It took approximately 15 joyful hours of baseball being “back” for GM Rick Hahn to remind White Sox fans of their menial place within the hierarchy of teams ostensibly trying to better their chances of winning the World Series, with a lukewarm — albeit somewhat informative — press conference that told us little, hinted at a lot, and suggested that, unsurprisingly, the status quo is much as it was left the last time he spoke to the media.
If that seems like a particularly harsh introduction to a relatively mundane and inoffensive media session, it’s because it is. Hahn said nothing today that was worthy of too much praise or ire, but the timing of his availability — just a little bit too early in the day to be asked anything about the circumstances surrounding Carlos Rodón’s two-year, $44 million deal with San Francisco, which broke minutes after the Q&A’s conclusion — suggests that fans should have little hope for a sudden sea-change from an organization traditionally happy with half-measures and the bare minimum.
Having received confirmation that Hahn still delivers the information with a sphinx’s coyness and that a Jerry Reinsdorf organization is still being run like a Jerry Reinsdorf organization, we did get a few nuggets about the composition of the 2022 White Sox. Though Rodón was not yet out of the picture at the time it was reported, it appears that some form of non-traditional pitching rotation is in the cards for the team this summer:
Hahn said it's a little premature to talk about creative rotation approaches at least at the start of Spring Training, but there has been some broader talk with Tony La Russa and Ethan Katz about such a situation.— Scott Merkin (@scottmerkin) March 11, 2022
With Dylan Cease’s pitch count difficulties, the rote impossibility of Michael Kopech safely delivering more than 150 innings this season, and Dallas Keuchel’s inability to get through an order three times without sending his ERA the way of gas prices, a traditional five-man rotation seems like a long shot for the team. Without Rodón in the fold, the team’s rotation depth amounts to Reynaldo López, Jonathan Stiever, and Jimmy Lambert.
That being the case, it’s unsurprising that Hahn considers pitching depth to be a more pressing need than the still-gaping holes found at second base and right field:
“Pitching concerns are a little bit heavier on our minds than position players,” said Hahn.— James Fegan (@JRFegan) March 11, 2022
Said the opening month will likely feature more conservative pitch counts, have had a little internal discussion on a six-man rotation or other non-standard pitching alignments
Notably, one player who will likely not be a candidate to contribute any rotation depth is Garrett Crochet:
Rick Hahn said nothing’s really changed since the last time we asked him, but did seem to lean toward using Garrett Crochet as a reliever in the mold of Michael Kopech last season: some extended outings, possible spot starts— James Fegan (@JRFegan) March 11, 2022
At the same time, Hahn also clarified that no decisions had been made, and that Crochet’s final role will be determined by his performance in training camp.
On the position player side, little was said regarding the holes at the keystone and corner outfield, outside of the fact that they exist and that while he’s not expected to contribute in the near future, everyone is pleased to have Oscar Colás signed and in tow:
Rick Hahn likes #WhiteSox roster but: “If there’s a way to improve the club, we’re going to exhaust those opportunities.” Right field and second base on radar.— Scot Gregor (@scotgregor) March 11, 2022
Hahn on Oscar Colas: "Glad we got him."— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) March 11, 2022
Hahn’s media time began with an expected update on the status of Sox players entering training camp — they’re all expected to be there by Sunday, barring those with potential visa holdups — and at the conclusion, the biggest takeaway was an also-to-be-expected equivocation of the team’s commitment to improving the roster before Opening Day:
Hahn happy with Sox roster but adamant that his front office will pursue opportunities for upgrades not only right now but all the way up to and beyond Opening Day.— Vinnie Duber (@VinnieDuber) March 11, 2022
Hahn said they have a team very capable of winning a title the way it is, but it's not going to stop them from exploring every avenue to improve the club.— Scott Merkin (@scottmerkin) March 11, 2022
Rick Hahn: "I don't think any of us would be doing our jobs properly--and by that I mean the front office, players, coaches--if our aspirations weren't to win a championship, and feeling we need to do everything in our power to win the World Series in 2022."— Scott Merkin (@scottmerkin) March 12, 2022
There’s rarely anything of value to be gleaned from these kinds of media sessions, but the recipe remains the same for the White Sox: A reminder that the team is good, an acknowledgment that it has flaws, a pinky-promise to try their doggone hardest to address those flaws — but with the caveat that of course they’re more than happy to take their chances with the roster as currently constructed should those very serious efforts turn out to be fruitless.
May the 2022 season bring less déjà vu on the field than in the front office!