White Sox

BBQ: In need of relief? White Sox 'pen says no

314461.jpg

BBQ: In need of relief? White Sox 'pen says no

Sunday, Nov. 14, 2010
9:06 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. Talk this week turned to Chicago White Sox GM Ken Williams supposedly looking into acquiring Tampa Rays free agent closer Rafael Soriano, so its time to toss this rumor on the barbie for a reality check:

Why would a bullpen full of power arms need a 10 million per year closer?

Funny, Foxs Ken Rosenthal who reported that the White Sox are looking into signing Soriano didnt ask himself that. On a team with closer possibilities including Matt Thornton, J.J. Putz, Bobby Jenks, Sergio Santos and Chris Sale and gaping holes at catcher, first base, and designated hitter, closer is the last thing Williams is kicking the tires on.

Wait a minute, bubJenks?

OK, OK, youre right. Rosenthal reported the White Sox interest in Soriano as further evidence that Jenks would be dealt or non-tendered, but the White Sox might well have batting practice pitcher Kevin Hickey as their top closer candidate and still wouldnt be planning on welcoming back Jenks.

How did Jenkss stock fall so fast?

Its been a gradual decline for the onetime wunderkind, but yeah, the door usually does hit you in the hiney after getting shoved out in the end. Mostly, the White Sox have some real questions about their closers motivation and dedication. Jenks has conditioning issues that would be easier to ignore if not contributing to an increasing amount of time injured and on the DL in his career.

Williams was generally sunny at least sunny from KWs hardscrabble perspective about all aspects of the White Sox in his final media address of 2010, with the exception of Jenks. You read it at CSNChicago.com first, and not long after his sweet swan song of a doubleheader save at the Boston Red Sox on Sept. 5: Jenks would not pitch for the White Sox again.

But Williams loves power arms, and Soriano was arguably the best closer in the majors last season, so wouldnt he be a fit?

Sure, and with a New York Yankees budget or even with merely the money they were burning across town at Wrigley over the past few years Williams would happily swap out Jenks for Soriano. But there are three additional, and monumental, reasons why Soriano is a bad fit for the White Sox, beyond the fact that there are an abundance of power arms in the Chicago bullpen:

1. Scott Boras is Sorianos agent.

2. The White Sox would be buying high on Soriano and Williams simply does not buy high on players, budget restrictions or no.

3. Soriano will probably sign north of five years and 50 million. Thats downright loco terms for a closer with less than two years of brilliance in his back pocket and one who will turn 31 next month.

We hear all the talk about the Chisoxs limited budget, but there is wiggle room to sign somebody, right?

Yes. But as much as Williams would like to make a big splash even simply in throwing seven figures at Konerko to re-sign him for the South Siders it could turn out that any player addition wont qualify as major. For example, reasonable inkings at catcher, first, outfield and the bullpen could greatly bolster the team (say A.J. Pierzynski, Derek Lee, Andruw Jones, and J.J. Putz) despite a decided absence of sexiness.

It could turn out that like the last offseason where the big moves were a salary - aided trade for Juan Pierre and the ill-fated Mark Teahen acquisition Williams work could be under the radar.

The Minnesota Twins are the defending AL Central champs, and the Detroit Tigers are talking about chasing not one but two major bats this offseason. Dont the White Sox have to spend to keep up?

Youd think so. But the one key advantage the White Sox have strength and depth in the starting rotation is crucial. Williams is counting on that as the team looks to 2011.

So then, whos the 2011 White Sox closer?

Of the four names listed up top, Putz wont close even if he comes back. Sale is ticketed for the rotation an arm like his cant be frittered away in the pen. That leaves Santos and Thornton, and it could well be that lefty-righty combination sharing setup and closing duties, matchup by matchup.

But you know what? Im not going to just nibble at the possibilities for the 2011 White Sox. On Monday, tune in for a look at my take on the ideal 2011 White Sox roster.

BBQ Verdict on the Soriano Rumor: Propane Fumes

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 sign Enoy Jimenez, the 17-year-old brother of Eloy Jimenez

0722_eloy_jimenez.jpg
USA TODAY

White Sox sign Enoy Jimenez, the 17-year-old brother of Eloy Jimenez

One Jimenez just isn't enough for the White Sox.

The White Sox signed the younger brother of top prospect Eloy Jimenez this weekend. Enoy Jimenez is a 17-year-old infielder, and the 21-year-old outfielder ranked as the No. 3 prospect in baseball was on hand for his brother's big moment.

Eloy figures to hit the big leagues early next season, though it will likely be a while longer before his teenage brother could do the same. Still, they're likely hoping for the chance to play together one day.

According to this pretty exhaustive list from MLB.com, four sets of brothers have played together on the White Sox: Homer and Ted Blankenship in the 1920s, Dick and Hank Allen in the 1970s, Roberto and Sandy Alomar in 2003 and 2004 and John and Jordan Danks in 2012.

Should we be getting ready for the fifth pair?

Matt Davidson's incredibly interesting 2018

1019_matt_davidson.jpg
USA TODAY

Matt Davidson's incredibly interesting 2018

This season, Matt Davidson became the fourth player in MLB history to hit three home runs in a season opener. It definitely raised a few eyebrows, especially after Paul Konerko noted during spring training that a 40-home run season and an All-Star selection isn’t out of the question for the California native. After clobbering nine home runs (seven of them coming at Kauffman Stadium) in his first 21 games, anything seemed possible.

Unfortunately it didn’t quite turn out that way, though he did rack up his second straight 20-homer season. But it’s hard to argue that 2018 wasn’t a success for Davidson — mostly because of the swings he didn’t make.

Everything else aside, Davidson walked as often as Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo in 2018.

OK, the more meaningful comparison would be Davidson to himself.

What stands out is his walk rate. One hundred fifty three players had at least 400 plate appearances in both 2017 and 2018. Among them, Davidson had the second-highest increase in walk percentage this past season.

Consider this: In 2017, Davidson and Tim Anderson became (and still are) the only players in MLB history with 160-plus strikeouts and fewer than 20 walks in a season.

Davidson, while logging 20 more at-bats in 2018, had the same number of strikeouts, 165, but he increased his walk total from 19 to 52. Give him credit for that. It’s a tough adjustment to make at the minor league level let alone in the major leagues. The increased walk rate brought his on-base percentage from .260 in 2017 (well below the AL average of .324) to .319 in 2018 (a tick above the AL average of .318) and pushed his overall offensive production from 16 percent below league average (as measured by his 84 weighted runs created plus, or wRC+) to four percent above league average (104 wRC+).

And I haven’t even mentioned the most fun aspect of his 2018 season: He pitched! And he pitched well.

Thirty pitchers took the mound for the White Sox in 2018, all of whom made at least three appearances. And only one of them didn’t allow a run: Davidson.

He topped out at 91.9 MPH and had as many strikeouts, two, as baserunners allowed in his three innings of work. The two batters he struck out, Rougned Odor and Giancarlo Stanton, combined for 56 home runs in 2018. They combined for 89 home runs (and an MVP award) in 2017.

In his career, Stanton had a combined 16 plate appearances and zero strikeouts against Barry Zito, CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka and Edwin Díaz. He struck out in his one plate appearance against Davidson.

Davidson is one of just three players with 20 or more home runs and at least three mound appearances in a season in MLB history:

— Babe Ruth (1919): 29 home runs, 17 games on the mound
— Davidson (2018): 20 home runs, three games on the mound
— Shohei Ohtani (2018): 22 home runs, 10 games on the mound

Facts are facts. Davidson is actually serious about expanding his role on the mound.

“To be honest, I would love to maybe explore that idea,” he said in July. “Pitching was a dream. As a young kid, everybody wants to hit that walk-off homer, right? I was the guy striking that guy out. That’s how I first loved the game. My favorite player was Randy Johnson and doing that.

“So, it’s something I would be interested in. I don’t know if the game would necessarily allow that or something like that. It’s something that is really close to my heart is pitching.”

Whether or not it ever happens, Davidson’s 2018 was all about finding ways to increase his value. For the White Sox, that’s a good problem to have.