White Sox

Sox Drawer: 'Trader Kenny' has returned

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Sox Drawer: 'Trader Kenny' has returned

Monday, June 28, 201011:59 AM

By Chuck GarfienCSNChicago.com
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, Twins and Tigers, heres a message coming from the front office at U.S. Cellular Field:

"Trader Kenny" is back.

All it took was that incredible 11-game win streak which not only got the Sox back into contention at lightning speed, but allowed Kenny Williams -- one of the most vigorous GMs in baseball -- to do a complete 180.

Two weeks ago he was selling. Now, as Williams tells Comcast SportsNet, he is ready to buy. They are words every White Sox fan wants to hear around this time of year. And now, theyve got them.

"At this point now, obviously we have climbed back into it," Williams said. "Well go back to taking the aggressive stance that weve had previously and have conversations of how we can get better.

And how can they?

The two biggest names out there, in terms of stature, fit, availability and clothing size are left-handed power hitters Adam Dunn and Prince Fielder. Theres also switch-hitting first baseman Lance Berkman and, of course, Adrian Gonzalez.

Back in spring training, Williams admitted that he entered the season concerned about the Sox lack of thump from the left side of the plate. He still does. Is that something hed go after?

"I think its something you have to take a look at," Williams said.

But before you pencil in one of those burly bats between Alex Rios and Paul Konerko in the Sox lineup, Williams continues to support the wishes of Ozzie Guillen, who has told his boss that he can win with this team and doesnt feel the need for a full-time DH.

Just because you have a name player, for instance, who comes in, if the players and Ozzie dont believe in the fit, if that particular player needs to play every day to keep his timing and Ozzie has different plans for mixing and matching the way he has, and thats been successful, I think you have to defer to that, and I also think you have to consider all of the peripheral things that go into the equation.

So far the combination of Mark Kotsay (.213 batting average) and Andruw Jones (.203) have not equaled production at the platoon DH position. In fact, Jones has been M.I.A. for the last month. If their struggles at the plate continue, Williams may be compelled to make a move.

Last week White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said that if the team got back in contention, and the right deal came around, hed allow Williams to add salary. But despite the Sox hot streak, that didnt stop opposing general managers from calling Williams a few days ago to see if he was still considering selling.

I got a few phone calls as a matter of fact saying, You still thinking about doing something? I said, Ahhh, were going to sit tight for a minute, run this out and see what happens.

Despite rumors of imminent deals during the Sox struggles, Williams declares that he never got close to making any trades.

Simply because it takes two to tango, the Sox GM said. And you have a number of teams deciding if theyre in it or not in it. You can only begin the process. But the realities started slapping us in the face with the way we were playing. So I fully admit to you and the public that selling started being a consideration.

After sweeping the Braves in three games last week, veteran slugger Chipper Jones said the White Sox are the best team weve played all month. Meaningful words when you consider the Braves had faced the Twins, Rays, Phillies and Dodgers.

What does Williams think about Jones statement?

I wish hed communicate that to the Twins and Tigers so they could start believing that. But I suspect that they dont believe that, so I think were going to have to go out and prove it. And lets face it, we havent played as consistently as the other clubs, so we have to prove it to a greater degree.

So while every Chicago sports fan focuses this week on the Bulls and their quest for the greatest offseason 1-2 punch in the history of Chicago sports (Lebron James and Chris Bosh), rest assured that Williams will be deep inside his bunker, likely not coming out much until he has something to announce.

What will it be? Who and when?

Stay tuned.

Chuck Garfien hosts White Sox Pregame and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet with former Sox slugger Bill Melton. Follow Chuck @ChuckGarfien on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox news and views.

Chicago White Sox know we haven't seen the best of Eloy Jimenez

Chicago White Sox know we haven't seen the best of Eloy Jimenez

Eloy Jimenez is always smiling and joking, and laughing, and waving, and saying hi to his mom on TV. You'd never know that not everything went his way during his rookie season.

Despite the 31 home runs and his white-hot month of September, the rookie year-struggles were there and definitely had an effect on the happy-go-lucky Jimenez.

 “At the beginning [of the season] I tried to do too much,” Jimenez said. “And the injuries didn’t help me a lot.

“At the end, I felt like everything was slowed down and was easy because I just tried to play the game and enjoy the game. At the beginning, I had too much pressure because I tried to do too much.”

Of course, Jimenez doesn’t go long without a joke.

“This year is going to be better because now that we’ve got Luis Robert, the attention is not going to be on me,” he said. “It’s going to be better.”

Whether or not it’s because there’s a new uber-prospect to soak up the attention, improvement in 2020 seems to be a consistent opinion when it comes to Jimenez, who was the prospect everyone was drooling over at this time last year. As he mentioned, out-of-the-gate adjustments to the big leagues and two trips to the injured list prevented his rookie season from being a runaway success.

Still, we saw more than a few glimpses of what got everyone so revved up in the first place. The night of his first major league home run, he hit two. At Yankee Stadium. Twice, he disturbed the foliage of the center-field batter’s eye, something that was overlooked thanks to the ball he sent all the way to the staircase on the left side of the fan deck.

And who could forget the game-winning, broken-bat homer to beat the team that traded him on that June night at Wrigley Field? It’s arguably the biggest on-field moment of the rebuild to date,  

And like everyone is saying, that’s just scratching the surface of what this guy can do.

“He's good already,” White Sox designated hitter and longtime friend, Edwin Encarnacion, said. “He's going to get better but he's good already. It's very impressive what he's done in his first year playing in the big leagues. I remember my first year. I wasn't even close to the way he is right now. It's going to be fun watching him play.”

Sorry, Eloy. Even though Robert is everyone’s new favorite youngster, the Jimenez hype train is ready to pull out of the station once more. In his first interview this spring, he was asked if he think he can hit 50 home runs in a season someday. He didn’t disappoint.

“Why not?” he replied. “Yeah, it’s a big number but my goal is every year to have better numbers than the past year. So I think, one day, I can hit 50 plus. But let’s see.”

RELATED: Is a Moncada extension coming?

Of course, hitting home runs is the thing we know Jimenez can do and do well. What the White Sox want to see from him in his sophomore season is improvement in other areas, particularly ones away from the plate. Jimenez has impressed with his bat but he did much the opposite with his glove, at least to those who winced when they saw him racing down fly balls in left field.

Defensive plays also led to both of his stays on the injured list. The first came when he attempted to rob an un-robbable home run and sprained his ankle planting his leg into the outfield wall. Later that summer, he crashed into Charlie Tilson in left-center in Kansas City and suffered an ulnar nerve contusion.

In general, he made many fans uneasy with other misadventures in the outfield.

“We really need him to step it up and continue to improve on his defensive end in left field. We’ve talked about that,” manager Rick Renteria said early on in spring training. “He started having some growth out there last year, in my opinion.

“I asked him, ‘do you want me to take you out in the seventh, eighth or ninth?’ He goes, ‘no.’ I asked him that today. You can ask him. He wants to stay in there.

“I want him to be the best left fielder that the Chicago White Sox can put out there. I don’t want to be timid about using him out there in the late innings in a ballgame.”

Jimenez agrees.

“I don’t want to come out in the ninth inning,” he said. “I want to be able to play nine innings. So that’s why this year, I’m putting more effort into the defense so I can play the whole game.”

That’s the more politically correct way of putting it. At SoxFest, he was asked if he would be better suited as a designated hitter. He responded: “F**k that.”

But whether we’re talking about his eye-popping skills at the plate or his work-in-progress style in left field, there’s a common theme: We have not seen the best of Eloy Jimenez. And how could we have? The guy is just 23 years old with only 122 big league games under his belt.

Encarnacion, for one, sees high-level greatness in Jimenez’s future, telling Chuck Garfien on a recent White Sox Talk Podcast that “he has the talent to hit over 500 homers in the major leagues. I know he can do it.”

Fifty homers? Five hundred homers? Does anyone want to bring some more conservative projections to this conversation?

“With the talent that they have,” Jose Abreu said, through team interpreter Billy Russo, of the White Sox crop of young hitters, “they can do whatever they want to do.”

All right, then. Fifty and 500 it is.

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White Sox Talk Podcast: The Yermin Mercedes Appreciation Podcast!

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: The Yermin Mercedes Appreciation Podcast!

The man the fans are clamoring for, Yermin Mercedes sits down with host Chuck Garfien to discuss why Sox fans love him, and his goals as a player. Chuck also gets some inside information on Yermin from teammates Carson Fulmer and Danny Mendick, and White Sox director of player development Chris Getz. You wanted Yermin, we got you Yermin.

(2:05) - Who the heck is Yermin Mercedes?

(6:41) - Interview with Yermin Mercedes

(16:07) - How did the Sox acquire Yermin with Chris Getz

(19:09) - Carson Fulmer on Yermin Mercedes's improvement as a baseball player

(22:03) - Danny Mendick on the uniqueness of Yermin Mercedes

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below: