There may still be 16 left in the regular season but the White Sox focus is already turning towards the offseason. White Sox manager Pedro Grifol laid out the blueprint for what specific areas the team can improve.
“We have to get better offensively, on the pitching end, defensive end, baserunning, I mean, all aspects of the game. A lot of that falls on me,” Grifol said.
“We have to coach better; we have to plan better; we have to hold each other accountable more. I mean everything. Everybody has to get better here. There’s nothing where we can actually look to this year and say, ‘OK, that was good enough.’ Nothing was good enough this year.”
Safe to say that new General Manager Chris Getz has his work cut out for him. Grifol believes that the White Sox have talent in place for a turnaround. However if the White Sox have any hope of treading water around the .500 mark their pitching must improve exponentially, specifically the starting rotation.
After the trade deadline cleared out 40 percent of the rotation the White Sox were left with Micheal Kopech, who has since been moved to the bullpen, Mike Clevinger, who is likely to opt out of his mutual option, and Dylan Cease who has regressed significantly after being the runner up for the AL Cy Young Award a year ago.
“We had a lot of underperformance this across the board,” Cease said after picking up the win in the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader. “So hopefully that lights a fire, and we come back ready.”
The rest of the rotation has been filled in by the likes of Jesse Schoulton and Touki Toussaint, who now owns a 5.65 ERA after getting lit up in his last start against the Royals on Tuesday. Neither should be back in the rotation if the White Sox have any hope of contending.
The thought of contending next season is laughable for a team on pace to lose 100 games. But Grifol believes as the team evaluates the roster that it is time for a change in mindset as well.
“It’s not about a weak division; we have a chance. This is about developing a team that can win a world championship. That’s what it is about,” Grifol said. He later added that he believes that turnaround can happen as soon as next season.
Gearing Up For Position Battles
If that turnaround is going to happen it has to start internally. The players are going to need to come into Spring Training ready to compete.
There already figures to be some tightly contested position battles as some of the new names brought in at the trade deadline try and carve out a spot on the roster.
One of those areas is the catcher position.
“I’m going to bring my game, whatever I can to the table to help this organization win,” White Sox catcher Korey Lee told MLB.com when asked if he sees himself as the starting catcher next season. “That’s the way you have to approach it.”
At the moment Lee will have to beat out Carlos Perez for the job. The White Sox No. 3 prospect Edgar Quero also figures to throw his hat in the mix.
Other prospects such as Colson Montgomery are going to be eager to showcase what they can do as well, especially if the White Sox decide to not pick up Tim Anderson’s $14 million club option.
“That’ the competitiveness we need here with the White Sox,” Getz told reporters. “I certainly want to ingrain that mindset in all our players.”
There are plenty of other battles across the board. Kopech is going to have to prove he can become a reliable starter. The Sox will likely also see battles at second base and right field unless Getz does something to address these glaring needs.
In the meantime, the current roster should use the rest of the season as an early audition because as Getz stated in his introductory press conference, “There are no untouchables”.
“Every day is a gift we get to play in the Major Leagues,” Andrew Vaughn told reporters on Monday. “We all dreamt of this. Every day counts. We have to go out and play as hard as we can every day no matter what.”