With White Sox’s hopes dashed, individual progress all that remains

White Sox pitcher Michael Kopech
(Photo by Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire)

It took until the White Sox fell 20 games below .500, but Pedro Grifol is officially referring to his team’s 2023 hopes in the past tense.

Grifol spoke to the media before Tuesday’s game, and the guy who said a foundation for a culture was being set a few weeks ago said that culture hasn’t happened:

“I’m disappointed. This is on me. It’s simple,” Grifol said in a little more fired-up tone than is typical for his media sessions. “It’s on me. I’m the manager. I sat right there in front of everybody and told everybody we had high expectations and we were going to get this thing done. And we haven’t.” […]

“There’s a style of baseball that we want to play. There’s a culture that we want to build. It hasn’t happened. And that’s on me. On me, nobody else. That’s on me.”

I’ve already written enough on Grifol’s shortcomings this month …

… so I suppose I’ll offer a defense by saying it isn’t all on him. The White Sox weren’t a winning team in 2022, yet Rick Hahn essentially ran with the same roster regardless, even though any José Abreu would tell you it didn’t qualify as “young.”

But with the Lance Lynn rumors approaching a low boil before he’s scheduled to take the mound tonight, Grifol’s comments provide official license to disregard team results for individual pursuits, and a few individual players had my attention on Tuesday.

Michael Kopech

Kopech’s been fighting one problem or another all season, so thankfully, his inability to hold runners took a backseat to more pressing issues things like control, or the health of his shoulder. He’s never been good at slowing down the running game, but after allowing 15 steals in 19 attempts over 119 innings in 2022, he’d only allowed 16 steals in 20 attempts over his first 92 innings this season. That’s worse, yes, but once you adjust for inflation, the rule changes didn’t seem to have any excessive effect on him.

Until Tuesday, when the Cubs stole four bases in four attempts.

Kopech actually threw plenty of strikes. He only issued one walk over five innings, and he didn’t hit a batter, either (he came into the start with nine HBPs to go along with his league-high walk total). But part of me wonders if the steals are an unhelpful byproduct of better control, in the sense that the basepaths were wide open once a Cub with any sort of speed hit his way on. Then again, Kopech also alllowed three homers, which kept the bases clear in the worst possible way.

This requires monitoring, and a day where Kopech is plagued by neither walks nor homers. Those might be hard to come by.

Yoán Moncada

He’s back, and while his back isn’t all the way back, Moncada says he’s close enough:

“I feel good, not 100%, but I feel good enough to play,” Moncada said. “This is something I have to deal with. This is probably the best I have felt since everything happened.”

“Everything” happened in spring training, with Vinnie Duber relaying that it was a disk issue that caused discomfort in his glute and hamstring.

I basically judge whether Moncada is healthy enough by whether he’s able to pull the ball in the air, and he almost pulled a grand slam out to right field until Seiya Suzuki had other ideas.

The caveats: The pitch was 86 mph, and the batted ball was 94 mph. It actually had a lower expected batting average than Andrew Vaughn’s mistake infield single that followed. But not lifting and pulling that pitch just short of authoritatively is superior than not lifting and pulling that ball at all, so no judgment needs to be issued right now.

Besides, the worry about Moncada is not whether he’s healthy enough on a given day, but whether he’ll be healthy enough the following day.

Jake Burger

Likewise, the jury is out on Burger as a second baseman, but that’s a good thing. My priors are rooted in skepticism, so every day he doesn’t have me running back to proclaiming “THIS IS A MISTAKE” is a small victory.

Burger handled all the grounders his way, and while none tested him, he took care of all of them in a relaxed fashion The double-play he had to turn required a strong turn due to its slow-developing nature, and he got the job done, so that’s one for the plus column.

The batted balls in the air concern me more. A line drive that necessitated a jump clanked off his glove, and I still want to see him handle a pop-up hit behind him, because those posed major problems for him at Charlotte. The Cubs only mustered one soft fly that required him to think about venturing into shallow right field, but even somebody like Zach Remillard wouldn’t have been able to come close to closing the gap.

Burger will be starting at second base once again tonight, unless a last-minute Lynn trade changes the posted lineup dramatically, so he should able to build upon his body of work, for better or worse.

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Appreciate the post, Sox Machine is great with coverage. Although ultimately I’m at: Does Kopech figure out how to be a pro pitcher? Does Moncada stay healthy and produce? big questions on that with his history. Does Burger find a position to play?…all questions that shouldve been figured out before the contention window I feel, but who am I but a random nobody fan? Hahn went to an Ivy League school, he must know…something? lol


Yes, it’s time to start thinking about next year.

For better or worse next year’s outfield will be Benintendi, Robert, Colas, so a RHH outfielder that can play all 3 outfield positions should be the 4th OF.

On the infield, Moncada will have next year to prove he’s worth picking up his option. If Timmy is traded then one of the young guys or a 1-year stopgap for SS can pave the way for Montgomery or Gonzalez in 2025. 2nd base is open, and Vaughn will be at 1b.

It would be nice to get a decent catcher to platoon with Seby or Perez, and I’m thinking Seby with his .500 OPS just needs to go. Hopefully they can get a near-ready C in a Giolito trade. Otherwise, maybe a 1-yr deal for Narvaez.

As for the starters, I guess we’ll have Cease and Kopech as 1-2. Maybe Toussaint or Scholtens, or a prospect acquired in the next 2 weeks. This is where free agency must be used. There are plenty of mid-rotation starters available that would fit Jerry’s price tag, so they should be able to add 2 decent FAs.

In the bullpen, Liam should be the closer. We’ll have Santos, Graveman and Bummer (unless one of the latter 2 are traded), Crochet and probably a bunch of young guys/cheap free agents.

That leaves Eloy and Burger as DH possibilities. There is no way that Hahn should go into 2024 with more than 2 of Vaughn, Burger, Eloy and Sheets on the roster. Sheets should be dumped, and one of Burger, Eloy or Vaughn should be traded.

So, the chances for improvement next year hinge on a few things.

  1. Hahn is fired and someone from outside of the organization is brought in.
  2. Grifol is let go and the new GM brings in a real manager.
  3. Sox get a couple of near-ready prospects in trades over the next week and they contribute positively right away.
  4. Jerry actually spends money in free agency.

The odds are none of those 4 happen, which means there is no hope for next year.


Obviously most don’t agree, but I think it’s better that Burger/Eloy/Vaughn all stay… it would be totally fine if the Sox actually used the IL much more liberally, for Vaughn & Eloy’s constant little injuries that just have them suck for a couple weeks instead of resting up. That’s what smart, deep teams do. Three guys that can competently fill two positions is depth, not superfluous, especially since there won’t be any competition from Grandal for DH PAs next year. Sheets should be handed a one way ticket to Charlotte tho.

There’s 13 spots for hitters. The starting outfield, two catchers, and this trio take 8. Moncada and two unknown starting MIF take 3. One spot for 4th OF (as you said, RHH who can cover CF, I wanted Duvall for that in the offseason), and one infield utility guy who ideally can cover some corner outfield. It’d be neat if they could persuade Tampa to include Vidal Brujan as a like secondary tertiary piece and give him a chance for that superutility role.

Augusto Barojas

You are right that the odds are that none of those things happens. Especially the last one. Jerry has only “spent” in two seasons the past decade, and never after a disaster season with 24th (or likely to be worse by year end) attendance. Spent was in quotes, b/c of course their free agent activity was all short term garbage players rather than longer term deals to get players of any real quality. I give them zero credit for having a “high payroll” in 2022/23, it was the most insincere, half hearted, and ridiculous effort conceivable.

I don’t buy even the slightest possibility that they might retool for next year. They will be coming off a 95 loss season, and are set to lose 3/5 of their rotation and arguably best starter, starting catcher, and a couple relievers. Plus Tim, Yoan, Graveman, and Liam after next year (if none of them are gone sooner). The cupboard is bare, they are closer to being the worst team in MLB heading into next year than being in any position to retool. Kopech isn’t even that good, they might wind up having one legit starting pitcher in 2024. They will probably lose 100 next year and are probably at least 3 years away from being interesting. Maybe more, or maybe never with this group of assclowns running things. I’ll bet there isn’t a single projection site that predicts over 70 wins for them heading into next year.

We can only hope your first two suggestions come to pass. Get rid of both, yesterday. But that would only give some hope further out, and would have very little impact on next year. It’s going to take some time to start building something out of this scorched earth disaster.

Last edited 1 month ago by Augusto Barojas
Trooper Galactus

Any plan that involves this team trying to compete in 2024 without spending an assload of money is no plan at all.


I’m a little surprised Burger was mentioned. And I’m often surprised when Sox’ fans talk about him as a “good thing” for this team.
I thought two true outcome bats, who can’t run or play defense, were viewed as AAAA, or roster filler during a rebuild, no matter how high the SLG%.


He can actually run decent when underway, he’s in the black on baserunning value. The defense at 3B has been better than last year, up to “definitely below average but playable” from “godawful”.

He’s also underperforming his xwOBA by a decent margin at -0.025; his BABIP is quite low (.236) for how hard he hits the ball. Even with that, he’s on pace for about 2 WAR over a full season. Not a star, but he’s definitely a major leaguer, and could be a legitimately quite useful role player— especially if the late ‘24 onwards infield is heavily left-handed.

Last edited 1 month ago by a-t

I’m sorry. I should have been more precise with my wording. When I said can’t run or play D, I meant as a second carrying tool to go along with the occasional bursts of power.
Weak side of the platoon, .267 OBP, 33% K rate, 6% BB rate, and a 104 wRC+ (only 56 in June and 91 so far in July) with streaky power and no other carrying tool appears, IMO, to be far too flawed a player to be considered useful on a team that wants to do more than win top 10 draft picks.


Burger reminds me of a slightly more athletic version of Adam Dunn.


Is that a bad thing? Dunn put up a lot of offensive WAR over his career. But in that regard, he was penalized as a DH

Trooper Galactus

Dunn was far more penalized as an outfielder, which he played for most of his career in Cincy.


I was thinking a bad RH Joey Gallo, because he walks half as often.


Nightengale says Sox are saying NO to anyone asking about Cease.
“hope to contend next year”
Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.


The key word there is “hope”. Why don’t you fire Hahn, spend some money on real players and get a real manager, Jerry. Then you can change “hope” to “expect”.

Augusto Barojas

Nightengale has proved full of shit way more often than not the past couple years. I wouldn’t make too much of anything he says. It would make sense to trade him, and if they are too stupid to do it now, wait until the middle of next year when they are probably 30 below .500.

Fuck this organization and the morons who make decisions for, or report on them.


Jerry believing the carrot he dangles isn’t 30 years old lol


I read hopes dashed and I fondly remember back to the angsty kerfuffle we had over Steamers projections of 74 wins. Those were the days of blue skies and happy thoughts.


Although he’s owed apologies, I hope the people who were acting like turds towards Dan Z feel a little bad at the very least.


No on Anderson to Dodgers. They already got their SS with Rosario.


Would be kinda funny if the Guards now went after TA, although Progressive is his worst ALC park by far.