White Sox

Buehrle return not looking good

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Buehrle return not looking good

DALLAS--- If youre holding your breath for Mark Buehrle to return to the White Sox, you might need an oxygen mask.

And if youre Robin Ventura, who arrived at the winter meetings on Monday as the new manager of the White Sox, youre facing the realistic possibility that when the season begins, Buehrle will be wearing a different uniform.

Its easy if he stays, you just let him pitch. Obviously if he goes, its a tremendous loss, Ventura told reporters. You look at what hes meant to the organization as a teammate, and even being around as little as I was, it was obvious what hes meant. Id be disappointed.

The Marlins, Rangers and Nationals have been the most aggressive in their attempts to sign Buehrle. When the Nationals met with him at his home last month in Missouri, they expressed that signing him was their No. 1 priority, according to a source. Now the Nationals have entered the mix for fellow lefty free agent C.J. Wilson. Maybe theyve gotten the hint.

As Comcast SportsNet reported on Sunday, the Marlins' offer to Buehrle is considered very strong and Im told they remain the leading candidate to sign him.

Things could change here over the next few days. His agent, Jeff Berry, is a busy man. Many teams want to speak with him about his client, but the Marlins have been sitting on a pile of money for years and now theyre ready to spend it -- a lot of it. Just ask the Mets, who tried to resign shortstop Jose Reyes and got beaten out by Miami by over 30 million.

Leaving Chicago would be the most difficult decision of Buehrles career, but if the White Sox are unable to counter with a competitive offer to bring him back, theyll help make the decision for him.

Every White Sox fan hopes it doesnt come to this, but unless something changes, this appears to be the road where its all headed.

Its a scenario Ventura found himself in back in 1998 when, after nine seasons, he left the White Sox, the team that drafted him, and signed with the New York Mets as a free agent.

Ive been in his position and I know whats going through in his head, Ventura said of Buehrle. He likes Chicago, he likes the White Sox, but again, its where youre at in your career, and whats getting offered, and whats getting thrown at you. Sometimes you get a little confused. When you look at what you really want, if it could happen, he would probably want to stay, but theres a lot of people wanting him, and thats something he has to weigh and hes probably getting better offers.

Ventura actually ran into Buehrle a couple weeks ago in New York City where Mark received his Gold Glove Award.

I dont know if its bad, but I made my case in person to him, Ventura admitted. I just wanted him to know what I thought of him and what hes meant to the organization.

What was Buehrles reaction?

He just smiled and laughed.

Ventura knows its not his decision to make. He says that he will voice his opinions to Williams about players, whether its Buehrle or possible trade pieces like John Danks, Carlos Quentin and Gavin Floyd. But in the end, its not his call.

There was no I had to have this or 'I had to have that, Ventura explained about his dealings with Williams when he took the job. Im agreeing to manage the White Sox, not that I have to have a certain player. Would I like to have them? Oh yeah. I realize what John means, and Carlos and Mark. I get that and would love to have that, but in the situation were in and what happened last year, is it for sure? No, but I would like to have it.

Everyone wants to have Buehrle back.

Ventura.
Williams.
Jerry Reinsdorf.

But theres only so much money.

And oxygen.

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

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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

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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.