White Sox

Tramp the dirt down: Tigers rout Soxagain

537306.jpg

Tramp the dirt down: Tigers rout Soxagain

Monday, Sept. 12, 2011
Posted: 10:20 p.m. Updated: 11:50 p.m.

By BrettBallantini
CSNChicago.com White SoxInsiderFollow @CSNChi_Beatnik
Box score

WATCH: CTL panel on Ozzie calling out Dunn
READ: Quentin reinstated from DL
WATCH: Walker on the struggling offense
WATCH: Ozzie says Danks was bad

If it were a prizefight, this was Mike Tyson demolishing Michael Spinks, or George Foreman devouring Jos Roman. Of course, if it were a fight, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen could have thrown in the towel and preserved his troops for another day.

But this was not a prizefight, and thus the Detroit Tigers showed Chicago little mercy in a 14-4 pasting that opened the final series of the season between the two teams.

Although it is tempting to merely cut-and-paste the September 4 gamerthe 18-2 massacre wherein the Detroit Tigers dropped the Chicago White Sox six feet under and tramped the dirt downthis game had some differences. It was played in Chicago, before a semi-partisan crowd, and not Detroit. It wasnt on national TV. And the White Sox scored four runs, while holding the Tigers to 14.

But otherwise, wow, the evisceration from a week earlier bore eerie resemblance to that of this Mondays massacre: poor pitching, languid play and embarrassment all around.

John Danks got Detroits hit parade off to a swift start, giving up eight runs (seven earned) on 11 hits, some of them of the seeing-eye variety, but none of them coming cheap.

Obviously, I didnt throw the ball very well; thats apparent, Danks said. I dont know if theres a hotter team out there, either. Its embarrassing, but at the same time, you have to realize how good theyve been playing. When I was ahead in the count, I was letting them off the hook. Id fall behind and try to get back in the count, and they hit the ball hard. It happens. Its a good team going good, and even the balls they mis-hit were falling in. Its part of the game, I guess.

Hes making very bad pitches, but those guys right now, they had like seven ground ball base hits, Guillen said. Right now, they are swinging the bat very well and its a combination of both Dankss pitching and Detroits hitting. John has had a tough time the last couple of times with them, but so do a lot of people. Right now, those guys are on fire.

Guillen has done his homework, as everyone in the White Sox rotation has struggled vs. the Bengals; during Detroits current, 10-game win streak, Chicago has accorded them eight, nine, 18 and 14 runs.

Detroit cranked out 21 hits and scored in five of nine innings, often with crooked numbers, in putting together an overall 40-6 run that stretched over the past 22 innings between the two clubs. Ryan Raburn, Delmon Young and Brandon Inge accounted for 10 of Motowns 21 hits and were retired just three times collectively. Raburns four hits marked the third time in his career hes achieved the milestoneall against the White Sox.

Chicago actually held a 1-0 lead after one, with Dayan Viciedo driving home Juan Pierre with a groundout off of Rick Porcello, who eluded all prior Pale Hose bugaboos with a tidy six-hit, three run effort over 6 23 innings. But back-to-back blasts from Jhonny Peralta (two runs) and Raburn on successive pitches in the second gave Detroit a 3-1 lead it would not relinquish. As the game totaled up in uneven fashion, it was more of the same for both the White Sox offense (0-for-7 with RISP) and Detroits (8-for-18).

Nearly the only other highlight was a pair of late homers by Brent Morel, one with two outs in the seventh, the second with one out in the ninth. Both were massive blasts to straightaway center, upping his total to seven homers on the year and five in his past 13 games.

Hes swung the bat pretty good the last 15 games, Guillen said. Its nice to see when a kid goes out there and performs that way and puts himself in a nice position to hopefully finish strong and have a good year.

Its just more confidence and trusting my swing a little bit, said the reticent third baseman. Im just developing an approach. Ive been working more, but not really trying to do anything differentjust trying to let it happen.

While a forgone conclusion in the eyes of most, Guillen was asked whether he felt his team had any fight left in them. The manager, frank as always (he approached the postgame podium with surprise, saying Wow, you really, really want to talk to me. Thank you. Wow), didnt part the clouds with his response.

You have to ask my players, he said. After you lose a game like that, if I say yes, we do, I might be lying. You lose a game like this and get beat up again against Detroit, Im not going to say, yeah, we got fire, because I dont see it We look at each other like, Whats going on here, what happened? But they beat us and Im not going to take any credit away from them.

Danks, for one, isnt going to let his final starts go down without a fight.

I have pride. Im competitive. I didnt have fun today. I didnt have fun at all. Im as frustrated as Ive ever been, he said. I want to finish strong and have a good taste in my mouth heading into the offseason. At the rate Im going over my past three starts, thats not looking good.

Were going to finish on a strong notewe havent given up. Obviously our playoffs hopes are pretty dim. Were going to finish on a strong note and get rolling into next year. Games like this arent fun. They dont sit well with us. Well try to win every game. We signed up to play 162 and more, were going to play 162 and try to win every game we can.

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

Eloy Jimenez is swinging some kind of a hot bat in Triple-A, giving White Sox fans visions of the (near?) future

0722_eloy_jimenez.jpg
USA TODAY

Eloy Jimenez is swinging some kind of a hot bat in Triple-A, giving White Sox fans visions of the (near?) future

The White Sox once more dropped to 30 games below .500 on Sunday, providing another reminder that this isn't the season where the team will be competing for a playoff spot or any kind of championship.

But all fans have to do is check the box scores rolling in from Triple-A Charlotte to get another kind of reminder: that a season where the White Sox will be competing for a playoff spot and a championship could be right around the corner.

Eloy Jimenez, the team's top-rated prospect and the No. 2 prospect in baseball, is killing it lately. Since returning from the disabled list in the middle of the month, Jimenez has a .424 batting average and is slugging a jaw-dropping .818 — thanks to three homers and four doubles — in eight games.

These are just the latest superb numbers from Jimenez, who has torn it up all season long, first at Double-A Birmingham and then in Charlotte since his promotion on July 1. Heading into Sunday's game, he was slashing .324/.375/.572 between the two levels. Then he upped those numbers with a base hit in his lone plate appearance as a pinch hitter in Sunday's game.

The only thing that can be seen as a negative for Jimenez this season — and this really isn't too much of one — has been health. While he's avoided the significant injuries that have stolen months of development time away from the likes of Luis Robert, Alec Hansen, Dane Dunning, Jake Burger and Micker Adolfo, Jimenez did start the season late with a pec injury and then missed a couple weeks earlier this month with a strained adductor muscle. Judging by the results, neither injury has done much (if anything) to negatively impact his offensive capabilities.

And so with the statistics remaining ridiculously good and getting better, the question that's dogged the White Sox dating back to the end of last season remains: When will Jimenez join the big league roster?

Only the White Sox have the answer to that question at the moment, but it would figure to be some time relatively soon and almost certainly before this season is over. That might not be specific enough for the fans clamoring to watch Jimenez play on the South Side. But take some cues from what general manager Rick Hahn has been saying all season:

First off, the White Sox performance and place in the standings will have no bearing on when Jimenez is promoted. The team will not bring Jimenez up just to inject some life into the final 60 games of the 2018 campaign. Jimenez's development has nothing to do with this team's win-loss record and is completely tied to the team's future, not its present.

Second, Hahn has talked about the benefits of Jimenez receiving at-bats at the Triple-A level and gaining experience facing the kinds of pitchers he didn't face in the lower levels of the minor leagues. He obviously didn't put a number on it, so the argument that Jimenez's 80 plate appearances in 20 games are enough to determine he's big league ready is potentially valid or potentially invalid, depending on what the White Sox have determined they want to see behind the scenes.

Third, Hahn has often said that not everything shows up in box scores. While Jimenez is putting up big numbers, the team is looking for other things that aren't as easy to recognize for those of us who aren't in the player-development business, not to mention those of us who don't even have an MiLB.TV subscription. Hahn said the same thing when Michael Kopech started the season in dominating fashion, and Kopech remains at Triple-A as the White Sox continue to wait for him to reach certain developmental benchmarks.

Fourth, Hahn has pointed to last year's treatment of Yoan Moncada as somewhat of a template for how the White Sox will treat their highest-rated prospects who are close to reaching the majors. Moncada, unlike Jimenez, had a small amount of big league experience before joining the organization in the Chris Sale trade, making his case slightly different. But he, too, was putting up good numbers at Triple-A, with a .282/.377/.447 slash line before his promotion on July 19. Moncada debuted about this time last season after doing well at the Triple-A level, but remember that he played 80 games there after starting the season with Charlotte. Jimenez joined that club in the middle of the season and has played in a quarter of the games that Moncada did before getting the call to make his White Sox debut. Though it's true that Jimenez is putting up significantly more impressive offensive numbers.

So "relatively soon" is perhaps the best we can do right now when trying to predict when Jimenez will reach the South Side. The White Sox have their own checklist when it comes to Jimenez's development, just like they do with every player, and only they will know when he's completed that list.

What is no mystery is how Jimenez is faring at Triple-A. He's swinging a red-hot bat, and few would argue that the numbers don't look major league ready. There's more to it than just the numbers, of course, but it would figure to be a safe bet that White Sox fans will be able to start purchasing Jimenez shirseys before the clock runs out on the 2018 season.

Avi Garcia's played in fewer than 20 games since April, but could he still attract trade-deadline suitors?

Avi Garcia's played in fewer than 20 games since April, but could he still attract trade-deadline suitors?

Avisail Garcia returned from his latest disabled-list stint with a bang, smacking a three-run home run in the fourth inning Saturday in Seattle.

The White Sox right fielder hasn't even played in 20 games since late April, when he went on his first DL trip, which lasted two months. A second, also featuring an injury to his hamstring, made it two weeks between games.

But when he has been able to step to the plate this summer, Garcia has been tremendously productive. He came into Saturday night with a .333/.347/.783 slash line and a whopping eight home runs in the 17 games he played in between his two DL stays. Then he added that homer Saturday night off longtime Mariners ace Felix Hernandez, giving him nine homers in his last 14 games.

Keeping this up could do an awful lot of things for Garcia: It could make his ice-cold start a distant memory, it could prove that last year's All-Star season might not have been a fluke, and it could keep him entrenched in the conversation about the White Sox outfield of the future, giving the team one of those good problems to have when deciding how he would fit into the puzzle alongside top prospects like Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert.

But here's another possibility: Has Garcia swung a hot enough bat in his limited action that he could be a trade candidate before this month runs out?

The White Sox don't figure to have too many players who are going to get contending teams worked up into a lather. James Shields, Joakim Soria, Luis Avilan, Xavier Cedeno. Those guys could classify as additions that would bolster teams' depth, but they might not be the attractive upgrades the White Sox were able to trade away last summer.

Garcia, though, could be. He might not slide into the middle of the order for too many contenders, but someone looking for a starting corner outfielder might be enticed by the kind of numbers Garcia has put up in June and July, albeit in a small sample size. Teams would also have to consider his health. He's already been to the disabled list twice this season. Teams would certainly have to be confident he wouldn't return in order to make a deal.

On the White Sox end, Garcia would figure to fetch a far more intriguing return package than the aforementioned pitchers, given that he's still pretty young (27) with one more season of team control after this one.

The White Sox have plenty of options when it comes to Garcia. They could deal him now, deal him later or keep as a part of the rebuild, extending him and making him a featured player on the next contending team on the South Side. But with a lot of significant injuries this year perhaps having an effect on when all those highly rated prospects will finally arrive in the majors — not to mention the disappointing win-loss numbers the big league team has put up this season — perhaps it would make more sense to acquire some rebuild-bolstering pieces.

Of course, it all depends on if there are any deals to be made. Do other teams' front offices like what they've seen from Garcia in this short stretch as much as White Sox fans have? We'll know by the time August rolls around.