The season record is terrible, the weather has hardly been any better, and the prospects of a wild card season fainting by the day. So what do White Sox fans have to cheer about?
It can’t happen fast enough.
This White Sox rebuild, the willful attitude shift of from winning now to winning, um, sometime, has one drastic side effect: the current games don’t matter. That’s a good thing, especially when the White Sox lose 15 of 18 games for a whopping winning percentage of – wait for it – .166. At that pace over 162 games, a team would win – again, wait with me – 27 games.
DOH! Ouch! Mother of God (in James Earl Jones voice).
The Sox are better than this. Which is another way of saying the Sox aren’t this bad. So what the hell is happening?
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Well, nothing actually. The Sox aren’t winning. They aren’t having fun. Their results – sprinkled with the sobering reminder of mortality and the frailty of life suggested by poor Danny Farquhar’s illness – would take the fun out of the liveliest party.
Right now the White Sox along with their fans are trudging through a slough that would make an old broken-down plow horse smile, or at least mouth the words, “Wilbur, please turn it off”. Will it get better? Maybe. Do we care? Nope. Why? Because the games don’t matter.
I recall Mario Alioto, Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations at the San Francisco Giants and a wonderful baseball mind, saying to me years ago, “It’s great when the team wins, but our job is to put people in the seats even when that doesn’t happen.” Those “people” by the way are you and me. And the White Sox are hoping we still move the turnstiles and tune in to broadcasts in spite of their results or level of play.
So what we can enjoy within the games since the games themselves are irrelevant. I made a list of what I feel are obvious by lines within the team’s overall struggles.
- Yoan Moncada is the real deal. He quietly has five home runs, 11 RBIs, 12 extra base hits, four stolen bases, and an OPS of .870. He nearly hit for a cycle on Monday night He’s also 22-years-old.
- I sat in the stands at “the free game” in Oakland on April 17, the Athletics 50th Anniversary of playing in the city. During batting practice, one Sox player repeatedly blasted line drive home runs over the fence. It was the right field fence, and the hitter a lefty wearing the number 30 jersey. Nicky Delmonico is healthy and swinging well, and the results will begin showing up in box scores soon.
- For all the trashing by fake news bloggers and rodents, Carson Fulmer has pitched well in two of his four starts this season. His 6.00 ERA is high, but only slightly higher than the team average of 5.83 and below that fellow starters James Shields (6.14), Lucas Giolito (9.00) and Miguel Gonzalez (12.41).
- Tim Anderson is entering his own on the base paths. Ricky’s green light has resulted in eight steals in nine attempts…and it’s still April. And within this April, the weather more resembled winter than summer. What happens when the weather and our shortstop heats up?
- Jose Abreu is Jose Abreu. More actually. I speculated earlier in the year what a breakout year might look like, and with apologies on tempting fate there appears no slow start this year. Whether he keeps up this pace all year is to be seen, but a slash line of .286/.348/.536 with six home runs, 12 runs scored and 12 RBIs through 20 games is a very solid start.
- Matt Davidson has cooled from his hot start and now has a .206 average with 30 strikeouts. Adam Engel has cooled from his hot spring and is hitting .148, 20 points below his 2017 average. Each is somewhat disheartening, but it’s early to become overly concerned.
- The in-season moves are beginning to take place. It’s great to see Trayce Thompson back and in such a timely manner given Avisail Garcia’s injury. Tyler Saladino being traded didn’t surprise me one bit. In the bullpen, Bruce Rondon, Chris Beck and Chris Volstad may all stick.
- Reynaldo Lopez appears to be the new Jose Quintana – a guy who pitches lights out but can’t get a win. If Chick Gandil were playing first base, I might think something is up. The wins will come for this exciting young hurler.
- Team-wise, this team either wins big, loses big, or loses close games. I haven’t seen them battle in tight games and manufacture ways to come out on top. This is especially key in the development phase and a key indicator of team development as the season progresses.
- Finally, the real storyline has yet to be revealed: when does Michael Kopech get called up? I might add Eloy Jimenez to that statement, but let’s just start with Kopech for now. This is a huge part of the rebuild narrative, and just one more reason the games now don’t mean anything. But they will, oh how they will, especially when this guy’s name begins appearing as a probable pitcher in schedule lineups.