Andrew Vaughn’s workload is increasing, and his production is holding

Monday was the first time all month that Andrew Vaughn didn’t appear in a game.

Everybody else had the day off as well, so that’s understandable.

Vaughn steamed into the off day by making nine consecutive starts. That doesn’t sound impressive, and even by Vaughn’s standards, it’s something he’s done before. He appeared on 19 consecutive lineup cards in June, including 12 without an off day.

The difference is that Vaughn started 11 of those 19 games at DH, which Tony La Russa has used to spare Vaughn’s legs. He also looked ragged at the end of that stretch. He finished the month 1-for-18 with six strikeouts, which is why he got a day off at the end of the month.

But since Eloy Jiménez returned to the lineup, Vaughn’s defensive responsibilities have increased. Jiménez is operating under his own limitations to manage his surgically repaired hamstring. He’s topped out at three consecutive starts in left field, and that’s only happened once. Generally speaking, he takes two starts in the field, then one at DH.

As long as the White Sox are governing the amount of unexpected sprinting Jiménez has to do, Vaughn’s reps at DH are limited. And as long as the White Sox are fighting for their postseason lives, Vaughn will have to wear a glove or mitt more than anybody would prefer to see, provided he’s producing at the plate.

And producing he is. Vaughn’s hitting .364/.432/.576 with a homer, triple and two doubles over this stretch of nine uninterrupted games. The White Sox and Vaughn have conditioned me to expect a slowdown whenever he doesn’t get off his feet, so my internal alarm rose when he went 0-for-6 with three strikeouts across Friday and Saturday, but he bounced back on Sunday by going 3-for-5 with a 421-foot homer to the deep left center alley at Globe Life Field.

To the extent that I’m a Vaughn skeptic, it mostly stems from the lack of training the White Sox afforded him. Instead of letting him achieve adequacy at one position, they keep throwing new defensive responsibilities at him. He also didn’t even get the benefit of surviving a five-month grind in the minors before the Sox demanded six from him. Their attempts to manage the workload surge on the fly comes off as treating a 24-year-old like he’s 42, and it’s hard to trust the White Sox training staff given all the problems elsewhere (more on that in a bit).

I want to believe in Vaughn at a personal level, but I also don’t want everybody believing in Vaughn to the extent that he’s expected to replace José Abreu’s production without skipping a beat. It feels like the White Sox have been managing Vaughn on a buy-now-pay-later plan, and all it takes is one misstep for usurious interest rates to kick in. At some point it’d be cool to let Vaughn prove something fully, and without major consequences hinging on the results. Nine consecutive starts in the field without a drop-off in production counts as progress here.


Regarding the management of conditions, that seems to be James Fegan’s beat nowadays. On Sunday, he wrote about Lucas Giolito and Michael Kopech soldiering through the season without their best stuff. On Monday, he covered Tim Anderson’s sagging production since his groin injury.

Giolito’s stuff hasn’t been the same since his bout of COVID in May, which may or may not be the underlying reason for his struggles over the last two-plus months. Ethan Katz’s response is “Who knows?” and Giolito’s is “Who cares?” Until the season is over, the priority is making sure that Giolito doesn’t become physically compromised in attempts to regain his power, whether between starts or during them.

Kopech’s stuff hasn’t been the same since his knee popped in his first start against the Rangers back in June. Katz says that Kopech is trusting his leg enough to regain the velocity and fastball movement, but the effectiveness of his slider has been more difficult to maintain in longer exposures.

All that checks out, but when it comes to the rhetoric around Anderson, I’m more skeptical. Fegan provides evidence that Anderson’s balance is off, and while he provides a Joe McEwing quote from last month acknowledging the groin injury sapping Anderson’s power, Frank Menechino describes his current struggles more as a mental battle.

This weekend, Menechino described Anderson as working his way through the frustration stage of his slump, trying to fix things by pressing more and swinging harder before he can slow down and start thinking about balance and approach again.

“That’s what sucks about baseball: until you get over being pissed, you get pissed, you get angry and you get frustrated, you stay in this longer,” Menechino said. “So now I’ve got to wait for him to calm down. And a lot of these guys they want to figure it out for themselves, because when they do, they don’t forget.”

Anderson is hitting .249/.287/.290 since returning from the injured list, including an 0-for-13, six-strikeout performance over three games in Texas before he started serving his two-game suspension. On top of whatever is lingering from his leg injury, he seemed to aggravate his hand during his penultimate swing of the weekend, and he spent the time during the challenge period examining it.

The White Sox added Lenyn Sosa to the roster to replace Anderson during his suspension. If Leury García weren’t the only natural shortstop on the roster, the recalling of Sosa would strike me as a waste. As it stands, the Sox have no other healthy shortstop support on the 40-man roster, and I support anything that encourages La Russa to pinch-hit for García when the games matter this much.

However, if Anderson’s fighting a two-front war with regards to his health, Sosa’s presence may be a lot more necessary. Thanks to today’s doubleheader, we’ll be able to find out a day earlier what kind of condition Anderson is in. He’ll serve the back half of his suspension for Game 1, but he’s eligible to return for the back half of the doubleheader.

Take a second to support Sox Machine on Patreon
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.

Articles: 3724
50 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
upnorthsox

If he went home to serve his suspension will he be back in time for game 2?

Alfornia Jones

Abreu can’t be replaced 100%, but Vaughn is close enough. We know the payroll is at chairman’s pain threshold, so that $18 mil needs to go to RF. They can’t start another season without a real corner outfielder(s). Also, Better to move on a year early because the April/May Jose is what the end will look like.

In TA you see a player who’s value is all in his Babip and contact skills. A lead off hitter that won’t accept BB’s falls off a cliff when there is no contact or weak contact. If Frank could talk to him, he could explain how easy it would be for him to pencil in 100 BB and 100 runs per years. That profile gets paid and ages really well. I would test his market, he’s marketable on his current deal.

The Sox need to shed as much payroll as possible to make a real effort at Judge. Give him a blank check, he is what they are missing. He might even be a real leader; Abreu and TA are definitely not leaders.

lifelongjd

If you think the FO will just take the $18m coming off the books and reallocate it to RF you must either be nuts or a new fan of this team.

soxygen

That probably is what they SHOULD do, but yeah, they won’t.

I keep wondering about the off-season plan project – Will it be more fun to try to optimize the roster within the budget? Or just to try to predict what White Sox things the White Sox FO will do?

FWIW, I’d spitball that we have something like $40-$45 million coming off the books (including Keuchel) and then $15-$20 million in arb raises, so roughly $25 million to spend if the team is going to match this year’s budget.. and we’ll have Cueto’s rotation spot to backfill before getting to RF. (Happy to be enlightened if any Sox Machinist has already done the legwork, but I think those payroll numbers are in the ballpark).

As Cirensica

Good article. I agree that Tim looks like mad at something lately. He looks like angry and ready to snap at someone.

Too bad TLR penned Leury at SS for the 1st game of the DH today. Wanted to see Lenyn.

BenwithVen

The White Sox IG showed pics of the players boarding the plane to Dallas last week, and TA and Gio were both shown hoods up scowling at the ground while walking to the plane. It stuck with me me because I don’t think I’ve ever seen either of them like that before on social media.

Right Size Wrong Shape

Was it like a team picture, or just some guys getting on a plane? Because if it’s the latter, give me a break.

BenwithVen

Do you need a Kit-Kat?

knoxfire30

Vaughn and Eloy can exist with the DH and one of them managing to try and play outfield, the real problem comes with bad lineup construction that puts grandal at DH forcing both those guys into the outfield. Really never should happen both because grandal hasnt hit a lick to deserve any DH at bats and 2nd because those two playing the outfield corners is a nightmare.

Radio was speculating about sox injury announcement and some people were further speculating it was TA7’s hand…. no idea if thats just internet and radio rumors flying or if it has teeth but worth keeping an eye on.

soxfan

Yep – to expand on this:

1B/LF/DH can be split between Abreu, Jimenez, Vaughn, and Sheets something like 90/80/80/50.

CF/RF can be split between Robert, Pollock, and Engel something like 80/80/40.

2B/SS/3B can be split between Harrison, Anderson, Moncada, and Garcia 80/90/90/40.

And catcher can be basically 50/50.

Of course that assumes everyone’s healthy and La Russa emphasizes defense as much as he does handedness.

soxygen

That sounds like this year. What’s the theory for how that same split next year leads to better results?

Health and better managing?

Last edited 1 month ago by soxygen
soxfan

Because it’s not the split this year.

Jimenez has played a lot fewer than 80% of the games forcing Vaughn and Sheets to play more OF (and therefore more OF together). So while Vaughn’s playing 80% of the games, he should be playing more DH and 1B and less LF and no RF.

Robert and Moncada have both also missed time, but instead of getting more Engel in CF or Harrison at 3B we’re getting too much Pollock in CF (with Vaughn or Sheets in the corners) and Burger or Garcia at 3B.

That lineup/playing time allocation is about what I’d project through the end of the year (although Grandal will get more DH ABs than I’d like and folks are still at risk of injury) and I think we’ll see that it’s going to result in a strong(er) finish (although it’s all relative).

upnorthsox

If it’s not for this year then I completely disagree with it. 🙂

soxygen

Sounds like the solution is to go into settings and turn off injuries and turn on the AI manager!

ndsoxfan

This makes sense – I just don’t understand why the hell we have to watch Vaughn and Sheets in RF? What’s the point. Pollock and Engel should be locked in out there. Leury if absolutely necessary.

Greg Nix

At this point, I have to disagree. Obviously for this season they’ll have to make do with one of them in the outfield. But Vaughn and Eloy are both bad enough defensively and injury-prone enough to basically negate their offensive talents. The fact that they’re both right-handed (as is Abreu, who I think the Sox will keep) doesn’t help. The team just doesn’t have enough talent to stack so much of it in such a redundant way.

If they really want to improve, I think they’ll have to move one of them this offseason. Abstractly, something like Vaughn for Chisholm would really really help optimize the talent distribution on the ML roster.

Last edited 1 month ago by Greg Nix
upnorthsox

I’d rather do a Giolito+ for Tommy Edmans+, I’m not sold on Chisholm and I don’t think he’d be on the market anyhow.

soxygen

Given our pipeline of second basemen in the advanced minors and the $4 million decision on Harrison’s option ($5.5m versus $1.5m buyout), I’d probably opt for picking up the option. If we’re going to trade then let’s get a left handed right fielder or a starting pitcher!

upnorthsox

We don’t know if our pipeline is any such thing and banking on a 35 yr old Harrison I don’t see with Garcia still on the payroll.
Edman is a switch hitting GG caliber 2B but can also play multiple positions including RF.
SP is the easiest position to fill with FAs this winter as there are many/varied on the market.
This injury to TA in a way is helpful at least for next yr as we’ll get to see extended action from Sosa et al to assess.
I do think we’ll need to trade for a RFer though, but I’m not looking to trade Vaughn to do it. Either Eloy or a handful of whatever we have is what I’d be looking at.

soxygen

I think the holes are obvious, and 2B is one of them so I am absolutely not disagreeing with you there, nor do I have unreasonably high expectations for full season 2023 2B production from Harrison, Romy, Mendick, Sanchez, Sosa, etc.

Just simply saying that if I were making one single trade next year, I’d prioritize RF and SP above 2B because we might be able to get by on the cheap at 2B for a while. Just a matter of personal preference largely based on the absence of high minors options at the other two positions (especially SP).

Edman is awesome. Not sure how much the Cards would be interested in Vaughn given Goldschmidt and Yepez, but that’s always the thing about coming up with hypothetical trades with teams that we don’t follow obsessively, so the same could be said for Chisholm (I haven’t seen him as much as Edman, but the Jazz Chisholm Experience sounds fun!).

Last edited 1 month ago by soxygen
Malkatraz

Why in the world would St. Louis trade one of the most productive players in the majors for Lucas Giolito? And that doesn’t even include the fact Edman is controlled for 3+ more years and Giolito is expensive and only has 1+ year left.

upnorthsox

They have a glut of MI and need pitching. The Giolito+ would be more than Edman+ so there’d be that.
Yeah a bit wishful thinking but until I get a definite no….
…..you could also replace Giolito with Eloy. I’d still do that and I think the Cards might too.

soxygen

I think the Cards would be interested in Giolito…but then we’d have two rotation spots to fill next year and then I’d definitely rather target starting pitchers because there is no way we get enough production from a cheap FA and Davis Martin/Jimmy Lambert to replace Giolito and Cueto. I know we have gotten lucky two years in a row, but I don’t think we should plan on a Cueto/Rodon bargain as the solution every year.

upnorthsox

That would be my idea, sign a #3(Manea or Bassist?) and trade for a #5

soxygen

Someone in the Manea/Bassit tier would be good, however acquired.

I tend to be skeptical that the Sox will ever commit enough dollars/years to get something like that done via free agency, but I guess there is always the Dallas Keuchel contract and alleged Zach Wheeler offer as evidence that I could be wrong…

Last edited 1 month ago by soxygen
upnorthsox

I think 3/$60 or 4/$80 would put us in the running for several pitchers like Bassist, Manea, Syndergard, Clevinger, and Walker and still not scare JR off.

For a FA #5 I could even see bringing back Q or we can’t rule out Cueto coming back either.

upnorthsox

If they don’t want to do Edman I’d also be willing to take Nolan Gorman instead. 🙂

a-t

because they need pitching, particularly frontend, and the light bat (97 wRC+ this year) and great defense/baserunning archetype is one that teams clearly don’t value as much as public measures do. those type of guys can fall back to earth very quickly

soxygen

Ok, Jim. Now I’m ready for the good news…

asinwreck

Sosa might play in a couple of games over that span.

soxygen

Yeah, probably time to start taking pleasure in the little things!

Right Size Wrong Shape

Ugh.

Does that mean that he has to serve the suspension when he returns?

Last edited 1 month ago by Right Size Wrong Shape
a-t

He served game 1 yesterday. If they put him on the injured list tomorrow and don’t make retroactive, and there’s not really any need to since he’s obv not returning soon enough for that to matter, he’ll have served it.

Right Size Wrong Shape

Wouldn’t the league say that he hurt his hand Saturday and couldn’t have played Sunday anyway? I think he should have to serve both games after he returns and plays in a game.

a-t

I doubt it, they’re not gonna be sticklers like that. It wasn’t known Saturday/Sunday that he was injured, not just hurt. Anyways there’s not really much point considering that at the end of his injured stint the Sox could simply activate him a little early and have him “serve” the suspension while taking BP and such with the team. Not really any point in trying to be strict there.

Last edited 1 month ago by a-t
Right Size Wrong Shape

I hope you’re right, but I totally disagree. If a player is suspended, he should have to serve the suspension at a time when he would have actually been playing.

NDSox12

Considering the Sox already played one man short on Sunday and presumably will in Game 1 today as well, gotta think they already ran this by the league.

Right Size Wrong Shape

Good point.

soxfan

No one serves their suspension (at least not their full suspension) at a time when he would have actually been playing. Everyone appeals until a convenient time, then drops the appeal or wins the appeal or whatever until there’s a convenient window in which to serve the suspension. Even if Anderson had just been hurt rather than injured, he wasn’t goin to miss additional days because of the suspension – he was going to serve it in such a way to stack up some rest then split the DH so he wasn’t playing twice in one day. Folks have to get suspended sometimes, but it’s not like the league is overly zealous about enforcing the hows and whens.

Malkatraz

yeah, it’s always seemed to be more about punishing the team and leaving them a man short…

Greg Nix

Oof

asinwreck

Five years ago, Travis Sawchik asked Herm Schneider how his staff kept the White Sox so healthy relative to the rest of the league. Schneider’s response:

“We just stay on top of things and don’t let things get away from us,” Schneider says. “We try to head things off at the pass before they become unmanageable. I keep using the word ‘unmanageable,’ but that’s what it is… Everything is manageable as long as we get it before it becomes unmanageable.” [….]

Schneider and his staff are vigilant in making sure players complete their individualized maintenance programs. Schneider doesn’t require or ask players to fill out surveys, like some clubs do, to get a gauge on how players assess their health and readiness. What Schneider does do is stay in constant dialogue with players about how they’re feeling, making sure they complete their maintenance programs.

Perhaps Kruk and Simmons continue to practice a version of this method, with diminishing returns. The vague discussion of player health the past couple of years seems more like an NHL team’s discussion of “upper body injuries” (for anything from a broken hand to a concussion) than what I recall out of the Sox or other baseball teams. The extent to which the opaque communication on player health is on La Russa, or Kruk, or Hahn, or the players is unclear, but it sure seems to have gotten worse since La Russa became manager.

a-t

So the Sox’ division hopes now rest on Leury Garcia

Right Size Wrong Shape

Let’s hope we get 2021 September Leury.

jorgefabregas

Does any of the Anderson reporting specify which hand? It seems like on a check swing it could be either.

jorgefabregas

It’s his left hand.

a-t

That’s a (small) amount of good news… not going to affect throwing or power at the plate when he comes back.

Right Size Wrong Shape

The left hand is the most important one in a right handed swing.

For instance, Beckham’s broken hamate bone was in his left hand.