Chris Getz used last week’s general managers meeting to attempt to pivot to his populist phase. What he said drew plenty of attention, but what I noticed were the Tifosi sunglasses he sported in every photo on the wires.
There’s nothing wrong with Tifosi, mind you. It has a lot of direct-to-consumer competitors in a crowded market, but it’s crowded because they and a bunch of other companies make a decent pair of sunglasses for $25 to $50. I’m just not used to seeing a White Sox GM wearing shades that wouldn’t leave me crestfallen if I left them on a plane.
Rick Hahn was a dedicated Ray-Ban Man, while Kenny Williams wore various designer brands when he wasn’t terrorizing the backfields from his golf cart in Oakley Mode. Now here comes Getz, sporting a pair of sunglasses that you’d buy with a promo code. (“The future’s so bleak, you gotta shield your eyes. Chris Getz for Tifosi.”)
Just like a politician dusts off the denim for diners, Getz’s choice of eyewear meshed with his approach to the GM meetings, during which he embarked on a Great Leveling with the fans.
He doesn’t like the team. No players are untouchable. Yoán Moncada might have to play other positions besides third base. Oscar Colás needs more time in Triple-A. If Getz deployed an angrier tone, he could’ve been a worthy follow-up to Berto on the West Side …
… but stated flatly, they’re just plain, boring truths about a boring team.
When it became abundantly clear that the White Sox were going to lose 90 games, I wanted them to lose 100 — not because of draft position, but because I wanted the record to properly reflect the misery of following the team on a daily basis. It’d also give the GM greater mandate to detonate the way the White Sox conduct themselves, because nothing about the product was acceptable. Getz’s sentiments are therefore encouraging to a degree.
But like Hahn lamenting the White Sox’s lack of trade deadline activity when he was theoretically in charge of it, the words just ring a little hollow when they come from somebody who was an assistant GM for the debacle. Getz might not have been one of the top two guys in charge, but he also appeared to demonstrate no real positive influence on the proceedings. Now he’s tasked with doing a better job than he’s ever done as an executive, in a position he’s never occupied, while facing headwinds from within his own front office.
Brooks Boyer ran into the authenticity issue with regards to how the White Sox fumbled away one of the game’s highly regarded broadcast booths. He tried to spin the White Sox’s negligence with Jason Benetti, but there aren’t many ways to re-frame a lateral move, so he had to throw empathy out there to see if anybody would buy it.
“My own kids gave me a lot of grief about it,” Boyer said. “It’s hard because he is one of ours, but also if the situation is something that really advances someone, you’ve got to let him do it.
“Fans can be upset. I’m glad they are happy for Jason. … It’s not a secret that we’ve certainly faced our challenges with our fans, and that’s putting it lightly. I understand it.”
“Advance” is an inaccurate verb to describe a move from Chicago to Detroit, especially since it doesn’t seem like the terms are any different. Before the season, Jon Greenberg reported that Benetti was allowed to miss “35 (games), max” over the course of the 2023 schedule. The news out of Detroit says Benetti will call “a minimum of 127 Tigers games.” You’ll never guess what 162 minus 35 equals.
My sense is that the White Sox got grouchy about having to accommodate Benetti’s national schedule, and that opened cracks for other grievances to ooze to the surface. That’d explain why Benetti called his previous negotiations an arbitration hearing, and why Boyer didn’t offer any public sympathy on his end. Maybe Benetti gets a little more money or security with the Tigers, but neither of those count as advancement, just held ground. It mostly sounds like the White Sox wanted Benetti to lower his goals. 35th and Shields is where ambition goes to die.
Speaking of which, Bob Nightengale’s Sunday column makes it sound like Reinsdorf will be tying one of Getz’s hands behind his back, if not both of them.
This is why the White Sox cut ties with shortstop Tim Anderson and are making everyone available in trades except center fielder Luis Robert – including ace Dylan Cease – as they lower their payroll.
This isn’t a great sentence for plenty of reasons, but structurally, it seems like it shouldn’t lump in a potential Dylan Cease trade with the White Sox’s payroll reduction. The Sox have already shed tons of money from their books by buying out Tim Anderson, Liam Hendriks and Mike Clevinger while letting Yasmani Grandal and Elvis Andrus head to free agency, all after trading Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito, Joe Kelly, Kendall Graveman and Reynaldo López at the deadline. If they make a minimal effort to fill the majority of the vacancies, the payroll will be something like $50 million lighter from 2023 to 2024.
I suppose the problem is that everybody besides Cease and Luis Robert Jr. qualifies as either a salary dump or “one red paperclip” material, so nobody else is worth specifically mentioning. That’s why this sentence seems like it could’ve been two individual items.
But sometimes the questionable White Sox material Nightengale relays turns out to be entirely accurate as stated, so maybe Reinsdorf wants to cut as many seven-figure salaries as possible, in whatever order the market can allow. Neither can be ruled out at this time.
What can be ruled out is the primary justification Reinsdorf provided for promoting Getz without considering anybody else for the GM spot — that the Sox didn’t have a year to waste. It doesn’t matter whether Reinsdorf was telling his warped truth or issuing a flimsy lie to get through the only public appearance he’ll subject himself to this decade. Either one reflects a franchise in poor health. Everybody should be bracing for the Sox to punt 2024, and a Cease trade pretty much guarantees a rebuild with some sort of rebranding.
Getz faces an enormous task, and while admitting the problem is always the first step, there are usually 11 others after that. Rick Hahn stalled out somewhere in the middle.
There’s a template for action, but the snags are easy to see. Getz said he wants the team to get better defensively, and will forgo offensive upside if necessary. That’s a valid way to attempt to address the White Sox’s run differential issues, except it also leads to new hitting coach Marcus Thames issuing a troubling prescription for the offense.
“I heard Getzy’s interview, and he’s trying to make some moves to make the team a little more athletic and get some guys to put the ball in play a little bit more,” Thames said. “And I like that vision.
“The game has come to a point where situational hitting has been a lost art until the postseason, and then you see teams trying to bunt and hit-and-run and stuff like that during the postseason. We’re going to start hitting that in Spring Training and we’re going to change our identity a little bit, and I like that vision of what they’re trying to get done.”
If this is an accurate description of Thames’ weltanschauung regardless of the talent, then it can make like Taylor Swift and go back to 1989. However, if he’s trying to get ahead of a scenario where he’s tasked with taking an influx of glove-first guys and shaping a watchable offense, then that’s about the best way he can try to spin it. Unlike Boyer, he’s not the guy in charge of acquiring or retaining the talent. He can only try to anticipate it.
A little action would go a long way in clarifying vision, but besides finalizing a coaching staff that still has an unpopular, ineffective manager at the top of it, the only thing the White Sox have done is dismiss their popular broadcaster for reasons. The people at the top don’t have to make sense, but they make it harder for everybody else downstream to form a cohesive vision in their wake.
The GM meetings ended early due to a suspected norovirus, and the quick dispersion of all the newsmakers didn’t help us in our quest for more material to work with. Still, it was long enough to arrive at the first cliché of the Chris Getz Era.
Back in September, Getz said he spent the month “doing a deeper dive” into the organization. It only sounded funny because he was supposed to have an intimate knowledge of what the White Sox weren’t doing well enough, but there’s no harm in confirming everything once granted decision-making power. Measure twice, cut once, sure.
Now it’s November, and Getz still has his scuba gear on:
“We want to identify players that we feel like can help us, both short term and long term, and when those players come our way, then we’ll make a decision,” Getz said. “Obviously, there’s a financial component to it that Jerry gets involved in, and we’ll continue to have those conversations. … But right now, there’s certainly a deeper dive that needs to happen with this club as we improve moving forward.”
Again, something needs to happen, because a guy can only take so many deep dives into such a shallow pool before invoking the concussion protocol.