Tim Anderson

White Sox Talk Podcast: White Sox fans take over

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: White Sox fans take over

To celebrate the 1-year anniversary of the podcast we opened the show up to our listeners to ask all the questions and choose all the topics in this All-Request White Sox Talk Podcast.

We hit a wide variety of topics ranging from possible White Sox trades, Tim Anderson's future, Rick Hahn's best and worst deals, making Carlos Rodon a reliever and many more. Every fan who had his/her question randomly selected wins a prize: everything from a Frank Thomas rookie baseball card to a Hawk Harrelson Alarm Clock.

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

The good, the bad and the mixed: What went right and what went wrong for the 2017 White Sox

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USA TODAY

The good, the bad and the mixed: What went right and what went wrong for the 2017 White Sox

The White Sox lost 95 games, and yet their general manager described himself as pleased with certain aspects of the 2017 season.

He isn’t wrong to be.

Welcome to life in a rebuild.  

There’s undoubtedly analysts and fans who rightfully have questions about the direction the White Sox are headed. They traded almost all of their top players for unproven prospects who come without any guarantees. There’s no promise this will work. The White Sox haven’t proven anything yet, and it’ll likely be a few seasons before anyone knows if they’ve executed it.

But as crazy as it sounds, the White Sox had a good season that has begun to generate optimism from the fanbase. Whether it’s the number of trades Rick Hahn completed, the talent the team accumulated, how young players developed or several other reasons, the White Sox had plenty of positives this season. Here’s a look at what went right, what went wrong and what could have gone better.

The Good

1. Hahn traded almost everyone

What seemed impossible in December and more difficult in May was suddenly complete several days before the Aug. 1 nonwaiver trade deadline. When the White Sox started 2017 with Jose Quintana on the roster after trading Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, some thought Hahn had overvalued Quintana. Then Quintana struggled through May, and the volume of those questions significantly increased. But everything was reduced to a whisper when the White Sox traded Quintana to the Cubs on July 13 for a package featuring elite prospect Eloy Jimenez. Hahn then spent the next six weeks trading everyone, completing his work with an Aug. 31 deal that sent Miguel Gonzalez to Texas. In all, nine players were traded during the season.

2. New kids prospered

Not everyone had great seasons, but many of the top prospects acquired since December took large steps forward. Lucas Giolito rediscovered his confidence. Reynaldo Lopez and Yoan Moncada forced the issue and fared well in the majors. Michael Kopech and Jimenez developed into elite prospects, and Dane Dunning continues to look like a steal.

3. Prospecting went well

Nowhere was the staggering amount of talent acquired by Hahn more evident than the farm system’s top-30 rankings. Even as Giolito, Lopez and Moncada graduated, the White Sox still have six prospects remaining on MLB Pipeline’s top-100 list. Ten on their current top-30 list have been added via trades since December. Three more came from the 2017 draft.

But the biggest move, one that signaled to fans the White Sox are serious about rebuilding, was the May signing of Luis Robert for $52 million. The penalties they faced — the $26 million tax and two years of international signing restrictions — weren’t enough to dissuade them from signing Robert, who is currently ranked No. 22 in MLB Pipeline’s list.

4. Foundation laid

Nearly as important as adding talent is making sure it’s fostered in the proper environment. Hahn thought manager Rick Renteria would instill the appropriate atmosphere and hired him.

The White Sox are ecstatic with what Renteria has done. Hahn and the front office have recognized those efforts all season long, praising the team for its unrelenting attitude and unwillingness to quit.

5. Older players developed, too

Tommy Kahnle went from project to setup man almost overnight and keyed a trade that brought Blake Rutherford and Ian Clarkin over from the Yankees. Avisail Garcia finally released his untapped potential and turned into an All Star and a potential trade chip. And Yolmer Sanchez found a new level and ensured himself a lot of future plate appearances.

The Bad

1. Carlos Rodon’s future is uncertain

The hope was Rodon would develop into a 33-start, 200-inning pitcher this season. Instead the White Sox have more questions about if Rodon will ever reach his potential. Rodon appeared to be unaffected by the bursitis in his left biceps that cost him three months when he struck out 9.9 batters per nine over 12 starts. But what Rodon’s future holds after he had arthroscopic surgery last week is anyone’s guess, even if the White Sox are optimistic he’ll fully recover.

2. Starting pitching gambles flop

Ten starts in, Derek Holland looked like a find and a potential trade candidate. But his fastball velocity dipped and his ERA soared, leading to Holland’s release last month. Rule 5 pitcher Dylan Covey showed some signs in his final two starts but struggled much of the season. Still, don’t be surprised if the White Sox follow a similar formula next season and try to convert a rehabbing pitcher or two into trade candidates.

3. The injury bug hit hard

Rodon wasn’t the only important player sidelined for a large chunk of the season. Nate Jones was limited to 11 games, Zach Putnam pitched in seven before he and prospect Zack Burdi had reconstructive elbow surgery. Catcher Geovany Soto was hurt twice and never got going. Leury Garcia’s breakout season was slowed by injuries, and even Avisail Garcia missed time with finger and knee soreness. It was hoped Charlie Tilson would take over in center field, but he didn't play a single game this season.

Mixed results

1. Anderson struggles before rebounding

Shortstop Tim Anderson’s ascent was derailed for several months as he struggled to cope with the May shooting death of his close friend, Branden Moss. Anderson made far too many errors and had a .608 OPS before he sought a grief counselor and turned around the toughest season of his life. After making 22 errors in 80 games, Anderson made six in the final 65. He also produced a .793 OPS in his final 54 games.

Midseason turnaround has allowed Tim Anderson to get 'back to myself'

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USA TODAY

Midseason turnaround has allowed Tim Anderson to get 'back to myself'

CLEVELAND -- What was supposed to be a restful day for Tim Anderson included five minutes tidying up a clubhouse prank.

Out of the lineup for Saturday’s game, Anderson arrived at Progressive Field in the afternoon to find his clubhouse stall enveloped in red masking tape with a sign that said “Off” taped to his chair.

At the end of a long and trying season, Anderson appreciated the humor in a prank perfectly executed by first baseman Jose Abreu. It’s just another enjoyable episode for Anderson, who has rebounded and rediscovered his game over the season’s final two months.

“I feel great,” Anderson said. “I’m feeling good and doing what I’m supposed to do, getting back to myself.

“Kind of have to learn from (this season).

“Definitely going to remember this season for the rest of my life. Something I can carry with me. Kind of proud of the way it ended.”

Anderson went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and an error on a routine play in Friday night’s loss to the Cleveland Indians. It was a rare off night for the second-year player, who has responded with two months of great play to the toughest stretch of his career.

Since Aug. 1, Anderson is hitting .299/.314/.493 with 13 doubles, three triples, eight home runs and 27 RBIs in 226 plate appearances. Those numbers are a huge improvement over the first four months of the season, where Anderson struggled after signing a contract extension in March. Part of it could be attributed to a sophomore slump. But the bulk of Anderson’s troubles came from difficulty coping with the death of close friend Branden Moss, who was shot while aiding an assault victim on May 7.

“He had some things go on this year that really tested him,” manager Rick Renteria said. “I think he’s come out of it pretty well and I think he’ll learn from it. He’s going to gain some more maturity as a man and I think he’ll continue to improve as a player. I think he’s done a nice job over the last four or five weeks and we’ve started to see a Tim Anderson that’s pretty good out there.”

Though he described his season as up and down, Anderson always tries to look for the positives he can take from it. Abreu’s prank for instance, was a light moment to start a day of rest off on the right foot. Anderson snapped a photo of his locker for his Instagram account and began to slowly unwrap everything so he could get dressed.

“Took me a little while to take the tape off,” Anderson said. “It was very funny though.”