White Sox

White Sox morning roundup

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White Sox morning roundup

From the weekend:

Frank Thomas will make his 2012 debut as part of Comcast SportsNet's White Sox coverage team tonight, appearing on Chicago Tribune Live at 5:30 and White Sox Postgame Live following Monday's game with the Indians. He'll join Chuck Garfien and Bill Melton for select games as well as provide content for CSNChicago.com, including the revival of Big Hurt TV. Needless to say, we're all extremely excited to have Thomas around again.

Opening Day saw the White Sox lose 3-2 to Texas, with Colby Lewis hampering offensive efforts thanks to good command of a wide strike zone. But hey, at least Adam Dunn tied a major-league record.

Saturday's game went much better, with Alex Rios belting a game-winning home run off Joe Nathan to secure Robin Ventura's first career victory as a manager. Sunday was much worse, as the Sox went 0-8 with runners in scoring position in a 5-0 loss.

The closer situation was the hot topic of the weekend, though, with Hector Santiago appearing to nail down that role -- the rookie lefty earned the save in Saturday's win. Chuck Garfien penned an outstanding piece on Santiago's screwball, while I don't think it actually matters who gets the bulk of the save opportunities for he Sox and Chris Kamka reviews the results of bullpens-by-committees.

And the most random news of all: Kip Wells is back with the White Sox.

Jim looked at how Robin Ventura's early returns have been similar to the managing style of Ozzie Guillen, James has a few trends that should carry over from Opening Daythe first weekend, and Alejandro De Aza's baserunning miscues have already drawn comparisons to Juan Pierre (not unfair -- De Aza has to dial things back).

Around the division

Detroit: Scored 23 runs in two games, including a frightening comeback that included a game-tying three-run bomb by Miguel Cabrera and a walk-off homer by Alex Avila. Tigers blog Walkoff Woodward pretty much sums up the message sent from Comerica Park this weekend: "We will kill all of your pitchers." But the news wasn't all good for the Tigs, as No. 2 starter Doug Fister hit the disabled list with a costochondral strain.

Cleveland: Ubaldo Jimenez took a no-hitter into the seventh against Toronto, but it went for naught as Toronto downed Cleveland in another marathon affair. Sergio Santos blew a save for the Jays, by the way.

Kansas City: Ned Yost has succumbed to the "okay with not having a good hitter batting second" epidemic, although it didn't hurt the Royals' offense that helped take two of three games from Los Angeles in California. And in the game Kansas City lost, Bruce Chen -- whose selection to start Opening Day was widely panned -- held the Angels scoreless through six innings of four-hit ball.

Minnesota: Scored five runs in three games against baseball's worst pitching staff from a year ago. Jason Hammel carried a no-hitter into the eighth on Sunday, while Jake Arrieta (5.05 ERA in 2011) threw seven shutout innings Friday and Tommy Hunter (5.06 ERA in 2011) allowed two unearned runs Saturday in seven innings of work. And to top things off, Carl Pavano's velocity is down, which Twins Daily's Parker Hageman is concerned about.

White Sox free agent focus: Turning to Marcell Ozuna to fill out the outfield

White Sox free agent focus: Turning to Marcell Ozuna to fill out the outfield

Baseball free agency is heating up as the weather gets colder. This week we are breaking down 10 potential free-agent targets for the White Sox ahead of the Winter Meetings.

Marcell Ozuna, OF, Cardinals

Age: 29

2019 salary: $12,250,000

2019 stats: .241 BA, .328 OBP, .472 SLG, .800 OPS, 29 HR, 89 RBI, 80 R, 12/14 SB 

What Ozuna would bring to the White Sox

Ozuna appeared on the verge of becoming an elite star like Anthony Rendon after a breakout season in 2017 with the Marlins. Ozuna came up at 22 and had decent years early in his career. He improved upon his first few years with 37 home runs, 124 RBIs and a .924 OPS as a 26-year-old.

Unlike Rendon, who broke through in 2017 and has sustained that for three seasons now, Ozuna's breakout year appears to be more of a flash in the pan. Ozuna was traded to the Cardinals before the 2018 season and saw a dropoff in his production.

His power and walk rate took big dips in 2018, although he bounced back in both last season. However, he hit .241, which was the lowest batting average of his career.

Ozuna had a career-high walk rate (11.3%) and had the second-best extra-base hit and home run rates of his career (he was only better in those areas in 2017). His strikeout rate (20.8%) was in line with his career average. So what went wrong? His batting average of balls in play was a career-worst .257, which suggests that maybe he's due for some form of bounce back in 2020 as far as batting average.

To simplify all that, Ozuna was good in some areas and inexplicably poor (and maybe unlucky) in others. Does that mean he will return to his big 2017 year wherever he signs? Probably not, but it does help to alleviate some of the feeling of risk for a player who has been inconsistent in his career.

Defensively, Ozuna has a Gold Glove on his resume from 2017, but the stats say he's just an average fielder. Not to mention, he's become infamous for this fielding gaffe.


What it would take to get him

He's young with a mostly positive track record offensively and if he can recreate his 2017 season offensively, he's an all-star outfielder. He won't be cheap, but he has enough question marks to come up just short of $20 million per year.

Ozuna should be able to get four or five years in the mid-to-upper teens per year, similar to fellow outfield free agent Nicholas Castellanos.

Why it's a fit for the White Sox

The White Sox need a corner outfielder. He fills a position of need, adds depth, patience and power to the lineup and won't be a liability in the field.

Ozuna isn't the splashiest signing the White Sox could make, but it makes a lot of sense for a lot of reasons.

Latest rumors

White Sox add flamethrowing Tayron Guerrero to bullpen

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USA TODAY

White Sox add flamethrowing Tayron Guerrero to bullpen

The White Sox added a flamethrower to their bullpen.

Tayron Guerrero is the newest member of the White Sox relief corps, the team claiming the 28-year-old right-hander off waivers from the Miami Marlins on Friday.

Guerrero's most eye-catching attribute is his triple-digit fastball. He averaged 98.9 mph on his four-seam fastball in 2019 and threw the second most 100-mph pitches (178) of any pitcher in baseball. He posted a 10.6 K/9 in 2018.

But throwing hard and giving up runs are two different things. In 2019, Guerrero had a 6.26 ERA, a number that jumped up from the already less-than-ideal 5.43 ERA he turned in a year prior. He also had some trouble locating said fireball, walking 36 batters in 46 relief innings in 2019 for a ridiculously high 7.0 BB/9.

Still, this type of addition was signaled as perhaps the primary way the White Sox would add to their bullpen this offseason. With so many other items on Rick Hahn's offseason to-do list and the back end of the bullpen being a pretty stable part of the roster, the general manager said that small signings and waiver claims would continue to be part of the strategy when it comes to making additions to the relief corps.

Hahn referenced the team's acquisitions of Evan Marshall, who was signed to a minor league contract last winter, and Jimmy Cordero, who was claimed off waivers in the middle of the 2019 season, as moves to emulate going forward.

"All 30 teams will tell you ... that adding more bullpen pieces is an offseason priority, and we're no exception," Hahn said during his end-of-season press conference in September. "Cordero's been a nice find, as has been Marshall, but that's not going to stop us from continuing to potentially take guys off waivers like Cordero or (sign) minor league free agents like Marshall.

"It's going to go into this offseason continuing to be a place we want to add because relievers are tricky. You see it every year, guys go from the top of the list to the bottom and back."

As Hahn frequently says, you can never have too much pitching, and while this might be a low-risk move, it could end up proving fruitful, as those Cordero and Marshall moves did.

Spending on money on more proven guys has also been a part of the White Sox strategy in this department in the recent past. Hahn's front office gave Kelvin Herrera a two-year deal just last winter. But as Herrera showed during a rough first year of that contract, even guys with good track records can lead to easy second-guessing on those kinds of deals. So building up depth through less splashy means figures to be a good idea, regardless of the results.

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