White Sox

Rookie woes: Bears 2012 class struggling to stay healthy, make impact

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Rookie woes: Bears 2012 class struggling to stay healthy, make impact

NFL teams hope for impact contributions from the top of their rookie classes each year. One of the reasons Jerry Angelo is no longer general manager was a decided lack of impact or even modest contributions by too many individuals selected in Angelo drafts first three rounds.

Those hopes for the first draft class of GM Phil Emery are still on hold.

The Bears kept the top four of their six draft choices. Presuming Shea McClellin is forced to miss next Monday in San Francisco because of a concussion suffered against Houston, all four will have missed games with injuries, a combined 17 so far, including the nine by one on IR.

No. 1 Shea McClellin

No. 1 pick McClellin was gone with the concussion in the first series of the Houston game. Like Jay Cutler, his return is only a guess at this point.

Shea McClellin also is getting better, which you would like to happen, said coach Lovie Smith. Alshon Jeffery, hes been out for a while, hes getting better. So cant wait to get on the practice field and see exactly where we are.

No. 2 Alshon Jeffery

The second blow came in Jacksonville with wide receiver Alshon Jeffery breaking his hand and missing the last four games after playing his way into the starting lineup.

Whether Jeffery is fit to return for the San Francisco game on Monday is problematic but he was No. 2 in receptions at the time of the injury and still is behind only Brandon Marshall in touchdown catches (two). Only Marshall and tight end Kellen Davis have caught touchdown passes since Jefferys injury.

No. 3 Brandon Hardin

The group had a setback in preseason when No. 3 pick Brandon Hardin suffered a neck injury that cost him this season. But the cornerback-turned-safetys main work projected to be on special teams this season, depending upon the play of Chris Conte and Major Wright, which has been a significant positive through the years first half.

No. 4 Evan Rodriguez

Evan Rodriguez, selected in the fourth round as a pass-catching tight end out of Temple but turned into a blocking fullback to start the season, suddenly looms as a spot of much-needed hope for a struggling offense.

Rodriguez, the first of the rookies to crack the starting lineup, missed games with a knee injury and didnt play in the next two. He was back for Tennessee but is yet to catch a pass, although his role as a receiver is expected to increase in the wake of poor production from Davis and Matt Spaeth against Houston.

Davis will say it wasnt his best game, Smith said. Its as simple as that. Hell come back this week.

Bryce Harper 'warming up to the White Sox'? Is the future-focused pitch working?

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Bryce Harper 'warming up to the White Sox'? Is the future-focused pitch working?

LAS VEGAS — The White Sox remain in the hunt for Bryce Harper, according to one report after another, and as they jetted off to his hometown for their own kind of warm up at the Winter Meetings here in Sin City, maybe Harper's starting to warm up to the idea of playing on the South Side.

WBBM's George Ofman tweeted just that Monday morning, the latest Twitter link between the White Sox and the biggest fish in this winter's free-agent pond.

In pro sports, it's easy to say that it all comes down to money, and while that kind of blanket statement is not exactly true, money plays an obviously enormous role. The White Sox, simply by being in the mix, would have to be willing to hand out a contract that is expected to be the biggest the sport has ever seen.

There's a perception among certain White Sox fans that they will not do that. Well, consider it another preconceived notion that Hahn will be happy to shatter. He's talked often about how the team has flown in the face of those preconceptions over the past two years: that they wouldn't undergo a full-scale rebuild, that they wouldn't make a blockbuster deal with the Crosstown-rival Cubs. He's held the door open for more of that kind of behavior, and making a gargantuan contract offer would fall into that category.

And a gargantuan contract offer is what it would figure to take to get Harper, as high-spending clubs like the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies are also reportedly in the hunt. The Phillies have even promised to "spend stupid," which could price just about anybody out of a bidding war.

Plus, those teams can offer what the White Sox cannot: the ability to start winning championships, plural, right now.

The White Sox have big plans and a bright future, but they remain just plans. Meanwhile, the Yankees won 100 games last season, the Dodgers have been to each of the last two World Series and the Phillies made a big jump in their rebuilding effort last season and would figure to be a contender if Harper signed on.

But Hahn thinks that bright future is as big a selling point as any, and he's confident there's an allure to buying into such plans and seeing them through to a championship.

“You have to understand these guys are professionals and they understand deep nuances about each individual franchise,” the White Sox general manager said on a conference call last week. “And from a macro standpoint, the idea of potentially being part of a winner in Chicago has very broad appeal. From a nuanced standpoint, the chance to be part of the White Sox organization based upon what our future looks like, futures that these players are familiar with and understand having either seen personally some of these young players play or video or talked to other players about them, it’s something that they buy into.

“There’s an allure not just to winning in this city. But there’s an allure of being part of building something that’s potentially sustainable and potentially great. Where we were in Year 2 of a rebuild I don’t think really plays a huge role in the decision-making process of what a player is buying into in terms of the long term future.”

So is that what this whole "warming up" business is about? Is the White Sox pitch — which was reportedly aided by the presence of Hall of Famer Jim Thome — making an impact? Or is the contract offer simply the biggest out there?

Those questions remain unanswered. But, you would figure, it's going to take more than just money, and you would figure, it's going to take more than just the ability to win championships. So maybe the White Sox long-term focused pitch is working, maybe it's the right blend of money and winning and the ability to do something special that makes Harper "warm up" to the South Side.

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Another World Series contender with a bunch of highly ranked prospects has reportedly asked White Sox about Jose Abreu

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Another World Series contender with a bunch of highly ranked prospects has reportedly asked White Sox about Jose Abreu

LAS VEGAS — There's no knowing whether the White Sox actually want to trade Jose Abreu, but another report's out saying a World Series contender has asked about acquiring him.

First it was the Los Angeles Dodgers, who could offer quite a bit in young talent to further Rick Hahn's rebuilding effort. Ditto for the new team, the Houston Astros, the 2017 World Series champs, 2018 American League runners up, as good a pick for the 2019 championship as there is and a team with a bevy of highly rated prospects.

The latest info comes from the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo, who simply writes that the Astros have "inquired about Abreu." That's it. So much like last week's report out of Southern California, there's no indication of any interest in a deal on the White Sox part.

Last week, Hahn was asked about Abreu, who has one year remaining on his current contract, and had this to say:

"It’s still an ongoing process," he said of the decision-making on the team's best hitter. "We’ve made no secret about our affection for Jose and not only from a standpoint of what he contributes between the white lines but what he does in the clubhouse and the role he plays in not only a leadership role but the role he plays in being sort of the centerpiece of the franchise from a mature-player standpoint. In terms of how he fits going forward, this is the last year of contractual control."

It's appropriately vague as the White Sox have several different avenues they can travel down and no rush in which to make a decision.

As Hahn said, the White Sox do love Abreu, constantly praising the incredible production he's had since coming over from Cuba before the 2014 season as well as what he does in the clubhouse as a model for young players. He's taken an active role in the rebuilding process by taking the likes of Yoan Moncada under his wing. And that production is of course valuable in the middle of any lineup. Thanks to an unusual prolonged slump and a pair of freak injuries, Abreu was not able to make it five straight seasons with at least 25 home runs and 100 RBIs to start his career, but despite his worst statistical season as a big leaguer, he was the AL's starting first baseman in the All-Star Game and a Silver Slugger winner.

The White Sox might look at all that production — and the off-the-field contributions — and see no reason why it would stop, making Abreu a logical piece of the long-term puzzle as things shift from rebuilding to contending and a perfect candidate for a contract extension.

But Abreu's age is advancing (he'll be 32 next month), and though they know why it happened, 2018's statistical dropoff was a big one, with Abreu posting career lows in batting average, on-base percentage, home runs, RBIs, hits, total bases and games played. Not to mention, the White Sox only have one more year of control, and with a potentially appealing return package, they could opt to cash in via trade, be it now or at the trade deadline next summer.

What can the Astros offer? Quite a bit, potentially. They, like the Dodgers, boast four prospects ranked in MLB Pipeline's top 100, including two of the top eight in the game: outfielder Kyle Tucker is just two spots behind White Sox top prospect Eloy Jimenez, and pitcher Forrest Whitley is only three spots behind Tucker.

Again, who knows if the White Sox would want to part with a player and a person they value so highly. But there's no doubting that the organization's collection of minor league talent could get better if they do.

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