Maybe it’s a matter of personal insecurity, but the offseason blogging cycle can make it seem like we move from one unfulfilled task to the next one. Especially with an organization like the White Sox, which was broken in most every way by the mid-point of 2013, the work is never done and completion of one task just breeds excitement that Rick Hahn & Co. might be sharp enough to handle the next glaring issue.
If the Sox can sell high on Hector Santiago, pick from Arizona’s position prospects, and gather cheap groundball relievers, then why can’t they fix their crappy catching situation?
And so on and so forth…
Personally, my problem at the moment with smelling the roses in progress is that the White Sox outfield looks like a half-written ‘note-to-self’ by Rick Hahn. It’s as if Hahn drafted an email proposing a trade of Alejandro De Aza or Dayan Viciedo, then saved it to drafts without ever sending it to…presumably Kevin Towers because that guy loves outfielders.
Keeping both has its benefits: De Aza’s offensive performance and near-constant grimace of pain can probably be aided by days off against lefty starters, but keeping Viciedo around lies in this middle ground of having given up on him but still keeping him around. That’s awkward.
Maximizing Viciedo as a platoon player would be smart in a win-now scenario, but that catching situation is not very win-now. Also, this lineup might still have Adam Dunn in the middle of it, who hasn’t been Adam Dunn for a while now.
Again, this is a quibble. Left field and catcher seem to be occupied by stopgaps, but center and right, third base and first, all now have long-term solutions, or at least solution ideas where there was previously little. And this was done by pulling from the resources of a 99-loss team with a bottom-10 farm system, without even the benefit of selecting at the front of the draft kicking in yet.
Better yet, these moves showed a rock-solid understanding of the franchise’s lack of luck developing hitters from their lower levels, their plethora of luck developing capable relievers, as well as a proper reaction to Addison Reed re-enacting the last act of Death of a Salesmen during all of September.
This is curiously combined with, perhaps “insults” is not the right word, but outrageous actions like bringing back their awful catching group and the tragic Dunn/Konerko pairing after remarkably awful, fan-skewering seasons are distracting. But these standalone disturbances are easier to look around if we trust that management is moving in the right direction, and simply has not found the right solution yet.
Barely more than a season into the Rick Hahn era, it’s comfortable making that assumption. When the switch to Hahn was made, we were all eager to see how he would differentiate himself from Kenny Williams. It is not particularly fair to say that he has, since the indications that a rebuild was necessary were more glaring than anything Williams faced, and if anything, his actions resemble KW’s response to 2007.
But this is moving in the right direction. Chris Sale is not getting traded for “veteran leadership,” money is not being spent on league-average journeymen to fill out the back of the starting rotation, and we don’t have to have any existential freak out about what Southpaw’s appearance means about the true direction of the franchise. All critiques from hear on out should be couched with the underlying belief that I think Hahn is doing a good job.
Now, onto the critiques…