Chicago White Sox fans have probably heard this before:
"“We will communicate. We will be fundamentally sound, we will play with passion, pride for this uniform. This means something. We will respect the game, our fans, and earn their trust. We will be prepared to control the strike zone on both sides of the ball. We will work hard and play winning baseball every night. We will definitely hold each other accountable.""
That quote was from White Sox manager Pedro Grifol on the day he was introduced as the team's new manager last November.
Fast forward to a few days ago when this was said:
"“We are going to have guys who can win games defensively, guys who are winning games on the bases. Situational hitting, bunting a guy over, getting a guy in from third, being able to do the little things. We are going to have to be able to execute on a high level on those things for us to turn this around.”"
That quote came from newly hired assistant general manager Josh Barfield in a conversation he had with MLB.com's Scott Merkin.
The Chicago White Sox have been doing a lot of things wrong lately.
Both comments were basically saying the same thing about the team needing to be able to execute the fundamentals, something the White Sox have had trouble with for some time.
It's getting tiresome to hear the same things year in and year out about what plagues the White Sox. They have not been good defensively, running the bases, or being disciplined at the plate.
The Kenny Williams/Rick Hahn regime never really did much to address these problems.
Last year, the White Sox were at the bottom of just about every defensive position, with the exception of first base (9th) and center field (3rd) in terms of wins above average in the American League according to baseball-reference.com.
The Southsiders were 13th in runs allowed per game (5.19) on defense to go along with being 11th in defensive efficiency (.685), last in assists, 5th in errors (95), and tied for 11th in fielding percentage at .983.
As for the team's prowess on the base paths, they were 12th in the AL in both stolen base opportunities (2,070-just under 400 less than the Texas Rangers who led the league) and stolen bases (86-almost half of AL-leading Kansas City's 163) but finished 7th in success rate at 80%.
Offensively, they finished up second to last in runs per game (3.96) and runs (641), 12th in home runs (171) and batting average (.238), and seventh in strikeouts with 1,424.
There's more to it, but you get the picture.
These nagging problems have hung over this team like a dark cloud for years, yet as much as the team talked about emphasizing these areas heading into spring training each year, the White Sox never seemed to improve fundamentally.
To hear Grifol talk about it entering his first year at the helm of the ballclub and seeing where they ended up both statistically and record-wise (101 losses), one would have to wonder how much they really worked on these things.
Fast forward a year later, and with a new general manager in Chris Getz and assistant general manager in Barfield, one would wonder once again if talk of placing importance on the execution of fundamentals will be addressed or if it will turn out to be nothing but an empty promise once again.
Getz has been busy of late after declining club options on players such as Tim Anderson, Liam Hendriks, Mike Clevinger, Yasmani Grandal, and Elvis Andrus while optioning Trayce Thompson and Clint Frazier to Triple-A Charlotte.
The defensive issued added up and something had to be done.
Anderson and Grandal had become defensive liabilities (as well as being injury-prone) and Andrus was moved over to a position he never played before at second base.
The team went out and got Andrew Benintendi to play left field to not have Eloy Jimenez have to go out there regularly, and Oscar Colas didn't take over right field as hoped.
The White Sox are now down to 35 players for the 40-man roster and still have to look at filling shortstop, second base, right field, and additional pitching for both the starting rotation and bullpen.
Korey Lee may end up being the everyday catcher, but even that position could be up for grabs should the rumored pursuit of Salvador Perez come to fruition. As for shortstop, that may end up being top prospect Colson Montgomery's spot in 2024.
There is a lot on Getz and Barfield's plate to figure out, but a place to start would be to find players who can bring a disciplined approach to the game and execute the little things that really mean a lot.