White Sox

Forced time off for Yoan Moncada, Nicky Delmonico the latest wrinkle in White Sox waiting game

Forced time off for Yoan Moncada, Nicky Delmonico the latest wrinkle in White Sox waiting game

Any notion of instant gratification for the White Sox took a couple blows this weekend.

Everyone knows this rebuild is nowhere near complete, with much of the team’s projected future roster still developing in the minor leaguers and contending still a couple years off. But the dual excitements that accompanied Yoan Moncada’s promotion to the big league roster and Nicky Delmonico’s smoking start to his major league career were slowed with both youngsters hitting the disabled list during this series with the visiting Detroit Tigers.

Now, because of the well-known timeframe for the rebuild, there is no panic in the streets over Moncada and Delmonico forced into time off. Their absences at this time of year won’t affect a pennant race or be the difference in a postseason berth.

But how does this time off, at this specific time in their early tastes of big league baseball, affect their development moving forward?

“You’re hoping that they’re healthy and they’re able to continue their development by being out there between the lines and playing,” manager Rick Renteria said ahead of Sunday’s game. “Hopefully it doesn’t affect them too much. You want them to be in there and get as many at-bats as possible and the experience. Each person’s different in how it will derail or affect their continued progress in most instances. … Hopefully it doesn’t affect either one of them.”

Renteria says that because in his mind, both guys were playing well before they were put on the shelf.

That’s demonstrably true of Delmonico, who was nearly unstoppable during his first 22 games in the majors. Delmonico wasn’t expected to be a huge part of the White Sox future — and even this hot start hasn’t moved him into the projected 2020 lineup yet — but he’s been a very pleasant surprise, showing that there could perhaps be an embarrassment of riches in the highly rated White Sox farm system.

Delmonico went to the DL with a .307/.429/.573 slash line. That’s a 1.002 OPS for the non-math majors out there. He’s got six homers, 12 RBIs and 15 walks compared to 14 strikeouts. He was tearing it up.

The concern, of course, is that this undesired stretch of time off could slow down that promising start.

“It is (frustrating),” Delmonico said Sunday. “Nothing I can do but try to treat it as much as I can and get ready to get back out there.”

The story is different for Moncada, at least from a statistical standpoint. He’s slashing just .188/.328/.356 in his 30 games since joining the White Sox.

But Renteria thinks the DL stint comes at an unfortunate time for Moncada, too, considering he, in the manager’s opinion, was just starting to turn it on at the plate.

“I still say that Moncada’s approaches have been really good, it’s just a matter of starting to understand a little bit more and recognition of the softer secondary pitches that he’s been swinging and missing at in the zone,” Renteria said. “Ironically, the day we brought him out (of the game with shin splints), he hit a breaking ball right-handed, it was an off-speed pitch down the left-field line to kind of get going. And he scored on that particular play later on.

“He’s starting to find that slot, that place where he’s recognizing pitches a little better, especially the secondary pitches. He definitely knows the strike zone. It’s not like this guy’s chasing pitches. This guy knows the strike zone, and it’s just a matter of getting more and more comfortable recognizing the secondary pitches that he can do damage with.”

White Sox fans are plenty aware that the organization is in the middle of a long-term waiting game. But now, with two youngsters on the DL — much-heralded pitching prospect Reynaldo Lopez is on the major league disabled list, too — it's clear there will be bumps along the road to the apex of the rebuild.

White Sox free-agent focus: Dallas Keuchel

White Sox free-agent focus: Dallas Keuchel

This week, we’re profiling some of the biggest names on the free-agent market and taking a look at what kind of fits they are for the White Sox.

The White Sox need starting pitching, so why not bring in a guy with a Cy Young Award sitting on his mantle?

Dallas Keuchel is one of the two biggest names on the starting-pitching market this winter, along with Patrick Corbin, who will get more attention — and likely more dollars — because he's two years younger. But Keuchel's the guy with the track record, the AL Cy Young winner in 2015 (when he was also a top-five MVP finisher), a two-time All Star, a four-time Gold Glove winner and the owner of a 3.28 ERA over the past five seasons, during which he helped the Houston Astros transition from rebuilding to one of baseball's perennial contenders. You might have heard something about them winning the World Series in 2017.

It's true that things have been somewhat up and down for Keuchel since his Cy Young win. After posting a 2.48 ERA with a career-high 216 strikeouts in 33 starts during that 2015 season, he had a 4.55 ERA and 144 strikeouts in 26 starts in 2016, then a 2.90 ERA and 125 strikeouts in 23 starts in 2017 and a 3.74 ERA and 153 strikeouts in 34 starts last season. But three times in the last five years he's finished with an ERA under 3.00. In other words, he's pretty darn good.

How might he fit with the White Sox? Well, in terms of whether or not he lines up with their long-term plans. Keuchel's older than Corbin, but it's not like he's old. He'll be 31 on Opening Day 2019, and a long-term deal, which he's expected to fetch, would keep him around for another planned transition from rebuilding to contention. Keuchel — a veteran who's accomplished a lot already, including putting a World Series ring on his finger — could be viewed as a Jon Lester type for these rebuilding White Sox, a big name who buys into the front office's long-term plan and helps make those plans become reality.

And there's no doubt the White Sox are in the market for starting pitching this winter. Michael Kopech is recovering from Tommy John surgery, and the White Sox decided not to pick up James Shields' option for 2019. That leaves two holes in the starting rotation. An addition like Keuchel would be a long-term one, which means the White Sox would opt to make him a safety net for their still-developing fleet of young pitchers and choose not to roll the dice on a homegrown starting staff for 2020. However, if they're confident in a quintet of Kopech, Carlos Rodon, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dylan Cease, then maybe they opt for a couple one-year fill-ins in 2019. Keuchel would not be a one-year fill-in.

Keuchel could also fill the role vacated by Shields, a veteran who could help bring along the young guys in an off-the-field mentor role. His experience going through the dark days of a rebuild — he was a member of Astros teams that lost a combined 310 games from 2012 to 2014 — and coming out the other end a world champ would also figure to be of value.

Of course, the White Sox wouldn't be alone in a pursuit of Keuchel, if they were interested. Thanks to Clayton Kershaw signing a new contract extension with the Los Angeles Dodgers, he's one of the two biggest names on the market when it comes to starting pitchers. The White Sox would likely have to go through the same bidding war and pitch of planned future success they would with other big names like Corbin, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.

But there's no doubt Keuchel would be an upgrade to this rotation in 2019 and could provide plenty of value for years beyond.

ESPN forgot about the White Sox again, and the Big Hurt let 'em hear about it


ESPN forgot about the White Sox again, and the Big Hurt let 'em hear about it

ESPN forgot about the White Sox again.

The Worldwide Leader in Sports has made a habit of failing to remember the South Siders in recent years, most notably forgetting (on multiple occasions) that the White Sox did in fact win the 2005 World Series.

It happened enough times that A.J. Pierzynski had some opinions about it.

This time, the omission came in an effort to illustrate how good Mike Trout is, with ESPN researcher Paul Hembekides listing baseball players who appeared in the top four in MVP voting three or more times. Trout, the Los Angeles Angels superstar, has already done it seven times, and boy that is terrific.

But Hembekides left someone out. And that someone let him hear about it.

You tell 'em, Frank.

Yes, the Big Hurt finished in the top four of the AL MVP vote on six separate occasions: 1991 (third), 1993 (first), 1994 (first), 1997 (third), 2000 (second) and 2006 (fourth, while playing for the Oakland Athletics).

ESPN's blind spot for the White Sox doesn't end up meaning much of anything, though it's amusing that they've now managed to leave out a relatively recent World Series champion and a relatively recent first-ballot Hall of Famer.

We all make mistakes. But it's a little funny that ESPN's are, repeatedly, White Sox related.