White Sox

BBQ: Is Paul Konerko heading home?

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BBQ: Is Paul Konerko heading home?

Tuesday, November 2,2010
10:15 AM

By BrettBallantini
CSNChicago.com

With rumors, whispers, and teamsources ever swirling through the offseason, turn to the BBQ toprovide a bit of a reality check. Heres a look at the supposedbreaking news that Chicago White Sox free agent first baseman PaulKonerko is the object of the Arizona Diamondbacksdesire:
Q: Konerko is fromArizona, right?

A: Yeah. He was rumored to be going home toplay back in 2005 as well. Hey, did you fall asleep five years ago andjust wake up now?

Q: Huh?

A: Indeed, Konerko starred at Chaparral High inScottsdale. He was a prep Player of the Year. He led Chaparral to astate title in 1994, when Konerko hit a school-record .558. And ifbeing a high school hero had bearing on where a superstar signs acontract in his mid-30s, well then, book PK toAZ.

Q: Allright, simmer down, theres a reason for all this Konerko-to-Arizonatalk, right?
A: Absolutely. Althoughpitched today as the Diamondbacks being interested in Konerko, thereverse is actually true: PK is trolling for a new address. Konerkosurprised many late in the season when he calmly commented that theWhite Sox not only wouldnt be given the right to match any offer hegot over the winter, but he might not return to Chicago even if theWhite Sox trumped all other offers. It was very clearandwrittenvideoed by yours trulythat PK had another suitor inmind.

Q: In2005 he re-signed with the White Sox for less money than the BaltimoreOrioles or Los Angeles Angels offered, now he may take less to signelsewherewhat is this Konerko guy,nuts?

A: All the power is in Konerkos hands. Thatswhat he earned back in 2005, when he led the White Sox to a WorldSeries, then chose to remain with the team for less money than othersoffered. In fact, Konerko specifically mentioned that had he leftChicago after the 2005 season, he would have felt like there wasunfinished business left on the table. Today, he says he knows hell beconsidered a White Sox no matter where his career takeshim.

Q:Uh-oh. That doesnt sound promising. Where do the White Sox rank onPaulies list?

A: From here it looks like Arizonaand the White Sox are 1-2. Its unlikely that will change until Arizonatells him no, or slips sneakily from hometown discount tolowball.
Q: But the White Sox want Konerko back,right?

A: The whole of the White Sox family, from JerryReinsdorf on down, told Konerko they wanted him back next season. Thedecision rests almost solely on Konerkoalthough Williams wont dallyif he needs to pull the trigger on a deal that bolsters his club, withor without Konerko.

Q: OK, what are Konerkosdemands?

A: Postgame brews? Seriously, PK is as low-keyas they come. He isnt going to demand a long-term contract like thefive-year that just expired, as he admits he doesnt know how muchlonger he wants to play. And he will be affordableeven after his bestyear since 2006, at his age and in a robust first base market, he wontcommand a raise on his 12 million annualsalary.

Q:What are the options for the White Sox if Konerkoleaves?

A:There are myriad first basemen available to the White Sox,none preferable than Konerko himself. On the opposite end of thespectrum, Dayan Viciedo could step in as the new first sackerdumb mathwould project him to 25 homers, 65 ribbies if hed played a full seasonin 2010, and his .840 OPS is downright decent considering he walkedjust twice last year.

Q: Dayans fine, but who else is out there for the WhiteSox?

A:Its no dis on Konerko, whose leadership ability is hardto quantify in dollars, but there may be smarter money to be spentelsewhere for both the White Sox and Diamondbacks. Adam Dunn, VictorMartinez and Aubrey Huff are front-line free agent options, with DerrekLee, Lance Berkman and Carlos Pena as comeback candidates Williamscould by low on. And dont forget that Prince Fielder is anothertop-notch first baseman long coveted by Williams, and one who theMilwaukee Brewers will likely put on the trade market over thewinter.

Q:But we want Paulie back. Is there a down side to suiting Konerko up fora few more years?

A: Decorum alone would see Konerko getting, say,10 million over three years from the White Soxand thats a startingpoint. Per FanGraphs value data, Konerko outperformed his recent, 12million per season contract in just 2006 and 2010, putting up 56.3million in value over the course of his 60 million deal. It will beexceedingly hard to match his future contract value when he starts anew deal at age 35. Also, advanced fielding statsas well as thegood-old eye testindicate PKs generally solid work in the field tooka significant step back in 2010.

Q: So, is Konerko comingback?

A:I said it then, and Ill stick it now, but I dont thinkso.

BBQVerdict: Stale
Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.

It's only one start, but that's the Lucas Giolito that White Sox fans expected to see this season

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USA TODAY

It's only one start, but that's the Lucas Giolito that White Sox fans expected to see this season

The preseason expectations and the results have been drastically different for Lucas Giolito.

Expected to be the best pitcher on the White Sox starting staff, Giolito hasn’t come too close to that title, instead heading into Friday’s doubleheader with the most earned runs allowed of any pitcher in baseball. His walk total has been among the highest in the game all year long, too. And the calls from social media to send him down to Triple-A haven’t been at all infrequent.

But Friday, White Sox fans got a glimpse at what they expected, a look at the guy who earned so much hype with a strong September last season and a dominant spring training.

It wasn’t a performance that would make any reasonable baseball person’s jaw drop. But it was the best Giolito has looked this season. He still allowed four runs on seven hits — as mentioned, not a Cy Young type outing — but he struck out a season-high eight batters. Prior to giving up the back-to-back singles to start the eighth inning that brought an end to his evening, he’d surrendered just two runs.

Most importantly he walked just two guys and didn’t seem to struggle with his command at all. That’s a big deal for a pitcher who had 45 walks to his name prior to Friday.

“You know it was a tough eighth inning, but throughout the whole game, I felt in sync,” Giolito said. “(Catcher Omar Narvaez) and I were working really well, finally commanding the fastball the way I should. Definitely the best I felt out there this year, for sure. Velocity was up a tick. Just felt right, felt in sync. Just competed from there.”

Confidence has never left Giolito throughout the poor results, and he’s talked after every start about getting back on the horse and giving it another try. Consistently working in between starts, things finally seemed to click Friday night.

“It all worked today,” manager Rick Renteria said. “(Pitching coach Don Cooper) says that every bullpen has gotten better, from the beginning to this point. He sees progress. The velocity that he showed today was something that Coop was seeing in his work. You can see that his delivery is continuing to improve. He was trusting himself, really attacking the strike zone, trusted his breaking ball today when he need to and just tried to command as much as he could. Did a nice job.”

Giolito went through this kind of thing last year, when he started off poorly at Triple-A Charlotte with a 5.40 ERA through his first 16 starts. But then things got better, with Giolito posting a 2.78 ERA over his final eight starts with the Knights before getting called up to the big leagues.

This was just one start, of course, but perhaps he can follow a similar formula this year, too, going from a rough beginning to figuring things out.

“I’m not trying to tinker or think about mechanics anymore,” he said. “It’s about flow, getting out there and making pitches. We were able to do that for the most part.

“I’ll watch video and see certain things, and I have little cues here and there. But I’m not going to go and overanalyze things and nitpick at certain stuff anymore. It’s about going there and having fun and competing.”

Maybe that’s the secret. Or maybe this is simply a brief flash of brilliance in the middle of a tough first full season in the bigs.

Whatever it was, it was the best we’ve seen of Giolito during the 2018 campaign. And it was far more like what was expected back before that campaign got going.

Avisail Garcia is back from his lengthy DL stay just in time to prove he's a part of White Sox long-term future

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USA TODAY

Avisail Garcia is back from his lengthy DL stay just in time to prove he's a part of White Sox long-term future

For the first time in two months, Avisail Garcia is back in the White Sox lineup.

Garcia’s return from his lengthy stay on the disabled list was a refreshing sight for a team that came into the season believing he’d be one of its biggest bats. After all, Garcia was excellent in 2017, an All-Star campaign for him that saw him with some of the best hitting statistics in the American League.

But even with those good numbers, there were plenty of questions about where Garcia stood in the rebuilding White Sox long-term future. After a long wait for that breakout season, was it going to be the new normal or a one-hit wonder? He’s got just two more seasons of team control left, and there are a ton of outfield prospects developing behind him in the minor leagues.

His admittedly slow start this year didn’t help clarify anything: He returned to action with a .233/.250/.315 slash line, a far cry from the .330/.380/.506 line he finished with last season.

So now he’s back, and the “prove it” season resumes. He’s got time left to show the White Sox he can fend off challenges from the likes of Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Blake Rutherford, Luis Alexander Basabe, Micker Adolfo and all the rest. Getting back on the field is the first step in doing that.

“Be healthy and play hard like I’ve been playing all my career,” Garcia said Friday. “Just trying stay healthy, do my routine and do my best to help my team win.

“My knee is good. My hamstring is good. I have no pain in my body right now. I feel great, great and focused and trying to compete every single day.”

The injury — injuries, it turns out — certainly didn’t help. After the hamstring strain he suffered turned out to be a tad more significant than originally believed, he suffered a separate knee injury during his recovery that kept him on the shelf a while longer.

But Garcia showed that maybe his bat is ready to come back to life during his rehab at Triple-A Charlotte. He slashed an eye-popping .360/.429/.840 with three home runs, three doubles and nine RBIs in just seven games.

No one’s expecting that kind of production now that he’s back at the major league level. But plenty of fans and observers are expecting a lot who is still young enough to warrant consideration for a spot on the White Sox next contending team. He’s got the advantage of already playing at the big league level to show off for all the decision makers.

But there’s no doubt that it’s a stacked group behind him. Jimenez, the third-ranked prospect in baseball, was just promoted to Triple-A. A trio of high-performing outfielders — Basabe, Alex Call and Joel Booker — just got bumped up to Double-A. And perhaps the most exciting group of all — Robert, Rutherford, Adolfo and Luis Gonzalez — are all playing together at Class A Winston-Salem.

That’s an awful lot of young, inexpensive depth to contend with in the discussion for how the White Sox should align their outfield of the future. But Garcia can still stay in that discussion by doing one thing: hitting. His quest to turn his season around starts now.