The 2020 White Sox Bench
On my recent appearance on the Locked on Sox podcast hosted by Herb Lawrence (which you should give a listen to and subscribe too, Herb is a great White Sox fan and isn’t afraid to give an honest opinion about the squad), I discussed how one of my major concerns for the 2020 White Sox was seeding a professional major league bench. As my guy Chorizy-E often says, you can’t be the 2016 White Sox and sign Austin Jackson to play CF 2 minutes before the season starts and then when he gets hurt, the season is over, because you have to hand the reigns off to JB Shuck. As a White Sox fan seeing this play out in technicolor, right there in Section 108, it was a painful reminder that you need to field a squad of 25 men (well 26 now).
I noted a few options on the podcast, but I thought it might make sense to go through the spots individually to look at what the White Sox have internally and what is out there that I personally like and would be interested in. As you read through the positions and choices think of how you’d like this to play out.
I am going to go ahead and assume that the White Sox will go out and get a proper DH, ergo they won’t need to do sort of a rotating DH thing and can just focus on specific bench spots. I am also going to assume that the oft injured pitching staff will need 13 pitchers (which is the max) on the 26 man roster. This leaves 9 starting position players and 4 bench spots….let’s get to thems RIGHT. DAMN. NOW!!
THE LEURY GARCIA POSITION
Good ole Leroy!! If you look at a team like the Tampa Rays, they tend to focus on position flexibility as a way to create favorable advantages for us. We as regular ass fans tend to look at lefty vs righty platoon advantages, but these teams are digging deeper, like what type of hitter hits this specific type of pitch well, or what ballpark are we in?? If we hit more flyballs today is it advantageous, etc. That’s where having a bunch of decent hitters with different strengths allows position flexibility to really shine. The White Sox are particularly in that spot. They have a certain amount of position players that they really want to play 150 games and a few on the way, but you still need a swish army knife and that’s Leury Garcia. He can handle every position but Catcher and 1st Base (which is cool because we got lots of them). He doesn’t really hit that great 83 wRC+ last season (weighted runs created plus, don’t worry about that, just remember that 100 is league average, so 100-83 = 17 percent below league average….not great, but fine for a guy that can spot basically ALL of your position player starters) but his position flexibility and good base running skills make him an easy fixture on basically any major league bench.
There are LOTS of reasons to get boned up about the Yasmani Grandal signing, but one of them that a bunch of yous (this is Bridgeport) have mentioned on twitter has to do with the outstanding depth the White Sox now have at catcher. James McCann probably had his best season last year, but regardless if you think he’ll regress back to closer to career norms OR you think he’ll be 1st half of 2019 James McCann, he’s perfect for this role. Now, in the past, Yasmani Grandal has played A LOT of games each season, but I can see the White Sox and Ricky Renteria being very cognizant of his rest given the investment made into his contract. I’d expect something like a 100 to 60 game split behind the dish, with Grandal picking up a dozen or more starts at 1b and DH each. McCann will probably catch Giolito exclusively and then pick up starts vs LHP (he has a career 117 wRC+ against southpaws) or with another specific starting pitcher. It feels fucking great to have the White Sox really address a specific position and put quality players there.
As much as I’d like Zack Collins to SUCCEED for various REASONS…..I’m not quite sure he’s a catcher. I mean, he’ll put the gear on and shit, but I am not sure how much he’ll be squatting other than for an injury. Nothing against Collins, but I’d much rather have the combo of Grandal / McCann behind the plate, if winning is the goal. I am also unsure if Collins’ bat is developed enough to serve strictly as a DH/1B option on a competitive team without an injury need. Regardless, he’s a 1st round pick from a regime that is desperate for a 1st round pick to matter (the Hostetler picks), so he’ll be in the mix in some capacity even if that means raking in AAA until an injury pops up.
BACK UP INFIELDER
I don’t think Brad Miller can competently handle SS anymore, but idgaf, with my back up infielders, I am looking for professional hitters that can pick up the slack for a day or for a month to keep the back end of this lineup from cratering. Remember when Moncada and Anderson were out for stretches last year?? Yea, that fucking sucked!!! It would’ve been nice to have a competent major league hitter to fill in. For a career he has a 110 wRC+vs RHP as well as a 10% walk rate.
My guy Chorizy put this fella in my head, he’s a backup at this point in his career and he most definitely can’t fake shortstop, but he’s a lefty bat like Miller and he has similar career numbers vs RHP 113 wRC+ and 10% walk rate. He’d be a competent back up and caddy until BIG DICK NICK MADRIGAL arrives in Chicago. Now, there is that thing about him talking shit about the White Sox in recent history. Talking about them like they are a bunch of clowns. He’ll need to be humbled. Maybe this little trick.
He’s here, he’s on the 40 man, he didn’t look over matched in his cup of coffee in 2019. Per Brian Bilek from FutureSox he’s a great guy and has worked his ass off at every level to overachieve, plus he has the type of name that Beavis and Butthead would love to repeat over and over and over again. WHAT’S NOT TO LIKE BEEFLOAF??? Well, in order to build proper depth, the White Sox, ideally, would have some of that quality depth in Charlotte, ready to roll if there is an injury. If the White Sox are in FULL COMPETE MODE, I’d like ole Danny starting at SS everyday in Charlotte just a phone call away when injury strikes, but that’s just me.
BACK UP OUTFIELDER
This guy resurrected his career in Korea where he is nicknamed “God”. He fucking mashes, is yoked out (he might be doing pilates, who knows?) and seems like a ton of fun, especially when he spot starts in RF and the 108ers can scream things at him. Since coming back from Korea he has a 126 wRC+ vs RHP……that seems good. Plus he can handle 1st base too. That seems helpful.
I know he’s gonna be here and he’s a good defender, so I guess that’s good. Last year, he finally showed a little bit at the plate, but that little bit was entirely against LHP, where he had a 125 wRC+. Vs RHP he hit like a Pitcher…..with Polio. Let’s face it, he’ll be here, he’s a shining example of White Sox development team turning a low round draft pick into a major leaguer, much like Nicky Santoro, he ain’t going nowhere.
I’m pretty sure his calves are fucked, which to me, is really weird, because at the age of 31, I’ve heard of people having elbows, ankles, knees and shoulders being fucked, but not calves. Regardless, if he can get his calf or calfisis together, the guy hits RHP to the tune of 121 wRC+ since 2016.
Just a quick look at some wants and some incumbents that might make up a quality MLB bench, something the White Sox haven’t had in a LOOOOONG TIME.