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Mismatched Sox: A Primer On Being Mad At Rick Hahn

by Ed Siebert

So, the lockout ends, Spring Training begins and hope is eternal throughout baseball except in Pittsburgh, and the social media universes surrounding the Chicago White Sox. At least, that’s how it appears to those within said areas. And whilst certainly, there are reasons in every MLB city to be mad at management, this isn’t TwinsonTwinsWay.com where “Mismatched Twins” is questioning whether the Twins front office has a carbon monoxide leak given the trades that they’ve been making. Also, “Mismatched Twins” are known as “fraternal”. Just so something is learned through all this.

Nope, here in this chunk of internets the concern is at 35th and Shields, where Rick Hahn isn’t because he’s in Arizona. And he’s in the process of making the White Sox a better team than last year, except where they are kind of the same team as last year except with less Carlos Rodon.

So can White Sox fans be mad at Rick? Sure! There’s no emotion police…yet…

Is that anger being directed at Rick rational? Sure! But also, no!! So, for what it is worth, here’s the things that Sox fans can be mad at Rick about, and the things they really shouldn’t be mad about.


BLESS YOUR LITTLE HEART IF YOU’RE MAD ABOUT THESE THINGS THAT WERE NEVER HAPPENING:

Craig Kimbrel being traded for a 2B (or not 2B). Yeah, you can’t be mad at Rick for not trading the guy. Mad that Rick traded for him? Sure, but that’s like, SOOOO last year. The rumor that everyone seemed to be sure was 100% real at the end of the 2021 season and before the lockout was that the Phillies were sending Jean Segura to the Sox for Kimbrel. Yeah, no. Segura is literally the only Phillies infielder that they can reasonably trust given that Didi Gregorious is living off of 4-year-old hype that he hasn’t sniffed, Alec Bohm disappointed in his sophomore year, and Rhys Hoskins is trying to injure every body part before he retires. But really, Kimbrel had maybe 2-3 teams that would benefit from his services versus what else was available, and among those teams only the Padres had a spare 2B in Adam Frazier, whom they instead traded for a setup guy. Rick has no real viable market for Kimbrel at the moment, until Kenley Jansen signs or a team’s closer inevitably yoinks his UCL into the ether.

Not Tendering the QO to Carlos Rodon. Rodon was undoubtedly the best pitcher the Sox had last year. In the first half. By the end of the year, he was back to what he had always been for the team: fighting off an injury and under performing expectations. Looking at Rodon’s whole career, the Sox knew exactly how to sum him up: unreliable. That’s why he was non-tendered after the 2020 season and re-signed for insanely cheap. The Sox are still a team on a budget and giving out another $18 million (or more) to Rodon when he couldn’t be relied on to be available in October isn’t in the team’s best interest. As far as getting that sweet, sweet draft pick? Look at the Sox farm system now and that’s how important the pick would be to the championship window. The top guys are either from the “tank you fans” era or international signings, and what’s down there is years away at best and at worst as close to the majors as the average grandma. Call it a gift to a good guy and a guy that had been through hell that the team would make it easier for Rodon to be signed. The Sox wanted Carlos to get his cash, just somewhere else.

Two Words: MARCUS SEMIEN. Sure, sure, Semien was the best second baseman on the market but someone was always going to radically over pay him. And Texas did just that. The guy is entering his 30’s, has basically two good to great years in his otherwise average career. His good years are now, which means that at the right price Semien would be a good fit. But good lord and butter, Rangers. You know how many guys who write Mismatched Sox you could feed with just a tenth of that money?


BE MAD, BUT UNDERSTAND THAT YOUR MAD MAY NOT BE EVERYONE’S MAD:

The Expensive RF: Look, the trio of Gavin Sheets, Andrew Vaughn and Adam Engel is not the right answer to any question that isn’t “name three guys that haven’t been in my kitchen”. But paying Michael Conforto $20 million+ AAV for multiple years may not help the team as much on the field as it hurts it off the field. Conforto, Nick Castellanos, Kyle Schwarber… any guy that looks to command $20 million plus is going to be the highest paid player on the team. For that, the player needs to be among the best players on the team too. Conforto is very good, and maybe has another gear, but at age 29 he’s likely reached his peak. What he isn’t, is game-changing. Castellanos was a monster in Wrigley and with the Reds, stands to reason he’d do well on the Southside too. But Nicky boy there wants god money, and is already in his 30’s. Kyle’s already a Philly, Kris Bryant got an eye-popping Rockies contract, and the drop-off from the top of the market is steep. At a reasonable price, Conforto settles right field and leaves the DH’ing to the likes of Vaughn and Sheets. At the cost of crafting Conforto’s golden parachute as he plays out his 30’s, the Sox are handcuffing themselves to a guy that might bat 7th in the current lineup. Also, unpopular opinion, but given that guys like Schwarber and Castellanos have the same defensive M.O. as Vaughn and Sheets (as in, maybe leave the gloves at home), giving your former top prospect and maybe best lefty slugger each a shot to get better in the field and emerge at the plate makes sense. There’s always a trade to be had at the deadline, like when the A’s are unloading “Laser” Ramon Laureano for pennies on the gold bar. Also, RIP Scott “Razor Ramon” Hall.

The 6th Starter (via trade): There’s still rumblings, though the Reds say that Tyler Mahle and Luis Castillo are staying and the A’s are certainly getting multiple offers on each of Frankie Montas and Sean Manaea. If Rick doesn’t land one of those guys, it’s only because the best the Sox have to offer a rebuilding team is already on the 26-man roster. Trading Andrew Vaughn for a couple years of Frankie Montas, or one year of Sean Manaea, is essentially giving up on a potential everyday player for 30-60 appearances by a guy who is there to eat innings and be “not Dallas Keuchel”. Maybe with Matt Chapman gone, the A’s would consider Jake Burger as a centerpiece, or take a flyer on Micker Adolfo. If the Yankees and Phillies, for example, offer more talent because they have it to offer, the A’s are going to say no thanks to Rick Hahn. It is hard to be mad at the guy for developing championship talent but having the understandable gap in minor league talent that comes with the rebuild. Then again, he also has the team looking at a depth issue and a morass at the back end of the rotation that is unbecoming of a championship team. Being mad at doing nothing on the trade market is justifiable, as would being mad for overpaying for a 4th starter.

The 6th Starter (via free agency): There’s still rumblings, though not really. Frankly, the Sox could have been sexy with it and signed a guy like Robbie Ray or Kevin Gausman who might have been in the conversation as a 1 or 2 in the rotation. But that didn’t seem to be the plan and probably meant reallocating Dallas Keuchel’s salary to another team. Still, there are guys available at the moment, just not the guys that give fans the vapors when they sign. More like walk in with a vapor trail that resembles Taco Bell farts. Guys like Zach Davies, Brett Anderson, Danny Duffy, Michael Pineda…these are guys that will likely be in camps in short order and are 5th starter/depth types. Being mad at Rick for letting Carlos Rodon go without upgrading the rotation is justified. Michael Kopech will be on an innings count, and behind him is a pile of reclamation projects. But adding a guy on a five-year deal like Ray or Gausman outpaces the rest of the team control over the current rotation and at the back end those guys will be either Lance Lynn or Dallas Keuchel. Getting that big name would have been nice, but getting a guy that more resembles what Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez gave the ’05 Sox can still be a winning move. Vince Velasquez notwithstanding, because he might be a better left fielder than pitcher.

Josh Harrison instead of getting a bigger name 2B: Look around the league. There just aren’t that many quality guys at the position, so having two or three guys that have positional flexibility to start the year isn’t a terrible idea. TLR has to make the matchups work, but Harrison and Leury being semi-regulars is at least a workable solution until a long-term one emerges. And yes, Nick Madrigal was that guy, but maybe Rick has an aversion to guys who injure easily…it’ll be telling how much time Nicky Two Strikes spends as Nicky IL. Jeff McNeil was really the only starting caliber 2B to be rumored to be available, and the Mets are keeping him.


GO ON, BE MAD

Smaller moves weren’t made. Early on in the offseason, the hosts of Sox in the Basement noted that from the standpoint of offensive and defensive production, Avi Garcia (yup!) was actually a great fit to fix RF. And there he went to the Marlins on a reasonable 4-year $53 million deal. Not the star he was made out to be, but as a bottom of the lineup guy he might have been a huge help. And yeah, he was a massive disappointment and totally representative of a dark era of White Sox baseball that also reminds us that Fernando Tatis could still be here, but so did Adam Eaton and…huh. But not even a Kole Calhoun signing! He doesn’t remind Sox fans of anything! Same goes for pitching where guys like Alex Cobb and Anthony Desclafani signed smaller deals and at least would have settled the back end of the rotation down a bit. The Kendall Graveman and Joe Kelly signings are great, but signing bullpen arms is something that gets done annually, like a physical or the burning of the community underwear that…uhhh…huh.

Nothing has changed. The fact is that the team is very talented and has made the playoffs two straight years. The franchise has never had this level of sustained success. Sure, Luis Robert, Eloy Jimenez, Andrew Vaughn, Gavin Sheets, Michael Kopech and Dylan Cease are all looking at making another step forward this year. Sure, Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito and Tim Anderson potentially have more to offer. That alone is reason for optimism that the Sox can get back to the playoffs. But there is no starting pitcher that offers something different to a team like the Astros. There’s no greater balance to the lineup to offset what was exploited by the A’s and Astros. The act of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is but one definition of insanity, the other is being a Sox fan watching it and not being ticked off.


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Bob Cooley

Eddie Rosario, left-handed hitting right fielder and World Series champ, just resigned with the Braves for $9M per for 2 years. That seems do-able for the Sox. Never even heard his name come up.

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