White Sox

Late-season winning streak good for rebuilding White Sox: 'We're kind of giving a small sample of, hopefully, the future'


Late-season winning streak good for rebuilding White Sox: 'We're kind of giving a small sample of, hopefully, the future'

For fans heavily invested in the White Sox rebuild, an August winning streak is maybe not what they were hoping to see.

Mired in a last-place season and 16 games behind the first-place Cleveland Indians in the American League Central standings, the worse the White Sox finish this season, the better their draft pick next summer, which could mean another prized addition to the ongoing rebuild.

But, hey, the White Sox are still allowed to have a little late-summer fun, right?

After sweeping the AL-best Houston Astros and taking the first game of this weekend’s series with the visiting Kansas City Royals, the South Siders have their second-longest winning streak of the season, a stretch bettered only by late April’s six-game streak. You know, back in the days before the trade deadline when the roster looked much, much different.

And while rebuild fans might be getting a little anxious over the potential consequences — the White Sox might be the AL’s worst team, but they still have a better winning percentage than the San Francisco Giants and Philadelphia Phillies — they should realize that some success now could mean even more success later.

“We’re kind of giving a small sample of, hopefully, the future,” shortstop Tim Anderson said before Saturday’s game. “We’re definitely doing our best and playing hard. Guys are hustling. We’re doing all the small things and what Ricky’s asked of us and just playing real hard.”

“The game has its ups and downs, but any time you can get a stretch like this it just gives your team confidence,” outfielder Adam Engel said. “And you can always build on confidence, especially when you start winning some games, some guys start stepping up and having success. It just helps team chemistry, and hopefully it trends in the right direction.”

The burst of success speaks to the team’s embrace of manager Rick Renteria’s message.

He’s spent the season preaching a certain kind of approach, one that has players showing up to Guaranteed Rate Field every day with sights on the present, something that’s potentially difficult to do considering the franchise’s announced rebuild. The White Sox window of contention has yet to open, with many of the organization’s highest-ranked prospects still developing down in the minor leagues.

We all know that Ricky’s boys don’t quit. And it appears they’ve taken that approach into the latest stages of this last-place season.

“He just wants us to do our best and bring out the best in us, and he’s definitely been doing that and preaching that to us,” Anderson said. “I feel like we’ve been doing what he’s been wanting us to do and just go out and play the game hard. And whatever happens happens. Just really having fun with it and playing hard.”

“We just try and come to the yard every day and focus on what we need to focus on to get better. And I think we’ve been doing that,” Engel said. “We’ve been playing good baseball, and these last four games things have kind of clicked. We’re getting some wins to show for it.”

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No one is under the impression that this is the beginning of some kind of resurgence, one that would miraculously spring the White Sox from last place to playoff contention with just 49 games remaining on the schedule.

But there are positive developments to be made from finally experiencing some winning. The four-game winning streak comes immediately on the heels of a stretch during which the White Sox lost 17 of 20. It’s something that might end up being an important part of this rebuilding process.

“They have an energy about them, a desire to want to be the best. It’s very exciting for them to do what they’re doing and have some positive results, absolutely,” Renteria said. “I think that the way they go about playing the game and preparing, does it help them build on the belief that there’s reason and there’s a process to things moving forward in a particular direction? Yes.

“I think they’re buying into it, I think they’ve been buying in since Day 1. We still have a month and a half left in the regular season, and these guys are trying to take advantage of every moment of it. And they’re still trying to continue to take information in, learn from every experience they have. And they’re still trying to learn how to play together as a team, and I think they’re coming together as a team.”

Anderson talked about the desire to finish strong. And since next year and the years that follow are looking to be the ones that could be a little more important for this team and this franchise, providing some positive momentum could wind up being a big deal.

That’s especially true for guys like Anderson, who’s expected to be a big part of the future, and guys like Engel, fighting to become a big part of the future.

“You can feel the chemistry. We’re going out and playing and having fun and building that brotherhood like it’s supposed to be,” Anderson said. “We’ve got such a great group of guys in the locker room, so we’re just having fun and putting everything on the table and seeing what happens.”

White Sox opposition research: What's there to know about the New York Yankees?


White Sox opposition research: What's there to know about the New York Yankees?

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 New York Yankees?

You know how everybody always (usually jokingly) refers to “stacked” lineups as the ‘27 Yankees? Well, it might be time to change that to the ‘18 Yankees.

The Bronx Bombers did their nickname justice this winter, adding reigning National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton and teaming him with Aaron Judge to form a power-hitting combo perhaps unseen since the Ruth-Gehrig glory days.

Now that’s not to suggest that Stanton and Judge are going to become two of the greatest baseball players in history. But it is to suggest that they’re going to strike fear into opposing pitchers, with plenty of prognosticators predicting a combined 100 homers for the duo. That’s not crazy, either, considering Stanton led baseball with 59 bombs a season ago, the highest single-season total in almost two decades, and in a runaway Rookie of the Year campaign, Judge crushed 52 homers to lead the American League.

So, you know, 59 plus 52. That’s more than 100.

And while Stanton and Judge take all the attention, the Yankees’ lineup is pretty darn good outside of those two guys, too. Gary Sanchez is one of baseball’s best offensive catchers and hit an only shabby-by-comparison 33 homers last season. Didi Gregorius has plenty of pop for a shortstop, and he smacked 25 homers last season. Brett Gardner had a strong 2017. And even two late-in-the-offseason additions to the infield, Neil Walker and Brandon Drury, form a better 8-9 combo than most teams in the AL.

There’s no need to start spreading the news, it’s already been spread: The Yankees have one of the best, most fearsome offenses in the game.

As for the pitching, well that ain’t half bad either. Luis Severino had a 2.98 ERA and 230 strikeouts last season. CC Sabathia had a 3.69 ERA in 27 starts. Midseason acquisition Sonny Gray had a 3.55 ERA on the year. Masahiro Tanaka almost hit the 200-strikeout plateau.

And that bullpen is outstanding. Aroldis Chapman, David Robertson, Dellin Betances, Chad Green, Tommy Kahnle and Adam Warren formed as good a relief corps as you were likely to find in baseball last year.

Even with the division-rival Red Sox looking pretty good — and coming off a 93-win season — the Yanks will enter 2018 as the favorite in the always-competitive AL East. The question is how close they’ll come to being the favorite in the AL overall. The defending-champion Houston Astros still seem a hair ahead after besting the Yankees in last year’s ALCS. But the Bombers might have the preseason edge over the Cleveland Indians, especially after beating them in the playoffs last year.

Bottom line: The Yankees are really, really good. And don’t be surprised if you hear a lot of Billy Joel during the Fall Classic. "Some folks like to get away, take a holiday from the neighborhood ..."

2017 record: 91-71, second place in AL East, lost in ALCS

Offseason additions: Giancarlo Stanton, Neil Walker, Brandon Drury

Offseason departures: Todd Frazier, Jaime Garcia, Michael Pineda, Starlin Castro

X-factor: White Sox fans know how good Robertson and Kahnle were last season. Chapman and Betances are now household names as elite relief pitchers. But the best reliever of this whole group at the end of last season was Green, who finished the year with a 1.83 ERA and 103 strikeouts in 69 innings. Over his final 30 games, 47 innings, he had an even lower 1.53 ERA and 77 strikeouts. He allowed one run in September. And though he was roughed up a bit in his lone appearance against the Indians in the ALDS, he allowed just one unearned run in 6.1 innings against the Astros in the ALCS.

Projected lineup:

1. Brett Gardner, LF
2. Aaron Judge, RF
3. Giancarlo Stanton, DH
4. Gary Sanchez, C
5. Didi Gregorius, SS
6. Aaron Hicks, CF
7. Greg Bird, 1B
8. Neil Walker, 2B
9. Brandon Drury, 3B

Projected rotation:

1. Luis Severino
2. Masahiro Tanaka
3. CC Sabathia
4. Sonny Gray
5. Jordan Montgomery

Prediction: First place in AL East

Catch up on the AL:

Oakland Athletics
Texas Rangers
Seattle Mariners
Los Angeles Angels
Houston Astros
Tampa Bay Rays
Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles
Boston Red Sox
New York Yankees

Catch up on the NL:

San Diego Padres
Colorado Rockies
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Francisco Giants
Los Angeles Dodgers
Miami Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies

Ryan Cordell goes to Triple-A as White Sox seemingly figure out center field situation


Ryan Cordell goes to Triple-A as White Sox seemingly figure out center field situation

The White Sox center field situation seems to have a solution.

Ryan Cordell was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte, the team announced Thursday, bringing his bid to make the Opening Day roster to an end.

Cordell had a nice spring in his first action since joining the White Sox organization in last summer's trade that sent reliever Anthony Swarzak to the Milwaukee Brewers. Cordell was injured after playing 68 games at Triple-A Colorado Springs last season, but he got some love from general manager Rick Hahn at this winter's SoxFest, with Hahn saying three teams had called the White Sox inquiring about the 25-year-old outfielder.

In 17 Cactus League games, Cordell slashed an impressive .317/.417/.512 with six extra-base hits, eight runs scored, eight RBIs, seven walks and only six strikeouts. That performance brought on the idea that Cordell could not only make the team out of camp but perhaps be the Opening Day center fielder, potentially beating out an improved Adam Engel for the job after Engel hit just .166 last season.

But Engel's spring numbers are even better than Cordell's. He's got a .364/.429/.682 slash line with four homers, 11 runs scored, eight RBIs and four walks. Plus, he's already well known as a strong defender in center after last season's impressive glove work. Spring stats don't mean much, but it's a good sign considering how ineffective Engel was at the plate last season.

With Thursday's news and Engel's impressive spring, it seems the White Sox have things figured out in center to start the season. Engel will likely be the starting center fielder, with utility man Leury Garcia an option there in a reserve role. Cordell and Charlie Tilson, who was sent to Charlotte earlier this spring, are sure get plenty of at-bats in the minors and could be called up should Engel struggle.

Both Engel and Cordell fall into the "see what you've got" category for the rebuilding White Sox. The future of the position figures to belong to highly touted prospect Luis Robert, who was reassigned to minor league camp along with pitchers Rob Scahill and Chris Volstad on Thursday, bringing the White Sox to 32 players in big league camp. But with the team not expected to contend in 2018, Engel has an extended opportunity to figure things out at the big league level. Should he struggle, someone like Cordell or Tilson could have a similar opportunity.