White Sox

Who likes the White Sox? Jim Leyland does

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Who likes the White Sox? Jim Leyland does

Before the season began, most baseball experts had two distinct predictions when it came to the Tigers and White Sox. One was slated to seek and destroy, the other was expected to run away and hide.

I think you can guess whos who.

But after winning five of their first eight games, and taking two of three from the Tigers, the White Sox have raised a few eyebrows -- but not Jim Leylands. They remain firmly planted in a horizontal line at the bottom of his forehead.

Why?

Mainly because Leyland thinks the prognosticators who are calling for the White Sox to lose 90-95 games are working with a shortage of baseball brain cells. And leave it to the outspoken Tigers manager to use his post-game press conference on Sunday as an opportunity to harpoon the pundits who are predicting gloom and doom for, of all teams, his AL Central rivals.

The people who made those picks dont know anything about baseball. Trust me, said the Tigers manager in a classic rant following his teams 5-2 victory at U.S. Cellular Field. If they think the Chicago White Sox arent going to be in the thick of this, theyre crazy.

But Leyland wasnt finished. Far from it.

They dont know anything about baseball, people making picks like that. They know nothing about baseball. Nothing. Since 2006 when I got here, this has been one of the best teams in the league every year, and theyll be right there.

Well, thats probably an exaggeration. The White Sox have clearly not been one of the top teams in the league every year since 06. However, theyve at least been in the conversation at the start of every season as a team that has a chance to contend. But not this year. Most people have been writing them off since November.

Leyland has been down that road before.

They picked us fourth last year. We won 95 games, so dont pay attention to those people. They just make a pick and they talk, but they dont know what theyre talking about, Leyland said.

If youre looking for an expert to talk about the White Sox, Leyland might be the guy. Hes seen his share of games between both clubs over the years, and the results have been all over the map. In his first three seasons in Detroit, the White Sox owned the Tigers, going a combined 35-20. Things were even the next two years until 2011, when the Tigers put a spanking on the White Sox, winning 13 of 18 games.

Leyland is not expecting a repeat of that in 2012, and now after seeing the Sox up close and personal for three days, hes come away impressed, basically giving a scouting report for his fellow American League managers.

Look at that pitching staff. Look at the arms they throw out there. Look at the arms they bring out of the bullpen, Leyland said. Paul Konerko is one of the best hitters in baseball. You know Adam Dunn is going to do a lot better than he did last year. He had a couple hits today. This is a good team. Alexei Ramirez is one of the best shortstops in the league. This is a real good team. A.J. Pierzynski is one of the best catchers and gets a lot of big hits.

Now before you pencil in the White Sox as contenders in the division, realize that there might be a method to Leylands madness. He could have used these comments to light a fire under his own team. Hes crafty like that.

But he also knows baseball, more than just about anybody in the game. Ill take his opinion over that of John Q. Baseball Expert.

Where is this season going for the White Sox? I have no clue. Nobody does. But here on April 15, theyre a half-game behind the Tigers and they look better than they did last year. Its only eight games, but thats the current reality. We cant predict the future. The experts tried, and Sunday, so did Leyland.

I dont know why anybody would not pick the White Sox as a solid, solid contender, he said. Weve got a good team. So do they. Theyre proving that.

Now just 154 games to go.

Would potential bargains like Mike Moustakas or Carlos Gonzalez make sense for White Sox?

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USA TODAY

Would potential bargains like Mike Moustakas or Carlos Gonzalez make sense for White Sox?

The 2017-18 baseball offseason continues to be, well, the 2017-18 baseball offseason, even with spring training games being played in Arizona and Florida.

A bunch of names remain on the free-agent market, including All-Star players who thought they would be in for big multi-year contracts. But as teams continue to deny the wishes of guys who expected to get big deals, the suggestion that those players might end up needing to take one-year offers if they want to play during the 2018 season is becoming a more common talking point.

So with potential bargains to be had for some pretty big-name players, do the White Sox jump into the waters and try to lock up a potential future piece on the cheap? Though they aren’t expected to contend this season, the White Sox have been mentioned in a pair of recent reports surrounding a pair of All-Star position players: Mike Moustakas and Carlos Gonzalez.

MLB.com's Jon Morosi wrote last week that the White Sox are a potential fit for Moustakas, who has sat and watched as former Kansas City Royals teammate Eric Hosmer received a huge contract from the San Diego Padres. Moustakas set a new Royals record last season with 38 home runs but has yet to find a team.

The White Sox, connected to Baltimore Orioles star Manny Machado earlier this offseason, seem to have a current big leaguer or highly ranked prospect locked into almost every position on the diamond for the foreseeable future, but third base isn't necessarily one of them. Jake Burger was last year’s top draft pick, though there’s speculation he could slide over to first base. The team still envisions him as a big league third baseman, for what it’s worth.

Moustakas is 29 and already has seven big league seasons under his belt, including a pair of All-Star appearances and a pair of trips to the World Series, including the Crowns’ championship back in 2015. His 38 homers and 85 RBIs in 2017 were both career highs. He slashed .272/.314/.521, the final of those three numbers the best mark of his career.

Moustakas has rarely hit for average or reached base at too high a clip, though those recent power numbers would be intriguing at a hitter-friendly park like Guaranteed Rate Field, where he has 10 career dingers, 26 career RBIs and a .249/.308/.456 career slash line as a visitor.

Certainly Moustakas would be a buzz-worthy addition, and if the White Sox could get him for a good value thanks to this slow-moving market, that adds incentive to bring him aboard. A short contract would have even more incentive for the rebuilding White Sox, who would have the option to either sign him to a long-term deal or deal him away in a deadline deal depending on his immediate production levels.

But for fans hoping the White Sox will spend big on a third baseman in one of the next two offseasons — Machado is a free agent next winter, and Colorado Rockies star Nolan Arenado is set to hit the market the winter after next — slotting in an outside addition at the hot corner now could impact those plans.

Gonzalez is a completely different story, a three-time All Star during his 10-year big league career who is just three seasons removed from a 40-homer campaign in 2015. The 32-year-old Gonzalez also has a trio of Gold Gloves to go along with his 215 career home runs. FanRag’s Jon Heyman listed the White Sox as a possible landing spot for CarGo this weekend.

But his walk year in Colorado was not a very good one by his standards. In 136 games for a Rockies team that ended up in the playoffs, he slashed .262/.339/.423, all those averages way down from his usual level of production. And his power numbers plummeted to 14 homers and 57 RBIs after he combined for 65 homers and 197 RBIs in 2015 and 2016.

The good news for the White Sox is that down year makes Gonzalez far more affordable. Should he command only a one-year contract, the White Sox could take a flier, stick him in the outfield — which still has an unresolved spot with few strong offensive options for center field — and trade him should he bounce back in a big way. Or, at 32, perhaps he’s a guy the White Sox could opt to keep around should he prove valuable and the rebuild continues to move along ahead of schedule.

Gonzalez seems the less risky move at this point, as Moustakas could still be looking for a multi-year contract. But the White Sox have plenty of financial flexibility and flexibility in their decision-making should they add either guy and he proves worthy of a midseason deal or a long-term look.

White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries

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USA TODAY

White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries

PHOENIX, Ariz. — One of the White Sox prized prospects will be on the shelf for a little while.

Outfielder Micker Adolfo has a sprained UCL in his right elbow and a strained flexor tendon that could require surgery. He could avoid surgery, though he could be sidelined for at least six weeks.

Though he hasn’t received the same high rankings and media attention as fellow outfield prospects Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert, Adolfo is considered a part of the White Sox promising future. He’s said to have the best outfield arm in the White Sox system.

Adolfo had a breakout season in 2017, slashing .264/.331/.453 with 16 homers and 68 RBIs in 112 games with Class A Kannapolis.

Adolfo, along with Jimenez and Robert, has been generating buzz at White Sox camp in Glendale, with a crowd forming whenever the trio takes batting practice. Earlier this week, the three described their conversation dreaming about playing together in the same outfield for a contending White Sox team in the future.