White Sox

Sox Drawer: What about Bobby?

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Sox Drawer: What about Bobby?

Sunday, May 9, 2010
11:34 PM

By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com
During spring training, I asked Ozzie Guillen a simple question.

How much rope does Bobby Jenks have this season?

Ozzie needed about a millisecond to respond.

Hes got a lot of rope, the White Sox manager said. "Hes my man. I know we have a few people in the bullpen, but Im going to give him the best opportunity until he cant anymore.

Judging by his last two performances, and comments made by Ozzie Guillen after the game, Jenks days as the White Sox closer could be numbered.

Not just because he is not retiring hitters with the ease of 2005-2008, but with the White Sox fading further and further behind the first-place Twins, they can no longer digest ninth-inning collapses like Jenks had this past weekend.

The first was a solo shot to John Buck in the ninth on Friday night, which broke a three-all tie. That was bad. But nothing like what happened on Sunday.

It being Mothers Day, it was the Mother of All meltdowns.

After coming back from a 5-3 deficit to take a two-run lead in the eighth, coupled with Jake Peavys gem over the Blue Jays on Saturday, you could feel the momentum strongly swinging the White Sox way. They had the confidence. They had the mojo. They had Bill Melton, Frank Thomas and I on the CSN Postgame set, ready to sing their praises. It all seemed to be in perfect rhythm.

But then, the needle flew off the turntable.

Or if youre under the age of 18, the iPod, like, totally crashed.

Travis Snyder doubled to center.

John Buck singled to right (I think weve seen enough of John Buck for about a decade).

And then ... the dagger.

Fred Lewis, with 17 career home runs on his resume, belted that three-run homer to right, making it 8-7, Blue Jays. They eventually won, 9-7. At least I think they did. Hawk Harrelson was so distraught he swallowed part of his microphone.

So what do the Sox do now?

After the game, Guillen hinted that changes in the bullpen are coming, at least in the short term.

We have a lot of options, and we are going to search for ones, Guillen said. Maybe the next couple of days, I might use someone different just to see if Bobby can regroup and come back to his form.

As for Jenks, who now has a 6.75 ERA this season, he disagrees. Asked if he might soon find himself out of the closer role, the struggling reliever said, No, that doesnt even make sense.

What does make sense is that a loss like Sundays has the Sox teetering perilously close to Kenny Williams danger zone. The Sox general manager wants to win, and badly. But with his team seriously deflated by this tough loss and heading into of all places, Minnesota, for a two-game series, if the Sox are unable to quickly recover and lose both games, do the math.

Theyll be 10 games out.

The season wont be over. But Kennys patience with this club might be.

Even through the fog of Sundays loss, Jenks could clearly see the magnitude of what lies ahead.

This is probably, especially this early, the most important road trip weve got coming up, Jenks said. Especially against the Twins. It might only be two games, but they are both big games. Weve got to battle back. Were behind in the division, so these are going to be big.

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.

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.