Following up: The Rebuild is more than two months old

Tuesday night shows that it's been a long time since White Sox decision-making stopped mattering

Don Cooper has said on more than one occasion that the rebuild is only two months old. While it’s somewhat a matter of self-interest — the younger the rebuild is, the less anybody can say progress has stalled — it also probably didn’t feel like a rebuild to him when he had Jose Quintana, a healthy Carlos Rodon and a loaded bullpen.

Or maybe it’s taking the construction metaphor too literally, not thinking anybody would start rebuilding before the teardown had been completed.

Whatever the case, the Rebuild, proper noun, started when the White Sox ceased going for it and traded their best players with the aim of building rosters years away, and subsequent positive developments for the incumbent roster only resulted in more trades. We’re in the eighth baseball month of most on-field decisions not mattering in the big picture.

That part continues apace. When listing the White Sox’ possible outfield combinations with Avisail Garcia and Yoan Moncada out, I listed the Nicky Delmonico-Trayce Thompson-Daniel Palka alignment as the one I’d least like to see, at least in a way that wins games.

Renteria then started that one on Tuesday. It didn’t go that well, but at least it’d give us the opportunity to learn how well Thompson plays center. I filed this play away.

In other years, I’d complain about Renteria giving the ball to Chris Volstad instead of Hector Santiago in long-relief situations that could decide the ballgame, which is also something he did on Tuesday night. I’d rather see Santiago in that position, especially since Renteria said before the season that Santiago was useful because he could counter lineup that are stacked to face the White Sox’ all-righty rotation.

But the conversation about the outfield turned to the idea that it didn’t really matter, and the same can be said for long-relief situations, which are typically not so frequent a consideration for teams that are good enough to contend.

We’re basically in the long-relief portion of a blowout that takes 186 days instead of nine innings. A 9-24 start is like Lucas Giolito or Carson Fulmer getting shelled in the second, and there’s still a lot of ground to cover before the damage stops. It’s a metaphor with flaws, and Michael Kopech or Eloy Jimenez can blow it up if they’re able to provide more than the short-term amusement of a position player pitching.

Then again, metaphors are usually not supposed to cover every technicality. That’s what leads people to say the rebuild is only two months old when it’s easily been a few folds longer.

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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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Greg Nix

I wonder if Coop tells himself it’s only been two months to keep himself going. As difficult as this pitching staff is to watch for us, it can’t be any easier when you’re job is to (impossibly) make them good. 

Lurker Laura

I understand Coop’s perspective in that he’s only been working with Giolito/Lopez in major league game situations for a bit more than two months. For him, that may feel like a short amount of time.

For fans, it feels like an eternity.

The pitching has me depressed. Yes, hitting is 3rd worst in the league, but that covers all that terrible early season non-hitting, and they’ve improved a bit since then. So there are some encouraging signs there. The defense is also 3rd worst, but some of the players committing those errors aren’t going to be around past this year. I don’t like the defense, but I’ll deal.

But the pitching. Oy, the pitching. Perhaps this stings most because for the last 15 years, even when the Sox were terrible, we had some good pitching. But right now, James Shields is our best pitcher, or at least our most consistent. That’s not pleasant, or a good sign.

Ted Mulvey

I’m in agreement with you, LL. One thing I am trying to keep in mind, though, is the ol’ mantra that player development isn’t linear.

Yes, Giolito, Lopez, and Fulmer have all been not what we were hoping. At the same time, they’ve shown flashes of potential/had good starts. This whole season is about developing and (at least in the case of Fulmer and Lopez) proving they can stick as starters. I’m really trying not to hit the panic button until each of them have had at least a half-season’s worth of results. Maybe even a full season.

Gutteridge70

True especially with young pitchers. Emotionally as we all know it is sometimes unbearable to watch them in the process.

zerobs

When Rodon returns one of these guys is going to the bullpen or to Charlotte. It’s possible MiGo gets released, but I think the front office wouldn’t have wanted to start the season with Giolito, Lopez, and Fullmer all in the rotation if health weren’t an issue.

Patrick Nolan

They’ve gotta make room for Kopech too, so even if they say good-bye to MiGo, somebody’s gotta go.

Greg Nix

The upside is that pitchers can be one adjustment away from flipping the switch more often than hitters. Pitching was the weakness of the ‘07 team but the strength of the ‘08 team because Floyd and Danks took massive steps forward. 

Lurker Laura

That makes me feel better, thanks!

Steinscribe

Maybe I’m not watching the same Lopez as everyone else, because I would not group him with Gio and Fulmer. I have seen far more promise in Lopez to end up as a mid rotation starter, and very little to nothing out of the other two.

Patrick Nolan

I have seen basically nothing encouraging out of Lopez, other than the ability to allow deep fly balls that somehow rarely wind up as homers or have line drives find fielders’ gloves. Lopez has sucked.

As Cirensica

Baseball prospectus agrees. -1.1 WARP. yikes
Giolito is -2 yikes again.

Somebody needs to be fired soon. Hahn’s seat at least should be starting to feel some heat

sgp2204

Hahn should easily have another year before anyone even mentions his seat getting hot. He absolutely should be allowed to see how this plays out. His minor league acquisitions are absolutely killing it right now, and the 2 biggest pieces should be up in the near future, with a handful of other guys that shouldn’t be too far behind. If Moncada, Eloy, and Kopech turn into anything close to what they’re expected to be, the Sox will be off to a fantastic start.

CanOCorn

I totally agree…Lopez has been consistent with his ‘mediocre’ stuff while the undeservedly hyped first round picks Fulmer and Giolito are the epitomes of baseball’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde…Consistency is one of the most important attributes of Major Leagues’ most valuable players…I dunno about teaching one being consistent..You either have it or not…It might be a little early, however, the future looks pretty gloomy from where I am standing…My $0.02…

zerobs

The third worst defense doesn’t do the young pitching any favors. That’s why Jim is 100% correct about the outfield combo that started last night being a bad idea, especially with a rookie on the mound. Engel or Leury would have caught the ball Moran hit, saving 5 pitches and at least one run. If Thompson were hitting you could live with it but he’s actually worth less than Engel overall at this point.

Greg Nix

Yeah, Gio got BABIP’d to death early on. Several hits with a less than 50% probability, plus he missed out on 3(?) double plays by a hair. Not to say he pitched well, but with better defense he might have gone 6 and only given up 2 or 3 runs.

VAChisox

That outfield may be defensively challenged, but those relay drops/throws or whatever they were.

I’m driving down to Salem, VA, tonight to catch the Dash and hoping to see the future and perhaps grasp a glimmer of hope.

MadManx

At the major league level beyond 2019, the Sox have a starting second basemen, a starting shortstop, Nate Jones, and a few fringe starters/bench players (Yolmer, Delmonico, and Leury). I think Lopez can stick in a bullpen at the very least. Maybe Gio can recover to a 4/5 starter type. Rodon… well not sure… So you can squeeze maybe 10 WAR out of this lineup, if properly placed with Moncada making up a huge portion of that maybe closer to 13 if Rodon comes back.
So you are really going to need assemble almost an entire above average rotation from the minors (depending on Rodon) which has Hansen, Cease, Kopech and Dunning. That’s not impossible, but much harder than if Lopez or Gio could have given you something.

Ideally, you’d get a whole outfield as well between Jimenez, Robert, Basabe, Rutherford, and Aldolfo. It will need to be substantially above average as well.

Sox look like they will not be bullet proof from FA, which is unfortunate. They will actually need to make good signings at probably first, DH, third, catcher and in the bullpen. That is a tall task for this front office. It also seems like they will have less depth to add on the trade front.

Lurker Laura

I think Abreu is here in 2020. Yes, he’s 31, but with less wear-and-tear than a player his age who grew up in the U.S. system and all of the minor league playing time that entails.

Josh Nelson

We’ll see what Abreu wants after the 2019 season. If he would like to play for a contender, I now could see a change of scenery.

Lurker Laura

Sure. Or how much money he wants. But skills-wise, I think he’ll still be viable.

PauliePaulie

As one of the few short-termers who could bring back some talent, I prefer they trade him rather than hope he ages well and doesn’t demand crazy $.

Lurker Laura

They won’t get much, if anything, if the first basemen market stays similar to this past offseason.

PauliePaulie

That is true. And unfortunate.

ForsterFTOG

So, Lopez and Gio are both lost causes as starters already?

Right Size Wrong Shape

Just heard on the radio, Rich Hahn announced that Jake Burger re-tore his achilles.

Josh Nelson

Yup.

Lurker Laura

Poor Jake. It’s easy as fans to be bummed or angry, or go all “Nick Hostetler picked the wrong guy.” But it’s a young person’s career at stake.

gusguyman

One of the biggest challenges of coming back from an injury like this is the mental side of learning to trust your body again. How do you do that after a random set-back in your own home? Tough luck.

Greg Nix

Damn. That sucks. Might make Bohm a more reasonable pick. 

sgp2204

Bohm was already a reasonable pick. 

Gutteridge70

Terrible news for Jake & the Sox

Marty34

Wonder if this impacts the draft even in the smallest way. Collins to 1B, drafting Bart more palitable? I never thought Burger would stick at 3B.

asinwreck

The stuff about young players struggling in the majors? That doesn’t depress me. Serious injuries to young players preventing them from taking the field and developing. That depresses me.

Steinscribe

When it comes to managerial decisions like bringing in Volstad over Santiago, I don’t chalk that up to inevitable rebuilding follies. Bad managing and decision making applies no matter the record. I have been very unimpressed with Renteria this year, which sucks, because he seems to be great with the players.

Patrick Nolan

I assumed Volstad came in because Santiago is currently a member of the starting rotation.

Joist

Then why did Santiago pitch the 9th?

Patrick Nolan

They eventually played a 9th inning?

Huh.

Joist

Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t watching at that point either.

CanOCorn

Talking about alter-egos…It sure looks like Epstein had not lost one minute of his nightly sleep over letting Ricky go in such unceremonious manner…Curious roster decisions, excessive bunting, ever-changing lineups and extreme, often backfiring ‘shifting’ are definitely not signs of competent field management…While still on this subject, management likeability is not a recipe for success, at least where I am coming from…Respect would be the sought attribute…

PauliePaulie

Excellent description of Joe Maddon’s managerial abilities, COC.

Lurker Laura

Indeed. Maddon’s own curious pitching decisions almost cost them the WS. Maddon did a great job of keeping that team, which had immense pressure on it, relaxed and mentally ready to play. That can’t be discounted. But his in-game decision making is often baffling.

CanOCorn

However, they went to the WS (and won it)…It must’ve been some Maddon contribution there…An excellent roster with poor field management never went to the WS…A mediocre/good one with excellent management not so…Remember ’05?

PauliePaulie

Please allow me to introduce you to Ned Yost.

CanOCorn

So, despite JM and NY the Cubbies and Royals went to and won the WS?!…I see…At this point one would wonder why professional organizations would shell millions for an apparent place-holder position?…I have a hunch why…

gusguyman

Well its hard to argue with that logic. Not because its right though. It is literally hard to argue against circular arguments.

As Cirensica

I need to find a way to rec this more

The problem is not Renteria. It’s the product on the field

CanOCorn

LOL…None taken…However, this world is results-oriented last time I’ve checked…Doing something just to do something is amateurish at best…Maddon generated immediate results…I am still hung up on Francona being available when Guillen was let go and they went with RV…RV?!!?…Wasted years of basement baseball…Same guys are in charge save the titles…Does it really take ten years for one to be proved incompetent?!

Lurker Laura

Maddon generated immediate results because he had an immensely talented roster.

The Robin-over-Francona decision, can’t argue with you there.

lil jimmy

If I am offering pats on the back in Cubland, they go to Theo and Jed.
( but I am not offering pats)

lil jimmy

Just got back from the game. Last two times out Jace Fry has looked very good.

Smclean09

Watching Glasnow last night made me think Gio should just pitch from the stretch all the time. His release and command of his secondaries looked way better than the couple starts he had last year. Strasburg has started doing the same, and maybe those tall starters that are straight down hill throwers are going to just have more trouble keeping it all in check. Maybe it keeps him from losing his command for a whole inning or hitting a batter every start.

As Cirensica

Carlos Rodon, no counting this year, only has 2 more years under team control

Is he still part of the core?
Are we contending before his years of control runs out?
Will the Sox extend him?

PauliePaulie

May I, and the Sox, wait until he throws 80 non-DL interrupted Major League innings before deciding?

As Cirensica

I ask because sometimes I am not sure where Hahn is heading. Sometimes I wonder if he knows.

Smclean09

Can you blame him for being indecisive? He has been picked apart since being promoted for his choice of socks. I blame larry

PauliePaulie

I think they’re at the point of the rebuild where development and health dictate next steps.

zerobs

If Rodon were healthy, I would have expected him to be on the trading block this year because they would have little chance of signing him to an extension. With the injury history and the inconsistency so far, the odds of extending him have probably increased. (Boras was open to an extension for Strasburg in part because of his lengthy DL stint.)

Injuries are a big unknown and screw up the best of plans. Due to injury Rodon has a better chance of staying here than he did 9 months ago, and Avi has a better chance of getting shipped out than he did 9 months ago.

sgp2204

Boras was open to an extension because that’s what his client wanted. 

lil jimmy

2019-20-21. That’s three years.

As Cirensica

Thank you. I miscounted. I am just an accountant after all.

NateDPT12

https://www.milb.com/milb/news/toolshed-zack-collins-clicking-again-at-plate/c-275805192

Since we’re talking about the rebuild, here’s and interesting article on Zack Collins. He went 2/4 with a 2B, 2BB, and 2Ks today.