White Sox

Facts, trends and stats about Ventura's first year managing Sox

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Facts, trends and stats about Ventura's first year managing Sox

With spring training just about a month away, let's take a look at some points of interest regarding the second-year White Sox skipper: a few things to look back at and think about going forward.

1. Late in 2011, the White Sox realized they were roughly forty-five feet off in their judgement of who should be managing the team (at least according to measurements taken from 1989-1997). They obviously needed someone a little more fiery.

Fiery? In their first seasons as a major league manager, Robin Ventura (4) was ejected twice as many times as Ozzie Guillen (2). Also, did we forget the showdown with Nolan Ryan? Two things on that memorable (or forgettable) incident:

- One, Aug. 4 of the upcoming season will mark the 20th anniversary of Ventura getting several hits off (from?) the Hall of Fame hurler (unspectacularly, the game will be in Detroit).
- Two, Ventura right now is still younger than Nolan Ryan was when he placed the White Sox third baseman in a headlock in Arlington that fateful day. And he'll still be younger through the end of the 2013 season.

2. Ventura is deathly afraid of Jeff Francoeur.

Ok, not really. But Frenchy was issued more intentional walks by White Sox pitching than any other batter in 2012, with four. During the DH era (1973-current), the White Sox intentionally walked a batter four or more times in a season on just fifteen occasions (to 14 different batters).

Of these fifteen seasons, Francoeur's 81 OPS is by far the worst. Second worst was John Briggs of the Twins and Brewers in 1975, who was IBB'd four times (116 OPS). The average OPS of the non-Francoeur seasons was 146.

Regardless of Francoeur, Ventura ordered only 29 IBB on the season, the fifth-lowest total in the American League. Under Guillen, the Sox were perennially among the American League leaders in IBB issued (including a league-leading 50 in 2011).

The one player to be walked 4 times in a season on two occasions by Sox pitching? Mickey Tettleton in 1992 and 1993.

3. Plenty of pinch running.

The 2012 White Sox paced the Majors with 64 pinch runners used, a full 19 more than the next highest total (Minnesota). Unsurprisingly, the Major League leader in being pinch run for was Paul Konerko (25), followed by Billy Butler (20).

4. No White Sox team in franchise history boasted more pitching appearances than the 2012 bunch.

The 628 pitcher games tied 2000 (that's 3.88 pitchers used per game) for most of any Southsider squad. And Ventura kicked it up a notch once rosters expanded in September, using 4.81 pitchers per game during the final month (plus October). In the first eleven games of September, he averaged exactly six pitchers used per game.

5. Ventura's White Sox posted a 71.7 percent stolen base success rate. Much better than the recent records of Ozzie Guillen (whose teams posted three of the five lowest single-season SB rates in the AL from 2007 through 2012), but still below league average (75 percent).

One notable trend was Ventura's reluctance to steal third, going only 23 at that bag. The other 107 White Sox stolen bases were of second. Two players in the AL stole 20 or more bases in 2012 without once taking third: Alex Rios and Alexei Ramirez.

6. Ventura seemed much more comfortable than Guillen giving the 3-0 green light. The 2012 Sox went 4-14 with two home runs (the team's first two 3-0 homers since Jim Thome did it twice in 2007). That may not seem like much, but consider the fact that they went a combined 5-17 over the previous five seasons (12-33 overall under Guillen with a 3-0 count).

7. Ventura is a .300 lifetime hitter against pitchers he managed in 2012:

- 1-6 vs Jake Peavy
- 1-2 vs Brian Bruney, with a home run
- 1-1 vs Will Ohman, with a double
- 0-1 vs Brett Myers

8. A July 14 loss in Kansas City prevented Ventura from becoming the first Sox skipper to get a birthday win since Terry Bevington on July 27, 1995. He'll get another chance in Philadelphia this summer on the last day before the All-Star break.

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."