White Sox

Sox Drawer: White Sox predictions for 2011

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Sox Drawer: White Sox predictions for 2011

Monday, Oct. 4, 2010
6:12 PM

By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com

It's the day after the White Sox 2010 season came to an end. Paul Konerko is already back at his home in Arizona, hopefully just a pit stop before he re-signs with the Sox in the offseason. Bill Melton also lives in Arizona. He's returning home the old-fashioned way; in his car, driving the 1,700 miles by himself. He's probably somewhere around Joplin, Mo., by now, thinking about that home run he hit off Catfish Hunter in 1971.

Before he left, I asked him if he had any CDs to listen to for such an exhausting trip.

Nope. Just me and the road, he replied. So Melton.

As for me, I remain here in Chicago, with a couple days off before turning my attention to the Blackhawks, Bulls and Bears, and returning to the office and our brand new postgame set, which I almost burned to the ground. See the video above.

Kenny Williams will probably take a few days to recharge his batteries. Actually, if I know Kenny, it might only be a few minutes. The Sox general manager has some tough decisions to make in the months ahead. But for those of you who cant wait that long for the offseason to unfold, here are my predictions for 2011.

Please, no wagering.

Let's start with the four World Series heroes, and their chances of coming back:

Paul Konerko: 50 percent

The Sox first baseman, a free agent who was all-world in 2010, could command a two- or three-year deal worth 15 million a season. He averaged 12 million in his last contract signed in 2005. Williams spoke with Konerko at his locker for a few minutes before Sundays game. Jerry Reinsdorf did the same on Saturday. Both seem to be laying the foundation for the start of negotiations, but what the Sox canwill offer is anybodys guess.

"Jerry Reinsdorf, myself, and Ozzie Guillen, wed like to have him back," Williams said. "Lets be completely clear on that. Whether that happens or not because of all the variables, I have no clue right now."

Konerko is just as unclear. Sunday when I asked him if he was optimistic about re-signing, he replied, "I really have no opinion. I dont know what to think." And while hed prefer to stay with the White Sox, he is certainly open to the idea of playing elsewhere. "Pick a team out of a hat, and well see how it develops," Konerko said.

Say this. Paulies a good negotiator. In person, and in the press.

Williams doesnt know what his payroll will be for 2011. But it will likely be less than 2010. Asked Sunday if the economy and lower attendance will affect what he can spend, Williams said, How much? I dont know. Will it? Yes.

Konerko and Adam Dunn are the kings of this years free agent class at first base, and Dunn coincidentally fits in with what Williams is looking for: a lefty power hitter who can do damage.

That, along with the money situation, is part of the variables that Williams speaks of. But if the Sox pursue Dunn -- which they certainly will -- there will be plenty of competition, especially from the Cubs, where several players have already started campaigning for his services. Plus, Dunn has expressed his love for playing at Wrigley Field.

In the end, expect the White Sox to do everything in their power to bring Paulie back, at their price. Letting the heart and soul of the franchise leave after one of his best seasons would be a PR nightmare. But Reinsdorf has been down this road before. Remember Michael Jordan?

If all parties involved dont know where this is headed, how can I? Thats why its 50-50.

A.J. Pierzynski: 40 percent

This is a tough one. On the surface, it would seem the White Sox have very little choice but to bring him back. Hes one of the most durable catchers in the league, he calls a great game behind home plate, bats left-handed, is a fixture in the clubhouse and wants to come back. Furthermore, after batting .220 in Triple-A, Tyler Flowers, the Sox catcher of the future, doesnt seem ready for the starting job.

But Pierzynski heads into the offseason just hanging there, unlike the end of 2007 when he signed a two-year contract extension in late September, that paid him 6.25 million in 2009 and 2010.

Meanwhile, there are several cheaper alternatives heading to the market. Free agents like Josh Bard, John Buck, Ramon Hernandez and Gerald Laird will be available. Plus, there could be many non-tender candidates like Russell Martin, Ronny Paulino, Mike Napoli and Jeff Mathis. Its definitely a fluid market.

Speaking with him at his locker after Sundays game, Pierzynski made it known that while he wants to return to the Sox and might even take a hometown discount, hell only come back if the money is fair.

Im not going to take the worst deal of all time to come back here, Pierzynski said. Everyone knows my feelings about this place, this team and the owner and everyone involved. I love the White Sox and the city of Chicago, but at the same time I need to do whats best for me and my family. But Im not just going to come crawling back. I hope there are other teams interested, and I get a fair price, get a deal done and well go from there.

This will be very interesting to see how it plays out. It sounds like Kenny wants to do some shopping. He might end up going back to A.J., but if he sees something shiny and new in the window, dont be surprised if he walks into the store and buys it.

Bobby Jenks: 1 percent

On Saturday, Id say that Bobby had some chance of staying with the Sox. But after Sundays comments from Williams, theres little-to-no chance he returns.

As I sit here right now, that is something that we really have to evaluate strongly, Williams said of Jenks. Ive been disappointed on a number of levels. And there are certain things that Im not going to talk about right now.

Ouch.

Jenks battled injuries in 2010 and proved to be unreliable in certain stretches, even losing his closer role for a few games. He is arbitration eligible, and would likely earn around 9 or 10 million next season. Expect the Sox to either non-tender Jenks, or sign him to a new contract and trade him.

What does Jenks think?

If Im here, thats great. If not, damndest game.

Yep.

Freddy Garcia: 25 percent

Right now, the Sox have six, and potentially seven starters for next season. Mark Buehrle, John Danks, Gavin Floyd and Edwin Jackson are in (unless one of them gets dealt). Thats four. Add Jake Peavy, thats five. Williams has expressed the desire to have Chris Sale be a starter -- thats six. Where does that leave Garcia, a free agent? Likely out the door.

Its not how a pitcher should be treated after going 12-6, especially since Garcia won a total of five games in the previous three seasons combined. But the Sox pitching staff seems like its moving on without him.

Still, he proved to be one of the Sox biggest bargains, making just 1 million. Maybe he becomes the Sox new long relief man, or maybe he signs with the Yankees. Freddy likes the big games and the big stage. Theres nothing bigger than playing in the Bronx.

He definitely wont sign with the Royals or Indians.

Other predictions:

Williams will have the Padres on speed dial in his pursuit of Adrian Gonzalez. But is there room and enough money for Gonzalez and Konerko?

Carlos Quentin will come to spring training with a smile on his face. Hopefully it lasts until May. Probably not.

J.J. Putz will win a fantasy football league. Hes in six of them! Hes a free agent, and says he has no clue if hell be back with the Sox next season. I personally think he will. No way he parts with Matt Thornton, theyll be like lost puppies.

Omar Vizquel will continue to age backwards. The Sox will try to resign him, but by December hell be 8 years old and without a cell phone.

Sale will gain weight. About one pound.

Dayan Viciedo will draw a walk. He has to. He certainly doesnt during the season.

Manny Ramirez will stop speaking both English AND Spanish. Youll only be able to talk to him in German, and hell sign a minor-league contract with the Red Sox.

Jermaine Dye will be back in the majors. Likely in Seattle with the Mariners new manager, Joey Cora.

And with that, the Sox Drawer is closed for the 2010 season. But it will be open for business throughout the winter as the Sox prepare for 2011. Theres always something to write about it. Thanks for reading. Thanks for watching.

Chuck Garfien hosts White Sox Pregame and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet with former Sox sluggers Frank Thomas and Bill Melton. Follow Chuck @ChuckGarfien on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox news and views.

Up close, White Sox see same big potential Cubs forecasted for Dylan Cease

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Up close, White Sox see same big potential Cubs forecasted for Dylan Cease

The Cubs made the Jose Quintana deal knowing it would have been more difficult to give up Dylan Cease if he was already performing at the Double-A level, and that the White Sox organization would be a good place to continue his education as a young pitcher.

While Eloy Jimenez keeps drawing ridiculous comparisons – the running total now includes Kris Bryant, Miguel Cabrera, Edgar Martinez and David Ortiz – Cease is more than just the other name prospect from the deal that shocked the baseball world during the All-Star break.

“We still project him as a starter,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said during this week’s GM meetings in Florida. “He certainly has the stuff where it’s easy to envision him as a potential dominant reliever. But to this point – for the foreseeable future – we deal with the starting and continue to develop him as a potential front-end arm.”

The Theo Epstein regime still hasn’t developed an impact homegrown pitcher, but that hasn’t stopped the Cubs from winning 292 games, six playoff rounds and a World Series title across the last three seasons, while still being in a strong position to win the National League Central again in 2018.

Without Quintana and his affordable contract that can run through 2020, Epstein’s front office might have been looking at the daunting possibility of trying to acquire three starting pitchers this winter.

While surveying a farm system in the middle of a natural downturn, Baseball America ranked seven pitchers on its top-10 list of prospects from the Cubs organization: Adbert Alzolay, Jose Albertos, Alex Lange, Oscar De La Cruz, Brendon Little, Thomas Hatch and Jen-Ho Tseng.

So far, only Alzolay, an Arizona Fall League Fall Star with seven starts for Double-A Tennessee on his resume, and Tseng, who made his big-league debut in September, have pitched above the A-ball level.

Cease – who went 0-8 with a 3.89 ERA for Class-A Kannapolis in his first nine starts in the White Sox system – has a 100-mph fastball and a big curveball and won’t turn 22 until next month. That stuff allowed Cease to pile up 126 strikeouts against 44 walks in 93.1 innings this year, putting him in the wave that includes Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Michael Kopech and Alec Hansen.

“Ideally, we have a lot of guys we project to be part of the future, very good, championship-caliber rotation,” Hahn said. “In an ideal world, there’s not going to be room at the inn for all of them. You only have five in that rotation and some of these guys will wind up in the bullpen. In reality, as players develop, you’re going to see some attrition.”

One spot after the White Sox grabbed Carlos Rodon with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 draft, the Cubs did Kyle Schwarber’s below-slot deal, using part of the savings to buy out Cease’s commitment to Vanderbilt University ($1.5 million bonus for a sixth-rounder) and supervise his recovery from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

Cease was never going to be on the fast track to Wrigley Field, and now the White Sox hope he can be part of the foundation on the South Side, where it’s easier to sell a rebuild after watching the Cubs and Houston Astros become World Series champions.

“It doesn’t change really for us internally in terms of our commitment or focus or our plan or our timeline or anything along those lines,” Hahn said. “I do think, perhaps, it helps the fan base understand a little bit about what the process looks like, where other teams have been and how long the path they took to get to the ultimate goal of winning a World Series (was). In Chicago, many fans saw it firsthand with the Cubs.

“There are certainly more and more examples in the game over the last several years to help sort of show fans the path and justification for what we’re (doing).”

The White Sox just traded for a really intriguing arm

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USA TODAY

The White Sox just traded for a really intriguing arm

The White Sox continued their rebuild Thursday by trading for an intriguing young right-handed pitcher.

The South Siders acquired Thyago Vieira from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for international signing bonus pool money.

The 24-year-old Vieira is a Brazilian native and has only made one appearance in the big leagues, striking out a batter in one perfect inning of work in 2017.

While his career minor-league numbers don't jump off the page — 14-19 with a 4.58 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 13 saves and 7.4 K/9 in 290.2 innings \— Vieira has been reportedly clocked at 104 mph with his fastball and was ranked as the Mariners' No. 8 prospect at the time of the deal. He also held righties to .194 batting average in 2017.

Here's video of Vieira throwing gas:

And this may explain why Vieira was even available:

Control has been an issue throughout his career, as he's walked 4.6 batters per nine innings in the minors. He has improved in that regard over the last few seasons, however, walking only 22 batters in 54 innings across three levels in 2017 and he doled out only one free pass in 5.1 innings in the Arizona Fall League in 2016.

What does this deal mean in the big picture for baseball? How did the Sox pull off a move like this while not having to give up a player in return? 

This may help shed light on the situation from Baseball America's Kyle Glaser:

Either way, the White Sox may have just acquired a guy who could potentially throw his name in the hat for "future closer." Or at the very least, throw his name in the hat for "best name."