Tag Archives: Todd Frazier

White Sox Send Jennings to Rays, Call Up Bummer

Another day, another trade on the South Side.

As part of the White Sox’s effort to continue their swift rebuild plans, the club moved yet another piece on Thursday morning in reliever Dan Jennings. He was sent to the Tampa Bay Rays for OF Casey Gillaspie, brother of former White Sox third baseman, Conor. Gillaspie is a switch-hitting first baseman who was the Tampa Bay Rays No. 10 prospect according to MLB.com. He has hit .227 with 15 doubles, nine home runs and 44 RBIs in Triple-A Durham this season.

Gillaspie is on the DL after breaking his big toe on Tuesday and will be placed on the DL by Charlotte. The injury should only sideline Gillespie one or two weeks.

With this move, Jennings became the fourth reliever traded by the White Sox in just eight days.

“You know that term ‘sellers’ is thrown around a lot,” Jennings said before Wednesday’s game. “And you never want to think of it that way, because whoever is here whoever that may be, is going to do everything in their power to win every game despite the situation.”

Jennings certainly had some noticeable trepidation in his voice as he spoke to the media less than 24 hours prior to the trade and for good reason. He was next in the line of falling dominos of this aggressive rebuild process.

Jake Petricka, the only reliever left who was on the White Sox Opening Day roster, spoke on the situation.

“Up here, no,“ Petricka said when asked if he’d ever seen such quick bullpen turnaround. “In the minors, yes. I mean there goes those phases when the new draftees come in and faces turnover but, it’s a little different up here. But again it’s a good thing and a bad thing.”

Unlike Todd Frazier, Tommy Kahnle, and David Robertson, Jennings was not afforded final words with his teammates before he departed to his new team. “No, that was through text message,” Petricka said of his goodbyes to Jennings. “It’s one of those things, like I said, you wait for that call and then you get it and you’re gone. Unless you’re in the locker room like Todd and Tommy and D-Rob were, we don’t really get a chance to say goodbye to them, which makes it kind of hard but it’s the nature of the business.”

Jennings pitched 44.1 innings this season with the White Sox to the tune of a 2.45 ERA and struggled with the long ball this season; he gave up six home runs and held a 24 percent HR/FB rate. Guaranteed Rate Field being a friendly hitters ballpark likely contributed to the Jennings’ struggle with fly balls leaving the yard.

Despite the somber atmosphere surrounding the clubhouse after losing two games in a row to the Cubs, as well as a handful of teammates, the mood was anything but somber for new reliever Aaron Bummer. Bummer was called up to the majors from Charlotte for the first time in his career to take Jennings’ place in the bullpen.

“I was getting food last night in Charlotte and Steve McCatty came over and grabbed me, took me out of the food line into our manager’s office,” Bummer said of when he was informed of the call up. “He told me what was happening, and I just sat there with a dumbfounded smile on my face, not really knowing what to expect, just spitting out gibberish. It’s a moment I’ll never forget. I thank the White Sox and everybody for this opportunity.”

Bummer, wide eyed and bushy-tailed, stated how exciting this moment was for him and his family.

“My parents were sleeping and woke up right away and they bought a plane ticket for tonight,” Bummer said. “The next person I called was my girlfriend and she started bawling immediately. So it was a whole bundle of emotions for all of us. It was an awesome experience.”

Bummer, who has put together a 2.84 ERA between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte, said that Jennings was a mentor for him during the time that they spent together in Spring Training.

“One of the guys who helped me out a lot was Dan Jennings,” Bummer said before Thursday’s game. “It’s kind of bittersweet to know it was a give and take. He kind of took me under his wing a little bit and learned the routine. He was a real big help for me and it’s one of those things I take a lot of pride in that routine.”

Making your Major League debut despite the state of the club you’re coming to is still an experience, and it isn’t short of a small case of the nerves for Bummer. “The sooner we get to this debut, I’ll be a little bit more at ease and things will be a little bit easier.” Bummer said.

While the White Sox rebuild is beginning to hit it’s stride as the trade deadline approaches, today was anything but a “bummer” for the White Sox new young reliever.

White Sox Send Frazier, Robertson, Kahnle to Yankees; Call up Moncada

Out with the old, in with the new.

That’s certainly the phrase for the White Sox on Tuesday as they turned over their lineup, sending veterans Todd Frazier, David Robertson, and breakout reliever Tommy Kahnle to the Yankees in return for Tyler Clippard and three prospects while also announcing that Yoan Moncada will be called up to join the Major League club for Wednesday’s game against the Dodgers at Guaranteed Rate Field.

The White Sox will deplete their bullpen by dealing away Robertson and Kahnle, but shore up the loss by adding Tyler Clippard in what will likely be the closing role. Clippard has struggled with the Yankees this season, with a walk rate of 4.71 per nine and a HR/FB percentage of 14.6. Clippard is currently striking out 10.40 batter per nine.

The return the White Sox received from the Bronx included outfielder Blake Rutherford, the No. 3 prospect in the Yankees system, left-hander Ian Clarkin and outfielder Tito Polo.

The centerpiece of this deal is certainly 20-year-old Blake Rutherford. “Blake is a guy who was very high on our draft boards,” Hahn said of Rutherford. “We debated him right up through our pick last year.” Rutherford is the No. 36 prospect overall according to MLB.com. “I don’t like putting comps on players but we do view him as having an extremely high ceiling and a guy who when we start looking around at Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert and Yoan Moncada. He fits into that potential mold of a potential high-impact offensive player who potentially can also help you defensively,” Hahn said. Rutherford hit .281 while with the Yankees Class A Charleston team.

Ian Clarkin, 22, was ranked as the Yankees No. 19 prospect according to MLB.com and was in Class A Tampa where he had a 2.62 ERA over 75 IP with 58 strikeouts. He comes with a long injury history but has a good mix of pitches that include an above-average breaking ball and a fringe-average changeup that could be interesting in use as a long reliever if Clarkin doesn’t make the starting rotation in the future. The White Sox have a long track record of keeping their pitching healthy, so perhaps the injuries are not a major concern for the organization.

Tito Polo, 22, was the mystery fourth piece in the deal. “Tito Polo is a center fielder who has gotten off to a torrid start in CF,” Hahn said. “He can run a little bit and swing.” Polo came to the Yankees in August of 2016 as the player to be named later in the Ivan Nova trade with Pittsburgh. Polo was a resident at both High-A Tampa and Double A Trenton in the Yankees system this season, where he hit nearly .300 between the two affiliates and had an OBP of .365 in Double A.

It was nothing short of an exciting day on the South Side with the Dodgers being in town and rolling out Clayton Kershaw, the addition of more prospects to bulk up their flourishing minor league system and, oh, let’s not forget about Moncada. He’ll be on the South Side on Wednesday.

White Sox Weekly (06-25-2017) Part 2

Connor McKnight hosts PART 2 of this week’s White Sox Weekly. We re-live the Mark Buehrle #56 retirement ceremony, with speeches from Sox TV Play by Play announcer Hawk Harrelson, Pitching Coach Don Cooper, White Sox Hall Of Famer Frank Thomas, and of course Mark Buehrle himself. We also listen back to a conversation between Buehrle, and the White Sox Radio Broadcast Team Ed Farmer, and Darrin Jackson. Connor keeps us up to date with the status of White Sox Pitcher Carlos Rodon, with Rodon’s own comments about coming back to the big leagues, as well as Manager Ricky Renteria’s pre-game comments about Rodon’s return to the White Sox starting rotation.

White Sox Hot Corner Picks Up Steam

It’s finally happened. The moment all White Sox fans have been waiting for. No, not Carlos Rodon making his season debut. Or Yoan Moncada being called up to the majors. Alright, so maybe not everyone is waiting for it, but it still happened — Todd Frazier got his batting average above .200 this season.

The 31 year-old third baseman known for his home run hitting prowess has been the subject of quite a bit of concern due to his abysmal numbers beginning the final season of his two-year contract with the White Sox.

But things are on the upswing. Currently, Frazier is sporting a line of .222/.327/.438 with the second highest ISO on the White Sox (min. 200 PA) at .216—just behind Avisail Garcia. All this looks a lot better for Frazier than it did say, about a week ago.

The interesting thing to pick up on here is that while Frazier is maintaining an average OBP this season, his BABIP is sitting at just .237—the lowest on the team by nearly 50 points. That indicates that Frazier has had a lot of balls fall in places that make for some pretty bad luck so far this season and yet he’s still maintaining a healthy enough OBP considering the fact.

The reason for that? Frazier is walking a ton. He’s walking at a 13.4 percent clip, nearly four percentage points higher than any other year of his career and the highest on the White Sox just behind Omar Narvaez (although you could consider them tied, seeing as they’re separated by .1 percentage points).

“The average isn’t there, but if I had this batting average with a .250 on-base percentage, I’d be worried,” Frazier said of his low batting average yet defendable OBP. “But I have an approach that works for me and, eventually, once it clicks, it’s going to be pretty good.”

So what’s the difference maker been for Frazier? It’s definitely walks, but how is he suddenly tightening up his plate approach seven years into his major league career?

“I’m seeing a lot more pitches for the first time in my career,” Frazier said of his approach. “It’s good. It means I’m not swinging at that many balls, staying in my zone.”

His plate discipline numbers certainly back up that claim. Take a look at the difference in the numbers simply from 2016 to 2017:

O-Swing%

Z-Swing%

Swing%

SwStr%

2016

31.9

64.5

46.8

12.5

2017

24.2

63.6

42.5

9.5

Quite the difference. Frazier is swinging outside the zone less and swinging less overall than he did last season. Let’s now take a look at how that’s effected his contact rates:

O-Contact%

Z-Contact%

Contact%

2015

58.4

81.8

73.2

2016

63.8

82.8

77.2

In a single word: positively. Though he’s swinging at fewer pitches outside the strike zone by far, he’s making more contact on those pitches and more contact overall. He’s just not being handed a ton of luck on those pitches, which is well-illustrated by his extremely unfortunate BABIP.

Things should be picking up for the slugger; this type of bad luck is only sustainable for so long. Should Frazier pick it up soon, he could become trade bait for a team looking for a push at the deadline. With just over half a season left on his contract, however, combined with his age and his declining skill set, it’s not likely Frazier will bring a lot back in a trade. Though he’s showing the ability to be proactive and work with what he has at the plate, that doesn’t mean that Frazier will turn back into a perennial All-Star or Home Run Derby champ again.

For now, Frazier’s value lies in his ability to get on base, hit home runs (he’s tied for the team lead), and bring a bounty of character and leadership to the ever changing and very youthful landscape of the Chicago White Sox clubhouse. Those thing are all worth keeping Frazier around for.

The Only Yolmer in the Game

Yolmer Sanchez has been a killer on the auto correct of many a White Sox beat writer since day one of Spring Training. Yolmer (whose name my auto correct wants to change to Holmer) is the only Yolmer to have ever played Major League Baseball. Yolmer is an up-beat, positive guy in the clubhouse. He seems to always call people “my friend,” whether he knows their name or not. Yolmer has been a favorite of White Sox manager Ricky Renteria since the latter took the job… and possibly even before. It’s possible it’s because of the former’s personality but, more likely, because of his production.

Yolmer (I’m going to buck convention and keep using his first name in this post so as to teach my auto correct a lesson) has been an everyday player since April 25th. The Sox have played 22 games over that stretch and Yolmer has started 15 and played in 19. Over the 61 at bats he’s accrued in that run, he’s slashing .361/.412/.475.

Two immediate issues have allowed for Yolmer to take the bulk of the playing time since the April showers turned to… well… May showers.

One: The White Sox have been desperate for left handed production in the lineup. As a switch hitter, Yolmer provides in that department. Renteria has hit Yolmer mostly in the two- or seven-spot in the lineup and, while the Sox really could use a left hander who’s a middle-of-the-order thumper, it’s worked out well.

Two: Tyler Saladino, despite taking the second longest average at-bats for the White Sox this year (4.45 pitches per plate appearance, a rate that would be good for a top-five placement in MLB if he was qualified with enough PAs), hasn’t been able to put the ball in play enough. Saladino has walked plenty (13 walks is second on the team, behind Omar Narvaez and Todd Frazier) but his 34 strikeouts (also good for third on the team, behind Matt Davidson and Tim Anderson) have been too much to bear.

That brings us to the tipping point, perhaps, on Yolmer. He hasn’t walked a whole lot—just six times in 99 trips—but his 21 K’s are somewhat concerning. That Yolmer likes to swing isn’t a bad thing in a vacuum, it’s just that the White Sox have plenty of hitters who fit that description.

While the White Sox wait for Yoan Moncada (heir to the keystone and potential usurper of Most Popular White Sox Whose First Name Starts With A ‘Y’) it will be interesting to see how quickly Renteria shuffles his options at second base.

My Right Arm for a Lefty Bat

Over the course of the White Sox six-game losing streak, runs have been tough to come by. No kidding, right? That’s what makes a losing streak. Still even when the White Sox have clicked, there’s been a glaring deficiency: A lefty bat.

Friday night against Jhoulys Chacin, the White Sox two-through-six hitters were all right handed. Chacin, also, is right handed. The White Sox entered the game hitting .218 off right handed pitching–last in the league. The White Sox two-through-six went 2-15 with one walk and three strikeouts against right handed pitching. The White Sox could really use a lefty bat.

That’s not so say they don’t have just such bats. After starting hot with two doubles in the season opener and steady work through April, it’s been a rough May for Melky Cabrera. Melky (who’s obviously a switch hitter) has much better numbers against right handers (.256/.308/.341) this year than left handers (.182/.250/.273) but neither slash line really jumps off the page. That such a veteran and versatile bat has been cold to start the year has been tough for the Sox to swallow. Good news is Melky is hardly striking out. Perhaps it’s just a run of the mill slump. After a putting up a .289/.429/.667 slash line in Spring Training, Cody Asche looked like he might give the White Sox some of the balance they needed. At least he’d be counted on to give a competitive at-bat in a platoon split with Matt Davidson in the corner/DH role but Asche’s struggles have been mighty and lengthy. Yolmer Sanchez gives a bit of pop off the bench and in situational roles but the switch-hitting, sawed-off utility man is buried behind Tyler Saladino and Tim Anderson in the middle of the infield and, Matt Davidson and Todd Frazier at third.

Omar Narvaez has been productive, but in a very unsurprising way. His .377 OBP is second on the team (Avisail Garcia is first at .382) but he simply doesn’t hit for power. Don’t get me wrong, a .260 average and a .380 on-base is just fine for a backstop but it seems the plan all along was to have Narvaez work in a time share with Geovany Soto (now Kevan Smith with Soto on the DL for the second time). That plan, too, makes sense as Narvaez has just 388 plate appearances above high A ball with 183 of those coming in The Show. How nuts is that? Kind of makes you look at ‘ol Omar (he’s 25) in a different light.

Which brings us to another switch hitter: Leury Garcia. The Middle Garcia. After plugging two home runs in Friday night’s loss to the Padres, the Median Garcia is hitting .304/.343/.489. It gives him the second highest average, the third highest on-base, and the third highest slugging percentage on the White Sox this year. Leury the Middlemost has never hit for power. Ever. His career slugging percentage in the minor leagues is .275 though, to be fair, he did hit the crap out of the ball in the 2011 Arizona Fall League (.361/.379/.590). Right now, past be damned, Leury might be the most intriguing player on the White Sox. He just turned 26. He can handle at least three and possibly up to six positions at major-league average caliber. He has raked. His strikeout rate, which was at 27 percent all through his minor league career and 33 percent in all of his major league time, is at 14 percent this year. Fourteen percent! That’s in the DJ LeMahieu-Francisco Lindor-Ian Kinsler-Anthony Rizzo range.

I have no idea if Leury can rise above the Mean and become Leury the… well… other meaning of mean. Odds are, no, he can’t keep up this kind of production. But, hell, every early-season column ends up with that same conclusion and that’s absolutely no fun. So, for now, enjoy what we’re watching and just maybe the White Sox have helped Leury elevate from the middle ground.

Fear Not Joy, Baseball Fans

Chicago White Sox’ Matt Davidson celebrates his solo home run off Minnesota Twins relief pitcher Ryan Pressly as he heads to the dugout during the seventh inning of a baseball game Friday, April 14, 2017, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

By Connor McKnight

Don’t fret over dingers.

That’s the best advice I can give you after two weeks of baseball
I’ll explain.
Whether it’s in phone calls to the Post Game Show or tweets to the Mailbag, there have been some White Sox fans worrying themselves over quality production from Avisail Garcia and/or Matt Davidson. Both players, it seems, come with their own, individual hang-ups. I’ll see if I can describe them to you.
“But Garcia has ALWAYS been streaky! He’s been through weeks like this before where he looks like the second coming and then, all of a sudden, he turns into empty at-bats and all the swing and miss you can handle. Why should I be excited about him now?”
For Davidson, it’s a bit different: “Sure, a .909 slugging percentage is wonderful but what about that 50% strikeout rate? There’s no way he’s worth getting hyped over.”
Early baseball does weird things to everyone. My best advice, though admittedly it’s probably more patronizing than you’d like, is to not worry about it. Just let yourself enjoy it for a little bit. Let the weirdness of the small sample size wash over you, secure in the knowledge that a month from now, we’ll have numbers attached to players that firmly constitute their worth and tell us exactly what we’ve been dying to know for months… probably.
There’s no mistaking the fact that the White Sox have, by and large, pitched themselves to right around the .500 mark. The bullpen has been fantastic and holding slim leads while the Sox starters have only once taken a game into the seventh inning (Jose Quintana’s second start of the year). The offense hasn’t exactly achieved the “feast or famine” cliche–even in low scoring games, the Sox have gotten runners on to threaten. It has, however, lived and died on the power bats of three players; Garcia, Davidson and Geovany Soto. With Soto on the DL with elbow inflammation, the list gets thinner. Still, my advice is revel in the little things.
For instance on Friday night, Davidson, facing Ryan Pressly’s 97 mph heater, looked absolutely lost through four pitches. Pressly had thrown a clean first inning, striking out two, and looked in command of his breaking stuff and the fastball. Davidson tipped the first pitch, a 93 mph fastball foul. The second, another fastball, perfectly hit the low and away corner of the strike zone for strike two. Davidson, now 0-2, managed to lay off pitch high and away that could have easily been called strike three. It wasn’t, and by the grace of the baseball gods, Davidson would see another pitch. The fourth, a curveball low and away, was a waste-pitch that anyone could have seen coming. Davidson took and prepared for the 2-2. Mind you, he hasn’t seemed comfortable, taken a quality swing or had a quality take all at-bat. The closest things got were knowing on 1-2, after three straight fastballs, a breaking ball was coming.
The fifth pitch of the at-bat was a belt-high 90 mph slider that did anything but. Davidson pounced, rode it out to right field, and gave the Sox the 2-1 lead.
Watching Davidson, strikeout problems and all, hang in an at-bat he seemingly had no right to be in and STILL drive a mistake pitch out of the ball park is a blast. It can be for you, too.
I don’t mean to just whistle Dixie. It would be nice to see Tim Anderson lower his sights some and lay off the high fastball. Todd Frazier seemed to just start taking quality hacks before food poisoning took him (and his lunch) from where they were supposed to be. Tyler Saladino has had some incredibly patient at bats but has yet to be completely rewarded for solid contact. Jacob May is yet to get a hit.
These are things you’re right to want to turn around and smart to keep an
Connor McKnight is the pre- and post-game host for Chicago White Sox baseball on WLS-AM 890. He also hosts White Sox Live, a weekend radio podcast .

Opening Day is Upon Us

When the White Sox hit the field to start the 2017 season at Guaranteed Rate, the wait for baseball will be over. There will be more waiting, however, as rumors of franchise altering trades have persisted through spring.

Pieces of the organization’s future will certainly be seen. The Sox anointed Tim Anderson as a franchise short stop with a long term extension. When he’s healthy, Carlos Rodon will work to prove himself an Ace.
Others, like Jose Quintana, Todd Frazier, Melky Cabrera and David Robertson, are ties to the past with clear impact on the future. When and if the veterans are traded, the analysis of the prospect haul will begin anew. So far, the players received from the Red Sox and Nationals in the Chris Sale and Adam Eaton trades have gone through a fairly typical national reception.
First, the hauls were lauded. Then, expectations were tempered by the Sox front office with GM Rick Hahn telling all who would listen that prospects would be given time to grow in the minors. Call-up dates were pondered and calendar dates circled by fans and press. Prospects were reevaluated after spring training performances that may or may not mean anything.
It’s baseball as usual.
The gravity of this season can’t be denied. The White Sox have laid out the path they’re on. There’s been no mincing of words. Watching minor league results and trade rumors will be as much a part of evaluating on field talent.
For our part, on the Post Game Show and White Sox Weekly, we know that’s where the focus will be. We’ll bring you updates from Charlotte, Birmingham, WInston-Salem, and Kannapolis. We’ll talk trade rumors and entertain trade ideas from fans.
While the business of rebuilding a franchise is a serious one, let’s not forget that baseball is fun and there’s fun to be had while a young team grows. We won’t discourage that.
So, Sox fans, through the cold (and rain?) of opening day through the trade deadline and barreling through the dog days of August, we want you involved with the broadcast here on WLS. The Sox have chosen to reshape the franchise and you can come along for the ride with us.

Plenty of PT for White Sox Prospects

White Sox top prospect Yoan Moncada makes his second start of the spring today against the Mariners. From the start of camp Manager Ricky Renteria has put Moncada and the rest of the high-end prospects in the White Sox newly loaded farm system front and center.

Moncada has five plate appearances, despite just the one start, catcher Zach Collins has five as well–with no starts yet. Adam Engel (who won the Arizona Fall League MVP in 2015 and someone White Sox fans should keep an eye out for) has had five trips to the plate as well. Engel also made one of the better plays in the outfield for the Sox so far this spring. Michael Kopech will start today’s game against the Mariners. Reynaldo Lopez gets the start in the other game (the Sox are using split squads today). Lucas Giolito made his debut against the World Series Champion Cubs on Monday. Zach Burdi was called on in the 9th inning of Sunday’s game to nail down the Sox first win.

There’s a lot of young talent and they’re getting run early.

While the playing time is plentiful for the youngins early on, it may not portend breaking camp with the team–or even an early call-up. The World Baseball Classic is making spring extra-long this year. The Sox also have a few injuries to projected regulars (Todd Frazier, Brett Lawrie and Charlie Tilson) which gives more opportunities. Further, forty percent of the White Sox rotation will work in the WBC–Jose Quintana will pitch for Columbia, Miguel Gonzalez for Mexico–while Nate Jones and David Robertson will both pitch for Team USA. Those pitchers are on a different schedule, altogether. Finally, Carlos Rodon has been backed up in an effort to keep him strong through the season.

Still, “Get ‘Em In Early” works pretty well as a motto for a team hungry to see what all the new (and existing) young talent is able to do. Perhaps the toughest task facing the kids, however, could be keeping things in stride. Knowing that their time in Big League Camp could be limited, it’s got to be tough to no try and hit three home runs in one swing or throw a fastball through the catcher. So far, the kids have impressed and that’ perhaps the most important part of the White Sox spring.

Bangs, Bruises and the A-OK: All the Latest from the White Sox

After opening Cactus League play with a 5-3 loss to the Dodgers, the morning before Game Two of Spring was spent catching up with some of the White Sox walking wounded. Fortunately for the Sox, none of the injured are all that banged up, and Spring Training is longer than usual this year due to the World Baseball Classic.

Let’s start with the banged up:

Todd Frazier– A side/oblique injury (he’s termed it as both over the last few days) has pushed him out of action. He hopes to resume baseball activity on Monday and doesn’t think the injury is all that serious.

Charlie Tilson– A stress reaction continues to sideline the could-be Sox centerfielder. Tilson seems understandably bummed by the problem (it’s his first spring where there’s a job he could easily win) but was prepared for a “set-back” type injury stemming from his hamstring pull last season. It’s a long road back but Tilson has extended runway this spring.

Brett Lawrie– He’s spoken to reporters twice this spring and updated them on his battle back from orthotics. He wore them for the first time last season, came down with a host of nebulous and migrating leg injuries, and hasn’t been back to 100% yet. Lawrie stressed there’s no lingering “soreness” but that he’s rehabbing to get “everything aligned properly.” It’s his contention that once he’s able to move around confidently, he’ll be back on the field.

I’m just fine, thanks:

Carlos Rodon– Is just fine, thank you. He hasn’t thrown much at all this spring but the 24-year old lefty reassured reporters that it’s all part of a plan to last deep into the season this year. Rodon said he has a live BP session coming up later this week before he gets into game action. It’s odd to think that Rodon, who’s thrown 304.1 MLB innings could be the ace of the White Sox staff before too long. Jose Quintana is the biggest piece on the trade block and, should the White Sox move him, it leaves Rodon as perhaps the most talented starter on the roster.

Ricky Renteria, Todd Frazier and the latest from White Sox Spring Training

White Sox manager Ricky Renteria got the press up to speed on how his camp is going and the status of third baseman Todd Frazier. While a strained said doesn’t seem to be a cause for alarm, Renteria stressed slowing Frazier down some and erring on the side of caution.

Frazier said his injury is in the oblique area and something he’s felt before. While he’s not too worried at present, he knows oblique strains can cost a significant amount of time. If you’re going to get hurt, do it early in Spring–there’s plenty of time to rest up.

So, while Frazier rests up and is day to day, the every day of Spring Training marches on. The White Sox haven’t yet announced their starting pitcher for the Cactus League Opener on February 25th against the Dodgers but, with Jose Quintana working to throw in the World Baseball Classic and Carlos Rodon on a very different spring diet than the rest of the starters, a good guess would be one of the younger guys with just a bit of big league experience. Carson Fulmer threw a live BP on Monday so perhaps the schedule works out that he takes the ball to open Spring for the White Sox.

Just a guess.

Saturday’s White Sox Weekly will be jam packed with interviews from Michael Kopech, Zach Putnam and GM Rick Hahn so make sure to tune in.

Stuff We Learned at SoxFest

The 26th Annual SoxFest this weekend was a blast and we learned stuff, too. After eleven and a half hours of radio, 18 interviews, and a panel or two we learned a few things about the White Sox, their players, and the organizations direction over the next few months.

Because everyone loves lists, we figured we’d write down a few things we learned. Some are big news, some are reminders, some are just goofy. Either way, here they are:

–Ricky Renteria will, in fact, go by “Ricky.” He’s had other nicknames throughout his career but he’s gone by Ricky for a while now. The new White Sox skipper made it official on the Steve Dahl Show, Friday. The manager is Ricky, the GM is Rick.

–Rick Hahn told Sox Fans during one of the panels that he had a trade fall through on Christmas Eve. Hahn declined to offer many details on the deal but did offer, “Many more [offers] die” than end up working out.

–Hahn maintained his stance that the Sox are still looking to make moves. Whether that’s the next Big One, like trading Jose Quintana, or moving other pieces like Todd Frazier or David Robertson, we’ll have to wait and see.

–Tim Anderson will wear No. 7 this year. He offered to buy new jersey’s for a some fans who’d bought the No. 12 jersey.

–Director of Amateur Scouting Nick Hosteler gave out a few nuggets concerning the 2016 draft. One being the White Sox would have taken Zack Collins (who they picked 10th overall) with the first pick had they had it.

–Hostetler also said that if Zack Burdi was off the board at 26, the White Sox were ready to take Alec Hansen. Turns out Burdi was there and they got Hansen with their next pick.

–Everyone in baseball is waiting with bated breath for the Free Agent class of 2018. Manny Machado, Bryce Harper, Josh Donaldson, Clayton Kershaw, Drew Smyly, Andrew Miller and more could all be had. Hahn said the White Sox have not ruled out making an investment two winters from now.

–Lucas Giolito is massive.

–Ricky Renteria uses lobster in his Queso Fundido. I will spend most of the season learning how to make it.

–Zack Burdi will work out of the bullpen.

–The White Sox made a large shift in draft strategy. They focused more on hitters with a control of the strike zone and pitchers with the ability to throw strikes.

–Renteria plans to rotate players through the DH spot and use it to get players off their feet when needed.

–Nate Jones will pitch for Team USA at the World Baseball Classic. He was put on the roster before being ‘officially’ notified. Said he was ridiculously excited when he found out.

Chris Sale Heads to Boston, White Sox Get Haul

The day after the 2016 season had ended, the White Sox called a press conference to announce Ricky Renteria as their new field manager. General Manager Rick Hahn was there to introduce Renteria and, in so doing, spelled out a few things about the coming off season and what it would bring for the organization. You’d be able to tell, he said, the direction of the club by the first big move they make.

Chris Sale is headed to Boston and a massive prospect haul is headed back to the White Sox.

The direction, it seems, is getting younger, deeper and better. Questions remain, of course, as to just how deep and thorough the seeming rebuild will be. As for the Red Sox, they’re getting one of the best pitchers in baseball. In his seven years with the White Sox, Sale both made the All Star team and finished in the top six of the Cy Young voting each year he was a member of the White Sox rotation. A voracious competitor, Sale wasn’t without incident with the Sox. Still, in the end, his focus was on winning games. Unfortunately, that’s something the club wasn’t able do enough of and in moving Sale, they hope to deepen a young talent base that will mature into contenders.

As for the return on Sale, it’s huge. Yoan Moncada is rated by many as the top prospect in baseball. Though his first eight games at the big league level were a struggle, he was promoted to the Bigs straight from AA. It’s not unthinkable that the White Sox would keep Moncada in the minor leagues to start the 2017 season. He’ll turn 22 in May 27th so some seasoning could be worthwhile. Regardless, Sox fans should be able to dream of a stellar double play combo in Tim Anderson and Moncada and witness it in just a short time.

Michael Kopech is the the second best prospect in the deal and was the third ranked player in Boston’s treasure chest. Kopech, though it may be a bit apocryphal, reportedly hit 105 mph during a minor league outing last year. At 20 years old with flowing blond locks and a huge frame, the comparisons to Mets Ace Noah Syndergaard are many. Kopech’s arrival to the majors may be a bit farther away as he’s only thrown at the high A level. Outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe, ranked 8th in the Red Sox system, and right hander Victor Diaz complete the haul.

While the return on Sale has plenty of value, questions remain about how much more the White Sox intend to do this winter. It’s conceivable that with their number one starter traded, they see what kind of impact their still talented core could make come April. Equally understandable would be the idea of trading off key members of that core. Jose Quintana, Jose Abreu, Adam Eaton and Todd Frazier would all bring back quality returns. Like the Yankees at last summer’s trade deadline, the White Sox could be have a rebuild well underway and have talent ready for competing at the majors in short order.

You can hear the latest on the White Sox each Saturday at noon on White Sox Weekly with Connor McKnight on WLS AM 890.

White Sox at the Deadline

The trade deadline has come and gone and Chris Sale and Jose Quintana remain White Sox. As the Sox’ endured a 28-44 slide since May 9th, I heard from plenty of fans calling into the Post Game Show advocating moving one or both of those top-tier arms. It seems pretty clear, given the vast quantity of reports, that overtures were made for each. Any team seeking to add one of the White Sox’ gems would have to pay dearly. Sale and Quintana, had they been dealt, would have easily been the best pitcher to have moved at the deadline. It wouldn’t have been close.

Instead, they remain. White Sox GM Rick Hahn told reporters that nothing every came close enough to have to take to owner Jerry Reinsdorf for approval.

I have a guess as to what that means. I’d guess that Hahn would have only flipped Sale/Quintana in packages that included current major leaguers. The White Sox aren’t into the complete tear down. Not the way the Astros did it. Not the way the Cubs did it. Definitely not whatever the Braves are doing.

“Rebuild on the fly” is a slightly more apt description in that it covers the desire to compete at all times. If the Rangers wanted Sale, I’d be the White Sox needed Nomar Mazara to make that happen. If the Red Sox asked about either (or both) the White Sox likely were asking that Mookie Betts make his way to the Southside.

Hahn would have been right to want those players. The Rangers and Red Sox would have been right to pass—for now.

I see the situation as an “If, then” statement. If the White Sox are to deal one or both of Sale and or Quintana, then it will happen in the winter when Mazara’s and Betts’ are more likely to move.

That said, I’m curious as to why a few other players are still on the squad.

In his age 31 season, Melky Cabrera has been the White Sox most consistent and effective offensive threat. Hands down. He’s owed the remainder of his $14 million dollar salary this year and in 2017 he’s owed $15 million. Compare that to Carlos Beltran who, at have 39, is having a rebirth. Beltran was flipped from the Yankees to the Rangers for three prospects. One of whom, Dillon Tate, is a former fourth-overall pick. Tate has lost some considerable shine in the past season but at 22, has plenty of room to bounce back.

Beltran, owed the rest of his $15 million this season and $15 for 2017, compares favorable to Cabrera. They’re both switch hitters. They’ve both played on big stages. They’re both producing. Take a look:

Cabrera v LHP – .351/..377/.554

Cabrera v RHP – .302/.355/.454

Beltran v LHP – .351/.405/.640

Beltran v. RHP – .282/.314/.502

Beltran gets an edge in the power category—no doubt about it. Still, Cabrera’s consistent on-base skills are superior and, unlike Beltran, Cabrera can play a corner outfield spot which makes him trade-worthy in two leagues.

The Yankees are 5.5 games out of the Wild Card. The White Sox are 7.5 games behind.

Also, there’s the eight year age difference. Cabrera would have brought back a solid return.

Instead, the White Sox have kept together a group that could be highly mobile during this offseason or at next year’s trade deadline. Todd Frazier, Brett Lawrie and Melky Cabrera reach free agency after the 2017 season. Everyone else is under contract or team control. While the Sox showed they’re capable of playing great baseball through the first six weeks of the season, it’s yet to be seen wether they’ve got another six weeks like that in them. Even if they do, will it be enough to change minds?

Happy Mother’s Day from US Cellular

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First and foremost, Happy Mother’s Day to all. Mom took us to practice, she brought the orange slices, she told us it was OK when we struck out.

White Sox third baseman Todd Frazier took a minute to thank his mom and gave a few gift recommendations in case you’re a bit behind.

Sox Hot Start, Cool Bats

Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale throws against the Los Angeles Dodgers during a spring training baseball game Saturday, March 19, 2016, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale throws against the Los Angeles Dodgers during a spring training baseball game Saturday, March 19, 2016, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

By Connor McKnight

WLS AM 890 White Sox Pre and Post Game Host

The White Sox are off to their best start in years. Not only did their 8-2 start match the best 10-game starting stretch since 1982, the Sox 7-3 start on the road is the best since 2005’s 8-2 road start.

Now, at 8-4, the Sox are tied at the top of the AL Central with the defending World Series Champion Royals.

And they’re not hitting. Not yet.

Instead, it’s been the pitching and defense that’s held the White Sox up to start the season. Whether looking at Chris Sale’s magnificent complete game shutout of the Rays on April 15th or Mat Latos’ two quality starts (12 IP, .75 ERA, .50 WHIP, .098 BA) the White Sox arms have kept them in every game but two.

Todd Frazier has been fantastic at third base and has saved no fewer than three hits to start the year. One of those completed a sweep of the Twins and helped David Robertson earn his fifth save in five outings. Roberston didn’t notch his fifth save until May 6th of 2015.

It’s very clear—remarkably so—that the pitching is good and the defense is much, much better than last season. As a team goes through the ups and downs—the inescapable drag of attrition—the hope is that defense stays as constant as possible. Pitching and hitting have natural, expected peaks and valleys. There will be times where even Chris Sale can’t get anyone out. (OK, not him. He doesn’t have those. Maybe someone else. Someone human.)

Looking at the start of the year for the offense, leaves you to strain a bit at the stat lines. Todd Frazier’s start has been typical of his career, unfortunately. He’s a career .236/.316/.474 hitter in April and March. Things heat up for him as the season progresses, however, and hopefully the friendly hitters park that is US Cellular Field and the wonderful weather Chicago is supposed to get over the next few days (Seriously, it’s supposed to be 80 on Monday. Get out to the ballpark.) help heat up his bat.

Jose Abreu has been struggling to find his comfort zone as well. It seems that he’s a bit unsure of the strike zone right now but the amorphous strike zone typically set forth by CB Bucknor can make a lot of hitters question their livelihoods.

The difference between the slow offensive start for this year’s White Sox has to do with the names on the back of the jerseys. Those names are Abreu and Frazier. They have track records. They sell trading cards and bubble gum. They’ve hit 134 home runs since the start of the 2014 season.

There’s every reason to believe they’ll be just fine.

QUICK NOTE

Sunday night, the 17th of April, a full two weeks into the season, was the fourth time since the start of the month the White Sox have been in their own beds. The White Sox have played more road games than anyone in baseball. To boot, (people still say that, right?) the Sox are in a stretch of 19 straight games between off days. They play 17 of their first 27 on the road.

It’s not an excuse for anything. You won’t hear anyone use it as such.

It’s just kind of crazy and I thought you should know.