Usually, the marketing slogan for the season is presented in March as the push for season tickets reaches its zenith. There might have been something along those lines this spring for the White Sox, but Rick Hahn, the team’s gelded GM uttered a much more apt phrase shortly after the trade deadline: “We weren’t able to do more.”
Though he was referring specifically to the lack of activity in terms of adding players, their play over the first two-thirds of this season has made it apparent that the White Sox can’t get it done.
It started with the lackluster offseason. The team was in need of a legitimate right fielder and a second baseman, and another starting pitcher wouldn’t have been a bad idea after letting Carlos Rodón walk. Instead, they got A.J. Pollock (.238/.286/.354), who has played in only 11 games in right field. Josh Harrison (.241/.309/.373) was the solution to the second base problem, and, while he has improved from a disastrous start, he has been mediocre at best when the team needed something more.
The lack of movement on the starting rotation was the most frustrating aspect of the inactivity, and it remains so in hindsight. Rodón was gone and Lance Lynn missed a lot of time at the start the season due to injury, leaving Dylan Cease, Lucas Giolito, Michael Koepech, Dallas Keuchel, and Vince Velasquez. Keuchel isn’t currently in the league and Velasquez has been on the injured list twice and with the pick-up of Johnny Cueto, has been relegated to the bullpen.
All of the problems from the start of the season, plus new ones that cropped up through July, demanded that the White Sox get something done by the deadline. Those close to the team, with color man Steve Stone being particularly candid, have commented on the lack of urgency among the players, poor base running, and especially the poor defense. The team, including the manager, needed a wake-up call. Instead, Hahn shared that he was disappointed just like the fans about his inability to get something done.. The sympathy is nice, but he doesn’t get points for trying.
It’s not just the fans that are frustrated by the lack of success at the deadline. Liam Hendriks, speaking for many players in the clubhouse, also wanted something to happen at the deadline. The closer did strike a diplomatic tone, commenting that not making a move could build defiance within the team, but he did little to mask disappointment and lack of faith in the front office.
And yet, the White Sox are still only two games back with nine games against the Twins in September and October, including the final three games of the season at home. Though the Twins currently have the edge in the season series, that offers a big opportunity to pull ahead. Unfortunately, the White Sox haven’t quite been able to get it done when it truly mattered. There’s little reason to hope, but what else do Sox fans have at this point? The Bears?