The Chicago White Sox have been a complete disappointment this season. After a pathetic off-season, some didn’t expect them to be great but there was still hope they could win a weak division in the AL Central.
As the Cleveland Guardians are pulling away in the race with a younger and more talented team, it’s becoming increasingly clear that isn’t going to happen. For this, and his 10 years of failure as the White Sox GM, Rick Hahn needs to be fired.
If you had said in 2016 when the rebuild started that in 2022 the Chicago White Sox would be 63-61 and be a worse team than the Baltimore Orioles, you would have considered the rebuild a failure and it pretty much is.
The only thing good that’s come out of it is that the White Sox did manage to make the playoffs in back-to-back years for the first time ever but that amounted to only 2 playoff wins. With the way this team stinks this year, they aren’t likely going to add any more.
There is plenty of blame to go around for the White Sox’s failures. As the GM of the White Sox, Rick Hahn has more power to make this team good than any person besides Jerry Reinsdorf.
Yet making this team good is something he’s failed to do in 8 out of his 10 years as general manager, and even when they were good, they were still far from great.
It might be time for the Chicago White Sox to think about making a GM change.
Rick Hahn took over as General Manager in 2013 right after Kenny William’s last season in the position when the White Sox finished in second place at 85-77.
The 2012 season was disappointing as the Chicago White Sox spent most of the year in first place only for the Detroit Tigers to steal the AL Central championship from them at the end and make it all the way to the World Series.
If the White Sox had just been a bit better, it could have been them in the World Series. Unfortunately, once Rick Hahn was named GM for the 2013 season, the team immediately crashed, falling to 63-99, a 22-game dropoff from the year before.
Now, Hahn is not responsible for the entirety of the team’s decline but he certainly contributed to it. His big offseason acquisition that year was third baseman Jeff Keppinger, while he let longtime fan favorite A.J. Pierzynski walk. Tyler Flowers became the team’s starting catcher from there.
After Rick Hahn was free to build his own roster without the leftovers from Williams, the White Sox had three more losing seasons from 2014-2016.
This was despite the White Sox trying very hard to win in 2015 after acquiring Adam Laroche, Melky Cabrera, Jeff Samardzija, and David Robertson in the off-season.
None of those moves worked out as the team went from just 73 wins to 76 wins. In 2016, they added Todd Frazier who was a good player at the time. They still only improved to 78 wins.
Some say they were “mired and mediocrity” during this period but for you to be mediocre you have to be average. The White Sox were not average, they were bad. An average team would finish .500 at least half the time.
After that season, the White Sox started a full-on rebuild under Rick Hahn, trading Chris Sale for Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, and 2 guys that never made the majors. Everyone was okay with the rebuild at the time, mainly because there’s no way this team could get any worse.
Still, it would have been nice to get a better player than Yoan Moncada for Chris Sale, who ended up helping the Red Sox win the World Series in 2018.
Moncada has never lived up to his status as the no. 1 prospect in baseball and if not for Michael Kopech, the White Sox would have been destroyed in that trade.
Hahn’s streak of losing seasons continued through 2017-2019, running to seven straight years of losing as the White Sox lost games on purpose in order to be really good in the future, as they promised their fans.
In 2018 the White Sox lost 100 games, which is something that any baseball team should be embarrassed about whether they are rebuilding or not.
The White Sox fell from 67 to 62 wins despite getting a full season of Moncada and others should have been evidence that Ricky Renteria was not the right man for the manager job, yet at no point did Hahn or anyone else consider firing him.
If losing 100 games as a baseball manager doesn’t cost you your job, then what possibly could? Two years later, the White Sox finally fired Renteria as manager, finally admitting he was not the right man for the job but it came two years and a blown playoff series too late.
Renteria’s replacement was Tony La Russa, who was handpicked by Jerry Reinsdorf to make up for the fact he felt bad about firing him decades ago. This was not the best choice but who did Rick Hahn want? Most likely, he wanted A.J. Hinch who would have been even worse.
A.J. Hinch’s Tigers currently sit at 48-77, dead last in the weak AL Central. Hinch’s only period of success as a baseball manager came during 2015-2019 when his Houston Astros were using an illegal sign-stealing scheme.
Hinch allegedly didn’t approve of the scheme but lacked the courage to tell his players face-to-face that it was wrong. The Astros haven’t gotten any worse since ridding themselves of Hinch, so he clearly had little to with their success.
So despite the narrative, it’s actually a good thing that Jerry Reinsdorf overruled Rick Hahn in selecting a manager.
Rick Hahn has had three different managers to work with under his tenure as the Chicago White Sox GM and at not one point has he been able to win a single playoff series. At a certain point, you need to stop changing managers and start changing the GM.
Rick Hahn needs to be fired before Tony La Russa mainly because Hahn should not get to pick the next manager. He’s gotten to pick managers before and it didn’t work out. The next GM should get to pick the White Sox’s next manager, not Rick Hahn.
As for Rick Hahn, he simply has to go. All Chicago fans know Jerry Reinsdorf is cheap but he still gave Rick Hahn 196 million to build a good baseball team and he couldn’t manage to do it. Meanwhile, the Cleveland Guardians have a payroll of just 66 million and are in first place with a younger team.
They also didn’t have to stink for years to get to their position as they’ve been competitive pretty much every year, and won the pennant as recently as 2016. The Sox haven’t won anything since 2005.
This isn’t to say that nothing that Rick Hahn has done worked out. He drafted Tim Anderson and signed Jose Abreu for the first time in 2013, both great moves.
In 2017 executed the famous trade with the Chicago Cubs of Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease for Jose Quintana. But what has Hahn done for them lately? Nothing good.
Rick Hahn hasn’t made good trades since the one with the Cubs in 2017 but his performance as GM has been especially pathetic since the 2021 trade deadline. The White Sox needed to get a hitter or starting pitcher to help them in the playoffs against teams like the Boston Red Sox or Houston Astros.
Instead, they went all-in on Craig Kimbrel when they already had the best closer in baseball. You don’t need two closers but you do need 9 hitters, so what was Rick Hahn or Kenny Williams thinking with this trade?
That they gave up their starting second baseman of the future with no obvious replacement made the trade even worse.
Then the 2021 offseason was bad as well. They went into it talking about signing players like Marcus Semien, Robbie Ray, and Justin Verlander.
They came out of it adding Josh Harrison. A.J. Pollock, Kendall Graveman, Joe Kelley, and re-signing Leury Garcia on a three-year deal for who knows what reason. Graveman was the only good signing.
They couldn’t even make a qualifying offer to ace Carlos Rodon, who was a big reason for the White Sox first half success in 2021 because they wanted “financial flexibility”. “Financial flexibility” is great but for space to get players like Josh Harrison and Leury Garcia? Yikes.
Garcia is not paid much yet is still drastically overpaid when considering his awful performance. He should be cut in favor of Danny Mendick if Mendick is healthy by 2023 Spring Training.
The one last good move Hahn was able to make was the signing of Johnny Cueto, who was a nice surprise this year. But they still don’t have enough starting pitching depth and couldn’t get any after a failed trade deadline in 2022.
Cueto will likely leave after this year anyways, with him too expensive for the Sox to re-sign, just like Rodon was.
It’s hard to know where the Sox go from here but it’s obvious they don’t have much of a plan. They should definitely replace Hahn with a GM who does have a plan but it’s been a pretty awful decade for White Sox baseball.
They did manage to have that one good year in 2021 and a good half year in 2020 but the success with the current core seems to have peaked prematurely. It’s time to retool under a different general manager.
Whoever the next Sox GM will be, they’ll likely be under constraints from Jerry Reindorf and Tony La Russa, so maybe no one good will want the job. Billy Beane, Dave Dombrowski, and A.J. Preller as good candidates to GM the Sox if they are available.
All of them would be way better than Rick Hahn, who won’t have much sympathy from Sox fans if the door hits him on the way out. He clearly has no idea how to build a championship baseball team and hasn’t demonstrated that he knows more about the game than your average fan. He hasn’t learned from a single one of his mistakes.