A note for those of you reading: Mismatched Sox is a weekly blog hastily thrown together by Sox in the Basement Co-Host Ed Siebert and is written to present you with White Sox and baseball thoughts in a manner that, frankly, thinks it is funny in the way that Savage Steve Holland made suicide attempts funny in the movie “Better Off Dead”. While there will be facts here that will be factual, the opinions and other nonsense are neither reflective of anyone at SoxInTheBasement.com nor believed or intended to cause any harm, but consult something with raisins in it and ask if this blog is right for you. You like raisins.
The Fall Guy. A TV show in the 80s starring Lee Majors as a stuntman who is also a bounty hunter. Cool truck, solid theme song sung by the show’s star. A visit with that show is a throwback to a time when Lee Majors could sing a song about making Burt Reynolds look good and it made sense. It also largely coincided with the first time Tony La Russa managed the Sox. Rumor has it that Hawk Harrelson had a hand in the show ending its run too.
The term “fall guy” is a way of saying “scapegoat.” The guy that takes the fall so that the rest of the gang stays clean. Someone has to have their head roll when things go bad, but that head has to roll in a way that has real impact and can’t just be a low-level wonk. And for the 2022 White Sox, things have gone bad. So bad, in fact, that approaching the All-Star break the biggest news wasn’t Tim Anderson starting, but the announcement to the locker room being met with the excitement usually reserved for having one’s name called at the oral surgeon. The team needed to come out battling against the Guardians, then took two meek losses before the All-Star snubbed Dylan Cease salvaged a game and Lucas Giolito returned from the upside down. The other headline? Whispers. The clubhouse is fractured. No leadership. The divisiveness reserved for the “taste great, less filling” commercials that would have filled time during The Fall Guy or the endless debate over whether a hot dog is a sandwich.
So here the 2022 season stands. Things have gone bad. It is falling apart. And either the whole team needs to fall, or a fall guy is needed. And since Lee Majors is in his 80’s and not doing stunts or bounty hunting, at least in all likelihood, the fall guy for the 2022 Sox needs to be one of them.
Looking at the contributors to this disappointment, there’s gotta be more than a few candidates. Maybe a few heads will roll. Maybe one. Here’s a case for and against each.
The Front Office
Rick Hahn, GM: On one hand, he built the team, and to the extent that there are holes in the lineup or rotation or bullpen, that’s on Rick. On the other hand, rumor has long had it that Tony and Jerry overruled Rick on some moves and capped his ability to bid on certain players.
IS HE THE FALL GUY? 50% chance. GMs get fired all the time as a scapegoat, and Rick has his hands dirty here but could be given a chance to finish the job in the second half, or 2023.
Ken(ny) Williams, Exec. VP: On one hand, he has some pull in the team’s operations. On the other hand, he’s been awfully quiet.
IS HE THE FALL GUY? 10% chance. Maybe if Hahn gets the boot and they clean house, but Kenny’s been behind the scenes too much to make a statement.
Jerry Reinsdorf, Owner/Chairman: BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA no he won’t be going anywhere until he’s called to the great beyond.
Chris Getz, Asst. GM: On one hand, he is tasked with player development and the farm system has been less than helpful this year beyond Seby Zavala and Davis Martin; blaming the player development for wrecking the plan seems plausible. On the other hand, the upper minors are a somewhat expected trash bin while there are better prospects down below, so what’s he supposed to do? He develops the players, he doesn’t Getz them.
IS HE THE FALL GUY? 40% chance. Could be the type that Getz “reassigned” as a sacrificial lamb to show that the team is doing something.
Tony La Russa, Manager: On one hand, he’s the guy that has made the weird choices and lineups, may have lost control of the clubhouse, and is the legit hall of fame baseball person that was supposed to do for the Sox what Joe Maddon was for the Cubs (be better than Ricky Renteria). On the other hand, he’s Jerry’s guy; there’s a chance that he gets to manage out the lost season and then step down under his own steam.
IS HE THE FALL GUY? 50% chance. Firing the manager is the layup move in a disappointing season (see the Blue Jays, Phillies, and Angels this year), but Tony has something that most managers don’t in the love of the owner.
Frank Menechino, Hitting Coach: On one hand, the offense has been bad, and early season oddities like Gavin Sheets trying to ground one towards third instead of lifting the ball to right smacks of the hitting coach. On the other hand, injuries and Leury Garcia, so the deck was stacked.
IS HE THE FALL GUY? 90% chance. He’s not a beloved former Sox player and an easy scapegoat.
Ethan Katz, Pitching Coach: On one hand, he has been the guy credited with turning around Lucas Giolito and developing Dylan Cease into his current dominance, though Giolito is struggling. On the other hand, the struggling pitchers may be suffering physically more so than mechanically, as Lynn and Kopech might have worse knees than is being discussed while Joe Kelly spent a decent amount of time hurt, and Giolito seems more physically off than whatever he was in 2018. Katz is a coach, not a doctor.
IS HE THE FALL GUY? 65% chance. He’s a guy that could be fired easily, but he’s actually helped some guys and may not be able to fix what’s ailing the team.
Miguel Cairo, Bench Coach: On one hand, he could be propping up Tony better and has a big hand in being able to right the ship regardless of Tony. On the other hand, he may be a hologram.
IS HE THE FALL GUY? 50% chance. The biggest issue is that firing Cairo might not be enough of a splash because “Bench Coach” isn’t sexy or public enough to satiate fans’ desires for blood.
“Super Joe” McEwing, 3B Coach: On one hand, he has gotten more guys thrown out at home than Tinder. On the other hand, he may be using his mental powers to keep Tony going.
IS HE THE FALL GUY? 75% chance. He goes if Tony goes and maybe gets the boot to save Tony.
Daryl Boston, 1B Coach: On one hand, he’s Daryl Boston. On the other hand, he’s Daryl Boston.
IS HE THE FALL GUY? 0% chance. He’s Daryl Boston.
Curt Hasler/Howie Clark/Jerry Narron: These guys are probably safe as their roles are too small to make a difference, but if there’s a culling they’ll be caught in the net.
Lucas Giolito, Lance Lynn, Johnny Cueto, Michael Kopech, Dylan Cease, Davis Martin, Starters: Dallas Keuchel was already sacrificed to the altar of fan disappointment. Cueto, Cease, and Martin have done all that can be expected of them or more. Lynn was hurt and has struggled in his return but has only a small sample to look at. Kopech was nasty at the start and has cooled off but there’s a chance he’s hurt. That leaves Giolitio, who has struggled but without any obvious injuries or changes to his approach. But the Sox aren’t releasing Giolito and a trade now seems like it wouldn’t maximize the return.
ANY FALL GUYS? No, but Lynn, Giolito, and Kopech could all see the IL to protect them.
Liam Hendriks, Joe Kelly, Kendall Graveman, Reynaldo Lopez, Jose Ruiz, Tanner Banks, Relievers: There are others, but these are the guys that have been either key players or at the very least, the guys that have been the constants to start the year. Of them, Hendriks, Graveman, Lopez, and to a degree Banks have all been at their best or at least their norms. Kelly was prepackaged with an injury and hasn’t been what his baseball card would say he ought to be. Ruiz has been, well, himself…for whatever that is.
ANY FALL GUYS? Kelly, maybe. But there’s more likely another stay on the IL than a DFA.
Yasmani Grandal, Reese McGuire, Seby Zavala: Grandal has been hurt and ineffective, McGuire has been as advertised for better or worse, while Zavala has been solid all around. Hard to lay the blame when a catcher in his 30s has physical issues, or when a guy shows that he is a good defender with an okay stick, or when a fringe prospect puts it together to act like a legit starter.
IS THERE A FALL GUY? No chance. McGuire could be gone just because Zavala took the gig from him, but that’s routine rather than sending a message.
Leury Garcia, Josh Harrison, Jake Burger, Yoan Moncada, Jose Abreu, Andrew Vaughn, Tim Anderson, Danny Mendick: Lenyn Sosa wasn’t here long enough to matter. TA has been himself at the plate, by and large, but a bit less himself in the field where some spotlight errors were at issue early on. Jose Abreu was cold early but has been on fire of late. Vaughn has been among the team’s best players along with Jake Burger. Mendick was having his best year before getting knocked out in an unfunny comedy of errors. That leaves the big off-season signings and Yoan Moncada. Leury is a favorite of Tony’s and has been in the rough situation of being put in big spots where he was set up to fail, along with getting a huge contract for a utility guy. Harrison was cold early but has been better lately, and was always one of the best gloves on the team. Moncada is in the throes of his second straight down year after the Covid-truncated 2020. His glove is sound but the hitting breakout of 2019 is starting to look like a product of the happy fun ball and less like a breakout.
IS THERE A FALL GUY? Dropping Leury off to another team would send a message, but a trade involving Moncada would shake up the team’s core in a way that could be a wake-up. The problem is maximizing value, but Moncada would make a heck of a fall guy.
Luis Robert, Eloy Jimenez, Adam Engel, Gavin Sheets, A.J. Pollock: Adam Haseley’s biggest contribution was ruining Danny Mendick, but his departure wouldn’t be impactful enough to be a fall guy. Eloy’s injury has him looking like a man of glass, but in his return, he’s been fine. Engel and Sheets have been off and on effective, with Gavin spending time on the farm. Robert hasn’t been as dominant as projected but has been one of the team’s best. Pollock…a streaky guy who has been streaky, and possibly used improperly. But he was the last piece of the puzzle, improbably acquired from the Dodgers for Craig Kimbrel.
IS THERE A FALL GUY? A.J. might be a guy that gets moved even if the team is somehow still in it at the deadline. His trade wouldn’t have the impact of trading, say, Eloy. But it would be moving a useful veteran off of a supposed contender.
Fall Guys Finale
Tony and the coaching staff would seem to be the obvious choices, but then this team has seemingly become allergic to making an obvious choice. Instead, they could decide to fire Rick and have Kenny or Chris Getz take over the GM role and try and salvage the second half. That seems unlikely too, given that the team values a guy like Rick more than any player. So, if there is the definitive Fall Guy, who is it? A supposed core of the team, a member of the flailing offense, a key guy on the roster…coming soon to a TV near you, The Fall Guy, starring Yoan Moncada.
WHO HATH WIELDED THE STAFF OF CORK AND KERRY (this week)?
For the uninitiated, The Staff of Cork and Kerry refers not just to the people who work at the premiere place to pregame and post-game and otherwise celebrate Soxdom in the shadow of the ballpark and in Beverly, but it is also a mythical weapon that can smite thine enemies faster than they can say “the Sox waste another opportunity”.
So which White Sox was worthy enough to wield the Staff of Cork and Kerry and put down the opposition? Jose Abreu continues to rake after continuing to rake, .375 avg with an OPS of .957, which is just Pito being Pito in the warm months. There, lurking like an oncoming storm, is La Pantera. Luis Robert pounded a 1.043 OPS over a .357 avg. over the past week, a key week at that.
Luis Robert, you have successfully wielded this mighty weapon of lore.
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Featured Image: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
One thought on “Mismatched Sox: The Fall Star Game”
I think the biggest hole has been at the trainer position. The team has sustained far too many injuries to believe that the players are appropriately conditioned.