The White Sox have stopped trying to sell themselves

We are just about to end the 2022 calendar year. So far this offseason, the White Sox have signed Andrew Benintendi to a franchise-record contract (lol) and brought in Mike Clevinger to bolster the rotation. In short, the activity so far this winter has been … fine. These are the types of moves that we’re used to the team making when they aren’t weirdly fixated on relievers or actively shooting themselves in the foot or failing after the strangest possible attempt to ink a superstar. It’s not a strong offseason, but it’s a strong White Sox offseason.

And yet, despite a reasonable amount of activity, the anger among the White Sox fanbase is the most palpable it has ever been. Everyone knew the 2018-19 offseason was an abject failure, but the team still had the carrot to dangle. “The money will be spent.” “Trust the prospects.” Four years later, the facade has worn away, and there’s a general sense that the carrot we were chasing was actually something unsavory under orange paint.

Now, the team isn’t even bothering with paint. Knowing they had no way to sell optimism and no way to deflect vitriol, the team canceled the cash-grab known as SoxFest “due to several factors,” in one of the least-effective obfuscations you’ll ever see. It turns out that the only thing the team fears more than losing money is having to answer for its failures.

Though axing SoxFest was the most prominent, all other efforts to get fans’ hopes up or at least offer transparency have pretty much faded away. Even Rick Hahn’s meaningless platitudes have adopted an air of resignation about everything but his job security. Jerry Reinsdorf, per usual, has been nowhere to be seen, except to make a tone-deaf joke about the team’s struggles while accepting an award at the Winter Meetings. The White Sox social media presence has been reduced to stuff like holiday greetings and wishing Jose Contreras a happy birthday (2005 happened!).

With the veil completely removed, and the promise of a prolific rebuild diminishing to the team’s usual strategy of a hope-and-a-prayer, the organization’s marketing plan seems to have shifted to milking as much cash from the fans as possible before everything truly comes crashing down. Gone are the days of fan-friendly promotions like half-price Mondays and Dollar Dog Wednesdays. Here are the days of an offensively complex ticket-pricing structure that features three different pricing tiers in Section 153 (among others), which is ::checks notes:: really close to the foul pole.

Perhaps understandably for a team that was apparently on the rise, prices for tickets, parking, and concessions surged last season. The Sox haven’t revealed their pricing figures for 2023 yet, but knowing that a) inflation has been rampant the last 12 months and b) White Sox inflation always outpaces regular inflation, I’m not expecting them to cut fans a break. It’s one thing to charge premium prices for a premium product, but quite another to charge them while spending more conservatively on big contracts than the Cleveland Guardians and having nowhere near their aptitude for building a baseball team.


Each holiday season, I watch Frank Capra’s classic, It’s a Wonderful Life, and this year in particular, I was struck by Pa Bailey’s comment to Lionel Barrymore’s Henry F. Potter that, “You can’t begin to spend all the money you’ve got.” Jerry Reinsdorf isn’t the “warped, frustrated old man” that Potter is (for two, he has a family and supports charitable causes), but the line is plenty applicable. Jerry won’t sell the team because he loves it, but he won’t use his otherwise unspendable fortune to improve the thing he ostensibly loves. Fans are simply an afterthought trapped by this cruel dichotomy, no matter how many billboards Bennett Karoll admirably puts up.

That’s the core of the feeling reverberating through the fan base right now. It’s not just that they finished .500 in 2022. It’s not just that the experience of the rebuild has felt like being subjected to Peter Griffin’s Rube Goldberg breakfast machine. It’s the collective realization that this team simply does not care about its fans. This shouldn’t be a surprise (after all, most businesses don’t really care about their customers), but the way the White Sox have been so shameless about it has been painful to the many who consider their fanhood a core facet of their lives.

That pain has led many to really examine their relationship with the Chicago White Sox. We put our time, energy, hopes, and money into following the team. What could the team do to reward our patronage? They could build a winner through sound development and decision-making. They don’t. They could make investments in elite-level talent commensurate with the passion shown by the fan base. They don’t. They could hold the people responsible for on-field failures accountable. They don’t. They could make the ballpark experience more affordable through pricing and promotions. They don’t.

This all has left fans wondering just what it is that they get out of this relationship. Especially now that the wolf no longer feels compelled to use sheep’s clothing, the question is more than fair.

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Patrick Nolan
Patrick Nolan
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BenwithVen

The Organization found out that it couldn’t talk to the fans like we’re children anymore, and chose ignoring us instead.

soxexile

“Well, if I can’t condescend to you, then I won’t talk to you at all!”

Trooper Galactus

Well five years ago Rick Hahn was spouting about how the team was gonna be signing elite players and shopping at the top of the market, and I don’t think anybody was thinking 2-3 WAR outfielders when he said that.

JimMargalusBiggestFan

The word “privilege” gets thrown around a lot nowadays, but it’s all I can think about when when I look at those three people.

The billboard guy should repurpose his money and invest in making this brilliant essay into a 10 part singing telegram, to be delivered by performers with fake press credentials to Jerry or Rick or Kenny every time time one of them tries to offer up their wretched platitude stews during spring training interview sessions.

This piece is yet another example of why I spent way more time with Sox Machine than with the actual White Sox product in 2022.

calcetinesblancos

I wonder what the woman from Ferris Bueller is up to.

Foulkelore

Good question – maybe restoring Jerry’s pluck would fix everything in the organization.

The singing telegram character from Clue is definitely not available. Her demise, immediately after starting to sing, is one of the great moments of comedic timing in movie history.

Any actual White Sox budget I had is going to Sox Machine now, and this article alone gave me a better ROI than the team ever did.

Right Size Wrong Shape

Excellent piece, pnoles. This might be my favorite thing you’ve ever written.

WHITESOX_RIGHT_SOX

Well done with this piece. Glad attendance is finally starting to pick up. Late to party is better than not attending. Now don’t go to any games or purchase any merch folks 🙏🏼

Accountability

Streameast xyz free streaming site 🤙🏼

dwjm3

I’m sure Hahn is working on his line for when they rollout Sosa as the opening day starter at second………

We felt as an organization he was the best guy to help us win championships.

gar ridge

Nicely done pnoles.

As Cirensica

Outstanding Patrick. I, for one, have changed the way I react to Hahn’s et Co’s actions, transactions, explanations and communications. I decided the this FO is undeserving of the normal attention fans and sport’s writers give to sport’s franchises.

The hiring of TLR was the last bit I tried to rationalize. But that’s it. The White Sox’s FO is grossly negligent with absolute zero accountability. They don’t even deserve an ‘acknowledgement receipt’. The FO are just pay stubs collectors. Idiots posing like intelligent men in the same way Dewey Crowe poses as a bad ass criminal. Hahn is an imbecile wearing fancy clothes with sport’s emblems. Nothing more.

Nothing last forver. So I’ll wait it out like a kid waits for the hair to grow back after a shameful full shave to erradicate a lice infestation. We really have no other option to avoid madness and disillusion.

GrinnellSteve

The new marketing slogan is revealed.

2023 White Sox Baseball: A Shameful Full Shave To Eradicate A Lice Infestation

calcetinesblancos

Nice Dewey Crowe burn.

chipporter

Unfortunately, that kid may have male pattern baldness before there’s a change.

StockroomSnail

Who needs Soxfest when Rick will take questions at the parade?

dwjm3

In one respect they were right to cancel Soxfest. A fan fest is supposed to be an opportunity to celebrate your favorite team while mingling with players and other people that also share your passion.

Being at White Sox is a chore and thus no fan fest is needed as there is nothing to celebrate.

StockroomSnail

Well there’s also accountability. I know that’s something these (essentially) failsons never have to face, but they should have to prove their arrogance by withstanding the rage they’ve earned.

Trooper Galactus

Fuck that. Even if Hahn and Williams didn’t show up to face their less than adoring public, SoxFest is still a chance for fans to get autographs from favorite players past and present and even meet some up and coming talent from their system (I got a Giolito signed ball in 2017). They have a new manager who would have had an opportunity to let fans get to know him and what he’s about (like Renteria did in 2017). This was just plain cowardice and a tacit acknowledgement that they don’t give a rat’s ass about fans unless they’re only bringing praise.

roke1960

Fantastic piece, Patrick. I really think the only solution is that people need to stop going to the games. That might be the only way to get them to realize they are screwing the fans. It will end up being a process, where they first cut payroll and blame the fans for not showing up, then attendance will continue to fall and Jerry will start to lose money. That may finally get him to sell. It will probably take several bad years to get to that point, but if Chicago fans survived Dollar Bill Wirtz, they can survive Cheap and Arrogant Jerry Reinsdorf.

GrinnellSteve

Except it’s almost impossible to lose money owning a baseball team. All he can really do is damage his profits, and even that isn’t a sure thing in your scenario.

Greg Nix

Reinsdorf isn’t selling until he’s in the ground. He’s impervious to outside stimuli.

The best way I’ve found to parse my Sox fandom lately (and what I hope to carry into the season): pay attention when it’s fun, don’t give them any money, and ignore everything else.

roke1960

I like your approach. I’ll always be a fan, and once the season starts, I’ll probably still watch most of the games. But last year was the first time I can remember that I would turn off the game around the 5th inning if it looked like they were going thru the motions. And that happened an awful lot last year.

Trooper Galactus

Should the next GoFundMe be for a discrete assassin?

WHITESOX_RIGHT_SOX

Hell yes! But don’t stop there, sweet assassin, so much more work to be done for other billionaires, trillionairs, or whatever new word they’ll have to make up for the amount of wealth accumulated

jhomeslice

Someone wrote a very similar article over at southsidesox. I do think that this ownership is going to hear from the fans this year at the gate – loudly. Especially if they start badly. There’s no reason at all to excited about this team, and plenty of reasons to be pissed off at the ownership. There really is a collective “fuck them” attitude, which I don’t think has ever been there before, to this degree at least. Because the level of betrayal and phoniness of the ownership has never been more blatant. All I see whenever I see pictures of that trio is 3 complete a-holes.

Not worth it, I say. I didn’t watch any games the final two months, and unless Colas/Sosa prove to be exciting young players, I have a feeling there will be very little or no reasons to tune in this year, other than to see if they might make trades for some good prospects by July 31. It’s like why even care.

I may root for the Blue Jays or Padres, see if either of them can take down the other big dogs. Rooting for the Sox, knowing they are tied to this low character ownership, doesn’t even feel like rooting for the right team anymore. Part of me doesn’t even want to see them get away with being successful, knowing the level of greed and arrogance behind it all.

WHITESOX_RIGHT_SOX

As constructed, I don’t think this team has much of a shot at winning the central. I’m with you though in feeling they don’t deserve any ammo to throw in the fan’s faces for unexpected or fortuitous success this season.

Bonus Baby

Obviously up to you, and if it makes you happier to root for the Jays or Padres, then that’s cool.

It does seem to be giving JR and Co. even more power over your life than they already had. Before, they could just make it worse by making the Sox a bad team. Now, even the team being good turns into a negative. Like I said, totally up to you of course, but it could be that you’d be happier if you could manage to just ignore them more.

Jeff

This article says it all. I’ve always thought JR suffers not so much from cheapness as a lack of imagination. He (and presumably his partners) are unwilling to to take risks on signing elite players to expensive long term contracts in the hope (perhaps against the odds) of making the Sox an elite franchise. He may be right as far as the continued profitability of the business is concerned, but it’s discouraging for Sox fans. Hahn is simply not good enough or lucky enough to win under ownership’s current budget restraints.

dwjm3

A lack of vision is certainly part of the equation. I mean he plopped a stadium designed for Addison on the south side. They chose a gross teal colored seat to line it with. This all happened a year before Camden Yards opened.

Greg Nix

It goes beyond imagination. Owning a competitive baseball team in 2022 requires him to do several things that are antithetical to his core beliefs.

dwjm3

Correct…His has been focused on keeping wages down since he entered the sport as an owner

The new generation of owners doesn’t view that as a primary concern, so this should be his cue to bow out gracefully. Alas he will likely choose to burn it all down instead of exiting with grace and humility.

lastof12

I just finished rewatching Ken Burn’s documentary and was reminded JR was one of [all of] the owners in the 80’s found guilty of collusion against free agency. There’s some dark foreshadowing. No wonder the Sox have traditionally been short on the big FA hauls and terrible at the scrap heap FAs.

asinwreck

Yes. I would rather have the Angelos family running the team.

ForsterFTOG

Orioles have been more successful the last 10 years in a much tougher division.

Augusto Barojas

Jerry’s lack of imagination comes from being cheap. Cheapness is his primary character flaw, as it relates to this shoddy team. Period.

mrridgman

He’s basically a tax attorney in MLB owner’s clothing. That genre is pretty conservative. The solution would be for JR to hire credentialed baseball people and get out of the way. Apparently he has a bit of micro-management in him as well.

roke1960

I don’t think he could ever do that though. As much grief as the McCaskeys deserve, they finally did that this year with the hiring of Poles. JR needs to hire someone from the Dodgers or Rays or another successful franchise and then give them complete control. But, of course, that will never happen.

Bonus Baby

Yes to both Roke and mrridgman. It’s one thing to be cheap, and that’s worthy of scorn especially when you’ve just built up to a “championship window” after years of tanking. But I would put other sins above simple cheapness, like: “Jerry’s famous loyalty” or “Jerry’s desire to micromanage and have his personal friends on staff” or “Jerry’s incompetence in failing to hire at minimum competent people” (he could always look around the league and hire whoever the other teams all seem to think is competent if he really can’t tell the difference). In the end, all of the dysfunction and incompetence over decades now comes from Jerry.

Last edited 2 months ago by Bonus Baby
Joe

You summed it up perfectly. Being a Sox fan is like Peter Griffins Rube Goldbergs breakfast machine.

LamarHoyt_oncrack

Being a fan of this team is like being in a relationship with someone who does not respect or value you. Loyalty in that situation is not a virtue.

Greg Nix

Extremely well put, Pnoles.

hitlesswonder

Great post. I think the organization is in for an on-field reckoning. In the excellent HBO series Chernobyl someone says “Every lie is a debt to the truth” and I think this is the season those debts come due for the Sox.

This is objectively not a good roster. Four of the slots in the lineup are good bets to produce less than 1 WAR each. Three of the starting pitchers looked washed last season and Kopech is still hurt. This team is worse than the .500 team from last season. I think they will fall behind Cleveland early and be a distant 2nd or 3rd at the trade deadline…at which point the Sox will White Flag it and the “window of contention” will officially close.

calcetinesblancos

Brewers. Easy to get to, don’t have to fear the weather, and you can eat at the Public Market before/after. Plus a visit to Wisconsin always makes me feel skinny.

Chris

Since 2010, I have refused to give Reinsdorf any more of my money. And, won’t until there is new legit ownership that do not have any ties to the current regime.

I live by the Wis/Ill border and go to several Brewers games. I also do road trips to Minnesota, KC and Detroit. The fan treatment is 10005 time better than what the Sox do.

Trooper Galactus

Ironically, the Brewers are the only other team that cancelled their fan festival as far as I’m aware.

Josh Nelson

The White Sox social media presence has been reduced to stuff like holiday greetings and wishing Jose Contreras a happy birthday (2005 happened!)

DuhSox

Great picture of the 3 Stooges!! I am usually able to not let the dumb FO decisions affect me as I have no control of those decisions, but more and more each day I loath Rick Hahn, and hope I live long enough to see his ass get fired, and no one in baseball give him even so much as a job as a concessions employee (no offense to concession employees as I would much rather have a beer with them than Rick Hahn). A complete incompetent GM.

roke1960

I’d rather have Moe, Larry and Curly running the team

Augusto Barojas

It is quite unfortunate that it is not possible to fire Jerry. Hahn blows as a GM, but nobody would be allowed to be a good GM under Jerry. I mean maybe with a better GM they have Segura instead of Kelly. That would make them better, but they would still be pretenders among teams that are actually trying to win. This team can’t legitimately hope to win a playoff series without any ability to hit RHP. And they probably won’t get there anyway.

Out of the gate they have 17 of their first 29 games against playoff teams. They could be like 7 games under .500 by the end of April easily, giving fans even more reason not to show up. As if the spot-on content of this article isn’t enough reason.

kingkellly

A contrarian take. Reinsdorf spends plenty of money. A 200 million payroll for a team that draws less than 2 million fans a year is not unreasonable. They outspent the best franchise in baseball by 20 million.

The problem, and why this rebuild has been so disappointing, is the allocation of the money. The most expensive mediocre bullpen and numerous “star” players who are either hurt or pedestrian. No franchise could thrive with that many key players under preforming, unless they have an absolute machine of a farm system, and the sox simply haven not drafted and developed well enough for that to be possible.

I honestly don’t care if the Sox sign a free agent for 100 million or not. The Astros have signed exactly one free agent for 100 million or more and was Carlos Lee, whose tenure coincided with a descent into of the most complete franchise teardowns in baseball history. The Astros are a historically dominate team and didn’t get there by handing out 100 million dollar contracts like candy.

The budget is there. It’s been mismanaged and so far it looks like they placed their bets on the wrong players.
.

hitlesswonder

It’s more complicated than that. The Sox refusal to sign long term deals means they will never sign a top tier free agent and so they overpay for mediocrity. So yes, the budget doesn’t look atrocious but the organizational spending philosophy means you have a roster with a dozen Diekmans and no Bryce Harpers.

Joliet Orange Sox

@hitlesswonder

Thank you for typing my reply to @kingkelly for me.

Bonus Baby

This is true, but I’d put it more in the category of “incompetence” than “being cheap.” I’m sure he’s convinced himself that he’s putting one over on the rest of the baseball owners by not signing albatross contracts — like Albert Pujols’ contract with the Angels, or whatever other contracts you can add here that ended up looking like organizational attempts at suicide. I’m sure he’s convinced that this is the best way to win.

kingkellly

That’s an allocation argument rather than a Reinsdorf won’t spend argument.

I just don’t see Free Agents as a magical solution. The Astros don’t sign star fee agents either. The Sox don’t make the playoffs if they had Bryce Harper last year and Harper is about the best case scenario for a massive free agent signing. Nick Castellanos was a popular choice last year. Spending that much money for Gavin Sheets production wouldn’t have solved any problems either. A few weeks ago I saw a list of all the free agents contracts larger than 5/75 signed over the last 10 years or so. There are so many albatrosses.

The Sox problem is they don’t develop young players. The Astros can let Correa walk and not miss a beat. The sox lose Robert for a few months and they fall apart. I’m much more upset by the shallowness of talent and lack of depth than whether they roll the dice on a free agent.

Jim Margalus

I think it’s quite possible the Sox make the postseason with Harper, at least assuming that Harper doesn’t suffer the same exact injury as a member of the White Sox that requires Tommy John surgery.

The Guardians won the division by 11 games, but the margin was only 1.5 games into the second week of September. A White Sox lineup with a healthy Harper might be leading at that point. By three or four games, depending on how the head-to-head games break down.

The White Sox had the league’s worst production in RF. Give them top-10 production, and that possibly fips the standings. It would’ve been fun to see them try, at any rate.

WHITESOX_RIGHT_SOX

Yup ‘missing out’ on Harper was catastrophic

Augusto Barojas

“Reinsdorf spends plenty of money”. In the past 7 years, the Sox have been 20th or lower in payroll 5 of the 7 years. They were 25th or lower in 3. They were 15th in 2021, and 7th last year.

They play in Chicago, and drew 2 million fans last year (1.976 million), with a .500 team. Philadelphia drew 200K more. Had the Sox been a good team, they would have easily matched the Phillies, who by the way spend a ton more without being in a bigger city with huge attendance, because all these teams make a ton of money. The Phillies have given out six 9 figure FA contracts during the same window as the Sox. The only teams that have spent less than the Sox on their biggest free agent contract in history are the Reds, A’s, Rays, and Pirates. Stop with the “Reinsdorf spends plenty of money” nonsense, please.

Last edited 2 months ago by Augusto Barojas
kingkellly

The 7th highest payroll for the team that is 19th in attendance is not out of line. The Phillies who did outdraw the Sox by 10% outspent them by 20%, finished third and made the playoffs for the first time in over a decade. Not sure they are the model at this point.

200 million is 200 million. Just because a large portion wasn’t invested in the Nick Castellanos of the world doesn’t mean its not being spent.

Jim Margalus

The problem is that Reinsdorf spends … for one year. And if it doesn’t work out in that year, he retracts and the fan base gets bummed out, because precedent shows his front office can’t do more with less.

That’s an argument for overhauling the baseball operations part, but he won’t do that. So if he’s going to retain terrible decision-makers, then he doesn’t spend enough.

Last edited 2 months ago by Jim Margalus
Buehrlesque

JR, KW and RH are all long past their sell-by dates, and none of them deserve to be in the positions they’re currently comfortable in, with poor track record and zero-accountability status. That being said, even I believe the reductionist dourness on display this winter is pretty played out at this point. The truth is, as atrocious and avoidable as their mistakes have been, they’re not far off from having a downright respectable team in 2023. The framework is there, even without the Harpers and Machados of the world.

ForsterFTOG

Call me Mr Dour but after 10 years of horsesh*t I was hoping for more than occasionally respectable.

WHITESOX_RIGHT_SOX

You’ve got stones, I’ll give you that. You’re entitled to your opinion and quite a few up votes gives me pause and concern for the long overdue push for accountability. Friend, where this ownership group is not solely responsible for the 3 playoff series wins (all coming in 2005) in a century + , it cannot be ignored how frugality from this billionaire ownership group has affected the success of his product during his tenure. If you’re an owner who will not follow a successful rebuild formula to stay competitive with other competition, then it’s willful negligence and your product will remain second best. Ironically (or not so ironically) something Reinsdorf has expressed as the formula he follows since fan’s loyalty to his product is so easily exploitable. No reason to adjust strategy when fans continue to run full speed at a brick wall hoping for it to topple over. (Metaphor- hoping for a breakthrough from the team we love so much). All the while he sits in a luxurious skybox laughing as multitudes line up to show their undying support. Please, stop being a crash dummy. 2005 was amazing, but was also an aberration (3 playoff series wins in a century + all came here). I don’t like those odds, time for a different path to be carved out.

I had 2022 pegged as the year, but TLR hiring and failure to round out the rebuild with meaningful FA talent left us adrift at sea with not even a paddle. Hahn can’t spend what he’s not allowed to spend. Benintendi being high water mark says it all. If you’re not going to keep up with the times, then you better be able to replace from within. Oops they don’t scout or develop well either.

Trooper Galactus

The Astros have not avoided nine-figure commitments (free agents or otherwise) nor have they avoided players costing $20m or more in a season (which the White Sox have never done). Regardless of your opinion of Houston’s finances, they absolutely spend in a manner that the White Sox refuse to in order to attract top-of-the-market talent.

Trooper Galactus

To wit, even if they weren’t the originators of all of the contracts, the Astros in the last three years alone have had:

-Zack Greinke (6/$206.5m, over $30m a year))
-Justin Verlander (2/$66m, $33m/year)
-Jose Altuve (7/$163.5, $29.2m/year)
-George Springer ($21m in final arb year)
-Alex Bregman (5/$100m, over $30m in 2023 and 2024)

Even if they weren’t handing out nine-figure deals like candy post-rebuild, their spending habits and players they were willing to acquire via trade, not to mention their willingness to do what it takes to retain some of their internal talents, far exceeds how the White Sox have capped off their own rebuild.

MikeAndrews2

I could not agree more with this premise. My evaluation is that Sox leadership is essentially in a cold war with the fan base; that they personalized the criticism of the 2022 season and failed to understand the scope and breadth fans’ dissent. They seem to feel it is an assault on their character. From Rick Hahn’s most unfortunate end of season press conference through the omission from the coaching staff press release the retention of an unpopular but long time coach, to the simply sneaky cancellation of SoxFest…and then of course is the coronation some seem to expect by spending a comparatively large (for them) amount of money on Benitendi. It’s all so unfortunate and unnecessary, and it’s a misread of the fan base. We’re still here because we love the team! There’s no greater loyalty under such trying circumstances! Can’t we just get along?

chipporter

Nice article, and would have been just as, if not more, appropriate for 2020 when LaRussa was hired.

That moment in time is when we should have collectively risen as Sox fans and said, no more. Instead, the organization was bolstered by the wait and see. Like any organization, it likes to know how far it can push until it receives pushback. However, if you fall in the camp of folks like Greg Nix, then there is no cliff to deter them, which is growing more and more obvious. So now they cancel Soxfest and there’s another milestone of normalcy crushed under the weight of this insidious, customer deaf, corporate structure.

When he risked all the previous efforts towards building a good team and good fan relations with the self serving LaRussa hire, that was JR’s middle finger you saw through the back window of his car as he left all of us behind.

Last edited 2 months ago by chipporter
WHITESOX_RIGHT_SOX

Well stated!

To Err is Herrmann

Jerry Reinsdorf won an award?

Foulkelore

Yes, a philanthropic award for the ACE program, which has been a really good program that the Sox have supported.

Root Cause

I once likened a rebuild to a restaurant that sold bad food and planned to continue to sell crap while encouraging patrons to hang in there with the promise great food would return.

It was an unpopular post at the time, yet I could not think of another business that would believe this a successful business model. ONLY JERRY.

Foulkelore

To be fair, the most successful team in the AL for years now, the Astros, got to where they are with a complete tear-down/rebuild with multiple horrible years. However, there are some major differences: 1.) Houston hit on some of those high draft picks they had when they bottomed out (Correa, Bregman, Tucker), and more importantly: 2.) They actually rebuilt their organization with a new general manager who fundamentally changed their system, leading to better scouting, drafting, and development (signing and developing international players were also huge reasons they succeeded).

Starting a rebuild was not necessarily the mistake the White Sox made. How they did it, with the same people in place, leading to the same poor scouting/drafting/development with no sustainable pipeline of players is the main issue. This lack of pipeline could be covered up a bit by spending on 9 figure contracts to add the missing pieces with money, but they won’t do that either (secondary problem).

Rambler303

Random thought and unrelated but rumors in Denver swirling of the Rockies being willing to part with Brenden Rodgers for pitching.

Knowing Hahn isn’t creative enough to come up with a package but one based around Gio and some throw ins for Rodgers would certainly solve 2nd for years.

soxexile

We can all get angry about the big-name free agents the Sox don’t get, and the medium-sized contracts they give to small-sized talents, but neither of those really addresses the elephant in the room. In my opinion, the core problem with the Sox is their abysmal record at drafting and developing young talent.

Just for your end-of-year nausea, here’s a list of the Sox first round draft picks from 2006-2016, along with a list of the alternative players still available when the Sox chose. I didn’t bother to list alternatives who have accumulated less than 10 WAR in their careers. (I ignored more recent picks on the grounds that they haven’t had enough time to assess their value.)

2006
Took: Kyle McCulloch (0.0 bWar)
Available: Adam Ottavino (13.7 bWAR)

2007
Took: Aaron Poreda (0.2)
Available: Rick Porcello (18.8)
Todd Frazier (25.3)
Sean Doolittle (10.0)
Josh Donaldson (46.7)
Tommy Hunter (11.4)

2008
Took: Gordon Beckham (5.5)
Available: Jason Castro (12.4)
Aaron Hicks (13.8)
Brett Lawrie (15.6)
Andrew Cashner (10.9)
Gerrit Cole (33.7)
Lance Lynn (30.5)
Wade Miley (16.4)
Logan Forsythe (12.1)

2009
Took: Jared Mitchell (0.0)
Available: Mike Trout (82.4)
James Paxson (12.5)

2010
Took: Chris Sale (45.5)
Available: None

2011
Took: Keenyn Walker (0.0)
Available: Blake Snell (15.0)

2012
Took: Courtney Hawkins
Available: Lucas Giolito (10.7)
Corey Seager (25.3)
Michael Wacha (10.6)
Marcus Stroman (20.0)
Jose Berrios (10.8)
Mitch Haniger (15.4)
Joey Gallo (14.7)
Lance McCullers (11.1)
Matt Olson (21.6)

2013
Took: Tim Anderson (18.2)
Available: Aaron Judge (37.0)

2014
Took: Carlos Rodon (16.6)
Available: Aaron Nola (29.6)
Trea Turner (29.7)
Matt Chapman (26.8)

2015
Took: Carson Fulmer (-1.2)
Available: Ian Happ (11.0)
Walker Buehler (13.2)
Austin Riley (12.0)

2016
Took: Zack Collins (-1.3)
Available: Will Smith (10.8)

You can rightly point out that I’ve cherry-picked these data. You can also point out that most first round picks don’t amount to much. But the reason that the Sox need to spend money on free agents (though they don’t) is that they don’t have home-grown core players. Other than Tim Anderson and Luis Robert, nobody on the current roster with >10 WAR came up through the Sox system.

So, I don’t think Jerry needs to spend more on free agents. I think he needs to get better scouts, or more of them, or whatever it takes to create a pipeline of capable young players drafted and developed by the Sox themselves.

a-t

I think it’s too much cherry-picking to exclude Dylan Cease from “homegrown talent”. Yeah, he was a talented prospect, but he in A-ball and very much raw. I think much the same for Giolito: he came up thru the Nats system but they were definitely not the ones who developed him successfully.

So I think the issue is scouting more than development. I think they’ve actually done a pretty good job of dev work once they get the talent.

bobsquad

Nick Hostetler and Doug Laumann both had terrible records heading up amateur scouting. (And in typical Reinsdorf fashion, both have been Dilbert’s lawed into advisory roles.) Though the Boras-phobic FO likely played a role in passing on some of those guys on the list.

Bonus Baby

Aside from Marco Paddy, is there anyone at all who was in the Sox organization before this offseason who would be kept by any new owner who was taking over the team?

My guess is no, though maybe some just for the sake of minimal continuity I guess.

ForsterFTOG

What are Marco Paddy’s successes?

As Cirensica

Ask the Padres

ChiTownMax25

Marco Paddy leads a department of 2 people, and his only successes are signing Cuban players who literally everyone in the league knows about. The only successful MLB players they’ve found internationally are guys they’ve spent over $50M on, they aren’t exactly going out on a limb by thinking these players are good.

The White Sox aren’t even in the galaxy to sign the best 13-14 year olds from the DR/Venezuela because they have no scouting infrastructure. They’ve often traded international bonus pool space to get out of paying the buy-outs on club options (Nate Jones, Wellington Castillo) because they haven’t identified any players to spend money on.

jorgefabregas

You can do this with almost any team. White Sox have an above average amount of scouts and are in the middle of the pack when it comes to draft success. https://content.iospress.com/download/journal-of-sports-analytics/jsa200586?id=journal-of-sports-analytics%2Fjsa200586

The total WAR each MLB Team has gotten from their first round draft picks (2010-2019) from baseball

Sale is doing a lot of heavy lifting in these rankings, but there is often a boom/bust aspect to draft picks.

Worth noting that the top guy basically went straight to the majors and required minimal development. I think their player development has not been great. For instance, it’s hard to imagine Marcus Semien becoming a good defender with the White Sox.

The Hostetler era is looking pretty bad. The Shirley era isn’t looking great, but the player development under Getz is looking a little bit better at least.

hitlesswonder

Important to note this is just first round picks….

I agree with your point about being able to do the “you missed Mike Trout” thing with almost any team. But the broader point that the Sox overall drafting and player development has been awful is still true.

Last edited 2 months ago by hitlesswonder
jorgefabregas

The first link is top 20 rounds

upnorthsox

Also important is position. Picks for that period, 13, 47, 13, 48, 17, 3, 8, 10, 26, 11, 4, 3 so 9 of 12 were in the top half of the draft and 5 were in the top 10. Yes Sale, TA, and Rodon is almost all of that.
2nd round total WAR -0.4 with only Jake Petricka providing positive WAR.

upnorthsox

And just to follow up, from 1991 to 2009 they got a total of 5.9 WAR out of 18 1st round picks. This has been a long running issue.
In fact, other than the 4 Larry Himes drafts with McDowell, Ventura, Thomas, and Fernandez you could say that Sale was a complete outlier of an otherwise total run of 1st round ineptitude since JR bought the team.

Also, how does Larry Himes not have a statue on the concourse?

jorgefabregas

Anderson was also a very good pick.

WHITESOX_RIGHT_SOX

Thank you for the time spent on this and sharing! Very eye opening. You’re so right!

Alfornia Jones

The White Sox are running a text book campaign on how to reduce expectations. In the early years, JR made a splash by spending a bunch of money signing some big names to kick start their new ownership. It worked to a degree since they won the first Chicago title since the 1963 Bears, but there was never a commitment to keep spending like the Steinbrenners. JR spends enough to keep the heat off, but also won’t sign Harper/Machado/Ohtani types because that causes expectations to increase.

The White Sox reside in the only division they can win, and based on the ’22 season (and now offseason) they have reset the expectations whereby a division title will be looked on as a huge success. This is the world the White Sox FO wants to live in. Threatening WS titles costs too much, and invites too much scrutiny. No one outside of White Sox fans is calling for Hahn’s head, and there is no media (local included) actively criticizing their offseason approach or lack there of.

They want to win a WS title, yes, but only on their budget. Keep all of this in mind when the White Sox win the division because that will start the redemption campaign where they tell all their fans to eat shit. Willfully forgetting that they’ll be lucky to win one playoff game again.

670WMAQtheElder

Reinsdorf and the late Einhorn hated the fans from the first day. They hated the old ballpark and were ready to move the Sox to Tampa. They took the team off free TV and over to ONTV, and in so doing chased off Harry Caray…just when the Cubs were put on the satellite by WGN and broadcast all over the country. Sure they signed a few free agents, some good in the 1980’s, but most were bad when Hemond retired to Arizona and we got the likes of Hawk and Ron Schueler. Had the new stadium face the wrong way so fans looked at the housing projects instead of the downtown skyline. Because of the wind? Sure. Jerry killed the 1994 season when his team had the inside track to win the WS as one of the owners leading the charge to kill the season in order to spite the players. And, then after all that, he signs Belle for a big FA contract. Who does nothing for the Sox. It took five years and the 2000 playoffs to get the fans back. 2005 was lightening in the bottle and he learned all the wrong lessons from it. Namely, you can win with bargain basement players if your GM chooses wisely. How convenient a strategy if you want to pinch pennies. And on and on…Ventura as the anti Ozzie, not because he was the best manager available. Letting Ventura fail for FIVE years. And right when the rebuild might bear fruit, Jerry picks TLR. Why oh why? Of course, Jerry is the same guy who ran off Phil Jackson, thought Jerry Krause was more important to the Bulls than Michael Jordan, and who let Krause hire his college coach buddy to coach the Bulls. And who kept a two headed GarPax in the Bulls FO so keep the office politics churning.

Sorry for the long post. It’s been 40 years of this and I have surely forgotten other episodes, like running off Larry Himes. Nothing is going to change until Jerry is no longer the managing general partner. We can only hope the FO does catch lightening in the bottle because that will result in on the field success. And when the inevitable happens, that the new boss is not worse than the old boss.

WHITESOX_RIGHT_SOX

Thank you for sharing! You see the bullshit

a-t

A lot of doom and gloom about here, and while precisely nothing about upper management inspires confidence in significant competitive success, I’m optimistic about this upcoming season— not really about them winning 98 games or whatever, but more that having dropped TLR for a younger and seemingly more energetic manager, they’ll be the genuinely fun squad they were in 2020 and the first 2/3 or so of 2021. There’s some incredible athletes with a range of charismatic personalities on this roster, so hopefully with with the wet blanket of a mummified old-school manager gone, the joyful play and chemistry will be restored. Baseball’s competition, but it’s also very much entertainment, and I hope they’re genuinely entertaining again.

Last edited 2 months ago by a-t
MattVerplaetse

It’s discouraging that all we can really point to for hope in the upcoming season is the coaching staff. They certainly haven’t done anything to the roster to inspire much confidence that they’ll be better than last season. (In fact, the roster might end up being worse. Downgraded from Cueto to Clevinger, replaced Abreu’s bat with one that doesn’t provide power in Benintendi, no legit major league 2B, etc.)

Bonus Baby

You can find lots of hope if you look for it, like fWAR results from 2022 vs. Steamer projections for 2023:

Abreu+Vaughn vs. Benintendi+Vaughn: 3.5 fWAR –> 4.5 fWAR (+1)
Grandal: -0.4 fWAR –> 2.4 fWAR (+2.8)
Anderson: 2 fWAR –> 3.2 fWAR (+1.2)
Moncada: 0.9 fWAR –> 2.6 fWAR (+1.7)
Eloy: 1.7 fWAR –> 2.8 fWAR (+1.1)
Robert: 2.1 fWAR –> 4.1 fWAR (+2)

Total: 9.8 fWAR –> 19.6 fWAR (+9.8)

This leaves out 2B and RF, which are trickier b/c Vaughn had about 25% of the Sox total plate appearances in RF, and the players at 2B moved around as well. So there is a bit of double-counting here, but the Sox produced 0.0 fWAR overall at 2B last year, and -0.6 fWAR overall in RF last year. Current Fangraphs projections for 2023 are 2.0 fWAR at 2B, and 2.2 fWAR in RF. That adds up to +4.8 fWAR from 2022 to 2023.

That’s a lot of projected improvement, just taking into account the things that Steamer typically takes into account: past performance, typical aging trends, etc.

Someone a while back said something to the effect that any projection system which views the Sox in 2023 this favorably is “on crack.” Well, anyone is free to think that, of course, but if you want optimism, here it is.

I’d still like to see another 2B and OF (Kemp + Laureano min. quality) to protect against rookie underperformance/injuries at those spots, as well as to give better L/R flexibility, but there it is.

Bonus Baby

Another quick plug for a quality OF addition that can play all 3 spots (Laureano or better):

We’d like to think not only that will Colas be good right away, but that him, Robert, and Benintendi will play the lion’s share of time out there. But right now (without expecting any major injuries), Fangraphs projects the following additional plate appearances in the OF:

LF: 147 (Eloy, Leury, Victor Reyes, Sheets)
CF: 112 (Reyes, Leury, Billy Hamilton)
RF: 308 (Sheets, Reyes, Leury)

Total: 567

That’s an awful lot of likely plate appearances to go around. Steamer currently projects Laureano for only 616 plate appearances as a starter in Oakland. It’s not like we should expect adding another starter-quality OF would go to waste.

Last edited 2 months ago by Bonus Baby
Trooper Galactus

I’d be fine if they went out and got Laureano, but the idea that they should be trading Hendriks to acquire him is just a non-starter for me.

Bonus Baby

OK. I would only do it if it was Laureano + Kemp and if it couldn’t be done with cheaper minor league and junk pieces.

And given that no MLB team has ever thought that any closer, no matter how good, is worth more than a mediocre 2.5 fWAR player — I can’t see how that trade could possibly be a bad idea, especially since the Sox are already pretty well stocked in the BP and have glaring weaknesses at 2B and in the OF.

I know I might not convince many (any?) about it though.

a-t

i do not want this front office to make any trades with the Oakland A’s bc historically the Oakland A’s front office has made off with brutally one-sided exchanges that way

Bonus Baby

I don’t have those trades in my mind, though if we start going down that path, we might end up with not only Boras on the no-sign list and Oakland on the no-trade list, but a bunch of other MLB teams as well. Are we out on Ha Seong Kim with the Padres b/c of the James Shields for Fernando Tatis Jr. trade? Out on Gleyber Torres b/c of the 2017 trade with the Yankees that sent us a bunch of useless guys in exchange for Todd Frazier and David Robertson? We’re running out of legit 2B options fast.

Anyway, I am personally really hoping for at least one season, just one, in this championship window where they do even the bare minimum of what they can to win now (payroll cheapness aside). Last couple of years they’ve signed or traded for no real second basemen, and started the season with one or more first basemen playing the outfield. Not to mention TLR and such.

Just once, please White Sox, have a single team in this “championship window” that is managed by a reasonable choice, has position players play at their natural positions, and has enough depth to not be virtually sure to throw replacement level players out there for lots of games (as I think as of now they would be in the OF).

Last edited 2 months ago by Bonus Baby
a-t

no it’s basically just the Oakland and Tampa Bay front offices

WHITESOX_RIGHT_SOX

Time will tell. It’ll be an interesting year. With the quiet clubhouse leader gone—who could actually communicate with other Spanish speaking teammates—there’s not much on field leadership. Giolito will be gone. He’s undoubtedly going to test the free agent market. I feel like it’s going to be really interesting to see if we have any clubhouse leaders. I think Tim wants out after the last two years. If you play fantasy baseball, I’d be drafting a lot of Timmy! He’s on his way out of the south side and will be looking to get rewarded for his numbers this year. It’s no bueno for the collective team effort when members of a team sport have ‘me, myself, and I’ at the forefront of thought.

Last edited 2 months ago by WHITESOX_RIGHT_SOX
hitlesswonder

My longshot prediction this year is that the Sox trade Anderson at the deadline in a White Flag trade. He seems to not want to be in Chicago anymore and the Sox surely would love to replace him with Montgomery in 2024.

WHITESOX_RIGHT_SOX

I bet you’re right and I think they’d be smart to do so because he wants out. And if that’s truly the case, I don’t blame him in the slightest.

My bet would be they have no intention at this point to exercise the 14 mil option for next year. He’ll be an over 30 year old SS and left handed hitting Montgomery is doing well in the minors. Colson will be the excuse for not exercising the option. Much like Colas is the excuse for not signing a RF to this point. But betting on rookies in the MLB during a contention window is reckless and cheap.

upnorthsox

That’s just silly. They may end up trading him but opting out would be beyond even Hahn stupid.

WHITESOX_RIGHT_SOX

I have no problem eating crow. I’m basing my opinions on what I’m seeing of this front office’s actions. We’ll see. I’ll bet you 100 space bucks 😂

WHITESOX_RIGHT_SOX

🤝🏽?

a-t

i admire your efforts to push the bounds of dourness to an art form, but i still question the choice of medium

Foulkelore

The only way that the White Sox won’t exercise TA’s option for 2024 is if he suffers an injury that will keep him out for 2024. Even if they didn’t want him for some reason, they’d exercise the option and trade him, because he’s extremely valuable with a $14 million salary.

Also, some recent scouting reports on Montgomery’s SS defense indicate that he might not stick there and is more likely to be a 3B in the majors.

WHITESOX_RIGHT_SOX

That’s a good point! Thank you for that feedback

a-t

I don’t think that’s really fair. Grandal I think is definitely a leader, catchers have to be, and obviously fully bilingual. Eloy’s English is pretty excellent. I would bet money that Lance and Gio are both pretty good w Spanish. And, of course, the new manager and hitting coach are both native Spanish speakers.

WHITESOX_RIGHT_SOX

I hear you, but Grandal needs to be in the clubhouse and on the field contributing in my mind to be considered a good clubhouse leader. Not in Charlotte for rehab assignments. Eloy doesn’t strike me as any kind of a leader either by example or by spoken word. I’m talking players holding other players accountable. I don’t believe they have that currently. Obviously I could be completely wrong in my assertion, just my opinion.

Abreu was the person who got Eloy doing early morning workouts- teaching discipline- he’s now gone. I can’t remember the article at this point and what it said, but Moncada’s average consumption of some 80 twinkies in a week…
Tim flipping off the fans in Cleveland and serving multiple suspensions last year for on field behavior. Hopefully Grifol can unite this squad, but he’s never been a manager before. It’s a mess

upnorthsox

You think AJ was a leader because he was a catcher?

a-t

not bc he was a catcher but… yes? This isn’t a very good gotcha. His hijinks got plenty of media attention and notoriety, but AJ’s combo of smarts and competitiveness is also why he was in fact quite a good player. I don’t have any doubts about his effectiveness as the shepherd of the various pitching staffs during his tenure— as I remember it, generally stronger than the hitter group— do you?

Anyways, AJ potshots aside, Grandal has been around the block and knows what winning smart looks like from his long tenure with LAD. He’s Cuban-born, grew up in Florida, and totally native to both English and Spanish. He’s practically tailor-made to be a ‘leader’ on this roster.

WHITESOX_RIGHT_SOX

Yeah you’re probably right. That aside, leader or not, he’s got a damn pretty stroke. my gosh ‘21 after he came back from injury in the second half. Wow he was 🔥. I sure love watching his sweet swing when he knows he got a dinger.

WHITESOX_RIGHT_SOX

I liked Pierzynski’s grit, really enjoyed watching him. Did whatever to win a game, got under people’s skin. Love him if he’s on your team and hate him if he’s not!

MSquared

Excellent article! I knew “The money will be spent” tagline wasn’t true, and any money that was was spent poorly. Chatting with an agent doesn’t really count as “tryining to sign them”. I would love to give credit for effort in building this team, if I believed any was deserved. We all know Jerry cares about his shareholders and money only , and he loves sending out Kenny to blame all the fans that don’t show up. It really sucks, but this really hit the nail on the head. If Hahn had any balls he would have walked away witht the Tony hiring, Instead we are stuck with the lot of them. It really sucks to be a Sox fan sometimes!

craigws

Completely checked out on baseball for the first time since I moved to this country. Unintentionally stumbled across the standings at the end of May and felt fine with it. I was surprised when I saw where Abreu was. Good for him, at this point.

Like many millennials, I’m pretty much waiting for people in their 70’s and 80’s getting out of the way already. It’s an obscene setup where teams don’t need the fans to make money anymore.