White Sox

Hope for .500? It could take a prayer for Sox


Hope for .500? It could take a prayer for Sox

Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011Posted: 9:00 p.m. Updated: 10:37 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com White Sox InsiderFollow @CSNChi_Beatnik Box scoreValue survey: White Sox starters falter

KANSAS CITY Alex Rios strode to the plate to lead off the second inning and clocked a devastating blow into State Farms neighborhood at the back of the Kansas City Royals bullpen in left field.

The former five-tooler, slumping yearlong to the bane of Chicago White Sox fans everywhere, returned to the dugout to find manager Ozzie Guillen steadfastly in his fleet centerfielders corner greeting him with heart taps and sky kisses.

It could have been playful teasing, but Guillen is a man of steady and manifest faith, so more than likely the big smile masked a heartfelt prayer may we all return to the White Sox in 2012 and right this dastardly wrong we now are all enveloped All-In to.

Well, Rios would not have another hit in the game and the White Sox were again battered by the Royals burgeoning young offense, which dropped the Pale Hose 10-3 as Kauffman Stadium fireworks blared and fountains flared with little remorse.

Ozzie almost dropped his postgame meal when asked by a local reporter whether these first three K.C. romps were a product of prodigious offense.

When you score 30 runs in two games OK, 24 over three, what do you think is the reason? he queried with incredulity.

Zach Stewart, who was a near Mr. Perfecto just two starts ago, turned from hero to zero in a rough, five-inning, five-run, 11-hit effort.

They just battle, Stewart said, reporting that his pregame bullpen was excellent but on the mound, only his fastball was effective. Theyre always taking good swings, no matter what the count. They were putting pressure on me, and got to me in those last two innings.

And aside from Rios clout and another multi-hit (2-for-4) effort from Alexei Ramirez, there was little to highlight on the Chicago ledger.

The White Sox dropped to 73-78, reeling from a season high-tying, seven-game losing streak and finding themselves in need of a major rally to just to break even for the season. With four games still to play against Kansas City, its not completely out of the realm that the Royals just seven games behind Chicago in the standings passes the South Siders for third place in the Central.

Even Guillen himself realized that he would be on full clich alert with his rah-rah comments looking ahead to the series finale against Bruce Cy Chen, already 2-0 vs. Chicago this season.

Its not one thing people want to hear, but well get them tomorrow, Guillen smiled, to keep from shouting. Well be back here. Well try again tomorrow, and hopefully tomorrow works. When you give up 17, 18, 20 hits in one game like today, and you miss a few opportunities to score early in the game, I dont think we deserve to have a better outcome.

Guillen, still audibly fighting a head cold that has marred his entire K.C. stay, was quick to dress and head back to the team hotel, where he would spend a quiet evening with family, perhaps breaking away for a short stint for a couple of pops downstairs and a glance at the Floyd Mayweather-Victor Ortiz fight.

And before he retires for the night, there may indeed be a little prayer. Not for tomorrows forecasted rain to abate, or a thugworthy rally off Chen, or even for that contract extension hes hoping so hard for. No, Ozzie may well pray for a simple thing: The chance to see the team thats lain dormant since April Fools Day rear its head and exact some punishment, just for one single day, before the dust settles for good on this sad season.

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

White Sox opposition research: What's there to know about the Baltimore Orioles?


White Sox opposition research: What's there to know about the Baltimore Orioles?

As the 2018 season nears and the White Sox get ready to take on the rest of the American League, we're taking a team-by-team look at all 14 of their opponents.

What’s there to know about the Baltimore Orioles?

Perhaps a better question for White Sox fans: When’s Manny Machado coming to the South Side? (Better question from me, personally, is when Chicago might acquire Maryland's greatest creation: the crab pretzel. Had in College Park last summer. It's amazing.)

Whether that ends up happening or not is a question for next offseason, but that query is one that plenty of South Side baseball fans on social media have asked for years now. Machado, mentioned in trade rumors during the Winter Meetings in December, is most likely entering his final season as an Oriole. His contract is up at season’s end, and he’s expected to land a gargantuan deal next offseason.

The funny thing is that for all the hullabaloo over the 25-year-old infielder, he’s coming off his worst statistical campaign as a big leaguer. In 2017, he slashed .259/.310/.782, all three of those percentages seeing huge dropoffs after a sensational 2016 campaign a year prior. His power numbers stayed relatively consistent, but his run and hit totals plummeted as the O’s weren’t quite as a competitive as in years past.

Now, Machado is likely still cruising for a big contract regardless of what he does in 2018. He’s moving to shortstop, which will be interesting. But he’s young enough that even another season like last year won’t make too big a difference, considering how good he’s been throughout his career.

That’s who White Sox fans will be watching whenever their gaze falls on the Baltimore baseball club. (They won’t be alone, by the way, and some contending teams might even try to add him at the trade deadline.) But the O’s are making news for other reasons, recent reasons, in fact.

The biggest name left on the free-agent market finally signed this week, and now the Orioles have a big-time addition to their starting rotation. Unlike Jake Arrieta, it appears Alex Cobb’s waiting game paid off in the form of dollars, years and a no-trade clause. How nice for him. It’s also nice for the O’s, who get to add a guy to a low-key decent starting staff.

Cobb, who had a 3.66 ERA in 29 starts last season, might not be ready to rock for the start of the regular season considering he didn’t ink a deal until a week out from Opening Day — bet he’s good at staring contests, too — but the trio of Dylan Bundy, Andrew Cashner (another new addition) and Kevin Gausman will be ready, and all those guys are coming off a solid-enough 2017. Bundy had a couple good stretches, posting a 3.03 ERA over his first 13 starts and then a 2.00 ERA in the month of August. Gausman had a 3.31 ERA over his final 18 starts. Cashner, another free-agent signing, had a 3.40 ERA with the Texas Rangers.

So while the likes of Adam Jones, Chris Davis, Mark Trumbo and the better-than-Machado-last-year Jonathan Schoop still make the O’s an offensive threat in a hard-to-win AL East, the starting pitching might be where the magic is this time around.

2017 record: 75-87, fifth place in AL East

Offseason additions: Alex Cobb, Andrew Cashner, Colby Rasmus, Alex Presley, Pedro Araujo, Joely Rodriguez, Nestor Cortes Jr.

Offseason departures: Welington Castillo, J.J. Hardy, Ryan Flaherty, Seth Smith, Jeremy Hellickson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Wade Miley

X-factor: I said it just above, and I'll say it again: Jonathan Schoop was better than Manny Machado last season. Schoop made the All-Star team and finished with 32 homers, 105 RBIs and a .293/.338/.503 slash line. His .841 OPS was one of the best 50 in the game. Should we expect Schoop to be the best middle infielder on the O's in 2018, too? Maybe that's a little extreme, but hey, good to have this guy.

Projected lineup:

1. Tim Beckham, 3B
2. Jonathan Schoop, 2B
3. Manny Machado, SS
4. Adam Jones, CF
5. Chris Davis, 1B
6. Trey Mancini, DH
7. Colby Rasmus, RF
8. Caleb Joseph, C
9. Alex Presley, LF

Projected rotation:

1. Dylan Bundy
2. Andrew Cashner
3. Kevin Gausman
4. Chris Tillman
5. Mike Wright Jr.

Prediction: Third place in AL East, no playoffs

Catch up on the AL:

Oakland Athletics
Texas Rangers
Seattle Mariners
Los Angeles Angels
Houston Astros
Tampa Bay Rays
Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles

Catch up on the NL:

San Diego Padres
Colorado Rockies
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Francisco Giants
Los Angeles Dodgers

Sounds like we know how the White Sox starting rotation will line up to start the season


Sounds like we know how the White Sox starting rotation will line up to start the season

Rick Renteria's starting rotation isn't exactly official for the start of the season, but it's about as close as it can be.

Maybe "unofficially official" is the best way to go?

The South Side skipper agreed with the assessment of reporters Wednesday in Arizona, saying that an order of James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Miguel Gonzalez and Carson Fulmer "sounds right."

Shields was already announced as the White Sox starter for the season opener next Thursday in Kansas City. That wasn't much of a surprise considering Shields' veteran status in this rotation.

Giolito, who made seven starts at the end of last season and looked mighty good doing it, might be the best starting pitcher on the team going into the season. He posted a 2.38 ERA in those games, with many fans hoping he would have been the one to take on the Royals in the opener. It sounds like he'll likely pitch two days later in Game 2 against the Crowns.

Lopez made eight starts at the end of last season, turning in a 4.72 ERA in those starts. He's another former highly touted prospect who will get a full season to continue his development at the major league level.

Gonzalez was brought back this winter after being traded away from the South Side last summer to bring another veteran mentor type to help along these young pitchers. He had a 4.31 ERA before the trade to the Texas Rangers after a 3.73 ERA in a full season with the White Sox in 2016.

Fulmer is another young arm who will be looking to earn a spot in the crowded rotation of the future this season. He's had a rough spring — though turned in his best start of the spring earlier this week — but he'll be given every opportunity to prove he can succeed as a big league starting pitcher after showing some promise at the end of last season.

Those first three guys will face off against the Royals on the season's opening weekend. Gonzalez and Fulmer are expected to make their first starts of the season against the Toronto Blue Jays in Canada.