White Sox

First Strike: White Sox bring Vizquel back

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First Strike: White Sox bring Vizquel back

Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010
Updated at 9:17 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

CHICAGO Who saved the Chicago White Sox season in 2010? If you ask one very important judge, it was the oldest player on the team.

Omar has impressed me so much, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said of 43-year-old Omar Vizquel after Chicago had stormed from 9 games down to take over the Central Division lead before the All-Star break. His defense, his leadership, hes had some key hitseverything started to turn around for us when he started playing regularly.

Vizquel was pressed into action after incumbent third sacker Mark Teahen broke his finger in May, but played so well Teahen was unable to regain the hot corner upon his return. Surely, Vizquel wont be depended on to play 108 games in 2011, a fact he seemed resigned to upon re-signing.

Im clear about my situation, Vizquel said during a conference call on Monday. I know my job is going to be as a backup player. Whatever happens this year, I will take it in and enjoy it like its going to be my last year again.

Vizquel was acknowledging the fact that he had all but announced hed be embarking on his farewell tour or major league parks during 2010, but his surprising productionpotent offense and acceptable defense at three infield positionspersuaded him to play another year.

Guillen, who had a respectful--but at times testy--relationship with the player just three years his junior, went so far as to say Vizquel could play at least another couple of yearsthrough 2012if he chose.

Ozzies a different guy, Vizquel said in reference to the 180 degrees of temperament difference between the two Venezuelans. You dont know what to expect from him sometimes. But he just finds a way to get you going and press your buttons. Thats the way a manager has to be sometimes.

The manager made a number of joking comments in reference to protecting Vizquel given his advanced age but overall was in awe of his veteran infielder.

There wasnt any extra wear and tear, Vizquel said of his condition after 108 games in 2010. My body responded awesome. The challenge was great, and the way I prepared myself in the offseason, I was up to the challenge.

Vizquel hit .276 with 11 doubles, two home runs and 30 RBI and logged an on-base percentage of .341, better than his career average. He made 62 starts at third base, 19 at second, eight at shortstop and one as designated hitter.

He achieved a major career milestone at the Detroit Tigers in September, playing his 2,832nd game, the most of any player born outside of the United States. The all-time record stood at 2,850 as of the end of the 2010 season.

Vizquel is generally considered the greatest fielding shortstop ever, a fact thats supported by the archaic but prevalent fielding percentage statistic (.985 all-time). As such, the native of Caracas, Venezuela won 11 Gold Gloves as a shortstop (1993-2001, 2005-06).

Vizquel originally signed with the White Sox as a free agent on November 23, 2009. He had been targeted by GM Ken Williams as early as 2004, when the veteran was close to inking a deal with the White Sox before the San Francisco Giants swooped in, offering a third year to their offer.

The veteran has made no secret of his desire to one day manage in the majors, and soon.

Im really preparing myself to manage, Vizquel said. I would like to manage as soon as possible. I have the experience and the knowledgeThe experience from my playing days will translate into good enthusiasm and a positive way to manage.

Vizquel was re-signed within 24 hours of the end of the World Series. This year marks the debut of a shorter window that teams have to re-sign their own free agents, reduced from 15 days to five. That gives Chicago four more days to re-up Paul Konerko, A.J. Pierzynski, J.J. Putz, Mark Kotsay, Freddy Garcia, Manny Ramirez or Andruw Jones without outside competition.

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

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."