From not running out ground balls, to getting mauled by early-season injuries, and more; maybe it's time to panic on the South Side of Chicago. Luis Robert is offender #1 after his latest gaffe. PIC: (Kamil Krzaczynski, USA Today Sports)
Admittedly, I have not followed baseball to start the year in the way I normally do. I'll check scores, watch highlights, and - if I'm lucky - maybe see a few innings of a game when it comes around on national TV.
But there is certainly one thing I do know. The Chicago White Sox are nothing short of a dumpster fire to start the year.
Below, you see Luis Robert - one of Cuba's top prospects over the past ten years and touted beyond belief before his debut in 2020 - not running out a routine ground ball. He essentially had a "swinging bunt," forcing Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Chris Fauchner to make a heroic play given Robert's speed. But turns out, Fauchner could've taken his sweet time to throw Robert out at first; he gave up.
These unfortunate events, after all, are a microcosm of the dreadful start to the Chicago White Sox's 2023 season.
The White Sox came into 2023 with high hopes after making solid moves throughout the winter months. They lost out on Jose Abreu to the Houston Astros, Johnny Cueto to the Marlins, and A.J. Pollock to the Mariners, but were able to add some key pieces to curtail the losses. Of note, Andrew Benintendi - fresh off a brief appearance with the Yankees after being sidelined with a hand injury for a considerable amount of his stint - inked a five-year, $75 million deal with Chicago to add some much-needed outfield help. Mike Clevinger, who looks to get back on the rails after not returning to his pre-Tommy John form factor (his surgery was in 2021), came to the White Sox on a one-year, $12 million, "prove it" deal. And former Texas Rangers star middle infielder Elvis Andrus inked a one-year deal as well, worth only $3 million.
But now, the White Sox sit at an historical spot in the AL Central standings. And no, not for good reasons. They're 7-21 to start the year heading into Sunday's series finale with the Tampa Bay Rays. They're fresh off two straight sweeps, and if they drop Sunday's game to Tampa, they'll have lost their 11th straight; their last win came as the second leg of a double header against the Phillies on April 18th, nearly two full weeks ago.
In their most recent series against Tampa, they've been outscored 29-10 in three games. The previous contest before Tampa yielded an 8-0 loss at the hands of the Blue Jays, who held the Sox to 4 hits. That marked them being held scoreless for 24 consecutive innings.
So now, no matter the final score on Sunday, the White Sox will still have not won a series all season long. Their record is the worst start they've had to a season since the MLB's expansion era (1961).
Saturday was arguably one of the most soul-crushing losses that any team has faced all year. Lance Lynn took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning, and just when we thought there'd be a glimmer of hope for some positivity on the South Side, it was ruined. Wander Franco kicked off the seventh with a homer to break up the no-no, and the onslaught began. Randy Arozarena & Josh Lowe homered back-to-back, followed by a barrage of offense, and the Rays racked up TEN RUNS in the top of the seventh for a lead they then would not relinquish.
"Sell The Team" chants rang throughout Guaranteed Rate Field afterwards.
We're only one month into the season, but is it time to panic for the Chicago White Sox? Sure, there's lots of baseball to be played and plenty of time to turn it around. But let's get one thing straight; if recent history tells us anything, the White Sox are at risk of losing both their fanbase and their young stars.
In 2022, two-time All Star Carlos Rodon sought greener pastures and left for the San Francisco Giants. This offseason, Jose Abreu - who had three nods to the All Star Game and even an AL MVP Award in 2020 - finally got sick of the franchise that made him the star he's turned into.
You'd be naive not to wonder if the once-Cy Young hopeful Lucas Giolito and former AL Batting Champion & Silver Slugger Tim Anderson are thinking similarly. How much longer can they bear in Chicago? Every day in this dreadful environment is money taken out of their next contract, more frustration, and - most importantly - time wasted to win a World Championship.
One thing is for certain: the Chicago White Sox have predicaments on their hands.