Chris Sale and the White Sox should probably just move on from each other
I’ve now written two articles about the White Sox this season. If you had the over in Vegas, you’re a winner. Go collect your winnings. But it was something that I think needed to be said about this situation.
Let me start off by making it clear that there is no defense for what Chris Sale did. It was stupid. It was immature. There are better ways to deal with it than taking a knife and cutting up a bunch of jerseys.
But the White Sox aren’t innocent either.
Perhaps the White Sox are a victim of their own expectations. After all, when they made national news in March following the retirement of Adam LaRoche, they talked about making sure that their focus was 100% on winning.
As White Sox President Kenny Williams phrased it in March, “One of the things we said coming into this season is ‘let’s check all the columns’ with regards to our preparation, our focus, to give us every chance to win.”
So they told Adam LaRoche that his son Drake could no longer be around the team. LaRoche retired and after a profanity-laced tirade by the same Chris Sale directed at Williams during a clubhouse meeting, everyone seemed to move on and put that focus on winning.
The White Sox royally bungled how they dealt with that situation, but one can understand how a 14 year old kid in the clubhouse might be a distraction.
Unreported in Spring Training were the White Sox getting fitted for special jerseys, including the 1976 throwback uniforms they were set to wear the other night. Many players complained about not being comfortable with the way they fit since they were so different than what they were used to. Sale said that he went as far as to say that he didn’t want to wear them on a day he started because he was uncomfortable and it might change his mechanics.
Jon Heyman reported that the players believed that this particular throwback uniform had been cancelled. Furthermore, Sale has always been allowed the freedom to have a say in what uniforms the team wears on days he starts.
The night before the game, Sale was told that the 1967 throwback uniforms were being worn. He protested with the pitching coach. He protested with the manager. He protested with the equipment manager. But a business decision had been made to wear the jerseys and the team was not going to budge.
Frustrated by the team’s decision to put business ahead of winning — remember how important they made checking all the boxes of preparation back in Spring Training — he acted to ensure that nobody could wear the uniforms.
And right up until then, I can totally understand where he’s coming from. In the case of both Sale and the White Sox, actions speak louder than words.
So here’s an organization that’s let you have a say in what uniforms get worn on the days you start and started out the season telling you how important ensuring that you’re in the best position to win is, and then they put you in a uniform that players didn’t like because it wasn’t comfortable.
In other words, the White Sox decided that a throwback jersey night was more important than giving the team the best chance at winning.
At this point the problems between Sale and the White Sox are so deep that I think it’s probably best if they just broke up. And to bring this back around, I think it should be the Cardinals that go get him.
Sale is 27 years old and will be paid $12 million in 2017, the final year of his current deal. But that deal also includes a pair of team options, $12.5 million in 2018 and now $15 million in 2019 after he finished third in Cy Young voting in 2014.
There are many teams that should be interested in acquiring him. The Red Sox and Dodgers are reportedly interested. The Cubs should be considering they have just one starting pitcher on their roster under the age of 30. The Cardinals should be ready and willing and I’d let Alex Reyes go as the centerpiece of that deal.
The improvement on the field is obvious. Sale has a 3.18 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in his 19 starts this season. His 128 ERA+ would make him the second best Cardinals’ starter this season behind Carlos Martinez’s 143.
But one of my complaints about this team is the lack of intensity day in and day out. I think we could improve that with the ability of another fiery, outspoken, competitive starting pitcher named Chris.
That other one was Carpenter. And since his departure, the Cardinals have lacked that vocal, passionate leader in the clubhouse. We have a lot of guys who are good leaders, who know how to work, and can inspire that in others, but they aren’t the guys who will give your butt a verbal tongue lashing when you need it.
I had hoped we’d see Lance Lynn grow into that kind of pitcher. But with this year lost to Tommy John, and I fear next year lost to regaining his velocity as a result of Tommy John before he heads into free agency following the 2017 season, I doubt he will be that guy for the Cardinals. That’s part of the reason why I’d want them to take Lynn in the deal, unless Lynn is willing to work out of the bullpen to start the year.
There will be many who won’t want to “reward” Sale for his actions by trading for him and putting him on a winner, but I believe that Sale’s biggest issue is a lack of faith in the White Sox organization both to follow through on assurances they’ve made him and to make the decisions necessary to create a winner. His actions demonstrate to me a guy who is screaming to be dealt.
And who better to make his desire of playing for a winner come true than one of the best run franchises in baseball who has the best track record of winning in the league?