TCS Morning 5: What is happening?

1. Seeing as the Bruce Levine piece from Wednesday morning just flashed across my timeline like rage-inducing shooting star, I tried re-reading it to see if the view it provided of the White Sox became more coherent upon review.


Which is not to question the veracity of the piece--we all heard the interview where all the on-the-record Hahn quotes from--but it labels the Sox as rebuilding then describes something that doesn't resemble rebuilding. It proposes a teardown is afoot, but talks about the Sox mid-to-late-20s core reducing the arrival time of their new contender, and the Sox needs to patch holes in their infield.

On its face, Levine's characterization of the Sox direction trashes the aforementioned three-year window, makes a waste of all the progress of the last offseason, and sets off halfheartedly toward a "rebuild" that looks to sure achieve very little save for a reduction in payroll. As Ethan Spalding summarized Tuesday afternoon, it would be nigh unforgivable.

I don't buy the explanation that Levine, who has broke several Sox stories in the recent past, interviewed Hahn on Saturday, got a normal Hahn interview, wrote normal summaries, and then on Wednesday decided to scream "Rebuilding!" with the same quotes and no new information, but if the Sox actually did this, we'd have somewhere around the next six years to crow about it more, and I can wait for now until there's more fire behind this really foul smelling smoke.

A rather simple takeaway from the article, removed of labels, if that the Sox are unlikely to be aggressive at seeking the big studs of this remarkably appealing free agent market, but don't seem to be geared toward a scorched Earth rebuild either. This doesn't seem to be an assertion anyone is arguing, but is also the problem in a nutshell. They're in between on their MLB roster, unwilling to step out of middle of the pack in terms of payroll, and awaiting growth that's coming at a solid but unremarkable pace from their draft and IFA activity.

2. There's a lot of nuance to consider when deciding how to complain about the White Sox. All their personnel moves are being executed by Hahn, an extremely well-regarded GM who has never really made a move that looked bad on its face, and who, at least in terms of having the top job, inherited an awful situation that will need time to turn around.

Blaming the Sox for having half-hearted offseasons that don't fix their problems can easily be read as blaming Hahn, and that can be pretty easily shown to be misguided. Hahn is working within the limitations provided by his boss, and the spending level of the White Sox and the way it never threatens to outpace their lagging revenue, has rightly been described as being akin to small market clubs, even if that is a ridiculous descriptor for the Sox actual situation. But, if the restrictions the White Sox work under are relatively permanent--Jerry is here indefinitely, after all--complaining about them can have a degree of pointlessness to it. If the Sox are never going spend like the No. 3 market, envisioning scenarios where they do and grading them against it can get repetitive.

I get that.

We're still going to do it, though, because ownership deserves it.

3. Rick Renteria met with the Chicago press for a conference call, and by Scott Merkin's description, six of the eight questions he took were about his departure from the Cubs. Lo and behold, sometime in the last year Renteria determined that he was not going publicly cry foul about the unceremonious way he was pushed out for Joe Maddon.

It's served him well enough so far, discussion around him has never deviated from how he was a solid professional and a good man who deserved better, even if you could understand the Cubs actions. And now here he is after one season off, with another job in baseball by early November.

‘I think our personalities will mesh,’ said Renteria of working with Ventura. ‘As a bench coach, I’m coming on board to make his job as easy as possible and transition into one of the rest of the staff. The conversation we had made it pretty easy for me to see myself coming on board with the Sox.’
— Scott Merkin

I got enough to be cynical enough about the Sox right now; I have no room to doubt Rick N' Robin.

4. After bringing on A.J. Pierzynski last year to mentor their young catcher-of-the-future Christian Bethancourt, only to see him grab most of the playing time from the youngster, the Atlanta Braves are signing on for another year! After posting the second-best wRC+ of his career at age 38 in 2015 (.300/.339/.430 for 112 wRC+), Pierzynski in 2016 will be appearing in his 19th season. His knee cartilage might have turned into diamonds at this point.

As for him actually giving way to Bethancourt at some point, did uh, the Braves do their research on this topic before they just assumed this would happen?

5. A surprisingly fun article every year is Jim Bowden's contract projections for his top 50 free agents, which he's strangely very good at. He sees both David Price and Jason Heyward pulling in over $200 million deals, and lists the Sox as potentially good fits for Justin Upton, Yoenis Cespedes, Alex Gordon, Matt Wieters, Ian Desmond, Ben Zobrist, Asdrubal Cabrera, Alexei Ramirez, David Frese, Mike Napoli (??!?) and Jeff Samardzija.

In fact, Bowden says the Sox are the best fit for Samardzija at four years, $62 million. You know what, I don't actually care for this list anymore.