What Nicky Steaks presence in the 2020 lineup says about the White Sox Rebuild?

If you would’ve told me way back in the autumn of 2017, after Nicky Delmonico finished his 24 year old debut season hitting .266/.373/.482 over 166 PA, that I’d be writing about him again in 2020, the year when #PrayForTheLeague and #Soxtober and all them shits are supposed to take place, I might have been mildly surprised, but not totally shocked.  Check in with a possibly more inebriated BeefLoaf in the middle of the 2019 summer after Nicky was released and I would’ve likely thought you or I or both should probably stop ripping Fireball shots and get some rest.  The fact that he is here and present and the topic of much consternation on @Jack’s Twitter is quite remarkable.

Photo from Espn.com


The secondary group of outfield prospects have stalled out


Remember the brothel of names of future White Sox corner outfielders??  Blake Rutherford, Luis Gonzalez, Luis Basabe, Micker Adolfo, Charlie Tilson, Ryan Cordell….they all washed out or had their progress stalled for a myriad of reasons.  Some are still here, some have moved on, but it’s clear none of them are ready to be in Chicago for a month to fill in for an injury or an illness.  Developing prospects is hard, I get that, but I am left realizing that if Jerry Reinsdorf and his off-spring are going to own the White Sox in perpetuity (BIG IF) then the front office is probably going to need to develop this group.  Maybe not even these guys anymore, but definitely a group of young, respectable, above replacement level talent, with clean minor league options, because although this 60 game war is a sprint, I suspect, in a post-COVID world, we’ll get back to the 162 game wars that decimate rosters.


No diamonds in the rough


Daniel Palka hit .240/.294/.484 for a 110 OPS+, 27 HR and a 4th place showing in AL ROY voting in 2018.  Right then and there, I was ready to stop my criticism of the White Sox front office for not taking enough chances during a very dark period of the rebuild, however, that went sideways faster than Paul Giamatti and Thomas Hayden Church ever could.  I really root for Palka because he carried a torch of hope during a very fucking dark period of the White Sox rebuild.  Let me just read you the following line, 32 GS, 173.1 IP,  6.13 ERA, 1.477 WHIP….you know who’s line that is?  It’s our 2020 opening day starter and current stud Lucas Giolito, but luckily for us, we didn’t all go Whitney Houston bathing, because Palka did what he did.

There were other attempts, there was the Trayce Thompson thing and I had irrational chubs for Rymer Liriano and Alen Hanson, but neither of those worked out.  Kinda funny, Hanson’s agent reached out to the 108 way back when in the day offering to send us some signed gear of his to giveaway to 108 fans…those never showed up, much like the infamous Luis Robert ball that the fine folks in Kannapolis still owe us.  Regardless, the White Sox front office didn’t net any of the types of meh, but playable outfield re-treads that you hope to bink during a rebuild.  Just didn’t happen.


Maybe Nicky is better than we think

Picture from the NW Herald

The optimist in me is holding out hope that the White Sox know more than we know….like a significant amount in this case.  It’s been bandied about on the broadcast and in print about how Nicky is healthier than he’s felt in forever after having should surgery (this is just another version of “Best Shape of His Life” banter).  It’s entirely possible that the market is wrong and the White Sox are right in this case and Nicky is actually a 4th outfielder quality player.  Do I think he can replicate his 2017 numbers of .266/.370/.482 over a months of plate appearance? I dunno.  But maybe it isn’t the worst thing in the world to have a bench bat / 4th outfielder that can work a count and get on base at a league average or above clip, even if they have a ton of other warts in their game.

As much of a potential indictment as Nicky Steaks starting in RF for a few weeks may be on the White Sox front office lack of having enough quality outfield depth, maybe they’ll learn from it.  The early returns on the pitching side of the ledger, particularly with Codi Heuer and Jimmy Lambert making their MLB debuts this past weekend, are that the depth is there, we’ll have to wait and see how good any of it is…..


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