Chicago White Sox end 2023 with 101 losses — 5 takeaways from the ‘frustrating’ season – The Denver Post

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Manager Pedro Grifol summed up the 2023 Chicago White Sox season as the final days of the year approached.

“Frustrating, educational, somewhat embarrassed,” Grifol said Saturday afternoon. “But hungry and committed to get it right.”

The Sox had hoped to bounce back after finishing 81-81 and missing the playoffs in 2022. Instead, they suffered at least 100 losses for the fifth time in team history.

The Sox lost Sunday’s season finale 2-1 to the San Diego Padres in 11 innings in front of 20,588 at Guaranteed Rate Field to wrap up the year 61-101. They matched the 1948 team (51-101) for the third-most losses in a season. The Sox lost 106 games in 1970 and 102 in 1932.

They finished 40 games under .500 for the first time since end of the 1970 season (56-106).

There is nowhere to go but up. Here are five takeaways from 2023.

1. The team never recovered from a dismal April.

The Sox knew April would be a challenge.

After opening the season in late March against the 2022 World Series champion Houston Astros, April featured series against the Philadelphia Phillies, Toronto Blue Jays and two against the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Sox failed the early test, getting off to their worst start since 1948 with 21 losses in their first 28 games. During the April 24-26 series at Toronto, they were outscored 20-2 while getting swept.

The Sox suffered their first 10-game losing streak since 2013 and needed to stage an epic ninth-inning rally — scoring seven runs — on April 30 to end the slide with a 12-9 victory against the Rays at Guaranteed Rate Field.

When April ended, the Sox had an 8-21 record. They never recovered.

2. It became a season of change.

When a team flops, change is inevitable.

Well out of the American League Central race, the Sox were active at the trade deadline as sellers. They moved infielder Jake Burger and pitchers Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo López, Kendall Graveman, Keynan Middleton, Lance Lynn and Joe Kelly.

The shake-up didn’t end in the clubhouse.

On Aug. 21, the Sox parted ways with executive vice president Ken Williams and general manager Rick Hahn.

“I made the decision a couple of days before we announced it, but I spent a month thinking about it and talking to people inside and outside the organization,” Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said on Aug. 31. “I considered a variety of alternatives. One alternative was to do nothing. Another was to keep Kenny and let Rick go, another was to keep Rick and let Kenny go, and another was to let them both go and I came to the conclusion it would be better to let them both go and have a fresh start.”

The Sox promoted Chris Getz to general manager. He’s added Josh Barfield (assistant general manager), Brian Bannister (senior adviser to pitching) and Gene Watson (director of player personnel) to the baseball operations department.

Getz said Grifol would remain as manager.

Asked about possible changes to his coaching staff before Sunday’s game, Grifol said, “There’s a few ideas that I can’t share. It’s a very sensitive issue. When you talk about the staff you talk about people that have been here for a long, long time. Unfortunately, this is a game that’s predicated on wins and losses so obviously, every year this is a tough time of the year for staff.”

3. The news never stopped for a team out of contention.

While they were well out of contention, the Sox were never out of the news.

And not for the right reasons.

The Sox and Cleveland Guardians got into a brawl on Aug. 5 at Progressive Field. The melee resulted in six suspensions, with Sox shortstop Tim Anderson serving five games and Guardians third baseman José Ramírez serving two.

The dust hadn’t really settled from the brouhaha when Middleton — a member of the New York Yankees after an Aug. 1 trade — said in an Aug. 6 interview with ESPN and the New York Daily News that the Sox clubhouse had “no rules,” which received pushback from Hahn and Grifol.

The focus shifted to the stands on Aug. 25, when two women were hit by gunfire at a Sox game against the Oakland Athletics at Guaranteed Rate Field. Questions still persist in regard to that incident.

4. Luis Robert Jr. and Liam Hendriks provided highlights.

The highlights aren’t plentiful when a team loses 101 games.

But Robert elevated his game to another level, finishing third in the American League with 38 homers. He earned his first All-Star selection on the way to becoming the first player in Sox history to hit 35-plus doubles (36) and 35-plus home runs and steal 20-plus bases (20) in a single season.

He also played Gold Glove-caliber defense in center field.

One of the most memorable moments of the season came May 29 when Hendriks made his inspirational season debut against the Los Angeles Angels at Guaranteed Rate Field after battling stage 4 non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

The reliever continued to make an impact after undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery in August, meeting with families affected by cancer during home and road games the rest of the season.

5. The Sox face several decisions this offseason.

The Sox have club options in 2024 for Hendriks and Anderson, two decisions facing the team this offseason.

There’s a lot of work to do, whether it’s with the pitching staff, infield spots like second base and outfield positions like right field.

“I’m committed, determined, excited to start this offseason with Chris and his staff and get this better, way better,” Grifol said Sunday. “It needs to get better.”

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