White Sox

The All-Chicago Team: 1990-1999


The All-Chicago Team: 1990-1999

By Tony Andracki and JJ Stankevitz

This spring, we at Cubs Talk and White Sox Talk have decided to unify Chicago's two baseball teams into one in an effort to pick out the best players to grace each side of the city over the last 50 years. Each Wednesday during spring training, we'll roll out a different All-Chicago team, beginning today with the best Cubs and White Sox players from 1990-1999. If you didn't catch our first installment, check out our 2000-2011 team.

Tony: I was excited for this list. I was a product of the '90s, growing up with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers and DougQuail Man. And the '98 Cubs team will stick with me as long as I live. I remember Kevin Tapani being the ace of that pitching staff, winning 19 games. So I thought he would be a lock for this list. But on closer examination, he actually had a poor 1998 season, with a 4.85 ERA and 1.40 WHIP. Steve Trachsel, meanwhile, was a stalwart in the Cubs' rotation. Mind plays tricks on you, I guess. It also proves how inconsequential a statistic wins are for pitchers.

JJ: The '90s were a great time to grow up. I just wish we could've put Good Burger or Heavyweights on this list.

JJ: Catcher was once again a point of debate for us, with our decision coming down to Rick Wilkins vs. Ron Karkovice. Wilkins had a nice OBP, although not the longevity of Karkovice, but we went with Wilkins anyway. See a pattern here?

Tony: On memory, I thought Kark would be the choice at catcher. Or maybe Carlton Fisk. But upon looking at the numbers, the choice was Wilkins, albeit by a very narrow margin.

JJ: We had to fit Mark Grace on the team, so while Frank Thomas played most of the decade at that position, we moved him to designated hitter to give Grace his rightful spot on the roster.

Tony: I was ready to fight tooth and nail with JJ to get Grace as the starting first baseman over Big Frank, but fortunately, I didn't have to. Grace had the most hits and doubles of ANY player in the '90s, a truly incredible feat. It doesn't hurt that he's my all-time favorite player, either.

JJ: There were quite a few easy picks: Second base, third base and the entire outfield were selected with no debate.

Tony: I'm glad Andre Dawson was able to make it on this list, but it's almost a shame he didn't crack the starting lineup over Sammy Sosa. But no way we could leave Sosa off, despite all the controversy that has surrounded in him seemingly every facet of his life. It is a baseball list, after all, and he was a damn good baseball player.

JJ: The last starter came down to Steve Traschsel vs. Kevin Tapani, both of which are pretty meh. But Trachsel was better in the ERA department and was a workhorse, albeit about the slowest pitcher in all of the decade.

Tony: It was also pretty cool to see how many guys played for both teams in this decade. Tapani, Assenmacher, Lance Johnson, Sosa, Matt Karchner.

To the list:

C: Rick Wilkins
1B: Mark Grace
2B: Ryne Sandberg
3B: Robin Ventura
SS: Ozzie Guillen
LF: Tim Raines
CF: Lance Johnson
RF: Sammy Sosa
DH: Frank Thomas

Bench: Andre Dawson
Bench: Magglio Ordonez

SP: Greg Maddux
SP: Jack McDowell
SP: Wilson Alvarez
SP: Alex Fernandez
SP: Steve Trachsel

CL: Roberto Hernandez
RH reliever: Bobby Thigpen
LH reliever: Paul Assenmacher
The final word
Chuck Garfien and David Kaplan weigh in on the list from Arizona (also, if you ever wondered what Kap's ringtone is, you can find out below):

Check back next Wednesday for the All-Decade team of the 1980s!

White Sox opposition research: What's there to know about the New York Yankees?


White Sox opposition research: What's there to know about the New York Yankees?

As the 2018 season nears and the White Sox get ready to take on the rest of the American League, we're taking a team-by-team look at all 14 of their opponents.

What’s there to know about the New York Yankees?

You know how everybody always (usually jokingly) refers to “stacked” lineups as the ‘27 Yankees? Well, it might be time to change that to the ‘18 Yankees.

The Bronx Bombers did their nickname justice this winter, adding reigning National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton and teaming him with Aaron Judge to form a power-hitting combo perhaps unseen since the Ruth-Gehrig glory days.

Now that’s not to suggest that Stanton and Judge are going to become two of the greatest baseball players in history. But it is to suggest that they’re going to strike fear into opposing pitchers, with plenty of prognosticators predicting a combined 100 homers for the duo. That’s not crazy, either, considering Stanton led baseball with 59 bombs a season ago, the highest single-season total in almost two decades, and in a runaway Rookie of the Year campaign, Judge crushed 52 homers to lead the American League.

So, you know, 59 plus 52. That’s more than 100.

And while Stanton and Judge take all the attention, the Yankees’ lineup is pretty darn good outside of those two guys, too. Gary Sanchez is one of baseball’s best offensive catchers and hit an only shabby-by-comparison 33 homers last season. Didi Gregorius has plenty of pop for a shortstop, and he smacked 25 homers last season. Brett Gardner had a strong 2017. And even two late-in-the-offseason additions to the infield, Neil Walker and Brandon Drury, form a better 8-9 combo than most teams in the AL.

There’s no need to start spreading the news, it’s already been spread: The Yankees have one of the best, most fearsome offenses in the game.

As for the pitching, well that ain’t half bad either. Luis Severino had a 2.98 ERA and 230 strikeouts last season. CC Sabathia had a 3.69 ERA in 27 starts. Midseason acquisition Sonny Gray had a 3.55 ERA on the year. Masahiro Tanaka almost hit the 200-strikeout plateau.

And that bullpen is outstanding. Aroldis Chapman, David Robertson, Dellin Betances, Chad Green, Tommy Kahnle and Adam Warren formed as good a relief corps as you were likely to find in baseball last year.

Even with the division-rival Red Sox looking pretty good — and coming off a 93-win season — the Yanks will enter 2018 as the favorite in the always-competitive AL East. The question is how close they’ll come to being the favorite in the AL overall. The defending-champion Houston Astros still seem a hair ahead after besting the Yankees in last year’s ALCS. But the Bombers might have the preseason edge over the Cleveland Indians, especially after beating them in the playoffs last year.

Bottom line: The Yankees are really, really good. And don’t be surprised if you hear a lot of Billy Joel during the Fall Classic. "Some folks like to get away, take a holiday from the neighborhood ..."

2017 record: 91-71, second place in AL East, lost in ALCS

Offseason additions: Giancarlo Stanton, Neil Walker, Brandon Drury

Offseason departures: Todd Frazier, Jaime Garcia, Michael Pineda, Starlin Castro

X-factor: White Sox fans know how good Robertson and Kahnle were last season. Chapman and Betances are now household names as elite relief pitchers. But the best reliever of this whole group at the end of last season was Green, who finished the year with a 1.83 ERA and 103 strikeouts in 69 innings. Over his final 30 games, 47 innings, he had an even lower 1.53 ERA and 77 strikeouts. He allowed one run in September. And though he was roughed up a bit in his lone appearance against the Indians in the ALDS, he allowed just one unearned run in 6.1 innings against the Astros in the ALCS.

Projected lineup:

1. Brett Gardner, LF
2. Aaron Judge, RF
3. Giancarlo Stanton, DH
4. Gary Sanchez, C
5. Didi Gregorius, SS
6. Aaron Hicks, CF
7. Greg Bird, 1B
8. Neil Walker, 2B
9. Brandon Drury, 3B

Projected rotation:

1. Luis Severino
2. Masahiro Tanaka
3. CC Sabathia
4. Sonny Gray
5. Jordan Montgomery

Prediction: First place in AL East

Catch up on the AL:

Oakland Athletics
Texas Rangers
Seattle Mariners
Los Angeles Angels
Houston Astros
Tampa Bay Rays
Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles
Boston Red Sox
New York Yankees

Catch up on the NL:

San Diego Padres
Colorado Rockies
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Francisco Giants
Los Angeles Dodgers
Miami Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies

Ryan Cordell goes to Triple-A as White Sox seemingly figure out center field situation


Ryan Cordell goes to Triple-A as White Sox seemingly figure out center field situation

The White Sox center field situation seems to have a solution.

Ryan Cordell was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte, the team announced Thursday, bringing his bid to make the Opening Day roster to an end.

Cordell had a nice spring in his first action since joining the White Sox organization in last summer's trade that sent reliever Anthony Swarzak to the Milwaukee Brewers. Cordell was injured after playing 68 games at Triple-A Colorado Springs last season, but he got some love from general manager Rick Hahn at this winter's SoxFest, with Hahn saying three teams had called the White Sox inquiring about the 25-year-old outfielder.

In 17 Cactus League games, Cordell slashed an impressive .317/.417/.512 with six extra-base hits, eight runs scored, eight RBIs, seven walks and only six strikeouts. That performance brought on the idea that Cordell could not only make the team out of camp but perhaps be the Opening Day center fielder, potentially beating out an improved Adam Engel for the job after Engel hit just .166 last season.

But Engel's spring numbers are even better than Cordell's. He's got a .364/.429/.682 slash line with four homers, 11 runs scored, eight RBIs and four walks. Plus, he's already well known as a strong defender in center after last season's impressive glove work. Spring stats don't mean much, but it's a good sign considering how ineffective Engel was at the plate last season.

With Thursday's news and Engel's impressive spring, it seems the White Sox have things figured out in center to start the season. Engel will likely be the starting center fielder, with utility man Leury Garcia an option there in a reserve role. Cordell and Charlie Tilson, who was sent to Charlotte earlier this spring, are sure get plenty of at-bats in the minors and could be called up should Engel struggle.

Both Engel and Cordell fall into the "see what you've got" category for the rebuilding White Sox. The future of the position figures to belong to highly touted prospect Luis Robert, who was reassigned to minor league camp along with pitchers Rob Scahill and Chris Volstad on Thursday, bringing the White Sox to 32 players in big league camp. But with the team not expected to contend in 2018, Engel has an extended opportunity to figure things out at the big league level. Should he struggle, someone like Cordell or Tilson could have a similar opportunity.