White Sox

Justin Morneau's unique friendship with Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder

Justin Morneau's unique friendship with Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder

He didn’t see the image until afterward, but there stood Eddie Vedder in the Safeco Field stands last September clutching a sign rooting on Justin Morneau.

The Pearl Jam frontman and White Sox designated hitter have been friends for the past five years. Vedder attended a game with his own family late in the 2015 season when Morneau, then with the Colorado Rockies, played a road series in Seattle. Vedder grabbed the sign his two daughters had made and thought it would be funny to have a photo taken.

“It’s pretty crazy when you think about it,” Morneau said. “I think he sees it a lot at his shows and I’m sure people bring signs to his shows all the time and they thought they’d make a sign, which was pretty cool to see one of the greatest rock stars of all-time holding up a sign with your name on it. That’s pretty humbling. Pretty neat. I didn’t really expect that, but to see it was pretty cool.”

Current Cubs radio analyst and former Minnesota Twins player Ron Coomer introduced Morneau to Vedder, who is also friends with former White Sox great Paul Konerko and a number of baseball players. Morneau remembers running into the recently retired Konerko at an October 2014 show in Denver. Morneau also encountered Baltimore Orioles outfielder Mark Trumbo at another Pearl Jam concert.

Morneau said he and Vedder have run into each other on the road several times and leave tickets for each other -- “a fair trade off, I think,” he said. Morneau’s favorite show was on Vedder’s solo tour when he and his wife were seated in the front row.

“I think we respect how difficult their job is, the travel and all the rest that goes into it and how hard they have to perform every night and they respect what we do, how difficult it is to hit a baseball and being away from our families,” Morneau said. “I think there’s a mutual respect there that makes the relationship pretty neat.”

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Morneau remembers when Pearl Jam released the schedule for its current tour, which ends Monday night. He said seeing Pearl Jam at Fenway Park or Wrigley Field became a priority if it was doable. It just so happens that the White Sox are off on Monday when Pearl Jam is playing the second of two shows. They also played on Saturday night.

Morneau plans to attend the show with his wife and several friends who are coming in from out of town.

He doesn’t plan on bringing a sign.

“It’s one of those ones when it was announced, I was going to try find some way to get there and it happens to work out that we have a day off,” Morneau said. “It should be a lot of fun.”

Potential White Sox target comes off board as Madison Bumgarner signs with Diamondbacks

Potential White Sox target comes off board as Madison Bumgarner signs with Diamondbacks

Having already lost out on Zack Wheeler, the White Sox can now scratch another free agent pitcher off the list of potential targets.

Sunday, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported the Diamondbacks are nearing a five-year deal with former Giants star Madison Bumgarner worth $85 million.

The White Sox weren’t heavily rumored to be pursuing Bumgarner and signing him was somewhat unrealistic. Although the South Siders are looking to add a starting pitcher or two this winter, Bumgarner enjoys hitting and therefore seemed more likely to sign with a National League team. The 30-year-old’s career OPS is .532 but he’s hit 19 homers in 11 seasons.

Adding Bumgarner would have provided the South Siders a veteran starter — one with an excellent postseason track record — to mix with their young rotation featuring Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech and Dylan Cease. With MadBum off the board, the list of major free agent pitchers continues to shrink. 

Lefties Dallas Keuchel and Hyun-Jin Ryu are still available, but other teams that missed out on Bumgarner will shift their focus to the duo. Consequently, the White Sox will face stiff competition if they wish to sign either pitcher. Both were expected to be more affordable than Bumgarner but interested teams may be willing to offer more money to ensure they don’t come out of free agency empty-handed.

Where the White Sox turn next is to be determined. What's certain is they're running out of free agent options to upgrade their rotation.

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Indians signal big shift with trade of Corey Kluber


Indians signal big shift with trade of Corey Kluber

The Indians have won more than 90 games in each of the past four seasons, with three AL Central titles in that span, but big changes are coming in Cleveland.

With rumors of a Francisco Lindor trade still floating around, the Indians have dealt two-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber to Texas. The return package from the Rangers includes outfielder Delino DeShields Jr. and reliever Emmanuel Clase.

DeShields Jr. is a 27-year-old speedster who has struggled offensively since debuting with the Rangers in 2015. He has a career .668 OPS with a .591 OPS in 2018 and a .672 OPS last season. For comparison, White Sox outfielder Adam Engel had a .614 OPS in 2018 and a .687 OPS in 2019.

Clase is a 21-year-old righthander who debuted with the Rangers last season. He is a hard-thrower, capable of reaching 102 mph with his fastball while also getting cut action on it. Clase had a 2.31 ERA in 23.1 innings in the majors in 2019. Still, he is only rated as the No. 30 prospect in the Rangers’ system by MLB Pipeline.

The Kluber trade is relevant to the White Sox because it’s a division power trading away a key player for younger, less established talent. It also shows the price to pay for a noteworthy pitcher in a trade.

If the White Sox fail to land a marquee starting pitcher in free agency, a trade is the next route.

The Kluber deal may have implications for the Cubs as well. Texas appears to be intent on competing with the Astros, A's and Angels in the AL West. The Rangers have been linked to free agent third baseman Josh Donaldson, and if he winds up in Texas, that would clarify possible trade partners for Kris Bryant.

Back in the AL Central, Kluber was a stud for the Indians from 2014-2018. He surpassed 200 innings each of those seasons and had a 2.85 ERA in that five-year period.

Last season, however, Kluber was limited to 35.2 innings in seven starts after getting hit by a line drive on May 1, which fractured his right arm. Even before the injury, the 33-year-old righthander struggled with a 5.80 ERA and the highest walk rate of his career (15 in 35.2 innings).

The Indians didn’t win the AL Central last season, but the fact that they won 93 games with only seven mostly ineffective starts from Kluber is a sign that he may not be as essential as he was in previous years.

Perhaps the return for Kluber is more a sign of a lack of belief in him after a tough 2019, but this level of package is something the White Sox could put together without trading a core piece of the future.

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