Friday, March 18, 2016

The Strange Retirement Path Of Adam LaRoche

The last few days have been some of the strangest that I can recall in my tenure as a White Sox fan. Past weird memories include a radio disc jockey forfeiting a game with exploding records, the dumping of a legendary catcher, Batgate and a player choosing to retire in the middle of a game without telling anyone. A player choosing to retire because he was asked that his son not be around 100% of the time has to be the strangest yet.

Let's disclose a few things up front before we dive into this. Adam LaRoche is a pretty awesome guy. The White Sox are a very family friendly organization. Adam's son Drake is a pretty stand up individual from what I've heard. The White Sox teammates are a pretty cohesive bunch of guys. I think these points 99.9% of us can agree on.

Let's piece this together. The White Sox did not have the greatest record in 2015. Adam LaRoche had one of his worst seasons in 2015. One could say that the organization and Adam LaRoche were both looking for a better 2016.

I have heard that a few teammates complained to Kenny Williams about Drake being constantly there. Rather than ban Drake outright, Kenny broached the subject with Adam by suggesting he "dial back" Drake's presence around the team. While one might consider this a fair compromise, another may consider that an insult. To me, four or five days of the week rather than seven sounds pretty fair. Drake would still be a presence, but not 100%. Life is about give and take, especially when you are dealing with multiple individuals. Management has the unfortunate task of dealing with complaints. It's not an easy part of the job, but when I'm put in that situation at work, I try to come up with solutions that are fair to everyone involved. This usually involves a sit down talk and some compromises.

Adam's immediate decision to this compromise was to retire. Doesn't that seem a little extreme? In my experience, if someone has a knee jerk reaction like that, they are likely thinking with emotion and not their head. The other possibility of that type of reaction? Adam was looking for an out and took advantage of this opportunity. LaRoche has one of his worse years last season and this season started off with a back injury. His Twitter letter today, even said that 2016 was likely his last year anyway. So, in my opinion, Adam either reacted on emotion and is too proud to back down or he was looking for an exit from baseball life. $13 million is hard to walk away from, but this could have given Adam some justification.

It will be here that I remind you, the reader, that I have no inside information and I am purely speculating. I will also remind you that I think LaRoche's decision to put family first is refreshingly awesome. I have no ill will towards the LaRoches' or the White Sox organization. This is just me trying to figure this out with logic.

I'll point out that Kenny Williams is not the easiest man to get along with and he does rub people the wrong way... a lot. I think in this one instance, he might not be entitled to the anger coming from Chris Sale right now. Chris Sale has been justified in his anger towards Kenny in the past. I just don't think that this is one of them. Chris is no fan of Kenny and he's just fueling the fire here.

There's also the issue of the gentleman's agreement between Adam and the White Sox regarding Drake. For arguments sake, let's say there was an agreement that Drake could be anywhere at any time with the White Sox. When multiple players complain about that unlimited access, do you ignore those complaints from multiple players or do you address the one player that it concerns? Regardless of which way Kenny Williams went with this, multiple people were going to end up unhappy. Clearly there are other issues going on if a team wants to boycott entire spring training games in the name of this.

Let's take a step back. Adam is fine with his decision. The White Sox respect his decision and gave Adam time to reconsider. Let's put the focus back on baseball and use this as a moment of solidarity. Let's move forward and win this whole thing.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

2016 Donruss

I have to say, Donruss is looking awfully Donrussy lately. I mean that in a good way, but also in a not so good way. The big "D" is a dead giveaway, but even without the Donruss logo, Panini has done an excellent job in creating the Donruss design feel. And that is wonderful news.

The not so good news? This is the third year of the renewed Donruss brand and only if you put a gun to my head, I might be able to tell those three years apart by design. Sure the designs are technically all different, but they are very similar in nature. So similar, in fact, that I had to do a second take when posting cards for sale online. That is a bit nitpicky, but it's a valid observation worth considering. If Panini doesn't step up the game with bolder designs, much like Donruss did in its fourth year, then this venture may come to a premature end, sooner rather than later. That being said, the design is sharp as usual and brings the right balance of nostalgia and newness.

The White Sox have six cards in the set.

6 - Chris Sale DK
88 - Jose Abreu
104 - Adam Eaton
108 - Chris Sale
163 - Carlos Rodon
180 - Frank Thomas

Keep in mind that this is only the base set with any Diamond Kings and Rated Rookies included. This doesn't list the 1982 set, the parallels and insert cards that litter most modern day releases. This is a solid little set, if you leave the extras out of it. Nice job, as usual, Panini.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

WSC Birth Years: Trayce Thompson

Card #189 - Trayce Thompson

Born: March 15, 1991

Trayce was originally selected in the second round of the 2009 amateur draft by the Chicago White Sox. Thompson moved up the ranks until he was called up on August 3, 2015. He made his MLB debut on August 4, 2015, pinch hitting for Adam Eaton in the bottom of the seventh in a blowout loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, striking out to end the inning. Trayce would replace Eaton again in center field on August 7, 2015, where he would later get his first MLB hit against Royals starter Edinson Volquez to start the top of the sixth inning.

Thompson provided a much needed defensive boost to the White Sox outfield in the last two months of the 2015 season. Trayce was about to settle comfortably into a platoon outfielder role for the 2016 season, when he was involved in a three team trade. The Sox sent Thompson, Frankie Montas and Micah Johnson to the Los Angles Dodgers, while the Sox received Todd Frazier from the Cincinnati Reds. Trayce appeared in forty-four games for the White Sox, batting .295, with five home runs and a .986 fielding percentage.
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