White Sox

The 2012 Angels vs. the 2011 White Sox

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The 2012 Angels vs. the 2011 White Sox

It's a scenario White Sox fans are all too familiar with: team makes a splash in the offseason, is picked by nearly everyone to make the playoffs, struggles out of the gate early and never recovers.

The Angels have hit three of those first four points in 2012, just as the White Sox did in 2011. At 16-21, Los Angeles is two games ahead of the White Sox pace through 37 games in last year's disastrous All In campaign. It's far too early to bury them, especially with a second wild card at their disposal.

There's still plenty of time for players to turn around slow starts. Pitching isn't the Angels' problem -- sound familiar? -- and the rotation will only get stronger as Dan Haren's 4.41 ERA improves. The bullpen has been a little shaky in the early going -- again, sound familiar? -- but it has enough good arms that it'll probably be okay.

The real concern here, though, is offense. The Angels are on pace to be shut out more than any team in baseball history, which, by the way, includes the dead ball era. There's little chance the Angels will actually be shut out 36 times this season, but that about one in every five contests has seen Los Angeles' offense fail to score is, well, awful.

The Angels have scored 134 runs, the third-lowest total in the American League behind the paltry offenses of Minnesota and Oakland. By any stat, the Angels have a below-average offense, with a few high-priced culprits shouldering the blame.

Frustrated with Brent Morel's slow start to the season (.178.214.196)? He has some company in the offensive depths of baseball, as Angels shortstop Erick Aybar is hitting .187.213.228. While Aybar is mainly known for his defense, he started the season as the Angels' leadoff hitter and signed a four-year, 35 million contract extension on April 19. That's not the kind of money you shell out to a No. 8 hitter, which is where Aybar has hit in all but one game in May.

Vernon Wells is making 21 million every year from 2012 through 2014, and he's proven to be little more than an expensive roadblock on Mike Trout's path to the majors. Since joining the Angels last season, he has a .251 on-base percentage -- 21 points lower than Morel's OBP since the start of 2011.

And then there's Albert Pujols, who's doing a spot-on Adam Dunn impression through his first 36 games with the Angels. The smart money is on Pujols pulling out of his malaise at some point -- unlike Dunn, there was no rushed return from an appendectomy to mess up his swing -- but until he does, stats like this are going to keep being brought up:
Players with more home runs than Albert Pujols

Gordon Beckham
Jose Altuve (note: he's listed as 5-foot-5)
Mark Ellis
Chone Figgins
Miguel Olivo (in 17 plate appearances)
And many more!

Pujols' .536 OPS is bested by Beckham (.576) and Dayan Viciedo (.591) and, if it doesn't improve, would be topped by the 2011 OPSes of Dunn (.569) and Alex Rios (.613). And, currently, Juan Pierre is out-slugging Pujols by about 70 points. Juan Pierre.

The Angels are not this bad. Pujols is not this bad, Aybar probably isn't this bad -- although Wells may be this bad -- and as a team, they can't seriously be this bad as we near the 14 mark of the 2012 season.

But hey, we were saying the same things about the White Sox last year.

White Sox Talk Podcast: Could the White Sox trade with the Red Sox?

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Could the White Sox trade with the Red Sox?

The crew wraps up the final day of the Winter Meetings for the White Sox.

On the latest White Sox Talk Podcast, Chuck Garfien, Vinnie Duber and Ryan McGuffey talk about a rumored deal between the White Sox and the Red Sox (2:41) that would move some pieces around.

Rick Hahn speaks for the final time in San Diego and the guys react to his comments.

Later, they debate why fans are disappointed with the White Sox and the outcome for the team at the end of the Winter Meetings.

Listen to the episode here or in the embedded player below.

White Sox Talk Podcast

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White Sox reportedly 'in play' for David Price, but how much sense would a trade make?

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USA TODAY

White Sox reportedly 'in play' for David Price, but how much sense would a trade make?

SAN DIEGO — David Price on the South Side? Maybe.

According to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, the Boston Red Sox have had trade conversations involving Price with at least five teams, and the White Sox are “in play” for the veteran left-hander.

Boston is trying to shed salary, and getting rid of the $96 million remaining on Price’s deal over the next three years would be a good way to accomplish that goal.

The White Sox, given their financial flexibility, are a team that could absorb that kind of money in a trade. While much discussion of Rick Hahn’s statement in February that “the money will be spent” has focused on high-priced free agents, the general manager said Wednesday that such fiscal positioning could be beneficial on the trade market, too.

“Absolutely,” he said during his final media session of the Winter Meetings. “You’ve seen over the years us use our financial flexibility to acquire some contracts. I think back to the (Joakim) Soria trade with the Dodgers. The thing we brought to the table there was the ability to absorb some contracts. That flexibility doesn’t always have to be spent on free agents.”

But here’s the thing. ESPN’s Jeff Passan got this whole Price conversation going when he reported the interest of multiple teams on Tuesday, and he suggested the Red Sox might be able to ship Price out of town if they included a “player of value.” A young player with affordable club control would sweeten any such deal, and speculation latched onto outfielder Andrew Benintendi, who is under team control for three more years.

That’s the kind of deal — before we hear what it could cost, obviously — that would look like a good one for the White Sox.

Well, another nugget in Feinsand’s report throws that idea out the window.

“One scenario that has been floated in recent weeks would have the Red Sox attaching a young player — Andrew Benintendi's name has been mentioned often — to Price in order to dump the pitcher's contract.

“A source said that concept has not been considered by Boston's front office — nor will it be, especially not with Benintendi.

“‘That's not going to happen,’ the source said.”

If that’s the case, if the Red Sox are talking about a Price trade that doesn’t involve a young, controllable player coming back, is there any reason for the White Sox to consider such a move? Is there any reason to trade for Price alone?

The White Sox do need pitching, quite badly, as a matter of fact. Their quest for two arms to add to the starting rotation has yielded no additions yet, with their high bid for Zack Wheeler spurned in favor of a lower offer from the Philadelphia Phillies. Price would be an upgrade to the White Sox rotation, and they could potentially get him without having to give up any of their prized prospects (a trade involving someone like Benintendi might cost a high-level prospect, in addition to salary relief).

After turning in some memorable performances during the Red Sox championship run in 2018, Price got off to a great start in 2019, with a 3.16 ERA in his first 17 starts. But due to a cyst in his wrist, he made only two starts over the season’s final two months. He finished with a 4.28 ERA, second highest of his career.

Considering the White Sox are heading into 2020 with just three rotation spots spoken for, they could do a lot worse than Price from a production standpoint. But the veteran lefty doesn’t exactly have a sterling reputation as a clubhouse presence. NBC Sports Boston’s John Tomase listed several red flags in a recent piece: “He's no longer a 200-inning pitcher. His elbow could blow. He considers himself a great teammate, but he consistently brings negativity into the clubhouse, which multiple rival executives have noted warily. He's too expensive. He hasn't made an All-Star team or earned a Cy Young vote since 2015. He's past his prime.”

Do the White Sox need those headaches? Aren’t there options out there, via trade or free agency, that would bring in similar levels of production without all that other stuff? It doesn’t seem like a young team that is developing what appears to be a very positive culture needs someone who “consistently brings negativity into the clubhouse.”

Now, if someone like Benintendi — or, for example, the large contract of designated hitter J.D. Martinez — comes along with him, maybe it’s a pill you’re willing to swallow. Of course, that would require other unpleasant possibilities, such as letting a recent first-round draft pick like Nick Madrigal or Andrew Vaughn go. Hahn talked about the team’s unwillingness to deal away its prized prospects for a short-term gain. The White Sox lost a combined 195 games to end up with the draft picks that produced Madrigal and Vaughn. That was an awful lot of suffering just to trade those guys away.

A potential Price trade has its upsides, but ones contingent on other aspects of such a deal. If those aspects go by the wayside, acquiring Price doesn’t make quite as much sense.

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