White Sox

Longballs doom Floyd, Sox drop opener

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Longballs doom Floyd, Sox drop opener

Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011Posted: 2:30 p.m. Updated: 6:59 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com White Sox InsiderFollow @CSNChi_Beatnik
CLEVELAND For a pitcher that all too many fans are eager to deal away, Gavin Floyd is having another quiet, solid season as a starter for the Chicago White Sox.

Mondays doubleheader opener loss to the Cleveland Indians was a typical Floyd start: well-pitched, but falling just short of victory. Floyd gave up just seven hits in his 6 23 innings, largely offsetting those with seven strikeouts. But three of the hits longballs by Travis Hafner, Asdrubal Cabrera and Kosuke Fukudome accounted for four runs.

I thought they werent terrible pitches, Floyd said of the three that did all the damage. They just kind of got the right part of the bat on the ball. So you just take it for what it is. Im sure it could easily have been fly ball outs. Today, they werent."

Gavin threw the ball very good, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. He got hurt by the longballs, but a good outing for him. Obviously, he should be happy. He lost again, but he pitched well.

And against a typically sullen and abortive White Sox offense, thats all it takes.

Chicagos 4-3 featured just a few offensive highlights, including Adam Dunns pair of doubles, which marked his first consecutive multi-hit games all season long. Improbably, Alex Rios also had two hits, meaning that the two banes of the White Sox offense this season accounted for four of the teams seven hits.

The past couple of days, I had a game plan to just forget about trying to hit the ball out of the park and just get hits, said Dunn, who is penciled in to DH in game two as well. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesnt. But Im just trying to finish up as strong as I can, personally, and getting back to what I do.

Floyd reflects

With just one start remaining, Floyd took some time to reflect on his 2011, for better or worse.

I feel like I matured as a pitcher, he said after his 4-3 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday. I feel like I learned a lot, and obviously finishing healthy was one of my goals. I worked hard in the offseason and tried to be here for the team all season.

Floyds health is a bit of a straw man, as encouraging as it seems. Yes, he hasnt missed a start due to injury in 2011, but then, his workload was decreased by the six-man rotation (of course, that cant be held against him). He projects to finish the year at 185 innings over 30 starts, when in 2010 he was at 31 starts and 187 13. And although Floyd hasnt taken a huge step back from his career-best 2009 and 2010 campaigns and is still a terrific value for the White Sox, 2011 offers pause.

Even Floyd, who isnt given to advanced stats study, seems to sense the step back.

Obviously, it wasnt exactly statistically everything I wanted it to be, Floyd said. But I felt like I matured this year: Repeating pitches, being able to throw strikes on a consistent basis, mental focusespecially in tough situationsjust moving on from bad starts, and continuing to push and trying to win.

At first blush, Floyds 4.46 ERAa jump from the 4.06 and 4.08 of the past two seasonsis distressing, even in light of him leading the staff in wins with 12. But his saner ERA measure, xFIP, is somewhat in line with his previous campaigns (3.64 in 2009, 3.69 in 2010, 3.83 in 2011).

All that said, Floyds bargain price and solid performance makes him the third-best pitcher value on the White Sox and second starter, behind Phil Humber. And his evolving maturity and stamina as a pitcher makes him a crucial member of the 2012 rotation.

I havent had one problem yet physically, Floyd said. Obviously I have one more start, but I feel strong. I feel like my offseason regimen worked.

Canyoneros going off-roading

Dunn would be the first to admit that his recent hot streak is a matter of too little, too late. But its also a case of better late than never, no matter how much Dunn may want to erase 2011 from his permanent record.

His two doubles in Game 1 on Tuesday represented just his second game with two doubles this season (also May 14, at Oakland). He enjoyed his 12th multi-hit game of the season and his first consecutive such games in a White Sox uniform.

I want to go up and have good at-bats, he said. My year is what it is; like I said, Ill talk about this up until our last game, and then Ill never talk about 2011 again. It would be nice for us to kind of roll and finish strong and end on a positive note as you can.

Dunn was happy to see Fausto Carmona pop up on the pitching docket for this series, given his mastery of the sinkerballer.

It baffles me; hes got such good stuff, Dunn said of raising his average to .500 vs. the righty, with three doubles. It wouldnt surprise me if he comes back next year and has an unbelievable year. Hes as good as it gets.

But again, even the small measures of success Dunn had in 2011 will be erased as of Sept. 29, the first off-day of the rest of his life.

When this year is over, its overgood, bad, anythingits over. Thats the way Im doing it, he repeated. I dont know what Dr. Phil or anyone would say about it, but thats the way Im going to go about it. Its been obviously a hard season, not for me, but also my family and everyone thats associated with me. So I think everyone wants to put it behind them, too. So thats what were going to do.

Entering the nightcap of Tuesdays doubleheader, Dunn has raised his average to .168, with an OPS of .587. He currently sits at 164 strikeouts on the season.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Discussing 2020 White Sox expectations

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Discussing 2020 White Sox expectations

SportsTalk Live is on location at McCormick Place to preview SoxFest 2020. Chuck Garfien and David Haugh join David Kaplan on the panel.

0:00 - White Sox manager Rick Renteria joins the guys to talk about the team's big offseason and the expectations for the 2020 season. He also talks about how the team with handle Michael Kopech (4:00) and what Dallas Keuchel brings to the rotation. (6:00) Plus, he explains how guys who turned the corner in 2019 like Lucas Giolito and Yoan Moncada can stay hot in 2020. (15:00)

17:00 - Steve Stone joins the guys to explain how the White Sox rebuild is going according to plan despite not landing one of the top free agents this winter. Plus, he updates his Twitter follower battle with Jason Benetti (23:00) and talks about how he would handle Michael Kopech's return. (25:30)

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

White Sox reward for winning the offseason: They get to talk playoffs ... or bust

White Sox reward for winning the offseason: They get to talk playoffs ... or bust

The White Sox know there is no trophy for winning the offseason.

Make no mistake, they did win the offseason, Rick Hahn’s front office adding enough veteran cache to vault the 89-loss South Siders from just another rebuilding team with a bright future to a team whose future is pulling into the station.

But there was no self-congratulating at Hahn’s pre-SoxFest press conference Thursday.

“Quite candidly, we haven't accomplished anything yet, we haven't won yet,” he said. “This whole process was about winning championships, was about finishing with a parade at the end of October down Michigan Avenue. Until that happens, I don't think any of us are really in a position to feel satisfied or feel like we've accomplished anything.

“We've had a nice winter. We've had, frankly, in our opinion, a real nice three years since we started (the rebuild) with the Chris Sale trade. We think very bright days are ahead of us, and we look forward to enjoying them. But in terms of feeling like we've accomplished something or feeling satisfied, ask me after the parade.”

Give me a second while I email that last bit over to our marketing department. They might be able to conjure up a few things with “ask me after the parade.”

But in all seriousness, Hahn is right. There is no trophy for winning the offseason. The act of signing free agents does not balance out all the losing over the last three seasons. Only winning can do that.

There has been, however, a reward for winning the offseason. Rick Renteria — and presumably all his players this weekend during SoxFest — get to talk about playoff expectations. Real ones.

“I would be disappointed if we don’t make the postseason,” Renteria said during his own session Thursday. “We want to break through. We want this to be an impactful season.”

As recently as a year ago, no matter how bright the future appeared to be, that comment would have raised eyebrows. It would not have been taken seriously. Now? It is the expectation.

Renteria has not been shy about the rebuilding White Sox turning the corner in 2020. He spent the last few weeks of the 2019 campaign making similar postseason proclamations. But now Hahn has backed his manager up with all this winter’s acquisitions.

The White Sox place in the standings by the end of September still figures to have a lot more to do with Yoan Moncada and Lucas Giolito and Eloy Jimenez and Tim Anderson and Luis Robert than any of the individual newcomers, even players as talented and accomplished as Yasmani Grandal and Dallas Keuchel. The core is that important. But the outsiders brought in this offseason have embodied the turning tide — and given Renteria the chance to talk seriously about these kinds of big expectations for the first time in his tenure as the South Side skipper.

“I think, man for man,” he said, “now we at least have a little bit more ammunition to be able to go out and compete hopefully on a consistent basis and put those victories on the board.

“I’m not afraid of talking about high expectations and winning. … If we do our job and we go about preparing and hopefully the actions and performances come to fruition, we should be on top of the victory column in terms of wins and losses. And there’s nothing beyond my thought that doesn’t say that I expect us to compete and be in conversation for postseason play.”

Hahn isn’t quite as willing to declare the 2020 season “playoffs or bust” because he’s still got his eye on the long term, the same place it’s been throughout this rebuilding process. That next parade down Michigan Avenue is supposed to be merely the first.

And so while the White Sox can reap the rewards of Hahn’s offseason work in the form of preseason talk, he’ll bask in nothing more than setting up his team for that long-term postseason success.

“I think the expectations are understandably high, at least when you talk to Ricky or the coaches or any of the players or anyone in uniform. Their expectation is that this team is in a position to win in the 2020 season, which is exactly where all of us in the front office would want them to be,” he said. “That said, whether you're talking Jerry (Reinsdorf) or Kenny (Williams) or myself, the entire purpose of this rebuild was to put ourselves in a multi-year position to win multiple championships.

“So the progress that we make in any given offseason has to be viewed not just about what's going to happen in that upcoming season, but what position that puts us in toward accomplishing that long-term goal. We want to make sure that we are well positioned, once that window opens, to win as many championships as possible.

“When that window opens, we're going to find out together. I certainly think the players in uniform think it's going to happen come Opening Day of this year. Whether we're blessed with good health and continued progress from our young players, we're going to find out together.

“But we look at it, in the front office, from a multi-year perspective. The guys in uniform are going to do everything in their power to make it about now, which you've got to appreciate.”

That’s going to be the theme of this weekend, as White Sox fans descend on SoxFest with more excitement than they have in years. This is a White Sox team expected to reach October, and that hasn’t exactly been common, as evidenced by the franchise’s more than decade-long postseason drought.

Hahn can talk about putting the team in good position for 2021 and 2022 and 2023 and beyond all he wants. The fans are finally — and with good reason — thinking playoffs or bust for the upcoming season.

And the manager agrees.

“I see our club, and I want to go into this season thinking I don't want to miss an opportunity,” Renteria said. “That's my goal right now, not to miss this opportunity. Expectations bread opportunities. I'm not afraid of expectations because it breads opportunity. I want to attain and complete those tasks that I think our club is going to have a chance to be able to do.

“I'm not afraid to say it.”

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