White Sox

Sox Drawer: Williams says no to Pujols, 'insanity'

293725.jpg

Sox Drawer: Williams says no to Pujols, 'insanity'

Monday, Feb. 21, 2011Posted: 4:30 p.m.
By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com

GLENDALE, Ariz-- Kenny Williams said he wanted peace and quiet at spring training this season. No drama. No controversies. Just baseball and sunshine.

Well, it was good while it lasted.

With the White Sox in position to contend for an AL Central title, there is an undercurrent of hostility boiling inside him. It has nothing to do with Ozzie or Twitter. But instead, the face of baseball, Albert Pujols.

The Cardinals slugger might be thousands of miles away from Glendale, but with talk that he might command around 30 million a year when his contract runs out or re-signs with the Cardinals, Williams has looked at the present and into the future, and he doesnt like what he sees.

Consider this his warning shot to the rest of the league.

For the games health as a whole, when were talking about 30 million dollar players, I think its asinine, Williams said in an interview with Comcast SportsNet. We have gotten to the point of no return. Something has to happen. And if it means the game being shut down for the sake of bringing sanity to it, to franchises that arent going to stop the insanity, Im all for it.

Considering the White Sox just raised their payroll for 2011 to around 125 million, a franchise record, one could say that Williams is just as guilty as the other big market teams who are contributing to the escalating salaries. But Williams is simply playing by the rules that the league set forth, a system without a salary cap, that gives big market teams a significant advantage over the smaller teams.

And get this: its a luxury Williams says he doesnt even want.

I personally, from a competitive standpoint, would love to be on an even playing field with everyone, Williams said. But its really difficult for me to complain too much when we still have a higher payroll than some of the others. So at least we have a fighting chance.

Pirates, Royals, Marlins...Kenny Williams is looking out for you. And hes not the only one.
Jerry Reinsdorf put it best when he and I had a conversation about it, he said, Its a shame that our game is played, and when the game starts, everybody plays under the same rules, the same 27 outs. The problem is, before the game, the rules are completely different.

Compare the Pujols situation to the NBA, where there's a salary cap. When LeBron James became a free agent last summer, the Cleveland Cavaliers, a small market team, had the money and ability to re-sign James. Forget about LeBrons intentions about where he actually wanted to play, but finances were never the issue for the Cavaliers.

But in baseball, what kind of shot do the Cleveland Indians have in signing Pujols? Zero.

If Pujols does hit the open market, only a handful of teams will be able to afford him. Would the White Sox go after him? The answer is no. Not at that price.

If (Jerry Reinsdorf) gave me 30 million dollars right now, Im not going to spend it on one guy. Sorry White Sox fans, Williams said. But I tell you what, Im going to take that 30 million and Im going to distribute it around. My team is going to be better as a whole than it is with one player who might get hurt. Then youre done. Sorry, thats just me. And thats no disrespect to a future Hall of Famer, first ballot, one of the greatest players in history.

Where is all of this headed? Nobody knows. Kenny Williams doesnt. But hes prepared for the worst-case scenario, which he believes might be the best-case scenario for the health of the league.

Youre not going to get any disagreement from me or argument from me if the game is shut down for a while until something is put in place where there is some sort of cap on the board, Williams said.

Do you think the game might get shut down?

Listen I love the game, I love the game for the players and the fans, but in order for the game to continue to be affordable for families, for guys who are hard-working guys busting their butts everyday to take their kids to a ballgame...well, hell yeah. Yes. Im okay with it being shut down.

Then Williams remembered something.

Wait a minute, didnt I say I wanted it quiet, I wanted peace? Let me shut the hell up already. I was hoping no one would ask me that this entire spring training.

And the drama begins again.

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.

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

0423-moncada-abreu.jpg
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

0423-yoan-moncada.jpg
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.