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A Game of Groans

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Cleveland Indians v Chicago White Sox
Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

Much like the smash hit TV series about a quest for power, the 8th season of the White Sox rebuild is letting fans down. But even after a historically bad start, showrunner Jerry Reinsdorf appears keen to do nothing but watch it burn.

Chaos is a Ladder

Jerry Reinsdorf — the beleaguered owner of the Chicago White Sox — grimaced in disgust as he watched his team get swept by the visiting Cincinnati Reds on Sunday from an empty box suite. The loss capped a horrifying weekend of baseball for the Chicago faithful, wherein the White Sox were outscored 27-5.

Just eight months removed from telling the fans he would remain competitive and avoid a rebuild, the team is in an early free fall. Since the Reds’ massacre, the Sox have lost four of five and have fallen to a league-worst 3-16. Fewer than three weeks into the season, Chicago’s playoff hopes are all but gone as they already sit 10 1⁄2 games out of first place in a competitive division and have only scored 4 runs or more 4 times. As a result, they’re averaging a pathetic 2.05 runs per game, by far the worst in the league.

Reinsdorf’s team, which he purchased a majority share of in 1981 for $19 million, has gone on to make him a billionaire twice over. But in that time, the White Sox have just seven playoff appearances and one World Series. Reinsdorf has publicly stated that he makes enough money to cover his payroll simply from licensing deals before a single ticket has been sold. Even so, he has yet to invest any substantial money in his teams.

To make matters worse, Reinsdorf publicly belittled his operative position last year. While speaking at the Milken Institute Global Conference panel in Los Angeles, he unearthed a treasure trove of self-damning information about his motives for operating his sports ventures, but perhaps none was more illuminating than this:

“Sports is a business of failure but the fact that you finish second or third or fourth it doesn’t mean you had a bad year.”

In not so many words, this admission essentially suggests that Reinsdorf would rather finish a season in mediocrity and turn a profit than truly try to win if winning meant he’d lose money. Even the morally misguided New York Mets owner Steve Cohen went on record saying he sees his investment in his team as philanthropy to the city and the fan base. Reinsdorf would cringe at the thought. While he might selfishly want to win, he won’t do so if it negatively impacts his stock portfolio (even if it breaks the hearts of the millions of people who made him rich in the first place).

And so, White Sox fans live in a constant state of turmoil. Aside from one magical season nearly 20 years ago, the organization has underperformed at every turn and it’s all been brought on by Reinsdorf himself. His refusal to spend on quality MLB stars in free agency over this most recent seven-year rebuild led the team to fall apart under the pressure of injuries and misappropriation of funds to undeserving players.

For example, instead of electing to give Bryce Harper $27 million AAV when it would have surely pushed his team over the edge, Reinsdorf had no choice but to give Andrew Benintendi $17 million AAV four years later, when there were no better options left. That $10 million AAV difference would have easily been covered by sponsorships, jersey sales, increased ticket sales, and the like. And while the long-term commitment is less with Benintendi, the returns are too, and exponentially so.

Since signing with Philly in 2019, Harper has led the Phillies to the playoffs twice and the World Series once. He’s been an All-Star, won two Silver Sluggers, and an MVP. He’s hit .282 while averaging 34 home runs and 102 RBIs for every 162 games. And perhaps most importantly to Reinsdorf, he’s been a magnet for the fan base, enabling a commensurate (and drastic) rise in ticket, concession, fan gear, and memorabilia sales for John Middleton and the Philadelphia Phillies.

Conversely, since signing with the White Sox, Benintendi is hitting a paltry .249 with just five total home runs and 45 total RBIs over 168 games. He has drawn the ire of the fan base (and likely the front office) for becoming the highest-paid player in team history while also becoming one of the worst-performing. And as a result, crowds are staying at home for the games — along with their wallets. The Harper Effect was worth every penny the Phillies gave him, and more. Benintendi might be the reason the White Sox can’t be competitive for as long as he’s under contract.

The two are facing off this weekend. In Game 1, Harper went 1-2 with 2 BB and 2 Runs. Benintendi went 0-4 as the White Sox were held to 1 hit by spot starter Spencer Turnbull and were delivered their seventh shut out of the year. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported last night that Turnbull is the most likely “odd man out” once Taijuan Walker returns from injury next weekend. All the same, Turnbull — who will make just $2 million this year — held a no-hitter into the seventh inning.

Even the Phillies’ backups are outperforming Benintendi.

A Song of Ice and Campfire Milkshakes

Jerry also disproved his claim that he can’t “make the decisions for [his] baseball people” when he bypassed Rick Hahn (the GM he hired to steer the rebuild) to hire his aging, retired, and ultimately incompetent friend Tony La Russa to run the lineup card. La Russa had been away from professional baseball and the modern advancements in managing for a decade at the time of his appointment and the move directly contradicted Hahn’s edict to hire a manager with “a recent track record of post-season success.”

The move came as a shock to everyone — even employees of the White Sox, who were under the impression that AJ Hinch was about to be hired (as evidenced by the digital graphics card with La Russa’s photo that was accidentally released with Hinch’s name embossed in the background by the White Sox Social Media Team the next day). No one in the White Sox organization ever fully explained the misstep, but inferences from leaks within the front office and Hahn’s corresponding press conference suggest any other explanation would be fabricated.

In La Russa’s time as manager, the team went from competitive to mediocre in just two seasons as the world watched a lazing and unenthused keeper of an archaic style of play implement management techniques that clashed with the youth movement the White Sox had spent years developing. La Russa admonished fiery, competitive, vocal team leaders like Tim Anderson while stifling the growth and confidence of young players competing for their future like Yermín Mercedes.

Inexplicably, La Russa mismanaged his starting pitchers and bullpen far worse than his predecessor Ricky Renteria (whom Sox fans surely long for now). He also humiliated the team on numerous occasions by intentionally walking multiple batters who were already down two strikes in the count, and even started nodding off in the dugout during a game. When he left, the team was among the league leaders in errors and runners caught stealing, and the “culture” he taught still plagues a roster of men who struggle to hustle on the base paths. Now Hinch is leading the Tigers to an 11-9 start while the White Sox try desperately to fend off the worst season in MLB history.

Additionally, reports leaked over the offseason that Jerry and his SVP & Marketing Officer Brooks Boyer unfathomably disliked (and allegedly even insulted) world-class broadcasting play-by-play announcer Jason Benetti. The primary complaint Reinsdorf reportedly had about the rising star in the broadcasting world was his distaste for Benetti’s on-the-air food segments. Ironically, all fans have heard about since Spring Training is the new Campfire Milkshake the team is using to try and drive up foot traffic for their failing “Better At The Ballpark” campaign. Despite their best efforts, social media engagement has markedly deteriorated this season.

Benetti was quickly snatched up by the competition and he has since moved on to call games for the Detroit Tigers, where he is still one of the best announcers in all of televised sports. The White Sox bafflingly replaced him with the nice enough but inexperienced (and clearly struggling) John Schiffren. This move has forced the fan base not only to have to watch an unacceptable on-the-field product, but suffer through an amateur and unengaging listening experience at the same time. No milkshake media campaign can cover up such a massive misstep by Reinsdorf and Boyer.

Nor should it; not with the team on pace for a record-setting, all-time worst MLB record of 27-135. And the pathetic play from this team is a direct result of arrogant mistakes by ownership at every turn, all borne out of pride and an unwillingness to spend. Every competitive team in Major League Baseball spends money, not just to entertain their fans, but — more importantly — to win. The Rays are the exception to the rule, but they have the largest analytics department in the league by a wide margin, and there is no scouting department in any other ball club close to their caliber.

To this day, the White Sox remain one of just two teams in the game who haven’t given a single player a $100 million contract. Their insistence on adhering to an outmoded and arrogant style of operation has them falling apart at the seams, and there’s only one person to blame: the owner and chairman, Jerry Reinsdorf.

Aside from their magical World Series run in 2005, the White Sox have been one of the worst-operated teams in baseball, behind only the Colorado Rockies and the Oakland A’s (a team that is intentionally tanking). The White Sox, who don’t even benefit from early draft pick positioning anymore thanks to the new competitive balance rules in the most recent collective bargaining agreement, are only accidentally tanking.

To say the bats are cold would be an understatement. The 2024 MLB season is just three weeks in and the Chicago White Sox are on pace for one of the worst seasons in the history of professional baseball. The statistics buoying that reality are even more damning; they rank at the bottom of the league in batting average (30th), on-base percentage (30th), slugging (30th), home runs (30th), runs batted in (30th), hits (30th), and virtually every other measurable offensive metric. And while their pitching statistics aren’t quite as abysmal, they’re still in the Bottom 10 in just about every category therein as well.

To add insult to injury (or injury to insult, as it were), the three best hitters on the team, Luis Robert, Eloy Jiménez, and Yoán Moncada, have all suffered significant injuries again — not even three weeks into the season. In the four years that they’ve been teammates, the supposed core stars of this team have played fewer than 30% of their nearly 600 combined games together as teammates.

During that period, the White Sox have managed just 270 wins, good for a winning percentage of just .477, a sub-mediocre mark to be sure. But the only reason that it’s even that high is because the AL Central has been among the least competitive divisions in baseball for the entirety of their major league careers, and one of those seasons was only 60 games. Now, as their contracts are about to expire, the only legacy this group will carry into the next phase of their careers is their endless cycle of injury and underperformance.

Grifols, Disasters, and Broken Swings

To make matters even more untenable, even the players from the rebuild who remain healthy have been inexplicably bad, going as far as to show clear signs of regression. Michael Kopech’s transfer to the bullpen has been hard to gauge. At times he seems dominant and born to be a high-leverage closer, while at others he still seems as lost and self-conscious as he was in the rotation. His 3.48 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, and 25% loss rate in the early goings of a season with light innings usage reflects that.

And Andrew Vaughn, the third overall pick in the 2019 draft (and “Golden Spikes”-winning power hitter whom the Sox drafted to man first base for the current decade) has been awful on both defense and offense, so far this season hitting a woeful .159/.237/.203 with no homers and just three RBIs in 69 ABs. Now in his fourth season, Vaughn seems more likely to join the long list of prospect busts the White Sox have acquired rather than reattaining his place as a cornerstone of the franchise and its future. At the very least, a stint in Triple-A to harness Vaughn’s confidence seems inevitable. But at 26 years old and with three-plus MLB seasons already under his belt, one has to wonder what good it would even do.

As if all this wasn’t enough for the White Sox fan base to endure, the leadership in the dugout and front office of the organization has been pathetic. In his second season as manager, Pedro Grifol — installed by Rick Hahn before his firing — boasts a win-loss record of just 64-117 (.355 winning percentage), and just three victories so far in 2024. When pressed by journalists, he often gives shaky, ill-defined responses and seldom offers justification for his strange decision-making. And despite talking constantly about high expectations for performance, the hitters continuously embarrass themselves in the batters’ box, on the base paths, and in the field.

Grifol’s efficacy is proving to be atrocious. Gifted with a $200 million payroll in his first season, given influence in the signing of free agents in consecutive off-seasons, and entrusted with a vision he claims he has shaped himself, the results on the field are unforgivable. Grifol has easily been the worst manager in baseball over the course of his tenure, not just because of wins and losses but because of the way he continues to fumble basic responsibilities.

Pitchers are left in too long. Matchups are decided based on instinct rather than analytics. Steal attempts occur in nonsensical situations. Power hitters are being called upon to bunt. And as recently as last night’s game, Grifol even put RBI producer Eloy Jiménez in the second spot of the batting order, a move he justified by trying to get him more pitches and “that fifth at bat.” Instead of allowing his best healthy hitter to occupy the middle of the lineup, he was called upon to cosplay as a contact hitter while only slashing .095/.208/.095 on the year.

He went 0-for-4 with a strikeout and did not get that fifth at bat.

There’s little reason to believe this nightmare will change anytime soon. In a recent article about the Bulls, Reinsdorf admitted that he doesn’t like to eat dead money on fired coaches or executives. For that reason alone, Sox fans have plenty of reason to fear they’ll be stuck with the horrifically ineffectual Grifol for the foreseeable future.

Reinsdorf’s basketball team failed to advance past the NBA play-in tournament last night, and Bulls fans are vocally and rightfully frustrated. General manager Artūras Karnišovas’ team has been mired in more mediocrity than Hahn’s White Sox during his 15-year tenure. But the Bulls will likely be seen as a success to Reinsdorf because the fourth-year GM delivered ownership a luxury tax avoidance paycheck, playoff revenue, and the best fan attendance in the NBA.

Karnišovas might have the ire of the fans, but he also might have earned himself an extension based on Reinsdorf’s twisted expectations for success.

After all, what needs to change? Reinsdorf’s overall net worth continues to rise, and the other of his two professional teams is providing him with more than enough value to let the White Sox suffer for the time being. But perhaps if the team keeps performing at such a historically amateurish pace, Chris Getz (the newly minted and wholly unqualified general manager of the White Sox) will have no choice but to force Jerry’s hand into implementing a new vision sooner than he’d like.

Getz, the player personnel director who was promoted late last year by Reinsdorf in a move that can only be described as “typical,” competed against no other prospective candidates in the interview process despite having developed fewer successful major league talents than the previous regime. As he has done with almost every front office regime switch for both of his teams, Reinsdorf hand-selected one person, interviewed no other potential suitors, and simply elevated someone he knew without outside influence or research.

House of the Draggin’

Both the White Sox and the Bulls have abided by this tactic since Reinsdorf’s takeover as owner 43 years ago. If not for the superb luck of drafting Michael Jordan with the third pick in the 1984 NBA Draft (a pick made by his inherited GM Rod Thorn), Jerry’s championship count might only be one out of 84 chances (42 baseball seasons and 42 basketball seasons). And while Reinsdorf might fancy this method as streamlined and expedited, it’s also banal, unproductive, and insular, resulting in a perpetual echo chamber of least resistance for the 88-year-old dire wolf afraid to learn — or even implement — new tricks.

Upon Getz’s promotion, the rookie GM boasted about his distaste for the team, insisted the organization would not be rebuilding, and went on to spend over $40 million on a collection of role players who fit his “defense-first” ideals. That plan has not panned out so far, as almost every player Getz has signed or traded for has played well beneath their replacement value.

To that end, the problem lies with the players, too. Aside from Garrett Crochet, who has been a revelation as the team’s new ace after the White Sox traded Dylan Cease (a move the team will likely regret), the roster is littered with abject failures. Jesse Rogers reported on Friday night that the White Sox have now been shut out seven times this year, the most for a team in its first nineteen games since at least 1901.

Most embarrassing for Getz is probably the acquisition of Martín Maldonado. Heralded for his defensive prowess, framing, and preparation, Maldonado has been one of the worst defensive and framing catchers in the league this year, ranking 39th in pop time, 47th in blocking, 48th in framing, and 50th in throwing while hitting an unacceptable .057/.108/.086. For reference, Bill Bergen has the lowest career OPS in league history at .395. While it’s only 1 season, Maldonado has less than half that in his first month on the White Sox. He has also posted a laughable -0.7 WAR in just 13 games.

Getz gave Maldonado $4 million this year. So far, he has only served to stand in the way of the far superior Korey Lee, someone the White Sox already had on their roster before Getz took over. Yet inexplicably, Lee would have begun the season at Triple-A if not for Max Stassi getting injured. Meanwhile, Lee — one of the fastest base runners in professional baseball at the catcher position — is ranked 24th in throwing, 12th in framing, 6th in blocking, and 2nd in pop time, all while hitting .241/.290/.379, one of the best slash lines on the team.

Make no mistake about it: Hahn and Ken Williams still hold the record for the most embarrassing contracts on the books. Giving Andrew Benintendi $17 million AAV will likely go down as one of the worst contracts in the history of the organization. The $25 million and $14 million Moncada and Jiménez are making this year, respectively, are proving to be albatrosses all their own. All the same, Getz is certainly trying to compete for the least competent GM in the league.

The Things I Do for Glove

Getz’s obsession with players who at one point were (although not necessarily presently are) superior defenders or successful pitch-to-contact relievers stretched far beyond Maldonado. Other embarrassing signings include giving John Brebbia $5.5 million twice, Nicky Lopez $4.3 million, and Tim Hill, Paul DeJong, Chris Flexen, Dominic Leone, and Kevin Pillar a combined $8 million.

But the worst of Getz’s signings might end up being the return of Mike Clevinger, a problematic, mediocre-at-best innings eater who divides the majority of the fan base, and the late addition of Tommy Pham, a temperamental journeyman who has been inconsistent, disloyal, and toxic to his teammates since his last (and arguably only) quality major league season in 2019.

Clevinger figures to help provide a stop-gap for the young arms developing in the minors and Pham is likely here to try and help salvage the team from having a historically bad season. After the $4 million retention salary they already owed him, Clevinger could make upwards of $10 million in 2024 if he meets incentives. Pham will make between $3 million and $4.5 million depending on his performance, too. With all of these factors considered, Getz is hoping this potentially $14 million+ investment will somehow cure what ails the team.

That, unfortunately, seems a near-impossible task at this point. Detroit and Kansas City have both taken major steps forward as competitive ball clubs, posing legitimate threats to Minnesota and Cleveland in the arms race to win the AL Central. Assuming Clevinger can win 8-10 games and eat 150+ IP, it’s hard to imagine how that alters the current course of a 140-loss season becoming something closer to just 100 Losses.

And Tommy Pham, who could only manage a .241/.304/.415 slash line with just 6 HR and 32 RBIs playing for the National League champion Arizona Diamondbacks in 2023, figures to make little difference as well. He is currently joining what could quite possibly go down as the worst offense in baseball since the 1962 New York Mets, considered by many to be the worst team in MLB history. Furthermore, both have known backgrounds of being disliked in their clubhouses and both have immense off-the-field issues.

Clevinger, whose history of being abusive to the women and children in his life is well-documented, was traded by Cleveland because of his ailing relationship with the players and coaches in the clubhouse. He also broke health and safety protocols put in place to protect his teammates during the Covid outbreak so he and then-teammate Zach Plesac could go clubbing in Chicago while on a road trip. And to make matters worse, he repeated some of the same problems with teammates and coaches in San Diego.

Ultimately the league determined Clevinger didn’t need to face any internal discipline for his connection to the repeated abuse allegations, but despite posting an effective stat line in 2023, he remained a free agent into the 2024 regular season because no one else wanted him. One has to be wary of anyone who would continuously attract such negative attention — especially when their on-the-field play is so middling, but particularly when other teams with the same glaring needs elect not to utilize his services.

Speaking of unwanted services, Pham is slightly less problematic in a moral sense but is probably no better in any other sense. He slapped former teammate Joc Pederson over a fantasy football dispute in 2022. And instead of trying to make things right, he doubled down on his actions afterward both in the press and on social media, most notably by harassing fans on Twitter who condemned his actions. For someone with his tenure, he acts more like a middle school bully than a team leader.

He also clearly doesn’t handle criticism or adversity well, something he’ll have no shortage of on this atrocious White Sox team. Furthermore, reports indicate that the only reason he took so long to sign is because nobody else wanted him and he wouldn’t agree to put pen to paper with the Sox unless he got a payout if he were traded. Getz succumbed to this request and Pham will receive $500,000 when he is more than likely moved at the deadline.

This suggests a few things, but what it most likely points to is that he cares more about the paycheck than the glory of winning, something this team does not need in a supposed clubhouse leader. And to make matters worse, he’ll be closer to 37 than 36 by the end of the year, meaning the White Sox brass have elected to block young star Oscar Colás from getting consistent MLB at-bats instead of rewarding his excellent play in Triple-A.

Despite struggling in his short exposure to the majors in 2023, Colás is hitting a robust .286/.371/.537 with 14 home runs, 41 RBIs, and 30 walks across just 289 Triple-A at-bats. This season he’s refining his consistency with an .845 OPS, 3 home runs, 8 RBIs, 2 steals, and 6 walks in his first 50 at-bats back with the Charlotte Knights. The decision to stifle his confidence and let Pham serve as yet another blockade to Colás’ step forward as a player is as confusing as the litany of questionable decisions Getz has made in his short tenure so far as GM.

In summary, with all of the aforementioned acquisitions (and those not yet mentioned), Getz has invested what could ultimately be well over $50 million in players who have combined for a -0.1 WAR so far in 2024. With Getz and Reinsdorf’s expressed intent of this not being a rebuild, that money could have been put to far better use in free agency and through trade acquisitions. The Chris Getz Era of White Sox baseball is off to a very unimpressive start indeed.

Hold the Door

This season is, for all intents and purposes, already over. No matter what combination of signings, call-ups, or hot streaks occur between now and October, the White Sox don’t have the players or the management to compete in 2024. But despite the historically awful start and the abysmal status quo at present, with a very large pair of rose-colored glasses one could look at the situation through the two-year window of retooling they were sold on last year and find some surprisingly hopeful sights.

The Sox have a more talented farm system than they’ve been given credit for by most analysts. Beyond Colás, there are a dozen or more young prospects in the White Sox farm system with very high ceilings. Just one year ago, most pundits and analysts had Chicago’s minor league system ranked in the Bottom 10 — or even Bottom 5 — despite two or three MLB Top 100 prospects and a few very impressive consecutive drafts. So credit must be given where it’s due.

Before their unceremonious (and well-deserved) firing, Hahn and Williams acquired a few quality prospects at last year’s trade deadline, knowing their window of contention was closing. Youngsters like Edgar Quero, Nick Nastrini, and Jake Eder show flashes of dominance, particularly Quero — who might just be the second-best catching prospect in all of baseball after this season.

Furthermore, Colson Montgomery and Noah Schultz were shrewd draft picks by the previous regime, both of whom seem poised to be All-Star caliber major-leaguers once they elevate to the show. Young power-hitting phenom Bryan Ramos and the “toolsy” infielder Jacob González also continue to show great promise. Snagging potential first round talent George Wolkow in the seventh and delivering him into the system swiftly looks like a masterstroke. The oft-overlooked Tim Elko seems to possess power that could allow him to become a star if he continues to grow in the minors.

Likewise, Getz has a few impressive dart throws under his belt too. Trading Cease when trying to stay competitive is a bewildering decision, but the return was impressive. Jairo Iriarte and Drew Thorpe both have the arsenal and makings of frontline rotation starters, and Samuel Zavala is already putting on an explosive display in the White Sox organization; his combination of bat speed, ground speed, and baseball IQ figure to quickly launch the 19-year-old up into the stratosphere of many MLB top prospect lists.

Players like Schultz, Zavala, and Wolkow are still likely at least two or three years away from major league competition, but Montgomery, Ramos, Quero, Iriarte, Thorpe, González, Bush, Eder and possibly even Elko could force their way onto this abysmal White Sox roster before long, along with other surprising White Sox farm talents punching above their weight, such as the speedy Terrell Tatum or the ascendant, white-hot Brooks Baldwin, who boasts a .436/.522/.590 slash line since unexpectedly breaking camp with the Double-A Birmingham Barons.

The heralded Nastrini already made the jump from Triple-A just this week, taking the loss to Kansas City but looking impressive all the same. He struck out five in five innings, with two walks and two runs. While those numbers don’t jump off of the page, he also retired the first 11 batters he faced, impressing fans and media alike against a stout Royals lineup that is first in run differential in the league and has won seven of their last 10, sitting just a game out of first.

Meanwhile, the White Sox’s run differential is already -61 after just 19 games. That, like almost every other mark the South Siders hold in the early goings of 2024, is a league-worst ranking, too. In fact, it’s the 15th-worst run differential through 19 games in major league history.

Even so, these youngsters are reasons to be optimistic. Joel Reuter from Bleacher Report recently ranked the White Sox as the third-best minor league system in his Farm System Power Rankings. And with over half of the team’s current salary clearing from the books in 2025, there is an open path to the “re-tooling” fans were promised when Getz was given the job last year.

Break the Wheel

The White Sox only have just over $40 million committed to the roster in 2025. Even if they re-sign the majority of their young talent to market-rate contracts, that number would still likely not surpass the $60 million mark. If given the (undeserved) benefit of the doubt and the fans are to assume Reinsdorf and Getz were being honest when they declared they didn’t want this to be a rebuild, perhaps they are truly clearing the team’s salary to make way for a relatively impressive free agency class.

If opt-outs are accounted for, the 2024-25 free agent class includes a veritable onslaught of talent. The starting pitcher market could feature Corbin Burnes, Roki Sasaki, Max Fried, Blake Snell, Walker Buehler, Jordan Montgomery, Shane Bieber, Robbie Ray, and Frankie Montas. The relief pitching market will likely not be a major target for the White Sox given their robust pipeline of arms, but Clay Holmes, Ryan Pressly, or Paul Sewald might bring some much-needed accountability to a bullpen in flux.

But more germane to the needs of the White Sox is the offensive landscape in the upcoming free-agent class. Infielders will include Pete Alonso, Alex Bregman, Gleybar Torres, Christian Walker, Ha-Seong Kim, Paul Goldschmidt, Matt Chapman, Willy Adames, Rhys Hoskins, Brandon Lowe, and Josh Bell. The outfielders on the market will likely include Juan Soto, Teoscar Hernández, Anthony Santander, Tyler O’Neill, Michael Conforto, Max Kepler, Mitch Haniger, Adam Duvall, Michael A. Taylor, and Victor Robles.

And with Jiménez almost assuredly having his option declined, the Sox could be in the DH market, likely featuring J.D. Martinez, Marcell Ozuna, Joc Pederson, Mark Canha, and Justin Turner.

Needless to say, there will be countless ways for a team with some financial flexibility to completely restructure its roster, even if just on a series of one-year deals while waiting for the advancement of their youth movement. While Reinsdorf has never shown a propensity towards spending money to build his teams, perhaps the massive embarrassment his franchise has been facing both locally and nationally for the better part of the last two years will shock him into action.

If he permits Getz to increase their spending to, say, $150-$175 million range, the White Sox could easily supplement this team with a handful of impact players at every station of the roster while also allowing for the ascension of their top prospects on schedule with their projected developmental rise to the majors.

Then again, Reinsdorf has never once in his life given fans reason to believe such a change is possible. Rose-colored glasses aside, it’s naive to assume there’s even a remote chance Reinsdorf begins to spend money in hopes of competing. Perhaps it’s even more naive to assume the Sox can finally develop their homegrown talent. After all, the White Sox were considered by many to have the best farm system in baseball just a few years ago.

Look where that got them.

Even so, the makeup of the farm is different now. There is a clear focus on players with bat-to-ball skills and fewer players who run the risk of soft-tissue, non-contact injuries. The young pitchers all possess plus pitches and commanding combinations of movement and velocity. And while it’s unlikely Reinsdorf would elect to allow Getz to compete with the likes of the Yankees or Dodgers for the services of Soto, Burnes, or Sasaki, players like Fried, Beuhler, Alonso, Walker, Torres, Santander, O’Neill, and Kepler all seem like realistic options that fit both the culture and price tag of a competitive White Sox team.

It’s been years since a free agency class possessed such depth. No matter how obstinate Reinsdorf has been in the past, coming across so many talented players at one time with such financial flexibility may not be possible again in his lifetime. Maybe that, combined with Getz, the media, and the fan base applying pressure, will finally break Reinsdorf of his despotic operating procedures.

Burn Them All

Realistically, Getz and Reinsdorf will need these players to want to come to the White Sox for any of this to work. Hopefully, the youth movement will instigate that. (It’s hard to imagine a bevy of free agents rushing to the South Side if Grifol isn’t replaced, too.) But if the right pieces start to fall into place and the necessary changes everyone else but Reinsdorf sees is needed are, in fact, made, Chicago makes for an intriguing landing spot for a myriad of upcoming free agents, particularly those who want to play with a new class of young stars.

This will require Reinsdorf to act in a way he never has and, sadly, history suggests he cares more about his bottom line than the legacy of the team (or even his legacy, for that matter). He and Getz will have to make massive shifts to the roster and coaching staff for any of this to meaningfully begin (and for the team to earn back the trust of the fans). But until the team shows change through action, the fans are forced to use the hope they’ve relied on for the past 45 years to try and inspire it for themselves.

The real root of the problem is (and always has been) the man at the top. Reinsdorf installs his front office and clubhouse with sycophants and “yes-men” who don’t challenge his system. He cuts corners to keep the riches to himself while the fans are forced to suffer. Naysayers are ousted from his inner circle; even White Sox legend A.J. Pierzynski was recently stripped of his title as team ambassador for being honest about the issues in the White Sox organization on his private podcast. Rather than seek counsel from qualified individuals and listen to the voices of the people he represents, Reinsdorf rules his franchise with an iron fist, treating his team like a castle with a moat and punishing anyone who might challenge his instincts.

But the determination of his legacy is about so much more than the way he does business, and therein lies the problem. Reinsdorf sees his sports ventures solely as a business. At the Milken Institute, he also said:

Baseball may have made a mistake by speeding up the games this year. Because while people want faster games and want to get out early, there’s less time to bet between the pitches. Maybe we made a mistake.

No matter what proclamations he made before this regarding not caring about making money, he unmade it all when he announced his misgivings with the current state of the game. Instead of putting effort into building a winning team, he concerns himself with sports betting, milkshake sales, and policing the stadium with security guards who prevent ticket holders from moving closer to the action, even when those seats are empty — which is often.

His priorities always have been maximizing the power of his dollar, even though his dollar only exists thanks to the very people he refuses to give back to.

Surely Jerry wants to win. No team that consistently loses is likely going to be a successful financial endeavor compared to its competitive counterparts. But winning is an insignificant desire that he prioritizes well after the bottom line. So long as he builds teams that can win sometimes, the rest is ancillary to profit. But while he repeats history over and over, remaining steadfast to a mindset that has alienated not only fans but also players, coaches, and executives who don’t want anything to do with an ailing franchise, the sports world advances and leaves the White Sox and Bulls in its dust. And Jerry has to make a fundamental change if he’s ever going to shake the legacy of disaster that clouds his name.

Until that time comes, the on-the-field bloodbath will continue. A 100-loss season would be an accomplishment to Reinsdorf and Getz at this point (given the pace for far more), but it won’t be for the fans. While the front office plays damage control, the fans look on in disgust, rolling their collective eyes and groaning with disdain at a problem the owner keeps creating for himself.

As the adage goes, “Nothing changes if nothing changes.”

At present — save for a few diminutive roster shifts — no significant changes have been made. Grifol is still the manager. Maldonado is still our catcher. Clevinger and Pham are still en route from their belated build-up. But so, too, are the prospects and cap space. And with the youth movement and the reduced team salary coming in 2025, there could be a happy ending still to come. The fan base and the city of Chicago deserve at least that much for making Jerry Reinsdorf the man he is today.

In the meantime, it’s up to the fans to keep the pressure on the powers that be. Regular chants of “Sell The Team!” can be heard at Guaranteed Rate Field after every loss. That must continue. Staying active and engaged in fanhood while remaining passionate about change is a strong suit of the White Sox faithful, and it denies Reinsdorf the ability to hide from his shortcomings and betrayals to the city he represents. Perhaps if he feels enough pressure from the fans and media alike, he’ll finally be forced to either sell or enact change.

For now, he’s simply the Mad King, keeping glory for himself and watching his legacy burn as he incinerates the pride and tradition of the greatest city in the world in exchange for financial gain. But it’s the fans, the media, and the people of the city who must set the status quo on fire. Demand change. Be vocal. Don’t let the steward of the team you love demand your tax dollars for a new stadium while accepting new, lucrative TV deals, cutting costs en masse, and putting an unacceptable product on the field year after year.

As it stands, Reinsdorf is embarrassing himself more by the day. His success to this point has been entirely reliant upon the greatest athlete in the history of competitive sports falling into his lap. No matter how much he equivocates to the press and the public, his reckoning will come sooner or later. At some point, he will have no choice but to sell the team or improve it for the market he operates. But chances are it won’t be the former, at least not anytime soon. And assuming it’s the latter, it will require a lot more than a decent farm system and a fancy milkshake.

Until then, it’s up to the fans to make sure he never goes another day without hearing it.



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