Tag:White Sox
Posted on: December 20, 2011 4:33 pm
 

From Yu to Yoenis

If not Yu, maybe Yoenis.

It's time to move from one international man of mystery to another. It's time to move from one player fans crave without really knowing much about him to another.

Yu Darvish is off the market, his rights awarded to the Rangers late Monday night for a cool $51.7 million.

Next up, Yoenis Cespedes.

The 26-year-old Cuban outfield (and YouTube) sensation isn't technically available yet. His agent told ESPNDeportes.com that Cespedes should be able to establish residency in the Dominican Republic this week. There's another step after that before he can become a free agent, but the expectation in baseball is that he'll officially go on the market sometime in January.

And the expectation in baseball is that the bidding for him could get crazy.

Unlike Darvish, the Japanese pitcher who had to go through the blind-bid posting system, Cespedes will be a true free agent, meaning that competing teams can bid up the price.

Rival teams say that the market is still hard to call, but some regard the Marlins as the early favorite. In the latest Cespedes video to hit the internet, Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen and owner Jeffrey Loria are featured prominently.

The video also shows Cespedes with Willie Horton of the Tigers, with Pat Gillick of the Phillies, with Theo Epstein of the Cubs and with Dave Magadan of the Red Sox. The Yankees are also expected to be involved, although their interest has been described as moderate.

Also, word in the international scouting community is that the White Sox watched Cespedes in a private workout recently. The White Sox have had recent success with Cuban players, having signed Alexei Ramirez and Dayan Viciedo.

There is also some talk that the Orioles will bid. There could be more. When Cespedes had an open workout last month, 150 scouts showed up.

An official of one team involved said that Cespedes' agents expect him to land a contract of between $25-45 million, but some in baseball have even speculated that the final price will be higher.

As with Darvish, there's no doubting Cespedes' natural ability. Many scouts have compared him to Bo Jackson, with a combination of speed and power that is rarely seen.

"He can beat out an infield hit to beat you, or he can come up the next time and hit it 500 feet to beat you," said one scout who has watched Cespedes. "He has a compact swing, with power. The swing plays, and the speed plays."

So what's the risk?

As with Darvish, Cespedes has never faced anything close to major-league competition day-in, day-out. No one knows how quickly he'll make the cultural adjustment.

Scouts from two teams said that they would feel more comfortable starting him off in the minor leagues first, to ease the adjustment.

As with Darvish, fans around baseball dream of Cespedes in their favorite team's uniform. On Twitter, I get more Cespedes questions than Prince Fielder questions.

With Darvish off the market, and with Cespedes about to enter it, let the madness begin.
Posted on: December 7, 2011 3:20 am
 

White Sox trade Santos, and it's only the start

DALLAS -- The rebuilding process has officially begun on the South Side of Chicago, and by the time it ends the White Sox could look nothing like the disappointing team that finished 79-83 last year.

General manager Ken Williams took the first step Tuesday, trading closer Sergio Santos to the Blue Jays for pitching prospect Nestor Molina. Bigger steps should follow, with the White Sox signaling to other teams that pitchers John Danks and Gavin Floyd, outfielder Carlos Quentin and second baseman Gordon Beckham are among those available.

In fact, sources familiar with the Sox plans said, it is entirely possible that Danks, Floyd, Quentin and Beckham and others could all be elsewhere by opening day.

"It is the start of a rebuilding," Williams told Chicago writers. "And you guys know I have not used that word in 12 years."

Williams has been threatening to break up this team since the middle of last season, and only a few wins in the final week of July kept the Sox from shopping many players at the July 31 deadline.

Williams then said at last month's general managers meetings that he had trades in mind, and promised to use the word "rebuilding" by January if he could get what he wanted.

It turned out he used it in the first week of December.

The Santos move helps the Blue Jays, who have spent the first part of the winter looking for a closer. The White Sox got back a 22-year-old right-hander with sparkling minor-league numbers (27-7, 2.21, 277 strikeouts in 292 2/3 innings), but a pitcher who the Blue Jays and some other teams project as a middle reliever in the big leagues because of his slight build.


Posted on: December 7, 2011 3:20 am
 

White Sox trade Santos, and it's only the start

DALLAS -- The rebuilding process has officially begun on the South Side of Chicago, and by the time it ends the White Sox could look nothing like the disappointing team that finished 79-83 last year.

General manager Ken Williams took the first step Tuesday, trading closer Sergio Santos to the Blue Jays for pitching prospect Nestor Molina. Bigger steps should follow, with the White Sox signaling to other teams that pitchers John Danks and Gavin Floyd, outfielder Carlos Quentin and second baseman Gordon Beckham are among those available.

In fact, sources familiar with the Sox plans said, it is entirely possible that Danks, Floyd, Quentin and Beckham and others could all be elsewhere by opening day.

"It is the start of a rebuilding," Williams told Chicago writers. "And you guys know I have not used that word in 12 years."

Williams has been threatening to break up this team since the middle of last season, and only a few wins in the final week of July kept the Sox from shopping many players at the July 31 deadline.

Williams then said at last month's general managers meetings that he had trades in mind, and promised to use the word "rebuilding" by January if he could get what he wanted.

It turned out he used it in the first week of December.

The Santos move helps the Blue Jays, who have spent the first part of the winter looking for a closer. The White Sox got back a 22-year-old right-hander with sparkling minor-league numbers (27-7, 2.21, 277 strikeouts in 292 2/3 innings), but a pitcher who the Blue Jays and some other teams project as a middle reliever in the big leagues because of his slight build.


Posted on: November 15, 2011 9:10 pm
 

The White Sox could be . . . rebuilding?

MILWAUKEE -- The last time I mentioned rebuilding to Kenny Williams, he scoffed at the idea.

"You know me," the White Sox general manager said. "You know Ozzie. As competitive as we are, do you think we could accept rebuilding?"

That was a few years back.

Ozzie Guillen is gone. The White Sox went through a thoroughly frustrating and disappointing 2011 season.

Times have changed.

And now the White Sox are . . . rebuilding?

It sure sounds that way.

They're readier than ever to say good-bye to free agent starter Mark Buehrle, a mainstay in the Sox rotation since 2001. They're more willing than ever to trade starters John Danks and Gavin Floyd ("If you're going to trade one, you might as well trade both," one rival general manager said). They'd definitely deal Carlos Quentin. They could well be willing to deal Gordon Beckham.

If they do everything they want, Williams said Tuesday, they will definitely be rebuilding. If they do everything they want, Williams promises to even admit that they are rebuilding.

"I'd use [the word]," he said. "If we do this, I'd use it. Check with me in January."

The White Sox won't have a total makeover. It's not possible. No one is taking the Alex Rios contract, or the Adam Dunn contract.

And as for the players he can trade, Williams said he isn't just looking to fill specific needs.

"There are specific players it would take to get [Danks and/or Floyd]," he said. "Reasonable baseball deals. But impactful players. High-ceiling players."

High-ceiling young players, or exactly the kind of players you'd expect a rebuilding team to acquire.

Williams says this doesn't mean he'd be giving up on 2012. Fair enough, because talented young teams can win.

But with the White Sox very possibly rebuilding, and the Twins in a total state of flux, and the Indians and Royals still young, the Tigers may well be the biggest favorite of any team in any division next April.

"They'd be a heavy favorite," one National League general manager said Tuesday.

And the White Sox -- the Kenny Williams White Sox -- would be . . . rebuilding.
Posted on: October 31, 2011 11:35 am
 

Leyland on La Russa: 'Probably best of all time'

Tony La Russa goes out on top.

On top of the baseball world in 2011, because his Cardinals won the World Series. On top of the list of modern-era managers, with only Connie Mack (who retired in 1950) and John McGraw (who retired in 1932) ahead of him in total wins.

On top . . .

"He's probably the best of all-time," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said Monday morning, after La Russa announced his retirement. "I think you could make an argument that he's the best."

La Russa went from the White Sox to the A's to the Cardinals, and he was successful at all three stops. He won a World Series with the A's, and he won two with the Cardinals.

Along the way, he and Leyland became the closest of friends. They managed against each other in the minor leagues. La Russa hired Leyland as his third-base coach with the White Sox. And La Russa's Cardinals beat Leyland's Tigers in the 2006 World Series.

They nearly met again this year, but Leyland's Tigers lost to the Rangers in the American League Championship Series. So Leyland watched from home as the Cardinals won.

"You talk about capping off a brilliant career," Leyland said.

Yes, Tony La Russa went out on top.
Posted on: September 30, 2011 8:28 pm
 

Francona could end up with White Sox

Now that Terry Francona is gone from the Red Sox, will he end up as Ozzie Guillen's successor with the White Sox?

There are plenty of good reasons to believe he could, along with one or two reasons to believe that it won't happen.

Reason No. 1: Francona once worked for the White Sox, and has remained a favorite with White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf. Maybe not as big a favorite as Tony La Russa, but a favorite, all the same.

Reason No. 2: Francona is close with Don Cooper, the pitching coach who just got an extension in Chicago. According to sources, Cooper is pushing for Francona to be the next manager.

Reason No. 3: Francona remains close with Buddy Bell, who has increasing power in the White Sox organization. Francona worked on Bell's coaching staff years ago with the Tigers. There were early suggestions that Bell could succeed Guillen, but according to sources Bell isn't interested in returning to the dugout at this time.

So why wouldn't it happen?

Well, the White Sox have been sending out signals that they are more likely to go for a younger manager. Also, some White Sox people believe that Reinsdorf doesn't want to spend big on a manager, unless it's La Russa (and maybe not even then). The contract options that the Red Sox turned down Friday were worth $4.5 million each.

Francona isn't likely to come cheap, and he could well have other options. Maybe the Cubs, maybe even the Nationals (although Davey Johnson is expected back there).

But don't be surprised if he ends up with the White Sox.

Category: MLB
Posted on: September 2, 2011 2:00 am
 

3 to Watch: The White Sox crisis edition

If the White Sox somehow find their way back into the race in the American League Central, will Ozzie Guillen and Kenny Williams stop fighting long enough to enjoy it?

Should they?

Sometimes it feels like the White Sox only play well when they're in crisis. Sure enough, they've won seven of their last 10, during a stretch that included Guillen's strange demand for a contract extension and also, according to sources, a nasty pregame confrontation between Williams and one of Guillen's coaches.

Sometimes it seems that if things get ugly enough off the field, the White Sox respond by avoiding ugly play on the field.

The Sox are still 5 1/2 games behind the first-place Tigers, which means they probably need to win at least five of the six remaining head-to-head meetings to have any chance at a miracle run.

The White Sox get their first chance this weekend in Detroit, with three meetings Sept. 12-14 in Chicago. Neither team's schedule is particularly taxing otherwise, which is better news for the Tigers, as the team holding a significant lead.

If there were close races elsewhere, we'd barely acknowledge Tigers-White Sox. But five of the eight playoff spots are basically wrapped up, and baseball is in real danger of a September without drama.

If you want a pennant race, root for the second-place Giants this weekend against the first-place Diamondbacks, who lead San Francisco by six games. And if you like your drama on and off the field, root for the White Sox against the Tigers.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. The next seven days might be the most crucial remaining stretch in the American League West, even though the first-place Rangers and second-place Angels will be on opposite coasts. The Rangers have six games at Boston and at Tampa Bay, which could give the Angels (six home games against the Twins and Mariners) a chance to eat into their 3 1/2-game deficit. It begins for Texas with Rangers at Red Sox, Friday night (7:10 ET) at Fenway Park. It could also be an interesting night for the Red Sox, who are starting to believe that Andrew Miller could help them in some role in the playoffs. Miller, the 6-foot-7 left-hander, shut out the Rangers for 6 1/3 innings last week in Texas.

2. The Diamondbacks have won nine in a row, and as everyone in Arizona no doubt knows by now, club president Derrick Hall and general manager Kevin Towers vowed to shave their heads if the team ever won 10 straight. That could happen Friday night, when Joe Saunders faces Matt Cain. But the most interesting pitching matchup of the weekend comes a day later, in Diamondbacks at Giants, Saturday night (9:05 ET) at AT&T Park. Ian Kennedy, a Cy Young candidate this year, faces Tim Lincecum, a Cy candidate every year.

3. The presence of Justin Verlander in the Tiger rotation makes it unlikely they'll lose enough games to blow a 5 1/2-game lead. But if the Tigers are to truly be dangerous in the playoffs, they'd likely need Max Scherzer to find some consistency, as well. Scherzer has a 1.64 ERA in three starts this year against the White Sox, but he gave up seven runs in three innings Monday night against the Royals. Scherzer faces Mark Buehrle in White Sox at Tigers, Sunday night (8:09 ET) at Comerica Park.


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).

 
 
 
 
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