White Sox: Should Fans Continue to Trust Rick Hahn?
White Sox likely to finish fourth consecutive season under .500, didn’t sell at trading deadline when a rebuild could have been started. After four subpar seasons, should fans demand a new general manager?
The White Sox are truly mired in mediocrity, and the franchise is going through one of its worst stretches of baseball since the late 1980’s. The White Sox are on the verge of finishing their fourth consecutive season under .500 for the first time since 1989.
With the season already a disaster and the White Sox holding onto some of their best players before the trading deadline, should fans trust general manger Rick Hahn with improving this team? The White Sox haven’t been close to being a contender since they blew a three game lead over the Detroit Tigers in the final month of the 2012 season.
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Since 2012, the White Sox lost 99 games in 2013 but gave manager Robin Ventura an extension; lost 89 games in 2014 with a slugging rookie in Jose Abreu, and lost 86 games with a revamped roster. Despite this horrible stretch, Hahn has kept Ventura as manager even though there have been multiple opportunities for him to be fired.
The White Sox had a great chance to add to their roster this past off-season, but ultimately couldn’t sign Yoenis Cespedes, Ian Desmond, Dexter Fowler or even Steve Pearce. Although the White Sox did a good job in bargain shopping with Justin Morneau and Austin Jackson, this offense would look much better with Cespedes or Desmond in the lineup. Hahn does deserve some credit for signing starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez however after he was released by the Orioles in spring training.
Hahn also deserves some benefit of doubt as he inherited the general manger position in a tough spot. The White Sox had just overcome an international signing bonus scandal, and the previous general manager Ken Williams didn’t leave Hahn with a very strong farm system. There have been incremental improvements in the White Sox farm system with better drafting recently, but will Hahn even be around to see this team successful again?
During the White Sox last streak of four consecutive losing seasons, the team struck gold with three consecutive first round picks from 1987-1989. Starting with Jack McDowell in 1987, Ventura in 1988, and Hall of Famer Frank Thomas in 1989. The White Sox were able to build its next core of players through those drafts. However, the general manager that presided over those drafts, Larry Himes and the White mutually parted ways after the 1990 season. A season in which the White Sox won 90 games but missed the postseason.
After Himes departure, the White Sox would enjoy four consecutive winning seasons and one playoff appearance in 1993. I don’t think Hahn will agree to mutually part ways if the White Sox were to have a winning season, however at this point Hahn might not ever see a winning season with this team.
Hahn has made some good trades, most notably trading Hector Santiago for Adam Eaton as part of a three-team trade involving the Angels and Diamondbacks in 2013, but the larger free agent signings haven’t worked out with the exception of Abreu. The area Hahn could be losing the trust of fans is the refusal to fire Ventura. This topic has been debated since Ventura’s hiring, but at some point the franchise has to realize he isn’t the best person to be managing a MLB team.
Another area where Hahn has lost credibility is his non-tendering of Tyler Flowers after the 2015 season. Flowers wasn’t a force offensively, but his biggest asset was his pitch framing. This is helpful when your pitching staff consists of Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and Carlos Rodon. Hahn felt it was a good idea to replace Flowers with a tandem of Alex Avila and Dioner Navarro. This hasn’t worked out as well as Hahn would have hoped.
Avila has been on the disabled list since July 6 with a strained hamstring, and Navarro is hitting .210 this season. The White Sox pitching staff has suffered the most, as they’re getting the least amount of strikes called according to an article written by Jeff Sullivan at fangraphs.com. I never thought I would ever want to admit Flowers was needed by the White Sox, but he was really needed this season. The decision to non-tender Flowers was a huge mistake by Hahn.
The White Sox are not only alienating their fan-base with consecutive losing seasons, they’re also losing a generation of young fans to their crosstown rivals. The current plan isn’t working and it’s painfully obvious to see. Hahn can’t be blamed for not getting any solid offers to trade Sale or Quintana before the trading deadline, but he can be blamed for the mediocrity this franchise is currently mired in.
Next: White Sox: Potential Waiver Wire Trade Candidates
If the White Sox do sign some solid free agents and make a run at the postseason again in 2017, anything less than a playoff appearance won’t be acceptable with a justifiably impatient fan-base. White Sox fans sorely want to cheer for a winning team, unfortunately losing has been the only thing this franchise has been consistent with lately.