If there is one thing you can count on the Chicago White Sox for, it’s making all the wrong decisions. The momentum was built up just to be torn down by an bad front-office interjection. Here’s hoping they stop this streak of bad moves.
Thanks to the incredible international scouts working for the White Sox, a new future captain named Jose Abreu arrived to take the torch passed down by a franchise great named Paul Konerko in his last year.
Abreu chose a number never worn by a White Sox player before, showing he was ready to play baseball and be the new south side leader. After two years of a half-hearted attempt at trading and signing to contend, ownership finally let someone else drive the bus.
The departures of Chris Sale, Adam Eaton, and José Quintana made way for a new core to rebuild and develop under the leadership of number 79.
When the core finally made it to the majors, they struggled but went through the highs and lows together. They were disciplined and held accountable while having the epitome of what it means to be a baseball player as a mentor.
Eventually, the losing turned into winning and this group made it to playoffs breaking a 12-year drought. Who led the charge but Abreu who slashed .317/.370/.617 with 19 home runs and 60 RBIs in the 60-game season earning his deserved MVP.
It was a hard-fought season but it wasn’t their time yet. There were no worries because a perfect foundation was set for this core to start legitimately contending.
That good feeling and momentum were instantly killed twelve days after the season ended. There is no question Ricky Renteria made his fair share of mistakes.
Even in critical situations, a few wrong moves may have directly led to a loss. However, as the team was inexperienced and was learning on the fly, so was their fearless leader.
Whether firing Renteria was the right call is tricky and perhaps impossible. One thing is for sure though, he could not have done any worse than his predecessor.
Once again, the front office intervenes and destroyed what made this core special, leaving Abreu with the prominent leadership role.
The Chicago White Sox have gotten so much out of Jose Abreu in his career.
Despite the momentum swing, Abreu signed a three-year deal and continued to do what he does best which is lead by example.
Through aches and pains, sickness and fatigue, he was in the lineup giving his all and contributing. From 2020 through 2022, Abreu played 369 games out of the possible 384 (or 96 percent of the games).
The main problem is that he continued his lead-by-example role when this team needed accompanying discipline and accountability from a more outspoken everyday leader. Abreu cannot be blamed for this when the front office started sabotaging and disassembling the winning atmosphere.
An everyday player in the lineup could have stepped up but a manager to rally behind is crucial to a legitimate contender.
He gave his all leaving everything on the field day in and day out but Abreu finds himself at the end of this three-year deal with the front office questioning his return. Despite his clear want to remain a part of this team as the leader of this core, he may not resign.
Hitting only 15 home runs in his age-35 season is not what you want to see. The RBIs were way down and he hit 15 home runs less than last season but he belted ten more doubles and recorded 35 more hits.
While walking the same amount, he struck out 110 times with a .378 on-base percentage in 2022 compared to his 143 and .351 OBP in 2021.
Recognizing his limitations, Abreu adjusted his game plan to make more contact leading to more hits and fewer strikeouts. If this team functioned as a well-oiled machine, that approach could have affected strikeout-prone hitters up and down the lineup.
Yes, the home runs were down but Abreu can still effectively drive the ball and get on base. The notorious dead balls of 2022 may have had an effect and should be worth mentioning as home runs were down league-wide (Aaron Judge is not human).
Abreu recognized his need to adjust and the White Sox needed to as well. He may not be considered a power threat headed forward.
Replace him with a big bat and natural right fielder. You can alternate a trio of DH and first base/left field between Abreu, Eloy Jiménez, and maybe even Andrew Vaughn. Until proven otherwise, missing Yasmani Grandal’s bat for an off day from catching won’t be a concern.
The fact is José Abreu is the Chicago White Sox. There are situations when holding onto a player longer than expected can backfire and that loyalty becomes a liability.
The former MVP has proven that he is not a liability. Not only is he an asset but he is also the meaning of the White Sox. Not resigning him does a major and gross dissatisfaction to Abreu, the fans, and the team. It ruins what has been five years in the making.