White Sox

White Sox Notes, Nonsense: Where are they now?

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White Sox Notes, Nonsense: Where are they now?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Posted: 2:53 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

CHICAGO With a number of ex-Chicago White Sox turning up on the transaction wires as spring training camps broke, lets catch up on where some former Pale Hose are plying their wares:

Jose Contreras has just been named the closer in Philadelphia, as Phillies closer Brad Lidge has succumbed to a partially torn rotator cuff and will miss up to six weeks. Contreras is the rare pitcher whos found success outside of the White Sox and their pitching guru Don Cooper (although to be fair, it was Cooper who rescued Contreras career on at least a couple of occasions). With the Colorado Rockies in 2009 and Phillies last season, Contreras has, improbably, turned into a formidable reliever, starting just two of 74 games and notching four saves. His ERA since leaving Chicago is 2.58, compared to a healthy 4.66 in six seasons on the South Side.

In less sunny White Sox ex-pitcher news, J.J. Putz delayed the opening of his spring training work as the new Arizona Diamondbacks closerretiring just four batters in Cactus League actionwhile battling back stiffness. He had a so-so final tune-up against a Mexican League club Tuesday, recording three strikeouts but also allowing three baserunners and a run, with his fastball topping out at just 93 mph. Putz wasnt great with save opportunities a year ago, with far south of a 50 success rate, and that was when he was apparently healthy for much of the summer. He would have been better suited setting up or alternating save opportunities with best buddy Matt Thornton here in Chicago.
More from Ballantini: Konerko, not always the King?

Is it possible that Freddy Garcia refused to enter 2011 as a prospective White Sox long reliever, then changed his tune in Gotham, when he came close to being cut from the New York Yankees? Garcia and the White Sox were always a perfect match, and while the muculent hurler appeared to be squeezed out by a White Sox rotation that numbered six in the offseason, he signed on in New Yorkand a coaching staff unversed in treating him, both physically and emotionallyfor just 500,000 more than he made in Chicago during his resurgent 2010 campaign. Garcia did finish spring strong, allowing a run on four hits, with two walks and three strikeouts in 4 23 innings Tuesday in a win over the Detroit Tigers, but expect a scary summer from Sweaty Freddy under the bright lights of the big city.

Jon Garland, plying his wares as somewhat of a journeyman pitcher since being dealt from the White Sox to the Los Angeles Angels for Orlando Cabrera in 2007, signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers but will miss Opening Day with a strained oblique muscle. Garland is now 131-114 over 11 major league seasons, with a 4.32 overall ERA thats a touch lower than his 4.41 ERA over eight seasons in Chicago.

Jayson Nix, who scraped his way onto the 2010 White Sox before getting cut loose and left for the Cleveland Indians to employ, was dealt from the Wahoos to the Toronto Blue Jays, where Nix will occupy his perpetual bench spot. The 28-year-old put up a .677 OPS for the two teams last year, occasionally flashing say-what power but mostly being mediocre.

READ: Beer options at U.S. Cellular Field changing

Once a rising star for the White Sox, John Shelby was dealt to the Tampa Rays for future considerations. Shelby regressed last year at AA Birmingham, with a .705 OPS and just 15 steals in 440 plate appearances. In five seasonsnone above AA, Shelby put up a .785 OPS and compiled 105 steals.

On a similar note, former first-rounder Kyle McCulloch was sold to the Cincinnati Reds. The Texans five seasons were considerably less productive for the White Sox, going 33-40 with a 4.54 ERA and 1.48 WHIP. In his last-gasp season at AAA Charlotte, McCulloch put up a 5.94 ERA in 24 games.

Fan favorite Joe Crede had signed with the Rockies in February, but opted not to report to spring training, so hes a free agent, likely battling some form of back trouble, and looking forward to a new season of University of Missouri basketball hoops this winter.

Josh Fields, forever a part of White Sox lore for his grand slam to provide Mark Buehrle all the cushion he needed in his 2009 perfect game vs. the Rays, has bounced from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Rockies, who are apparently bent on collecting Chicagos hot corner castoffs. Fields was dealt to Kansas City in the Mark Teahen trade two Novembers ago, and hit three homers in 13 games with the Royals while battling injury all season. Fields caught on with the Pittsburgh as a free agent, but failed to break camp with the Pirates.
READ: Who could the White Sox least afford to lose?

The other half of that Teahen trade, Chris Getz, is faring much better for the Royals. The 25-year-old is basically Kansas Citys Gordon Beckham, batting second (vs. righties, at least) and playing second. Of course, thats where the comparisons end, as Getz played only about half the time for the Royals a season ago, compiling a beyond-paltry .579 OPS.

And finally, Kip Wells, a key component of the worst trade Ken Williams has made as GM of the White Sox, has caught on with the Diamondbacks after last pitching for the Long Island Ducks of the Independent Atlantic League. Wells had been cut by Cincinnati prior to the 2010 season, and put up a 4.00 ERA in 27 innings in the northeast. Wells, who owns a 4.71 career ERA over 11 seasons, was dealt to the Pirates along with Josh Fogg and Sean Lowe for Todd Ritchie. None of the three pitchers dealt went on to superstardom, but Ritchie was so abominable in 2002 in Chicago (5-15, 6.06 ERA) that he would never pitch in the majors again.

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

Enter the mystery team: The Manny Machado sweepstakes is getting kind of mysterious

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USA TODAY

Enter the mystery team: The Manny Machado sweepstakes is getting kind of mysterious

You're more than welcome to believe or not believe in the idea of the "mystery team." But accounts of the reported existence of such mysterious teams are growing in the previously down-to-two Manny Machado sweepstakes.

We all thought this was down to the White Sox and the Philadelphia Phillies — and maybe it still is — two teams with financial flexibility and visions of a bright future vying for the 26-year-old superstar, one of the two biggest names on this winter's free-agent marker and one of the best players in baseball.

The White Sox have made their offer. As for how rich it is and how long it is, it seems to depend on who you're talking to at any given moment. Our Chuck Garfien reported last week that it's fewer than eight years in length and worth "less than what's being reported." At the time, that latter descriptor seemed to mean less than the $250 million reported by ESPN's Jeff Passan. But then came a report from ESPN's Buster Olney that the offer was worth $175 million over seven years. Machado's agent, Dan Lozano, didn't like that one bit and released a formal statement calling the report "reckless."

And so now we have a new flurry of reports pointing to the involvement — perhaps heavy involvement — of a mysterious mystery team.

Let's start on Friday, when Machado's dad told Hector Gomez that in addition to the White Sox — who prior to this had the only reported offer on the table for Machado — the Phillies, New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers have all made offers.

That raised more than a few eyebrows, considering the Yankees appeared to be out of the derby after acquiring a pair of free-agent infielders in Troy Tuolwitzki and D.J. LeMahieu and were spending money elsewhere, notably on giving themselves the most terrifying bullpen in baseball. And this was the first mention anywhere of the Dodgers, the team Machado played for during the second half of last season, going all the way to the World Series. But he was only a Dodger because of an injury to shortstop Corey Seager. The Dodgers no longer need a replacement with Seager back, and they don't need a third baseman with Justin Turner at the hot corner. So where exactly would Machado play if he stayed in L.A.?

And then came the mystery team. According to Fancred's Jon Heyman, there exists a mystery team, and it's possible that team is the current high-bidder.

And Mr. Machado agrees.

SNY's Andy Martino had some more details, saying Machado is still having meetings and met with at least one mystery team in recent days. He said the mystery team is not the Yankees, though they have "kept an open line of communication" with Machado's people and aren't out. He's also eliminated the Atlanta Braves.

OK. So where does that leave us? The Machado sweepstakes could be bigger than we thought it was just a few days ago, with another team or more entering the bidding and perhaps able to top the White Sox reported offer — however close to $175 million or $200 million it might be.

The Phillies, as is the case with the White Sox, are still in pursuit of the other huge name on the free-agent market, Bryce Harper. The "spend stupid" Phillies could be trying to create a baseball version of the Miami Heat and lure both guys to the City of Brotherly Love. That would be an expensive proposition, of course. But the Phillies' pursuit of both guys could be what's throwing a wrench into this whole process.

But it's also likely that Lozano is looking for a bigger contract offer than the one(s) Machado currently has. After all, the expectations at the beginning of the offseason were that Machado and Harper could both receive record-breaking deals. There was talk of a $400 million contract or two. There were expectations of heavy competition for two of the best players in the game, both of whom are just 26 years old and firmly in their primes. That's not how it's played out, though, with just two or three teams in on both players. And while Harper reportedly turned down a $300 million contract offer from the Washington Nationals, if Machado's biggest offer is south of $200 million, that is shocking in comparison to those early expectations, regardless of how good it might be for the team that could get him to sign such an offer.

The White Sox seem to remain in good position to actually win this thing. They have made their offer, while it's unclear if other teams have or haven't. They have a strong pitch of Machado as the centerpiece playing alongside Eloy Jimenez, Michael Kopech, Dylan Cease, Luis Robert and others for the better part of the next decade. They can offer what no other team can in the opportunity to play alongside Yonder Alonso and Jon Jay, two of Machado's good friends from Miami and, in Alonso's case, his brother-in-law.

Machado supposedly prefers to play for the Yankees, though as Martino reports it's still unlikely there's a match there. Martino has also reported that Machado will take the biggest contract offer out there, and so the waiting could be because his agent thinks he can get a bigger one. Whether the biggest offer ends up coming from the White Sox, the Phillies, the Yankees or the mysterious bidder behind Door No. 4 (during the week, we had some thoughts on who that might be, by the way) remains to be seen.

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Remember That Guy: Chris Snopek

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USA TODAY

Remember That Guy: Chris Snopek

Chris Snopek was born September 20, 1970 in Cynthiana, KY. He was a multi-sport standout in high school, averaging 18.5 points and 8.0 assists on the hardwood, as well as hitting .576 with 20 HR as a senior on the diamond. He was a standout third baseman/shortstop at Ole Miss, hitting .407/.491/.725 with 13 home runs and 62 RBI (a school-record at the time) in 54 games as a junior. The White Sox made him a 6th round draft pick in 1992.

In 1994, Snopek played for the Double-A Birmingham Barons, where he was one of two players on the team with 50+ RBI and 50+ walks. The other one was Michael Jordan.By 1995, Snopek hit .323/.402/.494 with 12 HR in 113 games for Nashville (AAA); that batting average good for second in the American Association. He made his MLB Debut on July 31, 1995, going 2 for 3 with a run, RBI, walk and stolen base as the starting third baseman. The 6’1” right-handed infielder drew a walk in each of his first five career MLB games; the first White Sox player to do so since Ray Morehart in 1924.

The White Sox had Robin Ventura at third and Ozzie Guillen at short, so Snopek had to settle for a start here and a start there. He was sent back down to the minors but returned in September. On September 20, 1995, Snopek connected for his first career home run; the blast coming off Indians starter Joe Roa. The milestone round tripper came on Snopek’s 25th birthday. He remains the only player in White Sox history whose first career home run came on his birthday. It was his lone homer of 1995, though Snopek did quite well in his first taste of MLB action, hitting .324 (22 for 68), .407 vs lefties (11 for 27) in 22 games.

Entering the 1996 season, he was the #52 overall prospect according to Baseball America (in between Jason Varitek and Dustin Hermanson); topping the White Sox organizational top ten:

White Sox top 10 prospects according to Baseball America entering 1996

  1. Chris Snopek
  2. Jeff Abbott
  3. Scott Ruffcorn
  4. James Baldwin
  5. Jeff Liefer
  6. Mike Cameron
  7. Jimmy Hurst
  8. Luis Andujar
  9. McKay Christensen
  10. Greg Norton

Snopek started the 1996 season in a utility role, making spot starts at third and short as well as pinch hitting. On April 28, 1996, he became the first White Sox shortstop to start and hit cleanup since Ron Hansen in 1967 (Only José Valentín & Alexei Ramírez have done it since). In limited duty, Snopek hit 6 home runs in 1996 – all off lefties.

Snopek got his chance in 1997 when Robin Ventura suffered an ankle injury, getting the nod as the opening day third baseman. He went 0 for 5 that game and never got it going, hitting .218/.263/.319 in 86 games. The following season, after struggling to the tune of .208/.291/.248 in 53 games, Snopek was traded to the Red Sox at the end of August, where he finished the season and as fate would have it, his MLB career, with eight final games. He bounced around the minors the next four seasons.

In 2017, Snopek and a business partner purchased P360 Performance Sports in Jackson, Mississippi, where they offer baseball training facilities and instruction programs. Snopek also serves as the Assistant Varsity Baseball Coach at Madison Ridgeland Academy in Mississippi.

Chris Snopek… remember that guy?