White Sox

Torres can't climb out of early hole; Sox split


Torres can't climb out of early hole; Sox split

Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2010
Updated: 11:10 PM

By Brett Ballantini

DETROIT- The wildness that had haunted Chicago White Sox rookie Carlos Torres in prior major league efforts reared up again on Tuesday night. By the time Torres was pitching his best, it was too late.

The Detroit Tigers cruised after pounding out five runs in the first two innings against Torres, setting back the Sox, 7-1, to salvage a split of their doubleheader.

"Everybody is stepping up on the mound for us right now, so the expectation is to win games," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said, nonetheless seeing a silver lining in Torres' performance. "The worst scenario almost came true in the first two innings, Torres had 60-something pitches, and I was worried because I didnt want to bring my bullpen in so early."

While just one of Torres' five free passes in the game came around to score, his initial wildness-walking the first two Tiger batters in the first-forced him to play catch-up and work from a disadvantage.

"I know how to give the team innings, but no matter how you look at it, I needed to get deeper in the ballgame than the second inning because that can actually cash out a bullpen quite a bit," Torres said.

Torres barely did escape the second, which was the scene of the major damage, to the tune of four runs. Ryan Raburn led off with a single and with two outs was doubled home by Alex Avila. The string kept going from there, as Will Rhymes singled home Avila, Johnny Damon doubled home Rhymes and Brennan Boesch doubled home Damon.

"I've never seen that before, in the first inning three walks and next inning five hits, no unintentional walks," Guillen said. "It was kind of a weird combination. In the first inning he looked like a minor league pitcher but after that he threw the ball well and gave us what we needed. He turned it around."

The sole Chisox score came on a Paul Konerko bomb in the seventh, breaking up Jeremy Bonderman's shutout. The Tigers veteran was terrific, pitching 6.2 innings and surrendering just five hits, mitigated by five strikeouts.

"To come in here and sweep is not easy," Guillen said. "Bonderman was one pitch away from us getting to him. He threw a couple of good pitches and got two double-play balls that killed rallies."

Detroit picked up two more insurance runs in the eighth, when Ramon Santiago led off with a single and Austin Jackson's sacrifice bunt that turned into a hit and run-scoring play when White Sox reliever Tony Pena fielded the bunt and threw the ball far past Chicago first sacker Mark Kotsay. A Rhymes groundout pushed Jackson to third, where he scored on a Damon groundout.

The fact that Chicago's game two effort was so flat yet the White Sox remained in first place and could ponder ephemera the possibility of lefty phenom Chris Sale being called up for his possible major league debut Wednesday says it all about the state of Guillen's team.

"Right now all my players only have to worry about winning games, not anything else," he said. "Thats easy: Every time we go to the field, we expect to win these must-win games, no matter who we play, when we play, where we play. Just win games, and dont worry about the people behind us. Thats the easy part of being in first place: You dont have to worry about scoreboard watching."

For those White Sox not watching the scoreboard, their split coupled with Minnesota's loss dropped the Twins 1.5 games behind Chicago.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.

White Sox facing tempting trade possibilities at Winter Meetings

White Sox facing tempting trade possibilities at Winter Meetings

SAN DIEGO — The White Sox, you might have heard, are committed to their rebuilding plans.

Still unsure if 2020 will be the year when that long-awaited leap into contender status occurs, Rick Hahn is staying the course and looking for long-term moves that line up with what he projects to be a lengthy contention window.

But there are plenty of moves, plenty of players, that don’t fit into that perfect box. And that’s where temptation arises. Hahn hasn’t been shy about discussing the instances of impatience felt by the team’s decision-makers, times when they get antsy about all the losing that’s occurred over the past few seasons.

The Winter Meetings holds many such temptations, opportunities to make the roster better right away, even though they might not fit in exactly with carefully crafted rebuilding plans.

And indeed the White Sox have faced temptation this week in Southern California.

“We’ve had some really interesting trade conversations,” Hahn said Wednesday. “We’ve got some prospects that are extraordinarily popular, and (there have been) a few things that at least made you take a step back and pause and think, ‘Is this consistent with what we started three years ago, or is this an effort to force things a little more quickly?’

“Kenny (Williams) and I had dinner last night and talked through some things about where this really fits in terms of what we’re trying to accomplish for the long term and being true to the long-term plan versus maybe a short-term hit or a short-term fix that that jumps us forward for next year but might compromise us for an extended period. Then we had another conversation about that again this morning.

“So there's been some temptation around. But again, we’re trying to stay true to what we set out to do three years ago and what we do feel we’re getting awfully close to being able to enjoy the fruits of.”

What might this really interesting trade proposal be? Hahn didn’t reveal much. And we can only guess, based on what he said, that it probably involves the White Sox parting with one of their prized prospects.

It would be kind of crazy to think Luis Robert, Nick Madrigal or Michael Kopech would go anywhere. But maybe Andrew Vaughn or Dane Dunning could be drawing interest in a way that makes the White Sox consider an offer? Past those five, the potential impact level of White Sox prospects seemingly drops off, and the team dealt away its No. 6 prospect, Steele Walker, in a trade for Nomar Mazara on Tuesday night.

Hahn has said the White Sox are not likely to deal highly ranked prospects in exchange for a short-term gain, saying Monday: “If we are trading a premium-type prospect, it’s going to be for someone who will be here for a while.”

Might, though, the White Sox have gotten an offer that would make them bend the rules a bit? That’s where temptation comes into play. It doesn’t sound like “this thing that was sort of intriguing,” as Hahn described it, was a roll of the dice the size of trading for only one year of Mookie Betts. But it might not have fit the team’s ideal for a long-term solution, either.

One thing it does sound is kind of big.

“I think this is my 20th Winter Meetings with the Sox, and far more than half of them, there’s been like this huge, interesting proposal on Wednesday night of the Winter Meetings,” Hahn said. “And by the time you get to the Rule 5 draft (Thursday morning), all things have blown up. That has happened like 12 times.

“So we were joking last night when we got this thing that was sort of intriguing that it was a day early.”

None of this is to suggest that something earth-shattering is imminent. Hahn referenced the history of such proposals falling apart within 24 hours. He also lumped the description of this intriguing offer in with his comments about needing to stick to the plan, perhaps describing a move that, while tempting, is the kind the White Sox should be staying away from. Earlier in the same media session, Hahn had this to say, specifically in reference to his front office’s hunt for starting pitching:

“What’s going on here is not an all-out effort to force our window open quicker,” he said. “We’re continuing to build something where we’re able to win on an annual basis and, once that window is open, be aggressive to add and continue to keep that thing moving.

“So there are certain moves that fit for that long term and certain moves that could be characterized more as trying to force open the window sooner. It's the former moves that make more sense for us right now, the ones that fit in for the long term.”

Maybe Hahn and Williams talked “this thing that was sort of intriguing” out and decided it didn’t line up with what they’re trying to accomplish. Or maybe it’s too good a move to pass up and they’re still discussing it. We can only speculate, given all teams’ secretive tendencies when it comes to such things.

But speculating is also pretty fun, and so maybe it’s worth a few stabs in the dark as to what this might be.

The White Sox were reported to be in trade talks with the Los Angeles Dodgers surrounding Joc Pederson.

The Pittsburgh Pirates might deal away Starling Marte.

The New York Yankees, now in possession of Gerrit Cole, are supposedly looking to trade J.A. Happ.

If you want to dream really, really big, the Colorado Rockies are reportedly listening on Nolan Arenado.

And the Boston Red Sox, still looking to shave salary, might still be thinking about dealing any number of players, including Betts, David Price and Andrew Benintendi.

And maybe none of those names have anything to do with the interesting conversations Hahn was talking about. But there is something tempting out there for the White Sox. Maybe they’d prefer to resist and stick closer to their rebuilding plans. Maybe they won’t be able to resist and it will be a smashing success. Who knows.

But this is the Winter Meetings. And anything can happen at any time.

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White Sox plan for right field seems to include more than just Nomar Mazara

White Sox plan for right field seems to include more than just Nomar Mazara

SAN DIEGO — The White Sox traded for a new right fielder Tuesday night, but it doesn’t seem like they’re done finding right-field solutions just yet.

The need in right was perhaps the team’s most pressing entering the offseason, with no internal solutions to speak of after White Sox right fielders posted the worst OPS in baseball in 2019. Nomar Mazara, who the team got in a deal with the Texas Rangers, isn’t the jazzy name fans were hoping for, especially with Nicholas Castellanos and Marcell Ozuna still on the free-agent market and rumors of a Joc Pederson trade wafting across the internet.

But general manager Rick Hahn admitted Wednesday that Mazara might end up just being part of the fix, asking judgment be reserved until his front office completes its work this winter.

“I wouldn't judge this move necessarily in isolation. I'd wait to see how the entire roster pans out and what we have, ultimately, on a day-to-day basis come this summer,” Hahn said. “Fortunately I don't need to make out the lineup on Dec. 11. We like how this piece fits, and we'll see what we continue to add over the coming months.

“Certainly as you look at our roster today, of course he's the everyday right fielder, based on today's roster. But Opening Day's still a few days away.”

That’s not to undersell how the White Sox feel about their new acquisition. They parted with Steele Walker, the organization’s No. 6 prospect, in order to bring Mazara to the South Side. Hahn used the phrase “untapped potential” in his statement when the deal was announced late Tuesday night. A day later, he was committed to that description and that the White Sox can hopefully get something out of Mazara much greater than what he showed in his four years with the Rangers.

“We view him, our scouts view him, as someone who has some untapped potential and some upside,” Hahn said. “This is a kid who, as you all are aware, has been viewed as having a very high ceiling. We continue to think he has a chance to reach that ceiling and are optimistic about where he goes once he's with us.”

But Hahn was quick to point out that a change-of-scenery style turnaround isn’t the only possible outcome, touting how Mazara improves the White Sox lineup even if his production stays at the same level it was during his time in Texas. And certainly that is true. Mazara had a .786 OPS in 2019. White Sox right fielders had a .565 OPS.

Of course, Castellanos was much better, offensively, and that’s why White Sox fans might be looking at this move with a furrowed brow.

But it doesn’t seem as if Hahn is ready to plug Mazara in at the top of the depth chart and walk away from the situation. In a recurring descriptor of the White Sox offseason, there’s more work to be done.

Does that mean a platoon? Maybe. Mazara has produced well against right-handed pitching, and his left-handed bat was one of his more attractive attributes to the White Sox, who can further balance their lineup. Against righties in 2019, Mazara hit .288/.344/.500. Against lefties, not so good: .220/.252/.394.

“The player that he has been over the last couple years has had some issues with lefties. So the question is: Will those continue? Can we get him better against left-handed pitching? How much was the thumb injury or the oblique that he fought with over the last couple years factoring into those issues? And make an assessment whether we need to complement him,” Hahn said. “If we need to complement him, that's just fine.

“That's a valuable bat against right-handed pitching. Let's see how the rest of the roster comes together before fully assessing how we addressed right field.”

There’s plenty remaining on the White Sox offseason to-do list, chiefly adding a pair of pitchers to the starting rotation. But there are also a lot of “maybe” items, too. Maybe they’ll try to find an everyday-type DH. Maybe they’ll try to add more to the bullpen. And maybe they’ll try to add another right fielder to team with Mazara.

One thing’s certain: Hahn’s not done yet.

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