P.O. Sox: Eloy Jiménez’s future? Future MVPs? Starter management?

Thanks to the trade deadline, Josh and I didn’t have time to give P.O. Sox its due in podcast form, so here’s the mailbag for your reading pleasure instead.

Do y’all feel like the White Sox inability to add without borrowing heavily from the future ( *cough cough* Colson Montgomery *cough cough*) was easy to predict? The farm system didn’t get bad overnight, which made buying talent/depth in free agency before the season with the Machado/Harper “money” vitality important… and they just didn’t. The White Sox leveraged this entire season very badly, didn’t they?

— Rob

It’s an especially timely question given that Jon Heyman said the White Sox tried to acquire Shohei Ohtani, who would basically solve all of the White Sox’s biggest issues with one player. Alas.

This rock-and-hard-place situation is why I’m so fascinated/preoccupied with the pre-MLB extensions that Rick Hahn signed Eloy Jiménez and Luis Robert to, paired with the not-cheap extension for Yoán Moncada. When he stopped short on adding a Manny Machado/Bryce Harper/George Springer type, he and Kenny Williams claimed that doing so would hamper their financial flexibility, and their ability to retain the players already on the roster. Williams made it sound like a threat, in fact.

The further removed we are from those offseasons, the more it seems they erred in assuming that every key player in the organization would be worth keeping. They undercut their flexibility in being able to reshape their roster by locking them into non-negligible salaries, which is a little bit ironic.

This is the 20th year of the White Sox being run by the combination of Williams and Hahn, and this intense priority on long-term flexibility is a byproduct of such unwarranted stability. Most other front offices wouldn’t worry about the long-term implications of signing Harper because they’d probably be overhauled well before it was over. Williams and Hahn conduct business as though they’ll be required to clean up any mess eight years from now, because they probably will be. The depth chart is convoluted, but the messes on the payroll can be waited out, and I think they’d rather have it that way than a great roster that could get ugly three years from now.

Eloy seems to be hitting better of late. Would you use him as a headline piece to get a starter or a real right fielder?

— Andrew

Jiménez probably has the most important two months remaining of anybody on the roster, because a productive last 60 games open so many courses for the White Sox. As you mention, he could be traded, because the Silver Slugger version of Jiménez would be worth two years and $26 million, or four years and $59 million if his club options are exercised. The White Sox could also choose to retain him over José Abreu, and roll with him, Andrew Vaughn and a left fielder to be determined.

But we also know that it’s a fool’s errand to project a Jiménez hot streak for any meaningful amount of time, because he’s prone to ground-ball ruts, injury, and ground-ball ruts because he’s coming off an injury. So I’d rather hold off on this question until the end of the season, because it’s probably worth knowing where the Sox are selling on the high-low spectrum. They could have the opportunity to capitalize on a Jiménez who’s finally figured it out, or they might have to flip him for whatever they can in order to back out of a dead end on the roster. That’s not much of an answer, but this is how I’m thinking while watching him.

With all the 20 something’s on this roster who can’t seem to play more than a game or two in a row, do you blame that on the inability of our training staff to keep players healthy or the front office for their inability to scout injury prone players?

— Joe

I’d add a small third slice on the pie chart for bad luck, just for honest accounting’s sake. You can’t overlook the pandemic, especially COVID-19’s impact on Moncada’s career, and between that and the lockout, I’m open to the idea that months of separation between players and the training staff in consecutive seasons/offseasons didn’t help. But every team has had to deal with that kind of uncertainty, so that argument only goes so far.

I’m more inclined to pin it on the training staff, because Jiménez seems like the only one who’s more nature than nurture, although Moncada has a case as well, because there’s a line of demarcation with his illness. But then you have Robert going from getting hurt on impact plays to being required to withhold routine efforts, while Tim Anderson hasn’t played close to a full season in four years.

Andrew Vaughn’s management is also telling from a training perspective. He hit .242/.281/.407 in July around a number of days off for maintenance purposes. If his back and legs betray him for another second-half swoon, then I think it’s fair to wonder if the Sox failed to prepare his body for a six-month grind while rushing him from A-ball to the majors.

With Moncada’s slow start, Roberts recent injury and Eloy’s injury riddled recent past do you think the white sox have a guy on the roster who could win a future MVP? I thought at different points in the rebuild and recent years that these guys could have a chance but what about now?

— Benny

Luis Robert’s on a 5 WAR pace over a full season despite a season with COVID, leg issues and now lightheadedness/blurred vision, so I think that’s the kind of floor you want to see from an MVP candidate. He’s shown the ability to produce when he’s not his best self, and Statcast’s recently unveiled bat speed metric shows that Robert has the physical gifts to make a reliable offensive impact around his lack of patience. He just has to play 150 games. That’s not a challenge to be understated, which everybody knows full well by now, but at least he’s improving as a player around that particular hardship.

There’s a lot of talk about TLR leaving starters in too long. My question is what is the alternative? If Gio, Lynn, and Kopech can only give you 5, and Cease doesn’t give more than 6, how do you fill in so many innings from a bullpen that’s hardly ever available? My only thought is an opener, and then maybe you steal an inning by having the starter face the bottom of the order one more time instead of the top.

— Adam

I think the criticism stems from how he presents the mental calculus. When Lucas Giolito or Lance Lynn stay in several batters too long because he determined the whole seventh inning to be theirs, or because they’ve earned the chance to exhaust themselves, it’s reactive and retrograde. Perhaps he’s shielding his relievers from criticism about their lack of availability or success on consecutive days, but then the starters have to face questions about why they can’t finish outings, and so that’s zero-sum.

I dunno, I still think the starting pitching woes are overstated. The White Sox are seventh in innings from starting pitching, so La Russa isn’t facing an inordinate challenge from a workload standpoint. It’s more the lack of big nights from his offense building the opportunity for low-leverage coasts to the finish line. The White Sox have thrown 111 innings in save situations, which is the fourth-highest total in baseball. Two of the teams ahead of them are the Yankees and Braves, who have win totals in the 60s.

We’ll see if Hahn provides any offensive depth over the next two days. If close games are still an ongoing concern — and if neither Giolito nor Lynn find their old selves — then I’d welcome more creative management of their starters. That was my biggest problem with Rick Renteria, but alas, I don’t think the hiring of La Russa improved the outlook in that regard.

Fun time: all time roster of players named Jim/James vs Josh’s (names like Jameson definitely count). Who’s on the rosters and who wins.

— David

The Jims have it because the pitching staff has four Hall of Famers (Palmer, Hunter, Kaat and Bunning), plus a whole bunch of great fifth-starter candidates. Josh Johnson and Josh Beckett are as good as it gets for the other team.

In fact, Josh Gibson is the only Hall of Fame Josh, and while he’s a hard one to top, he’s backed up by the far more fleeting greatness of Donaldson and Hamilton. Historically, it’s no context.

That said, this could change in time, at least if we limit it to this century. The Jim talent has dried up since Thome, Edmonds and Rollins retired, while Hader and Bell offer a couple of Joshes who are peaking.

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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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EmotionallyRawSoxFan

Any sense as to who the Sox offered and how far off the mark they were?

a-t

There’s not any details for the any of the Ohtani offers atm that I can find. I would think maybe Vaughn + Kopech + Montgomery?

Malkatraz

Why is that left-handed, 26-year old Luis Gonzalez has been more valuable for the Giants than every OF on the White Sox not name Luis Robert?

His 134 wrc+ against righties would sure look good about now… and his actual competent defense. Hell, Yermin Mercedes is performing better than half the “outfield”.

Is this the FO or simply poor development?

a-t

He’s outperforming his xwOBA by 50 points is how (.332 vs .281). Small sample size luck.

NancyFaustsOrgan

Not to mention they’re playing in a pitcher-friendly ballpark. Glad we held onto Blake “the rake” Rutherford.

hitlesswonder

The Sox seem to routinely mis-evaluate their own prospects…Luis Gonzalez is without question another failure in that regard. I’m not saying he would have made a huge difference but clearly they should have kept him over Rutherford for example.

ayeitsfabes

I wouldn’t say the Sox misevaluated Luis Gonzalez. Sox took a calculated risk thinking they could sneak LG through waivers to make room for Luis Robert. LG was injured and they couldn’t option him off the 40 man. After the Giants picked him up he was non tenured then resigned with Giants 2 months later.

upnorthsox

Yankees get Montas and Trivino.

Astros get Trey Mancini.

HallofFrank

Tomorrow: “Sox answer Astros and Yankees bolster by adding Mychal Givens”

upnorthsox

The haul for Montas and Trivino seems a little light, better than we would’ve done but a little light nonetheless.

a-t

Ehhh idk about light. I’m looking at the descriptions and performances of the dudes going to Oakland, and I think the A’s probably snagged two mid-rotation starters + a pretty good reliever here on balance.

upnorthsox

One possible starter if he can make the jump to the bigs and a middle reliever. The 2 infielder prospects are typical Yankee trash, we’ve had more than a few ourselves from them lately.

a-t

What? *Two* starters with absolutely superlative peripherals via high analytically-friendly stuff & good command in AAA, one guy with visibly nuts raw stuff but command issues that may push him to the bullpen, and an infielder. Which of the consequential pitchers are you mistaking for an inconsequential infielder?

upnorthsox

What 2 starters? Waldichuk is a starter, Sears is a middle reliever/spot starter, Medina and Bowman are infielders. Check that, Medina I guess is an outfielder.

a-t

You have the wrong Luis Medina, presumably you’re looking at the 19-year-old Brewers OF in complex league ball. This Luis Medina is a 23-year-old pitcher in AA who throws very hard and is a mid-top 100 prospect.

upnorthsox

Was going by the link on mlb trade rumors. I take it back then, they did pretty good.

jhomeslice

Yankees add Benintendi and a solid right handed starter that the Sox should have little chance of hitting, to go along with an offense that nobody other than Cease has a prayer of shutting down. Sox-Yankees in the playoffs, should be fun matchup.

a-t

No Montas or Castillo for Minnesota is good so far.

Last edited 2 months ago by a-t
HallofFrank

Yeah. I’m pretty convinced the Sox won’t do anything of consequence, so the win here is that we can say the same for the Guardians and Twins.

a-t

It doesn’t seem too likely atm, no. Pederson, Chafin, Givens, and say Quintana feels like about the extent of what they’d do, maybe another infielder if they’re feeling crazy. I don’t think it made too much sense for them to shell out for Castillo or Montas, though, the front end of the rotation (Lynn and Gio) need to figure their mechanics out, or they’re sunk anyways. Pity that Angels meddling ownership decided to keep Ohtani tho.

Drdoctor

I’m still conflicted on what I want. I don’t think I trust this team, players, coaches, manager, FO, enough to be happy with even a Mahle-style 3 WAR upgrade.
You give me Ohtani and or Soto, damn the torpedos, I’m excited. Even the Angels are fun to watch when he plays. Middling upgrades to a middling team? Get the core 9 to play better and I’ll be more jazzed about non-star upgrades.

Augusto Barojas

And so it goes. The two AL powerhouses add players of significance and get even better, and Sox fans are left hoping for playoff miracles with the 7th or 8th best team in the league. Good times.

jhomeslice

Yankees and Astros are competing for ALCS. Sox are competing for table scraps. Hopefully not adding to misery by doing something stupid in next 24 hours.

soxygen

Speaking of table scraps, sounds like the Rays are planning to DFA Brett Phillips

a-t

I don’t care at ALL what the Yankees or Astros do. They won’t be the ones that prevent the Sox from getting to the playoffs, nor would they be who the Sox see in the first round. This is not basketball: the hotter team wins, not the “better” team. The Dodgers won 106 games last year, and Atlanta didn’t even need 7 games for its 88 win squad to eliminate them.

Augusto Barojas

As several people have pointed out, the Braves did not have league worst defense, MLB worst manager, and what has to be close to league worst offense against RHP starters. This is not a world series team, they are .500 in the weakest division in baseball.

Sox fans left hoping for miracles with a dramatically inferior team that is further from the top teams in the league than before today started.

dwjm3

He didn’t compare us to the Braves. He stipulated that the best team doesn’t necessarily win the World Series and cited the Braves winning last year as one example of it.

a-t

What ‘miracles’? Normal f’ing health? Essentially this exact same goddamn roster (and same goddamn manager) was top-5 in all of position player, SP, and RP WAR last year. The same Yankees that are on a 110 win pace now are barely changed from last year’s 92 win squad pre-Montas: Donaldson looks cooked, Rizzo’s been great, and Gallo completely forgot how to hit, which about shakes out even for offseason moves. They simply got much healthier this year. Stop pretending that underperforming talent is the same as never-was-enough-talent: we know damn well what the latter looks like.

Augusto Barojas

I mean we’ve all watched the Sox play .500 for the past year, with the worst manager ever, and worst defense in the league. And being completely inadequate against RHP, which most of the good potential playoff teams have plenty of. You want to tell me that they are on par with the Yankees and Astros, who are 30 games over, with better health? I think that’s pretty much nonsense. But I can tell you are upset. I am not. It’s just difference of opinion, I hope you chill a bit. No insult to you, it’s not worth getting upset in discussions on here.

a-t

I’m simply very tired of the dourness that goes so far beyond reality. I watched my dad’s team, the Giants, string together a ‘dynasty’ of 3 rings in 5 years despite averaging just 91 regular season wins in those championship years, and just 87 reg season wins over that 5 year stretch. Getting into the playoffs any way you can is the measure of regular season success in this sport. Once you’re in, nothing that happened before then matters in the least.

Joliet Orange Sox

I have a good friend who grew up in Pittsburgh and is a big Pirates fan. He’s been in the Chicago area for the last 25+ years and he never ceases to be amazed by the dourness of White Sox fans. I’ve shown him some of the comments here now and then such as the recent ones about how it is time to get rid of TA or how fans are rooting to miss the playoffs and he always insists it has to be someone trolling. My friend also says the Cubs fanbase could use a little more dour and the Sox fanbase could use a little less dour.

upnorthsox

Your friend is observant.

hitlesswonder

Looking at the haul that Milwaukee got for Hader, it seems like the Sox should have considered dealing Hendriks or Graveman this deadline. Also could have dealt Abreu to the Astros who instead went for Mancini.

I don’t think either of those trades would be white flagging (the Brewers got a major-league closer back in the trade and the Sox certainly have enough 1B/DH players).

On the other hand Jose Abreu is awesome and I hope he’s a player/manager for the Sox next season.

a-t

What? Trading Abreu would absolutely be white flagging. He’s currently their best hitter and is also the team’s clear leader. The clubhouse morale isn’t recovering from that.

Root Cause

There is NO way they were ever serious about Ohtani.
  
Solving 2 problems with Ohtani also creates a more significant issue when injured.

Either he gets inexplicably injured like everyone else on the team or they overprotect him to the point of underutilizing his abilities.

I think they were doing a drive-by on aisle 1 on the way to shop at the scratch and dent table.

Last edited 2 months ago by Root Cause
upnorthsox

Astros get Christian Vazquez C from Boston. That’s a nice pickup.

calcetinesblancos

Now we’re sending McGuire there to plug that hole it appears.

upnorthsox

Yep, Boston has also picked up Tommy Pham. Seems they are selling and buying.

jhomeslice

That’s not much of a plug. Vazquez is pretty good, McGuire is not. But then again our guys tend to hit better when they get on other teams. But still, Boston got worse at catcher undoubtedly. And compared to Maldanado who has a WAR below zero, Vazquez is a big upgrade. A throw in towel move by Boston really.

Astros did very well, giving up seemingly very little.

jhomeslice

Really nice pickup for them. Turns their biggest weakness into a plus, only for this year though. The Sox need to do that with a position or two this winter.

Astros and Yankees got two really solid players each (Benintendi last week for Yankees being their other).

calcetinesblancos

I’m just glad we had a seat at the Ohtani table.

metasox

But continuing to wind up at the kiddie table

Dingo_Sox

And there’s the lefty reliever

The Chicago White Sox are acquiring left-hander Jake Diekman from the Boston Red Sox, according to sources familiar with the situation.

— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) August 1, 2022

Last edited 2 months ago by Dingo_Sox
HallofFrank

That’s a nice swap. Diekman isn’t exactly a stud but adds some depth. Certainly beats DFAing McGuire in a few days

upnorthsox

I’m not unhappy with this trade.

Foulkelore

Yep, they were going to have a catcher roster crunch anyway, so good to get something of value. Unlike some of the other lefties on the market, you don’t want Diekman facing righties, so he’s more of a traditional lefty reliever. Hopefully, he’s used wisely.

PauliePaulie

7BB/9IP!?
With LaRussa’a BP management, that’s scary.

Foulkelore

“Only” 4.91 BB/9 (14%) vs. lefties.

a-t

All homers this year from righties. Definitely a lefty specialist, but given how heavily RHP the staff is, that’s useful.

metasox

Am guessing a chunk of his walks are pitching around righties to get to a lefty

soxygen

Should fit right in on the team that averages more pitches per batter faced than any other team in the AL.

a-t

Collins (totally useless) for McGuire (definitely useful for half a season of Grandal being hurt, now not useful) for Diekman (actually useful when deployed right) is a nice little chain of trades.

HallofFrank

I say keep it going and turn Collins into Juan Soto this offseason.

soxygen

Time for us to learn more about Carlos Perez and whether we would be comfortable with him catching major league games next year when the inevitable catching injury occurs.

metasox

Ciuffo is also there. And, for that matter, Read at Birmingham has a few major league games

itaita

Sorry but Leury is still on the team hes the 3rd catcher now.

upnorthsox

“Command has always been an issue for Diekman, who currently has a 4.23 ERA with a 29.8% strikeout rate but the worst walk rate of any qualified reliever in the Majors (17.5%).”

He should feel right at home on the southside where walk rate is a feature not a bug.

Augusto Barojas

He should fit perfectly with the Sox “results don’t matter” philosophy. Although the biggest plus is that they chose to keep Zavala over McGuire. I like Zavala’s development, personally. McGuire can’t hit enough to play for a team as desperate for offense as the Sox are.

a-t

More mild good news: it’s not Keller starting for KC, but the lefty Lynch called up from AAA.