White Sox

Sox Drawer: Kenny Downplays Matsui Rumors


Sox Drawer: Kenny Downplays Matsui Rumors

Wednesday, December 9th

5:07 pm

If the White Sox are unable to sign free agent reliever (and Matt Thornton buddy) J.J. Putz, I guess you can put the blame on Sun-Times Sox beat writer Joe Cowley. Joe reported yesterday that the Sox had asked Thornton to place a call into Putz about coming to the Sox. Once the story spread across the World Wide Web, Williams sensed a change in talks, and now feels like a deal won't happen.

"We thought we had something going on," Williams said. "But as I've told you guys many times before when things become public to a large degree the entire game changes and most times or not, you're not going to get a deal. So something we thought we might be a little closer on becomes public. Now it's not so close."

3:26 pm

Don't buy those White Sox Hideki Matsui jerseys just yet.

Kenny Williams used his media session today to downplay reports that the Sox are close to a deal with the longtime New York Yankees outfielder.

"All I've said is he's a great player," Williams said.

Actually Kenny called Matsui a "good" player yesterday, so reading between the lines, it means...ummmm...nothing. Sorry.

He continued, "I never said that we were pursuing him. I'm not going to say that we're not because I don't know how the rest of the off-season is going to develop. But certainly in recent times I haven't had any discussions with regards to him. More interest has been written and spoken about than we've pursued recently."

One of the hurdles for Matsui might be his desire to return to the Yankees. However, with the Bombers getting Curtis Granderson and with Johnny Damon also a free agent, there are some serious question marks about what New York plans to do with its outfield.
Matsui might wait until he hears definitively from the Yankees about their plans before listening to other offers.

Still, Williams is up to something. If not Matsui, there could be another deal in the picture.

"I can do something within the next 5 minutes, or it could be nothing. I don't know," Williams said.

Minutes later, he then lowered expectations of a move when asked about the amount of money he has to play with. "We're tight. We're really tight. I don't know that we'll do anything. I don't anticipate it."

So there you go.

One of the most interesting comments from Williams came when he was asked about the Cubs Milton Bradley, who as I write this, is still Cubs property.

"The funny thing is, I've had the pleasure of talking to Milton in the past, and it saddens me to a great extent actually some of the things he's been put in or put himself in. I'd like to see this guy go out there without all the distractions and everything and do what he can do, because this guy can play."

Well, the White Sox can use a left-handed bat (or switch hitter in Milton's case) who plays the outfield, can DH, and has a high on-base percentage. Would the Sox dare enter the Bradley sweepstakes?

"I don't know that I see a fit for us," Williams said. "And I probably shouldn't even be talking about him because he's not our player, but Milton Bradley can play. And it's just too bad because he's a more thoughtful person and a better person than I think he has been portrayed or he's shown or however it has manifested itself. It's too bad."

Williams ended his Bradley comments with "I'm staying out of Cubs business."

But after his session with Chicago media, Kenny had other business to attend to, like the massive Japanese media contingency that was anxiously waiting outside the door, ready to pepper the Sox GM about Japanese icon, Matsui.

It was quite a scene. We'll have it for you tonight on SportsNite at 6:30 and 10pm.

Williams repeated his Matsui stance saying, "We haven't had enough substantial conversations with his representatives or himself to even think there could be a real possibility right now."

Whether the Sox get Matsui or anyone for that matter, Williams made one thing very clear.

"I will not disrespect anyone by calling them or making contact until I'm serious. And then when I'm serious about something, things move very quickly. We're either in or we're out."

10:16 am

Not sure if you've noticed, but a seismic dose of economic reality has hit the American League Central, and it has taken a thunderous whack at the White Sox main competition. In fact, the Sox should be theoretically better because their rivals are on the road to getting worse.

Let's take a look at the recent damage:

The Twins lost Johan Santana. They couldn't afford him. The Indians traded away C.C. Sabathia and Cliff Lee. Ditto and ditto. And now comes the latest exodus: The Tigers have waved bon voyage to Curtis Granderson, their center fielder, their leadoff hitter (tough to find, ask the Sox), not to mention their charismatic face of the franchise.

The Tigers did trade for and sign Miguel Cabrera to that monster eight-year, 156 million contract in 2008. Something tells me he'll be the next to go. Maybe not this year, but eventually.

So where did all of these former Central All-Stars end up?

Santana to the Mets. Sabathia to the Yankees (via Milwaukee). Lee to the Phillies. And now Granderson joins Sabathia in the Bronx.

See a pattern?

And what did the Sox rivals get in return? We'll probably know in a couple of years. But in the Twins case, the verdict is about to be read:

The Twins, guilty on all counts for not spending enough money.

Granted, they still made the playoffs in 2009, and were a Blackout game from getting there in 2008, but if they were able to keep Santana, arguably the best pitcher in the game, they could have gone much further.

But instead, the Twins traded him to the Mets before he became a free agent, and hoped the deal would give them a bright and cheaper future.

The trade hasn't been. Bright that is.

The key player for the Twins in the Santana trade was Carlos Gomez. Two years later, where's Carlos? Sent to the Brewers this offseason for J.J. Hardy. As for the three other players the Twins received, Kevin Mulvey was dealt to Arizona in September as the player to be named later in a deal for pitcher Jon Rauch. Philip Humber pitched nine innings for the Twins last season, giving up eight runs and nine walks. Deolis Guerra went 6-3 with 5.17 ERA in Double-A.

Advantage: Mets.

The Twins are hoping to see an added revenue stream in their new outdoor ballpark. But I'm not sure how many people want to eat frozen hot dogs come April and September. Maybe they can serve them on a stick.

What will Kenny Williams be serving when he meets with the media later this afternoon? Matsui on a platter? Putz a la king? Coco Crisp for dessert?

As the Sox GM said Tuesday, "We might as well do something. Jerry Reinsdorf is paying a lot of money for the rooms."

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.