Like most general managers, when Rick Hahn speaks to the media what you mostly hear is inconsequential public relations speak. Their aim — especially at this time of year — is to sell their product to fans hesitant to shell out their hard-earned money for something they’re not quite sure is going to be any good.
This is not news.
But every now and then you hear something that makes your ears perk up. That’s exactly what happened Friday evening during one of Hahn’s many SoxFest PR stops — this one with WSCR 670’s Lawrence Holmes.
Holmes brought up new hitting coach Todd Steverson and what the White Sox hope to accomplish from an organizational standpoint as they attempt to rebuild a system that has, for the past decade-plus, been substantially below average when it comes to developing hitters.
While discussing his goals for the team under Steverson, Hahn brought up the success the team has had at developing pitchers since Don Cooper took over as pitching coach in 2002. He said that since Cooper took over, the team has had a clear outline of what they’re looking for out of their pitchers. They know and are comfortable in identifying exactly which types of guys they can work with and which ones they can’t. Therefore, when a pitcher is brought into the organization, they’re hearing the exact same thing from Rookie Ball all the way up to the major league level.
That type of consistency has yielded the White Sox a great deal of success. White Sox pitchers have regularly performed above projections, and in recent years the team has turned fringe or non-prospects into competent major league arms.
Now, Hahn hopes to begin that same pipeline under Steverson.
The White Sox have struggled time and time again during the past decade to develop major league hitters. While one can point to any number of reasons for this failure, Hahn sees the team’s inconsistent approach throughout the organization as one of the main faults. In Steverson, the White Sox have a guy who has spent time in an organization that values the right things — namely, a patient approach — and he hopes that mindset will have a trickle-down effect from the majors all the way on down.
While this level of clarity is certainly refreshing, it is also a painful reminder of just how far behind the White Sox are as an organization. Teams such as Oakland (Steverson’s most recent employer), Tampa Bay, Boston and St. Louis have, of course, been keen on this philosophy for a great number of years and the White Sox’s stubbornness to adapt is a likely reason Hahn made a point to acquire major league-ready hitters who didn’t come up through the White Sox’s incompetent farm system in Adam Eaton and Matt Davidson.
All of this is great in theory. Hahn and the rest of the White Sox coaches can say all the right things in the weeks leading up to opening day, but until real change is seen it’s just that — talk. But it’s certainly nice to hear.