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  #1  
Old 04-11-2013, 06:48 PM
Lip Man 1 Lip Man 1 is offline
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Default Sox Philosophy Dilemma...

In another thread Shingo asked the question (paraphrasing) ‘what is the Sox philosophy?’

That’s a great question and one that has been discussed here at the site in the past, but with a new G.M. perhaps it’s time to revisit the point to see what everyone thinks.

Double had a post where he basically said (again paraphrasing) ‘the Sox are in a Twilight Zone where they usually get around 85 wins…good enough to tell the fans “we’re contending” but in reality not good enough to win the division (usually) or grab a wild card…’

He’s exactly right as history shows (to say nothing of history showing conclusively the Sox are usually worse in the second half of the season which doesn’t help matters…)

The question though is what do they do about it? How do they break this cycle even if they want to??

To me you can look at two approaches but with the Sox under current ownership both have serious drawbacks.

First you can say you’re “all in…” (had to use it gang…) and spend 150 million or so like the Dodgers, Angels, Rangers, Yankees, Tigers and Red Sox have done. It enables you to overcome injuries, buy yourself depth, overcome bad trades, slumps by a player and so on.

The Sox have spent in the past but always within reasonable limitations. Even when they spent 130 million on payroll, the all time high, the club had shortcomings. You have to spend the money wisely which many think the Sox haven’t even when they’ve decided to stretch things. And the fact is they either cannot or won’t (depends on who you talk to) spend that kind of cash needed to buy a club like the Tigers have on a regular basis.

The other option is to rebuild and I suspect some in the organization think “it’s time” (had to use it gang…) to try this approach.

The problem is though if the Sox were to do this and publicly announce it (or not announce it but act accordingly), I suspect the fan base that they have would be up in arms, simply not show up to support a loser (which has been the case throughout history) and U.S. Cellular Field would be a ghost town. They’d lose money even if they had a small payroll and would lose whatever relevance they have in the market. Sox fans are not Cub fans.

It’s just a bad situation isn’t it? I can’t tell you what the “right” approach is or how to solve this quandary. I wish I had the answer, believe me, I would have given it to the Sox long time ago.

Maybe part of the answer is simply that it’s time for new ownership, perhaps with different financial considerations and new people in the front office, from the G.M. to marketing and advertising to media relations, scouting and minor league development…the entire package. Fresh minds, fresh ideas. That’s about all I can come up with.

Again the Sox appear to be between a rock and a hard place and it doesn’t look like they are going to get out of it anytime soon.

Lip


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  #2  
Old 04-11-2013, 07:07 PM
LITTLE NELL LITTLE NELL is online now
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Part of the problem is except for some pitchers we have a horrible track record in developing good solid ready for the Major League players. I don't know who is to blame for our philosophy in the minors. What are we teaching these kids. We bring up kids that can't make contact, have no idea of the strike zone and swing for the fences. I wonder if USCF being a launching pad has something to do with the hitters mindsets once they reach the big leagues. Look at Beckham, his first year he was driving the ball in the gap in right center for a lot of doubles, when is the last time we have seen do that, he tries to pull everything over the left field wall. PK is about the only player on the team that goes with the pitch.
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Last edited by LITTLE NELL; 04-11-2013 at 08:04 PM.
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  #3  
Old 04-11-2013, 07:09 PM
dickallen15 dickallen15 is offline
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The Sox have won the WS relatively recently. The Giants have won a couple without a mega payroll. I don't think winning 85 every year is baseball hell. This isn't the NBA. Baseball hell is Pittsburgh,KC, the Cubs.........the Sox are going to need a lot of breaks to win it all, but so does just about every team. Are playoff appearances without a title good enough? I would venure to guess if the Sox were like Detroit and made the playoffs 2 or 3 years in a row and didn't win, it would be referred to as a total fail.

The Sox haven't made the playoffs enough. i would be the first to tell you that, but their philosophy to me seems to be have a top 10-12 payroll and try to put the team they think will be able to win the most games in uniform.

They have expanded their presence in the DR, but that will take several years before any results are seen in Chicago. They picked up Sale in the draft, that seems like a good pick. A lot of people seem to be excited about Hawkins. The system seems to be better than it has been in years.

I think they spend enough money on the major league roster to win. It might not be spent wisely enough to win.
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Old 04-11-2013, 07:11 PM
Lip Man 1 Lip Man 1 is offline
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Nell:

I suspect that's part of it (i.e. launching pad) and that this is also part of the Sox philosophy (i.e. home run or nothing...)

Daver knows about as much about the minor league system as anyone and he has said in the past another issue is the Sox (unlike say the Twins) move players from team to team, from level to level based strickly on hitting. And they'll move guys up to multiple levels in a single year to boot. Daver says things like knowing the strike zone, fielding, fundamentals are being ignored simply because a guy 'can hit.' And if I've misquoted Daver he can clarify his thoughts if he wishes.

Also remember the Sox have had by my count three different scouting directors in the past 10 years and probably three different minor league directors. Continuity doesn't seem to be a strong point in this regard for the organization.

Lip
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Old 04-11-2013, 07:13 PM
RKMeibalane RKMeibalane is offline
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Doublem23 made an additional point that I thought was interesting when he referenced the "85-win purgatory" that the White Sox seem locked into. He talked about how young teams opting to rebuild often feature a group of young players who, in spite of their struggles upon reaching the Major League level, are given ample time to mature as a group, eventually forming a core of solid veteran players that remain competitive for the balance of their careers. I mentioned the example of the Braves in another post. I'd also submit that the New York Yankees' early teams under Joe Torre featured a similar group.

(Their spending didn't increase until the bidding war for Jason Giambi prior to the 2002 season. For anyone who hasn't done so, I would encourage you to read Joe Torre's book The Yankee Years. It's an outstanding read, and it discusses the shift in the philosophy of the Yankees organization following the loss to the Diamondbacks in the 2001 World Series. Torre believes that that loss was what spurred Steinbrenner to spend such large amounts of money, as he couldn't accept being second best.)

The White Sox haven't had a "young core" for more than twenty years. Their most successful youth movement occurred during the early 1990s, when Frank Thomas, Robin Ventura, Jack McDowell, Wilson Alvarez, and Alex Fernandez were around. I would actually be interested to hear Robin's thoughts on that group, and if he believes that the Sox have a chance to assemble such a group in the near future. They have talent at the lowest levels of their farm system, but the upper levels are largely a barren wasteland. It will be some time before said talent comes to fruition, which is by no means guaranteed. And, as Lip pointed out, Sox fans aren't exactly the most patient group when it comes to allowing ownership dismantle this team. If the Sox decide to scrap the current roster and start over, how many fans will be left by the time the refit is complete?
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Old 04-11-2013, 07:16 PM
Lip Man 1 Lip Man 1 is offline
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Dick:

I suspect most fans would be dancing in the streets if the Sox were to make the post season say three years in a row, even if they didn't win the series at all.

Considering this franchise is the only one of the original 16 pre expansion franchises to have never made the post season in consecutive years, that would be a significant accomplishment and I think the fans would regard it as such....and it would show things are turning around. Just my opinion.

Lip
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Old 04-11-2013, 07:22 PM
dickallen15 dickallen15 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RKMeibalane View Post
Doublem23 made an additional point that I thought was interesting when he referenced the "85-win purgatory" that the White Sox seem locked into. He talked about how young teams opting to rebuild often feature a group of young players who, in spite of their struggles upon reaching the Major League level, are given ample time to mature as a group, eventually forming a core of solid veteran players that remain competitive for the balance of their careers. I mentioned the example of the Braves in another post. I'd also submit that the New York Yankees' early teams under Joe Torre featured a similar group.

(Their spending didn't increase until the bidding war for Jason Giambi prior to the 2002 season. For anyone who hasn't done so, I would encourage you to read Joe Torre's book The Yankee Years. It's an outstanding read, and it discusses the shift in the philosophy of the Yankees organization following the loss to the Diamondbacks in the 2001 World Series. Torre believes that that loss was what spurred Steinbrenner to spend such large amounts of money, as he couldn't accept being second best.)

The White Sox haven't had a "young core" for more than twenty years. Their most successful youth movement occurred during the early 1990s, when Frank Thomas, Robin Ventura, Jack McDowell, Wilson Alvarez, and Alex Fernandez were around. I would actually be interested to hear Robin's thoughts on that group, and if he believes that the Sox have a chance to assemble such a group in the near future. They have talent at the lowest levels of their farm system, but the upper levels are largely a barren wasteland. It will be some time before said talent comes to fruition, which is by no means guaranteed. And, as Lip pointed out, Sox fans aren't exactly the most patient group when it comes to allowing ownership dismantle this team. If the Sox decide to scrap the current roster and start over, how many fans will be left by the time the refit is complete?
And there is no guarantee it would only take a couple of years. The Sox came up all aces when the got McDowell, Ventura, Thomas and Fernandez in consecutive drafts, and still had to be horrible in 86,87,88and 89 to get them. Chances of them going 4 for 4 like that again, and those players making the impact as soon as those 4 did is slim.
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Old 04-11-2013, 07:24 PM
Lip Man 1 Lip Man 1 is offline
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As RK pointed out it's been a long time since the Sox had that type of young talent.

Remember though it took them four desolate years (86 to 89) to be in position to get those high draft picks AND they had a tremendous talent evaluator (Larry Himes) in charge.

I've got nothing against rebuilding, it's something I think the Sox have to seriously consider but drafting and scouting is not an exact science even with the finest minds doing it. Do the Sox even have those type minds running the show right now? If not, would they pay the price financially to get them??

If they did would JR stay out of the process (as has been reported off the record in the past...)? Would talent be the directing principal? Or would it be 'who is his agent?'

Like with everything else about this situation (unfortunately) there are no clear cut answers.

Lip
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Old 04-11-2013, 07:28 PM
RKMeibalane RKMeibalane is offline
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Originally Posted by Lip Man 1 View Post
Nell:

I suspect that's part of it (i.e. launching pad) and that this is also part of the Sox philosophy (i.e. home run or nothing...)

Daver knows about as much about the minor league system as anyone and he has said in the past another issue is the Sox (unlike say the Twins) move players from team to team, from level to level based strickly on hitting. And they'll move guys up to multiple levels in a single year to boot. Daver says things like knowing the strike zone, fielding, fundamentals are being ignored simply because a guy 'can hit.' And if I've misquoted Daver he can clarify his thoughts if he wishes.

Also remember the Sox have had by my count three different scouting directors in the past 10 years and probably three different minor league directors. Continuity doesn't seem to be a strong point in this regard for the organization.

Lip
This is an interesting point, Lip. I'd also add that the Sox, perhaps because of the approach you mentioned, have a tendency to promote players before they're ready for the Major Leagues, often because they need to fill a hole in the lineup or in the starting rotation. How many times over the past decade (at least) have we complained about the lack of pitching at the back end of the rotation, or the lack of production from certain spots in the lineup?

It has been a problem nearly every season that I have followed this team, save for the 2000 and 2005 seasons. The '02 and '03 teams had problems with consistency from their fourth and fifth starters, and the '04 team was devastated by injuries to its two best offensive players (Thomas and Ordonez), forcing Paul Konerko and Carlos Lee to be the primary run-producers for the team. Konerko grew into that role, and eventually succeeded Thomas as the team's best hitter, but Lee was too undisciplined for the role, and as he was traded to Milwaukee after the season, it's unclear if he would have progressed as Paul did in later seasons. In any case, the absence of the team's number three and four hitters was more than enough to knock the Sox out of first place, as it would likely be for any team (as the 2012 Phillies about that).

Ironically, the events of 2004 were the impetus for Williams trading Lee and allowing Ordonez to leave via free-agency, moves that ultimately paved the way for the team that won the World Series. It's impossible to know how the Sox would have fared had either or both remained with the team in 2005, but I find it hard to believe that either would have contributed to the extent that Jermaine Dye or Scott Podsednik did. None of the players I mentioned were young, but Williams' willingness to find players who approached the game differently had a tremendous impact on how the Sox played. Why he was never able to recapture that dynamic with future groups is something I don't understand, as it was clear that reliance on team baseball produced far better results than the "home run or die" approach of Jerry Manuel's teams.
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Old 04-11-2013, 07:31 PM
canOcorn canOcorn is offline
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I wouldn't mind a new ownership group to take over. Jerry isn't really the Marlins, but he's been raking in $30M profits the last 8-9 years and has also seen the ownerships initial investment of $20M grow to over $400M. Contrary to his statements, they're taking dividends each year on the investment. I guess I wouldn't really have a problem with taking something small each year, but you really shouldn't operate a professional sports team make huge profits on a year basis.

I know he's at the forefront of the latest movement to limit costs on unproven talent - i.e, the draft and international signings, but I really wish they would spend just a couple of bucks on minor league development, instead of operating the minor league operation on a shoestring.
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Old 04-11-2013, 07:49 PM
russ99 russ99 is offline
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The draft issue is at least partially fixed with the new cap rules, but there is still an onus on the Sox organization to pick the best players, and not the most signable ones, and really invest in how those players are developed.

I've railed year after year about the lack of investment in the big league team, but considering that the two years Jerry did that (2006 and 2010) didn't especially work out, I can understand why the Sox would be gunshy to splash the cash and threaten the profit margin. Also, they were a high bidder on Torii Hunter in 2008 and couldn't close the deal. Not sure if that's a plus or minus.

Also as far as new ownership goes, as a fan you really don't know what you're gonna get - and what you get could change over time. As an Astros fan, I initially loved Drayton McLane as an owner, but he turned into a meddler who wouldn't spend on prospects but would waste millions on a fading player like Miguel Tejada, and that turned me sour. Now the Astros are stuck with Crane who seems worse.

Jerry despite his pre-2000 faults has turned into a decent owner. Not perfect, or someone pushing the club forward like Arte Moreno of the Angels, but decent. What happens when Jerry sells or bequeaths the Sox is going to be the big story of the Sox in the next decade or two.

My hope for the near future of the Sox is that Rick Hahn as GM can make some moves to give us that talented dynamic young core that we've been lacking, both through player development (we have a very nice group of OFs in the minors) and trading for/signing top younger talent and trading away players who aren't getting it done for younger players with more upside that those we're trading.

Once the Konerko, Dunn, Rios and Peavy contracts are through, he'll have a ton of financial flexibility to work with to fill in gaps with good players, even if Jerry pares payroll back from where it is now (Our 4th or 5th highest ever by my count).

So I'm hopeful that the Sox will be better than they are now within 2-3 years given that the right moves are made, and I'm willing to sit through a few seasons around and below .500 if we get there.
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Old 04-11-2013, 07:49 PM
Lip Man 1 Lip Man 1 is offline
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RK:

Ironically it was Kenny who decided to change that 'team / small ball' philosophy when he traded Rowand for Thome (and that's not saying a thing against Jim the consumate professional)

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Can:

For whatever it's worth when the new ownership took over in January 1981 one of the first things EE said was (paraphrasing) 'the way to win today is through free agency and trades, not the minor league system...'

I don't have an issue with that approach either but to do so you've got to spend big money for the top quality free agents which by and large the Sox haven't done.

So again we get back to what's the philosophy? They won't spend big dollars for the best free agents and they won't spend big dollars on the minor league system. The Sox spent the fewest dollars over the previous five seasons in MLB on signing money for newcomers to baseball.

Rock and a hard place again isn't it?

Lip
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Old 04-11-2013, 07:56 PM
dickallen15 dickallen15 is offline
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Originally Posted by RKMeibalane View Post
This is an interesting point, Lip. I'd also add that the Sox, perhaps because of the approach you mentioned, have a tendency to promote players before they're ready for the Major Leagues, often because they need to fill a hole in the lineup or in the starting rotation. How many times over the past decade (at least) have we complained about the lack of pitching at the back end of the rotation, or the lack of production from certain spots in the lineup?

It has been a problem nearly every season that I have followed this team, save for the 2000 and 2005 seasons. The '02 and '03 teams had problems with consistency from their fourth and fifth starters, and the '04 team was devastated by injuries to its two best offensive players (Thomas and Ordonez), forcing Paul Konerko and Carlos Lee to be the primary run-producers for the team. Konerko grew into that role, and eventually succeeded Thomas as the team's best hitter, but Lee was too undisciplined for the role, and as he was traded to Milwaukee after the season, it's unclear if he would have progressed as Paul did in later seasons. In any case, the absence of the team's number three and four hitters was more than enough to knock the Sox out of first place, as it would likely be for any team (as the 2012 Phillies about that).

Ironically, the events of 2004 were the impetus for Williams trading Lee and allowing Ordonez to leave via free-agency, moves that ultimately paved the way for the team that won the World Series. It's impossible to know how the Sox would have fared had either or both remained with the team in 2005, but I find it hard to believe that either would have contributed to the extent that Jermaine Dye or Scott Podsednik did. None of the players I mentioned were young, but Williams' willingness to find players who approached the game differently had a tremendous impact on how the Sox played. Why he was never able to recapture that dynamic with future groups is something I don't understand, as it was clear that reliance on team baseball produced far better results than the "home run or die" approach of Jerry Manuel's teams.
Pods stole a lot of bases, but the 2005 White sox actually scored a higher percentage of their runs via a homer than the 2004 squad.
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Old 04-11-2013, 07:59 PM
RKMeibalane RKMeibalane is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lip Man 1 View Post
RK:

Ironically it was Kenny who decided to change that 'team / small ball' philosophy when he traded Rowand for Thome (and that's not saying a thing against Jim the consumate professional)
And it's hard to know why he did that, given how successful the '05 team was. I realize, of course, that the Sox needed to find a replacement for Frank Thomas and Carl Everett, and Thome was excellent during his initial tour with the Sox, but his presence did represent a return to the pre-2005 philosophy that ultimately doomed the Sox in their pursuit of the Twins.

I don't believe that Rowand would have remained productive. He played well in Philadelphia, but was mediocre with the Giants, so dealing him when his value was at its peak was the right move. The Phillies were a logical trade partner because they needed to make room for Ryan Howard, who'd been stuck behind Thome at first base until 2005. Needless to say, that move worked out nicely for them, with Howard leading them to back-to-back World Series and helping them reach the postseason five consecutive seasons.

However, it's still puzzling that Williams so easily abandoned what worked so well, and even more confounding that he took no steps to assemble a similar roster at a later time. On the contrary, his solution to the Sox offensive woes revolved around the acquisitions of Ken Griffey Jr. and Adam Dunn. Junior was the best player in the game when he was at his best, but he was far, far removed from that pedestal by the time the Sox traded for him. As for Dunn, well, we've seen the results of his presence the past two seasons.
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Old 04-11-2013, 08:00 PM
RKMeibalane RKMeibalane is offline
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Pods stole a lot of bases, but the 2005 White sox actually scored a higher percentage of their runs via a homer than the 2004 squad.
I remember reading that. Yet, the '05 team seemed to do a much better job of manufacturing runs in close games, something that eluded previous teams. Without looking at the numbers, I wonder how the significant the difference was in the number of home runs hit with men on base, as opposed to the solo variety that was commonplace on earlier teams. The '03 team was particularly guilty of this, as only Frank Thomas and Carlos Lee drove in more than one hundred runs. Magglio Ordonez finished with ninety nine runs batted in.
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