This is an excerpt from the Joe Sheehan Baseball Newsletter, an e-mail newsletter about all things baseball, featuring analysis and opinion about the game on and off the field from the perspective of the informed outsider. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for more than 20 years.
Your subscription gets you the newsletter and various related features two to five days a week, more than 150 mailings (more than 200,000 words) a year full of smart, fun baseball writing that you can't find in the mainstream. Subscribers can also access the new Slack workspace, to talk baseball with Joe and hundreds of other Newsletter subscribers.
You can subscribe to the newsletter for one year for $39.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.
Chicago White Sox (70-92). This was supposed to be the year the White Sox took their first step forward. Then Yoan Moncada struck out 217 times, and Michael Kopech blew out his elbow, and Dane Dunning did the same, and the Sox took the offseason, well, off. The optimism that was here just a season ago has definitely faded. While the Sox still have a strong farm system and an interesting group of young veterans in the majors, a permanent failure to launch is definitely in play.
Which way it goes will come down to the products of the trades that rebuilt this farm system. I’m bullish on Moncada, though less so now that he’s been moved to third base. Any reduction in strikeout rate should redound to his batting average, and he only needs to bat .265 to be a very good player. Lucas Giolito was terrible last year, but just staying in the rotation all season at 23 was a positive. Reynaldo Lopez did the same, and finished the season strong. Eloy Jimenez has arrived and will push Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for top rookie honors. There is absolutely talent here. If we’re picking a watchable bad team this year, it’s the White Sox.
Maybe next year the Sox will sign Anthony Rendon and Gerrit Cole, finally silencing the criticism that they like to be in on players without ever actually closing the deal. Until then, you should take the White Sox exactly as seriously as they seem to take themselves.
One Stat: Other than some James Shields ABs in interleague play, the White Sox didn’t give a single plate appearance last year to a player older than 31. No other team in MLB did that.
One Guy: The White Sox became the latest team to use the service-time rules as leverage, signing Eloy Jimenez to a six-year contract with options that could lock him up until 2026. With Jimenez-the-asset now covered, we can focus on Jimenez-the-player. That guy is a 22-year-old with all-fields power and excellent bat-to-ball skills (16% strikeout rate in the upper minors). He will be a very good major-league hitter starting Thursday.