Despite the successful offseason the White Sox have had the 2017 offering will need a little help from some New Years magic, so here’s a few things they should aim for in this season of transformation.
If I had been asked to put together some White Sox New Year’s resolutions a month ago I would have jokingly put Somehow Trade Your Way into a Top 10 Farm System just as an impossible “this could only happen in Out of the Park Baseball” scenario but the White Sox have already done that so I can scratch that one off.
1. Respect Rick Renteria
Speaking of unrest among the Sox fan-base, there are many who are patiently awaiting Rick Renteria’s managerial debut so they can finally move forward from the Robin Ventura era White Sox. My biggest issue with Ventura was his passive approach to handling on-field matters as well as off-the-field issues.
I feel like Ventura could have handled a lot of things differently, and he almost seemed proud of his attitude towards conflict management. Rick Renteria needs to establish an expectation of respect by balancing cordiality with authority. I’m sure Renteria took a lot of notes in his year as Sox bench coach and I’m looking forward to seeing what he brings as manager. If he earns the players’ respect then I can see the team coming together and functioning well.
2. Develop Carlos Rodon
With Chris Sale changing his socks and Jose Quintana most likely on the way out as well it’s time for the coaching staff to put their focus into the further development of Carlos Rodon. Pitching coach Don Cooper has a notorious reputation for being able to bring up young pitchers while keeping them healthy in the process and this is exactly the dedicated attention that Rodon needs.
The 23-year-old left-hander gets a lot of flack from the White Sox fan-base but people often forget that Rodon didn’t spend much time in the minor leagues before joining the big league club. Even with that fact Rodon has slowly improved, doubling his K/BB rate in 2016 (3.11) compared to where it was at the conclusion of 2015 (1.50).
His 2016 ERA of 4.04 is a little lackluster but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it drop to around 3.50 in 2017. Rodon could really benefit from both attention from the coaching staff and mentor-ship from James Shields. Despite Shields’ production in 2016 he is still a veteran leader with a lot of experience and will hopefully pass some of the along to Rodon.
3. Give Prospects Time
Having a top farm system doesn’t mean anything if you don’t give your prospects the time they need to become the best at what they do. Sure it’s great to go around and say that the Sox have Yoan Moncada but if he gets rushed to the major leagues and doesn’t pan out then what?
The White Sox have struggled with prospects in recent history (see: Joe Borchard, Josh Fields, Lance Broadway, Brian Anderson, Aaron Poreda) so erring towards pessimism should come as no surprise to those who have followed the team. 2017 should be the year that tradition stops and the White Sox let the new players breathe, get used to the organization, and settle in.
4. Nickname the Ballpark
The White Sox welcomed and adopted “The Cell” as a nickname but there hasn’t been a suitable nickname for Guaranteed Rate Field. I’m not about to start calling it “The Great” or “The G-Spot” and I know I’m not alone in this. Honestly, out of all of the resolutions on here, this one will probably be the most difficult to fulfill. It’s going to take some massive amount of creativity.
All jokes aside it should be an interesting year in 2017. White Sox fans should not expect much from the on-field talent, in fact I think it would be more rewarding to follow the minor league affiliates for the next year or two.
I’m rooting for at least one hundred losses so the White Sox can secure a top draft pick to pile on to the prospect party. Look for more analysis regarding what to look for with the 2017 White Sox coming up in the next couple of weeks.