White Sox

White Sox can live without World Series heroes

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White Sox can live without World Series heroes

Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2010
4:00 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

As the coals in the hot stove are just beginning to get stoked up, its time to rank the current Chicago White Sox, in order of importance for 2011 and beyond. Its not intended to be a strict list of merely the best players, or best values, on the White Sox. Rather, it takes into account team depth, the free agent market, or answering the question of which player would hurt the most not being on the team?

This is meant as a precursor to longer, individual profiles that will appear on CSNChicago.com between now and the end of the year. Thus the list could take different shape over the coming weeks, due to current players being cut loose or new ones acquired.

The second installment of the White Sox Top 30 features many of the stalwarts fans have come to rely on over the years, including free agents Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski, J.J. Putz and Andruw Jones. But leading things off is the potential staff ace who could nevertheless enter spring training at No. 6 on the rotational depth chart.

11. Edwin Jackson, SP

Jacksons salary doubles in 2011 to 8.4 million, so the promise he showed under pitching coach Don Coopers tutelage in the second half of 2010 had better hold. However, Jacksons average game score (essentially a more detailed version of quality starts) was the highest of any White Sox pitcher in 2010 (57, six points better than the league average). Jackson could be looked at as anything from staff ace to No. 6 starter this offseason, thus its almost impossible to think that with Chris Sale waiting in the wings, the eight-year vet isnt on the trading block once more.
12. Juan Pierre, LF

Another player who is easy to take for granted is Pierre, but the left-fielder was a miraculous find for the White Sox in 2010. Pierre almost completely offset his arm in the field by getting to every ball hit his way, compiling a UZR of 13.4, ninth-best in baseball, sixth among outfielders and third among left fielders. Pierre was also one of the best pressure hitters in baseball, with a 1.15 Clutch rating that was tied for eighth among all players. Pierre brought 9 million in value to the White Sox, who paid him just 3 million for the season. Williams and Guillen so gush over what Pierre brings to the field that it would not surprise if the soft-spoken speedster ascends to the role of team captain if both Konerko and Pierzynski fail to return.

13. Paul Konerko, 1B

Yes, Konerko is woefully undervalued here, and his importance to the team in 2010 cannot be overstated. However, Konerko will never again reach his 2010 levels age and sheer luck conspire against him. Even in the late prime of his career, Konerko failed to outperform his 60 million deal over the past five seasons, so a future commitment even something as innocuous as 20 million over two seasons comes with massive risk and almost certain disappointment. Konerko is in so many ways the heart of the team, but as an average first baseman destined to see more time at DH, hes more replaceable than you might think. For a tight-budgeted team, there are smarter buys out there.

14. J.J. Putz, RP

Putz appears to be a kinder, gentler and less expensive version of Bobby Jenks looking toward 2011, with one caveat: Putz cannot close. While it was Jenkss stretch of blown saves that opened some cracks in the hull, Putzs BSs soon thereafter started letting the water in. Unfortunately for Jenks, he was overpaid for his work and Putz underpaid, finishing tied for 19th in WAR among relievers (1.5) and providing double the value of his 3 million contract. For all the talk that in a thin relief market, Putz is sure to jump to a team that offers a closer job (not to mention big bucks), dont be so sure; he is terribly tight with Matt Thornton, appreciates the lessened travel burden that comes with playing out of Chicago and could be well pleased with a modest raise and continued setup duties.

15. Dayan Viciedo, IF

If not for Konerkos free agency, Viciedo would be fall father down this list. But if Capn Paul doesnt return and Williams is unable to broker a big fish at first, Viciedo steps in as the first-sacker.

16. A.J. Pierzynski, C

The free agent Pierzynski will be looking for a raise, one that, as in the case of Konerko, cannot possibly pay off for the White Sox. The catcher and first base markets are pretty fluid this offseason, so its not inconceivable that both players leave Chicago and if so, the leadership void for the White Sox could be a bigger loss than any from the production standpoint.

17. Andruw Jones, OF

The White Sox took a flier on Jones in 2010 and he paid off handsomely (a 7.4 million value on 500,000 contract), to the point of rendering right fielder Carlos Quentin disposable. Jones no longer brings a Gold Glove to the outfield, but his defense is not a liability, unlike Quentin. Jones could be re-signed at a friendlier price than CQ, even if again reduced to a fourth outfielderDH role in 2011.

18. Brent Morel, 3B

Morel impressed White Sox brass with his readiness during a relatively late September call-up, especially in the field. With another spring of seasoning, it appears the third-base job is Morels to lose, even with higher-priced veterans like Mark Teahen and Omar Vizquel on the club.

19. Carlos Quentin, RF

As a DH-only, Quentin might rank as a more important cog in the machine for the Chisox, in that it gets his glove out of right field and probably buys him close to a full season of games with him no longer lumbering through the outfield. The White Sox love Quentins intensity, but that wont keep them from shopping 2008s near-MVP in an effort to increase roster efficiency and flexibility.

20. Bobby Jenks, RP

How Bad Bobby has fallen. While Jenkss 2010 wasnt outright bad (tying for 19th among relievers with a 1.5 WAR and 6.2 million value), the closer was paid 7.5 million and continued to struggle with his conditioning. Short of Jenks shocking the White Sox by asking for, say, 10 million over three years, the Jenks era is over in Chicago.

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

The White Sox sent down Carson Fulmer, so why isn't Lucas Giolito receiving the same treatment?

The White Sox sent down Carson Fulmer, so why isn't Lucas Giolito receiving the same treatment?

Lucas Giolito is having a rough go of things in his second year with the White Sox.

He came into the season with some pretty high expectations after posting a 2.38 ERA in seven starts at the end of the 2017 campaign and then dominating during spring training. But he’s done anything but dominate since this season started, and after one of his worst outings in Thursday’s 9-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, he’s got a 7.53 ERA in 10 starts in 2018.

Giolito stuck around for only four outs Thursday, but he allowed the Orioles to do plenty of damage, giving up seven runs on six hits — two of which were back-to-back home runs to start the second inning — and three walks. He leads the American League with his 37 walks.

“I take what I do very seriously. I work as hard as I can at it,” Giolito said. “So when I experience failure like this, it’s kind of hard to deal with. All I can do is come back tomorrow, keep working on things and hopefully have a better one.”

All of Giolito’s struggles have fans wondering why the White Sox haven’t sent him down to Triple-A to work on his craft.

“I don’t foresee that at this particular time,” Rick Renteria said when asked if Giolito could be sent to Triple-A. “I think he’s just a young man who’s got to continue to minimize the emotional aspect of crossing from preparation into the game and staying focused, relaxed and hammer the zone with strikes. And truthfully it’s just first-pitch strike and get after the next one.”

The White Sox have already sent one young pitcher down in Carson Fulmer, who was having a nightmarish time at the big league level. Fulmer’s results were worse than Giolito’s on a regular basis. He got sent down after posting an 8.07 ERA in nine outings.

But hasn’t Giolito suffered through command issues enough to warrant some time away from the major league limelight? According to his manager, Giolito’s situation is vastly different than Fulmer’s.

“I don’t see them anywhere near each other,” Renteria said. “They’re two different competitors in terms of the outcomes that they’ve had. Lucas has at least had situations in which he might have struggled early and been able to gain some confidence through the middle rounds of his start and continue to propel himself to finish some ballgames, give us six or seven innings at times. So it’s two different guys.

“With Gio, I expect that we would have a nice clean start from the beginning, but when he doesn’t I still feel like if he gets through it he’ll settle down and continue to hammer away at what he needs to do in order to get deeper into a ballgame, and that was a little different with Carson. With Carson it was right from the get-go he was struggling, and he had a difficult time extending his outings after the third or fourth because it just kept getting too deep into his pitch count and not really hammering the strike zone as much.”

Renteria is not wrong. Giolito has had a knack to take a rough beginning to a start and turn it into five or six innings. Notably, he gave up a couple first-inning runs and walked seven hitters and still got the win against the Cubs a week and a half ago. And while his first-inning ERA is 10.80 and his second-inning ERA is 12.54, he’s pitched into at least the sixth inning in seven of his 10 starts.

Renteria’s point is that Giolito is learning how to shake off early damage and achieving the goal, most times out, of eating up innings and keeping his team in the game. Those are a couple valuable qualities to develop for a young pitcher. But are those the lone qualities that determine that Giolito is suited to continue his learning process at the major league level? His command remains a glaring problem, and both he and Renteria admitted that his problems are more mental than physical.

“The one thing everyone has to understand is we have to go beyond the physical and attack a little bit more of the mental and emotional and try to connect and slow that down,” Renteria said. “Those aspects are the ones that ultimately, at times, deal in the derailment of the physical action. So if we can kind of calm that down a little bit.

“He’s very focused. Giolito is high intensity. Nice kid but high-intensity young man when he gets on the mound. You might not believe it. He’s going 100 mph. So I think it goes to more just trusting himself, trusting the process, taking it truthfully one pitch at a time.”

Well, if a demotion to the minors isn’t likely, what about moving Giolito to the bullpen? Carlos Rodon and Chris Sale dipped their toes in bullpen waters before moving to the rotation. Could a reversal of that strategy help Giolito?

Well, the current state of the White Sox starting rotation — Fulmer in the minors, Miguel Gonzalez on the 60-day DL and pitchers like James Shields, Hector Santiago and Dylan Covey, who aren’t exactly long-term pieces, getting a lot of starts — doesn’t really allow for another piece to be removed.

“I know they have done it with Rodon and Sale,” Renteria said. “The difference is we don’t have the makeup of the starting rotation that those clubs had in order to put those guys in the ‘pen. We are in a different situation right now. Moving forward, is that something we can possibly do? Absolutely. It has been done with very good success.

“Right now we are in truly discovery mode and adjustment mode and adapting and trying to do everything we can to get these guys to develop their skill sets to be very usable and effective at the major league level and we are doing it to the best of our ability.”

There could be promise in the fact that Giolito has turned a season around as recently as last year. Before he was impressing on the South Side in August and September, he was struggling at Triple-A Charlotte. Even after he ironed things out, things had gotten off to a rocky enough start that he owned a 4.48 ERA and 10 losses when he was called up to the bigs.

It doesn’t seem Giolito will be going back to Charlotte, unless things continue to go in a dramatically poor direction. Right now, these are just more of the growing pains during this rebuilding process. “The hardest part of the rebuild” doesn’t just means wins and losses. It means watching some players struggle through speed bumps as they continue to develop into what the White Sox hope they’ll be when this team is ready to compete.

Danny Farquhar to throw out the first pitch before White Sox game on June 1

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AP

Danny Farquhar to throw out the first pitch before White Sox game on June 1

In another example of how amazing Danny Farquhar’s recovery has been, the pitcher will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the White Sox game on June 1.

Farquhar suffered a brain hemorrhage from a ruptured aneurysm during the sixth inning of the team’s April 20 game against the Houston Astros. But his recovery has been astounding, and he was discharged from the hospital on May 7. Farquhar’s neurosurgeon expects him to be able to pitch again in future seasons.

Farquhar has been back to visit his teammates at Guaranteed Rate Field a couple times since leaving the hospital. June 1 will mark his return to a big league mound, even if it’s only for a ceremonial first pitch with his wife and three children. Doctors, nurses and staff from RUSH University Medical Center will be on hand for Farquhar’s pitch on June 1.

The White Sox announced that in celebration of Farquhar’s recovery, they will donate proceeds from all fundraising efforts on June 1 to the Joe Niekro Foundation, an organization committed to supporting patients and families, research, treatment and awareness of brain aneurysms.