White Sox

Sox Drawer: Kenny Williams Not a Happy Camper

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Sox Drawer: Kenny Williams Not a Happy Camper

Wednesday, September 23rd

"I'm not the happiest camper here in Chicago."

Those were the words of a frustrated and, as he put it, "grumpy" Kenny Williams before Wednesday's game against the Twins. That's what happens to a general manager when he watches his team collapse under the pressure of a pennant race like the Sox have here in September.

What has disappointed him the most? Williams first mentioned the 67 unearned runs his team has given up this season (most in the American League), a plague he described as "disturbing."

His relief corps? "The names are good, but they haven't met expectations" said Williams. When asked about Bobby Jenks and whether he thinks Matt Thornton can become the closer if they don't bring back Jenks, Williams deflected the question, saying "Bobby Jenks is under contract" and claimed that his confidence in him "is still high."

Despite the Jake Peavy injury and the struggles of Alex Rios, he wouldn't take either of those trades back.

With Jim Thome gone, he's not sure if they necessarily need left-handed pop in the lineup. On-base percentage to him is more important now...not home runs. When asked if the team couldn't overcome the loss of Thome, Williams said "If they did, then we weren't strong enough to win the damn thing. We just weren't."

Kenny said he has also noticed "which players have quit and who haven't." Interesting.

When I asked him to elaborate on that, Williams would only say that when the team arrives in spring training, they'll all be on the same page in terms of fighting until the end.

Staying on that same theme, he added "I don't want to see anyone quit" the rest of the season.

So who will be here next year? Despite already being out of the race, Kenny is watching his team very closely.

A reporter asked if it's important to send the first-place Tigers a message. Said Williams, "It's important some guys send a message to me."

Auditions are underway.

Thats My Grandson

Last Sunday, my good friend Matt took his 5-year-old son Charlie to his very first White Sox game. One of the highlights of the day was taking Charlie into the gift shop to buy him a souvenir to commemorate the occasion.

While looking at a row of White Sox jerseys, Matt told Charlie he could pick one out. It was his choice. Whatever he wanted.

Charlie didnt know any of the Sox players by name, but one jersey immediately caught his eye.

I want that one, Charlie said.

You sure? Matt asked.

Yep!

And with that, Matt grabbed the 15 jersey of Gordon Beckham and took it off the rack.

I really have no idea why he chose that one, Matt later told me. Five-year-olds are mysterious creatures.

As they walked over to the cash register to pay for the Beckham jersey, a woman with reddish-brown hair came over to them.

She seemed visibly moved. Matt wasnt sure why.

Excuse me, said the woman in a sweet, southern accent. I just want you to know that Im Gordons grandmother, and I am so pleased that your son chose his jersey.

Charlie isnt the only one. Gordons jersey has lately been the Sox 1 seller.

She just happened to be Gordons 1 fan.

White Sox free-agent focus: Dallas Keuchel

White Sox free-agent focus: Dallas Keuchel

This week, we’re profiling some of the biggest names on the free-agent market and taking a look at what kind of fits they are for the White Sox.

The White Sox need starting pitching, so why not bring in a guy with a Cy Young Award sitting on his mantle?

Dallas Keuchel is one of the two biggest names on the starting-pitching market this winter, along with Patrick Corbin, who will get more attention — and likely more dollars — because he's two years younger. But Keuchel's the guy with the track record, the AL Cy Young winner in 2015 (when he was also a top-five MVP finisher), a two-time All Star, a four-time Gold Glove winner and the owner of a 3.28 ERA over the past five seasons, during which he helped the Houston Astros transition from rebuilding to one of baseball's perennial contenders. You might have heard something about them winning the World Series in 2017.

It's true that things have been somewhat up and down for Keuchel since his Cy Young win. After posting a 2.48 ERA with a career-high 216 strikeouts in 33 starts during that 2015 season, he had a 4.55 ERA and 144 strikeouts in 26 starts in 2016, then a 2.90 ERA and 125 strikeouts in 23 starts in 2017 and a 3.74 ERA and 153 strikeouts in 34 starts last season. But three times in the last five years he's finished with an ERA under 3.00. In other words, he's pretty darn good.

How might he fit with the White Sox? Well, in terms of whether or not he lines up with their long-term plans. Keuchel's older than Corbin, but it's not like he's old. He'll be 31 on Opening Day 2019, and a long-term deal, which he's expected to fetch, would keep him around for another planned transition from rebuilding to contention. Keuchel — a veteran who's accomplished a lot already, including putting a World Series ring on his finger — could be viewed as a Jon Lester type for these rebuilding White Sox, a big name who buys into the front office's long-term plan and helps make those plans become reality.

And there's no doubt the White Sox are in the market for starting pitching this winter. Michael Kopech is recovering from Tommy John surgery, and the White Sox decided not to pick up James Shields' option for 2019. That leaves two holes in the starting rotation. An addition like Keuchel would be a long-term one, which means the White Sox would opt to make him a safety net for their still-developing fleet of young pitchers and choose not to roll the dice on a homegrown starting staff for 2020. However, if they're confident in a quintet of Kopech, Carlos Rodon, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dylan Cease, then maybe they opt for a couple one-year fill-ins in 2019. Keuchel would not be a one-year fill-in.

Keuchel could also fill the role vacated by Shields, a veteran who could help bring along the young guys in an off-the-field mentor role. His experience going through the dark days of a rebuild — he was a member of Astros teams that lost a combined 310 games from 2012 to 2014 — and coming out the other end a world champ would also figure to be of value.

Of course, the White Sox wouldn't be alone in a pursuit of Keuchel, if they were interested. Thanks to Clayton Kershaw signing a new contract extension with the Los Angeles Dodgers, he's one of the two biggest names on the market when it comes to starting pitchers. The White Sox would likely have to go through the same bidding war and pitch of planned future success they would with other big names like Corbin, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.

But there's no doubt Keuchel would be an upgrade to this rotation in 2019 and could provide plenty of value for years beyond.

ESPN forgot about the White Sox again, and the Big Hurt let 'em hear about it

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USA TODAY

ESPN forgot about the White Sox again, and the Big Hurt let 'em hear about it

ESPN forgot about the White Sox again.

The Worldwide Leader in Sports has made a habit of failing to remember the South Siders in recent years, most notably forgetting (on multiple occasions) that the White Sox did in fact win the 2005 World Series.

It happened enough times that A.J. Pierzynski had some opinions about it.

This time, the omission came in an effort to illustrate how good Mike Trout is, with ESPN researcher Paul Hembekides listing baseball players who appeared in the top four in MVP voting three or more times. Trout, the Los Angeles Angels superstar, has already done it seven times, and boy that is terrific.

But Hembekides left someone out. And that someone let him hear about it.

You tell 'em, Frank.

Yes, the Big Hurt finished in the top four of the AL MVP vote on six separate occasions: 1991 (third), 1993 (first), 1994 (first), 1997 (third), 2000 (second) and 2006 (fourth, while playing for the Oakland Athletics).

ESPN's blind spot for the White Sox doesn't end up meaning much of anything, though it's amusing that they've now managed to leave out a relatively recent World Series champion and a relatively recent first-ballot Hall of Famer.

We all make mistakes. But it's a little funny that ESPN's are, repeatedly, White Sox related.