White Sox

Eloy's comin': What the reported long-term deal means for the White Sox present and future

Eloy's comin': What the reported long-term deal means for the White Sox present and future

Hide your hearts, White Sox fans.

Eloy's finally comin' to the South Side, it would appear, with every national baseball writer under the Twitterverse's sun reporting that the White Sox are on the brink of a long-term deal with the No. 3 prospect in baseball, a contract that would keep Jimenez as part of what Rick Hahn is hoping is a perennial contender for the better part of the next decade.

The deal, which has not yet been made official by the team, is hard to see as anything but a smashing success for the White Sox. Are there risks with guaranteeing a reported $43 million to a player who's never swung a bat in a major league game? Sure. But the positives far outweigh the potential negatives.

In the immediate, it completely wipes away the service-time element that has been dominating the conversation over Jimenez's approaching major league debut. Though they never publicly stated this was their intent, the White Sox, playing well within baseball's rules, were expected to delay Jimenez's big league arrival a few weeks into the 2019 regular season, earning an extra year of team control by doing so and turning the typical six-year rookie contract into seven years of club control. Any team would be foolish not to take advantage of those rules, but the accusation of "manipulation" now never has to be made and the argument doesn't even need to take place. The entire topic gets thrown out the window and this contract locks in six surefire years of control with team options for another two. If the contract lasts all eight years, it will assure Jimenez stays in a White Sox uniform one year longer than he would have without it.

With that service-time issue no longer an issue, Jimenez's debut doesn't need to be delayed. He can appear on the White Sox roster for Opening Day next week in Kansas City. That gives him a full season in the majors in 2019, with the opportunity to do the usual growing and developing and learning that comes along with a first full season in the bigs. Rick Renteria will be able to pencil Jimenez into his everyday lineup starting on Day 1. It might not necessarily translate to any more wins for the White Sox this season, considering he was only expected to be in the minor leagues for a few weeks, but it makes the team better from the jump.

Arguably the team's best player will be in the lineup for the season opener next Thursday and for the home opener April 4, not sentenced to a fortnight or two of avoiding injury down in Charlotte. It provides a tangible example of progress in a rebuilding effort that's been plagued by negative headlines of late, be it the incensed reaction from the fan base following the front office's missing out on Manny Machado or another highly rated pitching prospect having Tommy John surgery and getting put on the shelf for a year. Instead, the No. 74 jerseys can start flying off the shelves, and the top reason to pay attention to this team in 2019 begins a month earlier than it would have. All good things.

Obviously, Jimenez benefits in the short term, too, getting a big raise right away. That's life-changing money for just about anyone, and that includes a 22-year-old minor leaguer from the Dominican Republic. Though he's delaying his first stab at free agency by a year, he gets stability in return, as well as a pretty nice demonstration of the faith the White Sox have in him to become one of the game's elite players.

But this deal isn't about the White Sox getting Jimenez in the lineup every day over the next six months, it's about getting him in the lineup every day for the next eight years. The assurance that he'll be a part of the core for the next eight years extends the planned contention window that far into the future. It provides an anchor in the lineup that figures to feature more players like Jimenez over the coming years: the Luis Roberts, Micker Adolfos, Nick Madrigals and Zack Collinses.

Of course, it's unlikely the White Sox will get to perennial-contender status on prospects alone, and the outside additions they tried to make this offseason will have to come at some point. This deal helps with that, too. Jimenez could've conceivably made more money in the arbitration process. The White Sox could use the savings on free agents, and luring them figures to get easier once they see what Jimenez can do.

See? A wealth of positives. The pessimists will track down the negatives, and they won't make incorrect points. Jimenez is completely unproven as a major leaguer, without a single big league plate appearance to his name. Prospects, even the highly rated ones, don't always hit, and to push the chips in on six to eight years of a player who's never seen major league pitching is by definition risky. There's a reason there were only two deals like this prior to this one.

But this deal reflects just how highly the White Sox think of their organization's top-rated prospect. Hahn and Renteria both said this offseason that they believe Jimenez can be on the same level as the big-name free agents the team pursued this offseason. Jimenez has the same kinds of expectations for himself.

Those expectations have now been teamed with commitment. It looks like a winner for the White Sox, but the eventual review of the deal will be made by Jimenez and how much he can do to help this rebuilding team turn into a World Series winner.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.

White Sox 2005 Rewind: Scott Podsednik and the art of making things happen

podsednik_thumb.jpg
AP

White Sox 2005 Rewind: Scott Podsednik and the art of making things happen

An awful lot of energy is spent these days discussing the leadoff spot.

Offense struggling? Maybe there needs to be a new leadoff hitter. Offense doing fine but the leadoff man isn’t of the stereotypical variety? Better think about making a change.

While teams certainly don’t need a stereotypical leadoff hitter who specializes in speed and small ball to be successful — the school of thought that your best player should get the most plate appearances possible is not a bad one — Scott Podsednik showed how guys at the top of the order can simply make things happen and win you ballgames because of it.

On April 11, 2005, the White Sox were once again having trouble figuring out Kevin Millwood, who was throwing his second gem against the White Sox in as many starts to begin his season. But after five scoreless innings, Podsednik made something happen.

He popped up a bunt that went so awry that it went over Millwood and behind the pitcher’s mound. It was a bad bunt, maybe, but it worked. He reached first with a single. Not long after, he used that blazing speed of his to swipe second base and put himself in scoring position with nobody out.

In a one-run game, the White Sox down 1-0 at the time, Podsednik changed everything. He scored the tying run two batters later, when Carl Everett drove him in with a single. It’s a run that doesn’t happen without Podsednik’s skill set. Call it the best argument in favor of the stereotypical leadoff man. Or just call it making things happen.

Podsednik did it again two innings later, driving in the winning run to cap a two-out rally against Millwood. After two quick outs, Chris Widger and Joe Crede delivered back-to-back singles. Podsednik made it three in a row, driving in Widger — who went from first to third on Crede’s hit up the middle — to put the White Sox in front.

Podsednik’s work 15 years ago isn’t likely to do much to sway any ongoing arguments over who should lead off for the 2020 White Sox or any of the 29 other teams. But it sure paid big dividends for the 2005 White Sox.

He made it happen.

What else?

— Millwood pitched extraordinarily well against the White Sox for the second time in 2005. After throwing six shutout innings on April 6, he allowed just two runs over seven innings in this one. Millwood ended up making five starts against the White Sox in 2005, logging a 1.32 ERA in 34 innings, but went just 0-2 in those five games. He had himself an excellent season overall, with a 2.86 ERA that led the American League and was the second lowest single-season ERA of his 16-year big league career. He finished sixth in the AL Cy Young vote that season, tying with White Sox pitcher Jon Garland and finishing behind Mark Buehrle.

— Freddy Garcia was pretty darn good in this one, too, throwing eight innings of one-run ball. He retired the final 13 batters he faced. Garcia allowed just three runs in 14 innings in his first two starts of the season. This one was the first of a whopping nine outings he made that season of at least eight innings.

— Garcia threw a pair of wild pitches with Grady Sizemore at the dish in the second inning, two of the 20 he ended up throwing in 2005. That total led the major leagues. In the following season, his second full campaign with the White Sox, he only threw four in the same number of starts, 33.

— Podsednik threw Ronnie Belliard out at third base in the third inning, preventing what might’ve been another run in the inning the Indians scored their lone tally. Podsednik had three outfield assists in 2005, and that was one of them.

— “Aaron’s going to get hit a lot in his career.” Hawk Harrelson chalked up Aaron Rowand getting hit by a pitch in the fifth inning to the center fielder’s approach at the plate. Well, Rowand did get hit by a lot of pitches in 2005, 21 of them, to be exact. Only Shea Hillenbrand of the Blue Jays got hit by more that season. This one that caught Rowand in the hand looked like it hurt like hell.

— Remember when the Indians played at The Jake? Good times.

Since you been gone

While #SoxRewind is extensive, it doesn’t include all 162 regular-season contests, meaning we’re going to be skipping over some games. So what’d we miss since last time?

April 10, 2005: The White Sox got shut down by the reigning AL Cy Young winner, Johan Santana, who allowed just two runs in his seven innings, striking out 11. The Twins tagged Buehrle for five runs, including four in the third inning alone. Torii Hunter’s three-run homer was the big blow in that frame. White Sox lose, 5-2, drop to 4-2.

Next up

#SoxRewind rolls on Sunday, when you can catch the April 13, 2005, game against the Indians, starting at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago. It’s an extra-inning affair with some heroics from Juan Uribe.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.

Trust in White Sox closer Shingo Takatsu dwindled early in 2005 season

sox_hat_image.jpg
USA Today

Trust in White Sox closer Shingo Takatsu dwindled early in 2005 season

Early in the 2005 season, there was one White Sox player that fans thought was on thin ice and another who actually was on thin ice.

Despite playing great defense at third base, Joe Crede hadn’t exactly won over the fan base yet. He hit just .239 in 2004 with a .717 OPS in his second full major league season. He was already 27 and the White Sox had used their first round draft pick in 2004 to select hot shot third baseman Josh Fields, who was already considered an MLB Top 100 prospect.

So when Crede got off to a 3-for-21 start in the team’s first six games in ’05, there were already calls for his benching.

It wasn't going to happen. Kenny Williams and Ozzie Guillen were prepared to be patient with Crede. They seemed more concerned with closer Shingo Takatsu.

Takatsu had taken the South Side by storm in 2004, entering games in the ninth inning to standing ovations and the sound of a gong playing over the speakers at U.S. Cellular Field. After taking over the closing duties in June, Takatsu converted 19-of-20 save opportunities in his first year with the White Sox.

Still, there were concerns that his unique frisbee style of pitching wouldn't last once teams saw Takatsu more than once. Those concerns were heightened when the Indians tagged him for three solo home runs on April 7, 2005, leading to the White Sox’s first loss of the season. Takatsu’s only blown save in 2004 also came to the Indians and Guillen was already voicing his concerns.

“I might not use him against (the Indians),” Guillen told the Chicago Tribune. “They have a good left-handed lineup. Right now, he’s going to be there no matter what. We’re going to see the next couple days.”

It wasn’t exactly a vote of confidence, especially considering the White Sox had already played three straight close games against the Indians, including two one-run victories.

But that was the situation as the White Sox went to Cleveland with a 4-2 record for the Indians’ home opener. Freddy Garcia took the mound for his second start of the season, while Kevin Millwood countered for the 3-3 Indians.

Here was Guillen’s lineup:

LF Scott Podsednik
2B Tadahito Iguchi
DH Carl Everett
1B Paul Konerko
RF Jermaine Dye
CF Aaron Rowand
SS Pablo Ozuna
C Chris Widger
3B Joe Crede

The White Sox-Indians game from Apr. 11, 2005 will air Saturday at 4 p.m. CT on NBC Sports Chicago. For the full White Sox Rewind schedule from the 2005 season, click here.