White Sox

Don Cooper: 'We've Got to Win Games'

153316.jpg

Don Cooper: 'We've Got to Win Games'

Friday, April 16, 2010
2:18 PM

By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com

Its a few hours before the White Sox take the field in Cleveland. I give pitching coach Don Cooper a phone call to talk about his stellar bullpen which hasnt given up a run in the last six games, a streak totaling 17 13 innings.

But Coop is not a happy camper.

"Heck, weve played 10 games for crying out loud," Cooper said. "Everybody wants to draw conclusions from a lot of different things. Yes, I like what theyre doing. Its better than getting their asses kicked thats for sure. But weve got 152 games left, and were sitting at 4-6. Nobody is digging that. We've got to win games.

OK

Lets talk about rookie phenom Sergio Santos, who struck out the side Thursday night, getting Vernon Wells, Lyle Overbay, and John Buck. All swinging. The converted shortstop hasnt given up a run or even a hit in four innings out of the bullpen. Youve got to be impressed with him, right?

"Hes had four appearances and hes done well so far," said a slightly impressed Cooper. "Weve got a long way to go. This is a great story, but its chapter one."

So, how does Coop explain his lightning quick transformation? Two years ago, Santos was a Blue Jays minor league shortstop. Last year, his first season as a pitcher with the White Sox, he was 0-3 in the minors with an 8.16 earned run average. Now hes firing 96 mph fastballs past the team he wasnt good enough to play for, and it looks like hes been on the mound for years.

Before this experiment began, when was the last time Santos pitched in a game?

Freshman year in high school.

"Hes got a power fastball, a power breaking ball and a power changeup. Hes got three power pitches," Cooper said. "Now its a matter of learning how to pitch and being consistent and being ahead, which is what hes been doing so far."

That certainly wasnt the case Thursday night with Freddy Garcia, who got torched by the Jays, giving up seven runs on eight hits in three-plus innings.

He never had it. And Cooper didnt dance around it.

"Freddy did not pitch well last night at all," Cooper said. "His command was not up to snuff or where it needs to be."

Two games under .500 is not where the Sox need to be either. They have the talent (and certainly the time) to turn it around. However, there are many concerned fans and media members who arent so sure, overly sensitive about the Sox cold start.

Cooper took it even further.

"Theyre sensitive about what happens in spring training! Theyre still thinking that spring training matters or that it counts," he said. "Everything that goes on, the media is sensitive to stuff because youve got to write stuff and break stuff. Its just 10 games. People are probably writing us off. Thats OK, too. Whatever you guys want to do is fine with me, but Im just telling it like it is."

That means telling a reporter that his idea about doing a story on a lights-out bullpen in April is a bad idea. The story is bigger, and yet simpler than that.

"Its not about the bullpen, its not about the starting pitching, its not about the hitting or defense. Its about winning games. When we dont do that, none of this really matters. The one conclusion Ill give you is this: were sitting at 4-6. We certainly didnt expect to be that starting out.

Chuck Garfien hosts White Sox Pregame and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet with former Sox slugger Bill Melton. Follow Chuck @ChuckGarfien on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox news and views.

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

capture.png

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

thyago_vieira_white_sox_trade_slide.jpg
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."