White Sox

Flashback Friday: Get ready for Opening Day with this throwback Cubs-Sox showdown

Flashback Friday: Get ready for Opening Day with this throwback Cubs-Sox showdown

Opening Day can't get here soon enough.

So we decided to get an early start on the 2018 season. Real early. Like 17 years too early.

We busted out some old MLB Showdown cards from 2001 and had a Crosstown clash Friday afternoon at NBC Sports Chicago headquarters.

The Cubs, the home team despite our American League rules, sent out this starting lineup:

1. Eric Young, 2B
2. Bill Mueller, 3B
3. Mark Grace, 1B
4. Sammy Sosa, RF
5. Corey Patterson, CF
6. Rondell White, LF
7. Ricky Gutierrez, SS
8. Todd Hundley, DH
9. Joe Girardi, C

Kerry Wood, P

The White Sox, meanwhile, countered with this stacked lineup:

1. Jose Valentin, SS
2. Ray Durham, 2B
3. Frank Thomas, DH
4. Magglio Ordonez, RF
5. Charles Johnson, C
6. Paul Konerko, 1B
7. Carlos Lee, LF
8. Chris Singleton, CF
9. Joe Crede, 3B

James Baldwin, P

For the uninitiated, MLB Showdown's rules are pretty simple. Each pitcher has a "control" number, and each batter has an "on-base" number. In every at-bat, the pitcher rolls the 20-sided die, adds his control number to the roll, and if that total is higher than the on-base number of the opposing batter, the pitcher's outcome chart is used. If it's lower, the batter's outcome chart is used. The batter then rolls and the outcome is determined.

So for example, in the below matchup, Jon Lieber rolled an 11, giving him the advantage over Royce Clayton (3+11=14, which is greater than 7). Clayton then rolled a nine, grounding out. And so that goes for nine innings.

On to the Crosstown Showdown showdown!

First inning

The White Sox got on the board early and often, scoring off Wood in the first with back-to-back RBI doubles by Thomas and Ordonez. Wood appeared rattled.

The Cubs, despite matching intensity, could not find the same success against Baldwin.

Second inning

The White Sox kept up the attack on Wood, pounding him for three more runs in the top of the second. Crede had the game's biggest moment, smacking a two-run homer that had the South Siders celebrating and the North Siders reeling.

A sacrifice fly pushed the lead to 5-0.

Third inning

Wood settled in nicely after the initial damage and posted four consecutive scoreless frames after the three-run second.

Fourth inning

The Cubs' lineup had plenty of its own pop and put it on display when Patterson ended Baldwin's shutout attempt with a solo homer that probably went all the way to Sheffield. (He rolled a 20.)

Fifth inning

After all those homers, the game turned into a pitcher's duel from there, with nothing but zeroes on the hand/marker-operated scoreboard.

Sixth inning

Wood and Baldwin both finished up their days in strong fashion. Baldwin allowed one run in six, Wood threw four scoreless after a rough couple two innings to start.

Seventh inning

After the starters finally ran out of card-mandated gas, the bullpens took over. The Cubs went with Felix Heredia to start the seventh, an interesting choice.

Bob Howry had a shutout seventh inning for the White Sox.

Eighth inning

Some more pitching-change drama on the North Side. The fans were hoping for Tom "Flash" Gordon. The skipper went with Todd Van Poppel.

The Cubs staged one more late push, with Grace homering in the bottom of the eighth off Kelly Wunsch.

Ninth inning

Though the White Sox bats went to sleep after the second inning, the lead was big enough for Keith Foulke to close things out. He put two batters on with two outs, but he got Girardi swinging to give the South Siders the win.

And so there you have it! A nice dose of nostalgia as Chicago prepares for baseball season.

White Sox being linked to Nomar Mazara trade talks with Rangers

White Sox being linked to Nomar Mazara trade talks with Rangers

The White Sox have two major needs in their lineup: a left-handed bat and a right fielder. They are reportedly in trade talks to fill both holes with one player.

Jim Bowden first reported that the White Sox are in trade talks with the Texas Rangers for outfielder Nomar Mazara. Others have since confirmed the report. There appears to be some real smoke with this one.

Working with the premise that these trade talks are happening, let’s take a look at what Mazara would bring to the White Sox.

For starters, he plays right field and is a left-handed bat. The White Sox don’t have much in the way of left-handers in the lineup. Zack Collins is a lefty, but his place in the lineup is far from secure. After that it’s switch-hitters Yoan Moncada, Leury Garcia and now Yasmani Grandal. Mazara is a lefty who had an .844 OPS against right-handers last season.

On top of that, he’s 24 years old so that part lines up with what the White Sox are trying to build in terms of having young pieces on the roster. Mazara debuted in 2016 so he hits free agency after 2021.

Mazara is a below average defender according to defensive metrics and his offensive numbers don’t stand out. Considering his age, it’s plausible to think he gets better though.

He has a career .754 OPS, including a career-best .786 OPS last season. Mazara hit .268/.318/.469 last year in 116 games. That’s decent production, but not eye-popping.

Mazara hit exactly 20 home runs in each of his first three seasons and then hit 19 last season (albeit in less playing time). He also blasted a mammoth 505-foot home run off of Reynaldo Lopez on June 22.

He mashed against the White Sox last year with three home runs in three games. Mazara has a 1.016 OPS against the White Sox in 91 plate appearances. Maybe the White Sox have been impressed and want to bring him on board.

Maybe Mazara is a change-of-scenery candidate that can breakthrough after leaving Texas. He also likely wouldn’t cost the White Sox one of their untouchable prospects like Andrew Vaughn, for example. It wouldn’t be a show-stopping move from the White Sox, but it would fill two holes while also having some upside.

The Rangers have an excess of outfielders and the White Sox are looking for one. It’s a logical move that has been discussed here before. The Cardinals are in the same boat as the White Sox, as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch noted on Tuesday, so there could be competition for Mazara.

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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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