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Offseason 2022 – Chicago White Sox

Out: Jose Abreu, Josh Harrison, Adam Engel, Jonny Cueto

In: Mike Clevinger, Andrew Benintendi

The White Sox left the 2022 season with a lot of regret, missed opportunities and holes on their team. A squad that was widely expected to win the AL Central and go deep in the playoffs underachieved massively. Step one was to replace Tony LaRussa as Manager. Pedro Grifol looks to be a solid hire and has revamped the coaching staff. Ethan Katz, the pitching coach is one of the most important holdovers.

Here are the four themes playing out for the ChiSox coming into 2023.

Ban the shift. In 2022 ChiSox hitters badly under performed to the point where it looked contagious. One guy struggles and then more guys are struggling. Yoan Moncada and Yasmani Grandal were hurt most by the shift and stand to benefit this season. This should cause other hitters in the lineup to benefit by having better protection in the lineup and seeing better pitches as a result. Let’s face it, pitchers were not intimidated facing the 2022 White Sox lineup. Too often struggling hitters were bunched together offering pitchers predictable outs and rally killers when they needed them.

Pito is gone. Yes Jose Abreu was the face of the franchise for a long time and played some great baseball for us. He is a presence for the Latin players and was a solid leader on and off the field. Bottom line is that you cannot keep doing the same thing and expect different results. Running the same team out there as last year would have been a mistake. Jose is an older player now and to expect him to hit like he did in his prime is a reach. He will benefit from a stacked Houston lineup in 2023 however the way the White Sox have drafted predicted this move. Andrew Vaughn is ready and will produce as much if not more than an older Jose Abreu. They also have a lefty hitting Gavin Sheets to platoon. The ChiSox simply have to play their top 1B prospects at first base. The ripple effect is that their top 1B prospect, Andrew Vaughn will not be playing right field. That is a defensive win for the 2023 team.

Defense. The 2022 White Sox were not a good defensive team. Too many times they were playing a first basemen in right field, a second baseman at third base, and a designated hitter in left field. The pitching staff will be happy to report that defense will be a priority and players will be playing in their best positions in 2023. This does not sound like a big development however it is an easy fix that will save runs, shorten opponent offensive innings and help the pitching staff be more effective. The defense on most days will be; Grandal C, Vaughn 1B, Sosa/? 2B, Anderson SS, Moncada 3B, Benintendi LF, Robert CF, Colas RF.

The Roster. Left Field is now decided as the team sign Andrew Benintendi for 5 years. This is a solid pickup defensively and will hopefully allow the team to play more small ball moving runners and hit and run plays. He hits RHPs well and knows the AL Central. There is work left to do to make sure we have solid contributors at 2B and RF. Oscar Colas is the top outfield prospect and is already 24 years old. Yoelqui Cespedes is the next OF prospect and is 25 – These guys need to be able to make the jump and the team needs to know if they can play in the show. Lenyn Sosa is the top prospect at 2B and is only 22 but should get a long look. He appears to need more minor league experience however the choice of having him figure it out on the big team or watch another negative WAR plugin player is an easy choice. Mike Clevinger joins from the Padres and Guardians prior. The Sox know him well and the hope here is that he is fully healthy, motivated to perform on a 1 year deal, and that Ethan Katz can work his magic. We still need a starting LHP to balance the rotation – not sure what the solution is there.

After the disaster of 2022, Sox fans should see 2023 as nowhere to go but up. This team is too talented to perform as badly as it did. The hitters should revert to their mean, which translates to hitting better than 2022. The ban of the shift will help a few hitters and the defense will save more runs by playing the right guys. Vaughn will more than adequately replace Abreu, Eloy at DH is a win, Beni-time in LF is also a win.

Contributed by Dave Schaefer

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