Jim Thome

White Sox Podcast: Hall of Famer Jim Thome is expecting BIG things from the White Sox

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USA Today

White Sox Podcast: Hall of Famer Jim Thome is expecting BIG things from the White Sox

Host Chuck Garfien caught up with former White Sox hitter and Hall of Famer Jim Thome in Arizona for White Sox Spring training as they discuss why there has been so much hype around this team, the lineup that could be great, and should Paul Konerko be in the Hall of Fame.

(2:20) - This is an exciting time for the White Sox

(6:00) - This lineup could great

(11:00) - Eloy Jimenez could hit 50 home runs this year

(14:20) - Does Paul Konerko have the itch to coach in the majors?

(17:40) - Should Konerko be in the Hall of Fame

(18:40) - Chuck's wrap up

Listen here or in the embedded player below. 

White Sox Talk Podcast

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Top White Sox stories of 2018: Jim Thome inducted, Harold Baines elected to Hall of Fame

Top White Sox stories of 2018: Jim Thome inducted, Harold Baines elected to Hall of Fame

As the new year approaches, we're counting down the top White Sox stories from 2018.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum has had an injection of White Sox flavor in recent years.

After Frank Thomas was inducted in 2014 and Tim Raines went in last year, this year saw further representation, with Jim Thome enshrined and Harold Baines elected to grow the contingent of former South Siders in the Hall.

Thome's election was a no-doubter. The five-time All Star and four-time top-10 MVP finisher ranks eighth all-time with 612 home runs. He's sporting a Cleveland Indians hat on his plaque, but his induction was well loved in his native Illinois, where he spent four seasons as a member of the White Sox, during which he launched 134 of those home runs.

None of those dingers was more beloved than his solo shot in the Blackout Game in 2008, the only run scored in the one-game playoff against the Minnesota Twins that won the White Sox their most recent AL Central title.

A whole career of moments like that got him a trip to Cooperstown, where he was inducted over the summer.

Baines' election, which just happened earlier this month during the Winter Meetings, was the complete opposite, a huge surprise, but no less appreciated on the South Side, where Baines spent 14 of his 22 big league seasons. While Baines' election by the Today's Game Committee — which included team chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and former White Sox manager Tony La Russa — generated disbelief across the internet, the White Sox celebrated his joining the ranks of the game's all-time greats.

"I think the people with the White Sox might be happier than Harold because we all love Harold so much," Reinsdorf said the night of Baines' election in Nevada. "We’re just so happy for him. But he deserved it. He got in because he deserved to get in — not because he’s a great guy. He is a great guy.

"He just deserved it. It was just a shame he didn’t get in sooner than this. Harold is a great player. You look at the numbers he put up in the '80s and the '90s and played in the majors for 22 years. I don’t think he ever had a bad year. Of course, there’s no finer person than Harold Baines.

"When the game was on the line in the eighth or ninth inning, and you can pick somebody to you wanted up, it was Harold Baines."

Controversy aside, both Thome and Baines joined baseball's most elite fraternity in 2018, which came as terrific news to their biggest fans on the South Side. Of course, both Thome and Baines remain part of the organization. Baines was a longtime coach after his playing career ended and is still involved around Guaranteed Rate Field. Thome is a special assistant in the White Sox front office and reportedly helped deliver their pitch to mega free agent Bryce Harper this winter.

That makes them both members of the White Sox family, and their achieving baseball's highest honor was celebrated as much at the corner of 35th and Shields as it was in the Thome and Baines households.

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MLB teams pulling out all the stops for Bryce Harper and Cubs reportedly still in the mix

MLB teams pulling out all the stops for Bryce Harper and Cubs reportedly still in the mix

Bryce Harper is still dominating headlines this Hot Stove season and now we're getting a glimpse into the big pitches from each MLB team.

Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan detailed how teams around the league are courting the superstar free agent, including the Los Angeles Dodgers sending Magic Johnson to Las Vegas (Harper's hometown) and the White Sox sending Jim Thome.

Passan also discussed the Cubs, but only to say they're expected to "check in" on Harper. 

The Cubs have been touting their financial constraints for more than a month, citing the rise in payroll that is projected to eclipse the luxury tax threshold ($206 million) even before any other signings or moves take place this winter. The moves they've made already support that claim, dealing away Drew Smyly and his $7 million deal ($5 million against the luxury tax) to clear room for Cole Hamels' $20 million option and sending Tommy La Stella to the Los Angeles Angels last week ahead of an increase in salary that is supposed to take the pinch-hitting specialist up to about $1.2 million.

Still, Theo Epstein's front office kicks the tires on any move that could possibly make their team better and acquiring a player with Harper's absurd talent would certainly improve the lineup, regardless of cost. It would be irresponsible to not at least "check in" on Harper's market and get a sense of who he is as a player/person with a face-to-face meeting.

The Philadelphia Phillies still look like the favorite in the Harper Sweepstakes and the moves they've made this week further back that claim, as Passan pointed out, by opening up a spot in the outfield and gaining a bit of financial flexibility in the Carlos Santana deal with the Seattle Mariners, allowing Rhys Hoskins to move back to first base.

The Cubs are on track for roughly $219 million in payroll against the luxury tax in 2019 and the Dodgers aren't far behind at $197 million while the Phillies sit at just $132 million and the White Sox are at a stunning $81 million.

The next couple weeks will be fascinating for Harper's market as MLB's Winter Meetings take place in Vegas, where the superstar will be just a short car ride away from the game's top decision-makers.

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