White Sox

Could relief be in Peavy's future?

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Could relief be in Peavy's future?

Jake Peavy set the bar for 2012 at 30 starts and 200 innings, a high mark to shoot for given he hasn't hit either of those numbers since winning the National League Cy Young in 2007. But Peavy, who turns 31 in May, has repeatedly talked up his health this spring training, as he's done in years past -- but this time, the news is positive.

However, if he can't reach that 200-inning mark in 2012, Peavy told Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com that he'd be open to considering a relief role in the future.

"If I can't stay healthy for 200 innings, if somebody says something about closing or being a reliever, I can do that, I can be a reliever," Peavy said. "How do I know that? I can be a reliever because I think I can. That's the bottom line. I can do something because I believe I can do it. If it comes down to that, I'll do it because I love this game."

That transition from being a starter who's plagued by injuries to the bullpen has paid off for a few pitchers, including Kerry Wood and John Smoltz. But both those guys had relief pitcher profiles -- i.e. mid-to-high 90's fastballs with a devastating slider.

Peavy gets by with four or five pitches and his fastball velocity has tailed off in recent years. Perhaps a move to one or two-inning situations in the bullpen would lead to a velocity spike, which we did witness in Peavy's only relief appearance of his career.

Last June, Peavy pitched four outstanding innings in relief against Washington, striking out seven without allowing a walk or a run. His fastball maxed out at 95 miles per hour early into his outing and averaged about 93 miles per hour over those four innings, about two miles per hour faster than his season fastball average.

So, based on that game, Peavy does have it in him to reach back and find the mid-90s. And he was mainly fastballslider in the game, throwing only four changeups and three curveballs.

While concerns over his durability would still persist, maybe a move to the bullpen would actually be beneficial to Peavy at least in terms of extending his career with success. He may ultimately remain more valuable as an oft-injured starter than a healthy reliever, but it'd be hard to blame him for trying something different after years of frustration.

Even if Peavy falls well short of his goals in 2012, don't expect him to move the bullpen on his next contract. It'd be worth it for him to give starting one more shot, probably on a one-year deal, before deciding to market himself as a reliever.

But another year of tired arms, injuries and the like may begin to push Peavy's needle from the rotation to bullpen. He's certainly thinking about it already.

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."