White Sox

Why rebuilding White Sox have something to play for down the stretch

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AP

Why rebuilding White Sox have something to play for down the stretch

MINNEAPOLIS -- Who says the rebuilding White Sox don’t have anything to play for in September and October?

Of utmost importance is the potential for development of White Sox rookies who have reached the majors, a group that includes Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Nicky Delmonico, amongst others.

But beyond that is another critical aspect: With 30 games left on the schedule after Thursday, the White Sox are locked in a battle for first. At 52-79 overall, the White Sox are well within striking distance of the Philadelphia Phillies for the worst record in baseball and the privilege to make the first overall pick in the June 2018 amateur draft.

Currently, the White Sox own the third-worst record in the majors. The San Francisco Giants — who come to Guaranteed Rate Field for three games on Sept. 8-10 — have the second-worst mark at 53-82 overall. The Cincinnati Reds (56-77) and Oakland A’s (58-75) round out the top five prior to Thursday’s results.

While it’s nowhere close to as significant as winning a division or, there’s little question about how much impact possessing a top pick and the larger signing bonus pool attached to it can have on an organization. Given the early talk about the 2018 draft class, the White Sox appear to be in great shape to add more impact talent to an already loaded farm system.

“It’s a better draft all around from a depth and impact standpoint,” amateur scouting director Nick Hostetler said, adding it’s potentially the best class since 2010.

The potential for adding a top-three talent via the amateur draft could leave White Sox players and coaches and a portion of the team’s fan base at odds for the final month of the season.

With a team full of inexperience, White Sox players are hungry and looking to sew up future roster spots by showing off their talent. The Giolitos and Lopezes and Moncadas are intent upon improvement and highly unlikely to put their own careers in jeopardy in order to secure the franchise a better draft pick. They want to win and do everything they can to make themselves a prominent part of the club’s future.

“Everybody wants to come out, as far as the players are concerned, you want to come out and play to win,” manager Rick Renteria said. “I think the word rebuild adds a connotation of it doesn’t really matter what goes on and it couldn’t be further from the truth. These guys are trying to go out and exemplify what they’re supposed to be as a team and individuals as trying to continue to perform the things that are necessary to win ballgames.”

On the other side of things, many White Sox fans have fully embraced The Tank. They want a high pick so the team can select Seth Beer, Jarred Kelenic or Brice Turang or any other number of players.

One hundred losses and a first pick? Many fans say bring it on.

It’s yet another strange position in a calendar year full of them.

At the same time, this is exactly where the White Sox have been headed all along. You don’t trade Chris Sale and Adam Eaton off a 78-win roster and expect to improve.

General manager Rick Hahn made it clear this spring that the White Sox would keep the big picture in mind all along in 2017. If the White Sox were going to win, they would have to do it with the players they already had. No short-term trades would be made and prospects wouldn’t be rushed to fill voids at the major league level.

Though the White Sox had plenty of zest in the season’s first two months and hung around longer than most suspected they would, Hahn had no qualms about ripping apart the 25-man roster in July with a series of trades.

Still, as much as Hahn might like to hold the first pick come next June, he doesn’t want to sacrifice critical development to get there.

“There’s been no secret made about what we're trying to accomplish as an organization,” Hahn said earlier this month. “That's been clear since well before the start of spring training, and the players have understood the opportunities that are here for them, in the now, based on that long-term approach that we're taking. Again, I can't say enough about the work that Ricky and the coaches have done in terms of preparing this team on a daily basis and making the most out of what they have on a given night on their roster.”

Should make for an interesting month.

Report: White Sox sign former Tigers catcher James McCann

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USA TODAY

Report: White Sox sign former Tigers catcher James McCann

It's no Bryce Harper or Manny Machado splash, but the White Sox reportedly made a rather substantial move on Friday.

According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the White Sox and former Tigers catcher James McCann have agreed upon a deal. The move is pending a physical.

Fancred's Jon Heyman reported that the deal is for $2.5 million, while The Athletic's James Fegan said it is for one-year.

McCann, 28, made his MLB debut in 2014 and has spent his entire MLB career with the Tigers. He is a career .240 hitter and posted a slash line of .220/.267/.314 in 118 games/427 at-bats with the Tigers in 2018. While he hit just eight home runs, McCann reached double digits in 2016 (12) and 2017 (13).

Offensive numbers aside, McCann is a solid defensive catcher. Since 2015, he has ranked third or better in the American League in throwing out runners, finishing second in 2016-18.

McCann's 36.8 caught stealing percentage is third best by active catchers in MLB, only trailing Yadier Molina (40.7 percent) and Martin Maldonado (37.6).

Adding McCann helps the White Sox bolster their catching depth for 2019. This offseason has seen the team lose Kevan Smith to the Angels on waivers and Omar Narvaez in a trade with the Mariners that netted potential-closer Alex Colomé.

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Who's the next White Sox Hall of Famer?

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USA TODAY

Who's the next White Sox Hall of Famer?

Harold Baines is in the Hall. Last Sunday’s announcement totally took me (and a lot of others) by surprise.

I was ecstatic to see the news. Baines was one of my favorite players growing up. I loved that iconic leg kick. When they traded him to the Rangers in 1989, nine-year-old me was devastated.

Now that Harold’s in, who should be the next White Sox Hall of Famer? Here are six candidates:

Minnie Miñoso

If you haven’t already, read this:

I’ll summarize (though you really should read it). Miñoso had power, speed and on-base ability. His career may have been delayed due to the color line. If one feels his MLB career isn’t enough, his Negro League career and his role as a pioneer for black Latino ballplayers are plenty to make up the difference.

Dick Allen

Dick Allen hit 351 career home runs. His slashline of .292/.378/.534 is very impressive, even more so when placed in the context of his era. The 1960s was a tough period for hitters. That being said, 1,749 games and 1,848 career hits don’t jump off the page. According to WAR, he’s borderline (61.3 Fangraphs, 58.7 Baseball-Reference). But when you dig a little deeper…

Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+) measures offensive production comparing to league average and adjusting for ballpark. 100 is league average, any point above or below represents one percent above or below league average. Dick Allen had a career wRC+ of 155, meaning he was 55% better than league average for his career. That’s incredibly good. How good?

Career wRC+

(minimum 5,000 career plate appearances)

Boldface = Hall of Famer

1. Babe Ruth, 197

2. Ted Williams, 188

3. Lou Gehrig, 173

Rogers Hornsby, 173

5. Barry Bonds, 173

6. Mickey Mantle, 170

7. Ty Cobb, 165

Joe Jackson, 165

9. Stan Musial, 158

Jimmie Foxx, 158

11. Mark McGwire, 157

Johnny Mize, 157

Tris Speaker, 157

14. Mel Ott, 156

Dan Brouthers, 156

16. Joey Votto, 155

Dick Allen, 155

18. Willie Mays, 154

Frank Thomas, 154

Hank Greenberg, 154

There are 1,007 players with at least 5,000 career plate appearances. Allen is tied for SIXTEENTH. Dick Allen isn’t just on a list of good players. He’s listed among top tier all-time greats.

Billy Pierce

Pierce was arguably the best American League pitcher of the 1950s, and perhaps the third best in the Majors (behind Robin Roberts and Warren Spahn). He posted a career ERA of 3.27 (119 ERA+ 19 percent above league average) in over 3,000 innings and was one strikeout short of 2,000. He had 211 career wins and was the only pitcher during the 1950s to post a qualified ERA under 2 (1.97 in 1955).

Billy Pierce WAR Career 1950s 1950s MLB rank 1950s AL rank
Fangraphs WAR 52.5 43.6 3rd 1st
Baseball-Ref WAR 53.2 43.7 3rd 1st

Mark Buehrle

Buehrle compiled 60.3 pitching WAR according to Baseball-Reference.com. That’s the fifth most by a pitcher currently not in the Hall of Fame, behind Tommy John (62.5), CC Sabathia (62.2), Clayton Kershaw (62.1) and Andy Pettitte (60.7). He was remarkably durable; one of only eight pitchers in MLB history with at least 14 consecutive seasons of 200+ innings. The other seven are in the Hall of Fame.

He had 214 career wins; only three active pitchers have at least 200 (Bartolo Colón 247, CC Sabathia 246 and Justin Verlander 204). Buehrle tossed a pair of no-hitters (one perfect) and was a key member of the 2005 World Series championship rotation. He was a five-time All-Star and a four-time Gold Glove winner. His career ERA+ of 117 (adjusted for league and ballpark; 17 percent above league average) is better than Steve Carlton (115), Fergie Jenkins (115), Phil Niekro (115), Jim Bunning (115), Robin Roberts (113), Nolan Ryan (112), Don Sutton (108), Early Wynn (107) and Catfish Hunter (104).

Joe Jackson

Among players with 2,500 career plate appearances with the White Sox, the Shoeless One is the career leader in batting average (.340). He’s also the Indians career leader in batting average (.375). His career average of .356 ranks third all-time behind Ty Cobb and Rogers Hornsby. He had a career on-base percentage of .423 (17th all-time).

Babe Ruth made the home run popular at the dawn of the Roaring 20s. Joe Jackson posted career highs of 12 home runs and 121 RBI in 1920, and then his career came to an end. He was banned for life because of his role in the 1919 Black Sox scandal. Could he have embraced the home run craze? Could he have had a run of 30 or 40-home run seasons for the White Sox had he remained in the game? Unfortunately we’ll never know. Shoeless Joe Jackson wasn’t a mythical figure from a popular movie. He was a legitimate all-time great.

Paul Konerko

Konerko is the next White Sox star to reach the BBWAA ballot, set to make his debut in 2020. He was the heart of the 2005 offense that went on to win the World Series, taking home ALCS MVP honors. Konerko is second in franchise history with 432 home runs and 1,383 RBI, behind only Frank Thomas in both categories. Overall, Konerko had 439 HR (only 43 players in MLB history have more) and 1,412 RBI (75th all-time) with a respectable .279/.354/.486 career slashline. He had seven 30-HR seasons and six 100-RBI campaigns; a six-time All-Star. The White Sox erected a statue in Konerko’s honor in 2014 and his No. 14 was retired by the White Sox the following year.

 

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