White Sox

Cooper on his ever-changing pitching staff

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Cooper on his ever-changing pitching staff

With Sergio Santos traded to the Blue Jays, you might be wondering who will be the White Sox closer in 2012.

Addison Reed? Matt Thornton? Jesse Crain? Other??

Hearing the comments made by pitching coach Don Cooper to Comcast SportsNet, its looking like were not going to know until the end of spring training.

May the suspense begin.

Its going to be wide open, Cooper said of the closer situation Tuesday on Chicago Baseball Hot Stove. Its too early. We dont know. Weve got to sit down and talk about it. In spring training, well see how it shapes up. Im a big believer in this: that theyll show you.

And not just for the closer role.

With Chris Sale moving to the rotation, Jason Frasor traded back to Toronto, and the possibility that the White Sox still might trade Thornton and the 11 million he is owed for the next two seasons, the bullpen is in line for one serious makeover.

If youre a Sox minor league pitcher ready to take the next step or a free agent reliever looking for a job, Glendale might be the best place to be come spring training.

Were going to have openings on the pitching staff. There might be three, possibly four openings for somebody to make our team, Cooper said. You know whats going to happen? Competition is going to happen at spring training. Were going to watch it, and theyre going to stand up and show us who needs to be on the team, who needs to get on the plane to leave and start the opening series in Texas, and its exciting.

But the bullpen is not the only big shake-up for Cooper. For the first time since he became pitching coach in 2002, he wont be able to rely on his 200-inning machine, Mark Buehrle. The two actually started working together after the Sox drafted Buehrle in 1998 when Cooper was the teams minor league pitching coordinator.

Will he feel a void? You bet.

I havent felt the loss right yet, Cooper said. I think Ill personally feel it in spring training and during the season. Its more of him just not being there. As a pitching coach, you have relationships with everybody, and this is my longest relationship with anybody. So when that guy is not there, theres going to be a void. I havent felt it yet, but Im sure I will during the season.

Especially if the rotation struggles.

Its our job to replace that and to find a person or persons that will fill that void, Cooper said. The starting rotation has to pick up those 200 innings, and hopefully quality innings. I talked to Buehrle and Im happy for him.

Losing Buehrle will be painful. If the Sox had also lost John Danks, the pain would have been excruciating.

Danks is going to be with us for the next handful of years," Cooper said. "Im excited about that for him. Were looking for him to be a leader, and how do you lead? By going out there and giving us a shot to win that game.

For the White Sox to contend in 2012I think you know the rest: Adam Dunn, Alex Rios, Gordon Beckham and Jake Peavy need to have bounce-back years.

Peavy showed flashes of his old self last season, and now that hes a year-and-a-half removed from the experimental surgery in which he had a latissimus dorsi muscle reattached to his right shoulder, he could be ready to take that next stepif his body lets him.

He had an up-and-down season because he had an unbelievably new surgery, an injury that nobody else had had in baseball, Cooper said. I think everything last year kind of went the way we were expecting it to go: ups and downs because of what I just mentioned, a never-been-done surgery. But now hes past that surgery. Were looking for Jake Peavy to get to giving us a chance every single time out there to win that ballgame, and last year we saw glimpses of it. He should be given a pass on the past. But now, here we go.

With the White Sox entering the season with so many unknowns, all while trying to both retool and win at the same time, theyll likely go into 2012 as heavy underdogs.

What kind of attitude will it take to change that? Cooper has an idea.

My credo right now is, Were going to roll up our sleeves and see what we can do, and give them the best that we got.

Considering how much of that was missing from last years team that had a record 127 million payroll, thats not a bad place to start.

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).”

The White Sox just traded for a really intriguing arm

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USA TODAY

The White Sox just traded for a really intriguing arm

The White Sox continued their rebuild Thursday by trading for an intriguing young right-handed pitcher.

The South Siders acquired Thyago Vieira from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for international signing bonus pool money.

The 24-year-old Vieira is a Brazilian native and has only made one appearance in the big leagues, striking out a batter in one perfect inning of work in 2017.

While his career minor-league numbers don't jump off the page — 14-19 with a 4.58 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 13 saves and 7.4 K/9 in 290.2 innings \— Vieira has been reportedly clocked at 104 mph with his fastball and was ranked as the Mariners' No. 8 prospect at the time of the deal. He also held righties to .194 batting average in 2017.

Here's video of Vieira throwing gas:

And this may explain why Vieira was even available:

Control has been an issue throughout his career, as he's walked 4.6 batters per nine innings in the minors. He has improved in that regard over the last few seasons, however, walking only 22 batters in 54 innings across three levels in 2017 and he doled out only one free pass in 5.1 innings in the Arizona Fall League in 2016.

What does this deal mean in the big picture for baseball? How did the Sox pull off a move like this while not having to give up a player in return? 

This may help shed light on the situation from Baseball America's Kyle Glaser:

Either way, the White Sox may have just acquired a guy who could potentially throw his name in the hat for "future closer." Or at the very least, throw his name in the hat for "best name."