This has been a disaster season for the Chicago White Sox. Rather than bounce back from last year's 81-81 finish to contend for an AL Central title, the White Sox have baseball's fourth-worst record at 45-68, and they had to sell at the trade deadline. Jake Burger, Lucas Giolito, Kendall Graveman, Joe Kelly, Lance Lynn, and others were .
Also traded at the deadline: Keynan Middleton. The righty reliever was a nice find on a minor-league contract and the White Sox were able to flip him to the New York Yankees for a pitching prospect. From the sound of things, Middleton is happy to escape Chicago. He ripped the White Sox's team culture over the weekend. Here's what Middleton told ESPN:
"We came in with no rules," Middleton said. "I don't know how you police the culture if there are no rules or guidelines to follow because everyone is doing their own thing. Like, how do you say anything about it because there are no rules?
"You have rookies sleeping in the bullpen during the game. You have guys missing meetings. You have guys missing PFPs (pitcher fielding practices), and there are no consequences for any of this stuff."
Multiple sources, who corroborated Middleton's account to ESPN, said a pitcher was seen napping during games as well as skipping fielding practice.
For what it's worth, Lynn backed up Middleton: "I was there a lot longer than Key was. He's not wrong," Lynn told the Los Angeles Times on Monday.
The White Sox have used seven rookie pitchers this season, though one was not called up until after Middleton was traded (Lane Ramsey) and four others appeared in no more than five games (Declan Cronin, Edgar Navarro, Nicholas Padilla, Sammy Peralta). Gregory Santos and Jesse Scholtens have been Chicago's two rookie pitcher mainstays this year.
Regardless of who was sleeping in the bullpen and skipping PFPs, Middleton's corroborated story paints a picture of a team lacking discipline, which reflects worse on management and the coaching staff than the players. Boys will be boys. It's on first-year manager Pedro Grifol, his coaching staff, GM Rick Hahn, and the rest of the front office to build a culture of professionalism and accountability. Clearly that has not happened. In related news, the White Sox are one of the worst teams in the sport.
"Showing up was dark in Chicago this year. It wasn't very much fun most of the time. Just to be here in a different environment, different atmosphere, don't have to worry about the BS," Middleton told the New York Post about being with the Yankees over the weekend. "... This is a team that's going for a playoff spot, and they're trying to fight to get there. It's been a long season. It's been kind of dark, not too much to play for at times."
Middleton will return to Chicago this week when the Yankees open a three-game series with the White Sox on Monday night at Guaranteed Rate Field. New York is 58-54 and 4.5 games out of a wild-card spot.