White Sox right-hander Michael Kopech

Joe Camporeale/USA Today Sports

Spiegel: Kopech's Arrival A Unique Cookie

Michael Kopech's promotion is well-timed for hopeful White Sox fans.

Matt Spiegel
August 20, 2018 - 12:04 pm
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(670 The Score) In the spring of 2014, I was in Mesa for a glorious couple of days at the then-brand new Cubs spring training facility. The baseball boss was asked that day on our radio show about how the fans wanted "a cookie." Javier Baez was briefly pictured as a snickerdoodle. The boss groaned with polite exasperation and took the metaphor further.

"I’m shaking my head at the notion that we should make baseball decisions based on the notion that we should give our fans cookies," Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said back then. "We’re cooking the whole meal. We want to give them an annual feast. The only way to make fans happy is to give them pennant races and October baseball on an annual basis."

Since that moment, whenever a rebuilding team has the option of bringing up a prospect who has seemingly checked all the boxes, they get talked about as cookies. Outfielder Eloy Jimenez and right-hander Michael Kopech of the White Sox have been the most delicious ones recently in Chicago’s baseball conversation.   

The prevailing logical thought was that the final box to be checked would be when the MLB service time of Jimenez and Kopech worked to the club’s advantage. The White Sox would wait until the early part of next season to have them up, which would allow team control for both of tthem through 2025, instead of 2024.

Because seven years is more than six, as my colleague Barry Rozner reminds us relentlessly. 

But not all cookies are created equally. 

You know this, because you like your chocolate chip delights one of three ways. Me, I’m all about the thin and crispy.

Kopech is coming, pitching on the South Side in his debut Tuesday evening, and it makes all the sense in the world. 

Baseball prospects deserve to come up at different times, and to deny the value of each big league promotion individually based purely on future negotiating logic isn't good business. 

First of all, Kopech is a pitcher. Jimenez is not. Kopech's career arc and league-wide value could explode along with his elbow on any pitch at any moment. Seven is still more than six, but a starting pitcher’s fate and contractual reality is usually decidedly obvious by three or four.

Consider the advantages of Kopech arriving now, and pit them against the future negotiating logic alone.

Kopech has clearly earned it, improving his control dramatically over the course of the Triple-A season, resulting in this absurdly dominant stretch over his last seven starts: 44 innings, nine earned runs allowed, 59 strikeouts and four walks.

Numbers aside, he has learned what it takes to get the most out of his remarkable arm.

That’s a kind of maturation some big-armed studs never reach. 

Kopech and other prospects can work with faith that when they indeed appear to be ready, they will be rewarded. This has been true for every step of the minor league journey. The White Sox have now added the final jump.

It's all worth reminding that this is an ENTERTAINMENT business. The White Sox have a notorious attendance problem. They have a an interest-generation problem. They have a passionate core fan base that has bought into the big picture, some of whom yearn for a glimpse of what they’ve been assured will come. 

It's OK for the public and immediate financial aspect of a prospect promotion to be valued, folks. It shouldn’t be served above all else, but to deny it as a factor is being willfully delusional. And when the decision to promote is made, a good organization must be ready to take advantage in every possible way. 

News of Kopech's promotion arrived around 2 p.m. Sunday. By about noon Monday, the White Sox had already sold several thousand more tickets for Tuesday's game, senior vice president of communications Scott Reifert told me. Reifert called that number of ticket sales for a Sunday night and Monday morning "pretty remarkable."

"As Rick (Hahn) has said, the Kopech decision is all based on his development and teams long-term direction," Reifert said. "It’s just fun when baseball decisions — which always come first — can be aligned with the communications/marketing front."

On Sunday, as the Kopech news broke in the middle of a ballgame, his jerseys suddenly appeared in all the stores at Guaranteed Rate Field. 

It was an example of the White Sox's marketing department being ready.

"We did take the step some time ago in preordering Kopech jerseys for the eventuality — whenever it occurred — of his coming up," Reifert said. "We did not place them out for sale until yesterday’s announcement."

Now we’re all picturing boxes of Jimenez White Sox jerseys in a closet somewhere, but that speculation wasn't confirmed or denied.

White Sox social media had an announcement video prepped for Kopech, and it's now their pinned tweet. 

"Same with the Twitter announcement," Reifert continued. "Our digital team does a great job and has built several of these for use whenever the time arrives. It’s all about generating fun and excitement for our fans."

A Tuesday night home game in the dog days of August is now appointment viewing -- or appointment attending.

The 2018 White Sox haven't prioritized winning at the big league level, sensibly. The painful, ugly moments have demanded perspective to ward off the "out of town stupid."

If you’re among the patient ones, maybe you were even ready to not see Kopech until next April.

Enjoy this cookie. You’ve earned it. 

Follow Matt Spiegel on Twitter @MattSpiegel670. For more from and about Matt, visit www.mattspiegel.com.​​