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.

Dylan Cease shows off big velocity in first spring training start

Dylan Cease shows off big velocity in first spring training start

Dylan Cease is entering the 2020 season with plenty to prove. Considering how important he is to the future of the White Sox, it is perhaps fitting he was the first White Sox pitcher to take a mound in a spring training game.

On Saturday, Cease pitched two innings against the Cincinnati Reds as he ramps up to full strength. The most notable thing wasn’t how long he pitched or what his stat line was. It was his fastball.

Cease's fastball sat mostly at 96-98 mph and topped at 99. Cease quipped there could be a bit more in terms of his velocity.


Cease averaged 96.5 mph on his fastball in the majors in 2019. In 73 innings, he threw nine pitches that were at least 99 mph, topping out at 100.1 mph, according to Baseball Savant. He was capable of throwing that hard, but didn't do it often. For Cease to be on the higher end of his average and feature a 99 mph fastball in his first pitches of Cactus League baseball might be a sign that he could have added a touch more velocity.

It’s also just a two-inning spring training start, meaning Cease knew he could let fly a bit more in a shorter outing. Cease told reporters after his start he was focusing on his fastball command. He struck out three with no walks and three hits allowed.

In his rookie season, Cease struggled with command and consistency. He had a 5.79 ERA with 81 strikeouts and 35 walks over 14 starts.

February baseball doesn't carry any meaning, but this is a small encouraging sign for Cease.

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Kenny Williams shuts down rumor connecting free agent Yasiel Puig to White Sox

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USA TODAY

Kenny Williams shuts down rumor connecting free agent Yasiel Puig to White Sox

You can put to bed the rumors about free agent outfielder Yasiel Puig possibly signing with the White Sox. It’s not happening.

The two sides did get together during the MLB Winter Meetings in December. Kenny Williams, Rick Hahn and Rick Renteria met with Puig for about 90 minutes to discuss the possibility of the 29-year-old joining the White Sox as their everyday right fielder.

But instead, the White Sox chose to take a different route. That same week, they acquired Nomar Mazara from the Texas Rangers for minor league outfielder Steele Walker, ending any chance of Puig coming to the South Side.

“After our meeting we came away big Yasiel Puig fans, but he wasn’t the right fit for us then and he isn’t right now,” Williams said.

With spring training games starting this weekend and the regular season a little over a month away, fellow Cuban Jose Abreu says he’s surprised the flashy 29-year-old outfielder remains a free agent.

“Yes, I am (surprised). That’s one of those things that happen that you don’t understand. A guy with his talent. He’s still so young,” Abreu said through a translator. “He doesn’t have a team yet. It’s a surprise. I’m confident he’s going to find something this year.”

Even with Puig’s talent, Abreu looks around the White Sox clubhouse and agrees with the decision by the White Sox not to sign the former All-Star who hit .267/.327/.458 with the Reds and Indians last season.

“I don’t think he would be a good fit here. Don’t get me wrong. He has a lot of talent but we’re full," Abreu said. "Our outfield is looking great with Nomar (Mazara), Eloy (Jimenez) and (Luis) Robert. There’s no reason for us to make more moves in that area of our team. He’s someone who would fit in with any major league ball club because he has the talent to help any of those teams.”

What about possibly platooning Puig with Mazara in right field? On paper, that might sound like a good plan, although Puig has traditionally hit better against righties than lefties in his career. But a larger issue could be the timeshare. The idea of Puig, nicknamed “Wild Horse,” being forced to the stable for half the season could spell problems not only for him, but the chemistry inside the clubhouse.

“It would be difficult, especially for him being an everyday player,” Abreu said about Puig being a platoon player.  “When you have to make that decision, it’s not easy.”

So, where will Puig end up?  No one knows for sure but it won’t be with the White Sox.  

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