Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Rick Hahn Sending “Win Now” Message With Free Agent Signings

During his fifteen months as Chicago White Sox General Manager, Rick Hahn’s job has been a roller coaster ride. One of the greatest challenges that general managers of MLB teams are forced to overcome is correctly answering the question of, “When can my team win, now or later?” Usually, general managers give their respective core of players about 3-5 years to help answer that question. Hahn, however, hasn’t been so patient with the White Sox.

In a recent interview with MLB Network, Hahn offered a bit of insight into his past acquisitions. At the beginning of the interview, he admitted that he made a mistake in last year’s off-season. He said that even though the 2012 White Sox finished short of the playoffs, that they still led the AL Central division for most of the regular season. Given that the 2012 team was so competitive, Hahn stated that his goal for the 2013 team was to “recapture some of the magic” that the team had in 2012. Hence, Hahn chose not to rebuild the team for the 2013 season, and he proceeded to bring back some of the team’s older players while also signing some veterans in free agency.

We all know how that strategy turned out for Hahn; and about midway through last season is the point where most Sox fans blamed him for the team’s implosion. Hahn then decided to cut some of his losses towards the end of last season by opting for a youth movement with the White Sox organization.

However, this off-season has been yet another loop in the Rick Hahn roller coaster ride. Just when everyone thought that Hahn was sending the Sox into rebuilding mode, he decided to bring in a slew of veteran pitchers. Below is a list of Hahn’s additions to the Sox pitching staff for the 2014 season with their respective ages on opening day.

Ronald Belisario – 31

Mitchell Boggs – 30

Scott Downs – 38

Felipe Paulino – 30

The message that Hahn is sending through the signings of various veteran relief pitchers is clear – “It’s time to win now.” While many pessimistic Sox fans will say that a team coming off a 99-loss season cannot possibly be ready to compete this year, Hahn is doing everything he can to heal the wounds from 2013. If Hahn did not think that the team could compete for the playoffs this season, he would not have brought in so many veteran pitchers (nor would have any GM). Think of it this way – why would you buy an expensive car if you were only capable of driving it one block? Wouldn’t you be able to walk to your destination for much cheaper? If Hahn thought that the White Sox were headed for another season at the bottom of the AL Central, he wouldn’t have spent so much money to see such an outcome.


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  • ofvoid

    Belisario on $3M for 2014. Posted a WARP of 0.1 last season, a year which saw his SO9 drop 25% from 8.7 to 6.5. I’ll set aside the walk rate as he issued 10 IBB, though it looks like four of them came around to score. His BABIP jumped over 80 points.

    Boggs on $1.1M. WARP of -0.6. Bad. Even removing his 4 IBBs his K/BB is 1.00. Bad. Even just looking at his counting stats, bad. He’s bad. He was a Cardinal one time… great. They sent him to Colorado for a six pack who sent him to Colorado Springs to get him away from the rest of the bullpen lest his epic levels of bad infect the whole staff. He’s just not good. He was for about four months once but not anymore.

    Downs on $3.75M. WARP of 0.7 between the two stops, by far the best out of these four “win now” relievers. He’s such a win now piece that Anaheim traded him for Cory Rasmus, who at 25 after being a compensation pick (38) has a total of 19 appearances under his belt. His BABIP spike in the second half, noticeable concern–going to a team with a markedly better defense it spiked 141 points in his final 25 appearances. He’s 38. A playoff team and a team that’s been built to win now for the past two seasons passed within the past 8 months.

    Paulino on $1.75M. I mean, he didn’t even pitch in the majors last year and was crap at AAA: 0.1 WARP, .418 BAPIP, allowed 42 base runners in 19.2 innings… just, bad.

    I’ll posit a competing theory to the “Hahn is trying to win now” presented here: Hahn is trying to fill his bullpen with arms that might work but don’t cost a lot of money, because spunking money up the wall on relievers is incredibly stupid. And because the Sox bullpen was a complete mess last year why the hell not? But if you think signing four relievers over the age of 30 – two horrible, two meh – is a sign of a GM wanting to WIN NOW (TWTW™) simply because of their age that’s blatantly ignorant. They’re bodies with arms attached that will hopefully provide productive innings.

    With the exception of Downs (who’ll be 38 and started to show signs for concern last season) they’re fringe major league relievers, a commodity as reliable as my weather forecast for Rio would be, case in point: Mitchell Boggs. This isn’t a win now move; this is a I need arms off the scrap heap because tossing money at relievers is world class stupid and this is what’s available right now move. I’m sure Hahn would say as much the same off (or maybe even on) the record.