White Sox

White Sox hoping for consistency out of Floyd

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White Sox hoping for consistency out of Floyd

If there's a telling stat from Gavin Floyd's 2012 season, it's this: The right-hander led the White Sox in starts of at least six scoreless innings (6), but tied for the team lead for starts with five or more earned runs allowed (7).

For the most part, that up-and-down nature has dogged Floyd for the last four seasons. The results have been remarkably consistent, though: His ERA has never been below 4.06 or above 4.37, and he's thrown between 168 and 193 23 innings from 2009-2012.

Another constant for Floyd, who turns 30 on Sunday, has been seeing his name thrown around in trade rumors. The whispers reached such a cacophony last winter that someone created a website IsGavinFloydABlueJay.com, offering nothing more than a "yes" or "no" prompt.

While Floyd didn't go so far as to visit that URL, he hasn't been able to completely block out the noise.

"It goes in waves. Sometimes I pay attention to it, and sometimes I don't," Floyd said. "Anytime you're not sure if you're going to be with the same team that you were last year, you think about it. Ultimately, if it's going to happen, it's going to happen. You really can't ponder too much about it."

Floyd, had his 9.5 million option for 2013 picked up last October, so the upcoming season represents a true contract year. But he said he's not setting any specific ambitions for what may be his final season with the White Sox.

"I've run through so many different goals and stuff like that, I've learned over time that you just gotta live in the present and only try to focus on today," Floyd said. "How am I going to better myself, whether it's working out, looking at video and getting ready for each start. If I could just simplify it, it'll put me in the best position to be successful or consistent."

While Floyd was encouraged by the results following some late-season tweaks, there still were blips. Before throwing seven shutout innings to end the season in Cleveland, Floyd issued five walks in five innings against Tampa Bay. He bookended 7 23 shutout innings against Toronto with starts in which he walked 11 and gave up six runs in 11 23 innings.

Still, Floyd's overall body of work hasn't dipped below league average, as general manager Rick Hahn -- citing Floyd's WAR -- pointed out. But given Floyd's ceiling, those pitfalls are often what's focused on when examining his numbers.

"You can see him throw seven, eight innings of no-hit caliber ball, and then there will be some shorter outings where he gets blown up a little bit," Hahn said. "When you have that kind of stuff, when you have the ability to throw that length of shutout and quality outings, we know that's in there."

That consistency is what's been missing during Floyd's tenure with the White Sox, but he's hoping that going into 2013 without putting any pressure on himself will lead to the results his team is looking for.

"You just try to have a clear mind and ignore whatever just happened, just keep grinding it out and push because you know things will turn around," Floyd said.

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."