Today is finally the day, White Sox fans. Pitchers and catchers officially report to Glendale and begin working toward trying to bring the Commissioner's trophy back to the corner of 35th/Shields. It's been a long, contentious winter within the fan base. A sham of a managerial hiring process kicked things off shortly after the 2020 season came to a close. Frustration then mounted over the team's unwillingness to extend itself financially as it is coming off its first playoff appearance since 2008, especially considering the process it took to get to this point. We were told scaling things back would lead to additional resources being available when it was finally time to compete. Frustration then reached a boiling point over the way the limited financial resources were allocated.
As of this moment, none of it matters any longer. The White Sox team is largely set, aside from potential veteran non-roster invitees. Despite narratives within the eternally pessimistic segment of the fan base, this White Sox team is a good baseball team. Could they have been even better? Yes, they certainly could have and I don't think most fans are disputing that. The simple fact of the matter is that this team has as much, if not more, talent than any White Sox team in recent memory. Yes, it was an offseason that was rather uninspiring overall, but they did address areas of concern despite what some may lead you to believe.
The 2021 White Sox are banking on continued internal development from their young, exciting core group of talent headlined by Lucas Giolito, Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Tim Anderson, and Nick Madrigal. They also are putting a great deal of faith in the performances of unproven players such as Andrew Vaughn and Michael Kopech to be significant contributors. On a personal level, I too would've preferred to see this team hedge its bets by adding more roster certainty and forcing competition upon individuals that don't have proven track records.
However, the organizational edicts handed down from the top appear to go against that line of thinking. This organization has not shown a willingness in a long time to insulate itself with proven major league depth options, rather instead hoping that internal options can continue pushing toward their ceilings in an effort to keep the team's finances in line with desired wishes from the top.
In spite of all the negativity that has surrounded this team for much of the last four months, I am very hopeful about what the 2021 season will bring. The upside of this roster is as high as that of any team in the league. Will they approach that talent zenith in 2021? I don't know, but I also don't see the cloud of doom and gloom that seems to be engulfing a portion of this fan base. Again, they haven't left themselves a tremendous margin for error. Injuries to significant roster pieces could potentially torpedo this season, but what most people don't want to acknowledge is, you could say that about pretty much every other team in the American League. If Gerritt Cole misses two months for the Yankees, do you think that pitching staff can hold up? How daunting does the Twins offense look if Nelson Cruz, who turns 41 in July, has injuries or if father time finally takes away his bat speed This game can be played with every contender, and it is not exclusive to the White Sox.
A common refrain this winter was that the White Sox don't have the depth to compete over a 162-game marathon. Could that be the case? Potentially, but I think many are making assumptions because of past White Sox failures. People want to assume that "depth pieces" down in Charlotte will come up and be bad just because that's how things have gone for much of the past decade. Take that in contrast with the belief that if any other AL contender sustains injuries, the players those organizations plug in for regulars will automatically be competent at the major league level. Making this assumption just isn't based in reality. Again, it's entirely possible that players the White Sox eventually have to plug in will underperform, but to automatically assume that to be the case is just faulty. Many love to poke fun at the White Sox development process over the last decade, but they are willfully choosing to ignore the changes made in recent years with the additions of development personnel like Ben Hansen, Ben Broussard, Everett Teaford, Danny Farquhar, Ryan Johansen, and others.
I personally believe this White Sox team is going to be very good. You can call me a homer for believing in the tremendous upside potential of this group taking another significant step forward if you'd like. But the natural talent of this core group that is still developing can be put up against any other team in the American League. Hoping that potential will blossom and that everything will break perfectly for you isn't the way I would've gone about things this winter, but this is the path the organization chose to take.
Tony La Russa assembled a strong staff to help him in his return to the dugout for the first time in a decade, and I'm anxious to see how this group is able to extract that remaining development out of this roster. The time for dissecting the roster construction is over, it's time to get down to brass tacks for the White Sox. I believe we are in for a fun summer at the corner of 35th/Shields, and hopefully we can all get together there again soon. This White Sox team is going to be good, it's simply a matter of how good (not to be captain obvious). I am choosing to be optimistic about what 2021 will bring for our team. Now, it's time to get to work.