The Rundown Lite: White Sox Sticking with La Russa Despite DUI Arrest, TOS Recovery Maybe Less Dire, Blue Jays Look Like Big Buyers
My apologies to those who came here expecting a typical Rundown, but the inimitable Michael Canter is battling COVID-19 (he shared his fears of that here and also announced his positive test on social, so I’m not breaking anything) and is confined to bed for the time being. If he gets to feeling better, maybe he can pen a more thorough column.
With the Cubs remaining as quiet as we knew they would, I’m going to focus instead on some topics that are at least mildly Cubs-adjacent. For the first of those, we turn to the South Side.
Sox knew about La Russa’s DUI
Replete as they are with talent and swagger, the White Sox are a team poised for bigger things. Ah, but they’ve got an old-school owner who took control of the hiring process for their next manager after firing Ricky Renteria when the Sox fell apart down the stretch and barely snuck into the playoffs. Enter Tony La Russa, the 76-year-old former manager who’s been out of the role for a decade.
It was evident from the start that Jerry Reinsdorf was responsible for this hire, a fact that became painfully obvious Monday night when it was revealed that La Russa had been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence near Phoenix this past February. Charges were filed on October 28, the day before the Sox officially announced La Russa as their manager, and a team spokesman confirmed they knew about the arrest prior to making the hire.
The fact that they were already aware of the DUI, which is La Russa’s second after an incident in 2007 when he was managing the Cardinals, means Reinsdorf was hellbent on hiring his buddy from the start. Bob Nightengale reported that a team official said the new manager will face no discipline stemming from this latest arrest, though he could face a whopping 10 days in jail if convicted.
This all just seems like an egregious abuse of power from ownership, made even worse by the fact that the White Sox are a fun, young team. Reinsdorf didn’t fail to read the room, he read it and then decided to thumb his nose at everyone anyway. I’m pissed off about this as a baseball fan and just a rational person, and I know Sox fans are up in arms.
Thoracic outlet syndrome could be less damning
There was a time when thoracic outlet syndrome surgery was a death sentence for pitchers. TOS occurs when blood vessels or nerves in the space between your collarbone and first rib — the thoracic outlet — are compressed, causing pain in your shoulders and neck and numbness in your fingers. There are multiple surgical options to alleviate these issues, including rib resection (the most common), balloon angioplasty, and scalenectomy.
None of those sound fun, particularly when you’re talking about removing a rib and/or some of the surrounding musculature. That isn’t necessarily something you’d associate with pitching at an elite level again, and it hasn’t been for the most part. As with any medical procedure, particularly those performed somewhat frequently on people who drive billion-dollar businesses, the success rate may be getting better.
Merrill Kelly of the Diamondbacks underwent TOS surgery in September and is expected to resume throwing later this month. Arizona felt good enough about his early progress to pick up his $4.25 million option for 2021, which is really saying something given all we know about the financial situation across baseball. Even with the good post-op reports and a relatively low salary, however, hoping for much next season might be a stretch.
Tyson Ross is another notable TOS veteran, but his results have been very spotty following 2016 surgery. MLB Trade Rumors lists the Royals’ Kyle Zimmer as a success story after his excellent performance in 2020, but that came four years after his surgery and represents an incredible improvement over what had been some abysmal performances. Matt Harvey is another who went on to pitch following TOS surgery in 2016, but he’s never been the same since.
That brings us back to Chris Archer, the former Cubs farmhand and longtime target of nostalgic fans, who was non-tendered by the Pirates after undergoing TOS surgery this past June. A previous piece on MLBTR named Archer the No. 50 free agent in this year’s class and had him going to the Cubs for $4 million, which seems like a stretch. Then again, it’s entirely possible he’ll be ready to go by the start of the season. Harvey had surgery in July of 2016 and made his next Mets start on April 6, 2017.
I still think a guaranteed deal is way too big a risk given how long it takes most pitchers to regain their form, but maybe a minor-league contract or a very small guarantee with incentives would work.
Blue Jays targeting stars
The Mets might not be the only big buyers this winter, as Toronto has emerged as a potential suitor for George Springer, Jackie Bradley Jr., and others. That also means they could be in the trade market for players who are earning sizable salaries. That may not directly impact the Cubs, but it’s possible we’ll be hearing the Jays mentioned as partners should the trade rumors start to pick up.
Sorry, that went longer than anticipated. Take care of yourselves out there, my friends.