MLB: Detroit Tigers at Chicago White Sox

South Side Morning 5: Do the White Sox care about winning?

1. Sometimes, stripping every message to their core principles and leaving out revealing details provides misconceptions. For example, Chris Sale‘s inexcusable and bizarre outburst is being couched by his agent as a dispute over whether the White Sox “cared about winning”.

Jayson Stark:

“‘The only thing that matters to Chris Sale is winning,’ [Sale’s agent] said, in a text. ‘If he perceives that something is distracting from that or being prioritized over that, he is going to have a problem with it.’

‘If they are on board with prioritizing winning, there will not be an issue at all.'”

This sentiment, on its face, can be very easily refuted. Of course, the White Sox care about winning. Beyond any organization’s desire to make an entertaining and profitable product, they have made a series of short-focused moves. They sliced into their prospect depth to get two years of Todd Frazier, traded for two years of Brett Lawrie, and while their bevy of one-year deals split the difference between trying to compete on a budget and filling black holes with replacement-level veterans, all were completed with the open intent of winning, right now in 2016 and maybe 2017 too as a bonus.

The question, after five years of spinning in the mire despite having an inexpensive bonafide ace dealing at the top of the rotation, is whether the Sox–avoiding above-median payrolls and felled by foreseeable holes they refused to fix with expensive options regularly–are willing to do enough to win.

They haven’t been to the playoffs since 2008, sparing 2013 and 2014 as rebuild years, and maybe even acknowledging 2009 wasn’t exactly pedal to the metal, this is such a stretch of time where everything is on the table as far as identifying why the Sox cannot build a contender; from bad luck, to bad moves, bad scouting, to being too committed to winning on their own terms to make the sacrifices necessary. It’s something one might think on while the Sox are reportedly considering trading their cost-controlled ace to restock a team with a cheap, affordable core and a mid-level payroll.

Questioning that is also questioning the Sox commitment to winning, so is just saying “I don’t want to go through another rebuild,” but neither of those are public statements a player who could still be with the organization for a very long time would want to make.

“I want to win,” “We want to win too!” is an easier path to a public resolution, and it appears that’s the path Sale is taking.

2. That said, five games is a perfect suspension for Sale; an acknowledgement of unacceptable behavior while providing a path for the quick return to normalcy that both parties want.

3. The situation has still left the White Sox bullpen more or less screwed. They were already reeling from having to cover for Jacob Turner‘s masterpiece on Friday before Sale tossed them a whole staff game, which was exacerbated by rain delay craziness in the middle of a 17 games in 17 days stretch. A more clear example of hurting your team with selfishness would be hard to find.

David Robertson is unquestionably in the middle of a bad year by his standards, with cratering peripherals of every kind, and his command looked terrible late Sunday afternoon. But it looked pretty solid earlier Sunday afternoon, when he struck out half the hitters he faced on got weak contact from the other two. Three solo home runs are obviously extraordinary, but so is warming up and pitching three times in 24 hours. What is the realistic expectation for a pitcher in that situation?

4. Not content to merely cause consternation in their own clubhouse, Ken Rosenthal reported the White Sox recently protested the Mariners’s new policy of taking 60 percent of tips left by visiting teams for clubhouse attendants. The Mariners policy doesn’t involve them just taking the money, reportedly, but distributing among clubhouse attendants and handling expenses as they see fit.

It definitely could be seen as shady, given the nature of the Mariners seemingly just imposing formalities on a highly informal arrangement, and the White Sox protested by just not leaving any tips at all. While their stance against management moving in to regulate tips for lower level employees is admirable, their protest led by player representative Adam Eaton, and of course, Sale, seems like it risks harming the people for which they are advocating and doing little to sway the people with whom they are upset.

5. Beyond my own Chance fanhood, and without knowing any details about where the revenue is headed and how this will be split, this is good.

U.S. Cellular Field is a state facility that was built and justified by its potential to generate revenue for the state. Any extra funds it can generate by host more events, especially given the limitations the White Sox have had in providing surplus revenue, is good. There has been a genuine effort to expand the Cell’s use in recent years and it is owed some genuine praise.


Lead Image Credit: David Banks // USA Today Sports Images

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