White Sox

Rick Hahn referred to himself as a 'jackass' as Fernando Tatis Jr. came up again at SoxFest


Rick Hahn referred to himself as a 'jackass' as Fernando Tatis Jr. came up again at SoxFest

The White Sox farm system is undoubtedly loaded.

Rick Hahn pulled off three big trades in 2016 and 2017 to import Eloy Jimenez, Michael Kopech, Dylan Cease, Reynaldo Lopez, Yoan Moncada, Dane Dunning, Luis Basabe and Lucas Giolito into the organization. Add the other talent acquired through the draft or international signings, and there are few better systems in the game.

So why did the White Sox general manager refer to himself as a "jackass" on Saturday?

In what seems to be an annual tradition now at SoxFest, there was mention of Fernando Tatis Jr., one of the highest-rated prospects in baseball and a one-time White Sox signee who was traded to the San Diego Padres in the deal for James Shields just months before the start of the rebuild.

It's arguably the lone mistake Hahn & Co. have made during this rebuilding process (and it technically took place before the process started), with Tatis closing in on the majors and widely regarded as one of the best young talents around. Tatis was just 17 years old when the White Sox made the deal and had yet to play a minor league game. But that hasn't been much of an excuse in the minds of White Sox fans, who in an alternate reality could've seen Tatis and Eloy Jimenez sharing spots at the top of the prospect rankings.

Last year, a fan lobbed a question toward members of the front office during a panel Hahn wasn't a part of: "How could you whiff on him?" This year, Hahn took the initiative himself.

While praising the organization's success in the international-signing department, Hahn was listing the achievements of the department run by Marco Paddy and eventually got to Tatis, offering up a self-critique in the process.

"Since we’ve hired Marco Paddy and the staff he’s put together internationally, we’ve been as strong as anybody," Hahn said. "Signing Luis Robert, which was an example of us being strong internationally, did put us in the penalty box for a couple years, and we had to use some of that slot money in different ways to add talent. But his first signing was Micker Adolfo, who’s becoming one of the better prospects in the organization.

"He also signed someone that some jackass traded, a pretty good prospect by the name of Tatis."

Ouch. Self burn.

Hahn was likely poking fun at the social-media criticism he receives for making the move as much as he was perhaps admitting any regret at dealing away a guy who turned into a top prospect.

Of course, what shouldn't be lost in all that is that the White Sox have a pair of international signees in the system who figure to one day be a part of the outfield of the future. Nor should it be forgotten that Hahn has made a bevy of moves that have loaded the system and made the future extremely bright.

But if Tatis blossoms into an All-Star shortstop with the Padres, then he'll always be the one who got away.

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White Sox Talk Podcast: What we've learned about the White Sox in 2019


White Sox Talk Podcast: What we've learned about the White Sox in 2019

A lot has happened with the White Sox this season. Chuck Garfien, Ryan McGuffey and Vinnie Duber cover it all. They discuss the great (3:00), the good (14:40), the bad (20:10) and the ugly (26:20). They also rate the moves the White Sox made last offseason (32:30)

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

White Sox Talk Podcast


Add another item to White Sox rebuilding to-do list: Matching Jose Berrios and dethroning the Twins


Add another item to White Sox rebuilding to-do list: Matching Jose Berrios and dethroning the Twins

Before the White Sox can worry about dethroning the Minnesota Twins — who despite the mathematically relevant presence of the Cleveland Indians appear to be steaming toward an AL Central title — they’ll have to cross plenty of other items off their rebuilding to-do list.

Rick Hahn’s front office needs to go to work this offseason, adding starting pitching and a left-handed bat of some consequence. Luis Robert and Nick Madrigal need to be promoted to the major leagues. Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease need to go from learning-on-the-job rookies to the impact players their prospect rankings said they could be.

But if the White Sox roster, perhaps as soon as next season, blossoms into one capable of contending for a division title, there’s still the matter of besting the team currently at the hop of the heap.

The White Sox lost for the 12th time in 17 games against the division-rival Twins on Monday night, with a familiar face doing a familiar thing. Jose Berrios entered the night with a 2.40 career ERA against the White Sox, and that number got smaller with his 7.1 innings of two-run ball.

Things looked like they might have gone differently, with the White Sox scratching across a run in the first inning and James McCann hitting a home run to start the second. But that’s when Berrios reverted to All-Star form, and the White Sox offense did just about nothing the rest of the way. (It didn’t help, of course, that the White Sox made some shoddy plays in the field and ran into some outs on the bases, more things that need fixing on the way to contender status.)

Berrios, with his ERA down to 3.58 after Monday’s effort, is on pace to finish with a career best in that category. He hasn’t necessarily been the kind of pitcher that Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole have been this season for the Houston Astros, but he’s a bona fide ace of an October-bound staff. And it’s those types of big-time players the White Sox will have to match and beat if they want to climb to the top of the baseball mountain.

It doesn’t look impossible, considering the White Sox already have an All-Star pitcher and an ace of their staff in Lucas Giolito, who was scheduled to pitch Tuesday in the Land of 10,000 Lakes before he was shut down for the rest of the year with a mild lat strain.

But cast your mind back to the last time he threw at Target Field, when he showed how dominant he can be, even against an offense as potent as Minnesota’s. Giolito twirled a complete-game, three-hit, 12-strikeout shutout in that game and welcomed the Twins to the South Side with six innings of two-run ball in the following start.

As the Verlander-Cole Astros are showing, though, it takes more than one ace to make a run at a World Series. The Twins are going to try — and that’s no knock on their pitching staff, just pointing out that they win games and, eventually, a division title by out-slugging their opponents. White Sox fans know it well, having seen Nelson Cruz hit enough feet of home runs at Guaranteed Rate Field this season to get all the way back to Minneapolis.

And so while Giolito might be able to counter a pitcher like Berrios, the White Sox will need an offense that’s able to beat him and his homer-happy teammates. Reynaldo Lopez wasn’t awful Monday night, but five runs against him was plenty to get the Twins past the silenced White Sox.

That’s where Jimenez and Robert and Madrigal and McCann and Yoan Moncada and Tim Anderson and Jose Abreu are supposed to come in. Only McCann could muster an RBI hit against Berrios on Monday. Jimenez added his 28th homer of the season off Twins closer Sergio Romo in the ninth inning.

That’s a group of hitters that, while very promising, is still developing. White Sox brass keeps telling us that as good as Moncada and Anderson have been during their breakout seasons, they will keep getting better. Jimenez is on his way to 30 homers as a rookie but has generally had an up-and-down season offensively. Robert and Madrigal have yet to taste the major leagues. There’s room for all of them to get better, to form the core of a lineup that could have even pitchers like Berrios sweating, that could go toe-to-toe with a powerful lineup like the Twins’.

But that all has to fall into place. Until it does, unseating the Twins will remain on the to-do list, behind a few more pressing matters. Until it does, Berrios will keep pitching lights out and the Twins will keep hitting balls out. Those are the kinds of things division champs do.

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