White Sox

Eloy Jimenez reminds Frank Thomas of Vlad Guerrero, and more rebuild thoughts from the Big Hurt

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AP

Eloy Jimenez reminds Frank Thomas of Vlad Guerrero, and more rebuild thoughts from the Big Hurt

Here’s a comp that’ll get White Sox fans really excited. It’s a Hall of Famer saying that the organization’s top-ranked prospect reminds him of another Hall of Famer.

“The kid Eloy (Jimenez), I’ve really watched him a lot. He’s a tremendous (player),” Frank Thomas said. “He reminds me of a young Vlad (Guerrero) that can cover the whole zone and use the whole field. I’m interested in seeing how he progresses.”

Eloy a young Vladdy, eh?

Don’t tell actual young Vladdy that — Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is ranked one spot ahead of Jimenez on MLB Pipeline’s list of the best prospects in baseball — but that’s one heck of a comp for a player that White Sox fans are already immeasurably excited about.

Thomas was back on the South Side on Sunday to join Hawk Harrelson in the broadcast booth for the latter’s sendoff season. He spoke a lot about what Harrelson meant to him and the White Sox, but he also answered questions about the team’s ongoing rebuild. Thomas has kept a close eye both in his roles as an analyst for FOX and someone who will always be invested in this team.

“It’s Chicago, and we’re used to winning,” Thomas said when he was asked if the White Sox needed to undergo such a process. “You normally get away with this in a smaller market, but you’ve got to understand they’ve taken their time with it. They wasted a lot of money for a five-year period trying to continue to be successful the way we were in the past and it wasn’t working.

“The game has changed. The game has totally changed. It’s a different ballgame now. It’s all about the youth. … The hardest part they’re going to have, though, is figuring out who’s going to be here and who’s not going to be here because over the next couple years they’ve got so many young talented players in Double-A and Triple-A that someone could actually force some of these guys out. It’s going to be a hard decision what they’re going to have to do.”

That’s the good problem Rick Hahn and his front office would like to have.

While fan buy-in to the rebuilding effort has been tremendous, there are some who will continue to question the willing suffering through losing seasons at the major league level while the contending team of the future develops in the minor leagues. But if you look at the teams that have won and played in the World Series in recent seasons — and even seasons long past — the process almost seems mandatory if you want to reach that level.

“It is,” Thomas said. “I’ve watched it firsthand. I first saw it with Cleveland when I was playing. Cleveland did it. Then you saw the Royals do it. You saw Houston do it, and they’re tearing it up with that youth. There’s been some other teams that have had a lot of success with it, too. I think Billy Beane has been great with it in Oakland for many, many years. They just haven’t had the luxury of keeping it together and going for the World Series, but he continues to create young superstars and basically trading them off for whatever the organization needs.”

Thomas, the greatest hitter in White Sox history, was also asked about the greatest hitter on the White Sox right now, Jose Abreu. Abreu’s future is the topic of much conversation surrounding this team, what with his contract running out at the end of the 2019 season, just when the White Sox hope to be fielding a perennial contender.

Abreu has been remarkably consistent — and one of just three players ever to hit at least 25 homers and drive in at least 100 runs in each of his first four seasons — but Thomas thinks there’s a side of Abreu we still have yet to see.

“I just don’t think we’ve seen the best of him,” Thomas said. “That’s because it’s a youth movement and the protection’s been up and down for him in that lineup. I’ve seen him be inconsistent at times, but I think he’s a much better player than that. But I understand when you’re not winning every day and it’s not as motivating because losing’s tough on everybody. But the guy’s an incredible player, an incredible hitter.

“I think the next couple of years we’ll see the best of him if he’s still here. I think this guy has a chance to be one of the great ones.”

With one last question about the modern-day White Sox, Thomas was asked about manager Rick Renteria, who he raved about. But with Renteria’s recent history with the Cubs, when he was replaced with Joe Maddon right before the North Siders started their phase of contention, he has yet to be the manager of a team with expectations. The plan is that he soon will be, and Thomas is interested to see what happens when that becomes the case.

“I think he’s done a hell of a job. I really like Ricky a lot,” Thomas said. “But who knows what they’re going to do in the future. When this team becomes what they think it’s going to be, either you get it done or you don’t. That’s just what it’s going to be. That’s the way Jerry’s handled it for many, many years.

“We’ve had some decisions that weren’t all happiness at times, but it’s about winning once they get their team here. I hope it’s Ricky because he’s done a hell of a rebuild job with the Cubs, he did a hell of a rebuild job here. It’s just time for him to get a good team out on the field and see what he really can do. I’m hoping he gets a chance of having a full team to put out there for 162 games and see what he can do.”

White Sox reportedly interested in reliever Craig Stammen

White Sox reportedly interested in reliever Craig Stammen

For all the talk of the White Sox getting starting pitching help this winter, talk of the bullpen has been secondary.

Here’s a rumor connecting the White Sox to right-hander Craig Stammen.

Stammen has been with the San Diego Padres the last three years and was effective in his tenure in Southern California. He had a 3.06 ERA in 209 appearances with 235 strikeouts, 60 walks and 213 hits allowed. Last season was a similarly effective 3.29 ERA with 73 strikeouts, 15 walks and 80 hits allowed in 82 innings.

Stammen’s resume has been solid since moving from a starting role to the bullpen full-time in 2012 with the Washington Nationals. He has a 2.93 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP in his career as a reliever.

On paper, he would be a solid addition to the bullpen. The interesting thing about the rumor is that Stammen will turn 36 in spring training. He hasn’t shown any signs of declining yet, but he doesn’t line up with the White Sox long-term view of their contention window. That said, bullpens turnover quickly so it’s not entirely reasonable to plan a bullpen for three years from now.

The top three right-handers in the 2019 White Sox bullpen in terms of appearances were Alex Colome, Kelvin Herrera and Evan Marshall. Colome was solid as the team’s closer and Marshall was surprisingly effective, but Herrera struggled.

Herrera was last year’s big free-agent signing for the bullpen and is under contract for $8,500,000 in 2020. He had a 6.14 ERA and batters hit .288 against him in 51.1 innings last season.

Stammen could be what the White Sox were hoping Herrera would be when they signed him last year. He’s older, but has a better track record. It wouldn’t be a flashy high-priced pitcher to add to the starting rotation, but you can never have enough bullpen help.

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Scott Boras believes White Sox can 'step into a competitive mode'

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NBC Sports Chicago

Scott Boras believes White Sox can 'step into a competitive mode'

It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Winter Meetings were Scott Boras’ favorite time of the year.

The super agent gets to be the main attraction for hoards of baseball reporters when he speaks. On Tuesday, Boras stood in front of a backdrop with his agency’s logo on it and faced dozens of reporters who were crammed in tighter than on a rush hour subway ride.

Naturally, he fielded many questions about prized free agents Gerrit Cole and Anthony Rendon. He was also asked about the White Sox, who have been connected to Boras clients Hyun-Jin Ryu and Dallas Keuchel.

“I think the Sox have provided a format that a lot of their young players have arrived, a lot of their young pitchers have arrived,” Boras said. “It’s very reasonable to understand that they’ve got a talent base that now allows them with the additions of some free agents where they can certainly step into a competitive mode.”


Whenever Boras says something it is always with his clients’ interests in mind. Boras talking up the White Sox, with the caveat of them adding free agents, is to his and his clients’ benefits. Boras wants every team to feel like they are one player, preferably one of his players, away from making a significant jump.

So, of course Boras said the White Sox can step into a competitive mode. That doesn’t mean he’s wrong to say that. Much of the team’s young talent took major strides in 2019 and more should arrive in 2020. Throw in free-agent signing Yasmani Grandal and the White Sox do appear close to being a contending team.

In Ryu and Keuchel, Boras holds the keys to two players who could help the White Sox become a contender. Let’s see if he and the White Sox can put his words to the test.

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