White Sox

Getting up to speed on Chris Sale

817538.png

Getting up to speed on Chris Sale

Friday night's White Sox game featured a somber Hawk Harrelson spouting off Chris Sale's fastball speeds as if they were losing lottery numbers. Why? Because they were more reminiscent of the glory years of the Oakland A's' Bash Brothers (88-90) than Chicago summer temperatures (95-97). In addition, our elongated lefty had been relying more on his off-speed stuff more than usual, and he'd had similar problems the previous Saturday in Detroit.

South Side fandom had been holding its collective breath all season long as our phenom racked up innings in numbers his left arm had never seen. Cries of "dead arm" were almost immediate. Let's take a look at the numbers.

For a frame of reference, and for consistency's sake, let's look at Sale's two-seam fastballs over his past four starts (Pitch fx numbers courtesy of the wonderful brooksbaseball.net):

GameAvg. Velocity
Max Velocity
727 @TEX
90.2292.40721 @DET
91.4094.00715 @KC
92.2695.8073 vs. TEX
92.2896.30

That's four straight starts with a dip in both average and max velocity. The Twitterverse is concerned. But is Sale concerned? Not according to his postgame comments: "No, everything is fine. It's getting late in the year, that might be a little bit of it, but that's something I'm not paying attention to. I honestly couldn't care less how hard I'm throwing."

Make no mistake about it, Sale's poise was impressive Friday night in Arlington; he maintained his focus after a rough 28-pitch first inning in which he allowed four Rangers runs. The next three innings were highly economical; 31 pitches, 27 strikes, with just two harmless singles allowed. In the fifth, he rebounded from first and second, nobody out situation with three straight punchouts.

A rocky outing by Nate Jones is what ultimately allowed the fifth run to score, as his HBP and walk which loaded the bases, allowing Josh Hamilton to drive in Sale's runner with a groundout. But despite Sale garnering his 12th win of the season, it was the loss in velocity that was the story.

And the story continues; Jake Peavy will be starting in place of Sale on Wednesday, affording him an extra day of rest. Here's what Sale had to say on the extra rest:

"Nothing terrible, nothing anyone else doesn't go through...We all feel this is something that's going to benefit us and benefit myself, a few extra days off, so the next couple months we can make a push and get after it."

The learning curve will continue through the rest of the season for both Sale himself and for the White Sox coaching staff. It has certainly been a long time since Chicago's American Leaguers have brought along a power arm at such a young age. It has been and will continue to be an important storyline throughout the remainder of the season.

Would potential bargains like Mike Moustakas or Carlos Gonzalez make sense for White Sox?

0225-mike-moustakas-carlos-gonzalez.jpg
USA TODAY

Would potential bargains like Mike Moustakas or Carlos Gonzalez make sense for White Sox?

The 2017-18 baseball offseason continues to be, well, the 2017-18 baseball offseason, even with spring training games being played in Arizona and Florida.

A bunch of names remain on the free-agent market, including All-Star players who thought they would be in for big multi-year contracts. But as teams continue to deny the wishes of guys who expected to get big deals, the suggestion that those players might end up needing to take one-year offers if they want to play during the 2018 season is becoming a more common talking point.

So with potential bargains to be had for some pretty big-name players, do the White Sox jump into the waters and try to lock up a potential future piece on the cheap? Though they aren’t expected to contend this season, the White Sox have been mentioned in a pair of recent reports surrounding a pair of All-Star position players: Mike Moustakas and Carlos Gonzalez.

MLB.com's Jon Morosi wrote last week that the White Sox are a potential fit for Moustakas, who has sat and watched as former Kansas City Royals teammate Eric Hosmer received a huge contract from the San Diego Padres. Moustakas set a new Royals record last season with 38 home runs but has yet to find a team.

The White Sox, connected to Baltimore Orioles star Manny Machado earlier this offseason, seem to have a current big leaguer or highly ranked prospect locked into almost every position on the diamond for the foreseeable future, but third base isn't necessarily one of them. Jake Burger was last year’s top draft pick, though there’s speculation he could slide over to first base. The team still envisions him as a big league third baseman, for what it’s worth.

Moustakas is 29 and already has seven big league seasons under his belt, including a pair of All-Star appearances and a pair of trips to the World Series, including the Crowns’ championship back in 2015. His 38 homers and 85 RBIs in 2017 were both career highs. He slashed .272/.314/.521, the final of those three numbers the best mark of his career.

Moustakas has rarely hit for average or reached base at too high a clip, though those recent power numbers would be intriguing at a hitter-friendly park like Guaranteed Rate Field, where he has 10 career dingers, 26 career RBIs and a .249/.308/.456 career slash line as a visitor.

Certainly Moustakas would be a buzz-worthy addition, and if the White Sox could get him for a good value thanks to this slow-moving market, that adds incentive to bring him aboard. A short contract would have even more incentive for the rebuilding White Sox, who would have the option to either sign him to a long-term deal or deal him away in a deadline deal depending on his immediate production levels.

But for fans hoping the White Sox will spend big on a third baseman in one of the next two offseasons — Machado is a free agent next winter, and Colorado Rockies star Nolan Arenado is set to hit the market the winter after next — slotting in an outside addition at the hot corner now could impact those plans.

Gonzalez is a completely different story, a three-time All Star during his 10-year big league career who is just three seasons removed from a 40-homer campaign in 2015. The 32-year-old Gonzalez also has a trio of Gold Gloves to go along with his 215 career home runs. FanRag’s Jon Heyman listed the White Sox as a possible landing spot for CarGo this weekend.

But his walk year in Colorado was not a very good one by his standards. In 136 games for a Rockies team that ended up in the playoffs, he slashed .262/.339/.423, all those averages way down from his usual level of production. And his power numbers plummeted to 14 homers and 57 RBIs after he combined for 65 homers and 197 RBIs in 2015 and 2016.

The good news for the White Sox is that down year makes Gonzalez far more affordable. Should he command only a one-year contract, the White Sox could take a flier, stick him in the outfield — which still has an unresolved spot with few strong offensive options for center field — and trade him should he bounce back in a big way. Or, at 32, perhaps he’s a guy the White Sox could opt to keep around should he prove valuable and the rebuild continues to move along ahead of schedule.

Gonzalez seems the less risky move at this point, as Moustakas could still be looking for a multi-year contract. But the White Sox have plenty of financial flexibility and flexibility in their decision-making should they add either guy and he proves worthy of a midseason deal or a long-term look.

White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries

mickeradolfo.jpg
USA TODAY

White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries

PHOENIX, Ariz. — One of the White Sox prized prospects will be on the shelf for a little while.

Outfielder Micker Adolfo has a sprained UCL in his right elbow and a strained flexor tendon that could require surgery. He could avoid surgery, though he could be sidelined for at least six weeks.

Though he hasn’t received the same high rankings and media attention as fellow outfield prospects Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert, Adolfo is considered a part of the White Sox promising future. He’s said to have the best outfield arm in the White Sox system.

Adolfo had a breakout season in 2017, slashing .264/.331/.453 with 16 homers and 68 RBIs in 112 games with Class A Kannapolis.

Adolfo, along with Jimenez and Robert, has been generating buzz at White Sox camp in Glendale, with a crowd forming whenever the trio takes batting practice. Earlier this week, the three described their conversation dreaming about playing together in the same outfield for a contending White Sox team in the future.