White Sox

Steve Stone mailbag: Time to worry about Sox?

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Steve Stone mailbag: Time to worry about Sox?

Friday, Aug. 13, 2010
1:30 PM
Steve Stone dives into his mailbag to answer your questions about the White Sox's recent struggles, the chances the Cubs trade Carlos Zambrano, and more!
Yosef B., Rochester, N.Y. -- With the White Sox recent struggles this past week or two, is this anything that we should worry about? What do the Sox have to do to regain their contender-style play?

Steve Stone: First of all, it's unrealistic to assume in a 30-game stretch that a team will win 25 again, which is what happened. As far as the recent lull, they won four of their last 10, which is two games worse than Minnesota, who won six of their last 10, hence the one game lead Minnesota enjoys in the Central. They won't be as hot as before, but they should be good enough to contend and possibly win down the stretch. If they continue to catch the baseball, they will be in fairly good shape. If they are better than Minnesota, then they will win; if not, they will lose. And on the realistic side of things, that's the way things are in baseball.

Frank T., St. Charles -- Has any full-time player ever had more RBIs than hits for a season? I can't find anyone -- Harmon Killebrew came close and Carlos Quentin so far is in the running.

Steve Stone: I have really no idea seeing as I don't have any books that talk about hits and runs batted in over the course of the season. It's safe to say Carlos is a run producer and their batting averages are fairly irrelevant because you look to them to hit home runs. Despite his batting average coming into today of .232, he has 24 homers and 76 driven in and it becomes a fairly impressive offensive year. Again, I would rather have him hit .232 and be on a pace to drive in 100 than hitting .300 and driving in 40 runs.

Chad S., Chicago -- Steve, do you think the Cubs will be able to trade Carlos Zambrano this winter?

Steve Stone: It all depends on how much of his salary they are willing to eat and how he looks in the games the Cubs have left. The Cubs have played 115 games right now, so they have 47 left and it depends on how he looks in his starts in those games. If he looks good, they might be able to trade him, but he is not going to resemble the 19 million pitcher that the Cubs thought he would be before he started breaking Gatorade containers, having confrontations with the umpires, fighting teammates, etc. I think they will do anything in their power to get him off the team. That being said, they could very well be stuck with him another year or two.

Hugh J., Chicago -- Does Andrew Cashner have a future as a starter? If he does, will he have to dial back his fastball into the low-to-mid 90's?

Steve Stone: I think the Cubs dearly need some bullpen help and they probably want to use Cashner in that role. He has a great fastball, but he is struggling this first year with 1-5 record and a 5.68 ERA. The walk total is way too high and it depends on what the Cubs think, but I have to see more types of pitches and offspeed pitches to move into that starting position. For the moment and into next year, the best case is to grow into that premiere setup man stage, perhaps to be a closer.

Mike B, Oswego -- With the wealth of information on sites like Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs, what stats do you use to evaluate players and make predictions?

Steve Stone: I use my eyes. I'm in my fifth decade, and those who solely rely on computers usually come up a little short. Those who have been around the game a long time and who have seen every type of player, we really depend on our eyes to show us what kind of player you are dealing with. A man's ability to play on a division-contending team, you can't find that into a computer because some guys have never played on a winning team. It's the same reason I wouldn't let anyone do open-heart surgery on his first day, even if he was the top med student coming out of Harvard, the best heart surgeon they had ever seen. I prefer the experienced guy that has done 5,000 of these, and no matter what happens on the table, he has seen it before. The computer is a nice tool but you can't replace the eyes of a veteran baseball evaluator because, at the end of the day, the computer doesn't have eyes.

After last season's personal tragedy, Tim Anderson ready to unleash real self

After last season's personal tragedy, Tim Anderson ready to unleash real self

GLENDALE, AZ --  There’s a different Tim Anderson at White Sox spring training this year.

You can see it on his face  You can hear it in his voice.

“I’m busting out of the shell. I’m talking more,” he said as he sat down for an interview with NBC Sports Chicago (in the video above).

It’s not the new Tim Anderson. It turns out, it’s the real one that’s been there all along.

“This is me. It’s always been me. I never knew how to express myself. I feel like I’m being a lot more open,” Anderson explained. “That’s what I want to give to fans. Let them know the real me. You’re cheering for me. Why not know me? I’m being open and kind of let fans into my life.”

The White Sox shortstop has learned a lot about life in the past year. It all started in May when the White Sox were in Baltimore to play the Orioles. Anderson received a phone call at 4 a.m. It was news from back home.

It was the worst phone call of his life.

His best friend Branden Moss had been murdered in the parking lot of a Tuscaloosa, Ala., bar after helping the victim of a fight.  

The two were like brothers. Anderson is the godfather to Moss’s young daughter. Moss was the godfather to Anderson’s 2-year-old daughter.

“It was heartbreaking,” Anderson said.

While Anderson grieved, playing baseball seemed like it would be a perfect escape for his pain. Only it wasn’t. Far from it.  Baseball might have made things even worse.

In fast-paced sports like football and hockey, players don’t have much time to think. It’s react, react, react. Whatever might be happening off the field feels like a million miles away.

Not in baseball.

The game moves at a much slower speed. There’s plenty of time for your mind to wander. Thoughts kept going back to Anderson’s lost friend, taken from him in an instant.

At 23, he didn’t have the tools to deal with the emotional pain and excel at baseball at the same time.

“The year was rough. I wasn’t having fun in between the lines. I was making the game harder than it was. I was thinking too much. I was feeling sorry for myself and the list can go on. When my friend died it definitely took a lot out of me. I had a dark moment,” Anderson said. “Some days I didn’t feel comfortable coming to the ballpark because I knew it was going to be a bad day.”

Making matters worse, there were many nights when Anderson didn’t sleep. Not a wink. Still, he dragged himself to the ballpark and somehow tried to play.

The results weren’t pretty. On June 22, Anderson already had 16 errors at shortstop, most in the majors. At the plate, he was hitting .256/.284/.374 with six home runs and 19 RBIs.

He knew he was better than that. He also knew something else: He needed help.

In July, Anderson started meeting with a therapist who was able to unlock the pent up thoughts and emotions that he was burying inside him.

The therapist would write down everything that Anderson was feeling on paper and then read it back to him.

“Just going in and talking and pouring everything out of you. It lets you hear what you’ve been going through,“ Anderson said. “When she did it, it was a lot. I took what she read to me, balled it up and threw it away. I got lighter. It was a brightening. Those counseling sessions definitely helped me.”

Soon, Anderson was back to being himself both on and off the field.

In the month of August, he had 8 doubles, 5 home runs and 16 RBI.

“Woof. I was hot,” he said after hearing those stats. “That’s Tim. That’s more Tim that we need to see.”

In September, he batted .327 with 3 home runs and 9 stolen bases.

“We need a lot of that this year. That’s the way I want to go. That’s the way I want to go about it. Get back to what got me here.”

There was still an issue with his plate discipline. He had 32 strikeouts and only 1 walk in September.

“We play a tough sport as it is. They’re going to come,” Anderson said about the walks. “I mean, when I walk more, what are you going to tell me? ‘Start swinging more?’ It’s one of those things. It’s a give and take. We’ll see what happens.”

In 2017, Anderson received a crash course in adversity. What did he learn from all that pain and misery?

“Tough times happen, but they don’t last forever.”

Now that he’s survived the personal storm from last season, he wants “another shot at it. I feel like last year went left. This is new season.”

So, what does he envision for himself in 2018?

“Having fun, smiling a lot, picking up my teammates, hugging on the coaches and players. A lot of love, more so than stats,” Anderson said. “I’m fired up. I’m excited. I feel like I’m ready to lead this pack. We got a great group of guys. We’ve got a chance to do something special.”

Injuries affecting Fire's preseason with season three weeks away

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USA TODAY

Injuries affecting Fire's preseason with season three weeks away

It may be a good thing that the Fire’s originally scheduled season opener March 3 at Colorado got moved back.

The Fire’s preseason has been riddled with injuries to key players and the extra week may end up being needed to get the team ready for the season. Four players (not counting the already known long-term injuries to Michael de Leeuw and Djordje Mihailovic) sat out Saturday’s game against Florida Gulf Coast University due to injury: Daniel Johnson (a right ankle injury suffered in a game against Philadelphia on Feb. 8), Grant Lillard (left knee), Matt Polster (left knee) and Luis Solignac (left hip).

Polster’s injury is especially notable because he has had recurring left knee problems since first suffering a sprain in the 2016 season finale at Toronto. Polster missed the first nine games of 2017 due to the injury and missed three more in August due to a related injury.

The 24-year-old, who is now the longest tenured player on the team and the only player remaining from before general manager Nelson Rodriguez’s tenure began at the end of the 2015 season, arrived with the Fire after playing with the U.S. national team in January. He played all 90 minutes on Jan. 28 against Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Bastian Schweinsteiger still hasn’t played in the preseason and the team hasn’t listed him as injured.

All the absences, combined with rest for some of the team’s regulars, resulted in a starting lineup against Florida Gulf Coast that featured two players who have appeared in an official match with the Fire. Three trialists and four draft picks started.

Four of the Fire’s seven scheduled preseason matches are in the books. The Fire lost 2-1 to Montreal on Feb. 14. One of the bright spots was a rare set piece goal after the Fire trailed the Impact 2-0. Dax McCarty headed in a free kick from Diego Campos. Campos has been dangerous on set pieces, hitting the post with a free kick and assisting a goal from a corner kick in Saturday’s 2-0 win against Florida Gulf Coast.

Next up is a match against USL expansion team Nashville SC on Feb. 21. Next Saturday the Fire play at Orlando to finish up play in Florida.

The Fire close out the preseason March 3 against the team’s USL affiliate, Tulsa, at Toyota Park before the season opener on March 10.