White Sox

BBQ: Beckham on the block?

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BBQ: Beckham on the block?

Saturday, Nov. 13, 2010
4:16 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

With rumors, whispers, and team sources ever swirling through the offseason, turn to the BBQ to provide a bit of a reality check. Hey, have you heard the one where Chicago White Sox GM Ken Williams will consider putting second sacker Gordon Beckham on the trading block? Yeah, its a good one. Lets cut through the fat:

So let me get this straight, Williams wouldnt consider dealing Beckham at last years deadline for Adam Dunn, but now hes hanging a sign around the kids neck, inviting all interested to kick the tires?

Yeah at least according to Yahoos Tim Brown, who wrote that opposing clubs expect the White Sox to take offers for second baseman Gordon Beckham in his hot stove piece on Wednesday.
Who are these opposing teams, and what is wrong with their brains?

Thats an excellent question. But on an obviously slow hot stove day, MLB Trade Rumors listed 19 teams who would have interest in Beckham including, fatuously, the intradivisional Minnesota Twins, Detroit Tigers, Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Royals and the crosstown Chicago Cubs. So, in other words, Williams is not only expected to proffer up the position player with the most upside on his team, but to division and crosstown rivals to boot.

That would seem to completely contradict everything hes ever said about the importance of Beckham, right?

In addition to being a remarkably efficient unit, the White Sox brain trust shoots straight. Williams has made no bones about Beckham being an untouchable on his team he was direct on that at the 2010 trading deadline and is direct about that today. Natch, that always comes with a disclaimer that says that every player on the White Sox roster is available in the right trade. But Hawk Harrelson would sooner take over as GM than Williams would trade Beckham.

Didnt Bacon have a pretty rough sophomore season?

Absolutely. Changing positions again (from third base to second) and getting banged up at seasons end didnt help, but Beckham would be the first to tell you those arent excuses for his subpar play. Defensively at second he was adequate and showed great development on turning double plays as the season went on. Offensively, Beckham lost his gap power stroke (68 percent of his 2010 hits were singles compared to 58 percent in 2009, while his slugging percentage dropped 82 points to .378 in 2010) and failed to get on base sufficiently (an on-base percentage drop of 30 points, to .317), with an overall tumble in walks-per-strikeout (.63 in 2009 down to .40).

Yeesh, is Beckham still a good fit for the White Sox?

Certainly Beckhams third major league season will be huge. His step forward into at least minor stardom must happen in 2011. In the rarest of Chisox circumstances, the teams position player strength is up the middle Alex Rios in center field, Alexei Ramirez at short, and Beckham at second. Williams is well aware that Ramirez-Beckham could be a keystone combination fiercer than any the White Sox have fielded for 50 years, since the Luis Aparicio-Nellie Fox days.
So, no chance Beckham leaves town?

The only way Williams will involve Beckham in trade talks is in order to set up another prank on White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, his staff and Beckham, as he did at the trading deadline.

Yeah, that was hilarious really now, Beckham is in the Opening Day lineup for the White Sox?

Undoubtedly. Beckham is a foundation piece of the White Sox. Even with his atrocious season offensively, he ranked No. 7 on my list of most essential White Sox (and third among position players). He comes at a bargain-basement price and is among the teams hardest workers, the latter making him a consummate grinder, adored by Williams and White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen.

So you predict a big bounce-back season from Bacon?

Sure do. But dont take my word for it how about the 2011 projections by Bill James, an analyst immutably sharper than me, and a bearded one to boot. James foresees an offensive eruption from Beckham in his third year: career highs in doubles (41), homers (15), runs (81) and RBI (77). For perspective, those projections are generally superior to the numbers Ramirez put up in his 2010 Silver Slugger season.

BBQ Verdict: Blech

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute White Sox information.

White Sox Talk Podcast: What has James McCann meant to the White Sox? Everything

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: What has James McCann meant to the White Sox? Everything

Chuck Garfien and Vinnie Duber talk about James McCann's breakout season with the White Sox (1:15).

Then Chuck speaks with McCann about all the preparation he does for every game (9:20), why he'll never use a cheat sheet scouting report behind the plate like many catchers do (11:30) and what McCann has been badgering Lucas Giolito about since spring training (14:30).

Plus, why Evan Marshall and Aaron Bummer have been so successful out of the bullpen (16:30), why McCann acts as a karaoke host on the team bus (17:40) and more.

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

White Sox Talk Podcast

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Buckle up, White Sox, here come the best two teams in baseball

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USA TODAY

Buckle up, White Sox, here come the best two teams in baseball

Things are about to get tougher for the White Sox. Much tougher.

The upcoming road trip features seven straight games against first-place teams, the Houston Astros and the Minnesota Twins. Those two teams are, by their winning percentages as of this writing, the two best teams in baseball.

The much-bemoaned makeup of this season’s American League means seeing top-shelf competition is a rarity for any team playing outside the AL East. The Astros are a mile ahead of the rest of the AL West. The Twins have appeared, so far, as the only team capable of winning an aggressively weak AL Central. The New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays — three teams the White Sox have already seen one time apiece — will battle it out for the AL East crown all season long, but let’s be honest, they all seem safe bets to make the postseason.

The fact that the five teams likely to make the playoffs have already put themselves ahead of the competition and it’s not even Memorial Day is its own discussion topic as the rebuilding trend sweeps through the Junior Circuit. But for the 2019 edition of the Chicago White Sox, specifically, it just means that this week is not likely to be a good one.

In the 10 games they played against the Rays, Yankees and Red Sox, the White Sox went 3-7. They were pasted by the Rays and Red Sox, who combined to outscore them 58-18 in seven games on the South Side, and they took two of three from the Yankees in The Bronx.

Of course, any expectations can be dashed in a small portion of a 162-game season. Cast your mind back to 2017, when the White Sox swept a three-game series from the soon-to-be world-champion Astros. The South Siders finished with 95 losses that season, but for three games in August, they had the champs’ number.

Will this week go similarly? Maybe. But it doesn’t seem likely.

The Astros are on fire, or at least they were before the Red Sox snapped their 10-game winning streak Sunday. That doesn’t change the fact that the Astros boast a plus-92 run differential that counts as the best in the game. Or their 3.43 team ERA (second in the AL). Or their .279 team batting average and jaw-dropping .353 team on-base percentage, both marks the best in baseball.

The Twins, the division rivals the White Sox will see for the first time in 2019 beginning Friday, aren’t far behind. That offense has been sensational, too, through the season’s first two months, owning baseball’s second best run differential (plus-77) and its second best team batting average (.270). No team in either league has hit more homers than the Twins, who have launched 87 of them in 45 games.

The White Sox, meanwhile, have a fragile, injury-affected starting rotation — after Sunday’s game, manager Rick Renteria did not share who’s starting Monday’s game — and a pitching staff with a 5.09 ERA that’s given up 68 homers this season. Sunday, Reynaldo Lopez made it through six innings of one-run ball, only for the White Sox bullpen to cough up a pair of two-run homers to the Toronto Blue Jays (one of baseball’s worst offenses) in the game’s final two innings. It was the sixth time this season the White Sox bullpen has allowed multiple home runs in a single game.

“Gulp” might be an appropriate reaction to hearing the White Sox have to go up against the Houston and Minnesota offenses seven times in the next seven days.

This isn’t to say the White Sox are merely a punching bag for these two giants of the American League right now. Certainly most of the teams the Astros and Twins have faced have suffered less than desirable fates. But the gaps between the rebuilding White Sox and this pair of contenders are not small.

The White Sox are trying to accomplish the same thing the Astros did, spending several frustrating years being patient during a rebuilding process only to come out the other side a perennial contender and World Series champion. These same Astros who are now bullying the rest of the AL lost a total of 416 games in the four seasons prior to their first playoff season in a decade in 2015. By the end of the 2017 campaign, they were world champions. That’s the template the White Sox are trying to follow.

But the White Sox aren’t to the mountaintop yet, and that might end up being painfully clear by the end of the upcoming road trip. It doesn’t mean their climb won’t get them to that same point, but don’t try to compare the 2019 White Sox to the 2019 Astros this week. That’s not the comparison that counts.

The Twins are a little different, having revamped their lineup over the offseason with free-agent acquisitions who have paid huge dividends. C.J. Cron, Jonathan Schoop, Marwin Gonzalez and Nelson Cruz (currently on the IL) have combined for 31 homers in 45 games. But homegrown guys like Jorge Polanco, Mitch Garver, Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton and Max Kepler are all playing well, too. That quintet has accounted for 43 of the Twins’ 87 homers this season. That’s a strong core of homegrown young hitters, the kind of thing the White Sox hope to have real soon, the kind of thing that’s taking shape with Yoan Moncada and Tim Anderson off to good starts and Eloy Jimenez at the major league level (and likely to come off the injured list Monday).

The White Sox have obviously had their positives this season, and they’re clearly in a better place now than they were at this point last year (a 21-24 record after Sunday’s game compared to 14-31 through the first 45 games of 2018). But their rebuilding process hasn’t yet reached the point where they’re going to be trading blows with the two best teams in baseball.

There could be some surprises on this road trip. But they don’t figure to be easy to come by. Buckle up, here come the two best teams in baseball.

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