White Sox

Sox Drawer: Manny Time

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Sox Drawer: Manny Time

Monday, Aug. 30, 2010
Updated 4:40 PM

By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com

When I asked White Sox general manager Kenny Williams on Friday if he was any closer to acquiring a certain dreadlocked slugger, he coyly replied, its going to be an interesting weekend. Get ready, because this White Sox season, already loaded with interest and intrigue, has the potential to explode through your television set.

Manny Ramirez is coming to the South Side.

The White Sox and Dodgers finalized the deal on Monday, with the Sox picking up Ramirez and the 3.8 million remaining on his contract.

Once the trade was made, Williams spoke by phone with Ramirez, who will make his White Sox debut Tuesday night in Cleveland on Comcast SportsNet at 6pm.

Hes excited, Williams said. Hes a funny guy too, and really wanted to get going and show that hes still one of the premier hitters around. What better way to do it than to come to a club thats competing for a championship and help us along the way.

Yes, Williams doesnt have his sights set on just winning the AL Central. Hes thinking bigger, and believes that once you get into the post-season, having a special bat like Mannys is critical for success.

We not only want to get into the playoffs, but once we get into the playoffs, we want the chance to do something special, and there are some teams that have some good pitching, and you need a hitter that can not only hit good pitching, but can hit good pitching in the clutch, and this guy has been there and done that in the past.

Want proof? Check out Ramirez career numbers against some of the American Leagues top pitchers, some of whom the White Sox might face in the days and weeks ahead:

John Lackey: .429 5 HR 12 RBI

CC Sabathia: .583 4 HR 8 RBIs

Cliff Lee: .429 2 HR 6 RBIs
Andy Pettitte: .405 5 HR 20 RBIs
Dan Haren: .514 3 HR 6 RBIs
Matt Garza: .455
A.J. Burnett: .500

The White Sox are known for their firework shows. With Manny, they get a player who comes to town with his own pyrotechnics. Williams is hoping that a change of scenery will suddenly light Mannys fuse, and add some spark in the process.

Whats wrong with a little flare, whats wrong with a little character and have a little fun in the process, Williams said. As long as he plays hard and goes about his business as a pro, there will be no issues here. Weve got a lot of personalities around here if you havent noticed.

Williams certainly noticed what Ramirez can do late in the season in the right situation. Just see the Dodgers in 2008.

Los Angeles acquired Ramirez from the Red Sox, and he produced two of the greatest months of offense in Dodgers history, hitting .396 with 17 homers and 53 RBIs in August and September, almost single-handedly guiding Los Angeles into the playoffs, and past the Cubs in the first round.

But that was 36-year-old, pre 50-game drug suspension Manny. Now at 38, we are left to wonder how much he has left in the tank.

For the season, Ramirez is hitting .311 with eight home runs and 40 RBIs in 66 games. Not jaw-dropping numbers, but keep in mind, they occurred from April through June. The Sox got Ramirez for September and October, otherwise known as Manny Time.

One of the most clutch hitters over the last 20 years, Ramirez is legendary for seizing the moment. Hes hit 93 career home runs in September and October. With the bases loaded, hes a career .332 hitter (with 21 homers and 252 RBIs). With runners in scoring position, hes batting .328. With 2 outs, its .311.

Hes hit 55 home runs in the eighth inning, 31 homers in the ninth.

And against the Minnesota Twins?

Hes a lifetime .331 hitter with 39 doubles, 29 homers, and 114 RBIs. Dont think the White Sox havent checked.

When Ramirez became a target for the White Sox last month, Williams said he didnt need to do much to convince Jerry Reinsdorf. The Chairman, who is a savvy baseball man, was in from the beginning.

A lot of people dont know this, but (Reinsdorf) is ultra competitive, so my selling job didnt have to be me pounding the table, Williams said. He wants to win just as much as I do. Hes not adverse to taking a shot, taking a chance.

When I asked CSN analyst Bill Melton on Sunday what made Frank Thomas such a special hitter, he said When you were leaving the ballpark whether the White Sox were winning or losing, he was the type of hitter where fans would actually stop in the middle of the aisles and say, Lets watch Frank hit one more time.

Ramirez is the same way.

Youll love him. Youll hate him. But one thing is for sure, youll watch him. You cant help it.

Thats Manny.

And now, hes headed to the White Sox. Right in the heat of a pennant race and in the middle of a KennyOzzie love triangle.

One thing is for sure: fireworks are coming, either on the field or off it.

Yo-Yo and the Big Elephant: Now this is the show South Side fans have been waiting for

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AP

Yo-Yo and the Big Elephant: Now this is the show South Side fans have been waiting for

Yo-Yo and the Big Elephant sound like characters from your kid’s favorite show (or your favorite show, if you happen to be a kid).

But instead they’re the duo South Side baseball fans have been waiting for.

You might know them better as the Cuban Connection, an alliterative and far less confusing nickname that describes Yoan Moncada and Jose Abreu, who in Monday night’s 10-4 win over the visiting Seattle Mariners combined for seven hits, three home runs, a double, a triple, six runs scored and four RBIs.

It was a welcome sight after the White Sox offense slumbered through a weekend series with the Houston Astros in which they mustered just two runs. Heck, this offense has been hard to find during the entire month of April. Entering Monday, it’d produced just 16 runs in its last seven games (with 11 of those coming in a single contest).

But then came Monday’s show, in which Abreu launched a pair of homers and Moncada came a single short of hitting for the cycle. That had to be a proud moment for Abreu, who’s taken his countryman under his wing since Moncada arrived in the majors last summer.

“I’m really mad at him because he had two chances to do it and he couldn’t,” Abreu joked with the help of a translator. “Seriously, I’m really happy for him. I know today was a special game for him. I know he couldn’t hit for the cycle today. But he’s going to have more chances in the future. He’s going to be good.”

This is what White Sox fans have been hoping for. It’s what they’re still waiting for, considering much of that oft-discussed team of the future is still developing in the minor leagues. But Moncada is the story of 2018 at the major league level, how development will continue for the player White Sox fans drooled over at this time last year, when he was ranked as baseball’s top prospect.

Moncada got a lot of early attention for his high strikeout total, and with another punch out Monday he’s now got 34 on the season, still one of the highest totals in the league. But his numbers are looking good in many other facets. He raised his batting average .026 points Monday alone, and he’s now slashing .240/.345/.493 on the still-young season.

Abreu, of course, is the White Sox best hitter and has been ever since he arrived from Cuba before the 2014 season. For a team in such an offensive rut, Abreu’s four-hit night Monday raised his batting average up over .300, to .308. He’s now got six homers on the season, the most on the team and one of the higher totals in the American League. While Moncada and others will spend 2018 showing the White Sox what they will be in the future, this was expected from a guy who’s been one of baseball’s most consistent hitters in the last half decade.

But the future comes into play with Abreu, too, whose consistency at the plate and his presence in the clubhouse as a mentor to Moncada and other young players make him as believable a part of those planned future contenders as any of the organization’s highly rated prospects. A contract decision will need to be made at some point, obviously, but the White Sox will tell you any day of the week how much they value Abreu, who knows exactly where this franchise is and is excited as anyone about where it’s going.

“Everybody knows we are in the process, and everybody knows what this process is about,” Abreu said. “We have a lot of young talent, a lot of young players. They are going to hit some bumps and have some struggles as a team. But I think we all know how we have to play this game. (Manager Rick Renteria) has taught us how to play this game, how to play this game representing the White Sox organization and how they play this game.

“I feel really happy. We prove today that we are able to play a good game and to show the rest how we win games. That is the way we like to play.”

Monday was a bright spot in what’s been an otherwise very tough start to the 2018 campaign. But for a team where the future is what matters most, this is what fans have been waiting to see. A game like this might not be commonplace as the summer rolls on on the South Side. But for those dreaming about Moncada and Abreu teaming to lead those contenders of the future, this was one heck of a glimpse into the crystal ball.

“That’s our goal to have big games together for this team,” Moncada said. “Having the opportunity to play with Abreu — ‘The Big Elephant’ as we call him in Cuba — it’s good for me. It’s a big honor. I feel really happy when we have these kinds of games.”

Yoan Moncada nearly hits for the cycle, Jose Abreu hits two homers and the White Sox finally break out the bats

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AP

Yoan Moncada nearly hits for the cycle, Jose Abreu hits two homers and the White Sox finally break out the bats

So, anyone out there still worried about Yoan Moncada?

The White Sox second baseman, who at this time last year was the top-ranked prospect in baseball, was the subject of much social-media frustration through the season's first few weeks. But it's safe to say he's "redeemed" himself in the eyes of fretting fans.

Monday night, he led the White Sox offensive eruption with a three-hit night that brought him just a single shy of the cycle in a 10-4 win over the visiting Seattle Mariners.

Moncada started the offensive outburst with a leadoff triple in the bottom of the first inning. He doubled to start the bottom of the second and launched a solo homer to begin the bottom of the fourth. He scored all three times.

Moncada entered the game with a .214/.329/.400 slash line, though he's been hot of late. In the last seven games, he's got nine hits, six extra-base hits and three homers. He still has 34 strikeouts on the season, one of the highest totals in the majors, but he's putting up some good numbers elsewhere.

Abreu also had a red-hot Monday night, picking up four hits with a couple of homers, the 12th time he's bashed multiple long balls in a single game.

It was quite the performance for a White Sox offense that has mostly been quiet so far in 2018. They scored just two total runs in three straight blowout losses against the Houston Astros over the weekend. And while they plated 11 in that 14-inning marathon in Oakland, the three road games prior to that featured a grand total of three runs.

Monday night that all changed with the White Sox banging out 18 hits, including seven straight to start the bottom of the first, the first time that happened in the big leagues in four years.