White Sox

BBQ: White Sox make arbitrary decisions

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BBQ: White Sox make arbitrary decisions

Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010
Updated 11:33 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

With rumors, whispers, and team sources ever swirling through the offseason, look to BBQ to provide a bit of a reality check. On Tuesday, the Chicago White Sox offered salary arbitration to Paul Konerko and J.J. Putz, while declining on A.J. Pierzynski and Manny Ramirez. Among the resultant speculation, its assumed Pierzynski will not suit up for the Chisox in 2011. Lets examine the deeper meaning of Tuesdays arbitration decisions:
Does offering arbitration to Konerko and Putz ensure that the White Sox will do everything to bring them back?

Not really. The offers are better than shipping both out COD, but provides little indication otherwise on whether the two will return to the fold. For a rival team willing to break the bank on an offer to the 34-year-old first sackerwho learned he finished fifth (and, inexplicably, was left off of one voters ballot entirely) in AL MVP voting on Tuesday the loss of two draft picks will hardly impede their fever for Konerko. In the case of Putz, the White Sox will receive zero compensation if the ace reliever is signed away, as he is a Type B free agent. For a setup man every bit as good as Joaquin Benoit (who last week the cash-burning Detroit Tigers inked for an astounding 16.5 million over three years), thats not good news for the White Sox.

But the White Sox want Paulie back, right?

Publicly, no one on the South Side will disavow Konerko and do anything less than clamor for his return. Privately, the brass knows there are better buys out there even if the one they should have made just signed with guess who, the Tigs, and for less money than the White Sox were said to offer. Expect desperation for a left-handed bat to strike the Chisox and for GM Ken Williams to go all-in to secure Adam Dunn as a greater likelihood than Konerko coming back. (Dunn and Edwin Jackson on the same team? Take that, Mike Rizzo, you moving target, you.)
So whats the deal, you hate Paulie or something?

Nope. Konerko himself pretty clearly indicated that he had at least one preferred destination in mind in his end-of-season, pre-free agency address to the media, and it wasnt the White Sox. And the fact is in spite 2006 and 2010 seasons worthy of MVP consideration, the middle years of Konerkos just-finished, five-year deal were underwhelming. With his fielding on the wane, theres little reason to believe the Captain will ever match his outstanding 2010. Now recognized as the fifth-most valuable player in the league last season, Konerko quite reasonably wont be looking for a salary cut at least a terribly drastic one and the White Sox dont have excess money to spend, at least not on an aging first sacker. Not to go all Grinch on you, but the numbers simply dont add up for Konerkos return.

The White Sox offered Paul Konerko salary arbitration but declined to do so for A.J. Pierzynski. What does that mean for their futures on the South Side? (AP)OK, thats officially depressing. Will Putz or Pierzynski come back, at least?

Its not a stretch to say the free agent the White Sox most want to re-sign is Putz. He had a phenomenal 2010, and there are numerous reasons why Putz would be eager to return: his BFF Matt Thornton hurls out of the same bullpen; the central location of Chicago makes for less travel for the family-oriented fireballer; and the White Sox and pitching coach Don Cooper took extreme measures to preserve Putzs health by not overworking him until well into the 2010 season.

So, Putz is back?

Not so fast. Putz compares favorably to the new Bengal, Benoit, especially when you consider his short-relief track record as one of the strongest closers in baseball in 2006 and 2007. While Putz has maintained that closing games is not a crucial consideration for him as he approaches 2011, the free agent closer market is thin enough that someone might offer him crazy (6 million, as Benoit received) money to throw common sense to the wind and take the leap.

But overall, there are more reasons for Putz to come back than not. An incentive-laden deal (say, if Putz is pressed into closing and comes through this season, as opposed to his .429 save percentage in 2010) of three years and 13.5 million, with a mutual option for a fourth year, should get it done.

If Putz bolts, does it mean Bad Bobby Jenks is back in the fold?

Nope.
Youre a big A.J. booster, so what do his future Sox prospects look like?

They certainly dont look optimistic. Pierzynski has given no indication hes had any talks with the White Sox, so the notion that the team is declining to offer him arbitration as some sort of verge-of-contract formality or mechanism to avoid being locked into an arbitrators decision is a stretch. The White Sox could be hoping Pierzynski is left with little choice but to crawl back for two or three million a year, but thats a game of chicken the South Siders will lose especially in a world where the shallow-pocketed Florida Marlins throw 16.5 million at the .722 career OPS bat and 26 percent career caught stealing arm of John Buck.
A.J.s gone, too?

It seems so. In spite of my Pierzynski boosterism, it took the wizened eye of J. Jonas Stankevitz to remind me that on defense Pierzynski yawned his way through the latter half of the season (and undoubtedly a loud chorus of dissatisfied Sox faithful is willing to point out it has always been so).

Sure, declining to offer Pierzynski arbitration theoretically frees the White Sox up to sign the veteran at a discount rate, but theres a sense the White Sox are going to take an even cheaper route with their catching in 2011. A pairing of Ramon Castro and Tyler Flowers, or Miguel Olivo and Castro, seems more likely than a repeat of A.J.-Castro.

Dude, didnt you lobby for Pierzynski as team captain in 2011?

Ive covered the White Sox on the beat for half a year, and written for the team another six and Ive been a fan my entire life. There may be no cheering in the press box, but there may or may not have been a bit of cussing hurled forth from my seat when Delmon Young popped Pierzynski in the chops last August, or when a parade of Pale Hose pitchers politely declined to retaliate after the fact. So yes, on a team run by feistmeisters like Williams and manager Ozzie Guillen yet is curiously void of vocal grinders, Pierzynski occupies a special place in my heart.

Should that earn him a raise on last years generous salary, for the sake of 2005 heroism, fan favoritism, or Punch A.J. nostalgia? Hell no.

Wherefore art Manny Ramirez in the grand scheme of things?

Running for the (northern) border? Ramirez has been linked to the Toronto Blue Jays, if not any number of experimental anti-aging solutions after the flatulent, pinstriped end to his 2010 season. Its still mystifying that the cash-strapped Chisox happily smooched away 4 million for a month of Manny being Manny, but moreso that Williams and Guillen (hardscrabble grinders both) were insistent that Ramirez, maintaining full headdress, was a force for good on the flagging White Sox. (Truth: The most productive words I saw Manny sharing in the clubhouse were comically-loud exhortations whenever female reporters happened by: Hey guuuuuuurls!) Yick, yuck and aaughpor favor, no mas Manny.

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

The White Sox sent down Carson Fulmer, so why isn't Lucas Giolito receiving the same treatment?

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AP

The White Sox sent down Carson Fulmer, so why isn't Lucas Giolito receiving the same treatment?

Lucas Giolito is having a rough go of things in his second year with the White Sox.

He came into the season with some pretty high expectations after posting a 2.38 ERA in seven starts at the end of the 2017 campaign and then dominating during spring training. But he’s done anything but dominate since this season started, and after one of his worst outings in Thursday’s 9-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, he’s got a 7.53 ERA in 10 starts in 2018.

Giolito stuck around for only four outs Thursday, but he allowed the Orioles to do plenty of damage, giving up seven runs on six hits — two of which were back-to-back home runs to start the second inning — and three walks. He leads the American League with his 37 walks.

“I take what I do very seriously. I work as hard as I can at it,” Giolito said. “So when I experience failure like this, it’s kind of hard to deal with. All I can do is come back tomorrow, keep working on things and hopefully have a better one.”

All of Giolito’s struggles have fans wondering why the White Sox haven’t sent him down to Triple-A to work on his craft.

“I don’t foresee that at this particular time,” Rick Renteria said when asked if Giolito could be sent to Triple-A. “I think he’s just a young man who’s got to continue to minimize the emotional aspect of crossing from preparation into the game and staying focused, relaxed and hammer the zone with strikes. And truthfully it’s just first-pitch strike and get after the next one.”

The White Sox have already sent one young pitcher down in Carson Fulmer, who was having a nightmarish time at the big league level. Fulmer’s results were worse than Giolito’s on a regular basis. He got sent down after posting an 8.07 ERA in nine outings.

But hasn’t Giolito suffered through command issues enough to warrant some time away from the major league limelight? According to his manager, Giolito’s situation is vastly different than Fulmer’s.

“I don’t see them anywhere near each other,” Renteria said. “They’re two different competitors in terms of the outcomes that they’ve had. Lucas has at least had situations in which he might have struggled early and been able to gain some confidence through the middle rounds of his start and continue to propel himself to finish some ballgames, give us six or seven innings at times. So it’s two different guys.

“With Gio, I expect that we would have a nice clean start from the beginning, but when he doesn’t I still feel like if he gets through it he’ll settle down and continue to hammer away at what he needs to do in order to get deeper into a ballgame, and that was a little different with Carson. With Carson it was right from the get-go he was struggling, and he had a difficult time extending his outings after the third or fourth because it just kept getting too deep into his pitch count and not really hammering the strike zone as much.”

Renteria is not wrong. Giolito has had a knack to take a rough beginning to a start and turn it into five or six innings. Notably, he gave up a couple first-inning runs and walked seven hitters and still got the win against the Cubs a week and a half ago. And while his first-inning ERA is 10.80 and his second-inning ERA is 12.54, he’s pitched into at least the sixth inning in seven of his 10 starts.

Renteria’s point is that Giolito is learning how to shake off early damage and achieving the goal, most times out, of eating up innings and keeping his team in the game. Those are a couple valuable qualities to develop for a young pitcher. But are those the lone qualities that determine that Giolito is suited to continue his learning process at the major league level? His command remains a glaring problem, and both he and Renteria admitted that his problems are more mental than physical.

“The one thing everyone has to understand is we have to go beyond the physical and attack a little bit more of the mental and emotional and try to connect and slow that down,” Renteria said. “Those aspects are the ones that ultimately, at times, deal in the derailment of the physical action. So if we can kind of calm that down a little bit.

“He’s very focused. Giolito is high intensity. Nice kid but high-intensity young man when he gets on the mound. You might not believe it. He’s going 100 mph. So I think it goes to more just trusting himself, trusting the process, taking it truthfully one pitch at a time.”

Well, if a demotion to the minors isn’t likely, what about moving Giolito to the bullpen? Carlos Rodon and Chris Sale dipped their toes in bullpen waters before moving to the rotation. Could a reversal of that strategy help Giolito?

Well, the current state of the White Sox starting rotation — Fulmer in the minors, Miguel Gonzalez on the 60-day DL and pitchers like James Shields, Hector Santiago and Dylan Covey, who aren’t exactly long-term pieces, getting a lot of starts — doesn’t really allow for another piece to be removed.

“I know they have done it with Rodon and Sale,” Renteria said. “The difference is we don’t have the makeup of the starting rotation that those clubs had in order to put those guys in the ‘pen. We are in a different situation right now. Moving forward, is that something we can possibly do? Absolutely. It has been done with very good success.

“Right now we are in truly discovery mode and adjustment mode and adapting and trying to do everything we can to get these guys to develop their skill sets to be very usable and effective at the major league level and we are doing it to the best of our ability.”

There could be promise in the fact that Giolito has turned a season around as recently as last year. Before he was impressing on the South Side in August and September, he was struggling at Triple-A Charlotte. Even after he ironed things out, things had gotten off to a rocky enough start that he owned a 4.48 ERA and 10 losses when he was called up to the bigs.

It doesn’t seem Giolito will be going back to Charlotte, unless things continue to go in a dramatically poor direction. Right now, these are just more of the growing pains during this rebuilding process. “The hardest part of the rebuild” doesn’t just means wins and losses. It means watching some players struggle through speed bumps as they continue to develop into what the White Sox hope they’ll be when this team is ready to compete.

Danny Farquhar to throw out the first pitch before White Sox game on June 1

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AP

Danny Farquhar to throw out the first pitch before White Sox game on June 1

In another example of how amazing Danny Farquhar’s recovery has been, the pitcher will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the White Sox game on June 1.

Farquhar suffered a brain hemorrhage from a ruptured aneurysm during the sixth inning of the team’s April 20 game against the Houston Astros. But his recovery has been astounding, and he was discharged from the hospital on May 7. Farquhar’s neurosurgeon expects him to be able to pitch again in future seasons.

Farquhar has been back to visit his teammates at Guaranteed Rate Field a couple times since leaving the hospital. June 1 will mark his return to a big league mound, even if it’s only for a ceremonial first pitch with his wife and three children. Doctors, nurses and staff from RUSH University Medical Center will be on hand for Farquhar’s pitch on June 1.

The White Sox announced that in celebration of Farquhar’s recovery, they will donate proceeds from all fundraising efforts on June 1 to the Joe Niekro Foundation, an organization committed to supporting patients and families, research, treatment and awareness of brain aneurysms.