On the heels of our Soxivus 2023 content comes our first group article and podcast of 2024, White Sox Resolutions.
The title is pretty explanatory, the goal being to identify the one thing the White Sox MUST do in 2024. With a title and even the playoffs — hell, even a winning record — off of the table, we are likely setting our sights on more realistic outcomes.
This story is a written companion to our resolutions podcast (click link, or listen on our embedded Megaphone player at the bottom of this story).
I would like the White Sox to be an organization I can be proud of, again.
Wait, that’s too vague. Some of us think a corporate sports entity should just win at all costs, some might just want friendly players regardless of ability. Heck, some might just want the team to stop falling back on those 1983s every home Sunday.
So, specifically, I want the White Sox to be a moral franchise (model franchise? too big an ask). Yeah, yeah, nice guys finish last and so on. But I don’t think it’s too much to ask that the club avoid some of the following pratfalls in 2024:
- Don’t sign domestic abusers or racists
- Avoid any further shakedown of the city or state for more stadium funds/ask other cities out on dates
- When something goes wrong, as it inevitably will, respond quickly and honestly to best address the issue, whether the issue is guns in the park, collisions outside of the park, player misbehavior, or otherwise
This already feels like too big an ask, so I won’t even hold the White Sox to perfection in executing basic morality and decency in 2024. But improvement isn’t enough, either. Make us believe that you care, White Sox. About us, the fans.
We are the reason you exist.
I actually hate making resolutions. They seem impossible to stick to and the idea that you must better yourself at the start of each year is meaningless. I’m personally all about trying to better yourself at any time — yet here I am, still watching the White Sox. Oh well.
My resolution for the White Sox is to stop being the Kansas City Royals of the North. Since the beginning of time, 74 players have batted for both franchises. Along with that, 47 have pitched for both. In recent years we’ve had our fair share of likable players: Liam Hendriks, Johnny Cueto, Billy Hamilton, and Brian Goodwin. In the not-so-distant past, the White Sox and Royals have shared World Series champions such as Jermaine Dye and Scott Podsednik.
The past season ushered in a new manager — Pedro Grifol. Before landing in Chicago, Grifol made his start with Kansas City as a minor league coach in 2013 and worked his way up to bench coach by 2020. Andrew Benintendi followed, giving the White Sox some serious hitting power with FIVE whole home runs this season. Yeah.
Moving on. It’s now a running joke about ties with the Royals. Well-known former Naperville resident and Royal for five seasons, Nicky Lopez joined the squad on November 16. Tim Hill, once drafted in the 32nd round by the Royals appeared as a late holiday gift with his ERA of 5.48 on December 28. (After I finished writing this up the White Sox signed Brett Phillips to a minor league deal, and hired Royals exec Jin Wong as assistant GM.)
Moving on to coaching staff and front office, surely it’ll get better, right? Drew Butera, former Royals catcher, joined as a catching coach. Jason Bourgeois spent 2012 bouncing between the minor league and Kansas City and will now serve as the first-base/outfield coach.
Finally, our favorite hire from 2023, Chris Getz. During his brief time with the Royals, he was riddled with injuries and eventually non-tendered after the 2013 season. His career with the team didn’t end there though, as he was hired in 2014 to be their assistant to player development. In 2016 he became the director of player development for the White Sox and eventually was promoted to general manager upon Rick Hahn’s firing this past season.
The Royals have remained the bottom-dwellers of the AL Central for quite some time now, so the White Sox are quite literally scraping from the bottom of the baseball barrel. Of all the people who are Kansas City-adjacent, why can’t we get someone like Taylor Swift? Surely she can play second base.
Let’s face it, resolutions that require a lot of effort and big change are off the table. The White Sox need a small list of about five New Year’s resolutions that take little commitment. I have no idea what the front office sits around and talks about all day, but surely they could come up with at least five small things they are going to do differently this year — and I don’t mean change the brand of coffee they serve in the executive suite.
What do I think should be on that short list? Being more honest with themselves and, in turn, with their fans. Stop trying to sell me something both you and I know is not going to happen. Instead, shoot it to me straight. Tell me, “Hey, our goal is always to win, but this year might be rough.” I welcome honesty. Heck, they don’t have to be COMPLETELY honest. I just need more than what I am currently getting.
So, dearest White Sox font office, look in the mirror these first days of January and commit to not fibbing. You can be better than that — and if we’re being honest, you have to be better than that.
I’m not great at following directions, so I’m providing two resolutions for the 2024 White Sox. I’m going practical with my first one ... and the team might indeed have a decent chance of achieving it: Play better baseball at home! Last season, they were 31-50 at Guaranteed Rate Field. At almost 20 games worse than .500, that’s just inexcusable. Now, I know it’s completely unrealistic to think that they will go from only 31 wins to 53-28 as they were in 2021, but good Lord, give me at least 40 wins on our own turf. I’d appreciate a 50/50 chance of seeing a win — if I even chose to bother attending a game this season.
Also, since I believe my first resolution is attainable, I will provide the South Siders with a “reach goal”: Please win more one-run games. In 2023, the Pale Hose played in 74 contests decided by one run. They went 30-44 in those games and actually set an all-time MLB record with 44 such losses. It’s possible that an improved defense could help make this ambition feasible, which it appears Chris Getz has attempted to do so far in the offseason. However, if the White Sox indeed have the abhorrent offense we expect them to have, I may have set the bar way too high with this one.
So, White Sox, we certainly know you will suck in 2024, but can you at least throw us a few bones by prevailing in a few more home matches and winning some close games? That would be great, thanks.
I’ll try (and probably fail) to keep this one short and sweet, because I’m a little bit late to the party and I can’t help with agree with pretty much everything my colleagues said above.
That being said, there is one very specific on-the-field task that the Sox need to get done this season if there’s to be any hope of not being mired in sub-mediocrity for the rest of the decade: By the end of this season, they need to have at least one 3-WAR player who we’re not even thinking about at this point in time. Essentially, a Soxivus Miracle for me — getting to watch a bunch of end-of-the-wire prospects and veterans try to kick it into another gear on a non-competitive team — is a necessity for the organization.
There are a million reasons that the Great Hahn Rebuild went down in flames, but one that I continue to think about is how the three years of losing on purpose between 2017-19 didn’t produce a single contributor to subsequent teams who wasn’t already a highly-anticipated prospect. The Cubs don’t win a championship unless they take out a lottery ticket on Jake Arrieta and strike gold with Kyle Hendricks in an inconsequential deadline trade for Ryan Dempster. The Astros may have endured the worst three-year stretch in league history from 2011-14, but it’s also what gave José Altuve and Dallas Keuchel the opportunity to develop from afterthoughts into bonafide superstars. The starting outfield for last year’s 101-win Orioles team included a Rule 5 Draft pick in Anthony Santander, and an All-Star in Cedric Mullins who was taken with the 403rd overall pick and never once appeared on a top prospect list, neither of whom would be who they are now without the opportunity to work through their struggles on a bad team.
Meanwhile, the Sox came out of their last rebuild with... James McCann? Daniel Palka? Six weeks of Yermín Mercedes? A multi-year deal for Leury García?
Just about every winning team in recent memory has at least a couple of stars who weren’t supposed to be stars. That needs to start happening here, ASAP. Who knows what the new front office thinks the competitive timeline really is, but whether it’s short or long, but if they can’t take a step in the right direction by finding some hidden gems this year, it might be a long decade.
My resolution for the White Sox is simple and in a way similar to Brett’s and Allie’s: Stop lying to your fans.
You can make all the statements about trying to be competitive in 2024 that you want, but your actions show that to not be the case. With all the holes on the team, the best they’ve done is ... Martín Maldonado. Chris Flexen? Those are not the moves you make to prove that you want to be a winning team.
At this point, we’re all just waiting for the trades to begin and praying that this team isn’t dumb enough to include Luis Robert Jr. in any deals.
White Sox, at least be honest enough to admit that this year has already been punted.
The South Siders’ ability to develop players from within the organization was among the worst in baseball throughout the Rick Hahn era. Much of the value that the White Sox got from their prospects has been from players who were already fairly polished. This has put the team in a difficult position that requires investments in mediocre free agents (see Joe Kelly, Chris Flexen, Martín Maldonado, etc.) when they could have already had a prospect to fill that role.
Part of the blame for that should go to Chris Getz, who failed upward into the role of general manager. Getz now has a broader set of duties, but the change could be a positive one if Paul Janish, new director of player development, has abilities that his predecessor did not display.
The White Sox’s farm surged up the rankings at the beginning of the Hahn rebuild, and it got a boost at the 2023 trade deadline, too. However, it is about time the South Siders’ farm system improved significantly without the help from other teams’ prospects.
Year of the Hamster
The White Sox need to WIN ... somewhere, something. Take a look at the organization since I started writing here, in 2018:
White Sox 404-465, two of six winning seasons (35-25 and 93-69), 2-5 in two playoff series
Charlotte Knights 297-408, one winning season in five (75-64)
Birmingham Barons 304-364, one winning season in five (62-56)
Winston-Salem Dash 317-331, two of five winning seasons (84-54, 72-61), in 2018 won both season halves but swept in playoffs, 3-0
Kannapolis 303-354, two winning seasons in five (74-63, 67-64)
So the full-season teams in the organization since 2018 have gone 1,625-1,922, a .458 winning percentage that works out to a 74-88 record over a 162-game season. Just eight of 26 seasons have ended with winning records, and just three ended with a playoff berth (all series lost, with 2-8 records).
Minor league standings aren’t supposed to matter, right? Well, that’s a garbage comment that losing organizations tell themselves. Sure, the Rays org wins everything, every year, and has the same number of World Series titles as the White Sox since 2006. But all this losing not only defies the odds, it’s downright embarrassing. Wins are wins, losses are losses. GET SOME WINS.
We all know the organization, even after fire-sale trades in 2023 stocked the club with some hopeful blue chips, is thin, lousy. But at some point even dumb luck has to kick in and put some wins on the board. For there to be hope going forward in this decade, some of that winning needs to start this summer.