Posted on: December 22, 2011 2:05 pm

So are the White Sox really rebuilding?

Kenny Williams said the White Sox were rebuilding.

He never said they were trying to lose.

He definitely never said that the White Sox were looking at a long-term rebuilding project.

The White Sox's decision to sign John Danks to a five-year, $65 million contract, after spending the first part of the winter trying to trade their left-handed starter, certainly caught people by surprise. But it may not be the complete about-face that it at first seemed to be.

First off, Danks is still just 26. Even when Williams was talking about rebuilding, he was primarily talking about getting younger. A 26-year-old lefty who has averaged 195 innings a year over the last four seasons fits in perfectly, once you're sure you won't lose him to free agency in another year.

Second, the White Sox knew they were never going to be able to trade high-priced players like Alex Rios, Adam Dunn or Jake Peavy, and almost certainly weren't going to trade Paul Konerko, either. It's not like they were ever going to slash their payroll down to nothing.

Third, the word in both the international scouting community and among White Sox people is that the Sox could be very involved in the bidding for 26-year-old Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, who should become a free agent next month.

Fourth, the White Sox play in the American League Central. Yes, the Tigers look strong, the Royals are getting better and the Indians are trying harder, but this is not the toughest division in the game.

In fact, some White Sox people cringed when Williams began talking openly about "rebuilding."

"We are not rebuilding," one of them said forcefully.

Now, with Danks signed, some of those White Sox people were actually talking Thursday about what needs to happen for them to win in 2012.

Chris Sale needs to effectively take Mark Buehrle's spot in the rotation. Peavy needs to be better, a year further on from surgery.

Dunn and/or Rios need to bounce back.

Oh, and someone needs to take Sergio Santos' place as closer.

The Santos trade, to Toronto for pitching prospect Nestor Molina, is the only deal the Sox have made so far in their "rebuilding" winter. It fit the rebuilding mode, although it is worth remembering that while Santos has just two years in the big leagues, he is a year and a half older than Danks.

Perhaps the White Sox will still trade Gavin Floyd. It still wouldn't surprise anyone if they deal Carlos Quentin, especially with Dayan Viciedo waiting (and maybe Cespedes, too).

But a complete rebuilding?

No, that's the team on the other side of town.
Posted on: December 21, 2011 9:05 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2011 10:00 pm

Danks to sign $65 million deal with White Sox

Take John Danks off the list of pitchers on the trade market.

And slow down the rush to say that the White Sox are completely rebuilding.

The Sox have worked out a five-year, $65 million contract extension with their left-handed starter, who they had spent the early part of the off-season offering to other teams in trades. The deal, sources tell's Jon Heyman, is pending a physical exam and is expected to be announced after Christmas.

The 26-year-old Danks would have been eligible for free agency after next season, which is one reason the White Sox were so willing to move him and also why they had trouble getting what they wanted for him on the trade market. Danks, a 15-game winner in 2010, slumped to an 8-12 record and 4.33 ERA in 2011, his worst year since he was a rookie in 2007.

While some people asked quickly whether the contract would simply make Danks easier to trade, it's highly unlikely that the White Sox would trade him now. At his age and talent level, he fits more (now that he's signed) as the type of player the Sox would be trying to acquire than one they would want to move.

More likely, the White Sox will now attempt to rebuild around him, perhaps speeding up general manager Kenny Williams' building process.

Williams had declared the Sox open for business as of the general managers' meetings in November, and when he traded closer Sergio Santos to the Blue Jays during the Winter Meetings, Williams openly used the "rebuilding" word when discussing his team.

Williams has been willing to trade Gavin Floyd, Carlos Quentin, Matt Thornton, Gordon Beckham and others. It's not yet clear how or whether signing Danks to an extension will affect those plans.

Category: MLB
Posted on: December 21, 2011 8:59 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2011 9:01 pm

Red Sox to name McClure as pitching coach

Bob McClure will be the next Red Sox pitching coach, sources confirmed to Wednesday night.

McClure, a former big-league pitcher, was the Royals pitching coach for the last six years. The Royals let him go after the season, and the Red Sox later hired him as a special assignment scout and instructor. Now, he'll take over as the major-league pitching coach instead.

New Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine is expected to name his entire coaching staff soon, with reports out of Boston indicating that Tim Bogar will be the new bench coach.

Curt Young was the Red Sox pitching coach in 2011, having taken over when John Farrell left to become the Blue Jays manager.

Jim Bowden of ESPN and XM radio first reported that McClure would get the job.
Posted on: December 21, 2011 1:30 pm
Edited on: December 23, 2011 12:52 pm

Darvish is gone, but plenty of starters available

Among teams and agents with starting pitching for sale, there was some hope that the Yu Darvish decision would spur movement in a market that has been slow to develop.

That could still happen. But for now, there is still so much pitching available that it's hard to understand why any team would feel the need to panic.

The free-agent market still offers Hiroki Kuroda, Edwin Jackson and Roy Oswalt, among others.

On the trade market, Jair Jurrjens, Wade Davis, Jeff Niemann, Wandy Rodriguez, Matt Garza and more are all believed by other teams to be available, albeit at what buyers still consider to be inflated prices. Even with Mat Latos already having gone to the Reds, John Danks signing an extension with the White Sox and Gio Gonzalez gone to the Nationals, it's a long list (and others such as the Mets' Jon Niese are also out there, along with longer-shot names like James Shields).

Compare that to last July 31, when the Tigers were able to trade for Doug Fister and the Indians got Ubaldo Jimenez, but many teams trying to deal for pitching found no one of real value available.

Now, the question is the high cost in prospects, at least based on what the Padres and A's got for Latos and Gonzalez. Meanwhile, the Red Sox, Marlins, Blue Jays, Royals, Tigers, Mariners, Yankees, Rockies, Orioles and others are hoping to add at least one more starter this winter.

And the market is still so fluid that one person who talked to the Red Sox this week reported back that they are "in on everybody."

In part because so many pitchers are still available, many rival officials continue to think that the Padres did very well in what they got from the Reds for Latos, who is young (24), cheap (not even arbitration-eligible yet), controllable (can't be a free agent until 2016) and talented, but also is regarded as having questionable makeup.

The Reds would no doubt argue that the price for any top pitching remains high, and for now it does.

The question is where the market goes from here, particularly with so many pitchers available.

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 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 19, 2011 8:52 am
Edited on: December 19, 2011 9:22 am

Kubel agrees to terms with Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks have a deal with free-agent outfielder Jason Kubel, a source confirmed to Monday morning.

The deal is complete, pending a physical. Kubel will get $15 million for two years, with an option for a third year. The Diamondbacks plan for Kubel to be their everyday left fielder, leaving Gerardo Parra to be a fourth outfielder (or to trade for help elsewhere).

Kubel hit .273 with a .332 on-base percentage and 12 home runs in 99 games for the Twins in 2011.

The Kubel deal was first reported on Twitter by Tom Krasovic (@tomkrasovic).
Category: MLB
Posted on: December 19, 2011 8:38 am
Edited on: December 19, 2011 7:16 pm

Fighters will accept Darvish bid tonight

Yu Darvish is so big that there's an announcement of the announcement.

The star Japanese pitcher's agent wrote Monday morning on Twitter that the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters will announce late Tuesday morning Japan time (Monday night in North America) whether they have accepted the bid. has learned that the Fighters have decided to accept the bid, with an announcement planned for early afternoon Japan time (likely around 10 or 11 p.m. ET Monday night).

Once the Fighters officially accept the bid, Major League Baseball will reveal which team made that bid.

While people in baseball have speculated that it is either the Blue Jays or Rangers (with more people saying Rangers on Monday), the actual information has been so tightly held that it can't be sure that the speculation is accurate.

The winning bid is expected to be very high, and could even challenge the record $51.1 million posting fee that the Red Sox paid five years ago for the rights to Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Once the Fighters formally accept the bid, the winning team will have 30 days to negotiate a contract with Darvish. The posting fee is only paid (by the winning team to the Fighters) once a contract is agreed to.

Category: MLB
Posted on: December 16, 2011 12:04 pm
Edited on: December 16, 2011 12:20 pm

Orioles shake up scouting staff

The Orioles have completely overhauled their scouting department, drastically cutting their pro coverage and saying that they will rely instead on statistics and video to evaluate professional players.

Six of the team's eight pro scouts were told Thursday that they will now be primarily responsible for amateur coverage, in moves that were seen as demotions. Each of the six was given an area to scout, and was told that they will not be involved in any professional coverage until after the June draft.

In addition, the scouts were told that the Orioles no longer will have separate pro and amateur scouting departments, but that new scouting director Gary Rajsich will be responsible for running all scouting.

"It's basically going back to the scouting system teams used in the 80's and early 90's," said one person who was told about the plan.

The six scouts who were demoted were Ted Lekas, Todd Frohwirth, Jim Howard, Lee MacPhail IV and Jim Thrift.

Rajsich made the calls Thursday, but the moves were instigated by new general manager Dan Duquette.

The shakeup was first reported by Ken Rosenthal of

Category: MLB
Tags: Orioles
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