What more can be said about the debacle of this week?
But, out of frustration, let’s say it anyway.
First off, I admit I’m one of the very few Chicago White Sox fans who wasn’t all excited about the prospect of getting Manny Machado. That’s both because of the issues he showed in October, and because the White Sox have so many holes to fill they’d be a lot better off with multiple pretty good players than one really good one.
After all, José Abreu is the only position player we have who would be in the lineup for a contender, and that would be as DH. And while we have quite adequate No. 3, 4, and 5 starters, they’re in our No. 1, 2, and 3 slots.
We need a lot of new folks, and the record of this organization with player development is way too hideous to expect them to come through the system. Remember when we were all excited about getting the No. 1 prospect in all of baseball, and then equally excited about the No. 1 pitching prospect? Well, here they are in the bigs, and, sure enough, one led the majors in strikeouts and the other led the league in walks.
Great, right? The only thing is, it’s the hitter, Yoán Moncada, who led in Ks (217) and the pitcher, Lucas Giolito, who led in BBs (90).
To me the biggest grief isn’t losing out on Machado, it’s losing out on an entire offseason of free agents while screwing around after Machado. The class was pretty strong, even after Machado and Bryce Harper. We could have picked up a solid catcher in Yasmani Grandal, a nice third baseman in Mike Moustakas, a quality centerfielder in A.J. Pollack, as well as one of several solid starters. Instead, we’ve done nothing but dredge up a catcher, James McCann, from the very bottom of the barrel.
All that aside, it’s what Darren Jackson stressed that scares me — the press conference statements that the Sox won’t do contract opt-outs. They might as well say, “We don’t want any good free agents.” Opt-outs are here to stay.
That leads naturally to lots of cries for Jerry Reinsdorf to sell and get the heck out, so the whole organization can get overhauled. Better yet, keelhauled.
Excellent thought. Don’t bet on it.
Every once in a while, you’ll read something about how Jerry is 80-something and really wants another winner before he dies. Where does that idea come from? There’s not a shred of evidence that it’s true.
If you want a better guess at why Jerry won’t sell, check the U.S. tax code. Look at the part where heirs get to use the value of property at the time of inheritance as its cost basis, rather than the original cost. In the case of the White Sox, if Forbes is correct, that difference is almost $1.5 billion.
That’s a lot of taxes to legally avoid, both for Reinsdorf and the other owners. I took a look at the other members of the board, and they’re almost all real estate investors, tax lawyers, CPAs and such — very tax conscious. And they’re old — really, really old — old enough to call me “Sonny,” and I’m old. Jerry turns 83 this month, and he’s such a youngster in that bunch that some of them could call him “Sonny.”
Which leads to my one shred of hope. There’s no way is this team going to be any good for a long time. At this stage, maybe they don’t even bring Eloy up until 2022, to maintain control until he’s 30.
But good and fun are different things. Please, please let the Sox be watchable. Leading the majors in strikeouts by your hitters and walks by your pitchers isn’t watchable. A defense that plays like it’s wearing oven mitts isn’t watchable. Going to the wrong base, throwing to the wrong base aren’t watchable.
Yes, Yolmer is watchable, mainly because he actually enjoys the game. Engel is something to see defensively, but brings a cringe when he’s at the plate. Jose is an eyeful offensively, but brings the cringe on defense. The rest? Yeesh.
Bring up Omar Vizquel to show them how to field. Get them to practice all spring to lead the next wave in offensive strategy, learning to hit everywhere to beat shifts, re-learning how to run bases. Make the White Sox the team that gets the other guy to do what he doesn’t want to do, instead of always being the team that plays into the other guy’s plans.
I know that’s asking a lot. It may seem impossible — but it’s more possible than getting Reinsdorf to sell the team, and then getting rid of the whole front office and coaching staff, which is what we really need.