White Sox

Steve Stone mailbag: Time to worry about Sox?

233341.jpg

Steve Stone mailbag: Time to worry about Sox?

Friday, Aug. 13, 2010
1:30 PM
Steve Stone dives into his mailbag to answer your questions about the White Sox's recent struggles, the chances the Cubs trade Carlos Zambrano, and more!
Yosef B., Rochester, N.Y. -- With the White Sox recent struggles this past week or two, is this anything that we should worry about? What do the Sox have to do to regain their contender-style play?

Steve Stone: First of all, it's unrealistic to assume in a 30-game stretch that a team will win 25 again, which is what happened. As far as the recent lull, they won four of their last 10, which is two games worse than Minnesota, who won six of their last 10, hence the one game lead Minnesota enjoys in the Central. They won't be as hot as before, but they should be good enough to contend and possibly win down the stretch. If they continue to catch the baseball, they will be in fairly good shape. If they are better than Minnesota, then they will win; if not, they will lose. And on the realistic side of things, that's the way things are in baseball.

Frank T., St. Charles -- Has any full-time player ever had more RBIs than hits for a season? I can't find anyone -- Harmon Killebrew came close and Carlos Quentin so far is in the running.

Steve Stone: I have really no idea seeing as I don't have any books that talk about hits and runs batted in over the course of the season. It's safe to say Carlos is a run producer and their batting averages are fairly irrelevant because you look to them to hit home runs. Despite his batting average coming into today of .232, he has 24 homers and 76 driven in and it becomes a fairly impressive offensive year. Again, I would rather have him hit .232 and be on a pace to drive in 100 than hitting .300 and driving in 40 runs.

Chad S., Chicago -- Steve, do you think the Cubs will be able to trade Carlos Zambrano this winter?

Steve Stone: It all depends on how much of his salary they are willing to eat and how he looks in the games the Cubs have left. The Cubs have played 115 games right now, so they have 47 left and it depends on how he looks in his starts in those games. If he looks good, they might be able to trade him, but he is not going to resemble the 19 million pitcher that the Cubs thought he would be before he started breaking Gatorade containers, having confrontations with the umpires, fighting teammates, etc. I think they will do anything in their power to get him off the team. That being said, they could very well be stuck with him another year or two.

Hugh J., Chicago -- Does Andrew Cashner have a future as a starter? If he does, will he have to dial back his fastball into the low-to-mid 90's?

Steve Stone: I think the Cubs dearly need some bullpen help and they probably want to use Cashner in that role. He has a great fastball, but he is struggling this first year with 1-5 record and a 5.68 ERA. The walk total is way too high and it depends on what the Cubs think, but I have to see more types of pitches and offspeed pitches to move into that starting position. For the moment and into next year, the best case is to grow into that premiere setup man stage, perhaps to be a closer.

Mike B, Oswego -- With the wealth of information on sites like Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs, what stats do you use to evaluate players and make predictions?

Steve Stone: I use my eyes. I'm in my fifth decade, and those who solely rely on computers usually come up a little short. Those who have been around the game a long time and who have seen every type of player, we really depend on our eyes to show us what kind of player you are dealing with. A man's ability to play on a division-contending team, you can't find that into a computer because some guys have never played on a winning team. It's the same reason I wouldn't let anyone do open-heart surgery on his first day, even if he was the top med student coming out of Harvard, the best heart surgeon they had ever seen. I prefer the experienced guy that has done 5,000 of these, and no matter what happens on the table, he has seen it before. The computer is a nice tool but you can't replace the eyes of a veteran baseball evaluator because, at the end of the day, the computer doesn't have eyes.

Carlos Rodon's first win in 10 months showed he could still be the ace of the future for White Sox

rodon2624.jpg
USA TODAY

Carlos Rodon's first win in 10 months showed he could still be the ace of the future for White Sox

As encouraging as the reports are on many of the White Sox’s minor-league pitching prospects, Carlos Rodon’s effort against the Athletics on Sunday at Guaranteed Rate Field could prove just as significant to the rebuild on the South Side.

Looking much like the ace the Sox envisioned prior to Rodon’s rough 2017 season that ended with shoulder surgery, the left-hander put together his most successful effort of ’18 during a 10-3 drubbing of the Athletics before a sun-drenched crowd of 21,908.

Making his fourth start of the season, Rodon matched a career-high by going eight innings. He yielded two runs on seven hits with no walks and three strikeouts. Rodon earned his first win of the season to help the Sox salvage a split of the four-game series.

“I felt good today—a lot of strikes,” Rodon said. “It was good to go eight and just be ahead of guys.”

Helping matters for Rodon was an offensive explosion by the Sox, led by Yoan Moncada’s career-high six RBIs. After falling behind 2-0, the Sox plated five runs in each of the fifth and sixth innings as Moncada cleared the bases with a double off the base of the wall in the fifth and launched his 10th home run of the season to drive in three more an inning later.

“Today was a great day,” Moncada said via a team interpreter. “I just went out to play the game the way that I play. Just to have fun. It was a very good game for me.”

Daniel Palka and Yolmer Sanchez also homered as the Sox won for just the second time in their last 11 games.

Rodon was the happy recipient of the run support to win his first game since Aug. 21, 2017, against the Twins. On Sunday, he threw 99 pitches, 69 for strikes and was consistently in the mid-90s with his fastball.

“I’m looking to do that every time out,” Rodon said. “Just show up and establish the strike zone with the fastball and be aggressive.”

The 25-year-old’s second-inning strikeout of Khris Davis was the 400th of Rodon’s career. It is a career that is continuing after a surgery that was a setback, but one that did not derail Rodon’s confidence that he would again pitch effectively.

“There are up-and-down days when you go through shoulder surgery or any surgery for any player,” Rodon said. “You've just got to work through it and try to make your way back. I'm here now and it’s looking up and I’m trying to get better.”

So is it reasonable to view Rodon as the future ace after all?

“You certainly can’t discount that,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He has to go out there and continue to get his feet underneath him and get through the rest of the season healthy and climbing.”

In other Sox pitching news, Renteria said starter Dylan Covey, who was removed in the fifth inning of Saturday’s game due to a hip flexor injury, “felt better” Sunday and the team will continue to monitor the right-hander’s progress.

Meanwhile, veteran Miguel Gonzalez made a rehab start for Triple-A Charlotte as he continues to recover from inflammation in his right rotator cuff. Gonzalez went three innings and allowed one hit with a walk and a strikeout. Outfielder Eloy Jimenez belted his first homer for the Knights in the game.

A series to forget: Facts and figures from Cubs' rough weekend in Cincinnati

A series to forget: Facts and figures from Cubs' rough weekend in Cincinnati

The Cubs and their fans may want to invent and use one of those Men In Black neuralyzers because the four-game series in Cincinnati was one to forget.

The Reds finished off a four-game sweep of the Cubs on Sunday with an 8-6 win. The way the Reds won the finale will be especially painful for the Cubs considering they led 6-1 after six innings. Mike Montgomery appeared to tire in the seventh inning and Pedro Strop got rocked out of the bullpen to lead to a seven-run seventh for the hosts.

The Reds have now won seven in a row and 10 of 12, but still sit 13 games under .500. Bizarrely, the Reds also swept the Dodgers, the Cubs’ next opponent, in a four-game series in May. Duane Underwood will start for the Cubs Monday against the Dodgers and make his major league debut.

Here are some other wild facts and figures from the series:

  • The last time the Reds swept the Cubs in a four-game series was back in 1983. That was the first week of the season and three weeks before the infamous Lee Elia rant.
  • One positive for the Cubs from the game was Montgomery’s start. Through six innings he allowed one run on three hits and two walks. However, he gave up a single, a double and a single in the seventh before Strop relieved him. Montgomery had gone six innings and allowed one run in each of his last four outings.
  • Strop was definitely a negative. On his first pitch, Strop gave up a home run to pinch-hitter Jesse Winker, the second home run for a Reds pinch-hitter in the game. Then Strop allowed a single, a walk, a single and a double before getting an out. Strop’s final line: 2/3 inning pitched, four runs, one strikeout, three walks, four hits.
  • The Cubs led in three of the four games this series, including two leads after five innings.
  • The Cubs were 5-for-23 (.217) with runners in scoring position in the series. On the season the Cubs are hitting .233 with RISP, which is 22nd in the majors and fourth-worst in the National League (but ahead of the division-rival Brewers and Cardinals).
  • The Reds outscored the Cubs 31-13 and scored at least six runs in every game. The Reds are now 6-3 against the Cubs this year after going a combined 17-40 against the Cubs from 2015-2017.