White Sox

Sox Drawer Q&A: Will Harper and/or Machado complete the White Sox? What's Chuck's best Paul Konerko story?

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USA TODAY

Sox Drawer Q&A: Will Harper and/or Machado complete the White Sox? What's Chuck's best Paul Konerko story?

Happy New Year everybody!  I hope you’ve had a great holiday season with your friends and families. That includes you, Manny Machado. I know you have a big life decision to make in the next few days. Fortunately, your close friend and brother-in-law, new White Sox slugger Yonder Alonso, is nearby to help persuade you to sign with the White Sox.  

It sure looked like both of them had a great time playing golf together last week in Florida. Alonso posted a photo on Instagram of their foursome in front of the clubhouse with the hashtags #GreatTimes, #Golf and #TheBoys.

Utilityman Danny Valencia was also in the foursome. Hmmm. He and Machado were teammates in Baltimore. Valencia and Alonso played together at the University of Miami in 2006. Valencia can play first base, third base, left field and right field coming off the bench. And, he’s a free agent….

Okay, lots of questions to answer in this edition of the Sox Drawer. A whole bunch about Harper and Machado. Let’s get to it!

Q: When are the Sox signing Harper and Machado? I need answers Chuck. --@ThePruhFessor

CG: Not to burst your bubble, but it’s highly unlikely the White Sox will be able to sign both of them. Let’s hope for one out of two!  Machado is expected to make his decision soon after the new year. Unless something radical occurred over Christmas, it’s a three-team race between the White Sox, Yankees and Phillies for Machado. The Harper situation is not as clear. We don’t know exactly how many teams are in the running for him. His agent Scott Boras likes to slow play negotiations. If that occurs, the White Sox could actually be in a stronger position for Harper since they aren’t expected to contend in 2019 and can wait Harper out, while teams like the Dodgers have other pressing needs (like 2B and catcher) that could affect their budget. My guess is, Machado will sign in the next week to 10 days. This will help burst open the free agent dam that’s been clogged since the winter meetings. Harper will eventually sign towards the end of January.

Q: @DanClarkSports claims the Yankees will indeed sign Machado. What have you heard? & @StevePhillipsGM stated that the #whitesox are the only “All In” team in on Bryce Harper. ---@mr_zablocki

CG: The White Sox have both right field available and the financial flexibility to sign Harper, but I wouldn’t say they’re the only team that’s “IN” like Steve Phillips tweeted, but I understand his point.  

We’re all trying to read the tea leaves with Harper. There really isn’t a slam dunk team out there. Every club has at least one ding against them. Everything else is just speculation. Speaking of which, the tweet by @DanClarkSports about Machado signing with the Yankees got hot for about two hours last week, but after his tweet blew up it hasn’t been backed up by a single baseball reporter.  This isn’t to say it’s not true, but don’t read into anything just yet. I’ve heard various things both good and bad about the White Sox chances of landing Machado — everything from “he’s going to the Yankees” to “he’s signing with the Phillies,” to “it’s between the White Sox and Phillies” and that the Yankees are out of it! Strange, but I’ve actually heard that.

Where’s the truth?  Who knows? We’re grabbing at straws right now.

The whole Harper/Machado saga has been playing with our emotions for almost two months.  The good news is: the suspense (at least with Machado) should end soon!

Q: Will you get Yolmer Sanchez to dump a celebratory bucket of Gatorade on your head if the Sox sign Harper or Machado? Catch is it has to be at the GRate on the signing day. #BundleUp  --- @Leonard42

CG: If Yolmer is there, he has my permission. Did I just say that?  

Q: If the WSox don’t land either Machado or Harper, what are believed to be the reasons? 1. Not enough cash offered? 2. WSox not close enough to contending? 3. WSox considered the second team in a large market? Combination of all the above? Other factors? --- @chrishepp77

CG: Assuming the White Sox aren’t able to sign either of them,  it’ll probably come down to two things: money and market. Machado and Harper both like the bright lights. While Chicago is a huge market, it doesn’t have the glitz and glamour of New York and Los Angeles. In the end, I think that’s what the White Sox are competing against: the two biggest markets in the country, which is where Harper and Machado reportedly prefer to be. But then, there’s the money. If the Yankees and Dodgers make offers to Machado and Harper that are much less than what the White Sox (and Phillies and whoever else) are offering, then it’s a total wildcard as to where they’ll end up signing. You can’t flatly assume that since the Yankees and Dodgers have such deep pockets, that they will easily shell out the hundreds of millions of dollars required to sign them. Another thing to consider: I’m sure the Yankees and Dodgers would love to have Machado and Harper. They might want them, but with all the talent already on their rosters, do they NEED them? I say no. You can argue the White Sox and Phillies NEED Machado or Harper because of all that they’d bring to the table: more wins, more tickets, more merchandise, more advertizing, more buzz, higher TV ratings, etc. All is not lost if the White Sox can’t sign either of them, but it would be a huge boost for the franchise no doubt.

Chicago might not be New York or Los Angeles, but it isn’t Cleveland. Sorry, Cleveland. It’s one of the best cities in the country. Players love coming here as visitors and living here as members of the White Sox and Cubs. The White Sox might be coming off a 100-loss season, but they sold their future to Harper and Machado and it’s not false hope. It’s real.  In the end, I believe it will come down to those two words: money and market. No offense to Philadelphia, but if Harper and Machado don’t sign with the Dodgers or Yankees, and if the White Sox make a big enough offer, I like the White Sox chances to get one of them.

Q: If Machado or Harper don't sign, do the Sox reassess their strategy to fully commit to building their young players rather than going through free agency? Or do they continue vying for the big fish after being spurned? ---@HWMNBN1988

CG: As much as we all love the prospects, they are still just that: prospects. You don’t know who or how many of them will reach their ceilings and excel in the majors. That’s a big reason why the White Sox are pursuing Harper and Machado. They are special MVP talents who are rare in the game, even more so as available free agents at the age of 26. You can wait around and hope that someone like Micker Adolfo can become Bryce Harper or you can try to sign Bryce Harper. If the White Sox can’t reel in either of these guys, they should try again next winter when the likes of Nolan Arenado, Anthony Rendon and Gerrit Cole will be available. Chris Sale is set to hit the open market as well. However, he’s got such a good thing going in Boston (and getting to live at home in Naples, FL during spring training), I don’t see him leaving.

Q: Do you honestly believe Harper and/or Machado will complete this team?  Why? --- @ronnieranola

CG: Neither of them will complete the White Sox. Heck, both of them won’t complete them, at least not yet. You still have the starting rotation and bullpen, but either of them would be huge additions to the team. There are some who question if Machado should really be the face of the franchise. That’s a whole other discussion. All I know is, he would be a tremendous upgrade to the ballclub. He’s not a clubhouse cancer. He’d immediately make the White Sox better. A lot better.

Q: Media vibe of late doesn’t have Sox as favorites for either Harper or Machado...what odds do you give for either landing on 35th St.?  -- @DARTHBOBBYA

CG: This is basically like throwing darts. I have no idea, but here goes.

White Sox chances of signing Machado: 8 to 1

White Sox chances of signing Harper: 20 to 1

*longshots do win from time to time

Q:  Give me your best Pauly story!  --- @RyanODell14

CG:  My favorite Paul Konerko story is actually one that occurred years before he even played for the White Sox. We all know about the legendary brawl between Robin Ventura and Nolan Ryan in 1993 when Ventura charged the mound in Arlington, Texas and the 46-year-old Texan pounded a slew of noogies to Ventura’s head.  It turns out that a young Paul Konerko was actually in the crowd that night with his junior Olympic baseball team. And before the game, Ventura spoke to Konerko’s team about of all things: sportsmanship! I wrote this story in 2012 and it’s one of my all-time favorites.  Some memorable quotes:

Konerko: “They probably just grabbed (Ventura) and he didn’t even know what it was, and he came out, said hello, good luck guys, that kind of stuff.  Two hours later, there’s a riot on the field that he caused.”

Ventura:  “Apparently, I was talking to an amateur team about sportsmanship. Things went a little haywire in the game.”

Q: In Vegas.  Where’s Harper?  --- @Pjcasey2

CG: Craps table at the Wynn. Go get him! Bring him to the South Side!

Q: So our Chuck...This is going to be Year 3 of the rebuild. What's your take on where the rebuild stands right now? --- @pfrickey

CG: All things considered, I believe the rebuild is on the right track. The White Sox got some great talent back in the trades for Sale, Quintana, Eaton, Frazier, Robertson, etc.  They’ve also put together two very promising drafts. This turned their farm system from one of the worst in baseball into one of the best. But that was only Phase One of the rebuild. We’re currently in Phase Two, which consists of many of these young players making their way to the big leagues. Those who have — like Moncada, Lopez, Giolito, Kopech — had some growing pains last year. There will be more of that development ahead as prospects like Jimenez, Cease, Dunning, Burdi, Collins, Robert, etc. reach the majors in 2019 and beyond. I don’t have the actual blueprints to the White Sox rebuild, but if they are able to sign big names like Harper and Machado, I’d look at that as essentially the start of Phase Three: adding premium veteran talent to the young core. If it doesn’t happen this offseason, the White Sox will be in position to add next offseason, when a very strong free agent class hits the market again. You can’t look at the White Sox 62-100 record in 2018 and make a judgment call about the rebuild. Most of the players they acquired are still in the minors and those who have made it to Chicago need more time to develop.

That said, I’m really excited about the future. There are some dynamic players in the organization. I’m hoping to see a lot of progress in both the majors and minors next season. Better days are ahead.

Q:  Would like to hear who is the likely 5th starter (and in reality with Rodon’s injury track record-6th). Coming from within the organization or as a Free agent signing? Thank you for the podcast. You are a great and informative listen. Happy New Year. --- @lmbass57

CG: It’s probably safe to say that the White Sox will be adding a veteran starter or two before spring training to compete for a spot in the rotation.  Not sure if they will be getting major league or minor league contracts. The free agents still out there don’t exactly jump off the page. If you play fantasy baseball, it’s very similar to the middle of summer when you need a starter. You look at the free agents available and the list includes Gio Gonzalez, Wade Miley, Ervin Santana, Doug Fister, Jaime Garcia, Marco Estrada, Edwin Jackson.  You know what I’m talking about. All of them have shown flashes in the past, but you really have no idea what you’re getting. Maybe you’re lucky. You sign the right one, they have a comeback season and you look like a fantasy genius! That’s probably what Rick Hahn is contemplating right now. Which one of those guys should he sign and for how much? Fantasy baseball is a lot easier than reality baseball, Rick, may the force be with you.

As for internal candidates, there’s Jordan Stephens, Kodi Medeiros and Spencer Adams, although he’s not on the 40-man. Dylan Cease is, and if he has another stellar season in the minors, you could see him in the majors later in 2019. Thanks for listening to the podcast!

Q:  How come we haven't heard more about signing guys like Curtis Granderson or Adam Jones? Veterans that are good in clubhouse and can be signed for low cost 1 year deal. --- @bsell86

CG: Give it some time. Guys like Granderson and Jones will probably be the last to be signed once the bigger free agents are all taken.

Q: Chuck, how about a trivia question that would make any Sox fan as myself disgusted. Clayton Richard was just traded to Toronto. He is one of the two remaining active players from our last playoff team in 2008. Who is the other?  --- @ralph6esposito

CG: I believe the only other active player remaining from 2008 is Boone Logan. The Brewers DFA’d him, so he’s without a team right now. He’s had a pretty good run in the majors. 13 seasons. Not bad.

Q: Who will be World Series MVP in 2020? Cease? Kopech? Harper? Moncada?  ---@Remember_Roar

CG: I’ll go with Jimenez.

Q: Do you like gladiator movies? --- @Snarky_Dave

CG: Have you ever been in a Turkish prison?  (We’re quoting from the movie “Airplane.”)

Q: What's the fastest animal on Earth? -- @Jozefowski

CG: Another quote from “Airplane.” Not sure what happened here. I think it’s a sign we need to wrap this up.   

Q: What would we do without chuck?  -- @oglando23

CG: I do not know. Seriously, Happy New Year to all of you great White Sox fans out there! You’re the best!  Hope it’s a happy and healthy 2019!

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MLB proposing colossal changes to minor leagues, including eliminating dozens of teams

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USA TODAY

MLB proposing colossal changes to minor leagues, including eliminating dozens of teams

If Major League Baseball gets its way, there could be seismic changes coming to the minor leagues.

According to a report from Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper, the league has proposed a host of sweeping changes to the minor leagues, including the elimination of 42 affiliated teams.

The proposal is merely the beginning of what are expected to be lengthy negotiations over a new version of what’s called the “Professional Baseball Agreement,” basically the contract that keeps the major and minor leagues connected and minor league teams stocked with players employed by major league clubs. The existing edition expires at the end of the 2020 season, and so a new one will need to be hashed out.

Major League Baseball is looking for control over how the minor leagues are organized, with an eye on improving facilities and clustering affiliates and leagues from a geographic standpoint to cut down on travel costs. There’s also expected to be an increase in salaries for minor league players, which has long been a talking point thanks to the increasing number of descriptions of how financially difficult life can be for those trying to reach the majors.

To accomplish those goals, Major League Baseball is proposing drastic solutions.

The one that will grab the most attention is the elimination of more than a quarter of the existing affiliated teams in the minor leagues, removing affiliated minor league teams from more than three dozen cities across the United States and getting rid of more than 1,000 jobs for minor league players. Simply, the entire short-season rookie ball (excluding squads that play at team-owned facilities in Arizona and Florida) would be eliminated, leaving only four levels of affiliated teams: Low Class A, High Class A, Double-A and Triple-A.

If you’re wondering what would happen to those 42 teams, the proposal is for them to form something called a “Dream League,” which would essentially serve the same purpose as an independent league, allowing players without jobs to keep playing and try to get a job with a major league team.

Additionally, Major League Baseball is proposing radical restructuring of existing leagues in order to cluster teams closer together. That could include changing the level of certain teams, such as making a Class A team a Triple-A team based on the quality of facilities and what makes the most geographic sense. Leagues could also gain or lose a large number of teams, with the Triple-A International League growing to 20 teams and the Triple-A Pacific Coast League shrinking to just 10 teams. One Class A league was described as being reduced to just six teams, while the rest of its current teams would be put into a brand-new league.

As for how the White Sox and their affiliates would be affected, team-specific information was not included in the report. One read of the details of this proposal could see something such as the White Sox affiliates being relocated to Midwestern cities. Another, however, could see the White Sox affiliates mostly staying how they currently are, given those teams are all geographically close to one another, with all but one located in North Carolina.

Buried in all of this is another big change, a proposed move of the draft from June to August, giving players a couple more months to show off for major league teams, and a reduction in the number of rounds from the current 40 to somewhere between 20 and 25. That, and the elimination of short-season rookie ball, would likely prevent draftees from playing minor league baseball in the same year they’re drafted.

It’s all something to keep an eye on, for sure, as many fans across the country who closely follow minor league teams in their hometowns could experience a dramatic shakeup.

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State of the White Sox: Manager and coaching staff

State of the White Sox: Manager and coaching staff

Previous: Relief pitching Starting pitching | Designated hitter | Right field | Center field | Left field | Catcher | Shortstop Third base  Second base | First base

The 2019 season is over, and the White Sox — who have been focusing on the future for quite some time now — are faced with an important offseason, one that could set up a 2020 campaign with hopes of playoff contention.

With the postseason in swing and a little bit still before the hot stove starts cooking, let’s take a position-by-position look at where the White Sox stand, what they’re looking to accomplish this winter and what we expect to see in 2020 and beyond.

We’re wrapping things up with the manager and the coaching staff.

What happened in 2019

While it’s easy to cruise through the statistical production of players and determine just how well they performed in 2019, that’s a little more difficult when it comes to manager Rick Renteria and his coaching staff.

In the end, managers and coaches are evaluated on win-loss record — or at least how close they came to meeting the expectations in that department. While the White Sox are a gruesome 83 games under .500 in Renteria’s three years at the helm, that’s not really falling outside the expectations he had when he took over a rebuilding club. So it’s pretty hard to argue that because the White Sox lost 89 games in 2019, Renteria did a poor job.

Truly, his performance as a manager can’t be determined until he’s managing a team with expectations of winning. Renteria more than anyone has been the one setting such expectations for 2020, spending much of the waning weeks of the 2019 campaign voicing his opinion that all this losing stops next season.

“I’m expecting that this is it,” Renteria said. “We’re trying to win. We talk about it, we’re going through it. I know there’s still some refining to do, but I’ll be honest with you, we’re coming in, we’re finishing this season, we’re talking about coming into next season ready to battle. Period. Exclamation point. That’s what we’re looking to do.”

Renteria and his staff did plenty in 2019 to continue developing the team’s young players into the core of the future. But the skipper's most memorable on-field moment came in September, when even after he stopped making mound visits because of shoulder surgery, he went out to the mound and had an animated conversation with Reynaldo Lopez. Lopez made a habit of following up stellar performances with ugly ones, lacking consistency in a fashion that made even the optimistic Renteria throw up his hands at times. Renteria utilized that frustration on the mound in Detroit in an attempt to get some points across to the pitcher.


When it comes to Renteria’s staff, certainly they deserve some credit for some of the breakout seasons on the roster. Hitting coach Todd Steverson did offseason work with both Yoan Moncada and Tim Anderson ahead of 2019 campaigns that saw them transform into the best all-around hitter on the team and the big league batting champ, respectively. Pitching coach Don Cooper helped oversee Lucas Giolito’s transformation into an All Star. Infield coach Joe McEwing worked with Moncada, who made a smooth transition from second base to third base.

But if the coaches earn some of the credit for the things that went right, they must also be mentioned alongside the things that went wrong. Steverson coached an offense that ranked near the bottom of the game in most categories. Cooper coached a starting rotation that finished the season with a 5.30 ERA. McEwing coached Anderson, who committed a major league high 26 errors.

None of that is to say those guys are wholly responsible for those negative outcomes. Just as the players have to be the ones to turn in the good results, they’re the ones who have to turn in the poor ones, as well. Steverson, however, along with assistant hitting coach Greg Sparks, will not be back for the 2020 season.

What will happen this offseason

The White Sox have already made their coaching moves this offseason, parting ways with Steverson and Sparks and replacing Steverson with Frank Menechino, who after several seasons on the Miami Marlins staff took over as the hitting coach at Triple-A Charlotte in 2019.

Menechino impressed the White Sox with his work there, spent September with the big league club and was quickly promoted once the season was over. At Charlotte, he worked with top-ranked prospects Luis Robert and Nick Madrigal, who both had fantastic seasons playing at three different minor league levels and figure to be everyday players for most of the 2020 season.

The change, in the end, seemed to be more about how the White Sox felt about what Menechino could bring to the table than a reaction to the offensive production from a team that didn’t have expectations of doing much more than it did during another rebuilding season.

General manager Rick Hahn announced that the rest of the staff will be back in 2020.

What to expect for 2020 and beyond

There will be a change in the expectations game come 2020. That should be mostly because of the breakout 2019 seasons from so many young players, the pending arrival of Robert and Madrigal and the offseason additions anticipated to be made by Hahn’s front office. But if nothing else, the expectations, when it comes to Renteria, will be different because he’s already said they will be.

“I'm not going to make any bones about it, it's time to turn the page,” he said just last week, “it's time to get us to another level of performance. That goes across the board, it goes with all aspects of our game.”

And so judging him and his staff can reach another level, too, because it will no longer solely be about hard-to-define development but the cold, hard wins and losses. Plenty of fans have taken to Twitter and complained about Renteria during this losing stretch, suggesting he’s not the one to manage this team into a winning era, but those were conclusions that cannot be drawn considering the quality of the rosters he’s managed in his three years on the South Side. How can you judge a manager’s ability to contend when he doesn’t have the tools to do so?

That’s about to change, so there will finally be some actual evidence to back up either side of that argument.

It’s clear where the White Sox stand in that discussion. They’ve been praising the job Renteria has done for three years now, and they’ve expressed nothing but confidence that he’ll be the guy to get it done.

“When Ricky was put in that role, it wasn't with the idea that he was just going to be the right guy for the first stage, the stage that is coming toward an end here, or is at an end here,” Hahn said during his end-of-season press conference last month. “Obviously, the history and teaching and communicating and holding guys accountable is very important now. But even at the time we hired him, we felt he had the ability to not only set the right winning culture but to put guys in the best position to win.

“His ability to communicate with all 25 or 26 guys on a daily basis, to know where they're at, to know what they're capable of doing and putting them in the best position, makes us fairly confident that once that roster is deep enough and strong enough that he's going to be able to maximize the win potential with that roster when the time comes.”

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