3 Trade Deadlines…
I have a brother-in-law that is just a couple of years my junior. He and my sister-in-law and their family live in Austin, Texas, so I don’t get to see him that often. He’s a man of many passions, including music, cooking and watching Kansas City Chiefs football. When we do get together, we’ll usually knock back a couple of drinks and talk about whatever the fuck might be of interest to us both simultaneously.
Back in the mid-2000’s he lived here in Chicago for awhile (technically Evanston) when he was getting his MBA from the prestigious Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern University. It generally ranks in the top 5 business schools in the country, yea, he’s one of those smarty pantses. One time when we had been #108ing pretty good, I just straight up asked him. “What’s the difference between you with your top 5 MBA and me someone without those credentials, just work experience?”…now he was cordial enough to ignore our non-immaterial differences in overall intellect and left me with a thought that stays with me to this day.
“The difference is that I (the MBA holder) have to prove I CAN NOT do the job, where as you (the non-MBA holder) has to prove you CAN do the job.”
Which brings me to Rick Hahn who is now the face of the White Sox going forward, with Tony La Russa stepping down as manager. Let’s take a look at Hahn’s 3 trade deadlines since the White Sox entered their proverbial “Contention Window”…
2020 Trade Deadline
The 2020 MLB season was WEIRD, to put it lightly. The 108ers were doing great because the #108Tourney was the only sports for a minute, and our good friend Herb Lawrence even invited me on 670 The Score to talk about it (our only appearance on the station EVAR). But we were also doing WEIRD things too….
The White Sox came out of the gate a little slow in 2020, starting the 60 game sprint of a season 10-11, but after that they got hot as a pistol. This season started in late July due to the pandemic, but by the night before the trade deadline of September 1st, this team was 22-13 and in first place. That team was dying on the vine for a 3rd starting pitcher.
Dallas Keuchel was the BIG OFF-SEASON TRANSACTION on the pitching side and he was killing it. Lucas Giolito was coming into his own, but that was IT! Dylan Cease, who made his debut in 2019, wasn’t getting it done. Dane Dunning showed up, but he was meh. This team needed a starting pitcher. Our (MY) manager at the time Ricky Renteria went to the front office and BEGGED for a starting pitcher and he got…..
JARROD DYSON!! He was traded for “Future Considerations”. Nothing wrong with Jarrod Dyson, he’s a nice piece for a playoff team. But, the last I checked, he doesn’t pitch. The White Sox of course, while everyone was looking for a starting pitcher, went to the playoffs and played the Oakland Athletics, they of course got to game 3, without a 3rd pitcher….and…..had to use a bullpen game, with predictable results.
White Sox lost the playoff round. Ricky Renteria was Fired. FUCK!
2021 Trade Deadline
The White Sox ran naked and free in the 2021 season, leading the AL Central basically wire to wire. As the trade deadline approached, it looked like the GM was going to repeat the same mistakes as the 2020 deadline, where he seemed ill-prepared to improve a soon-to-be playoff roster. But alas, he struck down with great vengeance and furious anger…Jules Winfield style..
On July 29th, he traded Konnor Pilkington to Cleveland for Cesar Hernandez to fill up the White Sox second baseman hole which was created by Nick Madrigal’s injury early in the year. Hahn also struck a deal with the Cubs nabbing Right Handed Reliever Ryan Tepera for Bailey Horn. Now this was starting to look like a big boy, real life, honest to goodness trade deadline. Hard to even remember one before this, but it felt good!!
Then on July 31st, just hours before the 2021 trade deadline expired, Hahn shocked the fanbase by trading my once beloved Codi Heuer and the aforementioned former top draft pick Nick Madrigal to the Cubs for Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel being the prized reliever on the market at this deadline was absolutely smashing, to the tune of 0.49 ERA, 23 Saves and 64 Strikeouts in just 36 Innings pitched in the first half of the season.
I was THRILLED with this haul at the 2021 Trade Deadline….
However, the results of these trades were a big wet fart. Kimbrel SUUUUUUUCKED!! Posting a 5.09 ERA, with 10 BB and 5 HR given up in 23 Innings Pitched. He was relegated to low leverage work by the time the White Sox faced off with the Houston Astros in the ALDS.
Cesar Hernandez’ new found power (he had hit 18 home runs with Cleveland before the trade) had evaporated, hitting only 3 home runs in the 2nd half. He posted a ghastly 68 OPS+ down the stretch, although he did have a decent .831 OPS in 11 Plate Appearances in the ALDS (he did his job in the playoffs, at least).
Tepera was downright good, after a rough start in his first appearance after the trade, so much so that fans were pining for a return after the season. All in all, a quality attempt at the trade deadline even if the moves didn’t have the impact desired.
White Sox made the playoffs. Lost to the Astros in ALDS. FUCK!!
2022 Trade Deadline
The 2022 White Sox got off to a sleepy start to the season despite being heavily favored to win the AL Central. Injuries and lackluster play found them in a position to need to gain ground nearing the trade deadline. On July 26th, just 1 week before the trade deadline the White Sox found themselves 3 games back in the AL Central and 3.5 games back in the wild card race. This team definitely needed reinforcements if it was going to make a run to the playoffs.
And then…the GM decided to……trade for Jake Diekman? That’s right, Rick Hahn’s big move to reinforce this roster that is desperately in need of help was to take a salary dump from Chaim Bloom and the Boston Red Sox. Even funnier is that he sent Reese McGuire (whom he traded former first round pick Zack Collins for earlier in the year) to Boston as part of the deal as McGuire was starting to be squeezed out in the White Sox catcher picture and he has gone on to smash with a 146 OPS+ since landing in Beantown.
It was a bizarre deadline in that the White Sox definitely needed some new blood. The trade market was ripe for letting you buy that new blood reasonably inexpensively AND the White Sox farm system had some players pop up, effectively adding some theoretical trade capital. And the GM did….NOTHING. It was almost like it was a choice to do nothing, like he did it on purpose.
I pondered out loud on my recent appearance on the Future Sox podcast if doing nothing at the deadline hurt the 2022 White Sox not only from a man power standpoint, but from a “team quitting” standpoint. If the Front Office doesn’t have faith in us, then what are we?
White Sox missed the playoffs. Tony La Russa was self-fired. FUCK!
Well, I guess the proof is still being gathered. Either way, I’ll have to tell my brother-in-law at Xmas that he is right, AGAIN. I’m sure he hates hearing it as much as I hate telling him.
Sadly, that’s an accurate assessment. This team sleepwalked through the season, and mgmt was MIA. High points of the year were Cease’s almost no-no and you winning Sox Math.