Well, we’re a little more than halfway through the off-season drama of 2020, and that story hasn’t really made its way to Major League Baseball yet. Our White Sox have already taken a few steps. First, a trade for Lance Lynn that would certainly make them a better team than they were in 2020. The other, the return of Adam Eaton, much less certain is the improvement of the black hole that was the right field.
I’ve been joking for two months that the title of this drama for our 2020 Sox off-season should be Watch out for it. I’m not stuck and I know I have to say that this team should do everything possible to give the new manager Tony La Russa as much confidence in the team as possible. Not every movement will necessarily make sense in a vacuum, but when the team arrives at Glendale in just under two months, there shouldn’t be much questioning about positioning or positioning. Otherwise it would be a big disadvantage for this team and its manager.
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One of the areas of uncertainty is who will take the lead in the ninth inning of the Hall of Fame manager. In many ways Tony La Russa is called the godfather of the modern pen stroke. He was even the first manager to use a tuner to fill the gap with his ninth lap stopper, Dennis Eckersley, during their stay in Oakland. During most of his last 25 years as manager of Bay Area and Gateway City, La Russa seemed to be a man responsible for the outings of his teams 25, 26 and 27. I know that many people today who have an analytical view on building lists (and I consider myself one) think that these three exits are no different than the 24 exits that preceded them.
As someone who played baseball in college for years, I’m here to tell you that these trips aren’t the same. The psychology of these last three exits is simply different on a human level. I know it’s something that can’t be quantified, so it’s easy for people who are very obsessed with data to get over it, but now that I’ve seen it up close, I can tell you it’s real.
To put it bluntly: You have to be able to process all three of these exits psychologically. You have to be crazy to be a pitcher, but the mentality that prevailed in the last three outings takes it to a whole new level. Some can handle it and some can’t. As White Sox fans, we shouldn’t look too far for guys who couldn’t get the job done when they had the chance.
Learning from the past
Since Matt Thornton joined 35 Shields in the 2006 season, he has been one of the top hitters in the American Hockey League. With the departure of Bobby Jenks after the 2010 season, Thornton took over the role of closer, which he had never had before. In the first two weeks of the season, the normally reliable left-handed made four stops and was quickly demoted by manager Ozzie Guillen.
Photo : Bob Levy.
Those of us who watched the team noticed that Thornton was different from what we had seen before. Again, it was something we couldn’t quantify, so it was rather subjective, but something was missing. After the demotion Thornton bounced back and gave the White Sox another solid season out of the pen.
Faster than today, we’re in a similar situation. This White Sox team is ready to fight for the division championship title and play a closer role that is changing. Anyone who reads my content and follows me on social media knows I’m Aaron Bummer. I think it’s a weapon of choice. But looking for certainty, he didn’t see the White Sox sign him for the last three eliminations in 2021. Aaron Bummer may have the bulldog mentality to handle the last three eliminations, but we don’t know that yet. Because we don’t have that answer, and putting him in that position is the worst thing that can happen to a team that says openly that it is the World Series or the bankruptcy.
Menechino: It’s the World Series of bankruptcy. Our goal is to win and that’s it.
– Scott Merkin (@scottmerkin) 2 December 2020
There are two options on the open market that allow Tony La Russa and the many White Sox fans to confidently wait for the final round. Free agents Liam Hendriks and current Sox friend Alex Colome are ready and available. To put it simply, I think missing both would be pretty disastrous for this team.
There’s a lot of smoke around Hendricks right now, and I’m skeptical that the White Sox are doing whatever it takes, despite their willingness to play at the top of the free market for agents. In fact, it’s one of the few free agent markets that wants to shop in high-end stores to meet its needs, but that’s a completely different subject. I know there’s not much going on in the league, but the longer this goes on with Hendricks, who is widely regarded as the White Sox’s main remaining target, the more I’m afraid that real big shot teams like the Dodgers and the Mets like a shark swimming in blood-soaked waters will be circling free agents.
Photo : Carl-Mondon/Bay Regional Information Group
I often criticized Colome when he was on the South Side, but to be honest, he did the work for the Sox as the closest. Since arriving in Chicago, he has been in situations of 42/46 rescues and about 86% in his career, so he just finds a way to get those last three exits. Although I personally want to miss more bats than Colome (7.67 K/9 with the Sox), it would be better to bring him back in 2021 than to switch to a tertiary option. Less attractive options include Trevor Rosenthal, the nonfinalists of the 2019 Cardinals, and Kirby Yates, who turned 34 on opening day and has an elbow injury. That’s not my definition of trust.
Hendricks outperforms Colome in all areas except backup percentage. So I think he’s the White Sox’s main remaining target, apart from his obvious friendship with Tony La Russa. But if the price for Hendricks becomes too high in terms of years or dollars, it is logical that the team turns to Colome. They know the player well and know he can handle the last three outings. I don’t think that’s a euphemism.
Photo : Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images
It should be crucial that the White Sox wins the ninth set in 2021. At this stage, there are two possibilities. I think the Sox should act with a sense of urgency and provide one for Tony La Russa. Since he is currently the second most powerful person in the White Sox organization, I think La Russa will have a lot of influence when it comes to making decisions about the team. So if he thinks Liam Hendricks or Alex Colome are needed, his buddy needs to take the few million dollars he’s raised safely into his office and close the deal. If we go into 2021 without an established and healthy team, we won’t do anything for a White Sox team that should be focusing on this winter.
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