White Sox

Poor base running hurt 2015 White Sox in a big way


Poor base running hurt 2015 White Sox in a big way

There are several statistics you could point to as a key for a failed White Sox campaign that ended with a 6-0 loss the Detroit Tigers on Sunday afternoon.

But perhaps the one that best exemplifies a stumble that took the White Sox from postseason aspirations to narrowly avoiding the American League Central cellar is Outs On The Bases.

For while the White Sox offense scored the fewest runs in the AL, the defense was at or near the bottom of almost every metrical measure and the starting pitching wasn’t as good as they had hoped, there’s no question the 2015 White Sox were also felled by many self-inflicted wounds. Even though they entered Sunday with the fifth-worst on-base percentage in the majors, the White Sox somehow ran into a major league-leading 74 outs, according to baseball-reference.com -- 19 more than the league average.

“There are some mistakes you can make that look aggressive and some you make that don’t look aggressive, that just look like you’re not paying attention,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “There were too many of those.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Outs On The Bases doesn’t include stolen base attempts nor do runners who are picked off count. Same for force plays.

They’re merely an accumulation of plays where runners are thrown out stretching singles into doubles, contact plays that result in easy outs at home, or players caught trying to advance on balls that get away from the catcher, etc. If you’ve seen more than a handful of White Sox games this season, you’ve seen your fair share.

While they can represent an aggressive mindset (which is good if properly used), Outs On The Bases also can make a team appear as if it has no idea what it’s doing.

In Friday’s 2015 postmortem, general manager Rick Hahn said base running is one of the issues that plagued the White Sox this season.

“The mistakes on the bases, are far, far too numerous and not the brand of baseball we want to play,” Hahn said.

While fans on social media blame the coaching staff for these mistakes, Hahn and the players disagree. Hahn said players fundamentally hadn’t lived up to his expectations.

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But Ventura said he understands the criticism levied toward the coaching staff and said it comes with the position. Ventura is OK with aggressive outs, but not the ones caused by mental mistakes. He hopes next season’s team is more aware of the situation and alert, looking to coaches, paying attention to stop signs, etc.

“A lot of it is really what’s going on in the head as they’re running around, paying attention to Joe (McEwing) a little bit more,” Ventura said. “You continue to work at it. You continue to try to get them to learn when those situations are and when they aren’t. We have some guys who are young and haven’t been in the league all that long, so there is a certain element, and you want them to get it quicker rather than later.”

Leadoff man Adam Eaton, who made a team-high 12 Outs On The Bases,hopes experience gives White Sox players have a better idea what not to do in the future. He believes the mistakes fall squarely on the shoulders of the players, not the coaches. Echoing Hahn’s sentiments, Eaton said it’s not because of poor preparation -- plenty of work goes into base running in spring training.

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“Coaching is not the problem,” Eaton said. “We were well prepared coming into the season. Basepaths, it’s just us. Guys learning. From my standpoint, I’m still very young and I’m learning every day. I’m learning every day to be a better player on the basepaths, to take better care of myself out there.”

“It’s not the coaching, it’s us as players. If the season failed, it’s us.”

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


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


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.