White Sox

After 2005 White Sox get slighted again, A.J. Pierzynski weighs in: 'I think it's a joke'

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AP

After 2005 White Sox get slighted again, A.J. Pierzynski weighs in: 'I think it's a joke'

Fired up about how the 2005 White Sox have been slighted the past two postseasons?

You’re not alone.

Longtime catcher and current Fox Sports broadcaster A.J. Pierzynski noticed earlier this week when ESPN overlooked the 2005 White Sox title run for a second straight year. In a since deleted tweet, ESPN noted on Tuesday that the Los Angeles Dodgers potentially could join the 1998 New York Yankees as the only clubs in the Wild Card Era to win the World Series with two or fewer postseason losses. The omission excludes the starting pitching-dominant 11-1 mark of the 2005 White Sox. Pierzynski — who is speaking in Joliet on Nov. 8 at the Brown & Gold dinner in support of the University of Saint Francis Fighting Saints — admits the most recent oversight of the 2005 team is bothersome.

“I saw it,” Pierzynski said. “I did. I think it’s a joke. I know it came from ESPN, and obviously I work for one of their rivals. Now that I’m in the media and get how it works — basically whoever did that is not doing their job. They didn’t do their job right and that’s it. ... I’m not saying they should be fired, but at least something. You can’t make mistakes like that.

“The White Sox in 2005 had one of the greatest playoff runs of all time and everyone just forgets that the White Sox were in the playoffs or even won the World Series. I get it. I understand the way it works in Chicago and around the country. The Cubs are more popular. But it’s just amazing the way people forget and so quickly.”

The astounding part to Pierzynski and a few other teammates who have spoken out this week is how dominant the White Sox were en route to their first championship in 88 years. The 2005 White Sox swept reigning champion Boston in three games in the American League Division Series. Their five-game victory in the AL Championship Series over the Angels featured complete-game wins from Mark Buehrle, Jon Garland, Freddy Garcia and Jose Contreras. The same quartet produced 28 more sharp innings in the four-game sweep of the Houston Astros in the World Series.

The sharp contrast in how the White Sox utilized their starting pitchers compared to baseball’s current Bullpenning Era only makes the error more ironic to Pierzynski. The mistake also comes one year after both ESPN and CBS overlooked the team’s accomplishments prior to the Cubs’ storied title run.

Two consecutive years of overlooking the 2005 group’s accomplishment has led to numerous jokes on social media and also stirred up anger among the team’s fan base, an emotion Pierzynski understands.

“It’ll never happen again where you have four guys in the ALCS throw complete games and get wins,” Pierzynski said. “It’ll never happen because managers now can’t wait to get to the bullpen. Back then we had a great bullpen ... but we just wanted to ride our starters. Did we pay for it the next year and down the road? Probably a little bit. But at that moment, they were our best four pitchers and we rode them into the ground and they got it done for us.

“I know the 1998 Yankees are considered one of the greatest teams of all-time and one of the reasons is they went 11-1 in the playoffs. We matched them and everyone just discards us because I guess we didn’t have the sexy names or the big names. But we had a team that was really good.

“I get it from a media standpoint and I know I work for Fox. There are sexier teams, I get it. But it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.”

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."