White Sox

Adam Jones: White Sox Chris Sale is MLB's 'praying mantis'

chris-sale-sox-insider-0714.png

Adam Jones: White Sox Chris Sale is MLB's 'praying mantis'

CINCINNATI -- The Chris Sale Lovefest is in full swing this week at the All-Star Game.

For two days, anyone and everyone participating in Tuesday night’s All-Star Game at Great American Ballpark has fawned over the White Sox ace, who earned a spot on the American League roster for a fourth straight season.

The superlatives have arrived at an almost-sickening pace for Sale, who is 8-4 with a 2.72 ERA this season and leads the AL in several pitching categories, including with 157 strikeouts. Now in his fourth season as a starting pitcher, Sale has made it clear to his fellow All-Stars he’s no fluke and he’s also a constant nightmare to face.

“I call him the praying mantis,” Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones said. “He’s probably the nastiest pitcher in baseball, right-handed or left-handed.”

Seeing as they’re both lefties, Cleveland’s Jason Kipnis knows he’s in for a tough game any time Sale takes the mound. The two are friends and Kipnis feels fortunate to have four hits in 17 at-bats against Sale.

[SHOP: Buy a White Sox All-Star Game hat]

“It sucks,” Kipnis said. “It’s not fun at all.

“See if can just get one off him today. See if I can scrape. He’s lengthy, it’s funky and it’s also 98 miles an hour and a curveball that starts behind me and it ends up a ball away. You’ve got to have an approach, you’ve got to eliminate one of his pitches and even after that you can’t miss when you guess right on it. He’s a tough guy to have success against.”

The hitters aren’t the ones offering praise and some of the highest comes from the only pitcher who has more strikeouts than Sale this season, Clayton Kershaw. A three-time Cy Young winner, Kershaw, who has 160 strikeouts for the Los Angeles Dodgers, has been seriously impressed with what he’s seen from Sale.

“Strikeouts aside, he’s dominant,” Kershaw said. “It’s really unbelievable. You should really thank your lucky stars if you get a hit against him. Just watching him and the stuff he’s featuring and that arm angle, I don’t know how you get a hit, honestly. Impressive.”

Sale is well aware what has been said about him and he’s appreciative. But he has never been big on self-promotion and tries to block out the attention as much he possible.

[MORE: Yost believes the world wants to see Chris Sale pitch at ASG]

“I know where it’s coming from,” Sale said. “These guys are the best players in the world and you definitely appreciate it, but at the same time I try not to listen to or think about that kind of stuff too much. I’m a big believer in karma and the baseball gods and if you let those things take over your game, it spirals pretty quickly. When you think your horse is a little higher than the next you get knocked off. I definitely appreciate it. It’s humbling to hear, but I try not to let all those things creep in.”

As Jones sees it, Sale has only made the volume louder with his outstanding pitching and the uncomfortable at-bats hitters must endure with him on the mound.

Jones is 4-for-11 with a home run against Sale. He said the key is to not wait around against the lanky lefty -- otherwise he could devour you.

“He throws everything at you and it’s probably 95 or 96, sharp slider, good changeup,” Jones said. “Hope he misses and swing. If you see one you like, hit it. Don’t try to work an at-bat, that’s a quick out.”

Would potential bargains like Mike Moustakas or Carlos Gonzalez make sense for White Sox?

0225-mike-moustakas-carlos-gonzalez.jpg
USA TODAY

Would potential bargains like Mike Moustakas or Carlos Gonzalez make sense for White Sox?

The 2017-18 baseball offseason continues to be, well, the 2017-18 baseball offseason, even with spring training games being played in Arizona and Florida.

A bunch of names remain on the free-agent market, including All-Star players who thought they would be in for big multi-year contracts. But as teams continue to deny the wishes of guys who expected to get big deals, the suggestion that those players might end up needing to take one-year offers if they want to play during the 2018 season is becoming a more common talking point.

So with potential bargains to be had for some pretty big-name players, do the White Sox jump into the waters and try to lock up a potential future piece on the cheap? Though they aren’t expected to contend this season, the White Sox have been mentioned in a pair of recent reports surrounding a pair of All-Star position players: Mike Moustakas and Carlos Gonzalez.

MLB.com's Jon Morosi wrote last week that the White Sox are a potential fit for Moustakas, who has sat and watched as former Kansas City Royals teammate Eric Hosmer received a huge contract from the San Diego Padres. Moustakas set a new Royals record last season with 38 home runs but has yet to find a team.

The White Sox, connected to Baltimore Orioles star Manny Machado earlier this offseason, seem to have a current big leaguer or highly ranked prospect locked into almost every position on the diamond for the foreseeable future, but third base isn't necessarily one of them. Jake Burger was last year’s top draft pick, though there’s speculation he could slide over to first base. The team still envisions him as a big league third baseman, for what it’s worth.

Moustakas is 29 and already has seven big league seasons under his belt, including a pair of All-Star appearances and a pair of trips to the World Series, including the Crowns’ championship back in 2015. His 38 homers and 85 RBIs in 2017 were both career highs. He slashed .272/.314/.521, the final of those three numbers the best mark of his career.

Moustakas has rarely hit for average or reached base at too high a clip, though those recent power numbers would be intriguing at a hitter-friendly park like Guaranteed Rate Field, where he has 10 career dingers, 26 career RBIs and a .249/.308/.456 career slash line as a visitor.

Certainly Moustakas would be a buzz-worthy addition, and if the White Sox could get him for a good value thanks to this slow-moving market, that adds incentive to bring him aboard. A short contract would have even more incentive for the rebuilding White Sox, who would have the option to either sign him to a long-term deal or deal him away in a deadline deal depending on his immediate production levels.

But for fans hoping the White Sox will spend big on a third baseman in one of the next two offseasons — Machado is a free agent next winter, and Colorado Rockies star Nolan Arenado is set to hit the market the winter after next — slotting in an outside addition at the hot corner now could impact those plans.

Gonzalez is a completely different story, a three-time All Star during his 10-year big league career who is just three seasons removed from a 40-homer campaign in 2015. The 32-year-old Gonzalez also has a trio of Gold Gloves to go along with his 215 career home runs. FanRag’s Jon Heyman listed the White Sox as a possible landing spot for CarGo this weekend.

But his walk year in Colorado was not a very good one by his standards. In 136 games for a Rockies team that ended up in the playoffs, he slashed .262/.339/.423, all those averages way down from his usual level of production. And his power numbers plummeted to 14 homers and 57 RBIs after he combined for 65 homers and 197 RBIs in 2015 and 2016.

The good news for the White Sox is that down year makes Gonzalez far more affordable. Should he command only a one-year contract, the White Sox could take a flier, stick him in the outfield — which still has an unresolved spot with few strong offensive options for center field — and trade him should he bounce back in a big way. Or, at 32, perhaps he’s a guy the White Sox could opt to keep around should he prove valuable and the rebuild continues to move along ahead of schedule.

Gonzalez seems the less risky move at this point, as Moustakas could still be looking for a multi-year contract. But the White Sox have plenty of financial flexibility and flexibility in their decision-making should they add either guy and he proves worthy of a midseason deal or a long-term look.

White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries

mickeradolfo.jpg
USA TODAY

White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries

PHOENIX, Ariz. — One of the White Sox prized prospects will be on the shelf for a little while.

Outfielder Micker Adolfo has a sprained UCL in his right elbow and a strained flexor tendon that could require surgery. He could avoid surgery, though he could be sidelined for at least six weeks.

Though he hasn’t received the same high rankings and media attention as fellow outfield prospects Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert, Adolfo is considered a part of the White Sox promising future. He’s said to have the best outfield arm in the White Sox system.

Adolfo had a breakout season in 2017, slashing .264/.331/.453 with 16 homers and 68 RBIs in 112 games with Class A Kannapolis.

Adolfo, along with Jimenez and Robert, has been generating buzz at White Sox camp in Glendale, with a crowd forming whenever the trio takes batting practice. Earlier this week, the three described their conversation dreaming about playing together in the same outfield for a contending White Sox team in the future.