The words "communication" and "energy" were key words for the new White Sox manager, Pedro Grifol, during his inaugural media session with the South Side.
"Communication is one of the biggest parts of my leadership," Grifol said. "I think it's really important that you empower players, you empower coaches, you collaborate. Everybody is a big part of this. I think our successes are tied together. Raising the energy level every single day is extremely important.
"As far as new ideas and analytics, I'm well-versed in this stuff. Ideas are stuff that comes up daily, especially when you have a very creative staff. But we're just going to be prepared to play. We're going to work hard and we're going to be prepared to play."
Hahn mentioned being a solid "communicator" was one of the key attributes the organization was looking for during their managerial search. And, going off of Hahn's "gushy" excitement on Thursday, the White Sox got their guy in Grifol.
Over the coming weeks, the White Sox will need to make decisions surrounding their roster. Jose Abreu is a free agent and his return to the club is uncertain. The team also has club options on Josh Harrison, Tim Anderson and a player option on A.J Pollock. Not to mention, one of their best starters – Johnny Cueto – needs a contract too.
According to general manager Rick Hahn, the organization still views this roster as a "championship-caliber core," meaning they'd like to return as many of the current players as possible.
In terms of reassembling the roster ahead of another championship-aspiring season, Hahn mentions a few factors.
"There is certainly an analytical element to that looking at the underlying performance as to what is repeatable going forward, what is the cause and concern," Hahn said. "There is the health element, we have to understand what guys are dealing with going forward, how we project their health and availability going forward.
"But then, look, the roster, we had a few guys playing out of position last year just out of the way the roster fit together and then driven more significantly due to the injuries. We want to avoid that going forward. We want to get to the point where we have guys playing in a role they’re more suited for and if that means we have to make some alterations from the roster from the outside that’s the route we’ll have to go."
Hahn mentioned part of the "regression across the board" lies within "several key players." The front office plans to evaluate the performance of their core and analyze which players they believe can progress back to their peak form on the field, versus those who may not fit the bill.
The general manager makes key points. Health was a major factor for the second season in a row. Yoán Moncada started off the season on the injured list, Eloy Jimenez endured a knee injury, Yasmani Grandal, Michael Kopech, and so on.
By the end of it, Tim Anderson hadn't played a game since early August (groin), and Luis Robert could only swing the bat with one hand because of a wrist injury.
Further to Hahn's emphasis, several players played out of their position. The most visible example of this was Andrew Vaughn and Gavin Sheets manning the outfield for the season.
But, let's toss the ideas of roster fixation and injuries aside for a second. What about on-field execution?
What do the White Sox need to change on the field?
"We’ve got to improve defensively, obviously, and I feel that fundamentally we’ve got to improve," Grifol said. "And again, I go back to the intensity level and the energy that we got to bring to our preparation. This is a very good club. It's a club that's prepared to win, to do great things.
"And I think with a few adjustments on just the mental side of it, and the approach to our practices, and our preparation, it’s going to be sufficient."
"I think this club is prepared to do great things" - Pedro Grifol pic.twitter.com/B2FMqePJPy
— White Sox Talk (@NBCSWhiteSox) November 3, 2022
To Grifol's point, the Sox allowed the 20th most runs per game in the league at a suboptimal rate of 4.43 runs per contest. They committed the third-most errors, allowing 0.64 errors per game.
Their pitching also regressed some. After a blistering year in 2021, when the staff recorded the fifth-best ERA in MLB, they landed 16th this season, allowing 3.92 earned runs on average.
But, with careful roster reconstruction, "energy" and "communication" in the clubhouse on Grifol's end, the White Sox look to make another run at going deep in the playoffs.
And Grifol believes they're close to getting where they want.
"Like I said before, this is an extremely talented ballclub," Grifol said. "It was a really difficult club to prepare for. Because if the energy was high, they could beat anybody in the game. And if the energy wasn't, we were able to have some success against them. So my job is going to be and my staff's job is going to be to make sure that that energy is high every night and we're prepared to win a ballgame."
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