Chicago White Sox: Another subpar season on the Southsideby Joe Heller August 22, 2019 0 comments
Another Major League Baseball season is heading into the home stretch. As is becoming the norm in the Southside of Chicago, the White Sox are doing nothing more than playing out their remaining schedule. While there is a small glimmer of hope for postseason play, there is not much optimism left.
In recent years, Chicago is essentially eliminated by the All-Star break or shortly thereafter. But every spring training, this fanbase is excited for the season and generally happy with the offseason moves.
It seems like throughout April and May, the White Sox hover around .500 baseball, remaining a handful of games — give or take a few — out of the top spot in the division. But as summer arrives, they begin to fall 10- or even 15-plus games behind and into fourth place in the division.
The division-mates in Kansas City, Cleveland, and Minnesota have all had “their” season lately, which is another reason for optimism every spring training that this is Chicago’s year. In most of the other divisions in baseball, the contenders are the same group of teams every season.
But the crazy thing is the White Sox seem to be more successful against the “better” teams, like the Yankees or Astros. And they can’t beat teams that on paper they should beat. They stand tough in their division games, posting close to a .500 record every year.
At first glance, this team has solid pieces in place. Jose Abreu will likely finish the season with 30 home runs and 100 runs knocked in, which is a normal season for him. He just moved into sixth on the franchise home run list, passing his former manager and ex-White Sox third baseman, Robin Ventura.
Starting pitcher Lucas Giolito is having a career year, and closer Alex Colome has been solid out of the bullpen. But the promising young talent that was part of the last “rebuild” after trading the best pitcher in baseball at the time, Chris Sale, to Boston hasn’t fully played to their expectations. Yoan Moncada had been plagued by injuries, including a bum hamstring ailment that has hurt him and the team more than a couple times this year. Eloy Jimenez, another youngster, has shown flashes of greatness, but nothing consistent.
Pitching-wise, the staff is pieced together with the likes of Ivan Nova and Reynaldo Lopez. The promising talent of Carlos Rodon remains shelved with Tommy John surgery after last year’s shoulder operation.
Manager Rick Renteria was put in a tough spot to begin with and he has made the most of the cards he was dealt. Fortunately, this team didn’t go crazy unloading what few pieces they have at the trade deadline — this restriction and patience have not always been present.
If the White Sox would have been more serious in their pursuit of Bryce Harper this past offseason, this would be a whole different article. Imagine him hitting next to Abreu. The team is one or two solid pieces from achieving that next step: continued Wild Card contention post-June 1. One above-average hitter and a solid starting pitcher would be perfect.
The White Sox need to start by being serious this offseason. First, lock up Abreu long-term, as he has more than earned it. Second, sign at least one of the bigger-name pitchers on the market (Madison Bumgarner, Gerrit Cole, or Stephen Strasburg) and add one more veteran bat (Didi Gregorius, J.D. Martinez, or Yasiel Puig).
This team also needs to embrace its past. Start by bringing back Paul Konerko in some capacity within the organization. As a key part of their last championship team, as well as the heart of this team the entire time he was on the Southside, he knows what it takes to achieve greatness.
They should take a page from their crosstown rivals, the Cubs. After many dreaded years, the Cubs have seemed to have figured out the formula for not only a championship but also sustained success year after year.
That is what the fans of the White Sox would be ecstatic to have.