No products in the cart.
Adam Eaton won’t be able to suit up in a White Sox uniform for at least another two months, so there isn’t much left to say about the gap between what the White Sox think they’re getting for $7 million, and what the most pessimistic interpretation of his recent history says he’ll do, given that’s what the White Sox tend to receive from such deals.
But it’s worth hearing from Eaton himself, since his character is part of the backlash. His proclivity for eyewash and earwash irritated a lot of people around the White Sox his first time around, and he wants a chance to prove he’s learned some things:
“From my own standpoint, four years later, 32 years old, World Series champ and I’ve got two little boys … I think everybody matures differently, matures at different stages of their life, and I feel like I’m no different.”
There’s evidence of growth right there, as he cited his age and family without bringing up a mortgage he didn’t have. But Eaton also indirectly presented the idea that he’s a beneficiary of finally seeing a normal way of doing things. He experienced turbulence in his first two organizations, but the Diamondbacks and White Sox both have strange chains of command that will let dysfunction run wild if it takes root.
Eaton didn’t say the White Sox were abnormal or unhealthy, but the things he described with the Nationals suggest a stabler hierarchy.
“We had so many great events with the players, being able to go to everyone’s houses. We had a party probably once every two weeks where families were able to get together and enjoy one another, and that was something that I was kinda new to. Didn’t really have that type of connection where we were able to get on really a personal basis[…]
“There were a number of different things that have really transformed me, to realize that the team is No. 1, the players within the team are definitely right up there with it, and you want to take care of one another, play for one another, and win a championship in the end.”
Eaton also said the Nationals were different than any other team he’d played for when citing their rally from 12 games under .500 to a title, working hard to not attempt to smear his previous experiences:
“As weird as it sounds, I don’t think on any team that I’ve ever been on, 19-31 with the teams in the clubhouse, sometimes they’d be, y’know, very readily to give in — not give in, so to speak, but kinda lose sight, so to speak, on what our goal was. But the guys we had in the clubhouse, again, I cannot celebrate [GM Mike] Rizzo and the organization enough for what they brought. Guys that just fit like puzzle pieces into the clubhouse, the additions we had at the trade deadline. Long story short, through those experiences of ’19, I can kinda see what works and what will be successful.
“I don’t think anybody at that juncture would believe that we would go on to win the World Series and beat a really, really good Houston team. Like I said, through camaraderie and love for one another, and pushing all in the same direction of wanting to win every single day, I’d give credit to the older guys. Max Scherzer, Kurt Suzuki, Yan Gomes, [Ryan] Zim[merman], Howie [Kendrick], [Stephen] Strasburg, the list goes on, Anibal Sanchez, Gerardo Parra, we had a lot of guys who had 10-plus years in the league and knew exactly how to get things done.”
Eaton later cited Scherzer and Kendrick for mentoring him, and he hoped he’d be able to provide the same “bedside manner” to younger players. Whether you believe he’s equipped to provide that, it’s nice to see that nobody around the White Sox is pushing this line that hard.
That represents a big shift from previous offseasons. From the first rebuild to the previous winter, front office members or house media would feel compelled to sell the leadership credentials of their additions as much as their talent, sometimes because the White Sox were notably deficient in that regard in the Robin Ventura years, and sometimes because the talent wasn’t all that compelling itself.
I’m pleased to report that it no longer seems necessary. Lance Lynn might be a fiery competitor and somebody who wants the ball, but he’s better known as somebody who deserves to receive the ball, what with consecutive Cy Young finishes on his track record. Similarly, in the press release and Zoom conference, Hahn cited on-field reasons for Eaton’s acquisition — lefty who can hurt righties, on-base abilities, historically decent defense — with the nods to his time in Washington mostly there to suggest that he’s toned down all of that.
Based on their track record, I’ll need to see evidence that Hahn and the White Sox front office can properly identify a rebound candidate by assessing the “underlying skills” beneath a bad year. Still, it’s nice to see baseball reasons return to the fore for baseball acquisitions. Now everybody just needs to hope said baseball acquisition has enough good baseball left in the tank.
(Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire)