Over the weekend, I was part of a lot of driving to and from Virginia for a family wedding. In order to pass some time, I reached out to all of you to get questions that I could answers. I answered every question, though some overlapped and were grouped together, as you’ll see below. We covered a lot; everything from the 2020 offseason to potentially obsolete advanced stats.
Thanks for sending them in! These were a lot of fun to answer. With that, let’s begin!
On James McCann’s Potential 2021 Return
Asked by @Mike_Pomatto, @TheCover3
Let’s just get this out of the way: The chances McCann returns to the White Sox are 0-10%.
James McCann has earned himself the opportunity to get a starting job somewhere. I genuinely don’t believe it’s in his best interest to catch 1-2 games a week as a backup – he’s proven he can be more than that. I mean, take a look at the available catchers this offseason – McCann is going to get paid. He’s not better that Yasmani Grandal and will likely work best as part of a platoon where he gets 85% of the playing time to avoid being overexposed. Whichever team signs him will have an excited fan base. However, I think a full-time starter role will not benefit McCann in the long-term. I think his struggles against RHP will catch up to him, despite how good he is behind the plate. Regardless, he’s earned the opportunity to try to start somewhere else.
The White Sox will either run with the Grandal and Collins tandem next season or sign someone cheap – guys like Jason Castro, Kurt Suzuki, or Tyler Flowers. If McCann is willing to come back to the ballclub in a similar role to the one he held this year, I know I would be among the Sox fans who openly welcomes him back. But I just don’t think it’s going to happen, and I think that’s okay for all parties involved.
The long-term results of this decision are yet to come. However, I think we will all like the fact the Yasmani Grandal is the Sox’ catcher over the next 3 years.
On the 2021 Season
@Abreu4MVP2020: What are your projections for Luis Robert in 2021?
September was a really good learning experience for Luis Robert – dare I say I’m glad he struggled and learned what it’s like to slump at the major league level.
I think Luis Robert is going to end up being a very similar player to Eloy Jimenez in the long run. Their profiles are largely the same – incredibly powerful human beings who love to hit and, as a result, would rather do that than walk. I think he’s always going to strike out at a 20-25% rate and only walk at a 7-10% rate. However, if he can walk closer to 10%, that would be FANTASTIC for him.
Long story short, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to project Robert to hit 25-30 homers, lead the league defensively in CF, and hit at least at a .280 clip. Slash line: .285/.330/.500, 25 homers. Get that, and the Sox will be in business in CF for a very long time. He’s going to be prone to slumps, but he is going to be a very very good ballplayer.
@OldCStudios: What do you see as Micker Adolfo’s role going forward? I’m beginning to think that if the Sox were that high on any of their minor league outfielders, we’d have seen/heard more out of them than we have.
Micker Adolfo is a really tough case. LOUD tools, but he’s going to be 24 next year and still has not played more than 23 games above A-ball. He has had far too many struggles staying healthy while also striking out far too much at these lower levels. He’s certainly not going to be the centerpiece of any trade, but I think the Sox might float his name out there as the finishing piece of any trades they work on this offseason.
This is a similar story for a lot of young Sox outfielders. I think they’re highest on Blake Rutherford, but all of them were hurt by the same two things: 1) a bad 2019 season, and 2) no 2020 season to build back their long-term value. So, for the Sox, it’s hard to be high on a lot of their outfielders – which is why it’s so important for them to spend in free agency. The only name I’d expect to maybe see in the future is Rutherford. Otherwise, they will likely end up being a filler outfielder or the final piece of a trade they make.
On the 2020 Offseason
@PK14AbreuDw3: Do you see the Sox extending Nomar?
So, with Mazara, he is heading into his third year of arbitration this year. He made $5.56M last season (not prorated), which means he would be due for some sort of raise. My guess his contract would be in the $7M-$9M range. Depending on what the Sox decide to do in RF (see below), I genuinely believe there’s a world in which the White Sox allocate their funds towards SP and bring Nomar back for his final year of team control. As we saw this year, what will hold the White Sox back will be the depth of their starting pitching – or lack thereof. Allocate all necessary funds to the pitching staff, and then if possible, address RF.
In Mazara’s defense, he was decent in RF and was clearly getting better at the plate as the year went on. That’s no excuse to not try to address RF this offseason, but it’s a reason – along with the rest of the lineup being such a strength – to prioritize pitching at all other costs.
@sammyray92: Marcus Stroman on the South Side? Thoughts on adding him? I know if we had a pitcher it means one of the young ones doesn’t make it, but just curious on your thoughts on Stroman.
I like Stroman a lot. In many ways, he’s the right-handed version of Dallas Keuchel: he will eat innings, get a lot of ground balls, but will also strike out a few more hitters than Keuchel. I think the White Sox like ground ball pitchers, and I think his drive, make up, and attitude would fit well with the rest of the team. He still projects as a front-to-middle of the rotation starter, and Giolito-Keuchel-Stroman would be an incredible solid front three heading into the playoffs.
Long story short: Stroman is definitely near the top of my wishlist this offseason for the Sox, which I will go into further in a little bit.
@smickey2point0: If given the choice, do you want to see Bauer or Stroman on the South Side?
I don’t think I’ve ever really explained why I want Bauer so much on the White Sox. It goes beyond the stats, which speak for themselves. Bauer may be absolutely nuts, but he’s analytical and experimental as heck. I think his ability to understand the underlying metrics to his own pitches will be astronomically helpful to whichever team he signs with. He brings an analytical presence and a worth ethic that is valuable to any young player trying to gain their footing in the major leagues. I’ve written a lot about players such as Dylan Cease, and our new writer Kyle Wood just finished an excellent piece about a couple White Sox pitchers as well.
The point? Learning things from a fellow pitcher often comes across differently than it does from a coach. I truly believe that the best thing for Dylan Cease would be the opportunity to work alongside Trevor Bauer and learn from a player who has mastered his own craft. More often than not, the best free agent signings leave their impact not only on the field, but off the field as well. Bauer has the make-up of this type of player.
@KadinMeyer, @dpoz00, @AloiaJustin, @ChiSoxHaze, @JJHantsch, @panchrio, @BillyPreece, @GaryHoyd: What Should the White Sox’ plans be for the 2020 Offseason?
Let’s start with the obvious: the White have glaring holes at SP and RF. In my opinion, the need for starting pitching is far greater than the need for a RF. This team has proven that it can succeed and overcome having 1-2 spots (Mazara/Encarnacion) in the lineup that produce very little value. However, as we saw in the Postseason, the pitching staff has the ability to make or break their long-term success. The White Sox will likely have limited funds this offseason. Whether or not you like this is a completely different argument – as bloggers/analysts, we need to understand the constraints that we need to work under. I can’t change how high the White Sox run their payroll. Regardless, because of the limited funds, it will be necessary for Hahn and company to correctly allocate those resources. I’d put whatever resources necessary towards starting/relief pitching, and if I accomplished everything I wanted to with money left over, I’d go out and fix RF.
In recent years, I’ve put together one of the Offseason Plans for Sox Machine, and I suggest you all do the same. They do a great job running it, and it’s pretty fun to get your ideas out there. I’m still formulating my thoughts for that article, but here are some of the major names I’m considering, given the holes we defined above.
SP Tier A-1: Trevor Bauer, Marcus Stroman
SP Tier A-2: Jake Odorizzi, Garrett Richards, James Paxton
SP Tier B: Kevin Gausman, Jose Quintana, Taijuan Walker
I think the Sox need to sign one of the Tier A pitchers and one of the Tier B pitchers. That gives you four spots locked in to start the year in the rotation, leaving Kopech, Dunning, Lopez, and Cease to battle it out. That naturally creates some depth for this club as well, as I assume that whichever Tier B pitcher the Sox would hypothetically sign would be an easy piece to relegate to the bullpen if two young Sox starters are ready for the moment. As we learned this year, you can never have too many arms – and most of the time, you never have as many arms as you think.
RP Tier A: Liam Hendriks, Alex Colome, Blake Treinen, Mark Melancon
RP Tier B: Yusmiero Petit, Keone Kela, Pedro Baez, Trevor May
Yes, it is odd – if you know me – that I’d want to bring Colome back. He made around $10M this year, and if he was willing to come back on a similar deal, I’d be happy with it. There’s something to be said about the visible improvements he made this year. If the Sox added two established arms from this list – maybe one from each tier again – consider it a successful offseason to pair with the names already in the bullpen. Honestly, there’s a lot of intriguing bullpen names available – these just scratch the surface.
RF Tier A: George Springer, Michael Brantley, Marcell Ozuna
RF Tier B: Joc Pederson, Robbie Grossman, Jackie Bradley Jr.
I’m going to be honest: I don’t get the Joc Pederson hype. For as much as everyone hates Yasmani Grandal, who doesn’t hit for a high average and walks a lot, Sox fans seem to want to add Pederson – someone who doesn’t hit for a high average and walks a lot. The downside to Pederson is that he only does it against RHP. I would much prefer the White Sox find a solution that allows Engel to be the 4th outfielder instead of a platoon guy. That maximizes his skill set as a player.
I think the sneaky good signing here would be Robbie Grossman – he had an excellent year in Oakland after tapping into his power. He’s also really good in the outfield – 4 OAA in LF this year (94th percentile) and 2 OAA in RF in 2019 (74th percentile). He’s also in that Tier B, which I assume will allow the Sox to sign him for less than it would take for any of the big names.
This is just a breakdown of the names the Sox should be considering. I think, as fans, we should be hoping they come away with AT least one arm, hopefully two, for the rotation and a couple for the bullpen. If they can get a RF too, that’s great. If not, there are trades that can be explored – a guy like Brandon Nimmo jumps on the radar to me. I could also create a scenario in which I trade Madrigal for a front-of-the-rotation starter, sign a 2B (D.J. Lemahieu, Tommy La Stella), and then just sign a bullpen arm and RF. I don’t think free agency is the only way that the White Sox should consider improving this offseason.
Long story short, there are a lot of options available to the White Sox. I wouldn’t be surprised if they traded one of their higher-profile prospects to fill a need. I think it will be some sort of combination of trades/signings that result in rotation competition in March – Lopez, Dunning, Kopech, and Cease have all earned opportunities to compete for the rotation, not a spot in the rotation… there’s a difference.
@heftylefty19: What does a trade for Ketel Marte, Mike Yastrzemski, Alex Verdugo, or Brandon Nimmo cost?
Basing it off of contract control, age, ability, I would say it would go something like this:
Verdugo > Nimmo > Marte > Yastrzemski
The only ones I would consider paying for are Verdugo and Nimmo. Yastrzemski is 30 already, and although he has the most control of all the players, you don’t know what you’re going to get on the other side of 30. Marte had a break out year in 2019 and has four years of team control (2 years plus 2 team options), but did not have a great 2020 campaign that looked much closer to mirroring his pre-2019 seasons. His versatility to play both 2B and OF would be incredibly valuable. Nimmo would be an awesome addition in RF. He works his walks while hitting for some power, and he plays a serviceable corner outfield position. However, he has a history of issues staying healthy and on the field. With Verdugo, you have a highly touted prospect with 4 years of cheap team control that had the breakout years expected of him in 2019 and 2020. He will be the most expensive option, and not necessarily one the Red Sox will want to part with. Not only are they likely going through their own mini-rebuild, but as the centerpiece of the Mookie Betts trade, they might be far less willing to move on from Verdugo after just one season.
Now, let’s talk about names. If you want Verdugo or Nimmo, prepare to pay for them. Names such as Dylan Cease, Jonathan Stiever, Dane Dunning, Matthew Thompson, and Andrew Dalquist will be some of the first names thrown around – both the Mets and Red Sox could use some young pitching depth badly. Offensively, the White Sox have much less to offer, but Nick Madrigal could be a name thrown around in some circles if the Sox are unwilling to part with any of their top pitching prospects. I know Andrew Vaughn will be thrown around, but I doubt the White Sox are willing to part with him.
Long story short: I’m all in on Verdugo and Nimmo, pretty in on Marte, but not in on Yastrzemski. But if you want this caliber of talent, be prepared to pay with some talent/control in return.
@AndyTomlinson: Who’s your favorite random Sox player of all time?
J.B. Shuck. Hustled hard, took nothing for granted. Of course, he wasn’t any good, but I loved watching him. Just a scrappy ballplayer at its finest that grinded his way to the big leagues. I appreciate guys like that – those that play like they understand the privilege of getting to play a game for a living.
@MrDelicious13: What current “advanced stat” that people lean on heavily today will be obsolete in 20 years?
After a lot of thinking about this question, I still don’t have a perfect answer to this. When I think about advanced stats, the biggest thing about them to me is that most of them are ever-evolving formulas. WAR, for example, might be measured differently in 20 years than it is today. People get smarter and start improving evaluation tools, and as a result, the formula itself changes – but that statistic remains.
However, the one I think might end up becoming “obsolete” is FIP. This is for a couple of reasons. First is I think fans today either misuse it or overvalue it – truthfully, it doesn’t exactly mean what most fans think it means. In fact, I’ve often oversimplified its use so my message can fit nicely in a tweet (damn you 240 characters). I also think things such as Hard-Hit Rate, Fly Ball %, Ground Ball %, K-Rate, among others, already give you all the information you need in FIP. I think FIP is going to go the way of ERA: it’s going to be there as a useful tool for fans to point to. However, it’s going to be only the beginning of the conversation, rather than the be-all-end-all that it’s become in some rather aggravating arguments.
Another one that I believe has potential to become obsolete: OPS+. Not likely for the same reasons as FIP, but mostly because I personally feel there are stronger stats already available (wRC+, for example) for what OPS+ is trying to measure. I also have a hot take that Baseball Savant and its Outs Above Average metric is going to eventually make all other sites’ defensive metrics obsolete, but that’s just a gut feeling rather than a rationalized thought.
Those are what I will go with. As for now, this was an incredibly difficult and thought-provoking question. Thanks for that Beefloaf.
Sadly, this might be an easy answer in a few years if robot umpires are installed…
@ManagementBill: Who was the Sox original DH (really a pinch hitter position at the time; he played in the 60s for the Sox and when not PH’ing he was a catcher)?
Well, considering I’m 23 years old, I had to do my research on this one. My guess is Smoky Burgess, based on the fact that he had over 60 ABs as a pinch hitter from 1965-1967 and was also a catcher. Other guesses: Sherm Lollar and Bob Roselli. I’m pretty confident with Burgess though. How’d I do??
@kingsfansince71: Your all-time Sox team by position? Include DH, RH Starter/Reliever, LH Starter/Reliever, and Favorite Manager.
I took all-time here to mean my favorites. This doesn’t necessarily match up with the best of all White Sox players, though I’m sure there’s some overlap. A lot of these names will be recent too – remember, I’m only 23 haha.
C: A.J. Pierzynski. The “F you” attitude with which he played the game was awesome. A cerebral guy who hated losing as much as he loved winning. You need those attitudes on any team.
1B: Paul Konerko. I’m @jlazowski14 for a reason, and it’s the same reason I wore #14 as a player. Led the team with true class and professionalism.
2B: Tadahito Iguchi. Easily the hardest position for me. I’m going to go with Iguchi for being one of the driving forces at the top of the White Sox lineup in 2005. There haven’t been a ton of great White Sox 2B in my time, so hopefully Nick Madrigal can become the next great one.
SS: Tim Anderson. Honestly, it’s really hard to beat Anderson. His story is an awesome one, and I don’t think there’s been a shortstop who’s made himself into a well-known face of the game like Anderson has. I’m incredibly impressed by his story and work ethic, and I think he’s an incredible example for young baseball fans.
3B: Joe Crede. The 3rd baseman of my childhood. From 2008 until Moncada, there was no one like him over at third.
LF: Shoeless Joe Jackson. I will forever believe his name was unfairly dragged through the mud.
CF: Aaron Rowand. Loved how he played the game. He made me want to play CF as a kid.
RF: Magglio Ordonez. I don’t remember much about going to games as a kid, but I do remember “Oh-Wee-Oh, Magglio!”
DH: Frank Thomas. Obligatory spot for him here since I put Konerko at first base. Very few people love the Sox as much as Frank Thomas does.
RH SP: Jake Peavy (hot take, I know). He will soon be supplanted by Lucas Giolito, however. If it isn’t clear from Pierzynski and Rowand, I love players with a bulldog mentality.
LH SP: Mark Buehrle. When I played baseball back in grade school and high school, any time I was scheduled to be the starter in a game, I would watch all 27 outs of Buehrle’s Perfect Game. I was never overpowering, so it was always a good mental reminder that on any given day, if you execute your pitches and trust your guys behind you, you can be perfect.
RH RP: Bobby Jenks. Hard to beat him and how dominant he once was with the team – back when throwing 99 mph wasn’t commonplace. Seems like a great dude too.
LH RP: Matt Thornton. He could one day be supplanted by Aaron Bummer or Garrett Crochet though. The level of confidence you could have watching a game with Thornton in it in the middle innings was pretty unmatched. That deserves some recognition in my opinion.
Manager: Ozzie Guillen. Hard to beat Ozzie on this one.
Thanks again for sending in all of your questions! If you submitted one and you want me to dive in further, feel free to ask! If you didn’t submit one – always feel free to message me when your questions arise.
Find me on Twitter @jlazowski14 for more!