While the uproar from Keynan Middleton’s comments about the White Sox’s culture have largely subsided, Paul Sullivan’s column kicked up a few embers regarding some other Sox pitchers who were shipped out at the trade deadline.
While Hahn deservedly gets much of the blame for the downfall, (along with executive vice president Ken Williams) at least he did a decent job of getting rid of some deluded would-be leaders who not only declined to lead but showed no accountability for their own roles in the team’s regression.
You can’t have good clubhouse chemistry with self-serving players like Lance Lynn, Joe Kelly and Kendall Graveman backstabbing their teammates along the way and pretending they weren’t part of the problem. If any of the current Sox pitchers still revere their former teammates, perhaps the clubhouse chemistry is doomed to fail again in ’24.
I’d be curious to know what constitutes “backstabbing,” but it doesn’t surprise me to see those three singled out for coming up short of being consummate team players. Perhaps Graveman more or less held up his end of the deal, but Kelly and Lynn seemed to have a direct line to reporters requesting tickets out of town, even though they didn’t come close to earning their considerable paychecks.
But if you’re not interested in politics, Sullivan’s column is still worth highlighting because we can see Pedro Grifol trying to make his own adjustments.
Last week, Grifol painted himself into a corner when he said, “We’re never compromise a major-league win for development.” As admirable as it sounded in theory, it was a pretty dumb thing to say in practice, as last Saturday proved. He left Jesse Scholtens in a few batters too long while letting Oscar Colás face a sidewinding lefty late in the game, and he couldn’t even fall back on the excuse of mettle-detecting players who might have significant roles on next year’s team.
Perhaps after seeing it blow up in his face, Grifol attempted to update that stance prior to the opener against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
“I don’t ever want to compromise a major-league win to find out what somebody can do,” he said Tuesday. “However, that’s important for us too, moving forward. There’s a fine line we have to walk through to get to where we need as far as evaluation purposes.”
Like everything about the 2023 White Sox, progress comes way too late to inspire any confidence, but at least he’ll have made his own life a little bit easier.
Here’s another case of “too little, too late,” but if Yoán Moncada’s self-assessment is correct, he joins Tim Anderson in having an injury do irreversible harm to his mechanics.
“The reality is that I’ve been fighting to get to that point, to get to the rhythm that I feel comfortable with,” Moncada said. “Because what happened in that time that I was dealing with the pain, I created a bad habit. Because I was trying to protect that area. I didn’t want to feel that pain when I was swinging.
“Now, there are times where I feel like my mechanics are right. But there are times where I don’t feel on time, or I’m in that rhythm that I’m used to when I’m in full swing. That’s part of the process now. That’s what I’m trying to find right now. There are games where I feel good and there are games where I’m struggling a little bit. I’m fighting. It’s a battle every day.”
- Blown save vs. Cubs not stopping Liam Hendriks, White Sox from seeing Gregory Santos’ closer potential — CHGO
The emotionally charged nature of the crosstown series makes any blown save against the Cubs more devastating, but you have to admit that a lot of closers wouldn’t have been asked to record a five-out save the day before. I don’t mind the flexibility, but I found it fascinating that Liam Hendriks had to coach up Grifol on setting expectations for a newly minted closer.
“When all the trades happened, I think it was Has came up to me and asked, ‘Would you mind talking to him?’” Hendriks said. “I said, ‘I’m fine talking to him, but I want the clarification.’ So I went and spoke to Pedro, went and spoke to Katz, and said, ‘If this is the plan, I can talk to him. But I want to make sure I’m not telling him to be ready for the eighth or the ninth and then all of a sudden he’s warming up for the seventh. We need to have guidelines with it all.’
“At the end of the day, this is a young kid who’s really getting an opportunity in the big leagues for the first time, a long extended look. So this is a thing where you need to make sure that if you’re going to put him into a role, you need to stick to that role.”
Speaking of amending previous quotes, Harrelson says that he regrets saying on A.J. Pierzynski’s YouTube show that Jerry Reinsdorf should sell the team. Everything else he’ll repeat ad infinitum, but of course that’s the one he’ll reconsider.
I learned a lot about the inner workings of official scoring in this Andy McCullough story, particularly the batted-ball data they now have access to, as well as heavier hand the league is using when it comes to oversight. The cynic says the league wants to amplify the effects of the shift ban and crow about higher batting averages, but I suspect gambling plays a much larger role, because it’s a big reason why things that used to be subject to interpretation (neighborhood play, briefly losing contact with the bag on a slide) lean now towards the clearest possible outcome.
Likewise, there’s a lot to glean from Ben Clemens’ investigation into how teams fare with a runner on third and fewer than two outs. The White Sox are bottom-five in their conversion rate, but they’ve had the seventh-fewest opportunities, which is the bigger problem.
- Dominican Republic prosecutor says division specializing in minors and gender violence leading Wander Franco investigation — ESPN
This is the most recent update from a reliable stateside outlet on the Wander Franco case. Héctor Gómez, the Dominican reporter who broke Franco’s 11-year extension with the Rays back in 2021 but sometimes runs with incomplete accounts, showed one direction this story can go.