White Sox

Random News of the Day: I think I can, I think I can...

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Random News of the Day: I think I can, I think I can...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010
1:21 PM

By Joe Collins
CSNChicago.com

It's amazing how words and phrases can become a part of our daily discourse:

"Staycation"

"At the end of the day..."

"Bromance"

"I know, right?"

You hear them all the time. They're like chewed up pieces of Bubblicious. They tend to stick around. And we're the shag carpeting that holds them for an eternity.

I was barhopping a few nights ago (I'm 31 and beyond all help) and took part in a few White Sox conversations. A lot of the talk started with something like this:

"So, you think the White Sox can win another 11 straight?"

"So you think the Sox can take the Central?"

"So you think the Sox can go all the way?"

For the record, I think they can win at least the Central. And quite frankly, they should. Granted, Minnesota will piranha their way near the top. They always do. Detroit has a potential Triple Crown candidate in Miguel Cabrera. They're not going away any time soon. But at the end of the day (there's that phrase again), I think the Sox pitching staff is just deep enough ... even without Jake Peavy. And if their hitting can stay fairly consistent, they're in. Of course, the trading deadline and the ensuing two months will have something to do with it, too. But you know that Kenny Williams will be lurking around July 31.

Another question that was tossed around: "So you think Kenny Williams will make a trade come July 31?" It depends on who you believe. The Sox GM was quoted last night as saying, "I don't see anything materializing." Some people might take that for face value. I see it as a smokescreen. You just know that he has something cooking. Right? If there's one person who loves these kind of cryptic soundbites, it would have to be Kenny Williams.

Random tangent: back to the words and phrases for a moment. I mentioned "So you think..." a few times. This phrase has become commonplace in our society. Heck, the Fox network has an amateur dance show built around the phrase itself. Somewhere in my quest for another round of drinks, I thought, "Hey ... shouldn't there be more shows built around the 'So You Think You Can...' craze?" I think so ... especially if you cater it to the sports mindset. I immediately thought of a slew of ideas. For instance:

So, You Think You Know Fantasy Football... Doesn't this guy just drive you nuts? Every stat. Every draft. Every trade. Every game. Every year. From August to January, he won't shut his mouth: "Haa ... Peyton Manning?!? He's going to have a bad year eventually! You're stupid for taking him!" Or, "My backup tight end could beat your team all by himself!" In this show, that guy has to put up 10,000 for that year's entry fee. The others put up 100. If he doesn't claim first prize, his money gets split evenly with the rest of the league. And he has to stand at the 50-yard line, without pads, and have an unblocked Julius Peppers light him up.

So, You Think You Can Parallel Park... Forget the Wal-Mart parking lot in Aurora. Or the Lowe's on the South Side. And don't even think about a vast train station lot that fades into the horizon. "So, You Think You Can Parallel Park..." places you near Chicago's Rush & Division on a Saturday night. You drive a '74 Buick Regal -- with jagged, rusty bumpers -- in and around pedestrians looking for rock star parking. The moment you hear a cabbie's horn, a curse word or mock laughter from someone in a bachelorette party, game over.

So, You Think You Can Play Company Softball... Ever have that Johnny Tough Guy type that walks around the diamond like he owns the place? Don't worry. In "So, You Think You Can Play Company Softball...", Johnny gets duped by a ringer on the other team. Eric Gagne guest stars as the guy throwing a 90-mph brushback pitch. And hey, what else is Gagne doing these days? He can start his comeback on a reality show. If Johnny can't catch up with the heat, he loses his upper-level management job and goes to the mail room. Done.

So You Think You Can Dance -- At Weddings... You've plowed through the vinaigrette salad, chicken Vesuvio, lemon sorbet, a painfully annoying best man speech and a mind-numbingly bad "From This Moment On" first dance. Now it's time for you to shine! Fire up Bob Seger's "Old Time Rock & Roll" or that bumper car stampede that is Buster Poindexter's "Hot Hot Hot". YOU have to be the only one left on the floor at the end of the night. All you need is your Sears tie knotted around your forehead, an untucked sweated-up dress shirt and a never-ending supply of determination. Act now and earn a permanent spot in the "Creepy Uncle" hall of fame!

But anyway...

When it comes to moves around the trading deadline, very few general managers in baseball can compare with Kenny Williams. Granted, a lot of his best moves have come 'off peak' -- Joe Borchard for Matt Thornton as an example (spring 2006). But he can also dominate beforeafter the trading deadline (see: Alex Rios). Pardon the reference that Homer Simpson once made, but Kenny Williams is like that guy in the background of ninja movie fighting sequences. He's quiet. You barely notice him. He has that sly grin on his face. And you just know he's going to do some damage when it's his turn. And you better look out when that time comes.

So you think Kenny Williams will make a splash come July 31?

I think he can.

Or something like that.

Joe Collins is an assignment desk editor for Comcast SportsNet and contributor to CSNChicago.com.

In Astros' dominance, White Sox fans might catch a glimpse of their team's future

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USA TODAY

In Astros' dominance, White Sox fans might catch a glimpse of their team's future

It might end up an ugly week for the White Sox in Houston. But try to find some beauty in what this Astros team looks like. Because it's what the White Sox hope to look like, eventually.

While White Sox fans were likely staring with a frown at Brad Peacock mowing down their team's lineup and at a couple home runs absolutely blasted out of Minute Maid Park in the first of this four-game series Monday night, know that the inverse of that feeling is what the White Sox front office is hoping to deliver in the coming seasons.

The Astros, along with the Cubs on the North Side of Chicago, are the template for what the White Sox are trying to do with their ongoing rebuilding process. Houston experienced some hideous seasons on the way to becoming a perennial contender and a World Series champion in 2017, losing a combined 416 games in four seasons from 2011 to 2014. In 2015, the Astros made their first postseason appearance in a decade. Two years later, they were the world champs, and they remain an annual title contender and are currently the best team in baseball two years after that.

The first part of that should sound familiar, as the White Sox have lost a combined 195 games in the two seasons since this rebuild officially began. Things are better now than they were during last year's 100-loss campaign, but it's expected to be another season of more losses than wins and another season without a playoff berth on the South Side, which would be the franchise's 11th straight to end without a trip to the postseason.

The second half of the Astros rags-to-riches story is yet to come for the White Sox, who are still waiting for young players to develop at both the major league and minor league levels, still waiting for the entire core to assemble in the big leagues. That includes, right now, waiting for certain players to recover from serious injuries. That includes watching growing pains up and down the organization. It's not unexpected for such things to happen in the middle of a rebuild. But when mired in the losing years, they become constant sources of frustration for fans.

Just like no one in Houston looks back fondly on the 100-loss seasons of 2011, 2012 and 2013, it's unlikely South Side baseball fans will look back fondly on these loss-heavy campaigns. But it's part of the process, as maddening as that might be to keep hearing.

Fortunately, there are examples of what the end of the tunnel looks like, and the White Sox are up against one of those examples this week. The Astros are dominating the competition so far this season, their young core of sluggers and a few overpowering starting pitchers fueling the best team in baseball. George Springer and Jose Altuve might have been out of the lineup Monday night, but Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman were still on display. And none of those guys were the ones to blast home runs halfway to Oklahoma off the White Sox on Rick Renteria's otherwise successful bullpen day. Peacock was traded a few times before landing in Houston, and Justin Verlander and Geritt Cole were trade acquisitions, as well. All of those guys have made the Astros a formidable force once again.

The White Sox are likely going to have to make a few outside acquisitions, too, before they can finally reach baseball's mountaintop. General manager Rick Hahn says that's the plan. But the homegrown portion of those rosters of the future could resemble what the Astros have put together in recent seasons. Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada, Nick Madrigal, Zack Collins. That's the planned core on the South Side. And Hahn has a number of young pitchers who could make up a fearsome rotation, too, in Michael Kopech, Dylan Cease, Dane Dunning, Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito. There are more names White Sox fans are familiar with who could play big roles, too.

That's a lot of talent, and while White Sox fans might remain skeptical until the wins start coming at an increased rate, the blueprint is there for those pieces to come together and create something special. The blueprint is what's across the field from the White Sox this week in Houston.

The Astros might cause some bad feelings for the White Sox and their fans over the next few nights. But if they look closely, they might catch a glimpse of the White Sox future if this rebuild goes where Hahn & Co. envision it going.

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Eloy Jimenez returns to White Sox a little more than three weeks after spraining ankle

Eloy Jimenez returns to White Sox a little more than three weeks after spraining ankle

Things looked grim when Eloy Jimenez, the White Sox top-ranked prospect and a centerpiece of the South Side rebuilding plans, was down in pain on the warning track.

But a little more than three weeks later, Jimenez is back in the lineup, returned from his stay on the injured list for the start of a four-game series against the Houston Astros.

Jimenez made a leaping attempt to catch a home-run ball in the April 26 game against the Detroit Tigers. In the process, his foot got stuck in the padding of the left-field wall, and the 22-year-old suffered a high ankle sprain. He limped off the field and needed help getting into the dugout and clubhouse. Thoughts of "here we go again" flashed through a fan base that's watched top prospects suffer one significant injury after another in recent seasons.

The White Sox said Jimenez would be reevaluated in a couple weeks, while cursory Google searches revealed recovery times of more than a month for this type of injury.

But Jimenez seems to have healed quickly. He went on a minor league rehab assignment last week, playing in five games with Triple-A Charlotte before being deemed ready to return Monday.

This is phenomenal news for the White Sox and their fans, of course, who in the time Jimenez has been sidelined have seen another key piece go down with Carlos Rodon's Tommy John surgery. Jimenez hasn't got off to the rip-roaring start some predicted — he's slashed .241/.294/.380 with a trio of home runs in his first 21 major league games — but all playing time for the youngster is good playing time as he continues his development in his first big league season. Throw in Jimenez's four-game stay on the bereavement list prior to that game against Detroit, and he's had just one at-bat since April 21.

So maybe expect some rust, and manager Rick Renteria said Jimenez could perhaps be eased back with a game at DH here and there as he continues to work on improving his defense in left field.

Jimenez did go 7-for-22 (a .318 batting average) with a homer and a double in his rehab stint in Charlotte. Now he's back in the major league outfield, a good thing for everyone following along with this rebuild.

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