Now that the White Sox 2022 season has come to a close, it seems fair to reflect on this past season and call it what it was: quite the roller coaster. But the start of this ride did not start this season – for that, you have to go back to 2019.
Sins of the past are creeping into the current version of the team, and it seems like fans have had enough. Anywhere you look – Facebook, Twitter, pre-game, post-game, radio, TV, and during the game – there is a consensus that this team was an underachiever and needs change. Promises of trophies and parades have turned into anger, mocking, and channel-changing. Where do you begin to look for accountability?
To start, you have to look at the top of the organization, that being Jerry Reinsdorf. There have been plenty of calls for him to sell the team recently, especially at some of the low points of last season. Fans proclaim that he is too loyal, doesn’t care, is oblivious to the outrage of the fans, and only cares about money. To that, I will say: sell the team? I would say he has been a good owner. Great? No, but he has brought a championship to the city of Chicago. Some will say that he didn’t have anything to do with that. I would argue that he did, as he brought Ozzie back into the organization.
That is where loyalty comes into the argument. Can his loyalty hurt? Yes, it can. The first example fans and pundits will give is TLR. Was it a mistake to hire a manager that had been out of the dugout for years? Yes, it was. It has set the development of these young players back and there is no excuse for that. I would argue that the Chairman does care about the team. He built a new ballpark, which in the ’90s would become the norm. The first version of New Comiskey Park was dated in just a few years, but he helped to make it a great park with the renovations prior to 2003.
As for the idea that he does not care about the fans, I can’t really argue one way or another. I used to see him in Grant Park during those championship rallies with a smile on his face, waving to the masses. The man has brought seven championships to Chicago, so I would have to say he does care about the fans. As for the diss that JR only likes money: well yes, he’s a businessman. Professional sports are a business. Fans will and have lost sight of this, but it’s not like he is being accused by the league of tanking (for example, the Miami Dolphins of two years ago).
On this opinion I would have to agree with fans, yes, he does do it for the money. That does not make him a bad owner.
Next, there is the team. What can do but wonder where the power is? Where is the timely hitting? Where is the situational hitting? Where is the hustle? This is where Tony La Russa and his coaching come into play. It’s just not good enough. This shouldn’t have been a .500 team, but here we are.
This White Sox roster used to be such a likable team. One would hang on every at-bat, every pitch, and now we can’t even get excited when they win because it feels like it’s an outlier – not the norm as it felt the past two years. How does a whole team regress at the same time? It might be the culture in the clubhouse, or maybe they were overrated. Did they overperform the past 2 years? It’s possible. This might be who they are as individuals and when they come together as a team, this is what you get. It is quite possible the rest of the MLB has figured them out and the Sox have not made the adjustments.
Moving on to General Manager, Rick Hahn. This is not going to be pretty. I have a big problem with Rick Hahn. I don’t believe he is a great GM, nor even a good GM. I think he borders on average, leaning towards below average. Some may say this is harsh, and I will agree with that. Fans say that Jerry won’t let him spend and that he hamstrings the front office. Does he though?
Rick took over the GM role in 2012. Let’s take a look at his Key Free Agent signings during that time:
- Jeff Keppinger
- Derek Holland
- Matt Lindstrom
- Wellington Castillo
- Jose Abreu
- Miguel Gonzalez
- Felipe Paulino
- Hector Santiago
- Scott Downs
- Kelvin Herrera
- Ronald Belisario
- Jon Jay
- Adam Laroche
- James McCann
- Melky Cabrera
- Ervin Santana
- Geovany Soto
- Yasmani Grandal
- Emily Bonifacio
- Dallas Keuchel
- Zach Duke
- Vince Velasquez
- David Robertson
- Joe Kelly
- Dioner Navarro
- Josh Harrison
- Alex Avila
- Johnny Cueto
- Austin Jackson
- Kendall Graveman
- Jimmy Rollins
- Liam Hendriks
- Mat Latos
Looking at the above list, it should have been an omen of what was to come over the next 10 years. Now, I will give him credit for his signing of Jose Abreu. He has been a constant for the White Sox, but they have failed to build around him. They built around Frank Thomas, and I contest that they would have been a force before the strike engulfed 1994. They built around Paul Konerko and won a World Series. So why didn’t they build around Jose, especially when he was in his prime?
If you ask Hahn, he will say they tried – they had a “seat at the table.” Zack Wheeler, Manny Machado, Bryce Harper. Those are the names that come up that had been known targets of the White Sox in past years, but Rick Hahn and the front office missed out on all of them. Were the contracts offered not great? Term too short? Money not enough for a premium-free agent? I would venture a guess at yes. Rick would rather pay multiple players than get a great player or pay a player he deems as great.
We look at Yasmani Grandal who signed a four-year, $73M deal before the 2020 season – the richest in franchise history. When Grandal was signed, I thought it was a great signing. The money seemed a bit much, but he was the top catcher free agent and the White Sox were in need of one. However, they also needed pitching, outfield help, and a second baseman. These are the same things the Sox need now!
They drafted, then traded, to great delight, a hurt Nick Madrigal. Not to mention giving up a pitching prospect to Cleveland for Cesar Hernandez, who they did not make an offer to after the 2021 season due to his underwhelming half-season with the Sox. Then there is the backlog of first basemen that have become outfielders for all of 2022 to the outrage of White Sox Nation.
Next, you have a pitching staff that has two great pitchers: Dylan Cease and one of the team got off the couch a month into the season, Johnny Cueto. Who needs Carlos Rodon? Who needs to even make him a qualifying offer, because why would you want a compensatory pick in case he signs somewhere else?
The downfall and shortcomings of the 2022 White Sox are on Rick Hahn. Blame Tony La Russa for all the on-field problems: not hustling, walking guys with two strikes, not getting pitchers up in time. However, he can only play players that are on the team. The White Sox peaked early in the 2020 shortened season – I believed that made Rick think that this team was a juggernaut and he got fooled. La Russa wasn’t his guy, but he thought that the way the team played the season before that TLR influence would have no effect on the performance. When they got out to that huge lead in the division in 2021, he kicked his feet up and thought his job was done.
Rick Hahn can evaluate young talent in the International market – he should be a scout and not a GM. He can negotiate contracts, which makes him a Cliff Stein of the Chicago Bears type: a Senior Vice President and General Counsel who is not a GM. The trades Hahn has made looks like spinning tires.
In 2021 at the deadline, he traded for a second baseman and two pitchers and kept none of them. Then brings back Leury Garcia and Josh Harrison instead of going after a top second baseman and signs Joe Kelly and Kendall Graveman to big deals. This year at the deadline, he traded a catcher for a catcher, who he then traded for a reliever believing that’s all the team needed at the time.
TLR did not make Rick spend money on Jeff Keppinger or Adam Laroche, or money and draft capital on the likes of Nomar Mazara and Adam Eaton. Jerry didn’t tell Rick to trade his young second baseman (that he drafted) for Craig Kimbrel, who was shaky at best, when he already had a closer who he was paying. Again, this by no means clears Tony of the way this club was managed, but Rick Hahn has spent so much money on underproducing free agents since 2012, he then started trying to fix it with more bad money.
If you were his boss, would you want him to spend more? Maybe the tap was finally turned off at this year’s trade deadline. Maybe this even occurred before the start of the season. Should we be angry that Sox fans missed out on big names like Machado, Harper, Correa, and Wheeler because of all the money Hahn has wasted in his tenure?
It might be time for a change at GM. This does not make me happy to rail on Rick Hahn, but enough is enough. Fresh eyes are needed on the White Sox. Does the next GM tear it down and start trading off pieces? Maybe. It’s probably what should be done at this point – get what you can for who you got, build the farm club up, and start again.
The underperformance and roster construction might be the worst stench in the White Sox drawer. Time to air it out and clean it up.
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Questions not a criticism – why did you not include Kenny Williams in your critique of the team? Did he approve of every move Hahn has made? He was the GM when the Sox won the WS but of course returning KW to GM would be a demotion for him and JR isn’t going to do that so I am not suggesting that happen – didn’t KW make the decision to promote RH to GM? What role has KW played in everything the team has done since he became President – obviously something is amiss in the decision making process. Look at Tampa and this year’s Cleveland payrolls – there is more to putting a competitive team on the field than making great trades and signing the top free agents.
When Hahn was going after Wheeler the Sox offered more money Wheeler didn’t want to come here. Machado I was extremely excited because they were going after him pretty hard but the Padres made a better offer and where would you want to live. Bryce Harper I don’t think they really tried to hard because they almost had Machado. I personally didn’t want Harper. He’s not worth the money. He should have tendered Rodon and I don’t know why he didn’t. He right now should sign Trevor Bauer for peanuts and see what happens. The year of the lockout Hahn signs Graveman which I liked but he shouldn’t have stopped there Siemen who is a great player should be a Chicago White Sox but the smart GMs moved fast and Hahn just watched. He needs to make a big impactful trade and go all in for this year. I know their faro isn’t much but they have enough to make that trade we desperately need. Look at the Padres they will go after everyone and Phillies LA and the Yankees have been spending for decades. Now the Mets that guy is awesome. Mark Cuban should buy the White Sox.
Great teams minimize errors and consistently evaluate talent. Astros and Rays just keep coming up with guys. We’ve made so many mistakes over the years. When we wer close the TLR mistake set us back two years and now put us in doubt going forward. We are not a good organization. Starts with the owner and those that he empowers to make decisions.
When they hired Tony and brought in Mazaa instead they should’ve went after Nick Cast or Ozuna to play RF. They should’ve signed Seimiun or seaget instead of watching teams get guys signed before the lockout. I saw someone say LA knows how to scout when they buy players not draft homegrown players. Rays Athletics Pirates don’t well and then they can’t afford them so trading away young stars and now the 12 year contracts are terrible. Padres offered a 14 year deal can’t remember to who it was a stud and the MLB would’ve voted it because it was a way they don’t get penalized. I’d love Ty be the GM of a big market team. By the way aren’t Gio and Cease FA after season? Cease is Top 5 pitcher who will get a big contract by the team that we got him from.
CWS’s competition is not Motown, Minny or the Land.
It is NYY, SD, HOU, SF, LAD.
There are no friggin parades until CWS has the type of elite, dynamic, an affluent oligarch-sportsmen occupying their ownership suite.
You have to realize that this is also a business and you cannot just pass around money you do not have. The market is not LA or New York tams who have oodles of money. Binging on Jerry Reinsdorf is foolish .. He is not a stupid man and has about a dozen limited partners to answer to, Sometimes you are limited by the resources you have and just do your best with what you have. Some tams are owned by multi billionaires who can throw away money just for the hell of it. Rainsford is NOT in that category and must show a profit for the investors. Who are regular successful people like doctors and some of his old time real estate people at Balcor, Having said that, the Grandal deal was stupid.
insofar as a starting catcher generally only playa bout 75-80% of the games.
They’re pathetic until they prove otherwise, I mean the damn cubs might be better this year, depending on transactions from the next few months ???
I agree they need to be in the postseason this year if not window closed I have a good feeling that they pull off a blockbuster just hope Vaughn Cease crochet and Kopech are not involved. I thought that Cespedes was going to be up last season spring training he hit like a pro
Spot on evaluation, Hahn has failed, don’t trust Williams either, Reinsdorf can’t establish a stable clubhouse , allowing money to be misused. They’re scouting dept hasn’t produced anything worth talking about except for Montgomery, who have they developed? They rely on international talent to get through, They are not as good as Hahn thought they would be, plenty of FA pitchers out there, catchers too, corner outfielders, get some , spend, and win like other top teams!! Schwarber was a FA last 3 yrs Hahn passsed, Philly took a chance, rest my case!!!
Montgomery hasn’t proven himself yet. So he might be Joe Borchard. Crochet the next randy Johnson we drafted him. Hopefully they both are stud’s but any trades likely they both might be traded. Vaughan crochet cease Kopech should be untouchable.
I agree with Jeff as I see so much of an imprint of Kenny Williams on most of the recent trades and draft picks. I do not think the core of the front office has the acumen to find and draft great talent. Instead they pick whoever is available that media prognosticators rank as best. That is why you got the Madrigals and Vaughns when you needed someone else. There is a reason the Dodgers and Astros are so good. Excellence in talent evaluation and development is what keeps them at the top.
5 out of 33 free agent signings above worked out. That’s all you need to say about RH. TIME TO GO!!
Not only is Hahn TERRIBLE at free agent signings, he is bad at drafting. He is horrible at roster building. He is bad at minor league depth. He is horrible at talent evaluation. He over pays mediocre players. He over pays young players who have yet to prove themselves. No other GM has had the longevity he enjoys with the lack of success he has accomplished. He needs to go and should have never been given the job in the first place.
I was a fan of the Sox starting the rebuild when they began by trading Sale. Building up the prospects in the minors was supposed to bring us an eventual championship. However, when the minors are being built up with great young talent, a team also needs to add quality free agents to seal the deal. If Grandal was the quality free agent, then the Sox blew it. Prior to signing with the Sox, he only hit over .247 once and it’s been downhill since he got here. What about Machado and Harper? Why weren’t they signed or some of the other FAs that would have really made a difference? One thing good about this off season is that Hahn made it perfectly clear they will not go the free agent route. Rather they will work with trades. It’s good because I have no expectations and therefore no disappointments when the postseason comes around and we are watching teams not named the White Sox. I personally don’t believe we have enough young prospects for any teams to trade any player who will make a difference. And, if we did strike gold in a trade, it most likely will be a one year rental. In my opinion this off season’s goal is to lower the payroll. And, they appear to be off to a great start.