a fifteenth time.

jhomeslice

The team that wins the AL central cannot be called dangerous. The Sox were 25 games behind the Astros, and are not coming close to beating them in a playoff series without adding at least two or 3 big time free agents, except in somebody’s fantasy. The Sox with their current roster have no chance of doing what the Phillies did, please. Had they added Harper, Wheeler, and Schwarber, they might. That’s the difference right there between where they are, and where they could be if they had an ownership that valued the fanbase and winning more than profits. They could/should have had any, or all 3 of those players. Instead they are as far from a title now as they have been during most of the years with this ownership, for the same reason.

roke1960

I don’t think that argument works. The Phillies were 14 games worse than the Braves and 24 games worse than the Dodgers, yet who steamrolled thru the NL playoffs? Yes that Phillies team who supposedly had a terrible bullpen and Schwarber and Castellanos in the corner outfield spots- almost as bad as Sheets/Vaughn defensively. The White Sox need a healthy Robert/Eloy/Vaughn combining for close to 100 HRs, and Moncada to return to at least 2021 Moncada. We know Hahn is going nowhere- why would you trust him to tear it down and build the team back up in a few years. Now if Hahn got fired and a new GM who knew what he was doing came in, then I could see tearing it down. But the Sox best chance to win is riding with the players they have, and hope that everyone stays healthy. Then catch lightning in a bottle for the playoffs like the Phillies did.

Augusto Barojas

The Sox are Harper, Schwarber, and Wheeler short of having the roster to even fantasize about doing what the Phillies did. A RF, two left handed hitters to fix their complete ineptitude vs RHP, and a top line starter. Not a chance they can do what the Phillies did with this roster of misfits, league worst defense, and no RF. Zero.

jhomeslice

With a good ownership the Sox could have had all 3 of them. Their total failure during this so called window completely defined by unwillingness to spend in the FA market. Not complicated.

a-t

The Phillies’ collective team defensive value was 25th by UZR (Sox 28th), 29th by OAA (Sox 23rd), and 25th by DRS (Sox 26th). In short, they were equally dreadful defensively.

Wheeler is not meaningfully different from Cease. Nola is not meaningfully different from Lynn. Giolito, when he’s right, is the equal of Nola/Lynn too.

Schwarber put up 2.6 fWAR on a 128 wRC+ with horrible defense. Nothing the Sox are unfamiliar with there.

As for RF— harper’s injury made him a DH for most of the year, so Castellanos was worth a grand total of -0.7 fWAR with 121 of his games played in RF for Philly.

Philly and the 2022 Sox were remarkably similar teams in roster construction. The main difference is that their lead-footed sluggers hit bombs while the Menechino-La Russa wonder duo had our lead-footed sluggers hitting singles all year.

As Cirensica

Philly and the 2022 Sox were remarkably similar teams in roster construction.

LOL

a-t

Would you like to actually respond? I think you’re reading this as more optimistic than I intend. The point isn’t that the mediocre roster construction was secretly genius or secretly better in the playoffs or whatever. What I am trying to say that the particular flaws of any given wild card quality 87ish win team do not fundamentally doom certain 87ish win teams to playoff embarrassment while certain other (differently constructed/flawed) 87ish win have significant advantages. The MLB playoffs are a crapshoot, and getting in gives anyone a chance.

Otherwise: let’s look at some parallels between the Sox & Philly’s roster construction, where it becomes very obviously why one got in the playoffs and one missed em:

1) Outfield comprised of one superstar-level player when healthy [Harper/Robert] and a bunch of guys who are good hitters and really bad defenders [Schwarber, Castellanos/Eloy, Vaughn, Pollock].

2) Steady high quality 1Bs [Hoskins/Abreu] and talented but frustrating 3Bs [Bohm, Moncada].

3) Star-level, well-paid veteran catchers [Realmuto, Grandal]. Realmuto being great as usual while Grandal was a zero was most of the difference in win total.

4) Unwise & shallow middle infield roster choices. The Sox went cheap at 2B, tho really the issue was too much goddamn Leury, while the Phillies went with aging Segura at 2B, rookie Stott at short, and zero dependable depth.

5) Pitching staffs defined by high-end talent at the front end [Wheeler, Nola/Cease, Giolito] and more questionable 3-5s, and in the bullpen, a quality closer and only theoretically good stuff after that. Giolito’s down year is the other main difference, tho Eflin was also demoted to the bullpen.

Augusto Barojas

Using your reasoning, every team that isn’t the worst in the league has a chance. Why waste energy making a case for a team that we all know is going nowhere, after the season they just had? They are going to lose Abreu, who had the highest WAR on the team among position players. They are very likely to be worse, not better.

A team that has played .500 since July 2021 and wound up with 81 wins, 11 games out in a cream puff division doesn’t deserve speculation about how they might mimic what the Phillies did and somehow beat a team like the Astros that finished 25 games ahead of them, with a much deeper rotation and better players at just about every position. Just because the Phillies had some luck in the other league and are not that great a team, they are still clearly better than the Sox. Defending the merits of this completely mediocre mess of a team with an ownership that won’t spend what it takes to get free agents like the Phillies did – the primary reason they made it that far, and why the Sox never will – is pointless. The optimists that had the Sox among the top AL teams have been proven wrong by a landslide, and that isn’t going to change for this team in 2023 sans Abreu.

Last edited 23 days ago by Augusto Barojas
BillyKochFanClub

It’s amazing how all it took was 87 wins and a hot streak during the playoffs to turn the Phillies from a cautionary tale to a team the Sox should strive to be.

The Phillies have literally spent the last four years mired in mediocrity. From 18-21, they won 80, 81, and 82 games with a 28 win (4 games below .500) pit stop in a COVID shortened year.

I agree with anyone that points out that the FO/ownership combo for the Sox is a complete clown show, but trying to hold up the Phillies as some unattainable standard for the Sox? Sorry, not buying that. They’re a team that snuck into the playoffs and got hot at the right time. It’s an example that anyone has a chance if you make the playoffs, flaws and all. And yes, the Sox should absolutely aim higher than that and likely won’t…

As Cirensica

Ability to hit RHP- Phillies, yup
The White Sox? clownshow. We knew this from day one

More than 70% of the pitchers are RH. I believe I read that the White Sox were the team that faced the fewest LHP in the majors. Everybody knew we were not well constructed to hit RHP. That was one of our major doom’s points. The Phillies were constructed with defects, but they could face RHP.

Augusto Barojas

The Phillies have Harper and Schwarber as lefty hitters. The Sox have what, Sheets, Moncada, Grandal? I mean seriously, that has to be worst roster of left handed hitters in MLB, or close. An utter joke to compare to the Phillies with Harper and Schwarber, esp with what they did in the playoffs. Without those 2, the Phillies would not have done anything, clearly. Without those 2, then the Phillies are close to the Sox. The Sox are short two big lefty hitters like Harper and Schwarber of any chance of doing anything like the Phillies did, again. And even with those two, it would be a long shot vs the Astros. I challenge anyone to find a team without a decent left handed hitter on the roster that has done anything in the postseason.

Last edited 23 days ago by Augusto Barojas
texag10

Amazingly, we already have a hitter on the roster who hits lefties about as good as Schwarber and Harper did last year. His name is Eloy Jimenez (Robert wasn’t too far behind in 2021 either). You’re just too damn fixated on “being left handed” that you didn’t bother to actually dig in to the stats a bit. Would it help to get Moncada and Grandal back to being threats at the plate like they were in 2021? Of course. Health is one of the biggest factors in our ability to hit righties though.

Trooper Galactus

The difference on your first point is the White Sox have never really gotten a full season of star production out of Eloy, Robert, or Vaughn, whereas Schwarber, Castellanos, and Harper all are proven commodities. It’s the theoretical versus the actual.

itaita

Because its worked twice already under Rick Hahn’s watch so why not do it again?

jhomeslice

Nothing has worked under Hahn’s watch, unless you are part of a fanbase that can be happy with back to back pitiful first round playoff exits.

Trooper Galactus

I think the point is that they may as well just keep making half-assed efforts to compete until a new owner willing to fire Hahn comes in, because why let him tear it down again and saddle his successor with whatever trash he assembles?

itaita

While the team isnt championship caliber as it looks now you cant just flush it all down the toilet the moment things look a little sour. We cant just ignore the damage TLR did to the team last year nor the state of the division they’re in. I might be proven wrong but i dont know how sustainable that Cleveland team is atm. The Division is still wide open and id MUCH rather have 2-3 years of playoff runs that end in a loss then a perpetual rebuild for 30 years like the Pirates.

And as Galactus said you have to look at this organizations ceiling different with Reinsdorf in charge. This is what its going to be till hes gone.

jhomeslice

The Sox were an interesting team after 2020, with obvious and significant but easily fixable weaknesses. They just did literally nothing to address them, and it will be 3 seasons later. Utterly pitiful and completely inexcusable effort, a slap in the face to the whole fanbase. They are worse now than at the end of 2020. It’s hard to stay interested in a team that never gave themselves any real chance at winning, made certain when Grandal remained their biggest free agent get. Oh well, not the ownership or team we want, but it’s the one we got. Would not be hard for the Cubs to wind up a more interesting team depending on what they do this winter.

roke1960

You’re absolutely right on this. What they have done since 2020 has been complete and utter incompetence, from the managerial hire to the lack of activity in free agency. We’re stuck until JR dies/sells the team.

jhomeslice

One faint hope is recalling last winter and the phony narratives from Nightengale about them being in on Verlander, Semien, Ray. This winter they’re not even trying to convince fans they will do something, perhaps they are lying again and will sign Judge or one of the really good SS’s and shock everybody! Probably about as unlikely as them coming close to a title, but worth a shot. About the only prayer they have, really.

Trooper Galactus

Can we please dispense with signing ANYBODY noteworthy this offseason as even a remote possibility? They wouldn’t sign a star-level player when they had all sorts of payroll free and tons of money saved from the rebuild years, so what makes anybody deluded enough to believe they’re poised to spend with their payroll already about $40 million above their pre-2022 record?

jhomeslice

I meant that as a joke. Their hopes of winning and signing somebody significant are about the same. No chance of the former without the latter, which makes their chances about zero. I only joked that this year since they’re not even trying to deceive the fans with phony Nightengale narratives, that maybe they would do something for a change. Of course, they will not.

Last edited 23 days ago by jhomeslice
Trooper Galactus

I’ve seen so much delusional chatter that I can’t even make out the sarcasm any longer.

dwjm3

I doubt Jerry will do another tear it all down rebuild in his lifetime.

I suspect as this window closes we will revert back to the year to year model we were in before. In essence we will be trying to sign tier 2 and 3 free agents and hoping to catch lightning in a bottle.

HallofFrank

Sometimes I think, “hey, us fans could do better than Rick Hahn.”

Then I read posts like this and I’m thankful we’ll never have the chance.

jhomeslice

As it stands, their chances of a title are zero. Certainly some fans could have given them a better chance than Hahn did. Kelly, Velasquez, Diekman, Garcia, Eaton? Half the people on this site could have done better and not wasted all that payroll.

Jerry is the real obstacle more so than Hahn, but in any case, blame either, they aren’t going to win a thing until Jerry is gone, so who cares at this point.

Last edited 24 days ago by jhomeslice
roke1960

Obviously, we all care, otherwise we wouldn’t be here.

Trooper Galactus

Honestly, I don’t really care any more. I’m here because I like the articles and community. Sox Machine entertains me more reliably than the White Sox have for a long time, and they manage to do it without Jim and Josh openly disdaining me for being a fan.

ParisSox

What’s that thing that one guy said that one time about the definition of insanity?

asinwreck

Grandal working with a member of the Blackhawks’ organization is promising as Chicago’s hockey team may have the better baseball analytics department.

King Joffrey

One Grandal moment from 2022 that gained my respect was the Josh Donaldson at bat.

Willardmarshall

Sure glad your link to “reversing nature” caught my curiosity — wow! Maybe this is common knowledge for Chicagoans?

asinwreck

Oh yes. “Wow,” for better and for worse, is an apt reaction.

If you are interested in learning ore about the history of Chicago’s transformation of the local and regional environment, I highly recommend a pair of books to get started. William Cronon’s Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West focuses on the changes industrialization brought not only to the city, but the entire Midwest. Harold Platt’s Sinking Chicago: Climate Change and the Remaking of a Flood-Prone Environment focuses on the history of water in and around Chicago, with the Chicago River’s reversal playing an understandably large role.

Platt’s book is more recent, considerably shorter, and brings the narrative into the twenty-first century. Cronon’s book is a brilliant discussion of how industrialization changed land use across the United States, and this interview of Cronon from 2017 is a good introduction to a large and ambitious book.

Last edited 24 days ago by asinwreck
Joliet Orange Sox

I’ve heard about the river reversal since I was a kid in the 60’s living on the South Side. I think the reversal is well known but the details are not.

To Err is Herrmann

You can’t just say something like that and then leave us all here waiting for the details.

No details to share. I just mean when out-of-town family would come to visit and we were near the river as we showed them the sights my mom always mentioned that the river’s direction had been reversed for sanitation reasons and it was considered an engineering accomplishment. My mom was smart but she was a working-class woman born in the 1920’s and was an expert on neither local history nor engineering. My mom certainly didn’t know all the details in the article Jim linked.

Last edited 24 days ago by Joliet Orange Sox
Trooper Galactus

The more you know!

Trooper Galactus

If only the White Sox weren’t one of the last teams they’ll probably bother calling.

roke1960

Go get Brandon Lowe right now.

Trooper Galactus

There’s gotta be at least a half dozen interested teams who could beat any conceivable trade offer from the White Sox.

Holland23

Good buy Lowe candidate…

ParisSox

Nicely done

calcetinesblancos

I want to enjoy baseball, and I’m going to resist the urge to turn the Sox into something that makes me mad instead of providing entertainment. I’m glad Grandal is making an effort to get himself ready for 2023. I’m hoping we see that same attitude from the other players. I also don’t think we can underestimate the effect that a new manager will have on this team.

I really hope these Sean Murphy rumors are BS. Catcher is the last “hole” this team should be trying to fill.

Buehrlesque

Agree with this. Of all the things ailing the Sox, it would be a waste of whatever resources it would cost to get Murphy.

calcetinesblancos

When I read that I was like “did we watch the same team last year?”

steelydan52

Maybe Grandal would hit better with a hockey stick!