Tag Archives: Jose Quintana

Crosstown Connections

The press box at Wrigley Field is very small.

The place was built just before the rise of the Roman Empire, however, and back then there were no cameras. Radio was, essentially, two tin cans connected by string. Broadcasters just didn’t need that much space to spread the word of baseball from town to town.

Despite its small size, the Executive Producer of White Sox baseball on WLS-AM 890, managed to secure a secondary booth high atop the perch of this ancient and austere baseball palace. From this distance, the smell of last night’s beer on the concourse fades all the way into memory.

For whatever reason–maybe the punctuated silence of the neighborhood at this hour, perhaps the rumbling of the Red Line in the distance but, more likely, the recent trade the two clubs made–I’ve been thinking about the connected histories of these teams.

From this chair, the first that comes to mind is Steve Stone. Stone, of course, played for both clubs and broadcast for both clubs. Stone might just be the best analyst in the business and is a more than competent play-by-play man, to boot. From Stone, the natural jump is to Harry Caray. It’s always strikes me as odd that Caray, started with the Cardinals, left for the White Sox, and landed with the Cubs. As far as those fandoms go, it’s pretty incongruous group. The fact that Caray was, I think, welcomed by all only adds to his legend.

Ron Santo’s legacy in this ballpark is palpable. As a player and broadcaster for the Cubs, he was and still is loved. Santo, of course, was traded to the Sox in 1973 for, among others, Steve Stone.

Bill Veeck, a man whose hand shaped the history of the White Sox franchise as much as any other, has connections deep into the ground at Wrigley. First, his father, Bill Veek Sr., was president of the Cubs from 1919 until 1933. Veeck, Jr. planted the ivy in the outfield. He was also the brainchild of the exploding scoreboard at Comiskey Park.

Probably, you knew most of this. It’s entirely possible you knew all of it.

The next chapter of the White Sox-Cubs relationship, however, was just given a title. The Jose Quintana trade.

It remains to be seen exactly how critical the deal will be to each side. Odds are, however, it’s much more impactful than the last trade the two sides made. (Neal Cotts for David Aardsma in 2006.) Just yesterday, Quintana pitched well (and won) a game against the Cubs division rival, the Cardinals. While the White Sox have lost nine in a row, Eloy Jimenez had the first five-hit game of his career for the White Sox high A affiliate, the Winston-Salem Dash. Jimenez had two singles, two doubles and a dinger.

While they may be headed down different roads for the time being, history has taught us that their paths will cross again.

So Long, Q

Just one day before the start of the second half, the White Sox had their druthers in the most dramatic way possible. The White Sox traded Jose Quintana, their most valuable trade asset, to the Cubs for a top-tier package of prospects headlined by the MLB.com’s 8th-ranked Eloy Jimenez. Since the end of January, White Sox GM Rick Hahn was asked what it would take to move Jose Quintana. He was asked when it would happen. He was asked, coyly, if he’d ever deal with the Cubs. Today, there were answers.

On a conference call, Hahn expressed how hard it was to make the phone call and tell Quintana he’d been traded. “There was no part of this call to trade Q that I enjoyed,” Hahn said. The White Sox picked up Quintana as a minor-league free agent. Those pick ups never work out. Never. The Sox identified a talent. They molded him. Quintana worked as hard as anyone could ask and more.

By trading Quintana, the White Sox have added more into their pipeline. Jimenez, a massive corner outfielder, gives the White Sox their 7th top-100 prospect. It’s now becoming an embarrassment of riches throughout the White Sox system. Dylan Cease, the next best player in the deal, becomes the next in a growing line of White Sox minor league arms who hit triple digits on the radar gun.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the trade is the actual surprise of the trade.

No one had this. It was announced via press release. There were no leaks. There were no hints. There were no unnamed sources. Like a minor-league free agent panning out, that never happens.

There was, seemingly, many suitors for Quintana. Hahn told reporters there were multiple clubs interested–including teams who are not currently in contention. “Theo and I exchanged texts shortly after the draft about potential fits,” Hahn said. Sunday morning before the All Star game is when conversations really started to move. Hahn said he told the Cubs things were getting hot around Quintana and that it was time to act if they wanted him. Jimenez would need to be in the deal, however. “[There was] nothing for us to talk about with Cubs without Eloy in the deal,” Hahn said.

The trade reinforces the White Sox rebuild. Quintana is a top-of-the-rotation arm the Cubs desperately need for this season and beyond. Hopefully, for both teams, it’s a win-win.

Word was that the White Sox and Cubs would never do a deal. Hahn called that notion “somewhat laughable.” The White Sox front office is in the business of making the best deal possible. It’s devoted to setting up the long-term success of the club and, to that end, nothing is off the table. There is still work to do before the deadline at the end of the month. The Sox may well deal more talent to bolster a preposterously strong minor league system. One thing is for sure; the biggest headline has been made.



Robertson has been nasty, but how long does he stay?

Though the White Sox are in the midst of rebuild and don’t look to be contenders this season, it’s been quite a busy start to the season and all eyes have been on the South Side.

Part of the reason is that the White Sox still possess players that are considered valuable trade assets and, though it feels as if the first pitch of the regular season was thrown just yesterday, it’s getting closer to the time for folks to start trade deadline rumors. Other major league teams are settling in, baseball is figuring out contenders that need a boost, and who is in the position to sell.

Though Jose Quintana has gotten off to a less-than-admirable start, no one is truly concerned about him. There is still plenty of time for him to pick it up before the trade deadline at the end of July, if in fact the White Sox are looking to deal him at all this summer.

But, as all eyes have been focused on Quintana, many have let the success David Robertson’s success pass by. Robertson has been absolutely spectacular this season, quickly giving his value on the trade market a boost.

Robertson, now 32 years-old and on his 10th season in the majors, has thrown 21.1 innings this season—on pace for his usual 60 plus innings—to the tune of a 3.38 ERA. Doesn’t sound all that fantastic but, of course, there is more than meets the eye. Robertson currently owns a 2.68 FIP and, for the moment, a career low 1.74 DRA. These statistics are more telling of a pitcher’s true performance; they are independent of what the defense behind him does and, therefore, a better measure of the individual player’s true talent level.

Robertson’s 12.39 K/9 is his best in a White Sox uniform and best since his final season with the Yankees in 2014. Though Robertson owned a 1.85 BB/9 during his first season on the South Side, looking at his BB/9 over the course of his career quickly shows you that his 2015 season was an outlier in terms of walks. Robertson is currently walking just 3.1 batters per nine, while the AL average is currently sitting at 3.43. Not bad for a 32 year-old closer on a relatively inexpensive contract.

One concern for Robertson is the drastic decrease he’s seen in his groundball rate. Robertson’s pitching repertoire hasn’t seen a drastic change and still consists of his signature Mariano Rivera-taught cutter, a curveball with exceptional breaking action, as well as a sinker, and a changeup. However, Robertson has seen his groundball percentage dip from 45 percent in 2016, to just 35 percent in 2017. The concern there is that Robertson has seen a significant uptick in his fly ball rate. Robertson’s fly ball rate is now 51 percent, up from 40 percent in 2016, and by far a career high. This hasn’t been an issue for Robertson, who has only allowed 2 home runs and has seen his HR/FB% drop by .6 percentage points to 9.1. However, depending on which teams are scouting him, this could be a red flag on the radar for the closer. However, Guaranteed Rate Field is known as a notoriously hitter friendly park — so if Robertson were to struggle with giving up fly balls for home runs anywhere, it would likely already be happening in Chicago.

Robertson is currently on the third year of a four-year deal that will pay him just $12 million in 2017 and $13 million in 2018. Considering how baseball saw the closer market skyrocket this offseason, and Robertson is considered to be in nearly the same talent pool as the three closers who received hefty deals, Robertson has dual trade value. What teams are willing to give up for a closer with the success Robertson is seeing as well as the contract that he comes with will be something the White Sox should leverage during this season’s trade deadline.

A Sale of Two Cities

The question was on the tip of everyone’s tongue and the forefront of everyone’s minds on Tuesday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field; What’s it going to be like facing your former teammate Chris Sale?

The mark that Sale left on the White Sox clubhouse he used to call home was unmistakable as teammates remembered Sale fondly, not just as a teammate and a competitor but as a friend.

“He was just a great guy. He was just a guy who if you ever needed anything he was there for you,” Todd Frazier said before Tuesday’s matchup. “We became real close over a six, eight month span, and I still talk to him today. He’s a friend you can talk to.”

Of course, it wouldn’t be Sale’s return trip to his old stomping grounds without a good jersey cutting remark. “I think that’d be a great idea,” Frazier replied when asked if he thought it would be good homage to wear the throwback jersey style Sale famously cut up before a start last July. “I don’t know if we can wear the cut-up ones, but maybe we can put some tape around some of the shirts like Edward Scissorhands out there or something. That’d be cool. I think he’d probably chuckle at that too, why not?”

But, all joking aside, at the end of the day the goal for the White Sox was to go out and face the American League’s best lefty on the mound—whether he be a friend or a former teammate was left in the dugout as the team took the field, thirsty for a win.

“He was my teammate for two years and I like him. Now it’s just we are competing against each other,” Jose Abreu said through an interpreter Tuesday afternoon on facing Sale. “He’s with the Red Sox and we are now here and have to face him. I know that he is going to try to do his best and we are also going to try to do our best.”

Unfortunately for the White Sox, things didn’t go their way as the evening which promised a pitcher’s duel and instead delivered a slug fest ended with the Boston taking the match 13-7.

“Who would have thought that with the two starters on the mound tonight that we’d have nearly 150 pitches thrown between them through three innings,” Boston manager John Farrell said after Tuesday’s game.

“I stunk tonight. I didn’t do a whole lot to help us win,” Sale told the media post game. Sale allowed 10 hits and five earned runs in just five innings pitched, marking Sale’s shortest outing of the season and shortest outing since his last start in a White Sox uniform on October 2nd of 2016.

“I don’t think I was very accurate either. I don’t think I was throwing to specific spots, just throwing to general areas, too.” Sale still managed to strike out nine White Sox batters on the evening despite the erratic outing.

So how did it feel for Sale to be back on the mound he called home for seven season? “Different. But the same. I’ve thrown off that mound however many times it was. A little different coming from the first-base side,” Sale said, clearly fueled by bouts of nostalgia as he answered questions with a heartfelt tone in his voice.

“This is where I called home for a long time. A little piece of my heart will always be here for sure. I gave these guys everything I had while I was here, and I’m appreciative they do the same in return.”

As for Quintana, there’s still no real concern. “He’s passing through a very tough moment on the mound, he’s one of the best pitchers in the league and we have plenty of confidence in him,” Melky Cabrera said about Quintana’s struggled through an interpreter after Tuesday’s game.

“He’s just a little up in the zone,” Kevan Smith said. “I’ve told him, when he’s successful he lives in that zone knee to shins, we’re just like six inches above that, and you could tell when he really started thinking about it we started losing control and he was almost too far down,” Smith continued about Quintana’s location Tuesday night.

Quintana’s struggles have cascaded recently, leading him to a 5.60 ERA in his 11 starts this season. But the White Sox have seen what Quintana is capable of, it’s just a matter of getting him out of his own head and helping him regain confidence. “It’s just one of those things where you have to get confidence back,” Smith said. “He has the stuff, obviously we’ve all seen it. He’s just got to go out there, work hard and get back to the Q we all know.”

The White Sox will finish their series with Boston on Wednesday evening at Guaranteed Rate Field, and as for Sale Day, was the lanky hurler glad his return to Chicago is over? “No. It was nothing like that. I was actually looking forward to tonight. Pitching against my buddies, my old team.” Sale said. “Obviously the end result wasn’t what we had expected. By no means am I glad that this is over. I wish I enjoyed it more, but it was something I was looking forward to.”

Until next time, Boston.

Q Rating

When you’re Jose Quintana, a leading trade candidate on a rebuilding team who has branded himself as one of the premier number two starters in the league, there are naturally going to be a lot of eyes on you. And when you start the first six weeks of the season with a 4.46 ERA, suspicions will arise.

But if you’ve watched Quintana at all, you’ll see that his best months are not usually in April. Perhaps it’s the cold weather, perhaps it’s getting back into the grind. Take a look at Quintana’s April numbers:
















The outlier of course remains fresh in baseball folks’ memory. Seeing as it was just last year, a time in which Quintana gained quite of bit of overdue recognition, followed by a total White Sox tear down that put him on the trading block.

The White Sox organization doesn’t seem concerned with Quintana’s start to the season.

“Actually, Jose hasn’t been throwing that badly,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said Tuesday. “Again, I think this last weekend he made some pitches, he got a little dunker here, a little dunker there. I really don’t think we played our best baseball.”

Renteria seemed to be chalking up most of the struggles Quintana has shown to poor defense. “We have a pretty good defense and I think we weren’t as good as we wanted to be this last series,” Renteria said. “So, hopefully that comes back this series to what we’re accustomed to seeing but, again, there are ups and downs in the season. I’m not worried about [Quintana]. [He] is an excellent pitcher.”

Defense obviously plays a large role in a pitcher’s success and it’s the reason there are statistics that give more context to ERA. Taking a look at those though, it seems that defense isn’t the only thing to blame for Quintana’s struggles. Quintana is currently pitching to a 4.01 FIP, a tad lower than his ERA, but is also posting a 5.16 DRA (a peripheral metric by Baseball Prospectus that takes a more in depth look at how a pitcher is performing in isolation than FIP).

FIP indicates that the defense behind Quintana may be a bit better this season than his ERA is leading us to believe, but DRA is painting the opposite picture.

So far, Quintana’s command has been the largest question mark in his stat line. He walked 10.9 percent of batters faced in April, the highest percentage of batters he’s walked in an April over his last three seasons on the Southside.

Quintana isn’t throwing his changeup as much as he has in the past (just five percent in April) and has been compensating for it with his curveball, throwing it 32 percent of the time. Quintana threw his fastball just 36 percent of the time in April, the lowest fastball percentage he has had dating back to August of 2015. According to Brooks Baseball data, Quintana has been generating fewer swings on his high fastball than he did last season—an area of the plate that Quintana tends to dominate in order to work so well with changing speeds and eye levels on hitters.

Quintana is mixing things up right now, and what baseball folks need to remember is that though we are five weeks into the season, it’s still early and players are still settling in. There doesn’t seem to be any real concern with Quintana at the moment, as long as he can continue to generate the swings and misses on the high fastball as we’ve seen from him in the past, he will begin to be able to play up all his pitches across the board and create that strong repertoire that have made him the hot topic he’s become among baseball. Quintana is still a top trade candidate, no doubt, and a small scuffle in April surely won’t change that.

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.

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.

Robin Ventura will not return in 2017

After the White Sox lost 6-3 to the Twins, ending the 2016 season, Robin Ventura addressed the media for the last time as the manager of the club.

“It’s the right time,” Ventura said. “It’s more of a personal decision than anything. I love being here. The organization means a lot to me. You can go as hard as you can and really the only thing you know is how you conduct yourself, how you conduct your business and how you treat people. I’m good with that.”

Ventura’s managerial career was, unfortunately, short on wins. With a career record of 375-435, Ventura and the Sox turned in four consecutive losing seasons. With Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Adam Eaton and Jose Abreu as a core for most, if not all of that time, talent has been present but wins were wanting.

“It’s not like they’re going to be putting a statue [of me] out on the concourse,” Ventura admitted. “You wish you would have just won more but, absolutely, [I’d] do it again.

At 23-10, the 2016 White Sox started as hot as any team in baseball. Since that start, the club played to a 55-74 record and in fourth place in the AL Central.

“I think what’s hardest is we started off so well,” Ventura said. “So you had the optimism that you were going to keep that rolling and then it didn’t continue. That’s the hardest stuff.”

Multiple reports have said that bench coach Rick Renteria will step in as manager but Ventura wouldn’t comment on that. Renteria went 73-89 in his only season as the manager of the Cubs in 2014. He was fired when Joe Maddon left the manager’s job of the Tampa Bay Rays.

White Sox General Manager Rick Hahn will address the media Monday morning. Be sure to check back with WLS AM 890 for the latest news.

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?

With Rodon to DL, Sox need a spot start

White Sox starter Carlos Rodon will need a trip to the 15-day disabled list after slipping on the dugout steps and spraining his pitching wrist. While it’s not the best of circumstances for a team to lose a starter, especially to something so freakish as a slip and fall, the All Star break helps with the timing and could mean that the White Sox need only use a spot starter twice–perhaps even once–while Rodon rests up.

It’s not been smooth trip through for Rodon through the first half of his sophomore season. There have been bumps in the road and they have been sizable. I still like the ability and the potential quite a bit, however. Not all pitchers are Chris Sale. They don’t just arrive at the Big League level and dominate the way Sale, who’s now a five-time All Star, did when moved into the rotation. Rodon, particularly because his deficiency seems to be fastball command on a start-to-start basis, is more subject to volatility than others. He can be particularly nasty but, because of a susceptibility to deeper counts, is vulnerable to batters having seen him longer and taking advantage of the added information.

As the White Sox return to the second half against the Angels, figure Jose Quintana to get the first start of the unofficial second half. James Shields and Miguel Gonzalez, in either order, are likely to be the second and third starters out of the gate while Sale, pitching in the All Star game on three days rest, will make the fourth start of the second half Monday against the Mariners. Tuesday would see someone called up from the minor leagues to make a spot start but it’s anyone’s guess as to who that might be.

A longshot, and an interesting one at that, would be Carson Fulmer. Fulmer, the Sox first round pick in 2015 has been on somewhat of a roll of late. His last three starts have been promising. On June 26th he went seven scoreless innings, gave up two hits and two walks and struck out seven. July 1st saw him go seven scoreless again and strikeout five while walking three and giving up three hits. July 6th he went 5 innings and gave up two earned on five hits en route to striking out 10 and walking three.

The White Sox were aggressive with his assignment to AA in the first place and the conversations both public and private have been optimistic about Fulmer’s potential to help out at the major league level this season. A spot start, with the addendum of him moving into the major league bullpen afterward, might give the Sox a chance to evaluate his arsenal against major league hitters and shape his plan as a reliever going down the line in 2016. While the promotion to the Major Leagues would be an aggressive one, Fulmer seems to be a kid who’s able to process the accelerated path the Sox have chosen for him so far and understands what’s being asked of him.

Plus, it’d just be fun to see what he’s got.

First order of business this weekend, however, is to take the last two against the Atlanta Braves and head into the All Star Break four games over .500. The Sox have Jose Quintana and James Shields throwing in the final two games of the season and both pitched very well their last time out.

Enjoy these last two and the break! We’ll have more White Sox baseball Friday, July 15th when the White Sox take on the Angels on WLS AM 890 and the White Sox radio network.



White Sox Acquire James Shields

Nearly three weeks ago, when the White Sox returned home from a six-game, two-city road trip, GM Rick Hahn announced he was ready to deal. He wanted to add to a club that was 24-14 and on top of the AL Central. It had been a rough go of it out on the road. The Sox dropped both series to the Rangers and Yankees and the bullpen had started to leak.

Although the bullpen has stopped most of the bleeding, the wound cost the White Sox the lead in the Division. They now look up at the Royals and Indians. Reinforcements are on the way.

The White Sox have acquired James Shields from San Diego. Erick Johnson (6.94 ERA in two starts covering 11.2 innings in 2016) and Fernando Tatis Jr., a 17-year old shortstop prospect are said to be headed to San Diego.

Shields’ contract status is somewhat complicated. He’s owed $21 million this season and is due the same total in 2017 and 2018. There is a $16 million team option in 2019 with a buyout of $2 million. Further, Shields holds an opt out clause after this season.

Further, the financial burden on the Sox is going to be lessened significantly. They’ll pay $5 million toward this year’s salary and cover $10 million in each of the next two seasons, should he not exercise the opt out.

That’s the nitty gritty of the deal. The upshot, at least from my perspective, is that this is a responsible yet aggressive move by the White Sox. In adding Shields to the mix, they get a quality veteran who could, if he so choses, be a part of the next two years of White Sox contention. Chris Sale and Jose Quintana already form one of the top one-two combinations in baseball and adding Shields to the mix adds strength to strength. Shields regularly goes deep into games. Only once this season has he failed to complete six innings in a start. That benefits every aspect of a ball club.

Moreover, the White Sox got Shields without having to tap into any of their three top prospects (Tim Anderson, Carson Fulmer or Spencer Adams). That does one of two things. It leaves the powder dry for making another impact move later on in the season or keeps the immediate future of the club intact as Anderson could easily make his major league debut this season–and make a difference.

The only missing piece of the equation is who gets bumped out of the rotation. Mat Latos got off to a stellar start to the year but his 1.84 April ERA exploded in the second month of the season; his ERA in May is 6.41 Miguel Gonzalez has turned in six starts of fairly yeoman’s work and the crafty right hander has a track record of success at the big league level with the stuff he’s featuring.

Still, it’s an upgrade on a number of fronts and the Sox, despite an 11-17 May are still well within striking distance in a competitive AL Central. There could be more moves on the horizon but starting with James Shields is getting things off on the right foot.


Tonight, Chris Sale

Chicago White Sox starter Chris Sale pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays during the ninth inning of a baseball game Friday, April 15, 2016, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Nesius)
Chicago White Sox starter Chris Sale pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays during the ninth inning of a baseball game Friday, April 15, 2016, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Nesius)


By Connor McKnight

White Sox Pre and Post Game Host

I worked very hard to avoid the use of a pun in the headline. While Chris Sale’s last name lends itself to all kinds of pun-tastic flash, he’s above that. I’m not. But while the numbers and dominance for Sale so far in 2016 are easy feats to recall, I’ve found the timing of Sale’s starts lately to be fortuitous at the least.

On May 1st, with the Sox having lost the first two games in Baltimore and just barely scraping out a win in the third game, Sale took the mound and threw perhaps his ‘worst’ game of the year. He went just 5.1 innings, the shortest start in his first nine and battled his command. He walked four, again, the most this year. The offense picked him up and plated five runs in the fifth off Ubaldo Jimenez. Robin Ventura saw his opportunity to lift his Ace and leave things to a red-hot bullpen.

Since then, Sale’s been doing all the work on his own and helping his guys along the way.

On May 13th in New York, the White Sox had just left Texas. They’d lost two of three. The bullpen had been battered by the Rangers offense, a 12-inning ballgame and a rain delay that lasted over an hour. The Sox had been hit. They’d been worked and they’d been tired out.

With an off-day scheduled for May 12th, the club finally had a chance to sleep. On May 13th, the bullpen just watched. Sale turned in second complete game of the year and yielded just one run, a homer to Chase Headley, en route to his third-best game of the year (a 77 via Bill James’ Game Score metric on BaseballReference.com).

Yes, the Sox lost the next two in New York. They were close games (2-1, 7-5) and were never out of things. Ventura was able to keep the bullpen healthy. Imagine if Sale hadn’t gone nine.

May 19th, found the White Sox in a rut. Losers of their last four games and in danger of suffering their first sweep of the season, Chris Sale took the hill against the Astros. Houston, at that point, was a team slowly finding their footing after an offseason of expectation was melted away by the 15-24 record they carried into US Cellular Field.

Sale played stopper that night. Nine innings, nine strikeouts, one run. His ninth win. When the night was over, the Sox had still lost six of their last eight; both wins with Sale’s name attached.

Tonight, with the Cleveland Indians just 2.5 games behind the Sox in the Central, Sale has a chance to be a spring board for the first time since mid-April. Sure, a win get’s Sale to an MLB-leading 10th. I’ll bet you he doesn’t care whether that win gets added to his name. In fact, I know he doesn’t. All he wants, at the end of the night, is for that lead to be 3.5. To give Jose Quintana and his guys a chance to take three of four on Wednesday.

If that means he gets #10, so be it. If that means the W gets plastered on another pitcher’s record, fine.

The role of Ace takes on many shapes throughout the season. Sale has very nearly played all of them already. He’s been the best pitcher in the American League (and it isn’t all that close) and with the exception of this Clayton Kershaw gentleman with the Dodgers, no one has had a better start.

Sale has had good starts to a season before. He’s had good middles. He’s had good ends. That end, however, has never taken place later than October 3rd. That was 2010–Sale’s rookie year. He logged a two-inning save that night. His fourth and final of the year. The Sox finished 88-74, six games behind the Twins in the AL Central.

For Sale, this year won’t be a true success unless his team is playing much later than October 3rd.

Sox Top The American League

Chicago White Sox's Jose Abreu (79), celebrates his game winning single with Adam Eaton (1) and Brett Lawrie (15) against the Texas Rangers during the eleventh inning of a baseball game, Saturday, April 23, 2016, in Chicago.The White Sox won 4-3 in eleven innings. (AP Photo/David Banks)
Chicago White Sox’s Jose Abreu (79), celebrates his game winning single with Adam Eaton (1) and Brett Lawrie (15) against the Texas Rangers during the eleventh inning of a baseball game, Saturday, April 23, 2016, in Chicago.The White Sox won 4-3 in eleven innings. (AP Photo/David Banks)

By Connor McKnight

White Sox Pre and Post Game Host on WLS AM 890

The White Sox have the best record in the American League.

At 14-6 the Sox have tied their best 19-game start since 2006. They’ve gotten it done with spectacular pitching, highlight-reel defense and just enough hitting.

Just enough.

The offense, it would seem, is an easy enough fix. Really, it comes down to two guys doing exactly what everyone in the industry thought they’d do. In a way, the fact that Jose Abreu and Todd Frazier have struggled out of the gate is a best-case problem; those two will hit.

When that starts, and they’re coupled with Melky Cabrera’s .400 OBP and Adam Eaton’s constant table-setting (.309/.356/.397), the run-scoring issues should—in a rather profound way—resolve themselves.

Pitching and hitting often vacillate throughout a season. Defense, we’re told, is more stable. Granted, guys can have bad days or weeks but typically, the type of defense we see over the course of a season is a relative constant.

Defensively, the White Sox have been stellar. In most cases, it’s affecting their margin for error—for the better.

Look no further than the triple play Friday night against the Rangers—the very first 9-3-2-6-2-5 triple play in MLB history. Triple plays, as they go, are rare enough but when they do happen, they’re even rarer when they start in the outfield. (Around 10% of triple plays have been started by outfielders. Thanks to JJ Stankevitz of CSNChicago.com for that number.)

Adam Eaton’s break on the line drive from Mitch Moreland was just another example of his impressive work in the corner this year. Eaton has been able to read fly balls from the corner and it’s shown; FanGraphs has Eaton leading MLB in Defensive Runs Saved at seven. Abreu’s back-and-forth with Ian Desmond after the Rangers outfielder had overrun first base showed… well something, I’m not sure what exactly but let’s give Pito some props for the athleticism. Plus it was ridiculously fun to watch.

Brett Lawrie did a great job yelling for Abreu to throw home after he’d tagged out Desmond. Abreu couldn’t have assessed the situation himself after going three-rounds with Desmond (how could he?) and Lawrie was there to help out.

After Abreu had thrown home (from his knees, no less) Dioner Navarro and Tyler Saladino worked together to cut Prince Fielder from the herd and line him up for the third out of the inning. Saladino made, perhaps, the most heads-up play in the entire mess. His decision to run to third and freeze the runner there then cut the corner and force Fielder into a no-win decision.

There it is all in one play. Improvement from incumbent players, better communication on the field, smarter decision making.

When a team isn’t hitting it needs all of those gears to mesh to win ballgames. They’ve meshed, clearly, and now the White Sox have a cushion to get the offense sorted out. No doubt sooner would be better than later but with an unrelenting April schedule (27 games in 28 days including a stretch of 19 straight) and dates with homer-happy offenses in Toronto and Baltimore, the Sox have another test in front of them.

Remember though, the White Sox have the best record in the American League.