White Sox

Chris Sale likes the direction White Sox are taking


Chris Sale likes the direction White Sox are taking

Whether or not the White Sox are done adding players for the winter remains to be seen, but left-handed ace Chris Sale said he’s pleased with the moves that’ve already been made this offseason. 

While the additions of third baseman Todd Frazier and second baseman Brett Lawrie drew most of the December headlines, Sale will experience a significant change in who he’s throwing to this coming summer. Sale hasn’t thrown to a catcher not named Tyler Flowers since 2013, and the now-former White Sox backstop caught 62 percent of Sale’s career innings. In place of Flowers, who signed with the Atlanta Braves, the White Sox brought in a pair of veterans in Alex Avila and Dioner Navarro, who combined have caught 11,827 2/3 innings in the major leagues. 

[MORE: Robin Ventura thinks White Sox can be 'dangerous' in 2016]

Both Avila and Navarro are here at the Hilton Chicago for SoxFest, which will provide Sale an early opportunity to begin to develop a relationship with each backstop. 

“This is definitely a good platform to be able to spend a weekend away from baseball to get to know each other a little bit,” Sale said. “And then you get to spring training and start building that relationship on the field, getting acquainted with each other. We’ll be bouncing ideas and leaning on (pitching coach Don Cooper) and figuring some things out together to make that relationship good.”

While Flowers was a plus as a defender, game manager and pitch caller behind the plate, especially for Sale, his offense — a career .665 OPS — is why the White Sox decided to replace him. Both Avila and Navarro have consistently been rated by FanGraphs as above-average defensive catchers as well. 

Improving the team’s overall defense was a focus of this offseason for the White Sox, too, which should directly benefit Sale. The additions of Frazier and Lawrie brought defensive upgrades to third and second base, and Tyler Saladino can be expected to play better defense than Alexei Ramirez did in 2015, too. 

Sale’s gulf between his ERA and FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) was the fifth-highest among qualified starting pitchers in 2015, which for a strikeout machine of a pitcher who gave up an average number of home runs can be connected to the White Sox sub-optimal defense last summer. 

“You got a guy (Frazier) who’s one of the best in the business at what he does both offensively and defensively,” Sale said. “That’s something I think we’ve needed for a while.”

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The additions made by the White Sox this offseason have led some advanced projections to peg the club to win around 84 or 85 games in 2016, which, if a few things break right, could blossom into a legitimate playoff push. Sale, from his perspective, sees a similar possibility.

“(General manager Rick Hahn) has put us in a situation to be able to go out there and fend for ourselves and fight for a division title,” Sale said. “That’s all you can ask. When your guys up top are doing everything they can, that puts some fire underneath us to go out there and do what we need to do.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: Ask Us Anything Part 1


White Sox Talk Podcast: Ask Us Anything Part 1

We asked you to ask us anything about the White Sox and you delivered in a big way. We got so many questions, we had to do two different podcasts! Among the questions here in Part 1: should the White Sox send Yoan Moncada to Triple-A? What players will be traded before the deadline? Who are some sleeper prospects in the minors? Will Jordan Stephens be called up before Michael Kopech? Should Juan Uribe be a team ambassador? What's our all-time White Sox team from 2000 to the present and many more.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Rick Hahn says 'there will be many' promotions for White Sox prospects this week


Rick Hahn says 'there will be many' promotions for White Sox prospects this week

The White Sox have a number of highly-rated prospects performing well in the minors and some of them will be on the move within the system in a matter of days.

General manager Rick Hahn talked to reporters ahead of Monday night's White Sox game in Cleveland, a 6-2 loss, and gave the news. Well, sort of.

He didn't include names, but he did say that "there will be many" promotions after the minor league all-star games for Double-A and both Single-A teams take place on Tuesday.

Hahn added that Chris Getz, the White Sox player development director, will address the media before the White Sox host Oakland on Thursday about the moves.

If the all-star games are a reason to wait, it's safe to think some of the players involved will be playing in those games. So who could be on the move?

Double-A Birmingham has six all-stars: Eloy Jimenez, Zack Collins, Seby Zavala, Danny Mendick, Dane Dunning and Ian Hamilton. Jimenez is the name everyone wants to see on the move. He has torched the Southern League since getting off to a late start to the season due to injury. Hahn was asked about Jimenez, but didn't tip his hand as to whether he would be one of the promotions.

Dunning has been good in Double-A (2.78 ERA, 65 strikeouts in 58 1/3 innings), but was already promoted this season so he may not be on the move again.

Single-A Winston-Salem has five all-stars: Dylan Cease, Luis Alexander Basabe, Joel Booker, Bernardo Flores and Matt Foster. Cease, 22, could be due for a promotion with a 2.89 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 71 2/3 innings. There's also that outfield logjam the Dash, which won the first-half division title, have had all season.

Other than Basabe and Booker, Blake Rutherford and Alex Call are also noteworthy prospects being forced to split time in the Dash's outfield. If Jimenez is moving up to Triple-A, one or two names from this group could be on the move to take his spot in Birmingham.

This would especially make sense if highly-touted outfield prospect Luis Robert, who was supposed to be in Single-A Kannapolis for a short period before joining the Dash, is ready to move up as planned. Robert is hitting .289/.360/.400 in 13 games with the Intimidators.

Birmingham, Winston-Salem and Kannapolis were all off Monday. The various all-star games will take place Tuesday and the three teams will be off again Wednesday. The promotions could be announced Thursday ahead of Getz's scheduled media availability.