White Sox

Stone's Mailbag: Sandberg next Cubs manager?

Stone's Mailbag: Sandberg next Cubs manager?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010
7:31 PM

Steve Stone dives into his mailbag toanswer some of your questions about Ryne Sandberg, Juan Pierre and more!

Question from John - Johnstown, NY: Right now the Twins are the class of the division. I'm still not sold on their bullpen. If the Sox can stay close I think they will have a chance. What do you think?

Steve Stone: I couldn't agree with you more.

Question from Ryan - Cedar Falls, IA: If the Cubs decide to part ways with Lou Piniella, do you think they might consider Ryne Sandberg. Do you think he would be a good MLB manager?

Stone: If Mr. Ricketts bows to the pressure to the fans, the next Cub Manager will be Ryne Sandberg. It's difficult to comment on a manager's major league abilities when he has never majored in the majors. There will be a number of qualified guys out there if this is in fact Lou's last year which has yet to be determined. If they get in to the playoffs, I could see Lou coming back and that would buy Sandberg another year in the Minors and another year of managing at the highest minor league level. There is probably one better candidate and for the right offer, he might just come back to the Cubs. Bear in mind, I dont believe the Cubs have the courage or the creativity to make a move this far our of the box or to at least for the moment turn their back on Ryan Sandberg who would be an instant crowd favorite and certainly have the backing of the Wrigley Field faithful. But lest I get too cryptic, there is a fine manager currently wearing the pinstrips of the Yankees who's contract ends at the end of this year. He has one thing that Ryne doesn't have and thats one World Championship. His name, Joe Girardi. Joe has alwayd had close ties to the Chicago community, was a former Cub player, managed with distinction with the Marlins before winning a World Championship last year with the Yankees and with another chance to win one this year with those same Yankees. The question you might ask is, would he come here and the answer is, for the right contract, I believe he would. Will it happen? I believe it won't. At the end of the day, the Cubs will bow to public pressure and name Ryne Sandberg a much less expensive alternative as the new Cub manager.

Question from Darrin - Milan, IL: What are the chances that the Cubs would ever pad the outfield wall at Wrigley?

Stone: I really have no idea how many people have asked this question over the years but the chances of padding going up and anything that obscures the ivy-covered walls which are a trademark look of Wrigley Field are about the same as me playing in the NBA next year and starting at Center for the Bulls.

Question from Todd - Chicago, IL: Who do you think should be the White Sox leadoff hitter?

Stone: The man who is primarily leading off, Juan Pierre. He is off to a slow start but let me go back and remind you when he was with the Cubs, after the first couple months of the season, his on-base percentage was .260 including hits and walks going on that season to get 200 hits. He will finish anywhere from .290 to .305 this year and be the leadoff hitter he has been. He is a prolific worker and starting to refine his bunting ability again and taking a look at the lineup, Juan is the prototypical leadoff hitter with the assets that the Sox have at hand.

Question from Ben - West Chicago, IL: Should the White Sox have kept Scott Podsednik? He would look good at the top of the White Sox lineup.
Stone: Juan Pierre is a better leadoff, base runner and in the mind frame that Juan will have the same kind of batting average of Scott. That in mind, Scott had a good series against the Sox, he has made himself a very good higtter and I like Scott as a person I just thought it was an interesting ability that Scott had to be a very good base stealer and a very bad base runner. If you doubt that, think of all the times he got doubled out last year and picked off last year. The same thing is going to happen to him this year. As far as the defense is concerned, neither throw particularly well and I know Pier has had some problems in the early going as far as balls hit over his head but I think that will take care of itself. I think the Sox are comforable with what they have and we wish him the best except of course when he plays the Sox.

James Shields is having a stellar May and making comeback wins possible for the White Sox

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USA TODAY

James Shields is having a stellar May and making comeback wins possible for the White Sox

If you haven’t checked in with what James Shields is doing in a while, your opinion of the veteran pitcher’s performance might need some updating.

Shields didn’t exactly win the confidence of White Sox fans during his first two seasons on the South Side. After arriving in a midseason trade with the San Diego Padres in 2016, he posted a 6.77 ERA in 22 starts, during which he allowed 31 home runs. He followed that up with a 5.23 ERA and 27 home runs allowed in 2017.

And the 2018 season didn’t start out great, either, with a 6.17 ERA over his first five outings.

But the month of May has brought a dramatic turn in the vet’s production. In five May starts, he’s got a 3.27 ERA in five starts, all of which have seen him go at least six innings (he’s got six straight outings of at least six innings, dating back to his last start in April).

And his two most recent starts have probably been his two best ones of the season. After allowing just one run on three hits in 7.1 innings last Thursday against the Texas Rangers, he gave up just two runs on five hits Tuesday night against the Baltimore Orioles.

The White Sox, by the way, won both of those games in comeback fashion. They scored four runs in the eighth against Texas and three in the eighth against Baltimore for a pair of “Ricky’s boys don’t quit” victories made possible by Shields’ great work on the mound.

“That’s what it’s all about,” he said after Tuesday’s game. “It’s our job as starters to keep us in the game as long as we possibly can, no matter how we are hitting in a game. At the end of the game, you can always score one or two runs and possibly win a ballgame like we did tonight.”

The White Sox offense was indeed having trouble much of Tuesday’s game, kept off the scoreboard by Orioles starter Kevin Gausman. Particularly upsetting for White Sox Twitter was the sixth inning, when the South Siders put two runners in scoring position with nobody out and then struck out three straight times to end the inning.

But Shields went out and pitched a shut-down seventh, keeping the score at 2-0. Bruce Rondon did much the same thing in the eighth, and the offense finally sparked to life in the bottom of the inning when coincidentally presented with a similar situation to the one in the sixth. This time, though, the inning stayed alive and resulted in scoring, with Welington Castillo, Yoan Moncada and Yolmer Sanchez driving in the three runs.

“I’m out there doing my job,” Shields said. “My job is to try to keep us in the game. And we had some good starters against us that have been throwing well. If I can keep them close, we are going to get some wins and get some wins throughout the rest of the year like that. That’s the name of the game.”

Shields’ value in this rebuilding effort has been discussed often. His veteran presence is of great value in the clubhouse, particularly when it comes to mentoring young pitchers like Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, among others. Shields can act as an example of how to go about one’s business regardless of the outcomes of his starts. But when he can lead by example with strong outings, that’s even more valuable.

“I’m trying to eat as many innings as possible,” he said. “We kind of gave our bullpen — we taxed them a little bit the first month of the season. We are kind of getting back on track. Our goal as a starting staff is to go as deep as possible, and in order to do that, you’ve got to throw strikes and get ahead of hitters.

“Not too many playoff teams, a starting staff goes five and dive every single game. My whole career I’ve always wanted to go as deep as possible. I wanted to take the ball all the way to the end of the game. And we’ve done a pretty good job of it of late.”

It’s a long time between now and the trade deadline, and consistency has at times escaped even the brightest spots on this rebuilding White Sox roster. But Shields has strung together a nice bunch of starts here of late, and if that kind of performance can continue, the White Sox front office might find that it has a potential trade piece on its hands. That, too, is of value to this rebuild.

Until that possibility occurs, though, the team will take more solid outings that give these young players an opportunity to learn how to come back and learn how to win.

Ozzie Guillen offers his solution to PED use in baseball

Ozzie Guillen offers his solution to PED use in baseball

Ozzie Guillen is not one to shy away from having a strong opinion about something.

On NBC Sports Chicago’s Baseball Night in Chicago show on Tuesday, Guillen gave his view on how Major League Baseball can stop the usage of performance-enhancing drugs.

“Major League Baseball, you want to cut this thing down?” Guillen said on the show. “You cancel the contract to this kid. Then you’re going to see that. You get caught one time, you’re banned from baseball, then you’re going to stop with that. Because if you’re going to make $200 million and lose $11 million? I’m going to do it.”

Guillen is going off the idea that a player who used PEDs to get a big contract only loses part of it when he eventually gets caught and suspended. Canceling the rest of a contract takes away some of the financial incentive to use PEDs.

“If you get caught when you are young and you try to survive in the game, well, I don’t agree with them, but you can survive in this game that way,” Guillen said. “You know how hard it is right now. How Major League Baseball is on the top of this thing, day in and day out. They’re not going to play around with this thing.”

Marlon Byrd, who was twice suspended for PED use, was also on the show and talked about his PED suspensions.