Hey guys, Aloha. The 2020 season has been in the news lately for a variety of reasons: the schedule release, the Field of Dreams game, and the Rick Hahn podcast.
To understand the criticality of 2020, one must look back to the “beginning” of the rebuild. When the rebuild began at the end of 2016 with the trades of Sale and Eaton, it was a subtle message that 2020 was the target, even though it was never said or committed to. The fans have always targeted 2020 as the year, the year when we the fans would see the fruits of this effort. Well 2020 is upon us, so that leads to the obvious update. Will the Sox be contenders or pretenders in 2020?
Now to begin to try and answer this question one must look at all of the recent comments as well as all of the actions that have happened. Let’s start with my opinions of what Rick Hahn had to say during the infamous White Sox Talk podcast. During the course of the podcast it became very clear, to me as well as some others I have talked to, that 2020 is not a contention year. I am of this opinion based upon the following:
When it comes to Michael Kopech it sounds as if he will be starting the year in the minors
The team will be “aggressive” in free agency but talked about how the player has to also want to play here. (Sox speak: We will be at the table but will not sign an y impact free agents)
They are reluctant to call up Robert and Madrigal due to fatigue since this will be the longest schedule either has played.
The third point above is critical and also ties into other actions I see which clearly state that 2020 is not a contention year. If the team did plan on competing in 2020, they would have, at a minimum, Zack Collins on the roster getting experience now. There is no reason for Welington Castillo, Jon Jay, and Yolmer Sanchez to be on this roster. It is obvious that these are not players who will contribute if the White Sox ever become a contender. So why are they still on this roster when they will not be part of the core?
The lack of a promotion for Collins, Robert, and Madrigal is the biggest red flag. As we have seen with other players, Yoan Moncada and Eloy Jimenez as examples, Sox players tend to struggle when they arrive in the majors, so why not try to get them the experience now, in 2019, when it is obvious, especially with Robert, that there is nothing left to accomplish in the minors. Side note: I think there are serious issues with the White Sox player development staff, but that is a story for another day.
To add to my suspicion about 2020 being another non-contending year, one must note that the narrative has changed. All of the sudden, we have heard how it takes five years to build a house, since that is what it took for the Astros. Hahn did talk about a 5–7 year period during the White Sox Talk podcast. Using simple math factoring in the 2017 season as the starting point of the rebuild the Sox will not be contenders until the 2021 season, at the earliest.
The next logical question is how
do the Sox become competitive in 2020? In my opinion there are holes that need
to be addressed in CF, RF, 2B, and possibly 1B. There is also a need to acquire
at least one, and maybe two, competent starting pitchers, not reclamation
project pitchers. Lets break each position down.
CF – In theory this is where Robert will be slated. I personally do not think he will start the season with the team so Leury Garcia becomes the fill-in. This also has an impact on the bench.
RF – The team really doesn’t have a player ready to man RF. This will need to be a free agent signing. I personally think Yasiel Puig would be the perfect fit. I know others who think Nick Markakis. This needs to be addressed since there are no readily available internal solutions.
2B – Just like the CF position there is an heir apparent in Nick Madrigal. And just like Robert, he will not start the season with the team. Leury could also fill-in here, but he is most likely in CF. This would need to be a free agent signing. Someone like Josh Harrison may be a good pickup. He could be your sub at 2b/3b, providing greater flexibility on the bench. I know people are asking about Danny Mendick but I am not sure about him since he is another player the team does not want to promote.
1B – This is the wildcard. I list it as a question because as of writing this Jose Abreu has not been signed. If Abreu is signed, he is the answer with Collins serving as a backup C, 1B, and DH. If he is not signed this becomes a gap since Andrew Vaughn and Gavin Sheets are not ready. Is this a fill-in with Matt Skole and Collins?
P – The rotation projects, at this moment, to be Giolito, Lopez, and Cease. Based on comments from Rick Hahn it does not appear that Kopech will be ready for Opening Day and Rodon will not return until July/August at the earliest. It is obvious that Gerrit Cole is not a possibility due to money and agent. What other pitchers will be available? While I would love to see Madison Bumgarner toeing the rubber because of his championship pedigree and the wisdom he could impart, I think guys like Alex Wood and Jake Odorizzi are more realistic. It also wouldn’t hurt to add a bullpen arm or two.
With all of the holes listed above and based on all of the things that I see and hear, I think the White Sox are laying the groundwork for dismissing the 2020 season. I can hear the reasons now:
Kopech and Rodon are on inning limits
It was a growing year for Robert, Collins, and Madrigal
As a White Sox fan, I find myself more disheartened because I do not see the rebuild progressing as you would expect it, especially when you had a starting point of trading Sale and Eaton to kick start the rebuild. The five-year projections are generally for teams that had NOTHING to start with.
I am hoping that my assessment is
wrong, and I will be the first person to say so, but I am not confident at this
point in time.
I have to say one more thing. I am sure I will be portrayed as a person who wants to see the rebuild fail so I can say I told you so. I will answer that in one way. I do not spend $$ on season tickets in order to see this team fail so I can say I told you so. I think that this is where the Sox hurt themselves. They are so thin skinned and so worried about what twitter thinks instead of putting a quality product on the field that can be enjoyed by fans.