White Sox problems unfold slowly, with even slower responses

When I first saw the video of Charlie demanding Tony La Russa to pinch-run Adam Engel for Eloy Jiménez as La Russa pondered the move at the top step of the dugout two weekends ago, my reaction was one of disbelief and dismay.

Not at the notion that a fan had to give him the idea to replace the defensive liability with a defensive asset late in the game. More that the wheels turned so slowly that the chorus could participate, complete with effective cinematography.

La Russa said he wouldn’t have been able to hear a single fan over all the other noise, and his delayed response was due to a conversation about the risk of losing Jiménez’s bat, which is probably true. It just wasn’t the first time that a decision unfurled gradually enough that a single fan had the time and pipes to turn subtext into a proclamation.

And Monday’s events showed that the ability to first-guess La Russa loudly in real time is still going strong.

Michael Kopech tweaked his right knee — or something in his knee area, we’ll get to that in a bit — during warm-up tosses prior to the first inning, and his discomfort was visible enough to require a visit from the trainer. He stiff-armed them and started the first inning, but when he short-armed his first pitch at 88 mph, it triggered immediate alarms.

The White Sox heeded the call 18 pitches later. Kopech threw just nine of them for strikes, failed to retire any of the four batters he faced, and left the bases loaded for Jimmy Lambert.

After the game, La Russa said the issue was hamstring-related, not his knee. Kopech said it was behind his left knee, but he can only describe it as discomfort.

That’s not the only time that La Russa presented the situation in a way that could be refuted by others who witnessed it.

“You could tell his velocity was down, so we got him out of there,” La Russa said.

Sure, after 18 more pitches and three more batters, all of whom came around to score for a 4-0 hole from which the White Sox had to spend the rest of the afternoon attempting to escape.

After the game, Daryl Van Schouwen relayed what appeared to be an unusually direct self-assessment from La Russa …

… but in his column this morning, Paul Sullivan presented it as an overreaction:

“It’s a frustrating loss,” La Russa told the reporter. “We were down 4-0. We came back to tie it. It’s the same club. We lost 6-4. You want to say we’re lousy? Say we’re lousy. We came back 4-0. The frustrating part, we had what? Ten or 11 hits?”

The reporter did not say the Sox were “lousy” or even suggest it. But La Russa tried to turn it into an us-against-them situation.

And yeah, I can see how it should be taken as inauthentic self-hate that’s more intended to generate sympathy or blunt incoming fire. If La Russa is pretending to loathe himself more than everybody watching his team does, he’s going to have to work a helluva lot harder than that.

Regardless of whether you doubt his sincerity — and remember that theme from his introduction — the question remains: “What is anybody actually going to do about it?”

Kopech got a chance to bury the Sox before his supervisors removed him. Luis Robert’s wrist is not injured enough for the injured list, but it’s rough enough to where he can’t start for a week. Eloy Jiménez takes one slightly awkward swing and leaves the game, but Leury García spends 20 swings looking like Kirk Gibson’s outtake reel before anybody intervenes. Yasmani Grandal’s latest knee injury — facilitated by Joe McEwing’s ninth questionable-or-worse send this year — interrupted his otherwise smooth progression through a nine-month rehab stint for a season that’s only six months long.

Above everything else, the White Sox have hit just one homer over the last seven games — which came with the Sox trailing 10-0 in a game they lost 21-5 — and Frank Menechino still has a job. I’ve seen too many hitting coaches come and go to have any real confidence about the influence Menechino actually has, but if there’s no real chance of him hanging around after the season, as well spend a few months troubleshooting by testing variables, even if they’re mostly hoping for the token jolt/well-timed positive regression.

Instead:

Whether we’re discussing big or small pictures, there’s no sense of urgency from White Sox leadership. Normally I avoid the phrase “sense of urgency” because it’s a palliative prescription at best, but I mean it more literally here: There’s no way to determine what kind of priority number the White Sox are placing on most problems that have arisen this season. The number for poison control only leads to an automated answering service. There’s a beep, but it didn’t actually say if you were supposed to leave a message, or if anybody is going to call you back.

White Sox fans are left to cling to anybody or anything that attempts to accurately represent and address the scope of the problem, which is why Johnny Cueto needed mere months to become universally revered. He just won Player of the Week, but he probably deserves something closer to canonization.

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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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OldMMJ87

It’s remarkable that in the span of less than a year I’ve gone from thinking “The White Sox could dominate the AL Central for a few years!” to “The highlight of the rebuild was game 3 of the ALDS.”

jorgefabregas

Here’s a fun fact: the 2021 White Sox had the highest postseason BABIP of any team in history.

jorgefabregas

More players at .500 BABIP or over than players at .300 BABIP or under: https://www.foxsports.com/mlb/chicago-white-sox-team-stats?category=battingratios&season=2021&seasonType=post

Shingos Cheeseburgers

To me the highlight of the rebuild was either Anderson’s walkoff in the FoD game, Lucas’s G1 start in the 2020 WCS, or clinching the ALC last year. All of those moments had a sense of ‘there could be more’ to them.

The Leury HR while triumphant still meant they were down 2-1 in a series to a far superior team.

Nellie Fox

larrussa is giving his hitting coach enough rope to hang himself, it is obvious that he has some rope left before the noose to tighten.

lifelongjd

LaRussa brags they got 10 or 11 hits with 8 of them being singles. This was a team that was 3rd in MLB in home runs 2 years ago.

I agree with assessing the true value of a hitting coach because eventually it’s on the players to perform. But this is a guy who has been vocal about his contact/opposite field approach and doesn’t seem to want to reconsider. His teams have never slugged (outside of ‘20) and it is just a huge waste of talent.

OldMMJ87

Last year’s team was 4th in OPS in the AL. I think the problem now is the opposite field approach doesn’t work so well when the ball is dying at the warning track. What I find baffling is how this team went from second to second to last in walks.

metasox

Some of last season was Grandal and even Leury contributing a chunk. Some of this season may be a team pressing and pitchers not having much fear

Eddie

St. Cueto, sounds lovely. Cueto has really been the only unexpected positive about this season. Every other unexpected thing has been overwhelmingly negative.

calcetinesblancos

“If La Russa is pretending to loathe himself more than everybody watching his team does, he’s going to have to work a helluva lot harder than that.”

What on earth gave you that idea? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

As Cirensica

This whole season, I have had conflicted sentiments. In one hand, I want us to win. On the other hand, I want us to miss the playoffs just because I hate TLR, and seeing him succeed is akin to seeing the Guardians or the Twins succeeding. How can a manager make me want to root for this team to lose? That much I dislike TLR and his disconnected coaches.

Data Analysts that affirm that a managers decisions matter little might want to deeply analyse the 2022 White Sox. I am sure they will find an outlier here. The asterisk of the “manager’s decisions don’t matter” mantra.

knoxfire30

Fans having to tell tony how to manage a routine base runner, offense for defense replacement late in the game is just incredible…as sad as that is for Tony, where the hell is Miguel Cairo in all this, wasnt he suppose to hold sleepy’s hand and be the guy in his ear to remind him of these exact type of things ????

As Cirensica

He is probably a ‘yes sir’ coach.

soxygen

My reaction when the Miguel Cairo hiring was announced was “we’re pairing a manager who hasn’t been in the dugout in several years with a bench coach who hasn’t been in a dugout in several years?…This could go quite poorly…”

It seemed to me at the time that if there was going to be any accountability we would have seen it right then…with the Sox telling Tony he had to hire someone who had recently been a major league coach.

dwjm3

Arte Moreno putting the Angels up for sale. He has struggled to put a winning team on the field, but at least has enough sense to move on. Jerry on the other hand is determined make us suffer through his brand of suck until he dies.

Last edited 1 month ago by dwjm3
asinwreck

Imagine how the rebuild would have gone had Jerry Reinsdorf died on July 3, 2017.

dwjm3

I suspect we would have ended up with one of Harper/Machado. I pray to God the next owner believes in high end talent.

Holland23

Don’t count on it. We can’t have nice things.

soxygen

When Bill Richardson was governor of New Mexico he used to say “thank goodness for Mississippi!” because no matter how poorly New Mexico ranked it was never worse than 49th.

I feel similarly about the Angels. As a fan of one of the teams that even serious baseball fans forget sometimes, it is nice to know that there is another team in an even larger metro area that is even more irrelevant.

Alfornia Jones

The TLR situation is a real personal tragedy. He’s roughly 80 years old, and he has no friends or family trusted enough to tell him the truth. Or worse, he doesn’t have anyone he trusts enough to listen/believe them when he does hear the truth.

The worst part for TLR is that nobody has any sympathy for him, and that he will come away from this bizarre two year period a complete failure and embarrassment. The same situation is playing out on the national political level, and they are both important lessons for people to age gracefully and pass the baton to the next generation. The fight to stay in control is a lose/lose on every level.

dwjm3

There is no personal tragedy here. It isn’t like Tony had a sterling reputation to begin with. He was a trainwreck in the Diamondbacks front office, and he has always been known as a prick. In a way this is a continuation of what he has been for a while. There are a lot of personal tragedies in this world, this is just a blind owner leading a blind buddy toward mediocrity. In the end the organization survives.

I will ignore your tortured politic analogy as I don’t believe politics belong on the board.

Last edited 1 month ago by dwjm3
patrick

I’m still confused why TLR even wanted this in the first place. None of that lifestyle can be easy. Heck I think I’d struggle to make it through a whole season intact and I’m in my mid/late 30s. He already has the accolades. And he could still make way too much money being a “consultant” for a bad front office.

Despite all of the excitement I don’t know that I ever really was in the “World Series Contenders” camp after watching the talent differential between the Sox and Houston. He had to have sensed it wasn’t going to be a cake walk too. I just don’t get what he’s getting out of this.

jorgefabregas

Needed something else to do when his animal foundation started falling apart.

HallofFrank

lol. I’m all for the TLR hate. But let’s not pretend like we know how much Tony’s friends and family trust him. I don’t blame Tony. If he’s up for it and enjoying himself, good for him.

It’s the Sox FO that should be ashamed for hiring him.

roke1960

End of quote. Repeat the line.

soxygen

It’s a farce, not a tragedy.

bdinello

The TLR situation is an obvious tragedy, but since he owns the largest contract in White Sox history, I believe Grandal is the greatest let down on this team. When “healthy” he’s an average-at-best backup catcher or a DH with 3 HRs making 18 million.

joe-u4351

Everyone seems to believe that Tony’s age is the main issue in his inability to make correct managerial decisions. The fact of the matter is that Tony was not a good manager 40 years ago and showed the exact same tendencies in 1982 that he is showing in 2022.

Jimmy Piersall had these same issues throughout the 80s that most in this forum are having today. Both Harry Caray and Jimmy Piersall would constantly critique Tony’s decisions throughout the game. This was one of the main reasons that Harry Carey and Jerry Reinsdorf never got along and was the main reason for Harry finally going over to the Cubs. Jimmy Piersall summed it up very clearly that Tony just does not know how to manage a baseball team. After Harry left for the Cubs, Jimmy was relegated to post game commentary of Sox games on Sports Vision. He was eventually removed from that capacity as well over his Tony criticisms.

When Hawk Harrelson become GM, (subject of its own), he finally had the balls to fire Tony again for much of the same reasoning thus putting into motion Jerry Reinsdorf writing the wrongs of the past by hiring Tony back in 2020.

It was believed that Tony became a better manager during his time in Oakland but maybe the talent was so good they were just able to rise above Tony’s inability. Same is true for the Cardinals as well.

calcetinesblancos

I hear this a lot from older people that watched his first reign of terror. The part I don’t understand with regard to Jerry and TLR is why Jerry thinks Tony is the victim; LaRussa managed the Sox from 1979 to 1986. Is that not being given a chance?

SocksO’Graham

I believe Piersall got into it with Tony and Jim Leyland in the parking lot after they approached Jimmy about his criticism. Tony still talks the tough talk these days and he still sucks too.

TommyAgeeFan

If I remember correctly, Tony, Jim Leyland, and Art Kushner were upset at Jimmy Piersall’s on-air comments. It was after a night game, and TLR & company “went looking” for Jimmy. Not sure what their plans were, but it gave Jimmy even more ammunition. Can’t make this stuff up.

joe-u4351

If I’m not mistaken, Jerry is Tony’s financial advisor dating back to the early 80s. I believe that’s how their friendship started.

charlie

Jimmy was the greatest!
Do you remember when Tony and Leyland confronted him in a hallway either before or after a game?

asinwreck

That was by far the most memorable part of the early days of SportsVision back in 1982.

I don’t think Harry Caray gave a damn about friction with the manager. Wouldn’t have been the first time for him. The lure of a cable superstation with all games on free TV in Chicago at a time that the Sox were moving to a pay-TV model made the move north a good business decision.

(The errors with TV in 1982 helped the Sox lose ground to the Cubs after a period of relatively equal popularity and franchise value, but I’ve gone on about that enough on this site.)

joe-u4351

Back then Eddie Einhorn was front and center as the ownership spokesperson for the White Sox. Jerry stayed pretty much in the background until the new Comiskey Park stadium deal went through in 1989.

Eddie’s vision was creating a pay TV sports network that would be White Sox orientated similar to what you see today with the Yankees, Cubs and Dodgers. Probably 40 years ahead of his time. It didn’t help that at the same time Channel 44 was dropping the Sox to go full pay “On TV” at that time. Channel 50 was then placed on the are as a pay over the air channel for “Sports Vision”. Sports Vision was the precursor to the cable provided for pay “Sports Channel” which has morphed into the “NBC Sports Chicago” of today.

Eddie burned bridges with both the fan base and the media and probably the local politicians with all the threats and momentum in the move to St Petersburg that Jerry had to step forward and place Eddie way in the background once the new Comiskey was built.

roke1960

Jimmy and Harry were a great team. If the game wasn’t going well, Jimmy would tell one of his stories and they wouldn’t even say a word about the game going on for whole innings at a time. That would come in handy for this team.

And if Jimmy was still there, he’d probably go down to the dugout during the game and punch out Tony for one of his idiotic moves.

Last edited 1 month ago by roke1960
SocksO’Graham

MLB Network production about Billy Martin includes comments from TLR. Martin is rolling over in his grave watching this team. And Tony claimed to be a big fan of his. Frigging joke. #firelarussa

Joliet Orange Sox

I agree TLR had a lot of the same issues the first time around as Sox manager and there were plenty of Sox fans who hated TLR back then (I was among them). One difference is that back then there was a vocal part of Sox fans and some voices in the media that loved TLR and thought his critics just weren’t smart enough to understand TLR’s genius. It was very common for his supporters to point out he had gone to law school as evidence that he was smarter than his critics (don’t ask me to defend this nonsense argument made by others). I think this time around there are few if any strong TLR supporters.

upnorthsox

Good thing he proved them wrong with the 2200+ wins, 6 pennants, and 3 WS Championships. Silly supporters, how gullible.

HallofFrank

Someone who would’ve helped the Sox offensive woes: Joey Gallo. He’s got a 1.038 OPS and 185 wRC+ in August with 3 HR. Maybe it’s just Dodger magic and it doesn’t click in Chicago. But I sure wish we could’ve found out.

SocksO’Graham

HOF, I agree as he is a plus defender in right

BenwithVen

Yeah, but the Dodgers have an actual coaching staff. If he came here, he would just get Menechino showing footage from 2019 and saying “do that” like he did with Yoan.

Foulkelore

I’m a little surpirsed the Sox recalled Banks, instead of Davis Martin. Maybe this is just for the next few days, so they have someone available immediately, and they will make another move before the rotation spot comes up?

Velasquez did a nice job in relief yesterday, but I’d rather see Martin take Kopech’s spot in the rotation. Lopez would be fine too, but he’s not stretched out.

metasox

I don’t follow the minors closely but I wonder how much Martin has in the tank. Two of his recent appearances lasted only 2+ innings, and he only tossed 88 inn last season.

jorgefabregas

Yes, they don’t need Martin until the weekend. In the meantime they can use a bullpen arm.

Adam

The most frustrating thing with Menechino keeping his job is it can’t possibly get worse. This team mightily struggles to score 3 runs in any game. It could get better. But I can guarantee there is no way it gets worse. Are they gonna struggle for 1 run? Do something for gods sake!

As Cirensica

So the White Sox coaches mismanagement has some weight in the landing on the IL of two key players: Grandal (Joe), and now Kopech (Tony). What more is needed to get these clowns fired?

calcetinesblancos

Maybe we can send Tony a bottle of wine…

abehickock

I’ve been a White Sox fan for many years and I love the great game of baseball. I enjoy reading the thoughts of other White Sox fans on this site, many of which are insightful, clever, and demonstrate their baseball knowledge. I, like everyone else here, is very disappointed with this year’s team. It may be just as simple as the players are not as good as we thought they would be, and yes, TLR has made more head scratching decisions than we’ve seen in a long time (Terry Bevington). I believe TLR made the wrong decision to come out of retirement, but I also believe that he did it as a favor to Jerry Reinsdorf. I’m a senior and would not want this type of responsibility and pressure to perform at the highest level of the profession. I hope he retires again soon for his own sake and enjoys the rest of his life. In my opinion, the demands of the job require a younger person. I say this without prejudice towards older or senior citizens!!! However, I think having SO MUCH HATE for a baseball manager is unhealthy.

Last edited 1 month ago by abehickock
As Cirensica

Wise words. +1

gibby32

Oh, maybe. On the other hand, consider where that hate may have gone absent Tony LaRussa. That may be his singular contribution this year.