Podcast: Great start to 2018

Guest: Scott Merkin, MLB.com

On this week’s show, we are joined by Chicago White Sox beat reporter, Scott Merkin. He shares his insight on Lucas Giolito’s first start, the hitting adjustments Matt Davidson made in the offseason, and why he thinks the White Sox could surprise the baseball world and become contenders.

We also discuss Welington Castillo’s first two games behind the plate and ponder how Rick Renteria will use Nate Jones and Joakim Soria in late-inning situations.

Plus, your P.O. Sox questions:

Louis Levin on Patreon:

The Tigers rainouts, the Royals snow-outs, the Reds weather hell… how do we fix the MLB schedule with regard to March/April? Domed stadiums? Shorter season? Balaclavas?

Trooper from Patreon:

The Royals didn’t have assets to trade like the White Sox did to speed up their rebuild, but they are loaded for bear for the 2018 draft and still have Moustakas as a trade chit. Are they at all poised to challenge the White Sox when Hahn gets the team into their planned championship window?

Patreon-only subscribers question from T.J. Harbor:

Most of our top prospects came by way of trade, not up through the CWS org. Has anything changed to make sure FA and draft picks are better so we don’t have to rebuild again in 2022? I guess I am questioning whether this rebuild is a reset of the organization or if this going to become the new norm?

This episode is presented by SeatGeek and Draft.

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Josh Nelson

Josh Nelson is the host and producer of the Sox Machine Podcast. For show suggestions, guest appearances, and sponsorship opportunities, you can reach him via email at josh@soxmachine.com.

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To Louis Levin’s question, I would say start the season later and end it sooner by scheduling single-admission doubleheaders back into the regular season schedule. We don’t have to go back to the days when teams played 20 or 30 in a year, but maybe one or two a month. MLB used to start around April 7 and end the World Series in the third week of October and play 162 games.

The other option is to just keep burning fossil fuels at an unprecedented rate and global warming will solve the problem (while creating others, of course).


Why not do both?

Eagle Bones

This is probably unrealistic what with everyone’s fixation on single season records, but I’d probably prefer they just shorten the regular season slightly.


Bill Melton remembers opening up the season for 10-day stretches in the warm weather and he didn’t mind. Of course back then, in the days of the AL West, the Sox division foes included Oakland, California, Texas and KC to a lesser extent. 

I heard/read somewhere one reason they changed this schedule is because warm-weather teams are balking at having so many games in April/September. The reason?  Kids/families are more likely to come in summer months. No school. Kids can even come to night games and sleep late the next day. You have lousy weather in your town? Too bad, build a dome. 

I agree. 



Patrick Nolan

Hard “no” to Trooper’s question. The Royals are fucked.

Eagle Bones

Yeah, even if they have a great draft, those guys are still a couple years away. And they’re at least a year behind the Sox in terms of tearing it down. Even if things go well for them, they’re on a much different timeline than the Sox.

Patrick Nolan

I disagree. The Royals might have the worst farm system in baseball. The Tigers at least have a couple decent young pieces and some guys waiting in the wings.


Agreed. I think people have been massively over-valuing draft picks outside of the top 10.

The Royals have picks #18, #33, #34 and #40. The expected value of a pick after #30 is less than 2 WAR over the first six years of control.

I know that this year is supposed to be a deep draft and it’s obviously useful to have more picks but it’s hard to imagine this draft transforming an abysmal farm into something to fear in a few years.

Half a year of Moose won’t be worth much as a trade chip – see the JD Martinez trade last year.


It’s probably about the pool $ more than the picks. The Royals have the largest bonus pool this year because of all those picks. https://www.mlb.com/news/2018-mlb-draft-bonus-pools-pick-values/c-269930084


That’s a actually a really good point.

Patrick Nolan

I don’t think this makes that much of a difference. They still have to allocate that money over more players. It does give them extra flexibility to skim off of one or two guys to pay someone a well-above-slot bonus, but by the time they actually are able to select someone, pretty much all the “elite” guys are already taken. They won’t be able to get like the 3rd-best player in the draft at #18 just because they have the biggest pool.

Trooper Galactus

White Sox looking good at sixth overall. Now if they can just avoid drafting a bunch of plodding first baseman types in the first round.

lil jimmy

or the second round. or the third round…. etc, etc, etc…

Patrick Nolan

RE: Josh

It does? Why?

Patrick Nolan

I agree with those strategic changes but I am not convinced that this causes a dramatic shift in the WAR/draft pick curve. The curve is already pretty leveled out once you get to picks 10-15 or so. There’s not a dramatic value difference between the 20th pick and the 40th pick. Unless we’re talking about Top-10 talents shifting to the second round due to the creative use of bonus money, I don’t think it changes the calculus much.


Yeah, I went through the mlb first-round draft picks on wiki during the last twenty years – yeah, I’m lame I did – and getting an all-star player after pick 18 in the first round is some lousy odds,  around 10 percent (for years 2000-2010, unfair to judge the too recent future, I’d say).   

Prediction for Royals 4 “big” top draft picks this year: One will get injured or just wash out, one gets a cup coffee nothing special, one maybe an okay player for six-seven years, and one MAYBE an all-star for a year or two. 

Or maybe a Mike Trout or Aaron Judge are available – oh wait, they took a pass on those two guys

Trooper Galactus

I agree that the Royals are likely screwed for some time to come, but I’m not overly familiar with their farm system and volume in the draft certainly helps, never mind they’ll probably add a top three pick in 2019. That said, the top-100 board is littered with really good prospects who were chosen in the 18-40 range, so there’s good value to be had in the first round, particularly if you have the kind of draft pool money the Royals will. Also, I wasn’t sure what kind of draft strategy they might go with, as they could go with collegiate players with a shorter developmental curve. That might result, as discussed, in a lower ceiling, but generally a higher floor.

lil jimmy

but with the passing of Mike Ilitch, where will they find the will?

karkovice squad

They’ll hire Leo DiCaprio to sneak into Christopher’s dreams to plant a simple idea…


Another great podcast. I’ve really come to look forward to Monday mornings. Which is weird.