Don’t be a turkey, be thankful. Original turkey image Gandee Vasan/Stone/Getty Images

There’s always pessimism in fandom, especially if your team is from a certain
Midwestern city that starts with “C”, ends with “O” and in the middle is “Hicag” pronounced like the A is trying to squeeze out from between a couple walls.

Heck, on the lakefront the chants for the head coach to be fired has spread to other sporting events. On the North Side it is back to “wait until next year”. On the ice, the team is carrying the stink of a scandal that taints their revival. On the hardwood, things are…uhh…huh…the Bulls are good. Well…there’s one thing to be thankful for, Jerry Reinsdorf is the only winning owner in town.

Sox fans, life is good. Sure, the ALDS was a lousy end to the season and the Kimbrel trade is teetering precariously on the edge of being an unmitigated disaster, and there’s always gnashing of teeth and rending of garments to be had over certain stats and players, but overall, before tucking into a disproportionately large dinner celebrating a past dinner, there’s reasons Sox fans ought to be thankful.

TWO YEARS STRAIGHT IN THE PLAYOFFS: This has somehow never happened in team history until 2020 and 2021. 120 Years of White Sox Baseball and no group of fans has seen this until the current crop. And there’s plenty of reason to think it’ll happen again in 2022.

THE YOUNG GUYS CAN GET BETTER: This is a team built around youth. As much as fans are clamoring for free agent signings and trades, the reality is that the core of the team has Eloy Jiminez, Luis Robert, Yoan Moncada, Andrew Vaughn, Gavin Sheets, Dylan Cease, Michael Kopech and Lucas Giolito all still with the arrow pointing up. It can be argued that Giolito can’t get much better, but he can do things like become more efficient and consistent. Moncada has to prove, and has the talent to do so, that 2019 was the real him and not a fluke. Vaughn, Sheets, Cease, Robert, Kopech and Eloy are all still in the infancy of their careers…and a lot of players take a year or two to really take off.

IN FACT, THE SOX MIGHT HAVE THE BEST PLAYER(S) IN BASEBALL: Luis Robert showed a glimmer of what he can be. Just…a glimmer. The speed, defense, average, and power were all there but he was hurt and returning from being hurt for so much of the season that his stats were that of a guy trying to get his footing in his second year in the league. If he follows the natural path of a young player, that means as he gets smarter about the game, his physical tools will be put to even better use. Scary thought. If you’re not in silver and black. With Mike Trout heading towards his downside, Robert headed up, do the math. Meanwhile, Eloy Jimenez was on an upward trend before his injury last spring. Assuming he keeps his health, worthy hopefully a return of his power after a full offseason, he could emerge as the best slugger in the game. Yoán Moncada, and maybe Andrew Vaughn, have untapped talent that could emerge as well. The only thing keeping any of these guys from being crowned as the best in the game? They aren’t also Cy Young candidates like Shohei Ohtani. But then, we haven’t seen Robert throw a curveball.

THERE’S REASON FOR BELIEF THAT THIS IS SUSTAINABLE: Seven of the Sox’ last ten first rounders contributed to their success the past couple years. Colson Montgomery was just drafted last year, while Carson Fulmer and Zack Burdi both made the show. Not as good as they were hoped to be, but they made it. That’s a good rate hitting on top picks. Second rounders? There’s Gavin Sheets…it gets grim as the rounds wear on, but the thing that the Sox aren’t missing on often is their top pick. If Montgomery arrives in 2023 or 2024 as a Tim Anderson replacement or takes 2B from whoever is there next year, that is all that is needed to keep the streak intact Also not nothing, but the Sox continue to bring Cuban players over who represent major talent. Robert is the most obvious example now, but Yoelqui Cespedes, Norge Vera, Yolbert Sanchez, and being the favorites to sign Oscar Colas is a major way to maintain the talent level. The Sox won’t need massive waves of rookies, just a replacement here or there. And to the extent that the star power continues with first rounders and international signings, that’s a recipe for sustained success.

HAHN HAS BEEN SMART WITH THE MONEY (GENERALLY): The big knock on the White Sox is that they don’t spend. Well, not like the Dodgers, Yankees, Mets or more recently the Padres. But that’s easy. Pick the top 5 free agents in any given year, give two of them what they want. Find a team looking to dump salary, give them a bunch of players and absorb all the salary where other teams can’t or won’t. Heck, anyone can GM like that. But for other teams, the question is getting bang for the buck rather than throwing bucks at a bang. (!?) What’s meant by that is the Sox have hit on their free agents for the most part. Yasmani Grandal is among the best catchers in baseball. Liam Hendriks is again the best reliever in baseball. The scrapheap guys Hahn grabbed this year all had key moments, from Brian Goodwin walking off, Billy Hamilton’s defense, Jake Lamb filling a number of roles, even Mike Wright Jr. absorbing innings. Most recently Kendal Graveman, a starter who became a lights out setup man and closer in 2021, got a nice deal to be Aaron Bummer’s right hand compliment. Sure, Dallas Keuchel had a bad 2021, but he had a great run in 2020 and can still be a factor in 2022. Really, Adam Eaton and Steve Cischek are the two guys that faltered, and Cischek was coming off a great rebound year and Adam Eaton, in theory, should have been better. Neither killed the team financially, and had they been at their best would have been difference makers.

THE COMPLAINTS ARE SPECULATION FOR NOW: Sure, the Kimbrel trade looks bad if the second base battle is Romy Gonzalez and Danny Mendick, or if Kimbrel gets traded for a prospect who never contributes the way Nick Madrigal would have. But Madrigal’s future isn’t guarantees and Kimbrel hasn’t been traded for nothing yet. The Sox may have a history of passing up (or getting outplayed for) premium free agents, but they didn’t last year when they needed a closer and signed Liam Hendriks or the year before when filling catcher meant grabbing Yasmani Grandal. Even if they don’t get Marcus Semien or Nick Castellanos, or sign Max Scherzer or Robbie Ray, doesn’t mean they won’t grab a premium free agent down the road and during the contention window. As of Thanksgiving 2021, the Sox already grabbed Kendall Graveman to create a formidable back end of the bullpen, and the looming CBA fight has most teams holding back for now anyway. The Sox are no different, but their competition is there too. It’s pricey to go to games but the Sox are 12th the league price-wise for fans. Really, it’s nitpicking at this point. If all you can do is nitpick other parts of your life, you’re probably pretty happy overall. There’s always room for improvement, of course, but for one day at least be thankful that White Sox fandom could be a lot worse. Here’s hoping you have even more to be thankful for.


Fisher Scientific doesn’t have a White Sox edition of this product. (C) Fisher Scientific

What if the White Sox largely stand pat? Can they…?

Yeah that’s right. In an offseason where the Sox seen primed to add a few pieces to put them over to the next tier of contenders, they could do very little just as easily. But fans want new and exciting. Upgrades! New pieces! Lower concession prices! Star players! Spending Jerry’s money!! Trading Kimbrel, Keuchel and definitely not Yoán Moncada!! Hot Stove serving it up on the Southside with grilled onions and a Modelo!!

But what if the Sox go cheap this offseason? What if trades fail to materialize? Riot? Nope! Be satisfied…? Certainly ya don’t need to be. But a little optimism wouldn’t hurt.

In fact, if the Sox left right field and the rotation largely alone, addressed second base and added to the bullpen, they’ll still be set for another playoff run. It would be unjustified to not find upgrades around the diamond, but other than not having an MLB 2B and needing bullpen arms, they’re already a young playoff team. Any major upgrades besides 2B and the ‘pen Rick Hahn pulls off is gravy. Which, gravy and grilled onions usually work well together.

What it means to stand pat.

No team goes into an offseason and determines that there are no moves to be made. There’s always something. Adding depth on minor league deals. Replacing outgoing players. Improving and upgrading are the subjective and not always available options. But filling out the roster is a must at a couple levels, and inevitably not all players are coming back. So minor league signings, non-roster invitees, depth signings, and trades to recoup on superfluous players or for reasons of minor league options are going to happen every year. If that’s all they’ve done, that’s standing pat; those scarcely count s moves. Signing a name free agent to a guaranteed contract or trading for major league talent, that’s the stuff the Sox may not do or need to do.

The case for no expensive free agents

OF EDITION: There’s a movement among fans, at least some fans, that look at guys like Nick Castellanos and expect the Sox to toss money at Michael Conforto, in an effort to plug up right field and possibly DH. The reasoning? Likely the bad taste of watching Adam Engel not do anything special in the ALDS (or much at all this season) and seeing Leury Garcia get used on a key line drive to right in Game 2 and used too much during the season. But more interestingly, a lack of faith in the pile of youngsters that need RF and DH for playing time in the bigs seems to be the issue. Gavin Sheets isn’t a great right fielder and he may need to be platooned against lefties…but he should have a spot on the team next year. His power is legitimate. He’s also responsible for a full third of the Sox’ extra base hits in the 2021 postseason. Andrew Vaughn looked better in left than anyone expected, but then looked a bit lost in right. He wasn’t really used in the ALDS, and his final stats were less than inspiring, but he’s very recently a top prospect. Jake Burger seems like a reliable bat, but he’s not a right fielder as far as anyone can tell. Micker Adolfo can mash taters, but he’s not good in any other aspects of the game.

Well… before they get replaced by the “King of Queens”, ask why isn’t there more faith at least one of these guys can grow? With Vaughn, there’s certainly some reason for skepticism. He has 55 games on the minors with a pedestrian .278 avg. and his .235 avg/.705 OPS in the majors was pretty meh. He didn’t hit homers, struggled against righties, and so on. But this is a guy that really should have had 187 games in the minors rather than playing his first full pro season in the MLB. Shouldn’t Vaughn be given a chance to improve at the plate and in the field? Because he should be able to do both and has the potential to be a star. He played 5…FIVE positions on the field last year in both corner OF spots, 1B, 2B and 3B. The guy is a gamer and has a pedigree that just needs experience to flourish, but there are those that write him off now as a platoon player. Sheets looked bad against lefties. But, in only 18 at-bats. As a rookie. Not as discussed is that down in Charlotte in 65 at-bats, he hit .265 with a .799 OPS including 5 doubles and 2 dingers. In 2019, his splits were bleh against lefties in Birmingham, .235 with a .610 OPS, but that’s also in a hitting-suppression zone where his numbers overall suffered. Prior to that, his .280/.722 against lefties was near his .296/.788 against righties in Winston-Salem. Could Sheets improve against lefties? Yes. You could almost count on it. Could he improve in the outfield? Only direction to go is up; that and he’s motivated and forced the Sox to let him play the outfield because he knows that’s where he has an opportunity. Jake Burger now has all of 504 at-bats in the minors, between 2017 and 2021, with nothing in between. In the minors, he’s a career .270 hitter with an OPS of .808. In a small sample size in the majors, he’s a .263 hitter with an OPS of .807. Those stats are Nolan Arenado last year (.255/.807). That’s a good hitter, and oddly consistent. Jake might be ready for prime time. He just needs a position, and while there’s no proof he can play the OF, there’s no proof he can’t. Frankly, after what the guy’s been through, he could come back next year and win the Cy Young award and it wouldn’t be that big of a surprise. Micker Adolfo is out of options. He needs to make the team. He’s been an OF in the minors and at least no worse than Vaughn or Sheets. His power is there, but he’s been a giant strikeout hole and his average is weak. He’s a potential source of bombs with little in-between, but if the Sox allowed Andrew Vaughn to work it out in the majors maybe Adolfo shakes off his own injury history and finds a groove. This is where optimism falls off a cliff, but he’s also the fourth option on the list.

That’s four players who could take an OF spot full time, and of them two were already major league contributors in 2021, and those two should only get better as they become more familiar with the majors and right field. This also discounts Adam Engel, who seemed ready to become a regular after a solid 2020, and if not for the injury might just have been set as the starting RF. In limited games he hit .252 with an .832 OPS and played his usual stellar game in the field when his leg and shoulder allowed. Assuming he’s healthy, he’s either the best 4th OF around or he’s a legit starter. So that’s five options. Meanwhile, Conforto is a career .255 hitter with a nice .824 OPS, but has had three seasons of an OPS below .800 including last year. Scott Boras makes the one-time all star out to be Bryce Harper 2.0…he’s going to be a lot of money for merely above average production. Castellanos can hit, and will also cost a ton of money. If the Sox sign either guy, the lineup will benefit and it would be one of those gravy-covered upgrades. But if they miss out or spend elsewhere, there’s five internal options to cover right field, all with upsides. There’s probably some bargain free agents that can help too. Corey Dickerson is a career .283 hitter with an OPS of .815. And he isn’t being crowned a king. Just sayin’.

SP EDITION: So how about a starting pitcher? Sure, much like tacos, everyone can go for a starting pitcher at any time. And while Max Scherzer would put the team into the next tier for sure, or Kevin Gausman would bring innings and a new look, or re-signing Carlos Rodón would nice, there’s not necessarily a reason to fret of they don’t grab a premium pitcher.

First off, there’s the Dallas Keuchel issue. If he stays because there’s no market for him, then he has to start. He doesn’t necessarily profile in the bullpen and the only way he really helps is either rebuilding his value as a starter or just being good enough to help the team win as a starter. There’s also Michael Kopech. Let’s say that the Sox’ staff can find a guy to absorb Kopech’s role in the pen, where he was a Swiss Army Knife. Kopech’s next step is to be a starter. This much is pretty universally agreed. If Keuchel is still here, and Kopech starts, there’s no room for a high-priced starter. There’s a need for depth, sure, but Max Scherzer isn’t “depth”. And neither are Giolito or Lynn. And Dylan Cease might emerge as the best starter on the team. So why blow the bank on a high-priced vet? Why sign one at all? Looking at minor league deals for fill-in depth is probably all the Sox need. Or, a guy like Alex Wood, who was Michael Kopech when he came up with the Dodgers and served as a swing guy, could either hold down a rotation slot or be a swing guy and offer occasional 6-man rotation coverage. Same for Danny Duffy. They won’t be the $18-$20 million per year guys, but they can help a team win. Or, let’s say the Sox don’t even bother to sign another starter. Remember Jonathan Steiver? Or Jimmy Lambert? They had down years in Charlotte, but then Reynaldo Lopez sported a 7.62 ERA and 1.90 WHIP in Charlotte and cut those numbers in half when he was recalled. So take it with a grain of salt, but the Sox have two prospects that were at a minimum considered premium trade bait going into last year. It’s maybe too early to totally write them off as potential depth, if not ready to take another step and maybe assume Kopech’s 2021 role. Again, even adding a seemingly rejuvenated Reynaldo into the mix, the Sox don’t need to break the bank on a starter to at least maintain solid depth. There’s bodies on the 40-man that give reason for some hope that they can emerge if the Sox don’t add big, but it’s shaky hope.

RELIEF EDITION: Bullpen arms at a high cost? No. Umm…the Sox like, already haaaaave the best closer in the league, if not the game. And they’re actively trying to trade a closer that has a shot at the hall. So expensive pen help isn’t needed. But taking $20 million and spending it on four guys sounds like a plan. If that is even needed. Relievers are weird and hard to predict. In 2005, the Sox relief relied on a failed starter in Neal Cotts, a guy who was on the fringe of being out of baseball in Cliff Politte, and a low minors castoff in Bobby Jenks. Their high priced free agents in Dustin Hermanson and Shingo Takatsu? Injured and ineffective, respectively. So shelling out a wad to one guy is not only a potential mistake, but the Sox have the high price guys already so it is also highly unlikely they’ll drop major buckley on a reliever. Unfortunately the Sox can’t stand totally pat here. Right now the bullpen would be Hendriks, Bummer, Burr, Reynaldo, Ruiz, Crochet, Kimbrel, Foster, and something called Anderson Severino. Of those guys, Hendriks, Bummer, Crochet, and, shockingly, Ruiz are made guys who will be part of the 2022 bullpen if healthy. Kimbrel is there too if no trades emerge. That’s five of the likely 8 spots, and Burr or Foster could take one, if Reynaldo isn’t starting he’s a safe bet to earn the swing role. So maybe one or two guys are needed and that can come from the minors, or the ether, just as easily as an MLB free agent. Ryan Tepera can come back.

2B EDITION: But what about the gaping casm left at second base? Surely Danny Mendick is not the answer. He isn’t, and don’t call me Shirley.

The Sox need to bring in a player no matter what, because what comes next here is a bit of straw grasping. The question is how expensive and for how long this player will be here. The chances are slim that there’s a young, long-term option available. Marcus Semien is the popular option for fanbase free agent hunters, and rightfully so as he was a monster while playing the keystone for the ’21 Blue Jays. Yolbert Sanchez is the current flavor du jour for those looking at a minor league option, thanks to his Arizona antics. Yolbert is a Cuban import who reached Birmingham this past season, where he sported a lovely .343 avg. with an .838 OPS. He was less than that at Winston-Salem, and his Cuban League numbers were solid numbers with less power, albeit at a young age when power is physically limited. Given the Sox recent predeliction for promoting guys fast, if Sanchez is for real then he’s maybe a guy that earns it in spring, or at least a guy that arrives in 2023. The track record of Cubans becoming solid, if not star, players on the Southside is nothing to sneeze at.

Besides, beyond Marcus Semien, the Sox would have to convince Trevor Story, Carlos Correa (boo), or Corey Seager to play out of position. Correa won the Platinum Glove, so he’s not necessarily in a hurry to move. Seager had a chance to play 2B this year when Trea Turner became a Dodger, but Turner made the move to 2B instead. Story…well…not only will he command a big salary but is a career .241 hitter with an OPS of .752 away from Coors Field. That’s actually kinda bad. Not perception, reality bad. He’s good defensively, at short anyway, so there’s that but he’s not a proven asset at 2B away from Coors. The Sox could also give up a draft pick for Chris Taylor, a solid 2B who is a career .261 hitter with a .779 OPS. That’s a draft pick for a solid player, but not a star. Taylor makes little sense to sign.

It would be questionable to spend all the cash or go long term for an off-position player or a fairly pedestrian guy in Taylor, when Sanchez might be lurking around the corner. It would make sense to see if Burger can make the switch, or maybe Andrew Vaughn can handle it, or get a lower end free agent as a stop gap. 34-year-old Donovan ‘Donny Barrels’ Solano has been a fantastic hitter the past two years, and won’t break the bank. Aging Josh Harrison can also hold the fort and plays other positions as well.

The Sox really aren’t in a position to leave second base in the hands of internal candidates. Burger and Vaughn are pipe dreams that they can convert well enough to warrant it. Yoán Moncada was a terrible 2B and is too good at third to move back realistically, though that might be the plan if the Sox can’t otherwise replace Nick Madrigal because Vaughn and Burger can play third. Otherwise, Romy Gonzalez and Danny Mendick get a shot with Yolbert on their heels.

That’s free agency. And other than second base, where maybe it is worth throwing cash at Semien or one of the star shortstops, the Sox could easily go into the season without a splashy move. They won’t go the whole offseason without any signings, but they could, and the result would be Vaughn, Sheets, Burger, Stiever, Lambert, and maybe a Yolbert here or there competing to take a role.

The case for no big trades…

Trades are also being discussed, but if the Sox fail to make a trade with any of the dangling MLB talent for any major league help in return, it’ll just create more holes. If they keep the trade bait, the results are mixed. The following seem to be mentioned routinely.

Trade bait: Craig Kimbrel. If the Sox keep him, they just have to hope he does better. And maybe he does settle in or Tony finds saves for him and Hendriks over a full season. Optimistically, Kimbrel had better movement as the playoffs started and might have just been tiring out in the second half after getting heavy usage by the Cubs. The Sox didn’t need him to close out games much, but that could change especially if both he and Hendriks need to go multiple innings on a regular basis. Is the Sox’trade machine is working right, Kimbrel refills 2B or fills RF, or brings back a couple of bullpen arms, or some combo thereof. But that’s hardly guaranteed to happen, and if it doesn’t materialize keeping a premium closer isn’t all bad.

The trade bait: Dallas Keuchel. Yeah, well, where’s he going? If he’s not good enough to be a starter on a contender here, he’s not really wanted by other contenders. He’s too old and pricey for a rebuilding team. So it literally might come down to the long shot that a team feels like they can fix whatever is wrong. Or a team that doesn’t believe they can contend but wouldn’t rule it out. The Sox might do best just to hang on to Keuchel and see if he can reclaim past glory, or more likely adapt to a new style and contribute something positive as the fifth starter. Even if he averages 6 innings and 4 runs per game, it would make for a servicable 5th starter. Although stats-wise that’s something along the lines of 190 innings and an ugly ERA near 6.00. If he’s rocking 180 innings and an ERA of 4.75, that’s probably 25 decent starts and maybe 7 clunkers. There’s value in those 180 innings to the Sox. That’s the best case scenario for Keuchel, a rebound to be the 4th starter in value.

The trade bait: Garrett Crochet. He’s potential bait because he’s a first rounder with success, but perhaps limited to the role he’s in. Maybe he’s not the next Chris Sale. Maybe he’s not going to transition to starting pitching ever. Just because he’s a first round pick doesn’t mean he has to make that jump. He has trade value based on his arm alone, and could bring back major league talent. Probably not on his own, at least in terms of bringing a star back. The A’s, for example, might want to part with Chris Bassitt, but for a guy that has pitched at an ace level for the past few years he’ll command more than a first round lefty who has been a good setup pitcher for one season. The Sox would also need to find a bullpen piece on Crochet’s level if they part with him. Crochet as a piece of a trade that brings back a game-changing star could make sense in the bigger picture, but keeping him and having him be a key piece of the ‘pen is hard to argue against.

The trade bait: Gavin Sheets. Not sure why he’s a guy the Sox would move, but he’s a guy the Sox move if they believe in Andrew Vaughn as the future DH/1B and sign a guy to cover RF. Sheets as a lefty power bat under team control is a guy that most teams would look to keep. Again, in a package for a legit star player there’s possibility in the grand scheme, but keeping a guy who could hit 40 out from DH/RF this year and eventually 1B makes sense.

The trade bait: Andrew Vaughn. Not sure why he’s a guy the Sox would move, but he’s a guy the Sox move if they believe in Gavin Sheets as the future DH/1B and sign a guy to cover RF. Vaughn is a high-pedigree bat that should improve greatly, and is under team control. That is a guy that most teams would look to keep. Again, in a package for a legit star player there’s possibility in the grand scheme, but keeping a guy who could hit for both average and power from DH/RF this year and eventually 1B makes sense.

The trade bait: Jake Burger. Not sure Jake has standalone value to bring back anything big. Assuming his bat is what he showed last year and that he can stay on the field, and find somewhere on the field to play, he…welll…uhhh…ya know what? The Sox keeping him isn’t terrible but for now he’s only AAA insurance against certain injuries.

The trade bait: Zack Collins. Ha. Yeah. Sure.

Trades are harder to predict because there’s two in the dance, and sometimes three (which is usually the start of a mosh pit). A team has to a) value the offered piece, b) have a piece valued by the Sox, and c) the trade has to not make more problems than it answers. If the Sox sign Michael Conforto, then it feels possible Gavin Sheets or Andrew Vaughn could be gone. If the Sox sign Max Scherzer, then Michael Kopech stays in the bullpen and maybe Craig Kimbrel gets traded for some future instead of some present. The Sox should look to free agent possibilities before making trades that don’t immediately plug a hole. Kimbrel for a 2B? Done. Kimbrel for an OF? Sure. Kimbrel and Sheets for a starter? Ummm…ok…but who is the DH/RF? Kimbrel and Zack Collins for a reliever and a couple minor-league players? Yeah, ok. Collins for a tub of gravy. DO IT.


One’s an old Iron-On, one’s credited to Getty Images and Nuccio DiNuzzo. You guess.


Craig Kimbrel’s option has been picked up, so let the trading begin! We assume. The Sox are known to need a second baseman to replace Nick Madrigal, and have no one in house to take the spot unless Jake Burger or Andrew Vaughn surprise the heck out of Tony. There’s a perceived need in RF, where Adam Engel failed to take charge after getting hurt early and often; but where he, Andrew Vaughn and Gavin Sheets could all spend time especially if the latter two figure out the glove work. The Sox also are rumored to need help in the rotation, where Michael Kopech is seemingly set to replace the seemingly gone Carlos Rodón, but fans are also looking to move on from Dallas Keuchel and only Reynaldo Lopez showed anything as a potential in house replacement. And the Sox really have bullpen depth issues, where they’re left with Liam, Aaron and Garrett after Kimbrel is traded. But what’s his market? Let’s take a peek behind the glass.


Braves – The champs have Will Smith, who is neither a fresh younger monarch nor a power-hitting catcher. Smith wasn’t great to start the season but was last seen closing out the World Series. Smith is under contract and Kimbrel’s lone year in Atlanta wasn’t great, so that’s a bad taste to wash out if there’s any chance at upgrading. Not much chance here.

Phillies – Ahhh the ever-needy Phillies. Yes, they can use a closer since Ian Kennedy wasn’t good down the stretch and he and Hector Neris are free agents. They used Ranger Suarez for a bit and could go back to him, but he was also a starter. Given the chance at a potentially premium closer it stands to reason that they will be at the table. The trouble? They are sitting at the table with little to offer. They have holes to fill in the OF and up the middle, which is where the Sox need help. Unless there’s a prospect that the Sox are looking at, or they are willing to bet that DiDi Gregorious can rebound to his Yankees heyday while playing out of position…uhhh…nah. The Phillies might have the want, but they can’t really help the Sox right away.

Mets – They need a new GM and the next one may not want to make splashes the way the outgoing ‘Wagen did. Also, Edwin Diaz finished 7th in the league in saves and is under team control. There’s really very little market here, even though Diaz isn’t the greatest. If the Mets were to take Kimbrel, the Sox best get might be Jeff McNeil, a high contact 2B/OF who the Mets aren’t necessarily looking to move. They do want to move 3B JD Davis, who would have to transition to another position and he doesn’t make glove all that well to start with.

Marlins – Interesting as a team going into 2022, the Marlins are looking at a breakthrough year for guys like Jesus Sanchez and Jazz Chisholm, while building on a young but promising rotation. They could look at Kimbrel as part of that next step, anchoring a young ‘pen, and have some players that could be of use, as they have a bunch of young starters who might be ready for this year, or Garrett Cooper, who is a 129 OPS + hitter that could be a DH-type if Gavin Sheets gets better in the OF (or at least a platoon guy for Sheets). It’s a maybe, but the notoriously cheap Marlins would need to sign off on the salary as well as think that this is the piece that brings it home.

Nationals – The Nats appear to be rebuilding and are more likely interested in Garret Crochet than Craig Kimbrel. That’s another story.


Brewers – Ya Hader. As in Josh Hader. As in, the Brewers are pretty set at closer. Moving on…

Cardinals – Alex Reyes emerges to save 29 games after years of being an enigma wrapped in a mystery, or at least hurt. If the Cardinals want Reyes to start, Jordan Hicks is waiting in the wings (albeit he’s been bad). The Cards could look at Kimbrel if Reyes starts, or skootch Reyes up to a setup role to try and get Waino and Yadi a ring. If they do kick the tires, they could offer the Sox a starting pitcher as they have Jack Flaherty, Adam Wainwright, Miles Mikolas and will get back Dakota Hudson, as well as had useful contributions from John Gant and Jake Woodford, and have top prospect Matthew Liberatore ready to go. Otherwise, maybe gold glove OF Harrison Bader, who is frankly Adam Engel in red and maybe not for sale. They’d love Paul DeJong to be the Sox 2B, but that’s because he’s bad.

Reds – The Reds are incredibly in-between being young and old, rebuilding and competing. So Kimbrel makes some sense as they ran through a bunch of guys at the back end of their bullpen. But, they aren’t exactly sporting anything worth getting for the Sox, unless Kimbrel is a package piece in a huge swing for Jesse Winker, or more likely a salary swap for Sonny Gray if the Reds are really trying to move him. I guess there’s a gamble that Mike Moustakis isn’t completely toast? Did Tyler Naquin’s resurgence warrant trust in a trade? The Reds would be a gamble trade wise.

Cubs – The Cubs trading for Kimbrel would be neither surprising nor sane. But not likely.

Pirates – See the Cubs, but somehow slightly more sane but also more surprising. In both cases the team would be more likely to trade for Keuchel. Also another story.


Giants – The Giants will certainly be looking to go at the playoffs again. A major hindrance there is that their entire rotation after Logan Webb is comprised of current free agents, so that’s where the resources by the Bay will be going. Plus Jake McGee was pretty solid with 31 saves and he’s under contract. No deal.

Dodgers – Here’s a popular destination, because the Dodgers absorb star players like a black hole absorbs all light and matter. They weren’t super pleased with Kenley Jansen to start the year and he belongs to the streets at the moment. But Jansen saved 38 Dodger W’s and the Dodgers could just bring him back. If not, renting Kimbrel is a good option. They would primarily have pitching to offer back, youngsters like Mitch White or Ryan Pepiot that may or may not have a spot on the team, or a veteran like David Price. Those hoping for 2B Gavin Lux will need Kenley Jansen to leave and Corey Seager to stay, and frankly the Dodgers are more likely to do the opposite with their free agents. Those saying Matt Beaty are evidently into collecting 1B/DH’s playing OF poorly. The pitching the Dodgers could offer up could be bullpen help or rotation or swing.

Padres – Well, last offseason’s big splashers are also looking at a closer who is now a free agent, as the MLB saves leader Mark Melancon is looking for a new deal and a raise ($5 million last year). Again, the Padres become a player if they lose a player, and there’s some options there if they want to throw a card or two. Ha-Seong Kim and Adam Frazier are both sitting there, assuming that they can’t move Eric Hosmer to open 1B for Jake Cronenworth. Kim wasn’t great in his first year although showed some signs of life when Fernando Tatis went down. Frazier came back to earth after the trade from the Pirates, but would be at least a passable 2B for 2022, good glove and likely a league average bat. But the Padres could offer Melancon $16 million and have their guy without losing a player. They’d love to swap Homer out for salary purposes, but he’d have to DH on the Southside and spell Jose at 1B.

Rockies – The Rockies could lose Trevor Story and then lose Charlie Blackmon, so an aging HOF-candidate closer seems unlikely to be on their shopping list. No deal.

Diamondbacks – This team is a mess, but that doesn’t mean they won’t try and go for it. After all, they are paying Madbum a lot of money and have Ketel Marte with some youth behind him. I wouldn’t bet on Kimbrel landing in the desert, but if he did, then the DBacks could offer David Peralta back as they make room for Daulton Varsho.


Rays – The Rays adding a high-value piece of payroll would be out of character to say the least. And although they have endless supplies of “who?” youngsters, there’s no saying that they are interested or that any of the young guys will pan out. There’s probably something there to trade for but it feels unlikely.

Red Sox – If there’s ever a team that could be looking, it is the Red Sox. Matt Barnes wasn’t good this past year and Kimbrel enjoyed a good run in Boston, so a final trip to secure which hat he’ll wear in Cooperstown makes sense. What’s less certain is what’s available. The biggest catch might be Jarren Duran, a speedy OF who played middle infield in the minors, rocketed up to Boston and then flopped like any number of rookies did last year. But Duran could become the answer in RF, or maybe 2B. Otherwise it might be prospects that aren’t quite ready.

Blue Jays – If there’s ever another team that needs a closer it’s the Jays, who were kind of rudderless at the back end and are a team that a closer like Kimbrel could put over the hump. They have some interesting players and a couple more in the hopper that aren’t on the team but knocking on the door. One guy who’s been supplanted is Cavan Biggio, who had an injury-plagued and down year, and has struggled to keep up with the success rocket that his follow MLB legacy teammates Bo Bichette and Vlad Jr. have achieved. Biggio could rebound and handle 2B, where he was a plus defender in 2019 and 2020. Even if Marcus Semien leaves, rookie Josh Groshans is ready for prime time. Also kind of sitting there is veteran RF Randal Grichuk, who isn’t flashy but produces well and covers RF well. If the Jays are so inclined to have an OF of Lourdes Gurriel, Teoscar Hernandez and George Springer, maybe freeing up cash by swapping out Grichuk’s $10 million for a closer is decent business. If the Sox are desperate, the Jays have 4 young catchers that could all be serviceable backups.

Yankees – Another team that’s popped up as a Kimbrel spot, but Aroldis Chapman is still there and grabbed 30 saves even though he wasn’t quite himself. The Yankees are also in their current mess because they have a lot of underachievement on the roster, so unless the idea of trying to reclaim Clint Frazier or Miguel Andujar sounds palatable, there’s maybe some pitching that can come back this way. Joey Gallo flopped after the trade to NYY, and while Gallo is a good defender in RF, he’s another low contact-power or bust bat that the Sox have in spades. Also, the Yankees might want to keep him since they are short on OF too.

Orioles – Ha. There’s nothing there. But if they want to give up Anthony Santander or Ced Mullins to fill RF on the Southside, The Sox could listen. They won’t. Either of them.


Indians – They have closers in James Karinchak and Emmanuel Clase that are cheaper than Kimbrel. They are also the primary competition for the Sox and there’s no reason to help that.

Tigers – They are on an upswing and no reason to encourage that either.

Royals – You know what? Keep Kimbrel out of the AL Central.

Twins – Unless Kimbrel is Alex Colome 2.0.


Astros – It’s hard to send anything potentially helpful to the Astros, but there’s no reason that the Astros wouldn’t consider it. Ryan Pressley is good but not great, Kendall Graveman was the guy that stepped in down the stretch when Pressley was unavailable. Much like the Giants, the Astros are maybe more in the market for starters than a closer. They also have to decide whether to post a big number too keep Carlos Correa. Seems unlikely.

Mariners – A team on the rise, and one that traded their closer and trotted out a couple of guys down the stretch. Kimbrel could be that piece that makes them a contender. They have some outfield depth but nothing that makes the Sox significantly better unless they agree to trade Mitch Haniger. But that seems unlikely.

A’s – The internet is abuzz with the idea that the A’s are going to blow it up. Kimbrel isn’t a rebuilding type of player. Too bad, because there’s talent on the A’s that the Sox could use. Maybe in a threesome?

Angels – Another team that will grab veterans and name players. In the Angel’s case, to try and give Mike Trout any chance at a winner. The issue with the Angels is just how bereft of talent the team is, as they lack depth. The other issue is Raisel Iglesias, who recorded 34 saves. The Angels need other things first.

Rangers – They are already in rebuild mode and Kimbrel offers little in advancement of their cause.

Looking at who needs a closer, who has something useful to give back, the market for Kimbrel is thin. The Dodgers, Padres and Jays feel like the best partners, with the Red Sox close behind. The Cardinals, Reds and Mariners present opportunity but maybe not immediate help. The Diamondbacks are a dark horse. And these teams could value Kimbrel greater than maybe credit is being given here. The Padres could give up Jake Cronenworth, who would be a huge get at 2B. The enigma is whether a team will see what Kimbrel did as a Cub and view him as a massive upgrade at closer, or see the struggles he had with the Sox. Either way, it’ll be a source of frustration if Kimbrel gets moved for prospects when his arrival created a hole on the MLB roster that still needs filling. That hole only gets filled by Kimbrel in a few possible situations. The Sox may also have committed to Kimbrel staying in their pen, where his value might not rebound and where if he doesn’t do better, the Sox world be in trouble. Happy hunting, Rick.


Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That’s been protected by those who served in the military since the words were written at the infancy of our country. Thanks to the service and sacrifice, we’re able to spend time pondering where Craig Kimbrel will draw paychecks from next year as a form of pursuing happiness. For that, being given the freedom to find a bit of joy in something so unimportant, I thank everyone who served and those who yet will.


Window of Opportunity remains open…who is coming through it?

In contractual terms “consideration” is the thing you give the other guy for the thing he’s giving you. Usually consideration is the money, the service or the good exchanged. But it is also a word that means a thought given to the impact of an action before taking it.

In the case of the Sox offseason, it’s easy to talk about the consideration they should or could give for new players to upgrade the team. How much money to give Marcus Semien or Nick Castellanos, or who to trade for Ketel Marte.

But it’s harder to give consideration about where the team is at and what thought needs to go in before the money or players head out. Harder… Not impossible. Luckily after a two week hiatus to consider consideration while considering what to consider… The answers are below. Also if may have been a lowatus. Just saying.

THE HOLE: Right Field

Not even a question that RF became a turnstile of who’s next this season. After Adam Eaton flamed out, and because Adam Engel was left with 68.7% of his legs, Brian Goodwin, Andrew Vaughn, Billy Hamilton, Gavin Sheets and I want to say Jordan Danks and Shawn Abner all had shots at holding down RF. Goodwin had moments, Vaughn struggled defensively moreso than in left field, Sheets needed a platoon partner and Hamilton was iffy on O and hurt at times. Easy peasy…grab a top free agent bat and plunk him in right. Right…?


Sheets and Vaughn could have tagged up as a platoon if the Sox were interested in being bat-first. Jake Burger could have been given a look. And roughly 28 outfielders were traded at the deadline. Of those, guys like Eddie Rosario, Kyle Schwarber, and Jorge Soler were indicative of what was there for the taking…a good bat with a bad glove. Goodwin, Hamilton and Engel had the distinction of being good outfielders defensively, with speed. Why? Well because the Sox are a flyball pitching team. Having Robert and two liabilities is a good way to have a few extra doubles taken on you and not getting out of an inning. Think about game two of the ALDS. Leury Garcia, an infielder who isn’t all that good in the outfield, misplays a ball that Goodwin, Engel, Hamilton and Eaton all catch. Damage is limited in the inning and the Sox maybe take the game. They’re willing to put up with either Vaughn or Jimenez in left, but in choosing Adam Eaton over Eddie Rosario or Kyle Schwarber the Sox made it clear that their next RF has to be a complete player. Unfortunately, Yoelqui Cespedes is a year or two away. So Nick Castellanos, as much as he can hit, consider his defense the thing the Sox will likely decide on (and he’s not good). Offensively, the Sox may also not look at RF for power, as much as someone who offers more all around game, closer to vintage Adam Eaton. That could be Andrew Vaughn taking the next step…more immediately a healthy Adam Engel profiles that way. But assuming the Sox fill RF from outside…oh good gravy the profile fits possible free agent Avi Garcia. Well…there’s always trades, too.

THE HOLE: Second Base

Talk about self-inflicted wounds. Nick Madrigal was hurt and was going to be out the rest of the year, but heading into 2022 he is expected to play. Granted, the theory espoused in this space that the Sox believe the injury will irreparably diminish Madrigal is still one way to justify the trade, but in reality the Sox left themselves with no one to man the position in 2022. Romy Gonzalez represented probably the closest to a ready replacement in the minors, while Leury Garcia was the most productive replacement and is a free agent himself. There’s been jibber-jabber about Jake Burger getting up to speed at the position, and recall Andrew Vaughn actually started there in a real game, or that Yoan Moncada was a really awful defender there but played a whole season at the keystone. There’s still Cesar Hernandez sitting there, but his decline from the sort-of model replacement-level useful plug-him-in guy to an aging vet trying to hang on to starting jobs isn’t something a championship team needs. But, hey, Marcus Semien can come right on home for a whopper contract and all is well. On second thought…


Nick Madrigal was the missing link in the Sox lineup at the end of the season. By the playoffs you basically expected the Sox innings with scores to be a hard-hit single, followed by a hard-hit single or maybe double, followed by a homer, a loud lineout, an ill-timed strikeout, Yas Grandal walking or hitting another homer, and then a weak tapper somewhere after a pitching change. When Nicky Two Strikes was healthy and building his legend, the innings he was in where there were scoring chances usually featured him making contact. That contact resulted in bloops, bleeders, grounders, flyouts, singles, doubles, triples or whatever, but also was not going to be a K or pray at-bat. The Sox lineup beyond Tim Anderson and Luis Robert really fell into that latter category…you watched praying for hard contact because the feeling was that the K or grounder right to him was the most likely scenario. With Madrigal it was anything possible. Marcus Semien is a good 2B, but his appeal is the power numbers that he’s had for only two of his nine seasons. His 45 homers would look great, his .265 average with it is suggestive of being Eloy, Jose, maybe the evolution of Gavin Sheets, or Yoan and Vaughn figuring out how to hit homers. Not to say that a Madrigal-type contact guy HAS to be at 2B…especially if the Sox were to install 35+ homers at the keystone in the form of Semien or a position-switching Corey Seager or Trevor Story. Moncada focusing on contact and putting the ball in play versus power (if that changes anything at all with him) would be fine, as would Andrew Vaughn taking that route. Finding that in the outfield would be fine too. But when roster construction is discussed, the Sox biggest Achilles’ heel was that everyone in the lineup except TA and Pantera profiled as under .300 but can hit you that homer…sometimes. With that hole there at 2B, getting a leadoff-type hitter that will put the bat on the ball a lot is in keeping with the position. Free agent-wise, there’s really not much there, but Josh Harrison is a contact guy that at worst is a stop-gap utility guy, and is a different look from the rest of the lineup.

THE HOLE: 4th and 5th Starters

Lance Lynn and his myriad of heaters shall return. Lucas Giolito and Dylan Cease are under club control. Carlos Rodon probably pitched himself into a big deal and isn’t a lock to return. That leaves one open spot, with Dallas Keuchel, Reynaldo Lopez and a few kids to fill out the rotation, Problem is, but they aren’t looked as the solution. Michael Kopech should transition to starter at some point, filling the hole, and then trade Keuchel and get a guy or bring back Rodon. Starting to seem like this isn’t an issue…


That maybe the Sox aren’t sure whether Kopech has enough of an arsenal to be a starter and aren’t sold on what’s available. On the Sox in the Basement show, it was discussed that the pitchers were all really two-pitch guys at the end of the season, with Kopech being a fastball-slider guy. He didn’t throw much else all year, adding some changeups and curves when he was spot-starting. Not as discussed was the fact that the Sox lacked guys who consistently went deep into games. The best average innings per start was Giolito at 5.2 per, with Carlos Rodon and Lance Lynn rounding up to join him but with fewer starts. That’s twice through a lineup. Each of the top 4 starters (Not you Dallas) had one complete game. Giolito went past the 6th seven times…Cease three times but never over 7 innings (including his complete game)…Lynn, known as an innings eater, only went more than 6 five times and Rodon posted four such starts. Keuchel equaled him. By comparison, Blue Jay Robbie Ray went there 11 times and his teammate and ex-Twinkie Jose Berrios had 12 starts that went at least into the 7th. MLB innings leader Zack Wheeler? Went past the 6th 20 times. TWENTY!! Now Giolito is probably due for a few more here or there but he’s not the most efficient guy on the mound. Lynn with better health likely gets a few more by adding more innings, but he’s also on the downslope age-wise. Keuchel had better ratio of longer starts in 2018 and 2019, and Cease needs to develop into that guy. Long story short, the Sox need a guy who can go deeper into games. That usually means having a pitch to contact guy (think Mark Buehrle) or a superstar. The Sox really can’t have a five-and-out guy at the back end because the three that are locked in are generally done in the 6th. The Sox bullpen was terrific this year, but they need a guy that in a playoff game, or for the entire month of July, can get you straight to Bummer and Liam, otherwise they still need Garret Crochet and, yeah, Kopech to be multi-inning guys. So assuming you need to fill one starter slot and would like to fill two, then the Sox would be best served focusing on innings and varying the look from the 4-Seam and slider/4-seam and cutter combos that Giolito, Kopech, Cease, Lynn, Keuchel, Rodon, and Garrett Crochet all use. That could mean giving a different look, like Kevin Gausman’s splitter, or, well, a guy who was top three in groundball outs in Dallas Keuchel. But Keuchel’s problem is that he can’t strike anyone out anymore, and the results aren’t good enough. The Sox lack variety to the point that simply adding back in Rodon or promoting Kopech without any of them learning some new tricks is just going to be more of the same.

THE HOLE: Craig Kimbrel

Yeah, well, hole might be a touch nasty as a descriptor but the fact is that the hall-of-fame candidate struggled after being traded to the Sox, whether because closers are weirdos who can’t pitch the 8th as a setup guy or because, uhhh, because closers are weirdos is really the theory. In reality he lost control in the zone and for a bit, some movement on his curve. Still, assuming the Nightengale tweet is correct, the Sox intend to recoup the investment on the trade market. The guy could be a legit hall of fame baseball guy, that means something, right? Case closed…?


This isn’t trading Chris Sale to get top prospects. This isn’t getting a team to overpay at the deadline like with Q netting Eloy and Cease. This isn’t even trading Bill Simas for Jon Garland. The Sox need help now, and even to the extent that Kimbrel would net a highly-regarded prospect, he’s only on a one-year deal and he’s 34. Teams that he fits are teams that intend to win the World Series in 2022, that lack a closer, that have players available that the Sox want and need, and if you want to add in further restrictions, won’t be a team directly competing for the Sox’ playoff position. That really leaves it to teams like Padres and Dodgers, who used free agents Mark Melancon and Kenley Jansen last year; or teams like Boston, Toronto and Houston who didn’t have that one guy who got it done; or teams like the Phillies or Seattle that think they will compete better next year and could shift their current guy to a different role. What would a Padres or Dodgers team give for a year of Kimbrel? Adam Frazier, who was insurance against Fernando Tatis Jr.’s injury issues? Why wouldn’t the Padres keep him in case that happens again? Trading Kimbrel for the right return will probably depend on a lot of things outside the Sox control, like whether the Cardinals want top prospect Nolan Gorman to be their 2B and are willing to trade Tommy Edman, instead of just ending Paul DeJong’s increasingly lousy time as their SS by putting Gorman there…or the Padres losing Melancon and being willing to send Jake Cronenworth or Frazier for Kimbrel, because top prospect CJ Abrams is ready to take 2B and run with it and there’s no moving Eric Hosmer…or the Dodgers losing Jansen but keeping Corey Seager and the Sox being willing to take Gavin Lux on as an Andrew Vaugn-esque project in the majors…or, well, anything any team needs to sort out before they start dealing. Point being that Kimbrel might not be traded until late in the offseason or until the deadline, unless one of those teams just wants him because they want him. But also, they know the Sox are motivated. It is unfortunate, but the reality is that Nick Madrigal was probably traded for a few months of Kimbrel and a guy set to debut in 2024.

THE HOLE: Backup Catcher (and a guy that can nail runners)

Yeah…Zack Collins and Seby Zavala weren’t good. They were well below average at throwing runners out, 17% and 11% respectively (23% was league average). Collins also seemed to regress in blocking pitches and neither really distinguished themselves behind the plate in general. At the plate…woof. Seby was a bad hitter in the minors and Collins has yet to show at any time in the majors that he can actually hit. They are AAAA players that need to go. Replacing them should go off without a catch…


Well…if the concern is throwing runners out, Yas was too (19%) and in his career he’s generally been above the league average. Frankly it was discussed at length that Sox pitchers were brutal at holding runners on, and most of them remain deliberate to the plate even in running situations. That’s not the catchers’ fault. If there’s questions about being useful at the plate, it’s less of an issue unless Grandal gets hurt again. Expect that a veteran will make an appearance in spring training, and maybe it’ll be James McCann-like in catching lighting in a bottle. But really, the thing Tony seemed most irked at with his backups was calling the game, which is something that can be learned. They might just stick with Collins or Zavala if one shows up having a better feel for the pitchers and the league and shows better pitch calling in spring. Or it’ll be one of those veteran catchers that makes you go…huh.


Trades being the likely early run in the offseason due to CBA uncertainty, it stands to reason that there’s a pecking order of who is tradeable, who should be traded, and who is untouchable. Here, by position group, is how they are pecked:


UNTOUCHABLE: Lucas Giolito, Liam Hendriks, Lance Lynn, Aaron Bummer. These guys are too valuable to the team. No one is offering enough to pry them away. Lynn was just extended, Giolito is the ace, and Bummer and Hendriks are the bullpen aces.

TRADEABLE, BLOCKBUSTER LEVEL: Dylan Cease, Michael Kopech, Garrett Crochet. I mean, for a huge return you’d include one of these guys, but we’re talking getting a bona fide Ace back in return, or a legit star player. For instance, you wouldn’t necessarily trade one of these guys for Sonny Gray straight…but if the Phillies offered Zack Wheeler or Bryce Harper then there’s reason to move one of these guys.

ON THE BLOCK: Craig Kimbrel, Dallas Keuchel, Reynaldo Lopez. They are available, and maybe in a “take what you can get” way with Keuchel. Kimbrel is all but gone, Keuchel might depend on whether the Sox add to the rotation. In both cases if they rebuild their value by starting 2022 on the Southside, they could just stay. Lopez rebuilt his value, but he’s maybe more useful in the swing role again unless he can help net an RF or 2B.

NO VALUE: Matt Foster, Jimmy Cordero, Evan Marshall, Jace Fry, Jimmy Lambert, Jonathan Steivers. Lambert and Steivers are still prospects but didn’t exactly distinguish themselves this year. Of the rest, Ruiz had a good year but is just a guy and won’t bring back anything more useful than himself. Marshall and Cordero were hurt, Fry and Foster were bad.


UNTOUCHABLE: Jose Abreu, Tim Anderson. This is actually something of a misnomer because TA and Pito aren’t at a level where their production is irreplaceable, they just mean too much to the locker room to swap in another slugging 1B and another of the proliferation of star-level SS. They also have some value issues in that regard on the market, where Jose as an aging RBI machine has value, but not enough will come back to warrant taking him off the Sox. With Anderson, the issue is more that teams all over the MLB tend to have one of their best players at SS, and the teams that aren’t set there, say the Yankees or Reds for instance, would do better to throw money at Corey Seager, Trevor Story, or Carlos Correa this spring. The Sox also lack a viable TA replacement, and you don’t trade the face that runs the place to make way for Danny Mendick.

TRADEABLE, BLOCKBUSTER LEVEL: Yoan Moncada. Moncada is a damn good player who, if he repeats 2019, can be a damn great one. Which is why you’d have to bowl the Sox over to move him, and why he’s almost certainly staying. Let’s say that the Diamondbacks make Ketel Marte, and David Peralta available; Marte solves 2B and Peralta solves RF with a star (statistically similar to Moncada) and a very solid vet respectively, while Andrew Vaughn and Jake Burger get to stake their claim to 3B for the Sox. The Sox don’t make that trade. But given something even bigger? Moncada simply has the value on the market to be the centerpiece of a Godfather deal.

ON THE BLOCK: Jake Burger, Gavin Sheets…Andrew Vaughn? I don’t think any of these three are being shopped or should be shopped. But if there’s a move that brings an established veteran to fill 2B, Rf or upgrade pitching, these guys aren’t untouchable and aren’t irreplaceable. Vaughn should blossom into a much better hitter than he’s shown and may yet find a home on the field. I list him here (and Sheets) because they are really 1B’s playing OF. Of the three, Vaughn is the enigma in that he either brings home a bigger piece or needs to build value, depending on whether a team looks at his pedigree and draft status as a prospect, or puts more into his 182 professional games. Sheets is also a guy that is the lefty power that the Sox have been seeking, and as a DH or fill-in at first and right maybe has more value here than what he might bring in. Jake is a great story, showed well at AAA and in limited time in the majors, but he’s not enough for a Ketel Marte and could be viewed as maybe too much for 1 year of a David Peralta. He’s blocked at 3B and needs to learn a new trick to be on the Sox, but he’s the 6th best prospect on MLB Pipeline’s list of 3B and a team in need could be willing to roll the dice for some good value. It’ll be about finding that need.

NO VALUE: Danny Mendick, Romy Gonzalez. Romy is less of a prospect than Burger, and isn’t exciting enough to bring back any huge value. He could be part of a package, maybe. No knock on Danny Mendick but he’s useful as a utility guy and there’s many of those around.


UNTOUCHABLE: Eloy Jiminez, Luis Robert. Eloy will rebound with some more rest and building back up, and he’s too big of a bat to trade now, especially if there’s any thought that he merits a discount due to injury and a little bit of a down year. Robert? No. Just, no.

TRADEABLE, BLOCKBUSTER LEVEL: Yoelquis Cespedes. He’s not been in the majors yet, but if he’s traded at this point with the potential that’s there, it would need to be for something big. It stands to more reason that the Sox would find a stopgap for RF and look to Cespedes as the next wave. He’s the only true prospect on this list as far as no MLB experience. That’s mainly because the expectation is there that he is the long term answer to the RF hole, and actually, makes a case for being a part of the 2022 Sox at some point. He’s not a top 100 MLB prospect so he’s not going to headline a blockbuster, but for the Sox purposes it isn’t likely that he’s traded unless it is part of something major.

ON THE BLOCK: Adam Engel, Micker Adolfo. Assuming teams will see that the injury issue was what held him down, Engel still has an attractive enough profile as a CF that a team could bite. Really, though, the Sox at worst have a really good 4th OF in Engel and to the extent that they end up going bat first in RF and need some defense late in games, Engel is worth keeping on the Southside. Micker has yet to really arrive in the minors. He has power, and the strikeouts to go with them, but he has power and power. Teams want that power, and even though the Sox could use his power, if Micker brings in a more seasoned RF or a good 2B or pitching, that’s more help to the Sox. Right now, he’s Diet Eloy…and that could be enough to bring back a key piece of 2022.

NO VALUE: Blake Rutherford. A .726 career OPS in the minors but with all of the strikeouts associated with a power hitter isn’t really something you trade so much as release. He’s on the 40-man and there was no one else to put here.


UNTOUCHABLE: Yasmani Grandal. There’s just no replacing the guy.

NO VALUE: Seby Zavala, Zack Collins. Not much to say here. They aren’t anyone’s future, though both could end up being in the league for an oddly long time as backups.

So you want to build a trade package? You’re looking at Kimbrel, Keuchel, Lopez, Sheets, Burger, Vaughn(?), Engel and Adolfo. Otherwise you’re looking to prospects, and the Sox have no prospects in the MLB Pipeline Top 100. That means that they are not bringing back anything of major value. You can trade Moncada, Cease, Kopech…but there’s not an obvious deal there where their subtraction makes the White Sox World Series favorites, and that might be trading one hole for another. Even Vaughn and Sheets have such value to the 2022 White Sox and likely beyond that it would need to be a similar long-term value in return. So the Sox are left with the maybe back to form Reynaldo Lopez, the hopefully valued like an HOF Closer Craig Kimbrel, a probably reduced value Dallas Keuchel and Adam Engel, and minor league bats in Jake Burger and Micker Adolfo. That’s not a list that screams for major star power in return. It isn’t crazy to think that Rick Hahn will want to make a splash and retool the lineup or the starting staff, but it has to be championship-caliber and MLB ready now. If and when the Sox make a trade, as a fan, be prepped that the list of guys that can be done without won’t get it done, and someone you really like is leaving the team.


You could be in that lineup since Chris is under the Vader hood. Remember, no disintegrations. Picture Lucasfilms, Disney, probably others.

So, you want a shot at $1,000?

As we hurdle prematurely into the offseason for the White Sox, we will continue to analyze the team and get ready for spring training through your favorite “for fans by fans” podcast, Sox in the Basement, and this space here for those who like reading. We aren’t going anywhere even if Rick Hahn says Craig Kimbrel is going somewhere.

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WHITE SOX PLAYOFF LOG: Things that haven’t happened…Yet…

Maayyybe there’s been some time travel involved…maybe not…likely not. (Photos from the Back to the Future Musical, Fox Sports and the Tribune)

Yes, yes, yes the games haven’t quite started and the team still has some things to sort out before they head to Houston. But that’s no reason not to present a recap of the playoffs!! Is this from the future? From a possible future? From getting inebriated and watching Back to the Future? Great Scott!!!

Or, is this the mad ramblings of a guy who once played a character called “Nostradumbass” on a radio station?

Regardless of what you believe or the actual truth, sit back and enjoy reliving the White Sox 2021 Playoffs that haven’t happened yet.

Thursday, October 7: ALDS Game 1. The White Sox get to Houston’s starter early for three runs on a Robert bomb and get to the bullpen with another in the 5th after Anderson and Moncada double back to back. Lance Lynn gutted out 5.2 innings but left tied after 4 straight singles. Garrett Crochet got Michael Brantley to end the inning. The game stayed tied until Craig Kimbrel gave up first base on a wild pitch strike three, followed by a Jose Altuve double on a slider that he shouldn’t have hit. Immediately Sox fans cried cheater. The Sox had a chance in the 9th after a leadoff double against Ryan Pressley, but pinch runner Billy Hamilton was only able to get to third after a Leury bunt, a pop up by a pinch hitting Zack Collins and a ball absolutely crushed by TA that was played perfectly by the Astros OF. The Sox were unfazed, but down 1 game.

Friday October 8: ALDS Game 2: Lucas Giolito absolutely steamrolls the Astros for 7 innings, only giving up an Altuve homer on a changeup that he should not have been able to recognize. Meanwhile, the Sox get to the Astros staff in a big way, with Grandal, Abreu and Anderson with solo homers and Gavin Sheets with a 3-run jack. Aaron Bummer and Liam Hendriks take care of the 8th and 9th, with Altuve hitting a Hendriks slydah off the wall under suspicious circumstances. The game is notable not just for the win but Adam Engel appearing to hurt his groin, although he would be ready for Sunday.

Sunday October 10: ALDS Game 3: After the Soxtoberfest event at Cork and Kerry at the Park, fans are treated to a home playoff game for the first time in 13 years. Dylan Cease strikes out 11 Astros over 5 innings, giving up two earned runs on a Jose Altuve homer that appeared to be on a tee prior to Cease delivering the pitch. Reynaldo Lopez followed Cease, but gave up two more before Kimbrel and Hendriks shut down the 8th and 9th. Offensively the Sox had a Grandal solo shot and RBI doubles from Abreu and Jimenez. An Adam Engel single in the ninth set up a two run walk off by Tim Anderson. Unfortunately Engel split a toenail rounding third and was now questionable for game 4, which the Sox could eliminate the Atros.

Monday October 11: ALDS Game 4: The Sox surprisingly left Carlos Rodón off the ALDS roster in a salute to General Soreness, even though Carlos declared himself healthy. Dallas Keuchel got the start, but Tony pulled him after 4 innings even though the Sox lead 1-0 on a Robert homer. Michael Kopech, who Tony had managed to save through the first three games somehow, goes 3 giving up 1 run. A close call against Aaron Bummer and a near miss against Craig Kimbrel, Liam kept things tied in the ninth but the Sox failed to get anything going in the bottom half of the ninth. Ryan Tepera gave up a run in the top of the tenth on a seeing eye grounder just past César Hernandez with two outs. Replays showed what looked like Jose Altuve tripping César and kicking the ball past him, even though Altuve was supposedly in the dugout at the time. Ryan Pressly started the 10th by hitting Jose Abreu, which somehow made Adam Engel pull a quad. After Eloy struck out, Luis Robert scorched one off the wall to tie the game and Yasmani Grandal hit one right in the Podsednik seat. ALDS over!!

Friday October 15: ALCS Game 1: In a bit of a shocker, Carlos Rodón got the call and in the early going against the Yankees was tough. During the 5th the velocity dropped a bit, and after a Giancarlo Stanton bomb that hasn’t landed yet, Rodón left the game behind 2-1. The Sox got to Jordan Montgomery in the 6th after he loaded the bases and served up a bases clearing single to Andrew Vaughn. The Sox leading 4-2, the Yankees cut into the lead against Kimbrel in the 8th with an Aaron Judge dinger. Liam Hendriks shut down the bottom of the New York order in the 9th and the Sox were up 1-0 in the series.

Saturday October 16: ALCS Game 2: Gerrit Cole and Lance Lynn traded off tightrope innings for 5 of them apiece, but the Sox couldn’t figure out Luis Severino out of the ‘pen and this time Michael Kopech struggled with Stanton and Judge. The Sox loaded the bases in the 8th but failed to get anything home and in the 9th couldn’t take advantage of an Andrew Vaughn leadoff hit and pinch run stolen base by Billy Hamilton against Aroldis Chapman. Rumor has it Jose Altuve is in the stands with a laser pointer. But the Sox fell 3-1 in the game and the series was tied.

Monday October 18: ALCS Game 3: Lucas Giolito got tagged by Judge and Stanton each, but toughed out 6.2 innings albeit with 5 runs given up. The Yankees’ Nestor Cortez baffled the Sox through 6. The Sox bullpen held up but ultimately an Anthony Rizzo insurance homer was too much to overcome. A forgettable game made worse when Adam Engel sprained an ankle trying to run down a flyball. The Sox left the game in trouble, down 2-1 in the series.

Tuesday October 19: ALCS Game 4: Needing a win, Dylan Cease got the ball and went absolutely nowhere with it, getting tagged for 6 runs through three before settling a bit in the 4th and 5th. Meanwhile Corey Kluber allowed 6 runs after giving up a Moncada grand slam and then having Andrew Heaney allow Eloy to homer in 3 more in a wild 4th. The teams traded runs but ultimately a ninth inning Abreu solo shot into right field off Jonathon Loasiga is the difference, as Liam Hendriks tossed a perfect 9th for a 9-8 win and a tied series.

Wednesday October 20: ALCS Game 5: Rodón returns, but isn’t as sharp going only four before Reynaldo Lopez relieved him. The game tied at that point, Lopez gave up 2 more, but the Yankees bullpen work went for naught when Robert, Grandal and Vaughn went consecutive bombs off Aroldis Chapman, who was going for his second inning in the ninth. On the broadcast it is noted that Vaughn is very reminiscent of Jose Altuve, but no one can figure out why until Vaughn claims post game that he didn’t bat in the 9th and woke up in the clubhouse missing his uniform. Hendriks slammed the door in the bottom half. His celebratory yell caused Adam Engel to temporarily have his left leg detach, but it got better. The Sox retook the series advantage, 3-2.

Friday October 22: ALCS Game 6: Lance Lynn dominated the Yankees through 7, with Bummer, Kimbrel and Hendriks following suit, with only Kimbrel allowing a Stanton homer. Gavin Sheets and Yas Grandal go back to back off Gerrit Cole in the 3rd with Abreu on after being hit by a pitch, the Sox winning 3-1 and celebrating a return to the World Series. Joe Buck erroneously claims that it’s the first time since 1959. Hurt by that mistake, Adam Engel was confined to a wheelchair during the post game celebration and rolled over Jose Altuve.

Tuesday October 26: WS Game 1: Lucas Giolito drew the ball against the Giants’ Kevin Gausman. Giolito fires 6 strong with three runs for the quality start, while a TA leadoff homer and a subsequent Robert bases-clearing double give the Sox an edge. Crochet, Kopech and Hendriks closed it out with Grandal splashing one into the cove for good measure. Off to a great start, the Sox were up 1-0 and on a very unlikely 3-game road win streak.

Wednesday October 27: WS Game 2: Rodón got the start and was good through a solid 5.2, needing a Ryan Tepera bailout against Kris Bryant to preserve a nothing-nothing tie as the Sox struggled with Logan Webb. Garrett Crochet struggled with control and the Giants tagged him for three, and never really looked back from there. An Abreu RBI double knocked in TA in the 8th but two long fly outs later the rally was dead. Adam Engel was hurt trying to leg out a ninth inning double and was shut down for the remainder of the series. Somewhat unsettlingly Tony called Engel “Old Yeller” in his post game presser and Engel has yet to resurface.

Friday October 29: WS Game 3: 16 years and 6 days later, the World Series returns to the Southside, though it was accidentally stated by several national media sources that the Giants were playing an intrasquad game in Evanston. Much like Game 2 in 2005, Jose Abreu would hit a grand slam in the 7th inning like a prior star 1B, and the Sox’ leadoff hitter would walk it off in the ninth to right with TA giving a bat flip that even the French judge would give a ten. Dylan Cease gave up 4 over 6 innings but with 12 K’s, and Bummer gave up 1 in the 8th to tie the game, which set up Anderson. The Sox were now up 2-1 in the Series, with a very good pitching matchup on deck.

Saturday October 30: WS Game 4: A rested Lance Lynn went 8, TA was 4-4 with another leadoff homer, Eloy finally parked one himself and the Sox cruise to a 4-1 win as the Giants wasted Anthony DeSclafani’s start. With Giolito set to pitch in the potential clincher, the Sox were poised and ready to take Game 5… and the series…at home this time.

Sunday October 31: WS Game 5: Giolito’s adrenaline got the best of him and the Giants went up big early on a Kris Bryant 3-run homer. The Sox battled back and made a game of it at 6-4, but Reynaldo Lopez and Jose Ruiz were each whacked as well for another 5 runs in the 4th and 5th innings. The Giants get their mojo back for a day and whomped the Sox 11-4. The series narrowed to 3-2, the Giants were pumped to go back home while Sox fans were getting worried.

Tuesday November 2: WS Game 6: The Sox were running on empty a bit in the bullpen, but Carlos Rodón somehow battles through 5.1 innings, with Dylan Cease coming on in relief and getting a couple innings in as well (Giolito would start game 7 after only going 1.2 on the 31st). The Sox and Giants were tied going into extras. Kopech, who was used for an inning the game before, went 3 innings in the extras, only getting a scare when Buster Posey nearly knocked one out that Eloy caught at the wall. In the 12th, Gavin Sheets launches one coming off the bench, and one Liam Hendriks inning later(featuring two very emphatic K’s), at 11:21pm Central time the 2021 White Sox won the World Series.

And immediately Sox fans started talking about whether or not to extend Rodón and complained about Leury Garcia.


So your team was about to start the playoffs the other daaayyyyy… (photo from Hulu/Crave TV, and yes Wayne would be a Jays fan, and can end me.)

Remember when, pre-season, PECOTA put the White Sox at 3rd in the AL Central behind The Twins and The Cleveland Baseball Assemblage (n/k/a Guardians)? The projections said no playoffs. In this here blogspace we told PECOTA to suck eggs and compared the Sox to every contender and showed why they had more talent on the roster than the other teams.

No need to rub PECOTA’s nose in it now, they know what they did. But going position-by-position against the playoff versions of the Rays, the Astros, the Red Sox, The Yankees, the Mariners and the Blue Jays seems like a good idea.

Ranking the top of the AL and the White Sox by position:

Rotation: White Sox over Jays over Astros over Yankees over Rays over Mariners and Red Sox. In the playoffs it is all about the top 3 guys. Most teams drop the fifth starter and have a short leash on their fourth, relying on the big three for potentially 2 starts apiece in a seven game series. Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito and either Dylan Cease or Carlos Rodón. Cease, the weakest link if Rodón is healthy, is one of the most prolific strikeout artists in the MLB (albeit a guy that you have to keep an eye on). Giolito and Lynn are aces, and right now Rodón is an unknown. It’s a solid three and four guys that the Sox run out there, and if Dallas Keuchel has figured it out that’s five. Oh and Reynaldo Lopez could start, though he’ll probably be the long guy backing Cease. The Jays have Robbie Ray, Alek Manoah, Jose Berrios and Hyun Jin Ryu. Ray is having a career year, Berrios is rejuvenated away from the Twins, Manoah is a wildcard rookie with big talent (Cease-esque) and Ryu is solid when healthy. They can also run four deep. But Berrios is not Giolito, and Ryu is more Keuchel than they’d want. Ray is similar to Rodon, so there’s an edge there to the Sox. The Astros will run out Lance McCullers Jr., Framber Valdez and maybe Zack Greinke, or Jose Urquidy. Grienke is struggling mightily (think Dallas Keuchel, then think worse), and Valdez, McCullers and Urquidy are solid but not aces, same with the erstwhile Jake Odorizzi. The Yankees are relying on Gerrit Cole to find some sticky somewhere, Corey Kluber to find a fountain of youth and Luis Severino to grab the next DeLorean back to 2018 with him. After that it is Domingo German and Jordan Montgomery and…not great, Bob. The Rays are reduced to guys like Michael Wacha and Ryan Yarborough and rookies like Shane McClanahan, though they make it work every damn time. The Mariners have Chris Flexen, who has been steady, and Marco Gonzales, who has been wobbly, Logan Gilbert, a potential ace rookie who hasn’t really emerged, and injury replacements. The Red Sox have Chris Sale and have been piecing the rest together all year with Nathan Eovaldi the shaky #2. The Rays by reputation, and the Blue Jays in reality can hang with the Sox. The Rays will miss Tyler Glasnow, the Astros are betrayed by Zack Grienke not being dominant anymore, and the Jays are behind two teams for the wildcard. The other teams aren’t in this position because of a deep starting staff. The Sox, perhaps narrowly over the Blue Jays, have the edge.

Bullpen: White Sox over Red Sox over Yankees over Rays over Astros over Jays over Mariners. Yes, yes, Craig Kimbrel hasn’t been perfect. Yeah, Aaron Bummer too, especially when he’s getting dinked to death. Sure, Michael Kopech can be gotten on occasion. Yeah, Ryan Tepura’s hurt. Sure, Reynaldo Lopez is, uhhh…yeah well he’s been shockingly good. And The White Sox have Liam Hendriks. The closer and the ability to run out different looks is pretty key. The Red Sox have had a quietly effective bullpen, with Garret Whitlock, Adam Ottavino, and Matt Barnes leading the way, though Whitlock is hurt. The Yankees have some guys that are maybe overachieving and still have Aroldis Chapman, albeit a fading version of him. The Rays always seem to have guys. I hate that about them. The Astros bolstered their bullpen at the trade deadline and maybe they deserve to be higher, but Ryan Pressly has a bad knee and it shifts things around a lot when the closer is hurt; Kendall Graveman likely closes. The Blue Jays ‘pen on paper isn’t good, but then the White Sox couldn’t touch Jordan Romano this year, so it is hard to quantify that. The Mariners are decent but lack that big name at the end, though Paul Sewald and Drew Steckenrider have been good. At the end of the day, you aren’t a division winner or wildcard team with a totally garbage bullpen, but the White Sox have depth and two guys who could close for a World Series champ. Winner: White Sox.

Outfield: Blue Jays over White Sox over Yankees over Red Sox over Rays over Astros over Mariners. Ok, so you have Luis Robert, who is on fire and just an absolute demon, Eloy Jimenez who at any moment could catch fire, and…uhhh…two rookies in Gavin Sheets and Andrew Vaughn, two meh veterans in Billy Hamilton and Brian Goodwin, and a guy that is currently held together by boogers and masking tape in Adam Engel. Right field is a bit of a problem for the White Sox, though a healthy Engel hitting at his 2020 rates would settle it, or Sheets/Vaughn stepping up (though they will also need to DH). Meanwhile, like the White Sox, the Yankees have Aaron Judge who is frightening and Joey Gallo who has power to spare…and the Yankees don’t really have another guy out there. Both the White Sox and Yankees have such immense talent in 2/3 of their OF that having X-factors like Sheets or Vaughn, or warm bodies like the Yanks’ Brett Gardner or glovers like Billy Hamilton are acceptable. Other teams in the convo have lesser talent or the the same lack of bodies. The Red Sox have an up and down Alex Verdugo joined by hit or miss guys Kyle Schwarber and Hunter Renfroe, the latter who is having maybe his best year. The Rays have a stud in Austin Meadows, but Randy Arozarena disappointed this year and Kevin Kiermeier isn’t the star that he’s been rumored to be for years, with Manny Margot and Brett Phillips both mediocre. The Astros will rely on the very good Kyle Tucker, some person in CF and likely Yordan Alvarez in LF, because his bad knees are better than Michael Brantley’s bad knees right now. The Mariners have Mitch Haniger and…youth…though Jarred Kelenic is a top prospect. The Jays, meanwhile, have the top of the heap here with Teoscar Hernandez, George Springer and Lourdes Gurriel starting, with Randall Grichuk, Corey Dickerson, and Cavan Biggio (if he’s actually anything) in reserve. They’re just deeper than the field and lack any real holes among those guys, as they are all having decent years with Springer maybe not quite back to himself. But while the Blue Jays have the best overall outfield, but I’ll still take Eloy and Luis and whoever they run out there. If Gavin Sheets or Andrew Vaughn has a 2020 Arozarena-like run in them, the Sox would match the Jays here. But, at the moment, it is the Blue Jays for the win.

Shortstop: White Sox over Blue Jays over Red Sox and Astros over Rays over Yankees over Mariners. This might be the tightest race. Bo Bichette is a monster, but Tim Anderson is capable of willing the White Sox to victory. It’s really something of a tossup, but TA has an aura about him. Xander Bogarts and Carlos Correa are solid guys and belong on a contender. Wander Franco might be the best of this bunch someday, but for now he’s a prospect that hasn’t shown he can sustain it. The Yankees moved Gleyber Torres to 2B, Gio Urshela is playing a little out of position and is…fine. JP Crawford is also just fine. TA and Bichette are the stars here, and by an intangible feeling (bias) TA takes it. Sox Win!! OK FINE DAMMIT, AN UPDATE: Bo Bichette is a massive offensive talent and probably a better overall offensive talent than TA, but he isn’t as complete a player. Would every other team in the league take Bichette over TA? Yeah. Would you take Bichette over Anderson on your fantasy team? Yeah. You might take Correa and Bogaerts too. And yeah, homerism abounds in my pick. But if Tim Anderson is on his game, he carries the Sox. So….Blue Jays and Sox tie…but I’ll take TA.

Third Base: Pick ’em between the White Sox, Red Sox, Yankees, Mariners and Astros; Rays, Blue Jays…no. The Rays and Blue Jays are sending out spare parts guys, the likes of Joey Wendle and Santiago Espinal, or whatever Cavan Biggio can muster after being hurt. It’s grim. Yoán Moncada is getting back to his best self, as is Alex Bregman of the Astros and both are stars. Yoan gets a nod because of the garbage can thing. Rafael Devers is a key guy in the Red Sox lineup, and also a star. DJ LeMahieu isn’t at his best, but he and the Mariners’ Kyle Seager are still dangerous guys. It really is one of those where the hot hand would determine which guy you’ll take, and that could be Moncada. Frankly, on raw talent, Moncada should run away with this over Bregman and Devers, but none of them are head and shoulders above the rest. Here’s hoping for a Yo-Yo on fire. Sox Tie!!

Second Base: Blue Jays/Astros and Rays over everyone. Marcus Semien is just crushing it this year, and Jose Altuve remains right there with him. Brandon Lowe has 35 homers but some other warts arrived this year. Lowe is having a good second half, so he might nudge up to Semien and Altuve. The rest of the field, Cesar Hernandez/Leury Garcia and Gleyber Torres and Kike Hernandez and Abraham Toro just aren’t on that level. But the White Sox, frankly, are at the bottom with the Yankees. Yeesh. Blue Jays and Astros take it with the Rays right there.

First Base: White Sox and Blue Jays over Yankees over Astros over Mariners over the rest. MVPito! Vlad Jr.! Indistinguishably the best two….maybe…they’re…equal? FINE. Blue Jays over White Sox over Yankees over Astros over Mariners over Red Sox/Rays. Vlad Jr. is damn scary. Jose Abreu is the guy who you’d follow through a brick wall. But Vlad is the better hitter and possible MVP. Anthony Rizzo is a guy that can be super clutch in the Bronx, Yuli Gurriel is not a problem for Houston, and Ty France is underrated for the Mariners. Bobby Dalbec has been better for Boston but is a rookie with holes in his game, and the Rays are a mess at the corners with Yandy Diaz and Ji-Man Choi being pretty pedestrian. Vlad and the Blue Jays take it, but Abreu feels like he has that Jermaine Dye “Sneaking the WS MVP” feel. Advantage Jays.

Catcher: White Sox over the field. Yasmani Grandal is presently in beast mode, and has this over the rest anyway even if he wasn’t destroying. The only guy that’s even in the conversation for decent is Boston backstop Christian Vasquez, discounting the Rays’ Mike Zunino for being a power-only guy. Alejandro (Captain) Kirk is built like William Shatner (present day) but can hit a bit, his Jays mate Danny Jansen is streaky. The Yankees’ Gary Sanchez/Kyle Hishagoaway and Astros’ Martin Maldonado are outs waiting to happen. The Mariners have catchers too, probably. It is the White Sox in a cake walk.

DH: Yankees over Rays over Red Sox over Blue Jays over Astros over White Sox over Mariners. Giancarlo Stanton is carrying the Yankees. JD Martinez is having a fine year for himself. The Rays have a fading Nellie Cruz, who is still dangerous but not what Sox fans remember. The Jays basically run out one of their outfielders. The Astros would be higher, but Michael Brantley is hurt, and when he has played on the bum knee he hasn’t hit with his normal pop (5 extra base hits since August 1, no homers since August 15). Assuming Brantley can even answer the bell. The Mariners don’t really have a great DH option; they were using backup catcher Luis Torrens for a bit and tend to rotate guys. Meantime, the Sox will likely use some form of Andrew Vaughn and Gavin Sheets, though in matchups maybe there’s a Zack Collins sighting. It is hard to trust streaky rookies, though they have a chance to really hurt other teams if they are hitting; and Sheets has been on a decent run of late. Still, Stanton is what DH’s are presently measured by, so this is his world and we’re just watching it. Yankees by a mile.

So without getting into deep stats or WAR or things like that, just knowing the names and the impacts that these players typically have, the Sox are in really good shape. Position by position, the White Sox have the better rotation, bullpen and catcher, and are narrowly tied at third and shortstop with arguably the guys that could emerge as the best. At 1B the Sox aren’t tops but are in great shape, and if the Blue Jays stay out Jose is the best of the list. Pay no mind to 2B, but there’s plenty of potential for RF and that would improve the OF standing. Pitching being the most important piece, you’d take the Sox best starting 3 over anyone other than maybe the Blue Jays, who aren’t in the playoffs at the moment. The bullpen should outperform the rest of the AL, though that’s always a volatile situation. Still, pitching wins championships. The arms put ships in the water, boys.

The White Sox really have only two holes, 2B and RF. We know Leury and Cesar aren’t great. Adam Engel, Andrew Vaughn and Gavin Sheets can make this an easy run for the Sox if they play well. Their ALDS opponent Astros might be down a DH and closer if their injuries worsen in the last week, they have an OF hole, a catcher issue and a rotation and bullpen that is behind the Sox. The Rays lack the corner and OF bats that the Sox have and their rotation is currently underwhelming. The wild card teams are only a worry if they’re Canadian, as the Jays have a rotation that can give their really good lineup a chance. But the Red Sox, Yankees and Mariners are flawed teams that can be beat.

And PECOTA said the Sox would miss the playoffs. Jeez PECOTA, figure it out.

The Sweat Meter, a system to manage your White Sox Worries.

As the Sox season carries on, concerns will pop up. Here is where Sox in The Basement and Mismatched Sox will measure the concerning stuff, big and small, and determine whether to sweat it at all. The range runs from five Sweaty Freddies to one, five being sheer panic and one being nothing to worry about at all. We haven’t done this in a while because really what was the worry? They bagged the division a loooonng time ago. Anyhoo:

No sweat: Second base. Either you get Hernandez’ glove and possible power or Leury giving reasonable at-bats with ok defense. If Cesar matches Juan Uribe’s 2005 postseason, things are fine. Also, Craig Kimbrel should be fine.

The ladies call it “glistening”: Any beanballing with the Tigers. No, the suspensions will not count toward playoff games, but the Tigers can throw haymakers and pile on and frankly, there are guys on the Sox that need not get hurt over third-place team dickbaggery. But if Mike Wright Jr. needs to get charged after a “mistake” into someone’s arm, well, it’s baseball. Just have Eloy and Adam Engel and a few other key dudes yell fun insults from a distance.

Dampness creeping: Adam Engel and Andrew Vaughn. Your main starting RF candidates are either chronically hurt (Adam) or haven’t doubled since July (Vaughn) or homered since August (both). Though (in British) to be fair, Engel hasn’t played much since August. Brian Goodwin? No better. Assuming Engel stays healthy, there’s some faith to be had there but man the guy is fragile. I still think Engel’s inability to get back from his nasty hammy is why the Sox were willing to give up on Nick Madrigal’s even nastier hammy.

Swampy pants time: Carlos…oh Carlos…I know the concern is how sore he’ll be after his last start, but really the question is whether he’s the guy that no-hit Cleveland or the old Carlos Rodón fans didn’t want back. Per pitch F/x at Brooks Baseball, for the month of September Rodón’s fastball velocity is down 3 mph on average (93.04 mph from a high of 96.6 mph in July, the prior season low being 95.05 mph in April), the whiff rate on his breaking stuff is down nearly 5% (9.6% from a June low of 14.5%) and his fastball is straighter. These are getting more in line with his 2019/2020 stuff. That’s not good. Can he be effective without the stuff he had at the start of the year? Sure, he was reasonably efficient and got a good result against the Reds, but he hardly dominated. And that Reds lineup had a, shall we say, spring training feel about it. But, he made an adjustment throwing more curveballs and fewer sliders and maybe a different pitch mix can overcome some deficiencies in his stuff. Comparatively Dallas Keuchel is generally trying to find release points and pitch mixes while not having lost movement or velocity. Keuchel’s changed himself back into a sinker guy, ditching the cutter and throwing fewer changeups, but more four-seamers and sliders. His recent starts were better results than with similar stuff. Meanwhile Rodón needs to find similar results with diminished stuff. Both pitchers are in less than ideal shape heading into the playoffs, but Carlos scares me more.

Call Family Waterproofing Solutions, its a flood: Ballpark operations, y’all better be ready. The fans are coming in droves.


Chris has dysentery.

As the Sox prepare to clinch the division and try and chase a better seed for the playoffs, there will soon be questions of fan credentials and the legitimacy of your joy in the Sox’ success. Soxcess, as it were.

But fandom is really relative and there’s no one way to do it. It is frankly cringeworthy that there are fans out there that question when others decide to jump on board. And sure, there are cringes to be had when someone tries to fake a long-time fandom instead of just admitting that they are new. Some of that is just the need for most people to be right all the time, some of that is the idea that they will be shunned for being a new fan. And there’s no reason for either, especially because we all want the same thing whether you’re a new fan as an adult or one “from birth”: a reason to drink. No. We want a reason to celebrate. And some people eat their joy.

Let’s just take a look at the concept of having a more legitimate fandom than someone else. You can’t measure it by sheer length of time, because that means that there are no real fans among anyone who isn’t under a certain age. And there’s no way to define that without making oneself out as a twat. And where most people will brag “I’ve been a fan since (insert year)” the only thing that makes them a more interesting fan is that they may have seen guys play that you haven’t because you were naught but a possible outcome of a moment of pleasure/embarrassment between your parents. So when a fan says “I’ve been a fan since 1951”, I’d look forward to talking about ’59, or seeing an in-prime Minnie Minoso, or Dick Allen, or the Hitmen, or any teams or players that I was not alive to see. But does that make them a better fan? No. They have a deeper history, but their personal investment in the team may be no greater than a kid who only knows 2005 and beyond.

Let’s face it, too, that when you become a fan is also really something that you can’t compare between fans. Being a Sox fan from birth is like getting baptized or claiming generational wealth. You had no choice in the matter and were handed this by your parents, but at some point in your life you reaffirmed your faith, your fandom, or realized that you were rich because Santa was somehow way better to you even though you were kind of a dick. And that reaffirmation of fandom maybe wavered at times but came roaring back with a playoff run, or maybe life got in the way and when things settled, White Sox baseball was again a companion. Maybe it is a daily affirmation at an altar to Gordon Beckham’s hair. To each their own.

For most, there’s a point at which the sport and the team grab you. I grew up the child of a family of Cubs fans. My mom’s family weren’t sports folks, they were musicians first and foremost and German immigrants. I have one uncle who is a Cardinals fan and “It’s the year of the bird!” is heard annually from him. My dad wasn’t really a voracious baseball fan. His dad was a rabid Cubs fan, in that he was aggressively angry at the team all the time, practically foaming at the mouth. He hated Lee Smith. It was hard to understand as a kid why he was a fan when it clearly brought him so much anger, especially Lee Smith and Jody Davis. Later I realized what the Cubs were and why he was always so mad, and also discovered beer and that the Cubs were something of an excuse for him to crack a few. In that mess I had an aunt who worked for the White Sox and got me all the giveaway swag, she takes credit for my Sox fandom and frankly she’s not entirely wrong.

Really, though, my fandom timeline is defined by the 1983 White Sox. A product of late 70’s biological horseplay, I was a young kid watching TV when Julio Cruz crossed homeplate and clinched the AL West. I knew they were a good team because the TV man said so, and so did the adults in the room. Seemed like a good idea to like them. I was also a Northside kid, so in ’84 I was drowning in Cubs fever. But I knew the White Sox were also a good team. I had also started to realize that I was a Chicago kid and the Bears, Blackhawks and Bulls were my teams. In the ensuing years I grew to hate the Packers, the Yankees, the Pistons, Tigers, Red Wings…really the city of Detroit in general…and understand the rivalries in all the major sports. But with baseball I was attracted to the Sox yet smothered by living in the Cubs part of town, so I straddled the fence and followed both teams, and the league in general. I had a life-size Tom Seaver poster in my room and my lucky hat was a Sox hat, but I had Cubs gear also. I self-identified as a general baseball fan with Sox proclivities. It took me becoming such a fan of the game in general that I would follow all teams’ offseason moves and minor league affiliates before I really chose sides. As the 80’s wrapped and the 90’s entered I realized that the Cubs were so very Cub about things and the Sox were run like an actual franchise but one that was somehow always out of money. As I determined that the Cubs would always leave themselves shorthanded and the Sox would at least try and fill every hole (on the cheap), I made my choice. It has been the Sox ever since. And I don’t hate the Cubs…I did pity them for years though. You don’t hate on people who self-harm.

So am I a real fan, or not a real fan because I sat on the fence as a kid? Or less of a fan because I wasn’t baptized into Sox fandom? Or more of a fan because I started liking them in grade school instead of later in life? Does geography play a role?

None of it should matter. I’m a fan as much as I want to be, and not in a position to measure my fandom against yours (should we choose to whip our fandoms out).

And judging fandom levels is a very Chicago thing. As Chicagoans, we are often defined by our capacity for suffering and seek respect for that. When the Blackhawks resumed being competitive and returned home games to TV, fans who had put up with all the Bill Wirtz garbage for decades were annoyed that people were discovering the Blackhawks (and to an extent hockey) as they were suddenly more accessible and interesting. If you weren’t able to pass a basic test about the Hawks career of Éric Dazé, or understand how Jimmy Waite factors into Blackhawks history or have an appreciation for Keith Magnuson, there was skepticism or being labeled a bandwagoner. Same with Bears fandom not being able to make fun of the inability to replace Sid Luckman and name obscure starting QBs like Peter Tom Willis. Or Bulls fans who don’t remember Orlando Woolridge or the times B.M.J. (Before Michael Jordan). This idea that you must have suffered through the lean times to really enjoy the good times is a weird concept for admitting someone as a fan. Why not the more the merrier? Jerry can spend their money too. Their in-stand high fives are just as awkward. They can Tweet out highlights and wear the logo(s). Do all fans need to know Yoan Moncada’s OPS in September against lefties? No. They just need to be excited that the Sox are good and want them to win.

Mainly, fandom is really an individual emotional investment that results in a feeling of community. You’re a stranger to me. You might suck as a human being. But we can both wonder together if Dallas Keuchel is washed up before you carjack me. At least we connected for a moment before you left me bleeding and pantsless on the street.

That’s an extreme example, of course. Mostly the idea is that even if there’s nothing else to bind us, the common joy we get from our team gives us a feeling that there’s something bigger that we are a part of. The loneliest among us goes solo to a game and they immediately have something to talk about with any of the thousands of people they can come across at the park. For a few hours, they are surrounded by friends. And by reciprocation, that fandom is the only thing that binds that team to the rosters that came before and will come after. My kids will only ever experience Ozzie Guillen and Frank Thomas as post-game show guys or maybe as a coach. That’s ok. My grandkids won’t know Luis Robert as a player anymore than I knew Minnie Minoso. But me being able to say that I saw Robert play, compare him to someone my grandkids like, that’s how the team stays a team and a fan connects the generations. That’s why being a fan of a team is so great, because that fandom is this tremendous history tying friends, family and strangers together from all walks of life and throughout history. If in the afterlife I were to meet a fellow Sox fan who died in 1973 after 30 years of being a fan, they’d want to know all about 2005 and I’d want to hear about the ’59 team. At least we’d connect for a moment before the demons running our circle of hell left us burning and pantsless on a spit.

The Sox are a team that frankly should be a bigger deal. They should be popular nationwide. They should be a draw on the road and in the ratings books. Those new fans are not going to be deep into Sox social media pages and aren’t going to be able to say where they were when Geoff Blum went yard or Bo went yard or D-Wise made sure that Gabe Kapler didn’t go yard or even understand that going yard was really awesome went you roofed it. But they can learn. They can just know that the Sox are a good team. And maybe bide their time, and reaffirming themselves as a fan, investing the time and emotion that they have the capacity to invest, and being connected to us all regardless of who they are.

So yeah, get the bandwagon ready. And if people jump on, welcome them. Talk the game and the team with them. Let them wear new gear while you wear something old. Don’t look down on them because they aren’t in on some deeper aspect of Sox history or fan community. There’s room on the wagon. And, God willing, we’ll all be pantsless and euphoric by the end of the World Series. And no one will have died of dysentary two days out from The Dalles.


Go back one post where it was noted that there is a mechanical difference between 2021 Dallas and his prime, namely that per pitch Fx tracking he has a horizontal release point that is about half a foot longer than his heyday. That change in release point doesn’t seem to impact his movement, but his control seems impacted and combined with reduced velocity was allowing more damage when contact was made. After his September 15 quality start, his first in weeks, the question was whether that success, or Soxcess if you will, was a mechanical tweak or just the Angels being bad.

Pitch Fx data shows nothing different from earlier in the year, so Dallas Keuchel may not have turned a corner, he may have just been lucky the Angels were having an off night. His next start, likely at the Tigers next week, might be right back to the struggles. The good new is that the Tigers and Comerica can be a friendly matchup. The even better news? The Sox may have clinched by then.



No, they aren’t. Yes, as of the words being applied to the internets for this post, the Sox have gone .500 in their last 12 and so far are 3-4 in September. Panic sets in as we remember last season, that truncated mystical microcosm of baseball, and the fact that the Sox clinched and then released when they should have clenched.

Last year, the team went 3-9 to close out the season. 3-9!!! They were 13-12 for September after a 19-9 August. There were no major injuries to the pitching staff. The team was largely intact except Eloy getting a little dinged up at the end. What you saw was guys like Luis Robert seeing his average drop from .288 at the start of the month of September down to .233 at the end of the season, or his OPS go from over .900 to .738 in that span. Yoan Moncada went from a meh .248/.760 down to an atrocious .225/.705 in September 2020. Nomar Mazara and Edwin Encarnacion both somehow got worse after being bad all season. Yas, Eloy and Jose were steady. Nick Madrigal and Tim Anderson also cooled off, though their final numbers were still fantastic. There were close games and a couple blowouts. The pitching wasn’t bad down the stretch, except notably young guys like Dylan Cease who only figured it out this year. That 3-9 stretch to close the season was just sloppy to watch and statistically just looked like a team that was going through the motions.

That stretch also included a 6-game losing streak. The 2021 Sox haven’t done that this year, though there was a 5-game stinker in June. Really, the Sox hitters aren’t dramatically tailing off either, in that they weren’t really all that hot across the board to begin with. TA remains out, Eloy and Robert are only a few weeks into their season really, same with Yas, and Cesar Hernandez and Jose Abreu aren’t having their best years to start with. Rookies like Andrew Vaughn, Seby Zavala, and Gavin Sheets are going to be up and down by the week if not the game. The rest of the guys are matchup/platoon guys, in that they play when the matchup dictates or injury requires it. The big reason the Sox are struggling? Pitchers are fading after not having a full year last year.


I’m ignoring Dallas Keuchel. Not that he knows or cares.

Lucas Giolito tweaked a hammy and missed some time, as the Yankee’s Gerritt Cole is doing now. Carlos Rodon is sore and tired, which is probably what Lance Lynn is too (though as a guy who carries weight up top too, I can relate to knee inflammation). Have you seen how the Giants’ Kevin Gausman has faded of late? Or noticed that the Red Sox pitching has suddenly become a problem except for the very fresh Chris Sale? Walker Buehler was lit up like a Christmas tree last weekend. Julio Urias, the only other Dodgers starter that has been there all year, . The Padres fearsome pitching is fading. Really, the freak out there is Shohei Ohtani, who…oh…got rocked by the Orioles to end August.

There are guys that haven’t fallen off, but the fact that the Sox gave Rodon, Lynn and Giolito a week off isn’t the same as taking the foot off the gas pedal. Michael Kopech looking human at the end of the year after not pitching for two years is a problem but kind of expected. Go back and listen to Sox in the Basement’s July 24 episode with Donn Pall, and he talks about the legs going in the second half for pitchers. In an age where getting extension on the pitches is important, having some gooey legs at the end of the year is to be expected. Having less adrenaline to overcome the tiredness in games that won’t decide your fate is human. Still ripping lousy pitchers and getting bested by guys that are getting hot after time off or bad starts to the year (i.e. Brady Singer, Frankie Montas and Sean Manaea).


The two things that are real issues right now it is the very pricey yet worthless Dallas Keuchel and the Sox record in 1-run games.

Let’s start with the elephant in the room that no one has even seen let alone talked about. The Sox are 13-20 in 1-run games. The Sox are really very average when it comes to allowing inherited runners to score, a 35% scoring rate is league average and the Sox’ average. They’ve blown 22 saves this year. In 2005, they allowed 25% of inherited runners to score and only blew 19 saves all year, going an absurd 35-19 in one run games. The Tampa Bay Rays, by compo, allow 29% of inherited runners to score and have blown 18 saves. The Rays are 18-20 in 1-run games. Meanwhile the Giants are 26-15 in one run games even though they are a tic below average at 36% of inherited runners scoring and blowing 25 saves. So why can’t the Sox get over that hump? The bullpen gets blame when Craig Kimbrel falters or Liam Hendriks gives up a homer, or the extremely frustrating tendancy for teams to score off multiple swinging bunts against Aaron Bummer. The bullpen isn’t really the issue, unless they implode spectacularly.

The answer is at the plate, where the Sox “clutch factor”, a measure of batters’ in-game win probability, is a -2.1. The Giants as a team are +0.6. The Giants also have 208 home runs to the Sox’ 165. That helps.

Can the Sox turn it around? Yes. Grandal being back will help, as will TA returning and the continual presence of Robert and Jimenez. The Sox will need those guys to turn it on to win the close games. Because the playoff games will be close assuming Dallas Keuchel isn’t on the mound.

What’s with this guy? Well, he’s walking more guys than ever before, his current 50 is only 8 off his career high. That 58 was in 2018 over 204.2 innings. He’s at 145.1 innings and might not crack 160 innings, but could easily walk 8 guys in two starts. His BB/K ratio of 1.74 is the worst since his rookie year, and his hits/9 innings is in double digits for the first time since 2013. Hard hit rates, extra base hits are both career highs for against him. Swinging strikes are down against him. Those are symptoms though, so what’s the disease?

He”s just more hittable than ever. His stuff isn’t playing the way it once did, because he’s throwing strikes at a consistent rate from his career numbers and the contact rates against him are similar to his career numbers. But when the ball is hit, it’s going further faster harder. And so he’s nibbling, seeing more 3-0 counts than ever before, 29 to date when 30 was his career high in 2014. All these point to a guy that no longer has good enough stuff to get guys out.

His velocity is down from even 2018/2019. But the movement isn’t all that off. What had regressed to his early days before his prime is his release point. His horizontal release point was under 1ft. during his prime and is around 1.3 ft. now. That’s where he was pre Cy Young.

And that can impact his stuff, but other than reduced velocity his stuff moves like it used to. But the hitters are seeing it better because his release point isn’t as compact as it was when he was really good.

This makes it a mechanical issue. Release point is all mechanics. Ethan Katz, fix this. Now.


Call Chris and convince him to make these steins happen.


But hell if it isn’t going to be a good time. Or as they say in Munich, “a good time” but with a German accent, or “eine gute zeit” with a German accent, or “heinie goot z’aight” with whatever American accent you’re rocking.

So what is Soxtoberfest exactly? Simply put, it is stealing the German tradition of Oktoberfest, using it as an excuse to have Sox In The Basement recorded live at various breweries and bars, and celebrate our mutual loves of White Sox Baseball and beer. Yes, you say, possibly with a German accent, but isn’t celebrating our mutual love of White Sox baseball and beer just what we do before every game, during every game and after every game? And through the magic of the internets, can’t I just listen to Sox in the Basement recorded episodes while drinking beer? To quote the famous German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, “Ja, aber…”

What you should understand about the concept here is what Oktoberfest really means. Nominally starting as a wedding celebration for Crown Prince Ludwig and Crown Princess Threse (nee of Saxe-Hildburghausen) in 1810, the decision to repeat the party in 1811 made it a tradition. Over time the festival took shape and moved a bit, starting in September mainly because the days are longer and warmer. But Oktoberfest is really just a variation on the concept of a volksfest, basically an excuse for the community to gather and celebrate whatever they feel like celebrating.

And that is why Sox in the Basement is teaming up with fellow Broadcast Basement podcasts South Side Pod and The EP Podcast to willkommen you to the following events:

Sunday Sept 26th: Dixie Highway Brewery Trail Oktoberfest at Blue Island Beer Company, 13357 Old Western Ave, Blue Island. Join us under a 10×10 outdoor tent at this stop on the multi-brewery event. Chris, Ed, Bill and Mike will be there with South Side Pod and Sox In The Basement promotion giveaways like koozies, hats, and other swag. Plus, we all get to drink beer if we want. Tickets here. Tickets are no longer on sale, check with Blue Island Beer Co. for updates. In the words of David Hasselhoff:

Mein Bier ist verschwunden!

Saturday October 2nd: The Evergreen Park Oktoberfest at Evergreen Park Community Center/Circle Park, 3450 W. 97th St., Evergreen Park. Join us under a 10×10 outdoor tent at this inaugural event first discussed on The EP Podcast. South Side Pod, The EP Podcast and Sox In The Basement will be there with promotion giveaways like koozies, hats, and other swag. Plus, we all get to drink beer if we want.

Sunday October 10th: Cork and Kerry at the Park – 3259 S Princeton Ave, Chicago, IL 60616: Join us in the shadow of the ballpark for beer and a manner of sandwich from Hamburg. Chris and Ed, award winning food and drinks a’plenty, plus Sox In The Basement promotion giveaways like koozies, hats, and other swag.



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