White Sox

Tim Raines on Hall of Fame: 'It's getting a little nerve-wracking'

Tim Raines on Hall of Fame: 'It's getting a little nerve-wracking'

Tim Raines likes to classify himself as one of those “weird guys” who never really got nervous during his 23-year major league career. But his case to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame — which is in its 10th and final year — just might be changing that personality trait. 

“Coming now to this point, being my last year on the ballot and being so close, it’s getting a little nerve-wracking,” Raines said. “I think those nerves are starting to set in. I just can’t wait until it’s over now.”

Raines’ Hall of Fame credentials at one point were a battleground for the old school vs. new school battle that's raged in baseball circles ever since the "Moneyball" days of the early 2000s. But his .294 batting average, .385 on base percentage, 808 stolen bases, 364 more walks than strikeouts and 69.1 WAR have been viewed in an increasingly favorable light by Hall of Fame voters in recent years. 

“Rock” Raines received 69.8 percent of the vote in 2016, falling just 23 votes shy of the 75 percent to earn induction into the Hall of Fame. This year’s mark is significantly up from 55 percent in 2015, 46.1 percent in 2013, 52.2 percent in 2012, 48.7 percent in 2011 and 37.5 percent in 2010. No player who has received 68 percent of the Hall of Fame vote has failed to be inducted.

“This is probably the first year out of the nine years that I’ve been on the ballot that I really, really feel like I have a chance,” Raines said. 

Raines is back on Chicago’s South Side for the White Sox “Homecoming Weekend,” along with former teammates Jack McDowell, Lance Johnson and Roberto Hernandez. Raines only spent five seasons with the White Sox (1991-1995), but he made a major impact on those teams — four of which finished over .500. His best year in Chicago came in 1993, when his .306/.401/.480 slash line helped push the White Sox to an American League West title. 

“He was one of the guys that, once we had our core group, you bring a guy like that in and it bumps us up to contention level,” McDowell said. 

Added Johnson: “He was already a Hall of Famer when he came to us.”

Raines seems likely to be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2017, along with former Houston Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell, who received 71.6 percent of the vote in 2016, and perhaps former San Diego Padres closer Trevor Hoffman. Ivan Rodriguez and Vladimir Guerrero will debut on the ballot next year but aren’t locks to be first-ballot inductees, so making up those 23 votes may not be too difficult. 

Even though the numbers point to Raines making it, the nerves will only continue to build until the balloting results are announced in January 2017. 

“For those 23 that wanna vote for me next year, please,” Raines smiled. “I’ll be grateful.”

But with or without the Hall of Fame, Raines is proud of what he accomplished in baseball and how he went about doing it. 

“I had a really great career, I know it personally, I wouldn’t change a thing,” Raines said. “I loved every minute of playing the game. It’s just a situation now where I have an opportunity to close that chapter of my career. Hopefully it’s getting in. If I don’t, it’s not the end of the world. 

“But I just know the things that I did on the field, I enjoyed doing it and I’m sure the fans that cheered for me and cheered against me enjoyed seeing me and doing the things that I did. I would love for it to happen. It would be something that I never really thought of when I first started playing the game, or even when I finished playing the game. That never was a thought in my mind that Hall of Fame would even be a chance.”

White Sox fans dreaming of Patrick Corbin: His free-agent destination might already be booked

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USA TODAY

White Sox fans dreaming of Patrick Corbin: His free-agent destination might already be booked

For the biggest dreamers among the White Sox faithful, here's how this offseason might be playing out.

Rick Hahn said the team will make some additions to the pitching staff. So for those dreamers, it's a rush to the top of the list of free-agent starting pitchers, right? Why not hook one of the biggest fish in the pond?

The top of that list looks like this: Clayton Kershaw (should he choose to opt out of his deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers and seek a new, more lucrative one), Dallas Keuchel and Patrick Corbin. Some might even have those last two names flipped, with Corbin, coming off an All-Star season with the Arizona Diamondbacks, second only to one of the best to ever throw a baseball.

The White Sox might not be capable of outbidding baseball's biggest spenders, and that's without even mentioning that they might simply not be looking to ink a hurler to a long-term contract. After all, that's what all those talented prospects are for, right? Assembling the rotation of the future? Carlos Rodon, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez are all already part of the 2019 staff. Michael Kopech, when he's done recovering from Tommy John surgery, will join them in 2020. And Dylan Cease was just named MLB Pipeline's minor league pitcher of the year. With all that in mind, any offseason additions to the rotation for 2019 might simply be one-year fill-ins.

But fans often like to dream big, and a lot of them have Corbin on their wish list.

That's not surprising when you look at his numbers. He threw 200 innings last season and struck out 246 batters while finishing with a 3.15 ERA, those last two numbers the best of his six-year big league career. He's 29 years old and a long-term deal would figure to have him in the starting rotation as the White Sox plan to shift from rebuilding mode to contention mode.

Just one problem: There's plenty of belief out there that Corbin's destination this winter has already been booked.

This has been a talking point for a while now, as the Yankees tried to bring Corbin to the Bronx via trade last offseason. They're expected to try to do so again, this time via free agency, as they've got a ton of money to spend. Corbin was quoted in the Nightengale story from April saying: "It would definitely be great to play there. I grew up a Yankee fan."

Sorry to burst your bubbles, White Sox fans. But don't blame me. Blame the Yankees, which seems to be becoming a frequent refrain. If Didi Gregorius' elbow injury means Manny Machado ends up in the Bronx this winter, too, White Sox fans might drop the Cubs as Public Enemy No. 1.

The White Sox have enough hurdles to clear in any pursuit of one of the game's top free agents: They have to compete with baseball's traditional big spenders, and they have to try and beat win-now pitches with a pitch of planned — though not yet arrived — long-term success. It's not like that hasn't been a winning battle before, though, as the rebuilding Cubs got Jon Lester to believe in their future and brought him in to help make their transition from rebuild to championship contention.

But throw in the hurdle of a history between a player and another team, and it makes it an even harder job.

The White Sox will be making some additions this offseason, though they might not be the ones fans are dreaming about. But not landing the winter's biggest fish doesn't mean the organization's biggest, most important dream of building a perennial contender on the South Side is going anywhere.

Top White Sox MiLB moments of 2018: Omar Vizquel's award-winning managerial debut

Top White Sox MiLB moments of 2018: Omar Vizquel's award-winning managerial debut

With the White Sox season over, we're looking back on the top 10 moments of the club's minor league season. We'll unveil one per day for 10 days, showcasing each moment in chronological order.

The moment: Omar Vizquel is named the Carolina League Manager of the Year, Sept. 13.

Vizquel became the third Winston-Salem Dash manager to be named Manager of the Year. The Dash went 84-54, the second-highest win total in franchise history and won the division title in both the first and second half.

Vizquel's season: As soon as Vizquel retired after the 2012 season, he went straight into coaching. First, he was an infield coach for the Angels in 2013. Then, he became the first base coach for the Tigers.

Vizquel remained there until taking the Dash job in the White Sox organization this season. Winston-Salem was an important post because seven of the top 10 and 16 of the top 30 prospects from MLB Pipeline's rankings spent some time there in 2018.

Vizquel was able to guide that talent to a whole bunch of winning. The Dash had the best record in the Carolina League in the regular season.

The playoffs did not go so well. The Dash got swept by the eventual league champion Buies Creek Astros in the first round.

Still, it was a successful managerial debut for Vizquel and the White Sox got to take advantage of his experience with a number of top prospects playing under him.

He may not manage the White Sox any time soon, but Vizquel's ties to the organization (two years playing with the team and now coaching in the organization) make him a possible candidate at some point in his managerial career.