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Christmas dreaming — to what end?

Let’s drill down to see whether a ‘wish list fulfilled’ White Sox roster would make the playoffs

Los Angeles Dodgers v Chicago White Sox
Backstop Boost: For the sake of the young pitching staff, the biggest snag on the Ultimate White Sox Wish List might be ace catcher Yasmani Grandal.
Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images

So, whisoxman20051917 sent his wish list off to Santa on Thursday, and it got me to thinking about this 100-loss Chicago White Sox club: How many wins would be gained by adding a bevy of All-Stars to the South Side?

Given the dearth of actual transactional news to discuss, what the hell, let’s break down what the Fantasy League 2019 White Sox will look like. (I’m using Steamer and Depth Charts 2019 projections, split right down the middle — although the two models don’t drastically vary.)

Take a deep breath, pards. This could be sobering.

We start with the number of wins a replacement team would have, over the course of a full season: 48.

Catchers: Yasmani Grandal (3.6) and Martin Maldonado (1.0). Maldonado is projected for around 300 at-bats, which he will not get if backing up Grandal. We’ll shave him down to 200 ABs, and a 0.7 WAR.

Running wins total: 52.3

First Base: Jose Abreu (2.4)

RWT: 54.7

Second Base: Yoan Moncada (2.2)

RWT: 56.9

Shortstop: Tim Anderson (1.3) (Ick.)

RWT: 58.2

Third Base: Manny Machado (5.1) and Yolmer Sanchez (1.5). Yolmer is projected for full-time play of 600 at-bats. Given that he will play a superutility role for the White Sox this season if Machado is signed, let’s be generous and just cut Sánchez’s ABs in half, and revise his WAR down to 0.8.

RWT: 64.1 — Hey, we beat out last year’s win total!

Left Field: Eloy Jimenez (3.1) and Leury Garcia (0.1). Leury is projected for a healthy 300 at-bats, but his WAR estimate is just a sneeze, so we’ll keep him at 0.1.

RWT: 67.3

Center Field: Adam Jones (1.2) and Adam Engel (0.1). Engel is projected for full-time play of 600 at-bats, but his WAR estimate is also just a sneeze, so we’ll keep it steady. Besides, perhaps less play (say, only as a defensive replacement or pinch-runner) might actually help Engel’s production.

RWT: 68.6

Right Field: Bryce Harper (4.9). I didn’t study the projections too closely, but if the projections have Harper playing center field, 4.9 WAR might be too dour. But we’ll keep it, rather than ascribe defensive prowess in RF to Harper he may not possess.

RWT: 73.5 — blowing past 70 wins, baby!

Designated Hitter: Daniel Palka (0.4). If kept off the field, Palka is due to see this WAR estimate rise. But hey, sophomore slump, too much partying with bleacher folks, whatever, we’ll keep his estimate as-is.

RWT: 73.9

Rotation: Dallas Keuchel (3.2), Reynaldo Lopez (0.9), Carlos Rodon (1.5), Iván Nova (0.9), and Lucas Giolito (0.2)

RWT: 80.6 — .500 is straight ahead!

Bullpen: Alex Colome (0.5), Adam Ottavino (0.6), Nate Jones (0.8), Jace Fry (0.5), Juan Minaya (0.1), Manny Bañuelos (0.0), Aaron Bummer (0.1). I switched up wsm’s bullpen here a bit, trimming Ian Hamilton to get it down to 12 arms, and switching out Caleb Frare for Bañuelos, in order to get a long man on the roster.

I have to say, I’m not one to overvalue a bullpen, but these projections are dour. Bañuelos was projected for just 10 games total, and if he’s filling the Hector Santiago role this season, he’ll see more action than that. I’ll bump Bañuelos to 0.5 WAR.

RWT: 83.7

Yep ... just 84 wins, and that’s if the White Sox sign seven additional free agents, five of them projected as big-money guys. The White Sox are so bad that adding an additional $110 million to the 2019 payroll (pretty conservatively estimating, I’d say) gets them just over .500.

Of course, there is some WAR scrapple from additional subs perhaps not accounted for, but these guys are all being estimated pretty much at full-time, so I’d say any uptick in WAR is negligible.

What isn’t negligible is the effect having all these new additions in Chicago will do to the incumbent team:

  • We can safely assure that Grandal behind the plate rather than Omar Narváez will improve every pitcher’s WAR, both from a framing and a confidence standpoint.
  • Palka never having to bat cleanup, or TA permanently sticking at No. 9 in the order (and so on), could at least round up some of these WAR estimates.
  • If the defense improves — a big IF — that would add at least fractional wins.
  • With Colomé and Ottavino anchoring the eighth and ninth innings, guys like Minaya or Bummer should see less intense leverage, gain confidence, and perhaps add fractionally to their WAR.
  • And the king of all “magic pill” improvements, “winning breeds winning” (once the White Sox are surprise contenders for the AL Central, everyone is striving toward a career year), could be a real thing, at least in terms of WAR/standings.

I could keep going, but you get the point. This is not exact science. But the minute I read wsm’s wish list, I thought it would be fun to see if throwing $100 million at the clubhouse would shoot the Chisox up to an easy 100 wins.

It definitely will not do that. Maybe one day, but not in 2019.

No matter how many triumphant signings the White Sox are still to celebrate.