White Sox

Poetry in Pros: Offensively, Sox remain lost

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Poetry in Pros: Offensively, Sox remain lost

Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011
Posted: 8:50 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com White SoxInsiderFollow@CSNChi_Beatnik
With thousands of measurements in baseball, from wins and batting average to FIP and OPS, but none of those measures take into account the actual value a player brings to a team. Isn't someone who hits 20 home runs but makes just 500,000 a better value than someone who also clocks 20 but makes 10 million?

Every 10 games this season, Poetry in Pros will run a value survey that details just what the Chicago White Sox are getting for their moneya report more essential than ever, given the team-record payroll.

While the White Sox have dropped out of the AL Central race courtesy of a three-game sweep at the hands of the Detroit Tigers last weekend, the team went 6-1 otherwise and now sits two games over .500 at 71-69. Correspondingly, the teams overall value has risenand in fact, when you see how the trio of young position players called up to the White Sox have added value to the team, youre going to be angry at how long it took them to get a chance to make their mark.

What follows is a survey that you won't find anywhere else in the baseball world, a snapshot that attempts to marry actual costs of players against the value they provide the team on the field. Arguably, this player value trumps any you'd find on the back of a baseball card. Using raw WAR (Wins Above Replacement) data from FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference and prorated salary tells us which side of the ledgerplayer or managementis benefiting more from each players performance. A plus figure means the player has provided more value than hes been paid, a negative one means hes provided less.

White Sox Bargains

White Sox Bargains Players who are providing value on top of what they are costing the team in salary. (Last survey standing in parenthesis, a negative number indicates the player was on the "busts" list and a plain - meaning the player did not appear in the last survey.)

1. Alexei Ramirez, ss, 11,237,693 (1)
2. Phil Humber, sp, 10,351,400 (2)
3. Carlos Quentin, of, 7,984,103 (3)
4. Brent Lillibridge, of-if, 5,869,974 (9)
5. Chris Sale, rp, 5,582,402 (7)
6. Sergio Santos, rp, 4,933,011 (4)
7. Gavin Floyd, sp, 4,780,558 (12)
8. Paul Konerko, 1b, 4,331,170 (5)
9. Alejandro De Aza, of, 4,222,450 (15)
10. John Danks, sp, 4,016,286 (6)
11. Edwin Jackson, sp, 3,706,325 (8)
12. Jesse Crain, rp, 2,979,346 (11)
13. A.J. Pierzynski, c, 2,387,768 (10)
14. Gordon Beckham, 2b, 2,204,197 (13)
15. Zach Stewart, sp, 1,744,264 (18)
16. Tyler Flowers, c, 1,373,072 (16)
17. Mark Buehrle, sp, 882,597 (14)
18. Dayan Viciedo, of-if, 819,585 (-)
19. Ramon Castro, c, 365,275 (17)
20. Jeff Gray, rp, 362,477 (19)
21. Josh Kinney, rp, 350,279 (22)
22. Hector Santiago, rp, 207,388 (21)

The White Sox continue to boast more players in the black than the red, with 23 of the 41 players who have seen action for the White Sox this year posting a value profit for the team. Ramirez, Humber and Quentin remain 1-2-3 as the club's best values, but look at three names on the list in particular. De Aza is the teams ninth-best value despite having played just 34 games with the team, while Flowers and Viciedo are 16th an 18th respectively in spite of just 33 games played between them. While there was no room for Flowers on the roster until Castros injury, De Aza and Viciedo both have done much to prove that they were wasting away down in Triple-A Charlotte.

White Sox Busts

White Sox Busts Players who value cannot offset what they are costing the team in salary. (Last survey standing in parenthesis, a "" means the player was on the "bargains" list and a plain - meaning the player did not appear in the last survey.)

1. Adam Dunn, dh, -20,499,120 (1)
2. Alex Rios, of, -15,388,332 (2)
3. Jake Peavy, sp, -6,191,922 (4)
4. Mark Teahen, if-of, -4,875,357 (3)
5. Omar Vizquel, if, -3,773,411 (5)
6. Juan Pierre, of, -3,370,207 (6)
7. Tony Pena, rp, -1,698,205 (8)
8. Brian Bruney, rp, -1,527,898 (7)
9. Lastings Milledge, of, -1,472,249 (9)
10. Dallas McPherson, 1b-3b, -1,019,967 (10)
11. Jason Frasor, rp, -885,155 (12)
12. Matt Thornton, rp, -821,436 (11)
13. Shane Lindsay, rp, -783,493 (-)
14. Eduardo Escobar, if, -345,600 (-)
15. Will Ohman, rp, -335,262 (23)
16. Brent Morel, 3b, -267,240 (20)
17. Lucas Harrell, rp, -260,128 (14)
18. Addison Reed, rp, -169,647 (-)
19. Donny Lucy, c, -128,099 (13)

Everything wrong is right again, as Dunn and Rios remain 1-2 at the top here and well outpacing the other 17 poor White Sox values combined. More than half of the players listed above are either no longer with the White Sox or have been with the club only briefly.
White Sox Added Value

White Sox Added Value Over the past 10 games, here are the White Sox who have increased their value to the team (players who were not active with the team over the past 10 games are not included in this list).

1. Alejandro De Aza, of, 2,159,063 (1)
2. Phil Humber, sp, 1,758,352 (8)
3. Matt Thornton, rp, 1,648,915 (6)
4. Zach Stewart, sp, 1,321,715 (-3)
5. Brent Lillibridge, of-if, 1,195,493 (-12)
6. Alexei Ramirez, ss, 1,145,807 (5)
7. Mark Buehrle, sp, 1,009,157 (-13)
8. Gavin Floyd, sp, 850,206 (-11)
9. Jake Peavy, sp, 844,750 (-2)
10. Dayan Viciedo, of-if, 819,585 (-)
11. Chris Sale, rp, 654,772 (10)
12. Jesse Crain, rp, 354,386 (4)
13. Josh Kinney, rp, 340,411 (13)
14. Paul Konerko, 1b, 277,465 (12)
15. Donny Lucy, c, 200,721 (-9)
16. Jason Frasor, rp, 36,866 (11)

In territory that was customarily occupied by Ramirez, De Aza has gone back-to-back as the top value in Chicago over now the past 20 gamesvirtually his entire stay with the White Sox (hes played 34 games total and came up to the majors at the end of July).

No shock that after their brilliant outings, both Humber and Stewart have surged near the top of the added value list, Stewart jumping from high on the lost value list to high in added value.
White Sox Lost Value

White Sox Lost Value Over the past 10 games, here are the White Sox who have decreased their value to the team. (players who were not active with the team over the past 10 games are not included in this list).

1. Adam Dunn, dh, -1,672,995 (1)
2. Alex Rios, of, -1,372,409 (6)
3. A.J. Pierzynski, c, -943,917 (-)
4. Sergio Santos, rp, -852,135 (7)
5. Shane Lindsay, rp, -783,493 (-)
6. Juan Pierre, of, -782,354 (10)
7. John Danks, sp, -542,082 (2)
8. Omar Vizquel, if, -487,658 (7)
9. Brent Morel, 3b, -478,974 (9)
10. Gordon Beckham, 2b, -460,266 (4)
11. Eduardo Escobar, if, -345,600 (-)
12. Addison Reed, rp, -169,647 (-)
13. Will Ohman, rp, -148,326 (8)
14. Tyler Flowers, c, -146,553 (3)

Again in a case of wrongs righting themselves, Rios has rejoined partner in crime Dunn atop the lost value list, with the two players costing the White Sox more than 3 million over just the past 10 games. That puts Rios recent hot streak (six-game hitting streak) in perspective, as even such a run couldnt offset how poorly he performed on the front end of this last set of 10 games.

Overall, players collectively dropped -737,520 in value and stand at 10,344,296 in the hole for the entire season, making it a virtual lock that the Chicago offense, vaunted before the season began, will not break even in 2011.

On the plus side, the pitching continues to surge, adding 6,871,892 in value in the past 10 games and standing at 27,222,943 in total value for the season.

Thus the White Sox are in the black on the year, at 16,878,647, a surge of 6,134,372 from the 130-game mark.

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

White Sox record isn't pretty, but Yoan Moncada has provided a shiny silver lining of late

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USA TODAY

White Sox record isn't pretty, but Yoan Moncada has provided a shiny silver lining of late

The silver linings aren’t always a joy to find during this rebuilding season. “Well, at least …” can become a somewhat tired refrain as the White Sox sit at 5-16.

But that’s the reality for the rebuilding White Sox, for whom brighter days surely lie ahead. The stocked farm system keeps delivering news of prospect achievements, and the young players at the major league level are providing their own positive signs for the years that are coming.

The South Siders wrapped a 1-5 homestand Wednesday afternoon with their second straight one-run defeat to the visiting Seattle Mariners. They only had one hit after the third and saw the last 13 hitters go down in order. James Shields walked four more guys to bring his season total to 17 in six appearances. The White Sox starting staff leads the majors with 65 free passes issued.

Well, at least … 

Wednesday, it was Yoan Moncada’s leadoff homer in the bottom of the first, a ball that was absolutely crushed into the right-field seats. The distance and power were strong signs for a player expected to be at the center of all that future success. But perhaps of greater note to those who have watched his still-nascent big league career was the fact that the homer came on the first pitch Felix Hernandez threw, a departure from the long at-bats Moncada has been famous for working in his first two seasons on the South Side.

But perhaps it’s just as strong a showing of his hitter’s eye that he was able to do what he did with that first pitch.

“I was trying to be aggressive in that at-bat, swing at the first pitch,” Moncada said. “It was a good pitch for me, and I put the barrel on the ball and made good contact. That was it.”

Moncada, to add luster to this silver lining, has been mashing of late. In the last nine games, Moncada is slashing .333/.421/.848 with eight extra-base hits, four home runs, eight RBIs and eight runs scored. His five home runs rank second on the team, behind only Jose Abreu. And he's just two days removed from coming a single short of the cycle in Monday's win. Yes, he’s also struck out 14 times in the nine-game span, a constant concern for a guy who’s right around the major league lead in punch outs. But he’s also drawn five walks and stolen four bases.

Yes, the White Sox went 1-8 in those contests. But if the 2018 campaign is about developing the players who will power future contenders, then this recent surge by Moncada, one of the rebuild’s biggest stars, ought to please the front office and fans alike who have bought in to the rebuild but remain eager for the strategy to translate into big league success.

“As experience and time give him more opportunity to gain more knowledge of himself and the opponent, and what he’s capable of doing, he’s barely scratching the surface of who he is,” manager Rick Renteria said. “There’s no way that any of us believe in any way, shape or form that he’s a finished product. He continues to develop his skill set, continues to learn, make adjustments as do most players, but one as young as he is, with the skill set he brings to the table, you hope that it ultimately winds up playing really big dividends, which I believe we expect that in the near future.”

“I agree with Ricky,” Moncada said. “I also think that I’m just in the learning process. It’s step by step. I think that I have a lot of talent and I can be a much better player overall. I agree with him. It’s just a process. I try to improve and get better every day.”

An interesting question might be how many leadoff home runs Moncada will have a chance to hit when the oft-projected 2020 lineup takes full shape. Moncada was seemingly entrenched in the leadoff spot when this season began, though Renteria has already moved him out of that spot against left-handers, opting instead to put Tim Anderson at the top of the lineup. Moncada’s got just one hit in only four at-bats outside the leadoff spot, more an indication of his struggles against lefties, against whom he’s batting .130 with 12 strikeouts in 23 at-bats.

Though with his increased power display in the last week and a half, it sparks curiosities of Moncada being more of a middle-of-the-order bat than one that is parked at the top for the remainder of his career.

“He has an extremely good eye,” Renteria said. “Right now, as you see, we’ve mixed and matched him with Timmy now the last two or three days maybe to give him the best chance to have the most positive outcomes possible. We know that right now against righties, he’s very, very good. And right now he’s working on improving his approaches against left-handed pitchers. Seems to me the last couple of days he’s shown some pretty good signs against lefties in his at-bats, contact, swings, approach, and so we’re going to try to continue to develop whatever we need to do in order to maximize the confidence he can gain and the opportunities he gets in any situation.

“And then at some point, I’m sure it will be defined as to what he is ultimately from both sides of the plate and if he’s going to be ultimately a leadoff hitter from both sides of the plate against anybody. His eye says to me that he’s capable of doing that. But sometimes you want to give him the best matchup and you also want to, within the construct of the lineup that you have and the guys that you have, maximize what those guys are capable of doing.”

Moncada and the White Sox both have a long way to go until they transform from 5-16 to the planned contender this rebuilding effort is supposed to yield. But if this season is about anything at the big league level, it’s about Moncada’s development. It’s a small sample size, yes, but of late, Moncada has shown some signs of a guy who could be one of the reasons the South Siders are contending one day.

Now that Ronald Acuna has reached the majors, taking a look at Michael Kopech's timetable

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AP

Now that Ronald Acuna has reached the majors, taking a look at Michael Kopech's timetable

Michael Kopech blew up White Sox Twitter again Wednesday morning, adding eight more strikeouts to his impressive 2018 total and turning in another strong outing down at Triple-A Charlotte.

Couple that with news that Ronald Acuna, the No. 2 prospect in baseball, is set to make his major league debut with the Atlanta Braves, and the already loud “are we there yet?” style chorus wondering when Kopech will arrive on the South Side grew even louder.

It’s that time of year, when highly rated prospects get called up now that they’re no longer in danger of racking up a year of big league service time, pushing their free-agent clocks back another year. It’s a somewhat confusing situation, even for Chicago baseball fans and observers who went through this not too long ago with Kris Bryant and the Cubs.

The deal is this: The rulebook states a player will accrue a year of major league service time if he spends 172 days on a major league roster in a given year. That’s a lot when you consider that the 2018 season is only 187 days long. So pretty much after two weeks of the season elapse, prospects can get called up, spend the rest of the season on the roster and still not log a year of service time. It’s a handy ploy for teams to squeeze an extra year of team control out of a player.

So what’s all this have to do with Kopech?

Well, if you think the White Sox are simply waiting to bring him up to the majors so they can get an extra year of him down the road — which would be a smart thing to do considering the White Sox aren’t attempting to use Kopech’s services to win this season but rather a year or two from now and then far into the future — you might expect him to be called up soon.

There is this thing called “Super Two” that, were the White Sox sole goal just to delay his arrival to get another year of team control, would need to be taken into consideration. If a player is in the top 22 percent in his class in service time, along with some other stipulations, he could qualify for arbitration a year early. So there’s that to remember, too.

But, of course, there’s the logical notion that the White Sox just aren’t necessarily ready for Kopech to hit the majors just yet. General manager Rick Hahn said repeatedly during the offseason that the needs of the big league team and Kopech’s readiness for the majors will be independent of one another. For example, the White Sox need to figure out who’s going to start one half of Saturday’s doubleheader in Kansas City. It’s highly unlikely the team would rush Kopech to the bigs just because they need a spot starter in an April game against the Royals.

Hahn has stressed that there is no rush to get Kopech — or any other of the team’s highly rated prospects — to the majors. And that makes complete sense. The White Sox are not expected to contend for a championship this season, and if the results of the team’s first 20 games are any indication, they look as though they won’t be. So why give any of these young players anything less than ample amount of time to finish their development at a given level?

It makes sense why fans are so eager. This impressive collection of minor league talent has given this team a bright future. And while the losses keep coming at the big league level, it’s understandable why folks want that future to start as soon as possible.

But Kopech has made just seven starts at the Triple-A level. Eloy Jimenez has played in 24 games at the Double-A level. Many of the organization’s highest-rated prospects are still at the Class A level. The daily reports from the minor leagues are encouraging and exciting. And when Kopech does something like strike out 29 batters in four starts, it might seem like a readymade alternative to a starting staff at the big league level that’s walked 61 batters in 20 games.

But minor league success doesn’t always mean major league readiness. Look just a year ago at Yoan Moncada, then ranked as the No. 1 prospect in baseball. He didn’t make his first appearance in a White Sox uniform until mid-July. That was after he proved that he could dominate Triple-A over the course of 80 games. Kopech looks dominant, yes, but is four starts enough? Hahn said this offseason that using Moncada as an indicator for how the team would handle its other highly touted prospects might be a good way to think.

Kopech figures to be up to the majors this season. Jimenez, who’s spring training was limited by an injury and who didn’t start the regular season right on time because of a different injury, might be a bit further behind. But just because fans don’t see those players right away doesn’t mean they’re not doing exactly what the White Sox want them to do: develop into stars who can make this team a perennial contender. That, of course, takes time.