White Sox

BBQ: The truth about Kenny vs. Ozzie rumors

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BBQ: The truth about Kenny vs. Ozzie rumors

Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010
9:19 AM

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. First up, the rumor that Chicago White Sox general manager Ken Williams was on the verge of trading manager Ozzie Guillen to the Florida Marlins.

As tweeted last week, it didnt take long for sportswriters to get bored this Chicago White Sox offseason, what with the doozy of an exclusive that put forth the proposition, straightfaced, that Williams during the 2010 season was on the verge of shipping Guillen to the Florida Marlins for 20-year-old batting brute Mike Stanton (.833 OPS and 22 dingers in just 100 games in 2010). This episode of Writers Gone Wild captivated the world of baseball for about a day, in addition to providing twitterpating White Sox conspiracy theorist Oney Guillen a new round of I Told You So's.

OK, so this rumor was outright dumb?
Yes.

Dumber for the White Sox or the Marlins?
Hard to say. Williams main response: I thought this was over with. But the Marlins, not wanting to appear like the absolute idiots this supposed swap paints them as, issued vociferous denials as well.

Did anything revealing come of the rumor or denials?

One interesting nugget came from comments Williams made to MLB.com, that the report isnt completely accurate. So Williams, in the midst of utter frustration over the stoked and restoked rumors that he hates Ozzie and his manager wishes to poison him in his sleep, did acknowledge some truth in the manager-for-slugger swap.
What part is accurate?

Lets apply some basic powers of deduction to the rumor. Williams surely wasnt on the verge of trading his manager for Floridas Baby Bambino. But the GM is just clever enough to listen to any offer, to push the envelope a step farther than anyone expects. He probably also realized that Marlins owner and apparent Guillen confidante Jeffrey Loria is prone to bouts of loco. So Florida did probably float a trial balloon up north, even to the point of asking for official permission to talk with Guillen.

My guess is that Williams, brash as ever (and, oh, incidentally, because he does love Ozzie and believes hes the best fit for the White Sox), said, well, talking to Ozzie costs you Stanton. Or, at his most generous, Williams wanted a guarantee hed get the slugger if Ozzie surprised the GM by asking out of Chicago. And thats where the discussion ended.

So, if Florida had agreed to swap Stanton, were talking about new White Sox manager Joey Cora?

Not so fast. Had the Marlins agreed to send Stanton north in exchange for an Ozzie chat, Williams likely would have had a frank talk with Ozzie himself -- the same one the two men ended up having at seasons end, anyway. Basically, Williams would have asked: Ozzie, do you want to be in Chicago? That way, if Ozzie had contradicted everything hed ever said about the White Sox being the only place he ever wanted to manage and told Williams, hey, yeah, I want to shift to the Marlins, at least the GM had his rear-end covered.

If this is all smoke and mirrors, why did the White Sox grant Florida permission to speak with Ozzie?

So says Ozzie, at least. Guillen apparently confirmed that the Marlins had been granted permission to speak to him about being their next manager, but the two parties never spoke. Besides, its doubtful -- and bad business -- to grant another team the chance to negotiate with arguably Chicagos most important asset for free. Hence, the genesis of the Guillen-for-Stanton rumor.

Yeah, wait a minute, Ozzies moving out of Florida, right?

Dousing the flames indeed is the fact that Ozzie put his Miami home up for sale during the season, expressing his desire for the first time to spend his entire offseason (aside from days spent in Venezuela) in Chicag -- its where both he and his two oldest sons have put down roots.

What was all that stuff at the end of the season about Guillen managing elsewhere?
Call it a public-relations mishap. Guillen was not above a bit of late-season media posturing, going so far as to acknowledge hed even talk to the crosstown Cubs about managing if it came down to it. But Ozzie did paint himself in a corner with generalities about where he stood with the team -- when I asked specifically what he wanted to hear from the White Sox about his status, he could only crack a joke about a lifetime contract. Its fair to assume that Ozzie and Ken let their relationship lapse -- in fact it came as a surprise that at first hint of Guillens insecurity, Williams didnt immediately patch it both privately and publicly.

So Ozzie is happy with the White Sox?

He always has been. This is a man whos done nothing short of continuously proclaiming himself the consummate White Sox, with black and white pinstripes tattooed down his torso. The weight of Chico Carrasquel and Lou Aparicio expectations has been on his shoulders for 25 years and counting.

What was Williams take on all of this?

Expletives aside, not much. The GM would sooner cancel his NFL Season Ticket than address myriad Ozzie rumors further. But one day, well sit a spell and chat over this tumultuous time in the Ken-Ozzie partnerships history, and boy is the truth going to be bland. Williams (hopeful) final text on the matter was concise: Ozzie is the manager of the White Sox next year and I hope the next 10 years after. How many times do I have to bleeping say it?

So all is well?

All is well, White Sox fans. Rest easy. Ozzies not going anywhere.
BBQ Verdict: Overdone

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

Despite midseason slump, Jose Abreu is moving toward a fifth straight season of 25 homers and 100 RBIs

Despite midseason slump, Jose Abreu is moving toward a fifth straight season of 25 homers and 100 RBIs

When Jose Abreu went to the All-Star Game — voted in as the starting first baseman for the American League squad — he was of course deserving as an incredibly consistent performer through his first four seasons in the big leagues and his role as the face of the White Sox.

But the numbers weren't looking so good in mid July. An extended slump had Abreu looking very un-Abreu-like, perhaps heading toward his worst statistical season since arriving in the majors from Cuba ahead of his 2014 Rookie of the Year campaign.

At the close of the first half, he was slashing .253/.311/.441 with 13 home runs and 52 RBIs, a far cry from the .301/.359/.524 slash line he put up through his first four seasons, when he also joined Albert Pujols and Joe DiMaggio as the only players ever to start their careers with a quartet of 25-homer, 100-RBI campaigns.

But Abreu, who's been a very good second-half hitter during his career, is on a hot streak that's powering his way back to his version of normal. And it's looking like he could again reach the numbers we're so used to seeing from him by season's end.

After a one-homer, three-hit, three-RBI day in Wednesday afternoon's win over the Detroit Tigers, Abreu is up to .268/.327/.484 on the campaign with 21 homers and 73 RBIs. That puts him nine homers and 27 RBIs away from the mark he's hit in each of his first four seasons with 42 games left in the season. It's not at all unreasonable to suggest he'll be able to do that, as he's hit eight homers and driven in 21 runs in his last 22 games.

He'd have to be some kind of dialed-in for the remainder of 2018 to bump the averages back to where they've been in recent seasons. But here's the kind of hot streak he's on now: Since the start of the second half, Abreu is slashing .323/.385/.646. And that's not too crazy when you realize how good he's been in the second half in his career. Coming into Wednesday's game, his career second-half stat line looked like this: a .314/.381/.540 slash line with 61 homers and 199 RBIs in 303 games.

For the White Sox, the confidence was always there that Abreu was going to snap out of the extended slump that saw him slash .180/.230/.308 from May 27 to the end of the first half, and he's done exactly that. Now, he's hot enough that he's inspiring confidence he could return to some of his regular numbers by season's end. It's that kind of consistency, coupled with his off-the-field value, that makes the team think so highly of him and could keep him around long enough for the rebuilding process to yield a perennial contender on the South Side.

A lot can change, but who are the favorites to make up the White Sox rotation of the future?

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USA TODAY

A lot can change, but who are the favorites to make up the White Sox rotation of the future?

The White Sox seem to be a couple years away from shifting from rebuilding mode to contention mode. There's plenty of development that still needs to occur at both the major league and minor league levels before the roster of the future comes fully into focus.

But with some excellent performances happening right now, is the White Sox rotation of the future falling into place? At least a little?

Look at this:

— Carlos Rodon, last seven starts: 1.60 ERA, 42 strikeouts
— Michael Kopech, last six starts: 1.89 ERA, 50 strikeouts
— Dylan Cease, last seven starts: 1.08 ERA, 57 strikeouts
— Dane Dunning, last five starts (back in June): 2.08 ERA, 38 strikeouts

Kind of looks like four-fifths of a starting rotation, doesn't it?

As has often been discussed, the White Sox have a good deal of starting pitching depth, and there are plenty of possibilities to fill that starting staff down the line. Heretofore unmentioned are pitching prospects Alec Hansen, Jordan Stephens, Jimmy Lambert and Bernardo Flores, all ranked among the organization's top 25 prospects, as well as current big leaguers Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, who have each had their flashes of brilliance this season on the major league stage.

But the four guys listed above have been very, very good this season, especially recently, making it easy to envision them making up 80 percent of the starting rotation the next time the White Sox are competing for a championship.

Let's start with Rodon, who extended his streak of great starts to seven in Wednesday afternoon's win over the Detroit Tigers. He went eight innings for the second outing in a row, and he's now pitched into the eighth inning in five of his last six starts. He's got a 1.60 ERA in his last seven starts, with 42 strikeouts in that span. Wednesday, he bounced back from a rocky three-run third inning and finished with just three runs allowed on five hits and a walk, adding six strikeouts. Quite simply, he's been ace-like and done well to answer the health-related questions he brought into the season, when shoulder surgery prevented him from debuting until June for the second straight campaign.

Then there are the two guys putting up monster numbers in the minor leagues: Kopech and Cease.

The 22-year-old Kopech has moved past some midseason struggles and has been downright electric of late at Triple-A Charlotte. In his last six starts, Kopech has a 1.89 ERA with 50 strikeouts and a jaw-droppingly low four walks in 38 innings. It's quite the turnaround for a guy who was having difficulty keeping the walk numbers low earlier this season. But he's come out the other side pitching as well as he has since joining the White Sox organization prior to last season, which is saying a lot considering he struck out 172 hitters in 2017. He's just 11 strikeouts away from matching that total this year. He could make his major league debut before the 2018 season is over.

And then there's Cease, also 22, who wasn't even the most talked-about player in his own trade, coming over from the Cubs along with Eloy Jimenez in last summer's crosstown swap. Cease has been a tremendous surprise for the White Sox this season, not because they didn't think he'd be great but because he's been the organization's best pitcher. And he's continued that trend in his seven most recent starts at Double-A Birmingham, too, with a razor-thin 1.08 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 41.2 innings. He deservedly represented the White Sox at the Futures Game during All-Star week in Washington, D.C., last month and appears to be well on his way to earning the team's minor league pitcher of the year honors.

And for a fourth, how about a guy who hasn't pitched in a month and a half? Dunning has an elbow injury that's kept him out since late June, but prior to that, he was putting up terrific numbers at Double-A Birmingham. In his last five starts before hitting the DL, he had a 2.08 ERA with 38 strikeouts in 30.1 innings. And he might be making some progress, if a recent tweet is any indication.

Now, as mentioned, there's a lot that can and will happen before the starting staff is set on the next White Sox team that will contend for a championship. But this kind of positive production from these four guys stokes the idea of a potentially dominant rotation of the future.

At the very least, this quartet seems to be making life easy for the legion of 2020 lineup projectors out there.