White Sox

Bizarre ideas for ideal 2011 Pale Hose roster

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Bizarre ideas for ideal 2011 Pale Hose roster

Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2010
4:39 PM
By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

Imagine if Trader Kenny strikes out and is unable to turn a starting pitching surplus into better roster flexibility, opts not to move Carlos Quentin or decides a 120 million budget works for the team. The White Sox can still get stronger just by shuffling what they already have. Heres how:

Modest Proposal No. 1: Outfield Shift

Juan Pierre is continually maligned as a left fielder because of his weak arm. However, he was the White Soxs strongest fielder last year not named Alexei Ramirez there simply wasnt a ball hit to left field that Pierre couldnt track down. His weak arm was mitigated by his position, and its clear that the speedster stole away more bases in making catches and filling gaps than he did by allowing base runners to sprint home without recourse. As great as Alex Rios was last season, hes not even on the short list of baseballs outstanding center fielders. And Carlos Quentin in right? Yeesh.

Presuming Andruw Jones doesnt return to take the reps in right field away from Quentin, theres a simple way to patch the hole: shift the outfield.

Pierre is a career center fielder who has proven he can chase anything down and what he lacks in strength he makes up for with accuracy. Rios in right field can take any ball in the gap, mitigating Pierres weaker arm. Both Pierre and Rios can shade toward left due to their outstanding speed. Quentin, whose fielding range and arm accuracy are shoddy, moves back to left field, where hes historically done less damage.

Of course, the best remedy in the outfield is to re-sign Jones, install him in right field and make Quentin the teams regular DH.

Modest Proposal No. 2: Six-Man Rotation

A squeeze for starts might never occur: Jake Peavy might not be healthy in spring training, for instance. However, the White Sox are traditionally the healthiest team in baseball and there could be more starting arms than the team knows what to do with. What if neither Peavy nor any of the other five White Sox starters (Mark Buehrle, Chris Sale, John Danks, Gavin Floyd and Edwin Jackson) miss significant time in 2011? Barring a trade, the White Sox have six outstanding arms for five rotation spots.

Pitching on five days rest isnt a legitimate option unless the White Sox opt to use a starters work day off in actual game competition, and thats not recommended. So given this bounty, its time to expand our minds.

As fans, were used to thinking about a fifth starters role as an inning-eater; Freddy Garcia in 2010 is a great example, as a guy who ate some innings, had some effective outings and made less headaches for manager Ozzie Guillen.

With the talent the White Sox have in the rotation, they can aim higher than that, with a true shutdown crew. If a hitter is slumping, he sits for a start or two, but what about a similar merit system for starters?

Say the White Sox enter the season with a six-man rotation of Buehrle, Peavy, Floyd, Danks, Jackson and Sale, and that the first starter to falter is Peavy, banged up in the seasons second game. That means Sale slips into Peavys spot, and Peavy is the next starting sub.

An additional bonus of a six-man rotation would be having the No. 6 (idle) starter work in a game instead of doing his side work only in the bullpen. Day two after a start is usually reserved for bullpen side work what if day three or four becomes an occasion where the idled starter can work in a real game for a couple of innings?

Using a benchmark of a poor start as a game score of less than 40 (with 50 considered a quality start), in 2010 Buehrle would have had 10 starts that would have bumped him from the rotation, Peavy six (of 17 starts), Floyd eight, Danks seven, Garcia seven, and Jackson just one.

Think that this is mere stat geek meddling? Well, consider that the White Sox had 39 total poor starts in 2010 and 20 of them happened consecutively for example, Peavy had a total of six poor starts, two in a row in April and three in a row in May. That would indicate two main slumps in his season, both of which were likely needs for additional work on mechanics or mental approach. In the case of Buehrle and Floyd, both of whom suffered poor streaks in September, perhaps slumps were born of sheer fatigue.

At any rate, this utilization of a six-man rotation could shorten or perhaps eliminate starters slumps entirely. In case of an injury, the White Sox would remain in a five-man rotation, with no sixth-man sub. But six healthy starters shouldnt necessarily force Jackson out of town or Sale into the bullpen or the minors. The White Sox have the opportunity to have their starting rotation carry them into the 2011 postseason, and by letting merit rule in a six-man rotation and would push the unit that much closer to doing so.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute White Sox information.

White Sox Talk Podcast: 1-on-1 with Frank Thomas

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AP

White Sox Talk Podcast: 1-on-1 with Frank Thomas

White Sox Hall of Famer Frank Thomas came on the podcast to talk with Chuck Garfien about his past, baseball's present and the future of the White Sox. He talks about his first major league hit (a stand-up triple!), how fame affected him when he was a player, his appearance on David Letterman in the 1990s and more. 

Plus, what was wrong with the baseball this past season? Thomas has some ideas and tells Garfien how many home runs he would have hit with that baseball in his prime. He talks about working with Alex Rodriguez at FOX and what it was like whenever girlfriend Jennifer Lopez came to visit in the studio.

Thomas praises the White Sox rebuild and reveals an idea he presented to GM Rick Hahn about where all the top prospects should play this upcoming season. He describes what it was like going to Roy Halladay's funeral, if he sees the White Sox signing Manny Machado in 2019 and much more.

Listen to the full White Sox Talk Podcast right here:

Up close, White Sox see same big potential Cubs forecasted for Dylan Cease

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Up close, White Sox see same big potential Cubs forecasted for Dylan Cease

The Cubs made the Jose Quintana deal knowing it would have been more difficult to give up Dylan Cease if he was already performing at the Double-A level, and that the White Sox organization would be a good place to continue his education as a young pitcher.

While Eloy Jimenez keeps drawing ridiculous comparisons – the running total now includes Kris Bryant, Miguel Cabrera, Edgar Martinez and David Ortiz – Cease is more than just the other name prospect from the deal that shocked the baseball world during the All-Star break.

“We still project him as a starter,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said during this week’s GM meetings in Florida. “He certainly has the stuff where it’s easy to envision him as a potential dominant reliever. But to this point – for the foreseeable future – we deal with the starting and continue to develop him as a potential front-end arm.”

The Theo Epstein regime still hasn’t developed an impact homegrown pitcher, but that hasn’t stopped the Cubs from winning 292 games, six playoff rounds and a World Series title across the last three seasons, while still being in a strong position to win the National League Central again in 2018.

Without Quintana and his affordable contract that can run through 2020, Epstein’s front office might have been looking at the daunting possibility of trying to acquire three starting pitchers this winter.

While surveying a farm system in the middle of a natural downturn, Baseball America ranked seven pitchers on its top-10 list of prospects from the Cubs organization: Adbert Alzolay, Jose Albertos, Alex Lange, Oscar De La Cruz, Brendon Little, Thomas Hatch and Jen-Ho Tseng.

So far, only Alzolay, an Arizona Fall League Fall Star with seven starts for Double-A Tennessee on his resume, and Tseng, who made his big-league debut in September, have pitched above the A-ball level.

Cease – who went 0-8 with a 3.89 ERA for Class-A Kannapolis in his first nine starts in the White Sox system – has a 100-mph fastball and a big curveball and won’t turn 22 until next month. That stuff allowed Cease to pile up 126 strikeouts against 44 walks in 93.1 innings this year, putting him in the wave that includes Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Michael Kopech and Alec Hansen.

“Ideally, we have a lot of guys we project to be part of the future, very good, championship-caliber rotation,” Hahn said. “In an ideal world, there’s not going to be room at the inn for all of them. You only have five in that rotation and some of these guys will wind up in the bullpen. In reality, as players develop, you’re going to see some attrition.”

One spot after the White Sox grabbed Carlos Rodon with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 draft, the Cubs did Kyle Schwarber’s below-slot deal, using part of the savings to buy out Cease’s commitment to Vanderbilt University ($1.5 million bonus for a sixth-rounder) and supervise his recovery from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

Cease was never going to be on the fast track to Wrigley Field, and now the White Sox hope he can be part of the foundation on the South Side, where it’s easier to sell a rebuild after watching the Cubs and Houston Astros become World Series champions.

“It doesn’t change really for us internally in terms of our commitment or focus or our plan or our timeline or anything along those lines,” Hahn said. “I do think, perhaps, it helps the fan base understand a little bit about what the process looks like, where other teams have been and how long the path they took to get to the ultimate goal of winning a World Series (was). In Chicago, many fans saw it firsthand with the Cubs.

“There are certainly more and more examples in the game over the last several years to help sort of show fans the path and justification for what we’re (doing).”