In what ended up as a small news story, the White Sox may have made one of their most significant hires in recent memory.
Over the weekend, James Fegan of The Athletic revealed that the White Sox have hired former Washington Nationals Assistant GM San-Mondry Cohen to serve as a member of their baseball operations staff.
According to Fegan, Mondry-Cohen’s role has been kept fairly quiet and was vaguely described by the White Sox as the “offensive complement” to the work of assistant director of baseball operations Rod Larson – who has spent a lot of time in recent years working with pitchers. Larson travels with the team and frequently works with pitchers using Rapsodo and high-speed cameras to fine-tune their deliveries.
In 2022, Mondry-Cohen spent time with the Philadelphia Phillies – who went to the World Series – as a consultant and is also an executive in residence at a biomechanics company called Reboot Motion and senior fellow for Wharton’s sports analytics and business initiative. However, he is best known for his work with the Washington Nationals, where he was credited with effectively creating their R&D department and developing their internal statistical database.
Mondry-Cohen got his first job in baseball in 2009 as an intern for the Nationals. He would go on to become a full-time member of their analytics department, and after just a few years, was named their Manager of Baseball Analytics. He was promoted to Director of Baseball Research and Development one year later. According to the Washington Post, it was the R&D department that pushed general manager Mike Rizzo to trade for Howie Kendrick in 2017. During his four seasons with the Nationals, Kendrick batted .316/.361/.511 and was named the NLCS MVP in 2019.
Mondry-Cohen is well-regarded league-wide and was considered one of Eno Sarris’ eight “next-generation” general managers back in 2018 – along with eventual GMs Kim Ng (Marlins), Mike Elias (Orioles), Chaim Bloom (Red Sox), and Brodie Van Wagenen (formerly Mets).
For the White Sox, this represents a continued effort by Rick Hahn and the rest of the front office to make the changes internally that the team had spoken of when Tony La Russa stepped down as manager. From Pedro Grifol to Geoff Head, the club has made it a priority to bring in outsider perspectives for the first time in a long time.
Along with this new way of thinking has come an emphasis on analytics. As Fegan mentions in his article, during Pedro Grifol’s opening press conference, he emphasized the importance of Sox hitters having a baseline understanding of analytics. He has also repeatedly talked about preparation for games and how he wants the White Sox to be prepared for everything they will see on a nightly basis.
“I think you’re going to see something a lot different from what we had in the past.”– Pedro Grifol on the White Sox and their approach to analytics/game planning
While this isn’t a flashy signing or a guarantee of perfect health for this season, This shows a commitment by the White Sox to making the changes necessary to fix some things that have gone wrong internally recently. While Mondry-Cohen will no doubt have his work cut out for him, perhaps he can recapture some of the magic he was able to bring to the Nationals’ organization.
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