You could probably find 99 derivatives of the word bad to describe the White Sox 2013 campaign.
White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham described a season that began with hopes of reaching the postseason and ended with 99 losses — the final on Sunday was a 4-1 loss to the Kansas City Royals — as constantly being in a state of turmoil. Beckham echoed his manager Robin Ventura, who often said things could always be worse only for the team to reach another low.
The White Sox found myriad ways to lose games in 2013: blown leads by the bullpen, not enough offense, not enough pitching, errors galore, runners picked off to end games, even pop ups that dropped in between colliding infielders. The White Sox seemed to discover them all.
“It’s how we lost,” Beckham said. “The way we lost games was tough. It was worse than losing a lot of games because of how we lost. It felt like we ripped our hearts out once or twice a week. Everybody to our credit has played hard and wanted to win, it just didn’t happen.”
What did occur was a season Ventura described as the most difficult in a 25-year professional career.
The White Sox got out to a slow start as John Danks started the season on the disabled list and Beckham joined him soon thereafter. Gavin Floyd only made five starts before he needed reconstructive elbow surgery.
Still the White Sox rallied to even their record at 24-24 with a May sweep of the Miami Marlins. But it quickly went downhill as the White Sox lost eight in a row and 10 of 11 overall. By the time that stretch ended, Jake Peavy had also hit the DL for six weeks with a fractured rib.
Since then the White Sox had losing streaks of 10 and nine games and they finished with a franchise-high 55 road losses this season. The White Sox also went 2-17 against the Cleveland Indians, including 14 straight losses.
“Everybody in this clubhouse could benefit from having a couple weeks off, a couple months off, just to shut it down from baseball and not think about anything,” closer Addison Reed said. “For the last month it has been kind of tough because we were out of it. … Even playing this many games back is better than a lot of other things I can think of, but its still definitely tougher to play.”
As much as Ventura wants to forget the season, he wants his players and his staff to take some of the disappointment home with them.
“When you start working out again, remember what this tastes like, because it's not a lot of fun,” Ventura said. “And I think as far as preparing, getting ready for a new year and coming in, it's, understand you don't want to go through this again. What your commitment level is and what you're willing to do will show during spring training.”
As if the losses aren’t enough motivation, general manager Rick Hahn has shown he won’t stand by idly.
Hitting coach Jeff Manto was the latest casualty as he was fired on Saturday night. Prior to Manto’s departure, Peavy, Alex Rios, Jesse Crain and Matt Thornton were all traded to contending teams.
Beckham expects the overhaul to continue into the offseason.
“There has to be changes,” Beckham said. “Whether or not it’s top to bottom, you have to look in the mirror and see what you have to do better. Rick is really smart. He has a plan, I’m sure of it. It’s not his fault or the coaches’ fault. The guys on the field didn’t get it done.”
Ventura agrees more change would appear to be on the way. He knows he and Hahn have a busy offseason ahead. As of now, the only player certain to be on the South Side next season is Chris Sale.
“When you have a season like this, you're willing to open up and hold court,” Ventura said. “There's a fair chance of anything. I think Chris starting Opening Day is about the most solid thing you're going to get right now.”