Tag:Matt Thornton
Posted on: August 24, 2011 5:30 pm

Could the White Sox still sell?

When the White Sox fell five games out of first place in late July, general manager Ken Williams threatened major changes.

Now the White Sox are 6 1/2 games out, with 25 fewer games left on the schedule and with the first-place Tigers looking stronger than they have all season.

Could Williams attempt a late-August sell-off?

According to sources, the Sox put John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Paul Konerko and Matt Thornton on trade waivers Wednesday. While that doesn't mean Williams intends to trade any or all of those players, it's interesting because those very names came up when Williams was talking of changes last month.

Thornton is probably the most likely one to be dealt, given the number of teams that need left-handed relief and the fact that the White Sox have depth in that area.

Danks and Floyd would have great value, but both will almost certainly be claimed, which means Williams would only be able to deal with one team this month. Neither is eligible for free agency, so he could trade either one with no restrictions (if he wants to) this winter.

Konerko is a 10-5 player, which means he would need to approve any trade. It seems much less likely that he would be dealt, but sources say that White Sox players believed he would be shopped in late July if they didn't get close to the division lead.

They did get close then, and Williams' only trade was to send Edwin Jackson and Mark Teahen to the Blue Jays.

They're not very close now, despite six remaining head-to-head games against the Tigers. The computers at coolstandings.com give the Sox a 10 percent chance at catching the Tigers (compared to 17 percent a month ago).

Posted on: August 24, 2011 4:07 pm
Edited on: August 24, 2011 8:18 pm

A few names on waivers, and what it means

The Red Sox put Carl Crawford on trade waivers Wednesday, which means nothing.

The Reds put Ramon Hernandez on the wire, which could be more interesting.

The White Sox put John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Paul Konerko and Matt Thornton on, which may or may not mean anything.

The waiver process is theoretically secret and absolutely prone to misunderstanding and misinterpretation.

Dozens of players are placed on waivers every day during August. Quite a few are claimed. Very few are traded.

Does it mean anything that the Rockies were awarded a claim on Wandy Rodriguez, or that the Giants were reportedly awarded a claim on Heath Bell?

Possibly. Or it could turn out meaning absolutely nothing.

Here's an attempt to explain to make a strange and complicated process a little simpler:

1. After 4 p.m. ET on July 31, players can't be traded without waivers until after the end of the season.

2. During August, teams routinely place nearly every player on waivers. Some they'd love to trade. Some they wouldn't trade under any circumstances. Sometimes they want to gauge interest. Sometimes they put players they're obviously not going to trade (Crawford, for example) on the wire to disguise which players they don't want to see get claimed. Sometimes they want a player to clear, sometimes they'd rather he get claimed.

3. If no team claims a player, he is said to have cleared waivers and then can be traded without restriction.

4. If one team claims a player, the team that put the players on waivers has three options. It can work out a deal with the claiming team, or simply allow the claim to go through, or pull the player back off waivers. If he is pulled back, he is basically untradeable for the rest of the season. Teams sometimes allow claims to go through because they want to be rid of the contract, as happened when the White Sox got Alex Rios from the White Sox.

5. If multiple teams put in a claim, the claim is awarded to the team that was lowest in the standings on the day the player went on waivers. If the teams have the same record, then the tie-breaker is which team finished lower in the standings last year. Then the process is the same as above, with the team having three options.

6. Teams sometimes put in claims in an effort to "block" players from going to teams ahead of them in the standings. The risk is that the claim can go through and the team ends up with the player. But sometimes that even works out, as it did when the Giants "blocked" Cody Ross from going to the Padres last year.

7. The process is theoretically secret, with massive fines threatened for revealing any information. That's why no one is ever quoted on the record until a deal is done, and also why information leaks out in bits and pieces, if at all.

According to sources, the Rockies were awarded the claim on Rodriguez, and the teams have until 1 p.m. Thursday to work out a deal. But as of Wednesday night, it appeared those talks were basically dead, because the Astros put a considerably higher value on Rodriguez than the Rockies do (and weren't simply interested in dumping his large contract).

Also, according to sources, the Giants were awarded the claim on Bell. Those teams have until 1 p.m. Friday to work out a deal, and just as with Rodriguez, sources were suggesting that a deal is unlikely.

Jon Heyman of SI.com reported that the Yankees were awarded a claim on Cubs first baseman Carlos Pena. Those teams also have until 1 p.m. Friday to work out a deal.

Posted on: April 25, 2011 10:29 pm

Can Santos save the White Sox?

NEW YORK -- For now, it seems Sergio Santos is the White Sox closer.

Hey, he hasn't failed yet.

Santos recorded a four-out save in Chicago's 2-0 Monday night win over the Yankees, giving the White Sox just their second save of the season, their first since April 9. The White Sox have struggled so much that Monday's save opportunity was their first since April 13, when opening day closer Matt Thornton was charged with his fourth blown save in as many chances.

Sale also had a blown save early in the season, and while he has the only other Sox save this year, he also has a 5.79 ERA in nine appearances.

Guillen had Sale pitch to the first two batters in the eighth inning Monday, then went to the right-handed Santos with pinch hitter Andruw Jones at the plate. Eric Chavez, who hit for Jones, single, but Santos got Derek Jeter to end the eighth. Santos gave up a leadoff single to Curtis Granderson in the ninth, then got Mark Teixeira to hit into a double play and struck out Alex Rodriguez to end the game.

And, it appears, to earn himself a chance to keep the closing job.

"If the opportunity comes up again, we'll see how he handles it," Guillen said.

Posted on: April 25, 2011 6:29 pm
Edited on: April 25, 2011 10:16 pm

The White Sox in crisis -- as usual

NEW YORK -- Every year, we go through this with the White Sox.

Every year, we go through this with Ozzie Guillen.

"Every year at some point, somehow, I'm getting fired," Guillen said Monday.

Yes, crisis time is here again for the White Sox, although Monday night's 2-0 win over the Yankees will help a little. Now the White Sox are 2-10 over their last 12 games, matching those other Sox, who went 2-10 over their first 12 games.

But even if there was panic all over New England until the Red Sox began winning, it's safe to say that no one does crisis quite like the White Sox. The only surprise is that Ozzie hasn't said anything -- yet -- that would have people asking if this time, he really is going to get fired.

The assumption from people who know White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf has always been that only something Guillen says -- something really, really bad -- could get him fired. But some of those same people are wondering this week whether this team could play poorly enough that Guillen's job would become an issue.

"Is Ozzie's voice getting old?" one of those people asked Monday.

The word in the White Sox clubhouse is that it's not, that Ozzie is the same as ever and that this is just a bad stretch of games like other bad stretches the White Sox have endured.

"He's the same guy he's been since my first year here," said Matt Thornton, now in his sixth year as a White Sox reliever. "He just has a little more gray hair, most of it my fault."

Other White Sox players and coaches say the same thing, and Guillen's pregame media session Monday was like any number of others he has held when White Sox times have been bad.

He expressed confidence in his team ("We need to go out and let the talent take over"), defended hitting coach Greg Walker ("Some [players] out there are making $12-15 million. Greg Walker's only making $100,000. We're not struggling because of Greg Walker"), and joked about his lack of a true closer ("Somebody's going to be out there, and we have to pray, because we need a win").

And, asked whether general manager Ken Williams would want to talk to him about changing coaches, Guillen said, "If they're going to blame anybody, I take the blame. If somebody's got to be fired here, it's Ozzie."

Williams arrived in New York after a flight delay ("Two and half hours with angry Sox fans," he said), and also expressed confidence that the White Sox are much better than their record.

"We have the ability, we have the talent," Williams said. "Call me crazy, but I happen to think we've got a pretty good team out there. They're what we think they are."

We've heard it all before, and we've seen this all before. Just last year, the White Sox started 8-13, the same record they had before Sunday's loss in Detroit.

The difference this year is that the Sox now have the highest payroll in the division (a club-record $127.8 million), and also that they pushed their players harder in spring training in hopes of getting off to a fast start.

"We got off to a slow start last year, and it ended up costing us the division," said starter Jake Peavy, who believes he needs just two more rehab starts before making his 2011 debut.

They have been here before, but has it been this bad?

Scouts who watched the White Sox over the last week described them as "uninspired" and said there was "no energy."

"They're going to snap out of it . . . I think," said one scout who has followed the White Sox for years.

You have to figure they will, because you have to figure that some of their big hitters will start hitting. While the bullpen was the problem early in the season (and while the White Sox still have just one save in seven opportunities), the biggest recent problem has been a severe lack of offense.

And while it's true that the White Sox have faced great pitching during this 2-10 slide (David Price, Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, Justin Verlander, and then A.J. Burnett Monday night), it's also true that they've scored just 27 runs in that span.

New designated hitter Adam Dunn had a ground ball that brought in a run Monday, but he's still hitting just .158 with 24 strikeouts in 57 at-bats. Alex Rios had a hit Monday, but that broke an 0-for-22 skid. Gordon Beckham has just one hit in his last 29 at-bats.

"Hitting is so mental," Walker said. "Right now, our team doesn't feel that good about themselves. But deep down, they know they're good."

They should be good. They should be much better than this.

But weren't we saying the exact same thing a couple of weeks back about a different group of Sox?

The Red Sox lost 10 of their first 12. The White Sox has lost 10 of their last 12.

Is it that different?

"I saw them a lot in spring training, and I thought they'd have a heck of a year," one scout said Monday.

Just to be clear, he was talking about the White Sox.

Posted on: April 19, 2011 12:55 pm

Year of the closer crisis? No, just normal April

The Twins have changed closers. The White Sox have changed closers. The Cardinals have a closer problem.

And last night, when John Axford was wild (again) and blew a save (for the first time since his opening day disaster), Brewers manager Ron Roenicke was asked if his team has a closer problem. He said no.

But here's the bigger question: Is there a closer problem in baseball overall?

Or is this just a normal April?

Well, through the first 19 days of this season, there have been 24 blown saves in the ninth inning or later (including four each by Matt Thornton of the White Sox and Ryan Franklin of the Cardinals).

That sounds like a lot.

Well, through the first 19 days of the 2010 season, there had already been 26 blown saves in the ninth inning or later. The Rangers had already changed closers. The Orioles had put their unsuccessful closer on the disabled list. Trevor Hoffman was on his way out of the job in Milwaukee, and the Diamondbacks were already on the to having one of the worst bullpens in history.

So is 2011 unusual? Or is this just a typical April?
Posted on: July 26, 2008 7:10 pm

Williams: 'The climate is awful'

The White Sox were looking for pitching even before they put Scott Linebrink on the DL Saturday with a sore right shoulder. But so far, general manager Kenny Williams isn't encouraged.

"The climate is awful," Williams said before Chicago's Saturday night game in Detroit. "But that's from my perspective. Obviously the Yankees were able to get something done. But from our vantage point, I'm not really seeing anything that makes sense."

Even with Linebrink out, it's believed that the Sox are focused more on getting a starter than on getting a reliever. But they've looked at both.

Manager Ozzie Guillen said that in Linebrink's absence, he'll normally use Octavio Dotel in the eighth inning, and D.J. Carrasco in the seventh. But he said he would also consider using Matt Thornton if the opponent had a lot of left-handers scheduled to bat in either the seventh or the eighth, and he said he would consider Dotel in the sixth or seventh if he thought that was the most important inning of the game.

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