What would a divided White Sox front office look like?

Tuesday afternoon David Kaplan unleashed a bombshell on his ESPN 1000 AM radio show that he did present like he intended it to be a bombshell: that a scout had told them there was discord between Kenny Williams and Rick Hahn about whether to execute a total teardown/rebuild.  Which side each were reported to fall on lined up with public expectations.

Kaplan was careful to clarify it as something he was told, and not something he was reporting as fact, and by Tuesday afternoon, he had already spoken with Jerry Reinsdorf, who moved quickly to dismiss concerns of discord.

White Sox plans being made clear by actions is an appealing concept, because it’s largely eluded them the last few years. An aggressive start to 2015-16 offseason, which included trades for Todd Frazier and Brett Lawrie, seemed to signal a two-year window aimed at competing. But those intentions were betrayed by inaction while a large crop of free agent outfielders was bypassed, and a hot start withered while predictable roster holes festered.

By the trade deadline, the Sox sold, but on an inconsequential and confusing level.  Only trading Zach Duke would seem to nod toward not wanting to tear down any core pieces, but Duke was originally signed to solve the Sox prolonged troubles with finding a LOOGY, and recent developments in pitching prices have not made his contract look less reasonable.  A Sox team looking to compete in 2017 will have to restart the search, for the sake of a likely fourth outfielder.

This is still a fair measure more decisive than the previous year’s deadline, where the Sox managed to pack a hot streak in a season where they were over .500 for only one day all year, at the end of July. They wound up hanging onto their chief trade asset–Jeff Samardzija–and neglecting to sign a free agent with a qualifying offer, so they could draft Zack Burdi.  The deal to bring in Samardzija pre-2015 was even more nakedly short-term in its aims, but was mixed with trusting that Avisail Garcia and Micah Johnson could be productive in their first full seasons, breaking camp with Hector Noesi and John Danks in the rotation and trusting that Carlos Rodon could come to the rescue mid-year, and relying heavily on low ceiling options like Conor Gillaspie and Tyler Flowers (offensively, at least), that would have been acceptable enough if they were not risking disaster in so many other places.

Which is all to say, if the White Sox are really being misread by Kaplan’s scout source, and are really in lockstep on how to proceed, the rumor is only gaining traction because it jives with two seasons of seemingly serving two purposes and failing to achieve either.  They want to compete, but do not spend to build more than the skeleton of a contender. Without the budget to spend over their roster holes, rebuilding until they have an elite farm system to draw an affordable roster from seems like the move, but they cannot seem to commit to doing that either.

If we were to create an archetypal baseball franchise that is the product of a house divided, it would be one stuck in a long playoff drought with no clear vision of how to go forward, it would be both in middle of the road in payroll obligations and mediocre in prospect depth. Even if it was not the White Sox, it would look like them all the same.

We could put on skeptical journalist hats and try to parse out the intention and tact of Reinsdorf’s statements, but we don’t need to, since the problem of a divided front office, and one that cannot make its shared vision into reality have similar remedies.


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

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1 comment on “What would a divided White Sox front office look like?”


Any other MLB organization and Williams would have been dismissed long ago. But since this is a Reinsdorf run team. The only one who may be gone is Hahn. And I doubt that even happens. Reinsdorf is too complacent. He is more concerned with the marketing then the performance on the field and the minors. So nothing is going to change with this team as long as Reinsdorf is in the picture.

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