I hadn’t realized until Friday night that we hadn’t seen Chris Sale in a Boston Red Sox uniform. We’d seen the traditional MLB.com cap switch and some attempts at Photoshopping a facsimile, but we hadn’t seen the equivalent of Yoan Moncada taking swings in White Sox gear.
That came to my attention, of course, because the Red Sox were very proud to show off Chris Sale in a Boston Red Sox uniform at their Winter Weekend fan festival on Friday night.
That’s going to take a long minute to get used to, although it’s not “Mark Buehrle in Marlins orange” kind of alien, nor does it reach the “Frank Thomas in Oakland’s white shoes” level.
The other weird thing about this look is that Sale switched from No. 49 to No. 41. No reason has been given yet, but Baseball-Reference.com says that nobody has worn No. 49 for the Red Sox since Tim Wakefield retired after the 2011 season.
There won’t be the same jarring sights at SoxFest next weekend. Considering Jose Quintana and Todd Frazier remain the headliners, one can argue it’s a little too recognizable for a teardown.
Paul Sullivan wrote about the strange in-between phase the Sox will inadvertently inhabit and exhibit, and Sullivan continues his habit of writing what largely goes murmured.
So far they've successfully "de-LaRoched" the clubhouse, trading Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, the two most vociferous critics of Sox management in the Adam LaRoche saga, while receiving several quality prospects in return.
(He could’ve also mentioned Zach Duke, since he was the third-most vocal LaRoche defender, at least on Twitter. That’s what gives it a little more oomph than “the White Sox traded their two best players,” although that’s still the Occam’s Razor reasoning to me.)
Beyond the swipes, forehand and backhand, what caught my attention was the description of Frazier, mostly because it echoed sentiments in a Bruce Levine story published earlier in the week. Here’s Sullivan:
The leader in the clubhouse, unless he's dealt, is still third baseman Todd Frazier, who was part of the Reds' rebuild and knows the drill. Frazier is smart enough to know he will be mentioned in trade talk all season and will be counted on to deal with the media, a responsibility he handled deftly in 2016
The White Sox have no urgency right now to move Frazier other than to save some cash. He fit in well with the team last season, taking on a leadership role that no one else wanted or was ready to assume in 2016. At times, that was awkward for the affable Frazier in his first year in a new organization.
Of all the refreshing aspects a rebuild offers — especially at this stage, before the reality of losing sets in -- one that’s underrated is the end of this tortured search for leadership. There’s been a void since Paul Konerko retired, and even Konerko at times made it sound like an undertaking that required conscious effort.
Not being around the clubhouse, I can’t state with any confidence the extent of the problem. I did notice the White Sox emphasize leadership with both the LaRoche signing (lol) and Frazier trade, the latter of which annoyed me considering they could have addressed the issue while addressing the significant liability at manager.
Ideally, Renteria provides the framework for a rebuilding with a defined personality and approach to a team, while the next core’s matriculation in the high minors sparks a sense of a shared purpose. Zack Collins, for instance, is a pretty good interview. As much attention is paid to his bat and (improving?) catching skills, here’s hoping his confidence is able to make the jump as well.