(Spring) 1919 World Series rematch ends in 3-3 tie (sans Mafia or bans)

(@WhiteSox)


Well, that was … a game.

The Good Guys managed to pull out a 3-3 tie in the ninth, with a homer from who else but spring training hero Yermín Mercedes.

Dylan Cease showed definite control issues with two walks (one scoring), a home run, and a hit batter, he’s not the only one who had a rough day.

Tim Anderson, despite having a 2020 goal of cutting down on errors, bobbled a very easy grounder for another error. Eloy Jiménez had a dive-and-miss in left. Nick Madrigal made a brief appearance before he took a grounder off of his face; he walked off on his own, though, so I think our most prized draftee lives to fight another day. An inning later, Andrew Romine missed an easy play by trying to flip a slow hop from his glove instead of his bare hand, allowing an infield hit.

So, the defense could have been better. The best part of spring training is that the White Sox can get these kinks worked out now, and they’ll be just fine by regular season (hopefully).

Someone on the diamond was already Opening Day-ready on defense: Yoán Moncada. Our $70 million man had the bright, shining defensive moment with an excellent play at third, as he works towards a spring highlight reel on SportsCenter.

 

After Cease got pulled, we got another look at the usual bullpen guys of Steve Cishek, Aaron Bummer, Jimmy Codero, and Evan Marshall and Kelvin Herrera, so it’s looking like the Sox are starting to solidify the reliever rotation.

Yasmani Grandal had a double and a homer, so he’s recovering from his “early spring training injury” quite nicely.

Grandal’s homer shortened the Reds lead to 3-2 and Mercedes tied it up in the ninth, but Sox offense never made it past a couple moments of contact to do much more damage. There was a brief moment in the eighth when it looked like the day was going to be saved by a brigade of Guys Off the Bench, but Zack Collins struck out staring so those hopes were dashed. The offense — can somebody, anybody make contact? —definitely needs to get worked out between now and March 26, or else we’re staring down another sad season of strikeouts.

The Reds displayed an excellent use of the shift, which got them some solid outs to back-up Anthony DeSclafani, who pitched well for four innings. Between that and Cincinnati’s solid defensive outfield, they might be a fun team to watch this year — after all, PECOTA picked the Reds to win the Central, so there’s someone new to root for against the Cubs.

RANDOM SPRING TRAINING MUSINGS (working title)

  • Nicky Delmonico playing first is an interesting choice. He didn’t do poorly or have any issues. Just an interesting choice.
  • Amir Garrett is 6’6´´ and played college basketball. Is the trend of tall pitchers a new thing, or am I just now noticing it?
  • Was Pedro Strop only allowed to be on the Reds after Puig got traded?
  • Roger Bossard puts activated charcoal on the field, which is also what I use on my face when I have a breakout, so the infield and I have something in common.

 

Bench sparks a Sox stomp on Cleveland, 8-3

(@WhiteSox)


Friday’s game could be described as the opposite of a Hot Pocket: cold open, hot middle, warm close. The White Sox bullpen allowed just one hit after the fifth — but before that, it wasn’t looking good for our guys.

ESPN had a win probability at 50.3% for Cleveland in the bottom of the first, which seems a bit premature and rude. Sometimes the stats aren’t our friends, and sometimes ESPN needs to keep their opinions to themselves:

win probability

The White Sox got a look at Cleveland starter Logan Allen, who was part of that three-team deal among San Diego, Cleveland, and Cincinnati that swapped Trevor Bauer for Yasiel Puig, brought Franmil Reyes and Allen to sunny Cleveland, and dropped Taylor Trammel to the Padres.

Having Madrigal lead off is not a great position for him in the lineup, but I’m going to look on the bright side that he’s getting some time there solely for more at-bats. After hearing last year about all his patience at the plate, there wasn’t a lot of patented Madrigal chill today. But he made a fantastic play in the top of the second that can quickly erase the sadness of an 0-for-3 day at the plate:

Cleveland was making steady progress toward a win, chipping out three runs on five hits before the White Sox broke it open in the bottom of the sixth. After loading the bases with Jaycob Brugman, Zach Remillard, and Roman González (pinch-running for Nicky Delmonico, Chester Cuthbert, and Danny Mendick, respectively) Yermín Mercedes pinch-hit for Seby Zavala and continues to make it all look easy: Mercedes clocked a grand slam that’s still on the way to Mesa.

It was nice of Nomar Mazara to wait until the bottom of the seventh to decide he wants to get a hit — I’m so glad the White Sox have him instead of Yasiel Puig (*cough*). Roman González brought Mazara in on a double to right, putting the Sox up by three, and a Rutherford single pushed it to 7-3 after bringing González home.

If you were taking a nap, Andrew Vaughn reminded us why he’s our top prospect not named after a Spanish panther, hitting a homer that just stayed fair in the eighth; Dakody Clemmer’s slider forgot to bite, and the Sox topped off their scoring, 8-3.

A three-up, three-down ninth pushed the White Sox to 4-2 in Cactus League action. Not a lot of progress from the starters today, but guys coming off the bench showed them how it’s done.


Random game thoughts

  • New Era can buy all the spots they want between innings to advertise those terrible spring training hats, and I’m still going to think they look like they got stuck in a printer
  • Can we get some new MLB Flashbacks? They’ve been playing the same ones all week, and there were more than four cool things that happened last year.
  • Russ Langer and Rich King can get very dramatic, especially claiming the Sox had to make a comeback at the *checks notes* second inning.
  • Today I learned that Al Michaels called his first MLB game for the Cincinnati Reds, playing the White Sox in spring training, and Harry Caray was the next window over in the broadcast booth.
  • I genuinely want to know what has happened to Daniel Palka.
  • Ernie Clement (CLE) forgot his No. 84 jersey — there’s really not a lot to keep track of in spring training, so you’d think remembering to put your jersey on is a no-brainer — and wore No. 28 today.
  • The name of the catcher for Cleveland that Rich and Russ couldn’t pronounce (and kept referring to as the “catcher to be named later”) is Kungkuan Giljegiljaw. According to an article in CPBL Stats, it’s a name change from Chu Li-Jen to his Taiwanese aboriginal name. It’s a pretty interesting read if you’re up for it — and comes with a handy pronunciation guide.

Manager Rumor Mill: Garbage Can Edition

Take out the trash: A recommendation for the replacement 2017 MVP.


garbage can

Cheaters never prosper. Or get to keep their jobs, apparently. In the ongoing fallout from the Astros 2017 garbage can heist, we saw A.J. Hinch, Alex Cora, and Carlos Beltrán join the ranks of unemployed baseball managers (Beltrán, impressively, without making it to Opening Day). In the spirit of our AL and NL scorecards last October, I present a special edition. Let’s meet some candidates, and speculate wildly.


Houston Astros

2019 Record: 107-55
First Place, AL West
Former manager: A.J. Hinch (570-452*; .588)
*101-61 record earned while cheating in 2017

What a week. 

Astros Rumors: Considering pitchers and catchers report in less than a month, the Astros could take the quick route and promote Joe Espada (the current bench coach). He’s the current interim manager, and his name was getting kicked around when there were more vacancies (interviewing with the Cubs and Giants). The bonus here for the Astros is that Espada knows the team but didn’t join the Astros until after the 2017 season, so he wasn’t part of the sign-stealing scandal.

Buck Showalter has popped up a few times. An experienced vet would be a good choice for Houston, and tragically Joe Girardi already has a job (can he manage two teams at once?). Showalter’s been around the league, from the Yankees to the Rangers and Diamondbacks before ending up in Baltimore from 2010-18. He managed to bring the Orioles to the postseason twice — first the 2012 ALDS and then the 2014 ALCS — so he’s got the ability to manage if he has the talent (sorry, Baltimore). He’s well respected, with an overall record of 1,551-1,517, and could provide the Astros a much-needed boost as well as a “new sheriff in town” mentality.

Clint Hurdle officially retired from baseball in November, which is sad to me because I like a grizzled old character. Dusty Baker is still available, though. Coming out of this, though, I think the Astros are going to have a hard time getting someone to interview. The organization has taken big hits in the PR department, with culture, and morale.


Boston Red Sox

2019 Record: 84-78
Third Place, AL East
Former manager: Alex Cora (192-132, .593)

Given that Alex Cora was named as a primary participant in the MLB findings it’s not a surprise that the Red Sox fired him, especially while they’re still waiting for the investigation of their own sign stealing to conclude and lead to more fallout.

Red Sox Rumors: The Red Sox are in a tough spot compared to the Astros because they’re still being investigated for other cheating, meaning they don’t exactly have an Espada to fall back on at the moment. Ron Roenicke has worked with Cora as bench coach for the last two seasons, but we don’t know where he falls in the 2018 investigation.

Jason Varitek is a name getting kicked around a lot, but I don’t see the Red Sox making a player without experience their manager — they’re not the Mets or the Cubs. Oh, and speaking of the Mets …


New York Mets

2019 record 86-76
Third Place, NL East
Former Managers: Mickey Callaway (163-161, .503); Carlos Beltrán (0-0)

Not ones to be left out of any excitement, the Mets fired Carlos Beltrán – who was the only player named in the Astros investigation. My favorite part is the fact that MLB didn’t pressure the Mets to fire Beltrán, but the team elected to do it all on their own. I love the Mets, they’re my “other” team, but after these last few seasons (and offseasons) of drama they really need to just change their names to the New York Messy Bitches.

Mets Rumors: I dunno … is Mr. Met available?

mr met
Wikipedia

Mind the gap at second base

The waiting is the hardest part: What do the White Sox do at second base, while we all wait for Nick Madrigal to arrive? (Kim Contreras/South Side Hit Pen)


Hello everyone, and welcome to 2020! Thanks to James and everyone who wished for Luis Robert to be locked in for the New Year — you are scholars, and I salute you.

With all the excitement going around on the recent free agent and Luis signings, I’m hearing no chatter but still seeing a gap around second base.

While (almost) everyone is sad to lose Yolmer and his Gatorade-dumping ways, the Sox have yet to really puzzle out how they’re going to fill the hole. If all goes according to whatever plan Rick has, Nick Madrigal should be gracing the field one day in the future. In the meantime, I don’t think he’s going to be up from Charlotte by Opening Day, or even September, so here are some potential options we have until Madrigal is ready, in a little thing I like to call …


… former enemies become our friends

Image result for brian dozier
(Wikipedia)

Brian Dozier is available, and he possessed the highest 2019 WAR out of the crop of remaining free agents at second base, with a hearty 1.7. He’s 33, so age-wise he’s in an OK spot if the Sox want to pick him up for a couple of years. There’s an added bonus of being familiar with the AL, because he was part of the dreaded Twins for years (if you care about the AL/NL sort of thing) before he got a ring with the Nats last season on a one-year/$9 million contract. There’s not a lot of chatter coming on Dozier, as second base seems like a low-priority across the league, so if the Sox play their cards right they have a veteran out there for the taking. It looks like second base is low on the list for the Nationals, so the environment is there for Dozier to get snapped up by another team. The nice thing about Dozier being on the older side of things is he may not be willing to take something short-term while we wait for Madrigal to mature.

Image result for jason kipnis
(Wikipedia)

Local boy Jason Kipnis is out there as well, for those of you that want to yell at me about a left-handed bat in the lineup (keep yelling, I don’t care about lefty/righty). Staying with the argument of being familiar with the AL, Kipnis has been a good middle-of-the-lineup guy for the Tribe since 2011, and had a 2019 WAR of 1.1. The problem with Kipnis is that he started and ended 2019 on the IR. He had $16.5 million option for the 2020 season, but Cleveland opted instead for a $2.5 million buyout, most likely due to decline and injuries. There’s some upside with Kipnis, but the risk is that he could become our latest Jimmy Rollins or Orlando Hudson.


Stealing from the other Sox

Image result for brock holt
(Wikipedia)

Brock Holt is another lefty bat, with a batting average slightly higher than Kipnis and Dozier (.297 vs. .238 and .245, respectively) with a WAR of 1.0. Holt is at a good age (31), so if the Sox want to snap him up for a couple of years to not only fill a hole but allow Madrigal time to develop, they would get a player with solid production in offense and defense. His 2019 deal with the Red Sox was one-year/$3.5 million so he’d be the cheapest out of the three options, with a higher potential return: He’s healthy and budget-friendly. Red Sox have been pushing for Michael Chavis to be the star starter (speaking of players struggling with health…) and are counting pennies to keep Mookie Betts, so re-upping Holt is not a big priority right now. Holt did say almost a year ago that he’d want to retire a Red Sox, so time will tell on how willing the Bosox front office is to play ball with him.


If the White Sox are looking internally and trying to save money at this point, depth charts have Leury García and Danny Mendick projected for second base, neither being a perfect fit: Mendick has mostly filled in at shortstop and third while we all know Leury as our resident fill-in-the-blank outfielder choice. Given how quickly the White Sox moved Yoán Moncada off of second base, I’m really hesitant to trust the team rolling the dice with someone who isn’t a tried and true second baseman.

Depending on what the White Sox want to spend and what they’re still looking to prioritize or add, there are three solid outside options for 2020. While Madrigal shot through the minor leagues like a rocket, I would be absolutely stunned if he were ready for Opening Day, so there’s still a hole to fill in the meantime.

 

Manager rumor mill: American League edition

Maddoning: Good luck with that lunatic, Angels. (@Angels)


I started working on this … and then Joe Maddon got hired by the Angels. This crazy 24-hour news cycle, man. Well, if two teams aren’t enough for you, check out the National League edition, if you missed it.


Kansas City Royals

2019 Record 59-103
4th in AL Central
Former manager Ned Yost (2010-2019, 457-502 .477)

Career highlights Won the World Series in 2015, and apparently Ned Yost is the “winningest manager” in Royals history:

via Baseball-Reference

The Royals are like the sad cousins of the AL Central. I’m always comforted knowing that, though neither of my teams are in the World Series right now, they’re still not the Royals. I’ve been to Kansas City’s airport and I’m good without going back ever again (seriously, I’ve been on cleaner CTA buses). I also don’t believe Ned Yost resigned — he was fired. He coasted for far too long on the goodwill from his World Series win.

Royals rumors No. 1 on their list should be hiring a manager that isn’t going to let the team be the goon squad of the last few years. My favorite moment is still when Yordano Ventura tried to fight Mike Trout, who is not only very nice but also very strong.

Salvador Perez making a great save behind the plate (via MLB)

So who wants to manage the Royals? *touches nose*

I’d say Joe Girardi, but it turns out that he’s going to the Phillies, so who else needs a job? The Royals are poking around internally and have interviewed Mike Matheny, who you might remember from getting canned by the Cards in the middle of the 2018 season for endorsing goonish hazing behavior by his players (toward one another!) which basically negated anything good he did with the Cards. I’ve also heard that they interviewed Vance Wilson, so the Royals appear to be doing an internal promotion thing which … I don’t hate. You want someone who knows the players, the org, and all that good stuff.

Given that the Royals are up for an ownership change, we’ll see where this goes.

Angels

2019 Record 72-90
4th in AL West
Former manager Brad Ausmus

Career Highlights Anaheim has better weather than Detroit.

Angels news: Joe Maddon is no Mike Scioscia, guys, so have fun with that lunatic. Also, he didn’t get super managerial powers from the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant like Scioscia.


Now what?

So we know the Phillies, Cubs, and the Angels snapped up some guys. The Mets, Pirates, Padres, and Giants are still taking their time interviewing.

Knowing how the Mets have been, I’m expecting them to give lip service to manager interviews and pick someone who Jeff Wilpon can boss around. The Padres loves a good dumpster fire, so Ron Washington is a sure bet. The Pirates and the Giants are a little harder to figure out so I’m expecting a surprise (or for Dusty Baker to go to Pittsburgh, because he hasn’t been there yet).

Some teams that should probably clean house on the bench would be the Mariners, Rockies, Tigers, Orioles, Blue Jays, and the Marlins (can someone give Don Mattingly something to work with or set the poor guy free?)

The end?

So that’s it for managers. We’ll see where the rest of the offseason takes us, in the giant LinkedIn that is major league baseball …

Manager rumor mill: National League edition

You may have heard: Joe Girardi is available for managerial openings. (YouTube)


It would be an understatement to say a lot of guys got fired this offseason (and one retiree, although I don’t believe Ned Yost retired voluntarily). I didn’t think much of it until I saw a couple of people complain on Twitter that there wasn’t anyone tracking managerial searches anywhere.

A manager scorecard seemed like the perfect offseason entry for me to start my writing career with South Side Hit Pen. It’s not like I’m not already following these, and this really is for the best, so you’re welcome. Let’s get started, with the National League …


San Francisco Giants

2019 Record 77-85
3rd in NL West
Former manager Bruce Bochy (1,052-1,054, .500)

Career highlights NL pennants in 2010, 2012, 2014; never finished worse than seventh in NL Manager of the Year voting; managed four All-Star teams (1999, 2011, 2013, 2015).

There are others who can wax more poetically about Bochy far better than I, so I won’t even try.

Giants rumors I saw Gabe Kapler, which … gave me pause. That’d be a bold choice of the Giants in their first managerial search in 10 years.

I’m not sure what else to say other than we’ll miss you, Bruce *salutes*.

Philadelphia Phillies

2019 record 81-81
4th in NL East
Former manager Gabe Kapler (2018-19, 161-163, .497)

Career highlights uh … Bryce Harper I guess?

Given the immense spotlight pointed at the Phillies after they got Harper signed for all eternity, Kapler was in kind of a lose-lose situation in the sense that if Philadelphia didn’t win the division he was getting fired this year, and if he didn’t win a World Series in 2020 he was getting fired next year. Even if we argue that Kapler would have survived if the Phillies had made it to the Wild Card Game, Philadelphia is a tough mistress to please (and the fans throw batteries). Now, Kapler can either interview with a team like the Cubs (who love a weirdo since it kinda worked once), or take up fly fishing. Or he can go to the Giants, which is apparently the rumor.

Phillies rumors: Curt Schilling’s friends say he’s interested in the job, but we all know that’s a lie because Curt Schilling has no friends.

Apparently Buck Showalter is interviewing with the team soon. Dusty Baker is also on the list to interview, as he continues a slow limp to retirement from baseball altogether. It kind of seems like Dusty is trying to manage every major league team before he dies, which is a noble bucket list. Naturally, because manager interviews are in the news, so is Joe Girardi. The Phillies would do well with someone who has managerial experience but can also handle the young players. I’m always curious about what offer a team could make to a guy like Girardi, who has transitioned to broadcasting, which seems like a much more stable job than managing a team that hasn’t finished higher than third since 2012.

Chicago Cubs

2019 record 84-78
3rd in NL Central
Former manager Joe Maddon (2015-19, 471-339, .581)

Career highlights Did you hear that when the Cubs won their first World Series in more than 100 years, Maddon was at the helm? I feel the need to remind you, because literally no one ever talks about it, ever.

Maddon started off this season with his days numbered. It really felt like the locals had been calling for his head since April or May. He made some half-assed attempts to remind people what a baseball genius he is by trying to maybe fight Clint Hurdle, because reasons, and playing a game under protest because Sean Doolittle stood weird. These cavalier moves came off like someone trying to pad his resume for a new job search. Lucky for Maddon, the Angels loved it and quickly snagged him.

Cubs rumors Girardi. I’m sure managing the Yankees of the Midwest would be fun for Joe, but wasn’t one of the reasons the Yankees let him go was he didn’t play well with the young guys? He dealt with the likes of A-Rod on a regular basis, so I think he’d been a good one to bring in to managed the egos on the team (Javy Baez, Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant’s hair…). David Ross also has been bounced around as the favorite for the job. He doesn’t have managerial experience, so that means he’ll probably get it.

Pittsburgh Pirates

2019 record 69-93
5th in NL Central
Former manager Clint Hurdle (2011-19, 735-720, .505)

Career highlights NL Manager of the Year (2013), two postseason appearances (2013, 2014), most epic stare down of Maddon (on 7/4/19, reaching a level of zen and chill I can only aspire to), and no less than two fights with Yasiel Puig.

Hurdle is one of those especially old, grizzled baseball guys whose going to die on the third-base line. Whenever someone complains about someone not following the unwritten rules, I imagine it is Hurdle doing the complaining. Considering his managerial stints have been with the Rockies, Pirates, and some minor league teams, I don’t think he’ll be out of work for long. As a major league manager, Hurdle seems to leave a lot to be desired, but he shouldn’t have a problem finding a hitting coach job somewhere. Had he returned in 2020, Hurdle would have been the longest-tenured MLB manager.

Pirates rumors I can honestly say I haven’t heard Girardi’s name kicked around with “Pirates,” so at least he gets a break between his TV schedule and interviews. I’ve seen Mark Kotsay mentioned (currently with the A’s organization, and recently may have interviewed with the Giants). My money would be on Jeff Bannister, who has worked under Hurdle before and managed the Rangers (2015-18) during some OK seasons.

New York Mets

2019 record 86-76
3rd in NL East
Former manager Mickey Callaway (163-161, .503)

Career highlights Franchise record for best start in club history (11-1) in 2018, gloriously stupid fight in the visitor’s clubhouse at Wrigley Field with a reporter who said they would “see [him] tomorrow,” put up with BVM and all-around dumb gossip for all of 2019.

Oh Mickey, what a pity, you tried so hard to get fired midseason. My money was on him leaving after the slash-and-burn of pitching coaches in June (on the bright side, Phil Regan knows Sandy Koufax). This season was such an all-around catastrophe, Mickey is going to be waiting a really long time for a second shot at managing a club. Maybe send him to Triple-A to hang out with Tebow.

Mets rumors Girardi (I’m not kidding), Derek Shelton, and Mike Bell. Also Carlos Beltran is the frontrunner I’ve been seeing a lot lately. A lot of the overall managerial rumors seem to consist of, “Did this guy play for this team? Was he an All-Star? Well then, why not!”

Don’t teams like the Mets and the Cubs have enough issues already without throwing former players in to the mix? Really, the Mets just need someone who can put up with the front office bullshit of BVM and Jeff Wilpon.

San Diego Padres

2019 record 70-92
5th in NL West
Former manager Andy Green (274-366, .428)

Career highlights Manny Machado

Poor Green. He tried, but the Padres seemed committed to spending this season only slightly better than last season. The additions of Machado, and his feud with Atlanta Braves mascot Blooper, was a welcome boost to the Padres (seriously, Google “Manny Machado feud Braves mascot,” it’s much better than his supposed feud with the Red Sox). The Padres do have talent, if they could get a manager who can keep it together long enough to use the talent.

Padres rumors Ron Washington and Jayce Tingler have popped up. Washington would be a great choice for them, honestly. He took the Rangers to the World Series twice and coached the A’s through the Moneyball timeline, so we know he’s at least interesting. Also, probably Girardi.