White Sox

What happened to Fukudome in Cleveland?


What happened to Fukudome in Cleveland?

When the Indians acquired Kosuke Fukudome from the Cubs on July 28 of last year, it looked to be a solid deal that could help a lagging Cleveland offense. Fukudome was hitting .273.374.369 following his final at-bat with the Cubs -- while his power had deserted him, he was still a good on-base guy who could help the Indians' playoff push.

But with Cleveland, Fukudome's numbers plummeted. His on-base percentage fell 74 points to .300 thanks in large part to a decreased walk rate (13.3 percent with the Cubs, 5.8 percent with the Indians) and an increased strikeout rate (16.5 percent with the Cubs, 20.5 percent with the Indians).

Diving deeper into those numbers, Fukudome had major issues against breaking pitches after moving to the American League. About one in every five pitches he saw in 2011 with the Cubs were breaking balls, and against those curveballs and sliders Fukudome was about five runs above average (per FanGraphs).

With Cleveland, he saw only a slight uptick in sliders (10.9 percent to 12 percent) and curveballs (9.6 to 11.4 percent), but combined, he saw a breaking ball in closer to one in every four pitches than one in every five. His struggled at recognizing those pitches, though, whiffing on over 10 percent of breaking balls as opposed to under 10 percent with the Cubs.

Granted, this is over a small sample size -- just 59 games and 258 plate appearances. And Fukudome's most significant struggles came in September, historically his worst offensive month.

But Fukudome hit well below his career August split of .281.364.441, posting a .293.331.414 slash line in the regular season's penultimate month.

I'm tempted to call Fukudome's offensive dropoff the product of a small sample size, normal late-season struggles and perhaps some discomfort with moving to an unfamiliar city for a few months.

If Fukudome exhibits the same pitch recognition issues with the White Sox, maybe his struggles could be chalked up to an unfamiliarity with American League pitchers. With readily available scouting reports, video, etc., the frequency with which pitchers change leagues and interleague play, that's not a claim I'm ready to make yet.

Until further notice, Fukudome should be expected to be a good on-base guy to come off the bench and start when needed. Two bad months in Cleveland, while concerning, aren't enough to cause a panic.

Pitch data was used via Texas Leaguers' database.

White Sox Talk Podcast: Manny Machado Mania


White Sox Talk Podcast: Manny Machado Mania

Manny Machado to the White Sox?? It's been the dream for many White Sox fans for months.

With Machado in town to the play the White Sox, Chuck Garfien and Vinnie Duber discuss the White Sox chances of signing the soon-to-be-free agent.

Garfien also talks with Nicky Delmonico who played with Machado and fellow free agent to be Bryce Harper on the U.S.A. 18-under national team.

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

Rick Renteria issues another benching after Welington Castillo doesn't hustle on popup


Rick Renteria issues another benching after Welington Castillo doesn't hustle on popup

One thing you better do if you play for Rick Renteria is run to first base.

Yet again, Renteria benched one of his players Monday for the sin of not hustling down the line.

Welington Castillo, a veteran, not a developing player in need of ample “learning experiences,” popped up to first base with two runners on and nobody out in the sixth inning of Monday’s eventual 3-2 loss to the visiting Baltimore Orioles. He did not run down to first, instead staying at home plate.

So when the inning ended and the White Sox took the field, Castillo stayed in the dugout.

Ricky’s boys don’t quit, or so the slogan goes. But what happens when a player doesn’t live up to that mantra? What happens when they don’t play their absolute hardest for all 27 outs, as the T-shirts preach? This is what happens. A benching.

“It was towering fly ball in the infield at first, probably had 15, 20 seconds of hangtime,” Renteria explained after the game. “I assumed the dropped ball. It has occurred. He could, at minimum, at least start moving that way.

“That’s uncharacteristic of him, to be honest, it truly is. Maybe he was just frustrated in that he had the fly ball and just stayed at the plate, but there was no movement toward first at all. And you guys have heard me talk to all the guys about at least giving an opportunity to move in that particular direction.

“Everybody says, ‘Well, 99 out of (100) times he’s going to catch that ball.’ And then that one time that he doesn’t, what would I do if the ball had been dropped? Would it have made it easier to pull him? Well, it was just as easy because you expect not the best, but the worst.

“That is uncharacteristic of that young man. I had a quick conversation with him on the bench, and he knew and that was it.”

It might seem a little overdramatic, a little nutty, even, to sit down a veteran catcher brought in this offseason to provide some offense and to do it in a one-run game. But this rebuild is about more than just waiting around for the minor league talent to make its way to the South Side. It’s about developing an organizational culture, too. And Renteria feels that if he lets this kind of thing slide at the big league level, that won’t send the right message to those precious prospects who will one day fill out this lineup.

“There’s one way to do it, you get your action, you start moving toward that direction in which you’ve got to go,” Renteria said. “What would’ve happened if everybody’s watching it — and I’m setting the tone for not only here, our club, (but also for) everybody in the minor leagues — and they’re saying, ‘Well, at the top, they said they’re going to do this and then they don’t do it.’

“It’s really simple. And people might like it, not like it. I’ve got to do this, do that so everybody understands what we’re trying to do here. We’re not done with what we’re trying to do.”

This isn’t the first time this has happened in 2018. Avisail Garcia was taken out of a game during spring training for not giving maximum effort. Leury Garcia was removed from a game earlier this month for not busting it down the first-base line on a weak grounder that went right to the first baseman.

It’s become a somewhat common tactic for Renteria, and while it might strike some as taking things a little too seriously, what good is this developmental season if a culture goes undeveloped? The White Sox have placed their bright future, in part, in Renteria’s hands, and they’ve talked glowingly about how the players have bought into his style and how the team played last season under his leadership.

If Renteria truly is the right man for the rebuild, things like this are how he’s going to establish his culture. And it will, he hopes, impact how all those prospects play when they’re no longer prospects and the White Sox are contending for championships.