In this short series, yours truly, the BeefLoaf attempts to examine WTF Rick Hahn is doing with the White Sox? I’ll dig high and low (while possibly intoxicated) to try and decipher what is going on and also what alternate path I might take. BUT FIRST….the tale of the tape.
Position: White Sox General Manager aka CEO and shit of the Rebuild
Education: Harvard, Northwestern, Michigan
Accomplishments: 2016 Hot Stove Champion; 2018 Payroll Championship Runner-Up
Likes: Corny Catch Phrases
Position: 4th best blogger for Section 108
Education: BCA, DeLaSalle and Dominican University of Illinois (DUI for short)
Starting pitching has undergone quite the transformation in MLB the last half decade or so, we’ve seen progressive teams use “The Opener” which is basically starting a solid relief pitcher, possibly with a platoon advantage and moving the conventional starter to the 2nd or 3rd inning. We’ve seen some of the same teams (and others) start to nip starters outings in the bud, but pulling them before they get to the dangerous (to some) third time through the batting order. The White Sox however, aren’t one of those teams. Now, they’ll couch it all in the guise of “development”, and that’s probably true, but since we are starting to get out of the other side of development for certain pitchers, we’ll start to be able to tell if good ole Ricky Rents has them tools in the tool shed.
Rodon has been basically a league average pitcher for his entire, injury riddled 4 year major league career and that’s been kind of a disappointment. The White Sox haven’t exactly helped him out over time, but regardless, the results are the results. If I were a betting man AND I AM, I’d bet Rodon breaks out this year. No, he won’t be a true ace, but he’ll soldier on, make ~30 starts and be above league average. Rodon’s lovely wife Ashley, who is one of the true joys of #WhiteSox twitter is pregnant with their first child and any of us who are dads, know that once it’s daddy time, you gotta get your shit together and it think Rodon finally will……….and then the White Sox will trade him.
Lopez had a quietly good year last season. I know his ERA was out ahead of his FIP (that’s a fancy stat to try and measure quality of pitching performance, its not perfect though as Bruce Rondon had a decent FIP last year…..)
Projections for Lopez in 2019 seem to think he won’t be that good, but those who watched his last 7 or so starts of 2018 would probably think otherwise. Also, those that really dig in on pitching (Eno Sarris & Steve Stone to name a few) seem to think Lopez is pretty close to a real breakthrough. Regardless of which side you believe, his spot is secure and Hahn is correct to send him out there every 5 days and see what he’s got.
In the pantheon of Sophomore Slumps, few could match the horribleness of Gio’s 2nd year on the Southside. Usually they stop the fight before it gets as bad as it got, but the White Sox kept trotting him out there in the name of “Development”. Because of Gio’s former life in the nations capital, he only has 1 minor league option left. That, combined with the fact that Kopech, Cease and Dunning are coming hot and heavy for his spot (and two others spots) he needs to get his shit together right quick. I assume the White Sox are saving his final option in case they need it in 2020 to retool him into a reliever. Based on the current construction of this roster, the White Sox are trying about as hard as Chorizy-E in a company bowling tournament (which we won anyways), so no reason not to send him out there, whether or not he’s shitting his proverbial pants everywhere.
Ivan Nova is Dominican for James Shields. He’s also #108thicc. Other than that, he’s hear to eat some innings. Not sure why ~160 IP would have to cost the White Sox $9M but Rick Hahn is a savvy negotiator. Regardless, he’ll be lumbering out to the bump every 5 days. Was this a good use of a roster spot on this team?? HELL NO!!! There isn’t a single solitary reason the White Sox shouldn’t have taken a gamble on something or someone with more upside. Shelby Miller signed with the Rangers for Michael Scott’s salary before Darryl helped him get a raise. Clay Bucholz is still out there Drew Pomeranz, Tyson Ross, etc. Truth be told, if they wanted to spend a little more money, JA Happ (although it seems he wanted his 39 yr old season to be secured, which seems a bit much) or Charlie Morton would’ve been good multi-year deals. I know the White Sox have a ton of pitching on the way, but Rodon is out in a few seasons, Giolito is barely a starting pitcher at this point and the payroll is so fucking tiny, is there any reason not to line up a decent starting pitcher for future years, or even just take a gamble on some low cost high reward lanzador. Increible. Hahn does some things that make me go hmmmm?
The 5th starter spot
“Manny Banuelos sounds like he should be involved in a dangerous and illegal carnitas deal with Chorizy-E and BeefLoaf.” I uttered those words on our podcast a few episodes ago. I took a look at Banuelos numbers in AAA in the PCL last year and they were pretty decent, plus he has pedigree, but the best part of the whole signing is that Hahn acts like he knows nothing about the guy. He keeps saying one of their scouts begged him to sign this guy, so he did. Which is the narrative I like. A solid chunk of the White Sox fan base paints Hahn as this genius, where the small majority of us left aren’t really sure he knows what he is doing, so this narrative is perfect. “I dunno, that guy told me to sign him, so I did.” This signing is Hahn channeling his inner Mr. Kruger. I LOVE IT!!
The rest of the crowd around the 5th starter spot is equally mysterious. I mean, they’ve been around the org, I’m just not really sure what any of them do well. Luminaries such as Jordan Stephens, Spencer Adams, Dylan Covey, Jordan Guerrero and Donn Roach provide a venerable barbershop quartet of potential options for the job that even Keyser Soze couldn’t sell you on. I actually don’t mind if one of these guys wins the job, it is possible that one of them pops and becomes, as they would say in a criminal investigation, A PERSON OF INTEREST. I would’ve loved to see the White Sox bring in someone else to challenge for this spot, maybe they still will. I just think that a rotation as clearly unsettled as this one should be lining up as many options as possible.
WTF is Rick Hahn doing?
Not enough imo. You need TONS of starting pitchers! The good teams seem to know this, but the White Sox seem to oddly not get that. I don’t really like the idea of basically leaving two spots wide open for Kopech and Cease in 2020. NO, that’s not what I mean, of course if these dudes are healthy, they are in the rotation, but you don’t know if HURT or BAD or BOTH will happen to Lopez, Rodon, Giolito before you get to 2020, and there isn’t much else pitching coming short term. I guess you can hope Dane Dunning joins the group of hopeful 2020 starters, but having a staff full of basically rookies isn’t generally a recipe for success. Too much of this rebuild seems to be counting on LOTS of serendipity, without taking the appropriate steps to harness said serendipity. The 2019 staff should feature Rodon, Lopez, Gio, plus 3 additional arms (from outside the org) with future control that if one of them hits, you have found something great for the depth of the organization. Hahn added 1 of those, Banuelos. Friends, when you gamble on low probability events, you need to have lots of them to increase your chances of success.