White Sox

Sox Drawer: Williams on 'the most disappointing year'

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Sox Drawer: Williams on 'the most disappointing year'

When you're the general manager responsible for investing 127 million on a baseball team that wins only 79 games and finishes 16 games out of first place, you're not exactly going to be a happy camper. These are the facts Kenny Williams has to live with this off-season, how a team that had so much potential never came close to meeting expectations.

With the White Sox season now two weeks in the rear-view mirror, Williams is still digesting what happened, and it doesnt taste good.

"It's the most disappointing year that I've had in baseball," Williams said in an interview with Comcast SportsNet. "I thought we had another opportunity to position ourselves for another championship."

So what kind of position are the White Sox in now?

"We do have some payroll limitations. It didn't work out last year. That was the gamble by going out on a limb payroll-wise and it backfired. We lost money, bottom line," Williams said. "Are we going to now take the same gamble? The answer to the question is no. Weve got to take a step back, but that doesn't mean we're not going to try to win just the same."

Changes to the White Sox roster are coming. That's a given. As for who and how many?

"I can't even look at that until we sit down as a group. I don't want to do that right now because the wounds are still fresh. We are a very frustrated group, because we had expectations. Let's not be reactionary based on all of that disappointment too quickly, because these are players with track records. So let's take a deep breath, clear our heads, come back, and make some good solid decisions."

The biggest decision might be what do about free agent Mark Buehrle. He's prepared to test the open market, and with the Sox cutting payroll they might not be able to afford him.

"He's made no mistake about it, he wants to be back here," Williams said. "We would like him to be back here. Does it all fit together? I don't know yet."

With Theo Epstein headed to the Cubs, you can forget about assistant general manager Rick Hahn crossing over to the other side of town to fill the GM role. But the Angels and Orioles have openings. Others will pop up if not this year, then next year. Is Williams concerned he's going to lose his right-hand man?

"Sure, but if it happens I'm happy for him. He's one of the brightest minds in the game. He's been an asset around here for sure. I'd like to see him get an opportunity. If that comes now, great. It's coming. I know that."

White Sox Talk Podcast: The 10th anniversary of Mark Buehrle's perfect game

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

White Sox Talk Podcast: The 10th anniversary of Mark Buehrle's perfect game

Chuck Garfien and Steve Stone take a look back at Mark Buehrle's perfect game. How did Buehrle do it? How did Dewayne Wise make that catch?

Plus, Buehrle and A.J. Pierzynski talk about how Buehrle actually told Pierzynski before taking that field that day that he would throw a perfect game and more.

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

White Sox Talk Podcast

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Yoan Moncada cleans up for White Sox: 'I think we found our No. 4 hitter'

Yoan Moncada cleans up for White Sox: 'I think we found our No. 4 hitter'

Though Jose Abreu and James McCann represented the team at the All-Star Game earlier this month, Yoan Moncada holds the title of the White Sox best hitter through the first 97 games of the 2019 season.

The guy who struck out 217 times during his first full season in the majors last year has been a completely different hitter this time around. Instead of looking lost at the plate, he’s the guy White Sox fans want to see at the plate in run-producing situations. He hasn’t spent much time in one of those traditional run-producing spots in the batting order, but manager Rick Renteria inserted Moncada into the cleanup spot Monday night.

And Moncada cleaned up, all right.

“I think we found our No. 4 hitter,” starting pitcher Ivan Nova said after he went the distance in a 9-1 waxing of the Miami Marlins. “A lot of times you get surprised. While he was hitting second, you're thinking and knowing, the type of hitter that he is — you're only thinking as a player, they have another way to think. But today, I think it was first time hit in fourth, and he showed.”

Moncada went 2-for-4 with the game’s biggest blow, a three-run homer in the fifth inning that blew things wide open. He drove in four runs on the night, and he flashed a potential glimpse of the future of this future-focused franchise.

Combining with Abreu, who went 2-for-3 with a two-run homer and three runs scored, Moncada showed what the middle of the order might look like for this team when rebuilding finally transitions to contending. That could come as soon as next year, and when you throw the currently injured Eloy Jimenez into that group, the White Sox could boast a fearsome 3-4-5 as soon as later this season.

“If someone is happy that we finally found a cleanup hitter, it’s me,” Abreu said through team interpreter Billy Russo. “Nothing that he does surprises me because I know all the talent he has. I know that he still can do more. He has been working hard. He’s a great baseball player with a lot of talent and I still think he can do more.

“What he did today is not a surprise for me. I still know he’s a great player and I think we’ve seen that throughout the whole season this year. He’s going to get better.”

Moncada has been sensational all season long, proving why the White Sox weren’t at all worried during his struggles in 2018. He owns a .304/.362/.530 slash line through these first 97 games, and his three-run blast Monday night gave him a new career high in that category after he smacked 17 a year ago. He’s six RBIs away from setting a new career high there, too. And even though he made a fielding error Monday that only briefly delayed Nova finishing off his complete-game effort, Moncada has been generally excellent at third base in his first season at that position as a big leaguer.

But putting Moncada in a run-producing spot in the order is a new wrinkle for Renteria this season. Coming into Monday’s game, Moncada had spent 63 games as the team’s No. 2 hitter and just 26 everywhere else. According to the skipper, Moncada is good enough to hit anywhere, and that’s certainly true. His eventual everyday spot in the lineup might have more to do with the hitters around him than simply what he can do by himself.

But if Moncada keeps up the kind of offensive production he’s churned out this season, maybe sticking him right in the thick of the order is what's best for the White Sox — even if those lineups of the future include big bats like those swung by Abreu, Jimenez, Luis Robert and Andrew Vaughn.

“For me, it's an advantage to hit in the cleanup spot having (Abreu) ahead of me,” Moncada said through Russo. “That way, you can see how the pitchers are attacking him, and you have a better idea, in those situations when you need to produce, how the pitchers are doing it. Even though he's a right-handed hitter and I hit from both sides of the plate, it's good. It's something that gives you a better idea of how the pitchers are doing, how their pitches are working.”

“He had a nice game,” Renteria said. “He can hit anywhere in the middle and the top of the order. I wish I could say I'm really a genius, but I'm not. He's got that talent. He's able to take advantage of it and today he had a nice day. He made everybody look good.”

It would make sense to see Moncada batting fourth again as this first homestand of the second half and the 2019 season roll on, but that’s up to Renteria, who has his reasons for every permutation to his lineups.

Of course, if Abreu gets ahold of Renteria's lineup card and starts writing out the batting orders, we’ll know where Moncada will be slotted.

“If I would have that decision,” Abreu said, “I would put him in the cleanup spot for the rest of the season.”

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