This is obviously good news. I'm very on the record that Vaughn is going to absolutely fucking rake from this year onward. Dude has a great hit tool, power to all fields and his approach is incredibly refined for a hitter with his lack of experience. And yes, he has hardly any experience. Dude missed all of 2020 game action due to the pandemic and only had about 200 minor league plate appearances in 2019 at HiA and lower before his 2021 rookie campaign. All things considered, he was pretty damn good last year. I think this is the year he takes off. You can write that down.
Now onto the injury itself.
It was fucking stupid and unnecessary. No, I don't blame Vaughn for diving for the ball. I don't him blame for playing hard. I'll never do that. If you're blaming him for diving for a ball in a spring training game, I am of the opinion your blame is misplaced. That's opinion of course, and there's no right answer. Maybe he shouldn't have dove for a ball in a meaningless game. But I think we're all in agreement that he shouldn't be in the OF in the first place. When you play unathletic guys in the OF, they do unathletic guy things like fall all over the place diving for balls an average OF is camped under before getting hurt. Yesterday was a great example.
Vaughn in the RF provides the following:
1. Worst corner OF defense in MLB (not looking it up but it can't be far from correct)
2. It'd ask Robert, the best player on the team, to cover foul line to foul line and risk injury having to cover ground Eloy and Vaughn can't
Number 2 cannot happen if they have actual World Series aspirations, and the solution is STILL right there for the taking. Michael Conforto. Bitch and moan about Hahn's moves all you want this winter, it's definitely warranted assuming they're done. But a signing of Conforto turns the offseason from big fat F into a passable grade. The lineup should look something like this:
1. Anderson 6
2. Robert 8
3. Abreu 3
4. Yaz 2
5. Eloy DH
6. Moncada 5
7. Conforto 9
8. Vaughn 7
9. Harrison 4
Is there a lineup in the AL that's better than it top to bottom? I don't know if there is. It's inarguably one of the best, if not the best.... but they refuse to spend on Conforto. Refuse.
With Engel, Leury and whoever else coming off the bench. But it's not and it's because of fucking money. NOBODY wants to hear the White Sox use $$$ as an excuse for ANYTHING right now. Not after their chump change payrolls during the rebuild, not after a global pandemic when millions were out of work, and not when inflation is through the roof to the point it costs $100/ pound to buy goddamn ground beef. We want the White Sox to go all in just ONE TIME, and not even for some mega contract.
I say all of this while being FULLY aware that they're already gonna set a franchise high for payroll. And going all in is not developing guys at new position at the big league level, per Hahn's quote today in The Athletic:
“The development curve for those players needs to occur at the big league level,” general manager Rick Hahn said when talking up his right field mix. “Building something long-term sustainable is reliant on having your own young players produce.”
Yeah, I don't buy that. First of all, it's never a bad thing to have depth. Ever. Next, developing guys at new positions they've NEVER PLAYED is what rebuilding teams do. Rebuilding teams tinker and find fits for players at positions they aren't accustomed to playing. Teams that say they're trying to win a World Series aren't throwing players like Gavin Sheets in RF to "develop". That's pathetic for a team that says they're trying to win a World Series title this year. It's unfair for Sheets and Vaughn, and it's unfair for Robert to their right.
Three more notes:
- I truly believe in my heart of hearts that if it were up to Hahn, he'd have addressed RF a long time ago. Like... November ago. There is NO WAY he'd say "we need to get a LH corner OF and more SP depth" in his 2020 post season presser if he didn't think he'd have the go ahead to do it. He'd be setting himself up for a shit ton of criticism. That's why I choose to believe he had a rug pulled from under him.
- I am fully on board with seeing what a healthy Adam Engel can do in RF. At the very worst he provides ++ defense and we've seen what he can do offensively over the last 2 seasons, albeit a 60 game season and an injury riddled season:
I think he's best suited as a premium 4th OF who can steal and pound LHP, but I'd like to see what he can do with every day at bats, even if that means Sheets is in AAA or given selective ABs against RHP similar to last year
- This injury (or lack thereof) was a subtle reminder from the baseball gods to sign Conforto, trade Sheets for SP and do things how 99.999% of baseball fans think the White Sox should finish off their offseason. I hope to god the front office sees the fragility of RF right now and goes for it how they should have as soon as the lockout ended.
Go for the jugular just ONE TIME. Please god just one time. It's brutal when even Cubs fans like Eddie are pissed off for Sox fans at this atrocious offseason.
PS - live now on twitch to talk about it