White Sox

White Sox hope to improve upon AL-worst home run total


White Sox hope to improve upon AL-worst home run total

The White Sox are on a quest for power this offseason after their offense finished last in the American League in runs, home runs and slugging percentage in 2015.

Not counting the strike-shortened 1994 campaign, last season’s 136 round-trippers represented the fewest by a White Sox offense in a full season since 1992, when they hit 110. Over the past 20 seasons, the White Sox have averaged 192.4 home runs per season.

While general manager Rick Hahn wants to improve upon an offense that averaged 3.89 runs a game in any way possible, it’s clear that power has been a priority with the additions of Todd Frazier and Brett Lawrie. The White Sox could be in the market for even more as recent reports have suggested they have shown interest in high-profile outfielders Justin Upton and Yoenis Cespedes.

“Honestly, it’s about getting better any way we can, whether it’s scoring more runs or preventing the other club from scoring as many as they have,” Hahn said. “We’re not going to close off any avenue from a run-scoring standpoint, whether it’s power, on-base capabilities or speed or from a defense, pitching or run-prevention standpoint. In the end, we have to outscore the other club, and there’s multiple ways to do that. We’re going to continue to look at ways to address that.”

[MORE WHITE SOX: White Sox sign reliever Nate Jones to multi-year extension]

Frazier and Lawrie should present immediate help.

Frazier, acquired from the Cincinnati Reds last week in a three-team deal, hit 35 homers last season and has 64 over the past two campaigns. Last season, White Sox third basemen belted 16 homers en route to a .612 OPS, the worst production from the hot corner of any team in baseball.

The two-time All-Star, who turns 30 this season, is projected to hit 25 homers with a .767 OPS for the White Sox next season, according to fangraphs.com.

At second base, Lawrie is projected by fangraphs.com to hit 15 homers with a .716 OPS for the White Sox in 2016.

The White Sox are hopeful a change of scenery for Lawrie (who hit 16 homers in 2015) means those projections are low. But even if they’re correct, it would be a vast improvement as White Sox second baseman hit five homers and had a .564 OPS that ranked 30th among 30 teams last season.

[MORE WHITE SOX: Robin Ventura: White Sox didn't empty cupboard for Frazier, Lawrie]

While catchers Alex Avila and Dioner Navarro might not match the 18 home runs hit by Geovany Soto and Tyler Flowers in 2015, the White Sox expect contributions in the form of a higher on-base percentage by the new duo and tougher plate appearances.

The club is also hopeful Adam LaRoche can return to form after he finished with a disappointing 12 homers and a .634 OPS in 2015. LaRoche averaged 26.3 homers in the previous three seasons and has reached 20 on 10 occasions. They’d also like for Avisail Garcia to tap into the pull power that Paul Konerko once predicted could result in 40-home run seasons. Garcia hit 13 homers last season and his .108 isolated power (slugging percentage minus batting average) ranked 115th among 141 qualified batters in the majors last season.

Of course, the addition of either Cespedes or Upton would provide a major upgrade.

Hahn never gets into specifics, and with the payroll already in the neighborhood of $114.5 million, a major signing would come as a surprise. But Hahn didn’t rule anything out when he last spoke Wednesday.

“We shall see,” Hahn said. “We’re going to continue to be aggressive on numerous fronts and certainly continue to talk to various free agents as well as other clubs about trades, and we’ll have to see how the coming weeks unfold.”

[SHOP WHITE SOX: Get your White Sox gear right here]

Manager Robin Ventura wouldn’t mind another big bat in the lineup.

Currently, the 2016 White Sox lineup features a combination of Jose Abreu and Frazier in the middle backed by Garcia and LaRoche. But the lineup would become much more of a threat with the addition of Upton — who has averaged 23.5 homers with a .354 on-base percentage since 2008 — or Cespedes, who has averaged 26.5 homers with a .319 on-base percentage in four seasons.

“I don’t think you ever not want another power bat in your lineup,” Ventura said Thursday. “Right now you’re dealing with what you have and, you know, again, we knew we had some spots in there in the last couple years that might not have power or certain things. Now you’re trading that off and bringing in Frazier. That different bat, that different element having that guy go out — a true all-around player — that becomes a different thing. But you dare say no to more power or better players, adding a quality player.”

Sox Drawer Q&A: Joe Girardi, Enoy Jimenez and Chris Sale's 'infected' belly button


Sox Drawer Q&A: Joe Girardi, Enoy Jimenez and Chris Sale's 'infected' belly button

We made it above 60 degrees in Chicago today: A cause for celebration and another edition of the Sox Drawer. Questions from White Sox fans range from Joe Girardi to Enoy Jimenez (yes, Enoy) to Chris Sale’s “infected” belly button. Here we go.

Q: Jon Heyman tweeted out earlier that Joe Girardi pulled out of the Reds managerial search because he wants to wait a year for the Chicago job. Do you think he’s talking about the Sox? — @piratedwight

CG: I don’t know if the report is true or not, but what I do know is that Girardi grew up a Cubs fan and he later played for the Cubs. Put those two together and I’d assume he would love to manage them in the future. Something to consider: The main reason Yankees general manager Brian Cashman gave for firing Girardi in 2017 was that he felt he had trouble communicating and connecting with the young players. For a young, rebuilding team like the White Sox, that might be a red flag. Granted, that’s the Yankees' side of the story. Personally, I don’t think he’s interested in managing the White Sox.

Q: Who do you want the Sox to draft with the 3rd pick? Do some research. — @Frankie_OConnor

CG: If you look at most mock drafts right now, you’ll see high school shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. going first, followed by Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman (Nick Madrigal’s teammate) and Baylor catcher Shea Langeliers. Rutschman’s stock went way up because of his play in the College World Series, where he was named the Most Outstanding Player. Langeliers won a Gold Glove in 2018, named the best defensive catcher in Division I. He nailed 70 percent of would-be base stealers. Umm, I’ll take that.

The White Sox took Zack Collins with the 10th overall pick in 2016. White Sox scouting director Nick Hostelter always says “take the best player available.” Would they draft another catcher with their top pick again? Possibly.

You know what, why don’t we hear from Hostetler himself? I asked him to describe the talent level at the top of next year’s draft.

“Overall the ‘19 draft has a little bit of everything up top,” Hostetler said. “There are some interesting high school bats and arms, as well as some college bats and a few college arms that are intriguing. I’m not sure there’s a clear top five at this point, but as we’ve seen in past years, the guys sitting at the top of all the lists and mock drafts today usually change come the first Monday in June.”

In other words, let’s talk again in June. The best part about this? The White Sox will be in position to grab a very talented player for their future.

Q: After the most recent international signing of Eloy Jimenez’s brother, Enoy, do you think he could get close to the level of Eloy? Eloy wasn’t a known prospect until a few years ago, keep in mind. — @Dehhmac_

CG: In case you missed it, the White Sox signed Eloy’s 17-year-old brother to a baseball contract Sunday. Eloy posted a photo of him and his smiling brother wearing a White Sox hat and jersey.

By the way, if you do a Google search for “Enoy Jimenez,” Google will ask: “Did you mean Eloy Jimenez?” Even Google can’t believe it.

We don’t know too much about little Enoy. I say little because he’s tiny compared to his big brother. See the video we found on YouTube which was posted a couple of weeks ago. Enoy is wearing a White Sox retro tank top and a Charlotte Knights hat. If anything, he’ll fit right in at SoxFest. Seriously, he has some great baseball DNA, so he’s got that going for him. He’s an infielder. That’s about all we know. As MLB Trade Rumors put it, “scouting information on the younger Jimenez brother is virtually non-existent.”

Q: We know that Rick Hahn plays things close to the vest. In your opinion, do the White Sox view Matt Davidson as a viable two-way option? Personally, I'd like to see how he does in close games. — @emm528

CG: I know Davidson is quite serious about it. I’m not sure about the White Sox side of things. When I asked Don Cooper during the season about the possibility of Davidson having a more permanent role in the bullpen, he seemed skeptical about the idea. That said, if Davidson comes to spring training and impresses the coaching staff, they might be open to it. Davidson told me in September that he needs to train his body during the offseason so he could handle the workload as a pitcher. He just basically winged it in emergency duty last season. At one point after one of his appearances, he needed around two weeks for his body to get back to normal. It’ll be interesting to see if he can pull it off.

Q: You got to be by the dugout for most home games this year. What’s something that goes on in the dugout during a game that fans at home wouldn’t know? — @PeteCha56613119

CG: Davidson likes to throw gum at me.

Q: Chris Sale. Discuss. — @sccerlaw​​​​​​​

CG: If you’re asking about Sale getting an infection from a belly-button ring, he was joking. Sale likes to have fun with the media. Remember in 2014, when he tried to work in a specific word during his postgame media scrums? He said things like juxtapose, acquiesce, capitulated, ruminate, amalgamation. Waiting to hear what his next Harvard vocabulary word was one of the highlights of a rough fourth-place season. Sale did miss his start in Game 5 of the ALCS because of an unspecified stomach illness. Keep in mind, he’s probably taking medication for an inflamed shoulder. But he says he’s 100-percent ready now for Game 1 of the World Series.

Q: If the White Sox win the World Series next year will you get a belly button ring? — @vlamas05​​​​​​​

CG: Sure.

Q: Why don't the White Sox have a museum in the park? About 1/3 of the league does and most of those teams have half the history the Sox do. — @Gnome89​​​​​​​

CG: Good question. For this one, I went right to the source and asked Brooks Boyer, White Sox senior vice president of sales and marketing.

“We used to have a small museum that fans could walk through which was attached to our team store," Boyer said. "Years ago, we converted that space as demand for a wider selection of retail products grew. We do have a museum-like historical display in the Magellan Scout Seats and have put many of the significant moments in our history on the columns leading to the sections on the 100 level. This past season we had a Negro League Museum traveling display in the Chicago Sports Depot.

"We continue to look for ways to display our history, and the Depot may very well be the best place, but, at this point, there are no plans for a permanent museum location.”

Q: Who do you see the White Sox going after in free agency this year? — @Grank2410​​​​​​​

CG: I wrote about my top five free agents last week. I don’t know for sure who the White Sox will sign, but I’d like to see them add a veteran hitter or two who have playoff experience, who know what it takes to win and can impart that on the young hitters.

Q: When will the Sox change their uniforms? — @ckottlarock​​​​​​​

CG: Personally, I’d wear the 1983 throwbacks for every game, home and away. But that’s just me.

Q: Can we please not get Machado? Can we get Nolan Arenado instead? — @drobaseball555​​​​​​​

CG: Rick Hahn, if you’re reading this, @drobaseball555 wants Arenado. Got it?

Thanks everyone for all of your questions. We’ll do it again next week.

White Sox sign Enoy Jimenez, the 17-year-old brother of Eloy Jimenez

White Sox sign Enoy Jimenez, the 17-year-old brother of Eloy Jimenez

One Jimenez just isn't enough for the White Sox.

The White Sox signed the younger brother of top prospect Eloy Jimenez this weekend. Enoy Jimenez is a 17-year-old infielder, and the 21-year-old outfielder ranked as the No. 3 prospect in baseball was on hand for his brother's big moment.

Eloy figures to hit the big leagues early next season, though it will likely be a while longer before his teenage brother could do the same. Still, they're likely hoping for the chance to play together one day.

According to this pretty exhaustive list from MLB.com, four sets of brothers have played together on the White Sox: Homer and Ted Blankenship in the 1920s, Dick and Hank Allen in the 1970s, Roberto and Sandy Alomar in 2003 and 2004 and John and Jordan Danks in 2012.

Should we be getting ready for the fifth pair?

Update: Our Chuck Garfien found this video of Enoy taking some cuts with his big brother — all decked out in White Sox gear, too.