Friday, July 28, 2023

When Teams Are Sellers

As I write this, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Lance Lynn, Joe Kelly and Kendall Graveman have all been traded away. Others, like Tim Anderson, have been rumored to have many inquiries and may go at any time. Or everyone may stay. It's really hard to tell what potential trades work and which fall apart until they get to that stage.

While this sell off signals the failure of the rebuild, it's also a time of hope and wonderment. One could drive themselves crazy analyzing everything that didn't work out the way it expected to. Whether it was injuries, laziness, sleeping managers or pod people, the end result was two years of soft playoff appearances and a huge cliff dive.

Ultimately, it comes down to the ineffectiveness of the Cerberus that is Jerry Reinsdorf, Kenny Williams and Rick Hahn. The talent was there, but there seems to be a missing ingredient that left the White Sox more comparable to a yeast-less dinner roll rather than a robust fluffy pillow of bread that compliments a cinnamon butter spread perfectly.

There seems to be major flaws in scouting. This hits all facets of scouting. Drafting is especially heinous. How else can so many high draft picks flame out? Assessing proper value on trades is spotty at best. Even in the actual games that all of this is building towards, the White Sox can't seem to capitalize on mistakes and weaknesses. When they actually do, everyone seems so distracted that things went well, that they give those runs right back with interest.

Does blame fall on upper management, the coaching staff, or the players themselves? In a word... yes. There are a lot of decisions that have to happen right above the players for them to be in the best position to win. That includes assessment of talent, training regimens, preparation of games, proper motivation and in the moment game decisions. That does not let the players off the hook. Chemistry is very important, but when the chemistry leads everywhere except the win column, it is not charging towards the task at hand. Friendships are awesome, but this is also a job. Individual accomplishments are great motivators, but it should not be the only one. Championships do not rely on team chemistry, but it goes a long way in helping.

At the end of the day, the players are responsible for what happens on the field. They have the immediate impact on the team's success. When players lazily run out ground balls, don't have good reads on balls in play or completely waste at-bats, it makes winning that much harder. Carlton Fisk would drop dead from an arrhythmia if he were coaching this team. Deion Sanders may actually have his back on this one.

There are no easy fixes for this. I love the fact that Jerry Reinsdorf prefers to keep most people in the fold. It's great to see the ambassadors and former players as coaches and in other positions within the organization. I love it, but it's just not working that effectively anymore. Neither is the maddening random decisions on when to open the pocketbooks and when not to. Let's throw $12 million at a problem pitcher who may not be effective (and was in danger of not pitching due to those problems), but be stingy at a proven player in his prime because he wants a few more million per year. It's also at this point that I realize that I will never sniff the kind of money even the most fringe athlete gets and even Seby Zavala will be at a financial level I will never get close to.

Now let's get to the upside, because there is an upside to all of this. The last time the White Sox did a major overhaul, they got back some really nice pieces that had a really great chance at gelling and making the team a force to be reckoned with for years to come. That didn't exactly pan out, but the move was bold and exciting. I was genuinely interested in the future of the team. I was invested. Refresh and renewal is an admittance of failure, but it is also a time of eternal optimism. 

No team wants to go back to square one. I don't believe the White Sox will ultimately have to. They will have to have a long look at their organization and make some very hard decisions. If they can do that without rose tinted glasses, things will start improving fast. A mix of good rookies and solid veterans can be a glorious experience. 2023 is a lost season. So much potential wasted. It's not entirely their fault, but they definitely have not maximized the tools that they had.

Since this is essentially a baseball card blog, I'll end this with something card related. If the Sox play their cards right, I should have some new and exciting cards to collect in 2024.


Zippy Zappy said...

Considering how the AL Central division is (and how it'll probably still look the same in 2024) I wouldn't be too surprised if all the White Sox do is just trade off their impending FA's, retool during the winter and enter 2024 aiming to contend again.

Steve Gierman said...

I would assume that would be the plan. I'm hoping that the replacements (a good mix of free agents and rookies to mix in with who is left) for 2024 are good fits that propel the team into success.

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