White Sox

Sox Drawer: Danks back; Kenny on 'rebuilding'

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Sox Drawer: Danks back; Kenny on 'rebuilding'

When a pitcher starts a season going 0-8, and finishes with the most losses (12) and highest ERA (4.33) since his rookie year, he is more likely to expect a lump of coal in his Christmas stocking than a five-year, 65 million contract extension.

But thats exactly what John Danks received from the White Sox, who announced the deal on Thursday.

Coming off the worst year of my career, I didnt expect this for sure, Danks said on a conference call with reporters.

Does this sound like a team thats rebuilding?

No, it doesnt. And no, they arent. Not in the standard blow-it-up style that has been described since Kenny Williams uttered the word rebuilding at the winter meetings. Everyone heard that part of the sentence. The sheer sound of it may have ruptured both your eardrums.

Kenny might as well have said, Weve re-hired Terry Bevington.

But what seems to have been lost, forgotten or ignored from that Williams press conference were the words he said immediately after using the dredded r-word.

Its the start of a rebuilding now, the White Sox general manager said on Dec. 6. Is it the start of a falling domino-type rebuilding? No. Absolutely not.

Yes, Williams did say those words. But as we know, actions speak much louder. So when the White Sox proceeded to trade Sergio Santos for a prospect and not re-sign Mark Buehrle on back-to-back days, it certainly looked and felt like the team was in full rebuild mode.

But Thursday Williams prefaced it again. Theyre not tearing down the walls, just hoping to get bigger, stronger bricks.

We are still in win mode, Williams said. But at the same time that youre in win mode, you can be in a little bit of a rebuilding phase, and I tried to articulate that, although I guess that message got lost after I said we were rebuilding. I tried to articulate that it wouldnt be dominoes falling in terms of a true rebuilding because we have too many good veterans, and veterans looking to bounce back.

Danks is one of them, although he wasnt sure if hed be having a comeback year with the White Sox or some other team. The lefty was a red-hot name in many trade rumors to places like New York and Texas, but his first choice was to return to the White Sox.

Obviously, there was a lot of trade talk, and you cant help but wonder and think, said Danks, whose mother kept him up to date on all the rumors. But I think I kind of took the attitude that until something happens I was going to prepare to be with the White Sox. Fortunately, this came along and I couldnt be happier.

Or more surprised.

Although the White Sox had tried to sign Danks to an extension in the past, talks between the two sides had cooled until John recently received a phone call from his agent, Jeff Berry.

It really did come out of nowhere, Danks said. It was a very quick negotiation.

The five-year deal is the longest the White Sox have ever given to a pitcher. Due to their unpredictability with results and health, Jerry Reinsdorf prefers to limit pitching contracts to three years. Under the terms of the agreement, Danks will receive 8 million in 2012 which was to be his final season of arbitration eligibility, and 14.25 million in each season from 2013-2016.

For those wondering if the White Sox might try to deal Danks around the trade deadline if the upcoming season goes south, that very likely wont happen. According to MLB.com, Danks has a full no-trade clause in 2012, and a limited no-trade clause over the next four.

With Buehrle gone, there are some pretty large shoes to fill, but Danks says hes up to the challenge, beginning with pitching on Opening Day which Buehrle did for the White Sox a record nine times.

If you dont want to pitch on Opening Day, youre in the wrong profession, he said. I dont know what direction they want to go, but if I get the opportunity, I would love it.

What about catching the ceremonial first pitch? Buehrle made it a tradition for every home game in which he wasnt the starting pitcher. In those cases, Danks would take over.

I guess its me, Danks said.

And despite coming off a 79-83 season, and losing their best starter (Buehrle) and closer (Santos) from last season, Danks is expecting a comeback season for the White Sox.

I like our chances. I really do. Im not just saying that, he said. Obviously, there were a lot of guys, myself included, that underperformed from their career averages. Theres guys with great long track records that had down years and it was just a perfect storm. We all kind of struggled. We have a lot of the same guys back, and are capable of doing the opposite of what we did last year.

If Michael Kopech and Eloy Jimenez spent 2018 in the majors, what would their production look like?

If Michael Kopech and Eloy Jimenez spent 2018 in the majors, what would their production look like?

It’s no secret that the White Sox and their fans are hoping to see both Eloy Jimenez and Michael Kopech in the big leagues in 2018. And according to one full-season projection system, it seems that the computers agree that both will be MLB contributors very soon.

FanGraphs’ Steamer600 projections forecast what MLB hitters would do over 600 plate appearances and what pitchers would do over 200 innings – and both Jimenez and Kopech are close to MLB-ready.

Jimenez, MLB.com’s 5th ranked prospect, is projected to provide a 1.9 offensive WAR and Kopech, MLB.com’s 10th ranked prospect, would account for 1.4 WAR over the course of a full season.

So what does that mean?

Here are some comparable MLB players from 2017 in offensive Wins Above Replacement for Jimenez:

Jackie Bradley Jr., BOS – 1.9 (541 PA) 

Jedd Gyorko, STL – 1.9 (481 PA)

Andrew Benintendi, BOS – 1.9 (658 PA)

Yasiel Puig, LAD – 1.9 (570 PA)

Salvador Perez, KC – 1.9 (499 PA)

Very solid company, considering those five players combined for an average OPS of .788. The Steamer600 projections peg Jimenez for a .770 OPS over 600 plate appearances.

The full forecast is as follows: a .267 batting average, an on-base percentage of .317 and a .453 slugging percentage to go along with 23 home runs.

Meanwhile, Kopech might be a bit further away from being an impact player with a projected WAR of 1.4 over 200 innings.

Here are some MLB WAR comparisons from 2017 for Kopech:

Julio Teheran, ATL – 1.6 (188.1 IP)

Lucas Giolito, CHW – 1.5 (45.1 IP)

Dellin Betances, NYY – 1.5 (59.2 IP)

Miguel Gonzalez, CHW/TEX – 1.5 (156.0 IP)

Greg Holland, COL – 1.4 (44.2 IP)

As you can see, the comparisons are not nearly as promising for Kopech as they are for Jimenez. The comparable range is mostly made up of late-inning relievers or middle-of-the-pack starting pitchers.

With a 100 mile-per-hour fastball and wipeout slider come the occasional control issues, and that is where the Steamer600 projections hurt Kopech the most, with a forecasted walk rate of 5.4 walks per 9 innings pitched.

The full forecast for Kopech includes a 4.84 ERA with 216 strikeouts over 32 starts with 32 home runs allowed. 

Whether these projections come close to reality or not, having Kopech and Jimenez on the Major League doorstep is sure to give the White Sox rebuild yet another boost in the coming season.

Don't call me Carlos: 'I think I’m gonna stick with Yolmer'

Don't call me Carlos: 'I think I’m gonna stick with Yolmer'

After a breakout season in 2017, don’t expect any more name changes from the man formerly known as Carlos Sanchez.

“Yolmer hit more home runs so I think I’m gonna stick with Yolmer,” said Sanchez in an exclusive interview from his Arizona home. “I’m the same person, but Yolmer worked good this year, so I’ll stay with Yolmer.”

After doing away with the name Carlos, the 25-year old infielder set career-highs across the board last year, slugging 12 home runs, driving in 59 runs while posting a .732 OPS.  

He ranked third on the White Sox in Wins Above Replacement with 3.5, trailing only Jose Abreu’s 4.7 and Avisail Garcia’s 4.5. In the three seasons prior, Sanchez totaled just 0.4 WAR in 201 combined games. 

And now, 2018 provides a new opportunity. Sanchez is expected to be the everyday starting third baseman, the spot he took over following Todd Frazier’s midseason trade to the New York Yankees.

With an elevated role comes a vigorous offseason schedule. He took only 20 days off after the regular season before starting to train for the upcoming spring. 

“I don’t want to work just on one thing. I want to do everything and that’s why I start training so early,” he said. “My speed. More power. Agility. A lot of things.”

Sanchez certainly isn’t the flashiest name in a White Sox infield that includes Abreu and the middle-infield tandem of Yoan Moncada and Tim Anderson. But he knows his role on the team – being flashy off the field and bringing energy to the clubhouse. 

“If you go with a lot of energy to the game, a lot of things change,” said Sanchez. “That makes a lot of difference in one game. And one game can make a lot of difference during the season.”

But a 70-92 record by the White Sox certainly was not due to a lack of energy as much as a general lack of talent. That should change in 2018 – when fans can expect to see Moncada, as well as other names like Nicky Delmonico, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez play a full major league season. Not to mention prospects like Eloy Jimenez and Michael Kopech knocking on the door to the big leagues.

And that excites Sanchez.

“We’ve got really young players but really talented [players],” said Sanchez. “We have to get better, but I think we can do a lot of good things next year.”

Are there any young players Sanchez is specifically excited to see develop? 

“They’re all going to be really good if they keep working,” he said. “Moncada could be a superstar.” 

That’s exactly what the White Sox are hoping as well.