White Sox

Poetry in Pros: Guillen stays, Williams goes

Poetry in Pros: Guillen stays, Williams goes

Thursday, Aug. 26, 2010
8:46 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

Given the controversies that have hounded Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen almost from the beginning of the season, he cant be blamed for wondering whether he will always be welcome at U.S. Cellular Field.

But the feisty skipper currently piloting the second-place club in the American League Central once again made it clear on Thursday that for as much bravado as he packs in his belief that if he ever was fired, he wouldnt be out of work long, he didnt plan to manage elsewhere anytime soon.

I was looking for a house in Chicago this morning. People think Im lying, Guillen said. I have a beautiful house back in Miami and in Caracas Venezuela, but Chicago is the place I live the most.

Guillen is currently signed to manage the White Sox through the 2011 season, and the team holds an option to extend him to 2012. While Guillen doesnt claim hed pout over an extension, clearly hed like to be rewarded for his consistently good work in the managers chair, emphasizing today how happy he was that his team had bounced back from a 9.5 games deficit to reach first place and remain in close contention3.5 gamesin the American League Central.

I like competition. I like to compete, Guillen said. I like people to ask me questions and second-guess me. I like people to hate me. I like that. Why not? Im not a perfect guy. Some people love me, some people hate me. I like that. I like to compete and make those players compete.

Guillens tardy pregame sessionwhich found media members waiting for a good half-hour in the dugout, then herded into his managers office, then back out to the dugout after the managers meeting with GM Ken Williams went overtimequickly took on a bit of a dissertational direction.

Asked how was feeling in a season that seemed especially trying both on and off the field, the Chisox jefe again replied with total honesty.

My energy, its good, Guillen said. It could be worse. Right now, Im fighting through it the dog days, and Im fine. Sometimes you leave this ballpark like, My God, wow, Im bad and tired of it, but then you go to sleep and come back and come back with the same energy.

The day I dont want to come here, I will retire. Ill send you media a note: Thank you for the support, Ill see you guys later. You know when I feel bad? When I walk from the car to the ballpark and you see those guys, the vendorsthey are pulling for us because the only way they make money is when we win.

Youre in this game for two reasonsto put a ring on your finger and get players to play well for you.

While Guillen again reiterated that he didnt need any new players to take the AL Central away from the Minnesota Twins (Im very happy with this ballclub I dont want anybody else), Williams is charged with examining every possible acquisition that could spell the difference between first and second place at seasons end.

To wit, the GM was less giddy than Guillen over the White Sox, saying before Thursdays game that, Theyll give me confidence when they string together some wins.

Williams also expressed a bit of exasperation at the consistent questioning about X or Y player, saying, People dont understand, but everybody goes through waivers, every year. If youre in the major leagues, youre put on waivers.

The GM acknowledged that while an ideal waiver claim would be of the Alex Rios 2009 variety, a player who could help both now and in the long term, such now-and-later players are rare on the wire.

And as for the concern that a certain playerdont just think Manny Ramirezmight be out of Chicagos range money-wise (a Rios concern in 2009 as well), Williams said, its less about money. Were looking at walk-up ticket sales every day, but owner Jerry Reinsdorf hasnt given me any monetary restrictions.

However, in case you think Williams took any joy getting out into the soothing, open air of the ballpark only to be hounded with questions about this and that waiver claim, well, the genial GM concluded his session thusly: And these are my waiver wire answers for tomorrow, too.

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

Struggles continue for White Sox starters, but there's not much in the way of alternatives

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Struggles continue for White Sox starters, but there's not much in the way of alternatives

The White Sox will give Carlos Rodon, Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito every opportunity to iron out their inconsistencies this season. But the numbers have not been good for the two veteran members of the starting rotation, and considering Ivan Nova and Ervin Santana aren't part of the team's long-term plans, how long a leash the newest additions to the starting staff will have remains to be seen.

The sample sizes are small, and questioning how long these two remain members of the rotation does not come without acknowledging that neither seems to be in danger of getting cast out anytime soon. But the numbers have been downright ugly. Nova was lit up by the Baltimore Orioles in Tuesday night's 9-1 loss, inverting the damage the White Sox did against baseball's worst pitching staff a night earlier by allowing nine runs and four homers against a team that's terrorized him throughout his career. He was yanked after four incredibly ineffective innings, the third outing of his five-start season in which he's allowed six or more runs. Santana has made only two starts to this point, and one of them was fine. But his ERA is still an unpleasant 10.38, and he's given up five home runs in his 8.2 innings of work.

All told, the youngsters included with the veterans, White Sox starters own a 6.12 ERA after Tuesday night, one of the highest marks in the game.

Those numbers are not acceptable, no matter how in the thick of rebuilding the White Sox remain. Sure, the win-loss record might not be the most important thing in 2019, and Nova and Santana were not the kinds of upgrades to the starting rotation that were set to fuel a dominant staff. But they were brought in, in part, to be innings-eaters that could save a developing bullpen. Regardless of what you, the White Sox fan, thought about James Shields last season, he did eat innings, ending up as one of a baker's dozen major league pitchers to hit the 200-inning mark. If Nova and Santana aren't going to pitch deep into games — Nova's averaging only a little more than five innings per start, and Santana's averaged fewer than five innings in his two outings — their value on this roster comes into question.

Fans would surely be quick to push the button that jettisons Nova and Santana from this rotation, certainly, given the results to this point, but if the front office decides now or months from now to go down such a path, the question becomes: Who is there to fill that spot on the starting staff?

The in-organization depth is not ideal, even if Dylan Cease is one of the highest-rated pitching prospects in baseball. As well as he's started his season at Triple-A Charlotte — a 1.84 ERA and 14 strikeouts in his first 14.2 innings of the 2019 campaign — the White Sox insist that he needs to build up a significant amount of innings there before he makes what is sure to be an excitement-generating major league debut. If Nova and Santana can linger until July or August, then maybe by then Cease will be the no-brainer option as a replacement. Though if they're still taking their every-fifth-day turns at that point, then perhaps they're no longer a problem significant enough to require a replacement. Quite the Catch 22, you see.

Rick Hahn said multiple times during the offseason that Cease is on a similar track to the one Michael Kopech was on last year. Kopech debuted in late August of 2018, so the expectation could be a similar debut date for Cease. Could Cease be up quicker? It's unlikely in the event that the most compelling reason is that the big league rotation needs a boost. Hahn said throughout last season that what's going on at the big league level will have nothing to do with when the organization's top prospects make their jump to the majors. It would figure that Cease is no exception to that rule. Maybe he could beat Kopech's timeline a bit, should he continue to dominate and not go through the midseason struggles Kopech did at Charlotte last season. But it might not be so significant that it could qualify as "soon."

And so the eye turns to the rest of the Charlotte rotation, which is not well stocked with names that anyone would prefer to the veteran track records of Nova and Santana. There are some big numbers down there, too: Jordan Guerrero has a 6.87 ERA, Spencer Adams has a 8.31 ERA, Jordan Stephens has an 8.80 ERA, Donn Roach has a 9.50 ERA.

Of the non-Cease names starting at Charlotte, Dylan Covey would probably be the most logical choice to fill a vacated rotation spot at the big league level. He made the team's Opening Day roster as a bullpen arm before quickly being dispatched back to Charlotte to work on being a starter. White Sox fans have seen the Dylan Covey Show before, of course, and the reviews weren't great. As a major league starter, he has a career 6.26 ERA. He didn't last five innings in a Tuesday-night start in Charlotte but owns a 2.19 ERA after giving up a couple runs in that game.

There's Manny Banuelos, who has been pretty good for the White Sox out of the bullpen this season. He made a spot start in place of the injured Lucas Giolito in Monday night's drubbing of the Orioles, throwing four scoreless innings. He's got a 2.51 ERA on the year and could move from the 'pen to the rotation if need be, but then there'd be a need for a new long man in the relief corps. Carson Fulmer is unlikely to be moved back into a starting role after a shift to the bullpen last season in the minor leagues. He's had mixed results out of the big league bullpen this season, with a 4.76 ERA.

If you're a member of the "get rid of Nova and Santana" camp, it's unlikely you've made it this far without screaming Dallas Keuchel's name at your screen. Keuchel won the AL Cy Young Award in 2015 and was a featured player in the Houston Astros' resurgence from bottom-of-the-standings laughing stock to World Series champions just two years ago. He's also one of the two most noteworthy victims of this winter's glacially paced free-agent market, still jobless as baseball nears the end of the season's opening month.

Keuchel would be an obvious upgrade to this or any starting rotation across the game, and his unsigned status makes him an option in the strictest sense of the definition. But it would seem mighty unlikely that he would be added to the staff of a team not expected to reach the ranks of the contenders until next season at the earliest. I've heard the argument that the White Sox should offer up a two-year deal and bring Keuchel aboard for the remainder of this season and for the next, when Cease and Kopech start the season in what figures to be a much improved rotation. But if someone wanted Keuchel on a two-year deal, they surely could have had him by now, as reports have talked about a lowered asking price and his willingness to join a team for just what's left of the 2019 campaign.

In other words, if you're waiting for Keuchel to come to the South Side, it sounds like you might be waiting for a while.

Gio Gonzalez? He was a name that was bandied about as an offseason option and is once again a free agent after the New York Yankees recently passed on putting him on their 40-man roster. The White Sox have a history with Gonzalez, yes, but if even the banged-up Yankees don't see a place for him, there might be plenty of other teams that feel similarly.

This is all a fancy way of saying that there aren't many attractive options, and so it's far more likely that the White Sox will stick with Nova and Santana for now and hope they can iron out their struggles. Nova, in particular, doesn't figure to be going anywhere, as the team gave up a prospect to get him this winter and owe him a $9,166,667 salary, the second highest on the team.

These starts have not been fun to watch for White Sox fans — and the vets aren't the only ones who have had them, with Rodon, Lopez and Giolito going through their own early season ups and downs, too — but these are the guys the White Sox are set to keep sending out there, hoping for a turnaround. Because the other options just aren't good ones.

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White Sox Talk Podcast: Zack Collins on hitting, catching and a Dylan Cease story you have to hear

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White Sox Talk Podcast: Zack Collins on hitting, catching and a Dylan Cease story you have to hear

Chuck Garfien and Ryan McGuffey speak with Charlotte Knights catcher Zack Collins about

-His hot start to the season at the plate (5:30)

-How James McCann helped him with his catching during spring training (7:20)

-How he's changed his approach at the plate this season (13:10)

-What he orders at Chick-fil-A (15:40)

-Why he's not thinking or worrying about getting called up to the majors (17:50)

-An incredible story about Dylan Cease (20:30)

-His thoughts on Tim Anderson's bat flip (28:20) and more.

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

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White Sox Talk Podcast

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