Thứ Sáu, Tháng Sáu 2, 2023
HomeSportsThe White Sox' season has been lost?

The White Sox’ season has been lost?

The White Sox’s disastrous start to the season has completely eliminated the team’s playoff hopes before the first month of the schedule ends. The South Siders sit in 7-19 with a run difference of -58. FanGraphs have reduced their expected playoff odds to 4.8%. The PECOTA of the Baseball Prospectus fell even further, at 3.6%.

It’s no surprise that general manager Rick Hahn and executive vice president Kenny Williams have been fired for poor starts to the 2023 season, although the team’s difficulties go even further than that. The Sox lost 8 games in a row last September to fall from 3 out of the league games that led to 11 comebacks and a .500 finish. Hahn candidly discussed his difficulties before the team’s defeat yesterday (link via Steve Greenberg of the Chicago Sun-Times).

“I think that clearly shows that my job is potentially at stake,” Hahn said of the team’s poor start to the season. The 11-year GM insists that the group’s struggle is “certainly nonexistent .” [manager Pedro Grifol] and his coaching staff” and repeatedly said of the team’s difficulties: “Put it on me.”

It was a devastating start for the Sox in every sense. Their overall .231/.289/.373 streak translates to 84 wRC+ placing 26th in the Majors. The Sox are 23rd in team batting average, 28th in base percentage, 22nd in slip rate, 28th in walk rate (6.6%) and 16th in hit rate (23.7%). They’ve dealt with the majority of their injuries, but that’s more and more of an undesirable trait at the core of this team than a bug. The Sox’s depth behind the core team – or rather the absence of that group – is not something that could have been foreseen. I wrote about that topic at the end of January in an article for MLBTR Front Office Subscribers. It’s a perennial problem for the team.

The same goes for the lack of defense. Hahn, Williams & Co. sought to remedy that problem in 2023 by making the difficult decision to move on from club leadership Jose AbreuOpen the first facility for Andrew Vaughn and pave the way to improve external defense with Andrew Benintendi on the left, Luis Robert Jr. at the center and top outlook Oscar in the right field. The team’s overall defense is better in 2023 but still not a strong point; they’re sitting at an aggregate of -10 Saved Defenses, -2s above average, and best of all, a top score from Optimal Area Rating. Their 12 team errors forced them to finish 12th in the Major League Baseball. Colas, meanwhile, have so far looked superior on the plate.

Chicago’s pitching staff – rotation specifically – is arguably its great strength, but things simply don’t work out in that respect. Every member of the rotation, including last year’s runner-up Cy Young Dylan Stop, has an ERA north of 4.00. veteran Lance Lynn and the prospect that was once praised Michael Kopech are all north of 7.00. Options beyond the top five sets of Cease, Lynn, Kopech, Lucas Giolito and free agent signatories Mike Clevinger much more discouraged; Sox’s sixth start, davis martin, posted an ERA of 4.83 in 63 innings of 1/3 MLB last year. He’s had a good start over three turns in Triple-A this season but also hit an ERA of 6.11 in 13 starts there in 2022.

In the bullpen, the Sox team has the second-worst ERA in baseball of 6.06, leading only in Athletics unlucky. There is no predictable way to plan for Liam Hendriks‘ absence, and Aussie’s close announcement that he doesn’t have cancer and looks forward to returning to the mound soon are some of the game’s great fun stories at the moment.

Still, even with Hendriks out, the Chicago relief team is a lot better than this, especially with the heavyweight deals they’ve signed with free agents like Kendall Graveman (three years, $24 million) and Joe Kelly (two years, $17 million). The Sox are spending over $42 million on their bullpen in 2023, and while Hendriks takes $14 million of that (and everything is excellent as expected when healthy), that still leaves more than 28 million. Wage dollars committed to a team that delivered the second-worst end result in all of baseball.

For now, it’s a bleak top-to-bottom view and it raises questions about the team’s direction at the trade deadline at the start of a great season. The White Sox will need to play at 74-62 (0.544) just to finish the season at 0.500. If we were to set the presumptive standard for a knockout spot at 90 wins, they’d need to go 83-53 (.610) from here on out to hit that threshold. In other words, they need to play at roughly the same speed as 88 wins (in a season of 162 games) just to get to 0.500, and roughly the same speed as 99 wins to get to 90 wins.

Based on everything we’ve seen so far, that’s definitely unlikely. The odds are high that the Sox will go into the summer as a sub-500 club with minimal playoff hopes. Even if they manage to get back within reach of AL Central or a Wild Card chase, the team’s farm system is once again pretty barren and owner Jerry Reinsdorf has shown little interest in taking salary in excess of the current level.

It’s more likely to sell off some of the veteran work, though that comes with its own questions. It seems unlikely that Reinsdorf will want to commit to a full rebuild soon after coming out after a years-long effort to do so. The Sox could trade controlled players only through the end of the 2023 season or possibly through the end of the 2024 campaign, but outside Tim Anderson and Lucas Giolito, they don’t have many attractive players in that group. And, As Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic rightly points out this morning, the impending free-agent only trade will need to signal that the team feels it can compete in 2024, which will likely require the kind of payroll spike Reinsdorf was against when stepping into the current season – when he’s actually downsizing the immediate aftermath of a disappointing 2022 season.

However, there is still a possible path to better days with that approach. Group commitments to Lynn, Grandal, Kelly, Clevinger, Diekman, Elvis Andrus And Hanser Alberto all increase at the end of the season. That’s about $65 million in combined wages. Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, notably, is also a free agent. The Sox now have about $109 million committed to the club next year, per roster resourcewith a small class of referees (Cease, Kopech, Vaughn, Garrett Hook).

The Sox could have up to $60 million to work on this upcoming season before they return to their current Opening Day pay. That’s pretty hard to deal with, but they’ll also need to add more starting pitchers, try to fix the stables, and address many of the missing positions in the squad and defense — and do the same with success. greater than their last tranche of free agents (e.g. Grandal, Graveman, Kelly, Dalas Keuchel).

In the end, there’s no easy path to saving the 2023 season and the long-term questions are a bit confusing, if not more so. Hahn certainly knows he’s in the hottest seats, but even with a shift at the top of the baseball activity pyramid, the team will face bigger questions. Will Reinsdorf push wages to never-before-seen levels in a bid to get out of the current mess? Will he give the green light for another rebuild at 87 and just a few years away after four years of stepping back from competitive baseball? The White Sox are currently in one of the least enviable positions in all of baseball, and the questions will only grow bigger if the team can’t quickly begin to adjust course.

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