White Sox

X marks a tough spot for Guillen, White Sox

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X marks a tough spot for Guillen, White Sox

Friday, Sept. 16, 2011Posted: 7:50 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com White Sox InsiderFollow @CSNChi_Beatnik
READ: Six-man saving sputter out

KANSAS CITY With the Chicago White Sox finally eliminated, the reality sunk in for manager Ozzie Guillen, whose combination of head cold and depression over losing out on the playoffs stringing his pregame sessions longer and longer.

This is a hard moment, especially when your expectation was to win the division and fight all the way through it, he said. Mentally, you have to overcome whatever it is to finish strong. Me? I have a passion and love for the game. Every game to me, I dont want to say I treat the same, but I take the same approach. Im not going to change anything for whatever reason; after opening day, there are 161 to go. Same thing here.

The White Sox are measurably worse this year than a year ago, when on Sept. 16 they were 79-67 and still had a faint flicker of life in the division race. Of course, a year ago marked the finish of sweep in Chicago at the hands of the Minnesota Twins, who would go on to win the division by six games over the White Sox. The Twins wouldnt clinch over Chicago until Sept. 20.

We get paid to deal with this thing the right way and the best way we can, Guillen said. No matter the excuses, you have to perform the right way. Obviously, the drive maybe is not there. But as soon as the game starts everybody has to go about their business.

For a manager who claims to rarely take games home with him, Guillen admits to being struck by the swift elimination of the White Sox this season.

I just talked to my wife about how very tough it is to go through it everything goes through your mind, like Wow, what did we do wrong? I put a lot of questions to myself, and the front office people and players do the same stuff: What could have been better? But at 7:05 or 7:10 game time, you have to play the game right. Thats what I expect from the players; I dont care if they have the desire or not. When the national anthem is over, they should be prepared to play, and play to win.

While all players cope in different ways with losses and elimination, the customarily quiet White Sox clubhouse remained no more so before Fridays game.

It should hit everyone: Im done. Its over with., Guillen said. How do you prepare yourself for the next day? Do you want to come back to the ballpark tomorrow? We play for pride, to win, finish off strong, but when its over, its over. When the referee counts 10, you cant get up anymore, its done. Throw in the towel, take a shower, and go home.

But as Guillen points out, baseball is not a 12-round prize fight.

This is baseball unfortunately we have to play another 10-12 days, he said, calling himself 'the loser.' I wish I could keep my quotes and remember how excited I was in spring training: Look at this ballclub, wow. Look at me now, what am I talking about? Second place, third place, wow.

A guy with less love for the game, Guillen said, wouldnt go through such suffering.

If I dont have the passion and love for this organization, for baseball, bro, Id pick up my stuff and go, Guillen said. What dont I have in baseball, a Silver Slugger? Everything else, I have: Playoff experience, coaching experience, manager experience, Gold Glove, Rookie of the Year, a lot of stuff, championships, everything.

Thus for Guillen, without winning, theres nothing.

Theres nothing better than winning, I dont care what people say, he said. Winning is the best thing. The accomplishment of what you went through, you dont care if the owner was mad at you in April, if you had a confrontation with a player, people dont care what I say in the paper, its all beautiful. When you lose, all the stuff comes out, boom boom. This guys fault, that guys fault, blame this guy and that guy. At the end of the day were all here together, were all pulling on the same rope.

And Guillen finished his thoughts on this lost season again by defending those who put this team together and paid the bills.

If you want to blame somebody, dont blame the man, Guillen said. Blame me, because we didnt do what we were supposed to do. A lot of people are going to say Adam Dunn, Alex Rios, Gordon Beckham, we only have two guys win 10 games but as a team, you have to blame all the Chicago White Sox. The players, coaches, were the only ones who can control winning. We didnt do that, we didnt do the job. We failed once again.

"A lot of people think Don Cooper is an unbelievable f------ pitching coach but nobody has won 15 games yet. Everybody thinks Im the greatest manager in the g----- game, but I only won once. Its about what you win, what you can do, what you bring to the table We just didnt perform the way we thought we were going to perform. Whoever was here for 162 games and whoever wrote the lineup, blame them. Dont blame Jerry or Kenny, or anybody else. They did a good job putting this team together. Whoever was wearing this uniform failed.

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

Eloy's comin' to Charlotte, but how long before he's playing on the South Side?

Eloy's comin' to Charlotte, but how long before he's playing on the South Side?

The No. 1 prospect in the White Sox loaded farm system got a step closer to playing in the major leagues Thursday.

Eloy Jimenez was the headliner in a ridiculously large number of promotions throughout the organization that signaled that despite a 25-games-under-.500 record at the big league level, the rebuilding effort is progressing nicely.

But antsy fans and observers who want to see the fruits of that effort land on the South Side as soon as possible have the same question now that Jimenez is a Charlotte Knight as they did when he was a Birmingham Baron: When will he be inserted into Rick Renteria's everyday lineup?

Director of player development Chris Getz didn’t have that answer Thursday when he was discussing all the minor league movement. But he outlined exactly what’s had White Sox fans salivating over the idea of Jimenez in the major league lineup.

“He’s done nothing but hit with us, and he’s continuing to do that,” Getz said on the conference call. “He’s driving the ball to all fields with power. The hit tool is very good, as well. He’s hammering fastballs. Talking about maturity, he’s definitely beyond his years in how he handles the game as a whole.

“When he steps into the box, it seems that you’re looking at a guy that plays in the big leagues already, and he’s not. He’s controlling the zone, he’s driving the ball, he’s making good decisions. We’ll see what he can do up at Charlotte.”

With Jimenez mashing at Birmingham this season — to the tune of .317/.368/.556 with 10 homers and 42 RBIs in 53 games — plenty have wondered why a pit stop at Charlotte is even necessary. General manager Rick Hahn has answered that question in the past, pointing to the different kind of pitching that Jimenez will face, and Getz echoed that thinking Thursday.

“At Charlotte, you’re going to run into guys that have a little more experience,” Getz said. “Some may have pitched in the big leagues, some might have been labeled those ‘4-A’ types. But what comes with that is more off-speed pitches, pitching backwards, being able to locate a little bit more. It will be interesting to see how he does respond with guys attacking him a little bit differently.

“We as an organization believe he’s going to be able to accomplish pretty much the same type of things he’s been accomplishing at Charlotte.”

That would be good news for those eagerly awaiting Jimenez’s arrival in Chicago because if he dominates at the plate at Triple-A the way he did at Double-A, then another promotion could be a possibility before the 2018 major league season runs out.

Of course before that happens, the White Sox want Jimenez to master things at the Triple-A level. Hahn mentioned before the season started that a good developmental season could end without Jimenez joining the big league squad at all. Like with all things in this rebuilding effort, the White Sox are going to be patient and do what’s best for the long term.

“He’s never played at Triple-A,” Getz said about a player who prior to joining the White Sox organization last summer had never played above Class A. “Now do I have full confidence that he’s going to go up there and hit? Sure. I absolutely do.

“If he continues to do so and forces our hand, we’re certainly going to have that conversation about him coming to Chicago. Let’s just get him in the lineup tonight and see what he can do.”

Eloy Jimenez and a bunch of White Sox prospects get promoted as the rebuild advances

Eloy Jimenez and a bunch of White Sox prospects get promoted as the rebuild advances

For White Sox fans focused on what’s happening at the major league level, there’s understandable frustration over the team’s 25-games-below-.500 record.

But in the minor leagues, progress is happening, and there was no more tangible sign of that than Thursday, when a host of the organization’s highly touted prospects, including top-ranked prospect Eloy Jimenez, were promoted.

Jimenez, ranked as the No. 3 prospect in all of baseball, is the biggest name of the bunch. He’s moving on up from Double-A Birmingham to Triple-A Charlotte, joining top-ranked pitching prospect Michael Kopech as being just a step away from playing on the South Side.

Jimenez got a late start to the season while recovering from an injury, but he’s put up impressive numbers, with a .317/.368/.556 slash line to go along with 10 home runs, 42 RBIs and 15 doubles in 53 games.

Plenty of fans and observers have deemed Jimenez ready for the majors right now, but general manager Rick Hahn had said for a while that Jimenez would play at the Triple-A level, citing the different way pitchers will attack him as a hitter and the oft-discussed boxes that the White Sox need to see every prospect check (the reason Kopech is still playing at Triple-A).

Jimenez is the organization’s top-ranked prospect, but the White Sox have created an unbelievable depth of highly touted guys and a lot of them were on the move Thursday, too.

Luis Robert, who just recently started his season after recovering from a thumb injury, was moved from Class A Kannapolis to Class A Winston-Salem, as Hahn said he would just a little while ago. Robert was the victim of overcrowding in the Winston-Salem outfield, a problem somewhat remedied by Thursday’s moves. The No. 3 prospect in the White Sox system and the No. 24 prospect in baseball, Robert slashed .289/.360/.400 with four RBIs and four stolen bases in just 13 games.

Dylan Cease, acquired with Jimenez in last summer’s crosstown trade with the Cubs, was promoted from Class A Winston-Salem to Double-A Birmingham. Cease is the organization’s No. 5 prospect and the No. 52 prospect in the game. He went 9-2 with a 2.89 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 71.2 innings with Winston-Salem.

Luis Alexander Basabe was one of the bigger stories of the first half of the minor league season, sticking out among a group of highly productive outfielders at Class A Winston-Salem. He was promoted to Double-A Birmingham after slashing .266/.370/.502 with nine homers, 12 doubles and five triples to go along with 30 RBIs in 58 games. Basabe is ranked the No. 13 prospect in the White Sox organization.

Luis Gonzalez tore it up in the first half at Class A Kannapolis, and last year’s third-round pick was promoted to Class A Winston-Salem. Ranked as the No. 18 prospect in the White Sox system, Gonzalez slashed .300/.358/.491 with eight homers, 16 doubles, 26 RBIs and seven stolen bases in 55 games.

Ian Hamilton was promoted from Double-A Birmingham to Triple-A Charlotte after posting a pencil-thin 1.78 ERA in 21 relief appearances. The No. 19 prospect in the White Sox organization racked up 12 saves in 13 save opportunities with the Barons and allowed just five earned runs in his 25.1 innings. Hamilton is a name to watch considering the bullpen of the future is far less defined than the White Sox rotation of the future.

Seby Zavala, ranked as the White Sox No. 21 prospect, showed during the first half that his prospect ranking should perhaps be much higher. He’s moving from Double-A Birmingham to Triple-A Charlotte after slashing .271/.358/.472 with 11 home runs and 31 RBIs in 56 games.

Alex Call, a third-round pick in 2016, was promoted from Class A Winston-Salem to Double-A Birmingham. Call slashed .256/.368/.421 with 19 extra-base hits and 28 RBIs in 56 games.

Joel Booker, who famously stole home for a walk-off win earlier this season and also won the South Atlantic League All-Star Game MVP award this week, was promoted from Class A Winston-Salem to Double-A Birmingham after he slashed .297/.389/.468 21 extra-base hits and 14 stolen bases in 53 games.

Blake Battenfield, taken in the 17th round of last year’s draft, starred for Class A Kannapolis in the first half with a 2.00 ERA in 13 starts. He struck out 69 batters in 67.2 innings and earned a promotion to Class A Winston-Salem.

Lincoln Henzman, another 2017 draftee, selected in the fourth round, was also promoted from Class A Kannapolis to Class A Winston-Salem. He had a 2.23 ERA and 60 strikeouts in his 13 starts with the Intimidators.