White Sox

Jose Abreu's desire to stay with White Sox: 'I don't want to miss what is coming, and I'm going to be here'

Jose Abreu's desire to stay with White Sox: 'I don't want to miss what is coming, and I'm going to be here'

CLEVELAND — I’m not sure how much more evidence anyone needs to know that Jose Abreu wants to remain with the White Sox past the 2019 season.

But Abreu’s providing more anyway.

For the third time in less than a week, Abreu has voiced his unwavering intent to be a part of the White Sox for the foreseeable future, even though his current contract is up at the end of this season and he’s slated to hit the free-agent market.

Speaking Tuesday from the American League clubhouse at the All-Star Game, Abreu laid it all out there once more, just like he did a day prior, giddy over what the White Sox are building on the South Side and the thought of being a part of it.

“That tells you how good we are right now and how good we can be,” he said through team interpreter Billy Russo, asked what it meant to have teammates joining him at the Midsummer Classic after being the lone White Sox representative a year ago. “And we’re going to be very, very good.

“That’s why I’m telling you guys that if the White Sox don’t sign me, I’m going to sign here anyway. I’m going to sign myself here. I’m going to be here, believe me. I’m going to be here.

“I don’t want to miss this, I don’t want to miss what is coming, and I’m going to be here.”

It’s an obvious example of how much he enjoys being a part of this organization, despite the fact that he’s never played for a White Sox team that finished the season with a winning record. As he’s been tasked with — and willingly adopted — the role of acting as a mentor to guys like Yoan Moncada and Eloy Jimenez, who are expected to be the stars of future championship teams, he’s had a front-row seat to all the talent Rick Hahn’s front office has acquired since starting this rebuilding process.

He knows what’s coming.

After blasting a walk-off home run in a picture-perfect day for the rebuild — the same day Dylan Cease won in his major league debut — he said he saw the White Sox building “something very big” and that “I don’t want to leave here.”

Monday, during All-Star media responsibilities in Cleveland, he said: “I think my desire to stay with this team is getting bigger every day, after every game. We are good, and we’re going to be very, very good. For me, there’s no secret. I want to be here.”

So, yeah, it’s been pretty darn obvious what Abreu’s ideal outcome is: staying in a White Sox uniform. And he’s going to do it himself if he has to.

That doesn’t sound like it will be necessary, though. The White Sox have raved about him as much as he’s raved about them, and it’s been no secret that they would like him to be a part of their future, too.

“We, obviously, are biased,” general manager Rick Hahn said last week. “We get the benefit of seeing what he does in the clubhouse. He is a modest and humble producer year in and year out and a great asset to us, both on the field and off.

“He helps teach (young players) professionalism and helps teach them commitment and day-in, day-out commitment to trying to win a championship. He is relentless in his pursuit of making himself the best, and he takes those young guys under his wing and sort of shows them the path.

“I don’t think he takes for granted a single day in the big leagues and takes an extreme amount of pride in wearing a White Sox uniform, and he models that for the young players in this organization.”

Hahn went on to call Abreu a model player, and after hearing what his All-Star teammates, Lucas Giolito and James McCann, said Monday about his impact, it’s almost impossible to envision the good times coming for this franchise and Abreu not being a part of them.

It almost seems like the White Sox feel about Abreu the same way they’ve felt about players who now have their numbers retired and have statues in the outfield at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Abreu might be providing more evidence than is necessary about how he’d like things to shake out. But the feeling appears to be mutual.

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With Nicholas Castellanos on the market, how important is defense in White Sox search for new right fielder?

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USA TODAY

With Nicholas Castellanos on the market, how important is defense in White Sox search for new right fielder?

We’ve talked about this before.

The White Sox are looking for a new right fielder after getting some of the worst production in the majors out of that spot in 2019. The free-agent market looks to be the most realistic source of any new everyday player considering the team’s potentially weakened trade potential after a season of injuries and under-performance in the minor leagues.

The best outfield bat on that free-agent market? It belongs to Nicholas Castellanos, who long feasted on White Sox pitching as a member of the division-rival Detroit Tigers. He showed just how impactful his bat could be in a playoff race after a midseason trade to the Cubs, posting a 1.002 OPS in 51 games on the North Side. All told, he hit a major league leading 58 doubles in 2019, the 10th highest single-season total in baseball history.

The bat is no question, and it would look terrific in the middle of the White Sox order. But Castellanos’ tremendous offensive reputation is accompanied by a poor defensive reputation. Whether that reputation is deserved or not is another aspect of this discussion, with folks who followed his time on the North Side saying things weren’t that bad in right field. Though certain defensive metrics tell a different story.

And so we continue to wonder, as the White Sox have already been linked to Castellanos this winter, just how much that glove means to them.

Well, we’ve got some new insight from Rick Hahn, and yes, defense does matter. But like everything involving the White Sox offseason, it’s not going to close any doors.

“It’s a legitimate consideration,” Hahn said during the GM meetings last week in Arizona. “We don't want to send somebody out there and it's going to, you know, tax our center fielder too much or tax the pitchers too much by not making plays. So it's a legitimate consideration.

“I pause half a step because we have discussed some pretty good offensive contributors who might not quite be up to snuff to what you want defensively that conceivably at some point in the offseason we wind up saying, ‘They're the best option, so let's move on it.’ So I don't want to just say it's the end all be all.

“But as we sit here today, the prototypical guy that we add to that position will be an above average defender to help lighten the load on the rest of the fielders and our pitchers.”

While that’s hardly an ironclad commitment one way or the other, Hahn voiced a definite preference for someone who can provide some defense in right field. While Luis Robert, who’s expected to spend most of the 2020 season as the team’s starting center fielder, receives positive reviews for his defense up the middle, Eloy Jimenez is still a work in progress in left field. Putting another less-than-stellar defender in the other corner-outfield spot would put a heck of a lot of pressure on Robert as a rookie center fielder.

"You're asking a lot of (the center fielder) if you put a poor defender in right and Eloy continuing to develop and left," Hahn said. "It's a real consideration when we're putting together this outfield.

"We think Eloy's got a real special bat, and even though he's a work in progress and still improving defensively, we like having him out there in left field, even though he's not going to be mistaken for an everyday center fielder defensively. If we're looking and we absolutely had our pick of the litter, we're looking for a guy in right who can contribute with the glove, as well.”

Castellanos might not fit that description. But his offensive abilities could certainly outweigh that and push the White Sox to bring him aboard. Of course, he’s going to command a pricey contract, with his agent, Scott Boras, already talking him up last week with this gem: “Ol’ St. Nick delivers once a year. Young St. Nick delivers all season.”

Certainly the White Sox would enjoy that kind of season-long delivery. They also happen to have a hole that needs filling at designated hitter. If we’re playing fantasy baseball or creating video-game lineups, slotting Castellanos into that spot would make an awful lot of sense. But a guy looking for a long, expensive contract and doing so at just 27 years old probably doesn’t want to do it as a DH.

Maybe the White Sox end up throwing enough money his way that it doesn’t matter. But there’s also the risk of putting someone who doesn’t have DH-ing experience at the position, potentially continuing the not-so-great track record of the likes of Adam Dunn, Adam LaRoche and Yonder Alonso. Castellanos has been a DH in just 41 of his 839 career big league games.

It’s all stuff to think about. It might end up, simply, that Castellanos swings a big bat and the White Sox would like that, no matter what comes with it. Hearing that they prefer a right fielder with a good glove might only apply if they have to move further down their wish list.

Time will tell.

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Lucas Giolito’s most impressive feat of 2019

Lucas Giolito’s most impressive feat of 2019

From the highest ERA in the Majors in 2018 to an All-Star appearance in 2019, Lucas Giolito had a season that nobody could’ve imagined possible.

As Giolito worked a pair of shutout masterpieces during the season, you knew you were watching something special. Then as the season unfolded, for the first time in MLB history four teams reached the finish line with at least 100 wins.

The White Sox, at 72 wins certainly were not among the ranks of the 100-win teams.

But the Astros and Twins both DID reach 100 wins, and something else those teams have in common is a 2019 shutout defeat at the hands of Giolito. Not only were those complete game shutouts the only ones thrown against those teams this past season, but they were the only complete game shutouts tossed against a 100-win team PERIOD. Nobody hurled a CG shutout against the Yankees and nobody pulled it off against the Dodgers.

So Lucas Giolito was the only pitcher in 2019 to toss a complete game shutout against a team that finished the season with 100 or more wins.

But let’s take it a bit further.

From 2012-2019 there were 12 teams who won at least 100 games in a season. And there were only five combined complete game shutouts against those teams. Giolito owns two of the five; Sean Manaea (against the 2018 Red Sox), Luis Severino (against the 2018 Astros) and Jason Vargas (against the 2017 Indians) have the other three.

Going back even further, from 2000 to present, 26 teams won 100 games in a season and there were 25 combined complete game shutouts tossed against those teams. Lucas Giolito & Jason Vargas (2017 vs. Indians and 2011 vs. Phillies) are the only two pitchers to have more than one. But Giolito is the only one to do it twice in a season.

To find the last pitcher with two shutouts against eventual 100-win teams in the same season, you need to go back to 1999 when José Jiménez of the Cardinals did it against the 100-62 Diamondbacks, which in itself is impressive given that Jiménez was only 5-14 with a 5.85 ERA that season. But Jiménez had both of his against the same team. What about the last pitcher to toss complete game shutouts against MULTIPLE 100-win teams in the same season?

Well, the last time THAT happened was 1980, when both Larry Gura and Moose Haas had one shutout apiece against the 103-59 Yankees and the 100-62 Orioles. Gura’s shutout against the Orioles came against eventual 1980 Cy Young Award winner Steve Stone.

As far as White Sox history is concerned, Giolito was the first White Sox pitcher to toss a CG shutout against an eventual 100-win team since both Melido Perez & Eric King shut out the 103-59 Athletics in 1990. And before that, Steve Trout had one apiece in both 1979 (against the 102-57 Orioles) and 1980 (against the 103-59 Yankees). But for the last time a White Sox pitcher did it twice in the same season, it’s Tom Bradley, who remarkably blanked the 101-60 A’s THREE TIMES in 1971.

So while Lucas Giolito’s shutouts were awfully impressive at the time, they become even more incredible when you look back at the season and realize that he was the only pitcher to shut out a 100-win team this season.

And he did it twice. 

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