Hi Rick. You might remember me from “Hey Jerry, It’s Time for Changes,” the one where I said you should be fired for sucking at your job.
I learned long ago that I don’t always get what I want, so here we are again. Ownership put you in charge of the rebuild, and you’ve certainly acquired a nice cache of prospects, though it would’ve been pretty difficult not to when blue chips like Chris Sale, Adam Eaton, and Jose Quintana were yours to trade away after you failed miserably to build a team around them.
Obviously, I don’t beat around the bush, so let’s get right to the point. It’s time to start showing your customers what you’ve collected.
Yeah, Yoán Moncada was a nice teaser. But it’s been more than a year now. You’re now simply warehousing your two top prospects — Eloy Jiménez and Michael Kopech — in the minors. They’ve been major-league ready for months. Jiménez has hit everything in sight, batting .300+, OPSing 1.000 or whatever. Kopech is striking out almost one-third of the batters he’s faced.
They’re bored. I’m bored. White Sox fans are bored.
I really don’t know what you’re thinking. It seems beyond credulity that you’re intending to keep Jiménez and Kopech in the minors until late April, in some bizarre delay to gain an extra year of team control. The message you’d be sending other White Sox prospects, let alone potential draftees or minor league free agents, is that development and success isn’t the way to the majors with the White Sox — at least not until some allegedly CBA-mandated gateposts have passed. (Fans sure love service time manipulation. I’ve got its 1983 jersey.) Rake for a year, cut down hitters for a year? Yeah, great. Let me know if you’re still healthy next April 20, and maybe we can talk about being called up.
From an outsider’s perspective, it looks like you’re scared. Once Jiménez and Kopech arrive in the majors, that competitive clock is going to start ticking. After all, those are arguably the two key pillars to the next competitive White Sox club. Delay, delay, delay, and you can still assert with a straight face that the rebuild hasn’t yet taken that crucial step so, fans, keep buying that “it will all work out” and “we’re experiencing short-term pain for a long-term payoff.” We’re trotting out Dylan Covey and Adam Engel but that’s just eating your vegetables, giving guys a chance in rebuilding years to prove themselves. Covey’s 138 IP and Engel’s 630 PA are simply not enough, you know. We’ll never know whether they’re super awesome, if they don’t get a bazillion chances.
Well, you know who are likely to be super awesome if only you’d give them a chance? Eloy Jiménez and Michael Kopech. And others languishing in the minors while the Coveys, Engels, Delmonicos, and Volstads get to putter about in Chicago. Let the blue chips take the next development step, which is in the majors, where the opposition is tough but where they’ll also get the best of the coaching your organization has to offer.
It’s time to start putting up or shutting up, Rick. Push some of those prospect chips to the middle of the table. Start to be accountable. Let yourself be graded on the players you’ve acquired and/or made cornerstones. Carlos Rodón is back healthy and is again giving those intimations that he’s a potential top-of-the-rotation starter. Your still-young double-play combo of Tim Anderson (who you locked up for years for next to nothing) and Moncada are projected to be above average players this season, and perhaps more in the coming years. Add one of the top hitting prospects and one of the top pitching prospects in the game, and it almost looks like you’ve got the makings of a real, live major league baseball team. And you have, like, other credible prospects, too! And lots of money!
Don’t be afraid. You’ve already been afforded more of an opportunity than most baseball executives get. You’re playing with the house’s (read: Jerry’s, but really, the fans’) money! And you’ve got a heck of a dance card already. Shake off the risk-aversion that was drilled into you at law school. Quit delaying the inevitable.
The fans want to see progress. Show it to them.