The White Sox organization and fans need to send their best care packages to one Drake LaRoche.
In one of the stranger stories you’ll hear in baseball Adam LaRoche, Drake’s father, decided to retire after executive vice president Kenny Williams asked him to stop bringing his son around the team with such frequency, which was practically every game including on the road.
Drake apparently had his own locker next to his father and would clean cleats and other various activities. Williams noted that this wasn’t about Drake himself, but rather setting a precedent for other players to follow, citing that in no other profession can you bring your child with you to work every day.
But this hasn’t played out too well in the clubhouse and obviously not with LaRoche himself.
Drake was practically a mainstay and supposedly none of the players had enough of a problem with him that they felt like he couldn’t be there. Ace Chris Sale “lit up” Williams in a reportedly heated discussion, saying that he needs to stay out of the clubhouse.
In fact, the players were ready to boycott a spring training game, but manager Robin Ventura pleaded his case, citing his job security as the reason why the players should continue. Last year when LaRoche signed with the club, he made it clear with Kenny Williams that he wanted to bring his then 14-year old son every day and Williams relented. So to that extent, the players understandably feel like Kenny went back on his word.
From the outside looking in, however, it’s really difficult to side with LaRoche for a few reasons.
The first is that the clubhouse is not a day care.
There are grown men there trying to do a job, how ever childlike that job may be in the form of playing a game for a living, and adding a young, impressionable kid to the mix certainly isn’t ideal. While again, the players didn’t seem to have much of an issue with him, you can’t deny that they’d have to walk on eggshells with what they can or cannot say, do, listen to, etc.
The second is that bringing his teenage son every day just isn’t practical.
Now I’m not one to tell people what to do with their children, especially seeing that I’m not a father but LaRoche loses this argument big time. He said that he’s “not too big on school” and that his son “will learn useful information in the clubhouse versus school.” This screams white privilege to me in that Adam seems to think second of his son’s education.
LaRoche might be right that his son will learn more life lessons being around working grown men, but that’s as a supplement rather than the entire extent of his education.
This isn’t like the 40’s or 50’s where a kid could survive without a college or even high school level education and work his way up somewhere. The reality is that a bachelor’s degree is starting to become more and more equivalent to a high school diploma.
Maybe Drake is a baseball player himself like his father, and his father is trying to prepare him for the big leagues. But even in that case, he’s doing his son a disservice by not allowing him to be around his peers and be in school to get his education.
LaRoche should know how difficult it is to get to the major leagues and how hard the average player has to toil through the minor league systems in order to make it to the 25-man roster. Look, I understand not liking school – I’m a college student, I don’t think anyone here would be in class more than they’d have to.
But school is more than just the Pythagorean theorem, y-intercept equation, and other various equations that one may or may not use in their lifetime. It’s also the ability to problem solve in an controlled environment, critical thinking skills and learning how to get things done in a timely manner.
If it’s 9’clock on a Friday night and you have a paper due at 11:59, you pretty much have to do all three at the same time. I understand that high school might be a little bit less intense than college, but it’s this type of environment that Drake is missing because of his father’s wishes.
Finally it’s hard to agree with Adam LaRoche because, frankly, he sucked last year. Like, badly. His batting average (.207), on-base percentage (.293), slugging percentage (.340), home runs (12) and RBIs (44) were all career worsts minimum 100 games. He failed to be the left-handed power threat behind Jose Abreu that he was billed to be and was wholly forgettable in his one-year stint with the South Siders.
To put it bluntly, if he hit .270 with 25 home runs, 85 RBI and an on base percentage around .340, like he did in 2008 as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates, I’m fairly certain that Kenny Williams would’ve said absolutely nothing to LaRoche.
But he didn’t, and Williams did. Now, maybe Kenny misjudged the effect of Drake on Adam; this isn’t new for the LaRoche’s apparently, as they did the same thing with the Nationals. But it’s easy to see how Kenny Williams could come to the conclusion that he did.
So Williams asked LaRoche to take it down a notch or two and LaRoche balked, opting to retire instead (wonder who Jr. is going to learn those essential life lessons from now?). Now the White Sox are free of $13 million in the process, though they need to find a suitable DH and backup for Jose Abreu.
But at least this year, they have some options.
Adam Eaton isn’t fully back yet from shoulder surgery and looks to get some time as a designated hitter in order to keep his bat in the lineup. Right fielderAvisail Garcia will undoubtedly get some time there as he tries to bounce back from an extremely disappointing year last year. Veterans Jimmy Rollins and Todd Frazier will probably see a few days at designated hitter for maintenance days.
Swiss Army knife Tyler Saladino might see some time at first base on the days that Abreu needs some rest and it’ll be interesting to see if the Sox get third base prospect Matt Davidson some time at first while the team is still in training camp.
With Mike Olt flaming out horrendously and now the departure of LaRoche, Davidson is a dark horse pick to sneak onto the Sox roster as a power bat off the bench, though again, he’d see the majority of his time at first, barring major and multiple injuries.
One player I’d have my eye on and make some calls about if I were the White Sox is Dan Vogelbach of the Chicago Cubs. Here’s a quick write up of him from MLB.com:
“Vogelbach is more than just a one-dimensional masher, however. He controls the strike zone, makes consistent contact and uses the entire field, so he should hit for a solid average while providing plus power. He has yet to fully tap into his pop, though he’s also still just 22.”
Vogelbach’s path is currently blocked by All-Star and mainstay, Anthony Rizzo, and therefore is a prime candidate to be traded, especially to the American League where his questionable defense could be hidden in a DH role.
On the Sox, you could conceivably get him 90 games at DH and around 15 at first to spell Jose Abreu, with the remaining games at DH filled in by an Eaton/Garcia/Frazier/Rollins combo, with Eaton and Garcia taking the lion share of the at-bats.
Vogelbach probably wouldn’t cost more than Chris Beck and a MLB level reliever from the White Sox (maybe a touch more), but it’s not as if the Sox don’t have pitching prospects to work with.
As far as LaRoche, he gets to go out as a martyr – as least in the eyes of his teammates are concerned apparently – and he gets to spend more time with his family.
If you ask me, that sounds like a win-win for all parties involved.