The Chicago White Sox are getting ready for a huge offseason that could lead to a strong 2020, and nobody in their division is that scary long term.
The Chicago White Sox are embarking on a huge offseason that they hope ends with them looking like an upcoming playoff team in 2020. They are watching the playoffs from home but they just saw the A.L. Central winners in the Minnesota Twins get swept by the New York Yankees in three games. This made it clear that the White Sox really don’t have much to worry about as far as being dominated by another division rival while they are trying to be a playoff team.
The Minnesota Twins have lost 16 straight playoff games and don’t really give any reason to believe they will be changing that any time soon. They were great in 2019 but they relied on home runs and the offense a whole lot. Pitching and game planning are the most important part of playoff baseball and the Twins couldn’t get it done. The Twins had a losing record against winning teams in 2019 and the White Sox did fairly well against them.
The Cleveland Indians have been the kings of the division for the last half-decade until the Twins dethroned them this season. They even missed out on a Wild Card spot which was devastating for them as a franchise. They still have some stars on their team like Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor, but the team seems to be dwindling from where it was when they were the American League champions in 2016. The White Sox have had mixed results against them lately but the Sox are on the rise while the Indians are on the decline.
The Kansas City Royals are not good. They are years away from any form of contention. They appeared in back to back World Series in 2014 and 2015 including winning it in 2015. They put all their chips in the middle in those years and are now paying for it. The White Sox should be able to handle the Royals with relative ease over the next few years and unless some miracle happens they will need to complete a long rebuild before they are contending again.
The fact that the Royals aren’t the worst team in the division should be a good thing for the White Sox in the long run as the only team worse is the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers were so bad in 2019 and they don’t really show any signs of improving over the next few seasons. They have Miguel Cabrera under a huge contract and he is not even close to the player he once was. He was once one of the top two hitters in the league and was given a contract that he deserved at the time. Now, Detroit has to deal with it for a while. It might be a while before the Tigers are giving the White Sox any fits in the standings.
In Major League Baseball, the hottest managerial trend is hiring guys with no experience, grabbing them out of the front office or broadcast booth to helm World Series contenders.
In Japan, the hottest managerial trend is hiring members of the 2005 White Sox.
Last week, the Yakult Swallows named former White Sox reliever Shingo Takatsu their latest skipper. He joins Tadahito Iguchi as a manager in Japan’s NPB. The former White Sox second baseman managed the Chiba Lotte Marines in each of the last two seasons.
All kidding about White Sox connections aside, obviously these guys have every reason to be managing in their home country. Takatsu pitched for the Swallows for 13 seasons before coming to the U.S. to pitch for the White Sox and another two seasons after returning from the big leagues. He first managed way back in 2012, when he was a player-manager in an independent league in Japan. He spent the past three years as the manager of the Swallows’ farm team.
Iguchi, meanwhile, played nine seasons with the Marines after his major league career was over, retiring in 2017 at age 42. He took over as the team’s manager the next year. In 2018, the Marines won 59 games. Last season, under Iguchi’s watch, they won 69, a 10-win improvement — just like the 2019 White Sox.
And who knows, if Iguchi keeps winning in Japan, maybe he’ll catch the attention of the decision-makers on the other side of the Pacific.
When he visited the South Side in 2017 to celebrate his retirement, he talked about his desire to once again wear the White Sox uniform and to some day manage in the big leagues.
“In the future,” Iguchi said through a translator that day, “he wants to wear the uniform in Major League Baseball.
“About two years ago, he was invited for SoxFest, and he remembers he spoke to Jerry (Reinsdorf, team chairman) about wanting to come back to the Chicago White Sox again.”
This is all subject to change obviously, but as of right now it looks like the White Sox have a real chance to grow into a team that can run this division for a long time. These upcoming years could be really fun for White Sox fans and the A.L. Central could be had for a while.