White Sox

If Sox are looking for a starter, Richard makes plenty of sense

820775.png

If Sox are looking for a starter, Richard makes plenty of sense

Earlier this week, a report surfaced that the White Sox had Zack Greinke on their radar. What that means is up for debate, but from a logical standpoint, it's tough to see the White Sox acquiring Greinke or any of the other top-flight starting pitchers on the trade market in the next few weeks.

But if the White Sox are serious about adding another starter to the mix, it makes much more sense for them to look a tier below the Grienkes, Garzas and Dempsters. And on Wednesday, a report from FOX Sports' Jon Morosi gave us a name, and it's one you may remember from such happenings such as the 2009 season and Jake Peavy trade: Clayton Richard.

Of course, "checked in" is about as vague of a trade deadline term as "on the radar." Like with Greinke, the Sox could be anywhere on the spectrum from kicking the tires to ready to execute a deal. And just because the White Sox have made some contact with San Diego about Richard doesn't mean the Padres are willing to trade him.

From a practical standpoint, though, Richard makes sense for the White Sox. He's developed into one of the National League's most durable starters and has a 3.83 ERA -- which, if it holds up, would be his third straight year with an ERA between 3.70 and 3.90.

Greinke, Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza and Cole Hamels will require a bounty for any team wishing to obtain their services prior to the July 31 non-waiver deadline. Richard, who has two more years of arbitration left before he hits free agency, likely wouldn't take a loaded package to pry away from San Diego.

Whereas the White Sox may not have the prospects to deal for a front-line starter at the deadline, they almost certainly could interest the Padres in a prospect or two for Richard.

The 28-year-old Richard has had an intriguing season with San Diego in 2012. Plenty of Padres pitchers since Petco Park opened have enjoyed the luxury of pitching half their games in its spacious dimensions. There were many who expected Jake Peavy to fall in Chicago thanks simply to moving from Petco Park to U.S. Cellular Field, where home runs are far more prevalent.

But Richard is actually allowing quite a high percentage of home runs both at home and on the road. At Petco Park, 13 percent of fly balls Richard has allowed have been home runs, while on the road that percentage is 16.7 percent. That's high across the board, but nonetheless is interesting for a successful Padres starter.

The good news for Richard is that he's walking opponents at the lowest rate of his major-league career, averaging 1.98 free passes per nine innings. He's not striking many out (about five per nine innings), but he's become an extreme ground ball pitcher -- over 50 percent of balls in play off Richard in the last two seasons have been on the ground.

That ground ball rate is a double-edged sword, though. While Richard has enjoyed success this season getting batters to beat the ball into the ground, opponents have a .256 BABIP against him, which is likely due for some sort of regression, especially with the amount of balls in play he allows.

Regardless, Richard has grown quite a bit since he was sent to San Diego at the deadline in 2009 -- the main key has simply been a drastic reduction in walks allowed. And that there is some familiarity between him and Don Cooper could wind up being a positive if he were to return to Chicago.

There's still plenty of time between now and the trade deadline. Maybe the White Sox surprise everyone and make a blockbuster deal for a starter. But if they are indeed looking for rotation help, trying to add their old friend in Richard may make more sense.

Let's compare birthday boy Dan Pasqua to Daniel Palka

1017_dan_pasqua.jpg
GOOGLE IMAGES

Let's compare birthday boy Dan Pasqua to Daniel Palka

Daniel Palka was a phenomenon in 2018. But before there was Daniel Palka, there was Dan Pasqua. You might have heard the Palka/Pasqua comparisons on White Sox game broadcasts or within White Sox fan circles. Both are lefty sluggers with a similar build: Palka listed at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, Pasqua at 6-foot-0 and 203 ppounds. Both led the White Sox in home runs in their age-26 seasons: Pasqua with 20 in 1988, Palka with 27 in 2018. And hey, they have the same first name and last initial!

Pasqua, nicknamed “The Hammer,” turned 57 years old Wednesday. Let’s learn a few more things about him.

— He was a teammate of John Elway (for four games with Oneonta of the New York-Pennsylvania League in 1982), Bo Jackson (with the White Sox from 1991 to 1993) and Michael Jordan (for four games with Birmingham of the Southern League in 1994).

— He was the 1985 International League MVP with the Columbus Clippers.

— He homered in his MLB debut on May 30, 1985, with the Yankees

— He was Sports Illustrated’s 1987 preseason pick to lead the American League in home runs. He finished with 17, only 32 behind Mark McGwire.

— He hit a Comiskey Park roof shot on May 30, 1989.

— He hit the last triple (and had the last RBI) in Comiskey Park history on Sept. 30, 1990.

— He hit a 484-foot home run, the third-longest by a White Sox player in Guaranteed Rate Field history, on April 27, 1991.

— He finished his MLB career with 117 home runs, tied with all-time great outfielders Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker and Ichiro Suzuki.

And finally, let’s compare Pasqua to Palka statistically. Since Palka had 449 career plate appearances through the end of the 2018 season, here's the duo's numbers through their first 449 career MLB plate appearances.

Could Manny Machado's NLCS shenanigans impact White Sox potential free-agent pursuit?

1017_manny_machado.jpg
USA TODAY

Could Manny Machado's NLCS shenanigans impact White Sox potential free-agent pursuit?

"It's a dirty play by a dirty player."

That was Christian Yelich, the all-but-sure-to-be NL MVP, describing Manny Machado, who's about to become one of the best-paid players in baseball history, after Game 4 of the NLCS, a game in which Machado once again grabbed headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Machado's Los Angeles Dodgers and Yelich's Milwaukee Brewers have played four games in this NLCS, and after three of them, the focus has been on Machado. Not because of his bat or his glove but because of lack of hustle and certain methods on the base paths that weren't exactly on the up and up.

After Game 2, he was criticized for not hustling on a ground ball to shortstop. In something straight out of a public-relations person's nightmare, he defended himself by saying that hustling really isn't his cup of tea. During Game 3, he twice attempted to break up double plays by interfering at second base and was, upon review, busted for it the second time. In extra innings in Game 4, he appeared to intentionally drag his leg across Jesus Aguilar's at first base. That play cleared the benches, got Machado called "dirty" in the Brewers' clubhouse and earned him the reputation of postseason villain.

And so Machado's impending free agency gets to be discussed in a brand new light. There's now more baggage attached to the 26-year-old superstar with a fantastic bat and a stellar glove.

The question is: Will the White Sox, one of many teams that could be mulling a contract offer worth hundreds of millions of dollars, care?

As much as it’s talked about building a perennial contender of the future by developing the on-field skills of their fleet of highly touted prospects, the White Sox brain trust has discussed developing a culture, a way of doing things, to go along with all that talent and all that skill. Unsurprisingly that conversation has focused on the oft-used phrase of “doing things the right way.”

Does what Machado has been doing count as “doing things the right way”? It seems easy to assess that it doesn't. It's far more difficult to determine whether it will end up making a difference or not.

Not hustling is one of Rick Renteria's biggest bugaboos. He sat down multiple players on multiple occasions throughout the 2018 season — starting with Avisail Garcia in a spring training game and including a veteran like Welington Castillo as well as a young star like Tim Anderson — for not running to first base on pop ups and line outs and ground outs. Would Renteria's tune suddenly change if Machado and his preference for not hustling arrived on the South Side in what would surely be the biggest free-agent deal in club history?

Renteria got fired up over the issue at the end of July, when he benched Anderson for not hustling on what the shortstop believed was a line out.

“We tell these guys, don’t assume anything. ... It’s as simple as that, and he understands it. He knows it. We’ve talked about it. He comes out of the box, he doesn’t stand there. But we just reiterated to make sure that you allow the umpires to make the calls and you allow the other clubs to go ahead and ask for reviews. We run.”

But asked about not running out his ground ball in Game 2, Machado shared pretty much the opposite philosophy.

"Obviously I'm not going to change, I'm not the type of player that's going to be 'Johnny Hustle,' and run down the line and slide to first base and … you know, whatever can happen," Machado told The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal. "That's just not my personality, that's not my cup of tea, that's not who I am."

What about Machado's interferences at second base? It was that exact play that sent Anderson into an on-field tiff with umpire Joe West during the second Crosstown series of the season just last month. Javy Baez slid into second base, and Anderson thought Baez did something he shouldn't have, raising his arm to interfere with a double-play turn, that sequence of events ending with Anderson screaming at West on the field. Would Anderson be cool with playing alongside — and potentially vacating his position at shortstop for — an infamous interferer?

And what about being a "dirty player," a villain? The White Sox always seemed fine — heck, they loved it — having one of baseball's greatest irritants in A.J. Pierzynski on the roster. Perhaps no player wore the "villain" title as a badge of honor more than the catcher on the 2005 World Series team. But remember that Pierzynski took the punch, he didn't throw it. Being baseball's version of a "villain" and being a guy who makes dangerous plays that could hurt somebody are two different things.

The point being: Do Machado's actions in this postseason series make him anathema to the "Ricky's boys don't quit" mantra? If the White Sox were to turn a blind eye to the events of this NLCS, would it qualify as a betrayal of their quest to establish a high-effort, high-character culture?

Or do they value that culture so much that they stay away from Machado this offseason?

Here's Rick Hahn from September of last year.

"It’s the culture that Ricky and his coaching staff have been able to create in that clubhouse. I cannot tell you how many various fans have stopped me, or emailed me or mentioned to me that they’ve never been this excited over a 60-win team. Or they’ve never been excited about a team that isn’t going to the playoffs. And I think so much of that is based on how Ricky and the coaches have them playing day in and day out. You see them fighting for 27 outs, you see them prepared every night. Sure, we’re going to get out-manned at portions during this process, but the fight and competitiveness and the style of play is the kind of thing that is going to endure year in and year out. And that is extremely important for us to establish at the big league level for all of us."

Machado's talent would make any team he's a part of more competitive. But for the White Sox, who talk an awful lot about hustling and refusing to quit, perhaps all these postseason shenanigans make it so Machado just isn't their cup of tea.