CHICAGO -- I walked into the Chicago Theatre at 7:40 p.m. CT on Thursday and quickly realized the Trevor Noah comedy show beginning in 20 minutes was one where they locked your cellphone in a pouch.
“Let’s hope the White Sox don’t make a trade in the next two hours,” I said to my friend as we walked through security.
“They aren’t going to make a trade now, this late on a Thursday night,” she replied. I’m actually paraphrasing her response, as I didn’t write it down.
As we sat through the true hilarity of Noah and his equally funny opening act, I felt my phone vibrate three or four times through the pouch. It gave me pause for thought, but I agreed with my friend’s point of view: Nothing was going to happen at this time of night.
In reality, it wasn’t until we arrived at a local establishment for a few drinks following the show when the White Sox trade with the Braves, marking Chris Getz’s first trade as a general manager, was announced. I was going to lead my Friday newsletter with a take on Oscar Colás. I also was going to write about Jordan Leasure developing more of a complete repertoire during his time with the White Sox and in the Arizona Fall League. Look for those items post-Thanksgiving or in December.
Instead, I’m focused on the 5-for-1 deal that sent veteran southpaw Aaron Bummer to the National League East champs. Michael Soroka and Jared Shuster will move into the White Sox starting rotation, while Nicky Lopez brings his top-notch defense and strong clubhouse presence to the middle infield.
Lopez is a native of Naperville, Ill., for those very few of you who never heard this factoid during one of the White Sox-Royals broadcasts. Colson Montgomery, the team’s No. 1 prospect and No. 17 prospect overall, per MLB Pipeline, probably won’t break camp with the White Sox, but it won’t take him long to reach prime time and join Lopez.
Near the end of this forgettable 2023 White Sox season, I wrote a story mentioning some of the things being said around that time sounded like a move toward another rebuild beginning in ‘24. I was quickly corrected, and I understand rebuild connotes more of a total and multiyear teardown. A full rebuild doesn’t seem to be the plan.
Getz’s next few moves, though, should present a better idea of the team’s immediate direction. Are they looking for stop-gap free agents, longer term possibilities or a combination of both? Will staff-ace Dylan Cease or designated hitter Eloy Jiménez be next on the trade block? As Getz did say, nobody is untouchable.
Luckily, I have no comedy shows or Eagles concerts coming up, although I do have vacation in mid-December. I’ll be ready either way, which you have to be during the Hot Stove months.
The White Sox were playing at Dodger Stadium on June 13 when I approached Bummer pregame to talk about his season.
“Terrible,” said Bummer when I asked for a description of his performance to that date. “It’s just simply … I haven’t been happy with the results. I haven’t been happy with a lot of things, and I haven’t put my team in a good position. I haven’t helped out the guys in the bullpen. Put guys in cruddy spots.”
Bummer was an honest quote from the first day I met him. It was Bummer who talked about the front office changes postgame on the day general manager Rick Hahn and executive vice president Ken Williams were relieved of their duties as one of the most senior players on the team. It was Bummer who explained his left shoulder/lat area soreness, and that slight step back taken during Spring Training when I questioned him on the last day of February.
It was a rough season for Bummer, and nobody took it harder than the veteran. But it’s a safe bet he’ll bounce back in the National League.
Which player has the most career home runs among this White Sox quartet?
A. Andrew Benintendi
B. Yoán Moncada
C. Eloy Jiménez
D. Luis Robert Jr.
• Getz has talked numerous times about a priority of making the White Sox better defensively after last year’s struggles. His comments clearly should be taken seriously.
• It was close to 70 degrees on Thursday in Chicago. Remember these days fondly as December rolls to town.
• George Ofman, a Chicago media staple since the days of Shoeless Joe Jackson and an all-around good person, has released a book entitled Tell Me a Story I Don’t Know: Conversations with Chicago Sports Legends. It’s an outstanding read, even if I’m not one of the book’s subjects, and would make for a great holiday gift.
• Speaking of books, you can still buy copies of Behind the Glass: Stories from a Sports Radio Producer, by Randy Merkin, who happens to be one of the best producers in the history of sports radio and happens to be my youngest brother. It’s another good read, and with my connection to the author, I can get it autographed.
“He’s got speed, he’s got power, and he uses the whole field. He’s got foul-line-to-foul-line power. He goes into slumps here and there, but I think he’s got the knowledge to get even better. He doesn’t even have four, five seasons under his belt yet. I’ve seen some guys get even better. He’s on the right track.” -- White Sox hitting coach Marcus Thames on Luis Robert Jr. being able to take his game to a level beyond the 2023 All-Star effort.
“I’ve learned a little bit about the South Side of Chicago and our fans. Yes, they scream at you. But they are not wrong when they scream. Most of the time, if not all the time, they are right. They have a lot of passion. They love this team. All they want to do is see us play hard and work hard. I would want that too.” -- Manager Pedro Grifol, from an interview we did at the end of the ’23 season.
The switch-hitter has knocked out 93 over seven years with the White Sox, with a career-high of 25 in 2019. Jiménez is second at 89, topping out to date with 31 in ’19. Benintendi has 78, but only five with the White Sox, while Robert Jr. has 74 on the heels of his career-best 38 in ’23.
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