White Sox

The top five stories of 2011 for the White Sox

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The top five stories of 2011 for the White Sox

Earlier this week, MLB.com's Scott Merkin ran down his top five franchise-changing developments from the 2011, with his list going as follows:

5. Mark Buehrle leaving
4. Rebuilding or retooling?
3. Dunn's struggles
2. Ozzie and some of the coaching staff leaving
1. Ventura returning

Check out the article for the explanations. My list differs from Scott's -- and hey, your list may differ from mine. Let us know in the comments what your top five would be if you disagree with anything.

5. White Sox extend Danks

This folds into the "rebuilding or retooling" bullet point, although it's nowhere near a rebuild. The Danks extension, for now, confirmed that.

4. Buehrle departs for Miami

The next four points are all intertwined, with the likelihood of Nos. 2-4 happening low without No. 1 on the list. Buehrle's departure was the product of...

3. Ozzie departs for Miami

...Ozzie Guillen being there and the White Sox neither the funds nor room in the starting rotation to keep him. And Ozzie Guillen leaving for Miami opened the door for...

2. Ventura's surprising hire

...nobody saw the Ventura hire coming outside of those in the White Sox front office, and it'll go down as one of the more interesting -- that could mean good or bad -- hires in White Sox history. But at the root of all this great change:

1. The unexpected downturns of Dunn and Rios

The White Sox had plenty of problems outside of this pair, but because both Adam Dunn and Alex Rios earned 12 million last season, they received much of the attention for the team's disappointing season.

The progression is this: If Dunn and Rios played near their 2010 levels to begin the 2011 season, perhaps the White Sox don't lose 17 of 21 games in April and early May. Even if the Sox went 10-11 in that stretch, they would've emerged above .500 -- a mark they didn't reach until July 2. By then, attendance lagged and the Sox had to deal away Edwin Jackson and Mark Teahen at the deadline to free up some money.

Over the course of 2011, had Dunn and Rios each been three-win players (as they were in 2010), they would've netted the Sox about nine more wins, per FanGraphs' WAR. Nine wins puts the Sox at 88 on the season, firmly in playoff contention if not for the AL Central, for the AL Wild Card.

Maybe Buehrle still goes. Guillen, too, perhaps, still leaves with the pull of Miami too strong. But the chances that both franchise-altering moves happen would have to be lowered with the Sox contending for the playoffs through the end of the season, right?

For the record, these aren't the kind of downturns that you can predict. Rios, maybe -- he struggled in the second half of 2010, at least -- but not Dunn. So don't jump to blame Kenny Williams for this. It's not his fault.

White Sox Talk Podcast: Ask Us Anything Part 1

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Ask Us Anything Part 1

We asked you to ask us anything about the White Sox and you delivered in a big way. We got so many questions, we had to do two different podcasts! Among the questions here in Part 1: should the White Sox send Yoan Moncada to Triple-A? What players will be traded before the deadline? Who are some sleeper prospects in the minors? Will Jordan Stephens be called up before Michael Kopech? Should Juan Uribe be a team ambassador? What's our all-time White Sox team from 2000 to the present and many more.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Rick Hahn says 'there will be many' promotions for White Sox prospects this week

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USA TODAY

Rick Hahn says 'there will be many' promotions for White Sox prospects this week

The White Sox have a number of highly-rated prospects performing well in the minors and some of them will be on the move within the system in a matter of days.

General manager Rick Hahn talked to reporters ahead of Monday night's White Sox game in Cleveland, a 6-2 loss, and gave the news. Well, sort of.

He didn't include names, but he did say that "there will be many" promotions after the minor league all-star games for Double-A and both Single-A teams take place on Tuesday.

Hahn added that Chris Getz, the White Sox player development director, will address the media before the White Sox host Oakland on Thursday about the moves.

If the all-star games are a reason to wait, it's safe to think some of the players involved will be playing in those games. So who could be on the move?

Double-A Birmingham has six all-stars: Eloy Jimenez, Zack Collins, Seby Zavala, Danny Mendick, Dane Dunning and Ian Hamilton. Jimenez is the name everyone wants to see on the move. He has torched the Southern League since getting off to a late start to the season due to injury. Hahn was asked about Jimenez, but didn't tip his hand as to whether he would be one of the promotions.

Dunning has been good in Double-A (2.78 ERA, 65 strikeouts in 58 1/3 innings), but was already promoted this season so he may not be on the move again.

Single-A Winston-Salem has five all-stars: Dylan Cease, Luis Alexander Basabe, Joel Booker, Bernardo Flores and Matt Foster. Cease, 22, could be due for a promotion with a 2.89 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 71 2/3 innings. There's also that outfield logjam the Dash, which won the first-half division title, have had all season.

Other than Basabe and Booker, Blake Rutherford and Alex Call are also noteworthy prospects being forced to split time in the Dash's outfield. If Jimenez is moving up to Triple-A, one or two names from this group could be on the move to take his spot in Birmingham.

This would especially make sense if highly-touted outfield prospect Luis Robert, who was supposed to be in Single-A Kannapolis for a short period before joining the Dash, is ready to move up as planned. Robert is hitting .289/.360/.400 in 13 games with the Intimidators.

Birmingham, Winston-Salem and Kannapolis were all off Monday. The various all-star games will take place Tuesday and the three teams will be off again Wednesday. The promotions could be announced Thursday ahead of Getz's scheduled media availability.