White Sox

White Sox offense struggles again in 6-2 loss to Indians

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White Sox offense struggles again in 6-2 loss to Indians

Even Carlos Rodon’s major league debut couldn’t wake the White Sox offense from its extended slumber.

Jose Abreu homered in the first inning and singled in a run in the eighth but the White Sox -- who got the tying man to the plate late -- were otherwise kept in check during a 6-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday night at U.S. Cellular Field.

Carlos Carrasco and six Indians relievers struck out 15 as the White Sox were held to two runs or fewer for the seventh time in 13 games.  

“You want to put it in play little bit more and make some people work,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “I think that’s part of the issue, too -- Carrasco has some great stuff.”

Carrasco and reliever Bryan Shaw brought their best in the few instances where the White Sox were primed to break through.

Tied at 1 in the third inning, the White Sox got the first two men aboard as Micah Johnson singled and Adam Eaton followed with a bunt single. But Carrasco got Cabrera --- who entered with six hits in 11 at-bats against the right-hander --- to hit into a double play and he struck Abreu out. Abreu had homered in the first inning to put the White Sox ahead 1-0, his fourth.

Abreu accounted for the team’s other run with an RBI single in the eighth to cut into Cleveland’s lead. But the White Sox left the bases loaded as Shaw took over and struck out Avisail Garcia to hold onto the four-run lead.

“Right now especially, pitchers are feeling good and they’re executing pitches really well right now,” said Johnson, who finished 1-for-3. “Carrasco threw Abreu a really good changeup. They’re executing pitches. Our guys are doing the same thing. The tides are going to turn at some point.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Rodon wasn’t able to execute as the White Sox immediately tested him.

The left-hander took over for Hector Noesi in a one-run game with runners on the corners in the top of the sixth and two outs. The team’s top prospect walked Brandon Moss on four pitches before Sox-killer Ryan Raburn blooped a 3-2 fastball into left for a two-run single and a 4-1 lead. Rodon, who gave up three hits and walked three in 2 1/3 innings, gave up two runs of his own in the seventh. He threw strikes on 29 of 60 pitches.

“Yeah a little bit of butterflies,” Rodon said. “It was fun to be out there, though. Considering.”

Noesi’s second start was much better than his first as he walked only one in 5 2/3 innings. The right-hander did surrender a game-tying solo homer to Carlos Santana in the second inning and David Murphy had a solo round-tripper in the fifth to pull ahead 2-1. The Indians got a one-out single from Jason Kipnis in the sixth and Michael Brantley followed with an infield single. With Noesi at 99 pitches, Ventura elected to bring in Rodon to face the left-handed Moss.

Noesi allowed four earned runs and four hits with a walk over 5 2/3 innings. He struck out five.

[MORE: Refurbished White Sox bullpen off to good start]

He kept the White Sox close but the offense went stagnant. Before their rally in the eighth, Indians pitchers set down 16 of 17 White Sox hitter starting with Carrasco’s strikeout of Abreu. Carrasco needed only 60 pitches as he struck out eight over five innings in his first game back since Cabrera lined a ball off his face in Cleveland last Tuesday.

White Sox hitters have struck out 103 times, an average of 7.9 per contest so far this season. The effort came on the heels of a 10-strikeout showing against Trevor Bauer on Monday.

“Both those guys (Bauer and Carrasco) have real good stuff and if you let them get ahead of you it’s a tough uphill battle with the weapons they have,” Flowers said. “

“We’ll come up with a new gameplan next time. They did a good job, at least in my at-bats against them. I didn’t really feel like I got any good pitches to hit.”

Focus shifting to major league White Sox, but they still have some of baseball's best prospects

Focus shifting to major league White Sox, but they still have some of baseball's best prospects

White Sox fans suddenly have reason to stop focusing on the minor leagues.

Rick Hahn's front office has done an incredible amount of work this winter adding impact veterans to the team's young core, and because of it, there are realistic playoff expectations on the South Side. The summer figures to be spent focusing on what Yasmani Grandal, Dallas Keuchel, Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Abreu, Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito, Tim Anderson, Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease are doing at the major league level rather than what the potential stars of the future are doing in the minors.

In other words, the future is here.

But it's worth noting that the White Sox still have some of the best prospects in the game. It's true that a few of the biggest names among that group won't be prospects for much longer. Luis Robert just got a high-priced contract extension that clears the way for him to be in the lineup on Opening Day. While Michael Kopech will be limited in some fashion as the White Sox manage his workload in his return from Tommy John surgery, it's hardly out of the question that he could be a part of the 26-man group that leaves Glendale at the end of March. And Nick Madrigal, Hahn has said, figures to be the White Sox second baseman for the bulk of the 2020 campaign after he reached the doorstep of the majors last year.

The point is, however, that the White Sox core is not done growing. Moncada, Giolito, Anderson and Jimenez all broke out in big ways in 2019, and the veterans added to that group could push the team into contention mode as soon as this season. But Robert, Kopech, Madrigal and Andrew Vaughn are set to join that core, too, expanding it to one the White Sox hope will power championship contenders for years to come.

The Athletic's Jim Bowden ranked Robert as his No. 1 prospect in baseball, picking the 22-year-old center fielder to win the AL Rookie of the Year Award. And that's no stretch after the way Robert lit the minor leagues on fire in 2019. Playing at three different levels, he slashed .328/.376/.624 with 32 home runs, 92 RBIs, 31 doubles, 108 runs scored and 36 stolen bases. He's a true five-tool threat who receives rave reviews that peg him as potentially the best of all the White Sox young talent. MLB Pipeline is in the middle of rolling out their rankings ahead of the 2020 season, and we'll learn where Robert ranks on the site's updated list next weekend during SoxFest. But most recently, Robert was the site's No. 3 prospect in the game.

Kopech still has prospect status despite the fact that he made his big league debut in August 2018. That Tommy John surgery limited his major league experience to this point to just four games, wiping out his 2019 season. Whether he'll be the same elite pitcher that was promised prior to his surgery is one of several important questions facing the 2020 White Sox, but it doesn't seem to be deterring the rankers. Bowden has Kopech as the No. 11 prospect in baseball, and MLB Pipeline ranked him as the No. 4 right-handed pitching prospect in the game. Kopech is said to still be capable of unleashing the blazing fastball that made him such a tantalizing prospect in the first place. The big question now is how often he'll be able to use it, with the White Sox planning to limit him in some capacity. We'll have to wait until spring to find out exactly what those limitations look like.

Madrigal might not spend a long time at Triple-A Charlotte, expected to be manning second base for the big league White Sox for the majority of the 2020 season. But like they did with Moncada, Jimenez and Robert before him, the White Sox have no plans to rush Madrigal to the majors. Bowden has him ranked as the No. 14 prospect in the game, and we'll find out soon where MLB Pipeline has him among second basemen. We already know they think the world of his glove — which was touted as Gold Glove caliber by the White Sox the night they drafted him in 2018 — naming him the second baseman on their all-defense team (he won a minor league Gold Glove for his work last season, too). MLB Pipeline also polled general managers, scouting directors and executives across all 30 teams, and Madrigal's name popped up often, voted to possess the third best hit tool, the third best glove and the highest baseball IQ among all of the game's prospects. The guy struck out just 16 times in 532 trips to the plate last season, so he's obviously doing something right.

Vaughn is receiving similarly rave reviews this winter. Bowden ranked him as the game's No. 35 prospect, and MLB Pipeline might end up putting the White Sox most recent first-round pick even higher, naming him the top first-base prospect in baseball. A slugger whose bat earned high praise when he came out of Cal last summer, Vaughn might not reach the South Side in 2020 like the rest of the guys discussed here. But he does figure to have a similar impact when he finally does. He played just 52 games between Class A Kannapolis and Class A Winston-Salem after joining the organization, hitting a combined five homers at those stops. He's still swinging the bat that launched 50 homers and drove in 163 runs over three seasons in college. That aforementioned MLB Pipeline executive poll? In it, Vaughn was picked as having the second best hit tool in the game. The White Sox just gave Abreu a three-year contract extension that will keep him on the South Side through at least the 2022 campaign, but the 37-year-old Encarnacion could be here as briefly as one year (his contract has an option for 2021), potentially opening up a spot for Vaughn should everything go right in the minors.

And this is without even mentioning guys like Dane Dunning, Jimmy Lambert and Jonathan Stiever, who could all wind up playing important roles on the pitching staff.

So while there is plenty of reason for your minor league interest to wane — because meaningful baseball is expected to be happening at the major league level in 2020 — know that the White Sox farm system (at least the tippy top of it) is still worth salivating over. These guys should be on the South Side soon, only adding fuel to the fire Hahn has built this winter.

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Could baseball's sign-stealing scandal lead to a manager's job for Ozzie Guillen?

Could baseball's sign-stealing scandal lead to a manager's job for Ozzie Guillen?

Will baseball's sign-stealing scandal have a silver lining for a South Side legend?

Three teams whose managers were caught up in the scandal are suddenly without skippers just a month away from the start of spring training: the Houston Astros, Boston Red Sox and New York Mets. The Astros' practice of stealing signs and relaying them to players on the field during their championship season in 2017 led to the firings of A.J. Hinch, Alex Cora and Carlos Beltran, creating three high-profile job openings.

January managerial searches aren't common, for obvious reasons, and while any or all of the teams in the market for a new manager could go about it as a regular search — potentially sticking with baseball's trend of young, inexperienced guys at the helm — there's a good argument to be made that an experienced skipper would be best to slide into that position this late in the offseason calendar.

There has been no shortage of suggested candidates, but one was conspicuously absent from an extensive list discussed on MLB Network, an experienced manager with a World Series championship on his resume. And that former manager was happy to point out the omission.

Guillen hasn't managed since 2012, after his one-year tenure leading the Miami Marlins came to an end. But he obviously turned in a legendary managerial career on the South Side, guiding the White Sox to a World Series win in 2005 and winning nearly 700 regular-season games during his eight seasons as skipper.

While the always outspoken Guillen does not exactly fit the trendy mold of an inexperienced manager with a close relationship to the front office, he's undoubtedly been successful running a major league team. That experience could prove valuable for any of the three teams that have seen their cultures get blown up in recent days.

Swooping in at the last minute to provide a steady hand for an organization in crisis isn't the typical way to land a long-term gig, and people with personalities like Guillen's are disappearing from managerial roles and the game, in general.

But the Astros, especially, as well as the Red Sox and Mets, to lesser degrees, are capable of winning. Guillen knows a thing or two about winning, and these front offices might want to keep that in mind as they're looking to fill these surprise vacancies.

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