What interests me most, like many others, is the hiring of new pitching coach Ethan Katz. Katz comes to the White Sox with a very interesting background. He is known to have coached Lucas Giolito at Harvard Westlake High School in California, and is said to have helped Giolito become one of baseball’s best spinning arms. In recent years, Katz has spent time with the Seattle Mariners and San Francisco Giants organizations, where he worked with pitchers at various levels in those organizations.
Photo by Randy Vasquez/Bay Area News Group
Katz brings a touch of modernity to the White Sox canoe that most of us have been dreaming about for a few years. I think we can all agree that Don Cooper has done a great job in this organization, and has done many good things that have helped shape the pitching program since his days as minor league pitching coordinator before coming to the 35 Shields. But as with many aspects of life outside of sports, sometimes it takes a new voice with new ideas to put an end to a stagnant product. Although pitchers lacked major league talent for most of the past decade, it’s hard to say that Don Cooper did what he wanted, and either ingredient could be a recipe for disaster.
Katz’s arrival was greeted with much fanfare, as there is much excitement about a man who has never been a leading voice for pitchers in the organization. I think that’s due in large part to the fact that Katz seems to be a data guy who wants to use all the information he can to make the most of the talent he has on his team. His early media outreach has made him someone who focuses on the individual strengths of his pitchers to mask and, in many cases, overcome their weaknesses. There seems to be no approach where Katz manages his pitcher, and it is certain that this approach will spread throughout the organization. This individual approach seems to be something that outsiders have been missing for a few years.
Overall, I was very pleased with what I heard and read about Katz’s philosophy, because I think in many ways it will bring a breath of fresh air to the organization. But I think we, as fans, have too much faith in a guy who hasn’t done his job yet. He hasn’t put on the White Sox jersey yet, and the prevailing belief that “Coop will fix it” has been replaced by “Katz will fix it.” Now it’s entirely possible that the White Sox have found a gem, with Katz being one of the best pitching coaches in the game, at a time when the team is expected to excel. The fact is, we don’t know if that’s going to happen. Obviously, he has to have talented hands to be successful in his role, and I think there’s enough talent right now to check that box. Now Katz has to help pitchers get the best out of themselves.
Mr. Katz’s tenure will first be measured by his ability to transform Dylan Cece, Carlos Rodon and Reynaldo Lopez – three former top prospects whose careers have stalled – into viable members of the major league pitching staff. It’s also Katz’s job to ensure that Michael Kopech, who has just pitched for two and a half years, can be a pitcher that fans care about a little bit in 2018 before his elbow explodes. It is no small feat to have the first major league coach hired by a team that has openly declared 2021 to be “the World Series of bankruptcy.”
Lopez : AP | Rodon : USA Today
Again, there is no guarantee that Katz can unleash the hidden potential of the launcher. Expecting him to come and sprinkle them with magic dust and fix things is just not realistic. But if Katz can draft at least one of the pitchers I listed as my plans for 2021, I’m confident the White Sox will win the American League pennant without suffering a catastrophic injury. I think this team has the best center in the American League and a fourth quality player, coming along with Julito, Dallas Keuchel and Lance Lynn, will give the White Sox a pitching force that cannot be beat in the American League.
So is Ethan Katz the man who will turn the tide for the White Sox pitchers and bring them into the challenge window? Unfortunately, we don’t have an answer to that question at this time. Should he be considered a pitcher who can solve any major league armament problem? No, not at this point. I’m curious to see what he can do, but let’s all take a deep breath and see if he can live up to the hype.