Tag: Paul Konerko

Scott Miller’s Starting 9: Derek Jeter Not Only Star Saying Farewell This Week

1. Farewell to The Captain…The Other Captain

And now, the end is near, Frank Sinatra is cued up and the Captain will face his final curtain.   

No, not Derek Jeter.   

Well, him, too, which is why when that final curtain falls this Sunday in Chicago, Paul Konerko will be over there in the shadows while all eyes are on Jeter’s finale in Boston.

There will be no lump-in-the-throat Gatorade commercial bringing Konerko home, no national spotlight. But the least we can do is pause long enough to send a tip of the cap to the Derek Jeter of the White Sox, a graceful player who will have his No. 14 retired this weekend as Chicago emotionally celebrates its own retiring legend.

“They’re both smart, classy, talented guys,” says Braves hitting coach Greg Walker, Konerko’s hitting coach with the White Sox from 2003-11. “I think how Paulie represented baseball shined a light for other players on how to do it the right way.

“If your best player does it the right way, then your young players will do it the right way, too.”

For 16 seasons, Konerko has done everything the right way in Chicago. His Game 2 grand slam against the Astros in ’05 helped the Sox win their first World Series in 88 years. His five homers and 15 RBI during that ’05 postseason will be remembered vividly even when Ozzie Guillen’s great-great grandson is playing shortstop on the South Side a few decades from now.

Konerko’s 432 homers and 1,383 RBI trail only Hall of Famer Frank Thomas in White Sox history, and only Hall of Famer Luke Appling played in more games for Chicago. Only Nellie Fox and Appling had more hits for the White Sox, and Konerko is the club’s all-time leader in total bases.

“I’ll tell you this,” says former White Sox pitcher Jake Peavy. “When I played with him and he was right, he was the best fastball hitter I’ve ever played with. He didn’t miss a fastball.”

Says Walker: “One of the best fastball hitters, if not the best, of his generation.”

For years, wherever Walker has traveled, hitters throughout the land have wanted to know the secrets to Konerko’s approach, mechanics and work ethic.

“Really a brilliant guy,” Walker says. “Early on when we worked together, we made an agreement: If I wanted to make any changes, it would have to be scientific.” Meaning, Konerko knew at all times exactly where his hands were during an at-bat, where his feet were placed and the general parameters of his swing path. And he was more obsessive-compulsive about all of it than an old couple insisting on an uncluttered house.

If anything—anything—was to be changed, Konerko wanted specific reasons.

But because he was so in tune with all of this, and because he was so analytical, Konerko was the master of making adjustments on the fly. And as such, he became the Man of a Million Swings.

“I used to joke with him, ‘What swing are you going to use today?’ ” Walker says. “And he’d say, ‘Number 72.’ Or, ‘Number 38.’

“I’ve seen him step out of the box, make an adjustment during the at-bat, step back in and hit a home run.”

Adds Walker: “I think that’s why he’s been such a big-game player. World Series, All-Star Games, he can make adjustments most people can’t. Or, instead of looking at it like, ‘This is the way I’ve always done it,’ he’ll say ‘Let’s come up with something else. I’m not going to keep making the same mistake over and over.'”

A lot of people are going to miss Konerko throughout the game, and it goes far beyond the White Sox simply being without one of the best middle-of-the-lineup players they’ve ever had.

“There’s not a whole lot of talk about him,” Peavy says. “Listen, Derek Jeter deserves every bit of credit. But Paul Konerko has had a wonderful career, and he’s done it the right way in a big city as well.

“It was an honor to play with such a great player and call him a friend.”


2. Atlanta Follows Brave New Path

Even more impressive than the Braves’ streak of 14 consecutive titles was their run of stability: Not since 1990 had they fired a general manager or manager.

That is, until Monday, the day after they were eliminated from the postseason, when they tomahawk-chopped GM Frank Wren.

The Braves’ second massive collapse in four seasons doomed Wren, who constructed a flawed roster with too many high-strikeout, low-on-base guys who failed to click. The Braves also fired Bruce Manno, director of player development.

At a press conference Monday, club president John Schuerholz spoke of “putting in place the finest baseball operations [staff] ever seen in Major League Baseball” to take the club to “higher and greater ground.”

Three early names to watch:

• John Coppolella, 35, the Braves’ assistant general manager, is very highly thought of and respected throughout the game.

• Kansas City GM Dayton Moore, who worked in Atlanta’s organization from 1994 to 2006 before leaving for the Royals. Schuerholz repeatedly referenced the “Braves Way” Monday, and Moore certainly knows the blueprint there. He’s worked hard to install a similar plan in Kansas City, where he has two years left on his contract.

• Former Cubs GM Jim Hendry, who built a winner for a time in Chicago and currently is Yankees GM Brian Cashman’s assistant. Hendry has a very good relationship with Schuerholz and Co., knows talent and would seem to fit in well in the Braves’ collegial atmosphere.

Beyond that, longtime baseball man John Hart, named as the Braves’ interim GM by his good pal Schuerholz, is said to be enjoying his television work at MLB Network and the flexibility that affords him too much to want to go back to being a GM full time.

However, he also would not definitively rule out the idea of him becoming Atlanta’s full-time GM. As Schuerholz quipped, “It is not a completely closed or open door, is what he meant to say.”

Several of Wren’s high-profile free-agent signings became unmitigated disasters, most notably outfielder B.J. Upton (five years, $75.25 million), Dan Uggla (five years, $62 million) and Derek Lowe (four years, $60 million). Add some internal discord—among other things, Cox and Wren clashed, something that went very public when Cox failed to mention the GM during his Hall of Fame induction speech this summer—and the door to Wren’s exit was opened wide.

As for the biggest on-field reasons, Upton and Uggla, in particular, were representative of the club’s streaky, high-strikeout lineups in recent years.

As one longtime executive told Bleacher Report, “Two contracts like that set your organization back for years.”

Added a longtime scout: “They’ve got to split up the Upton brothers.” Justin, acquired by Wren in a trade, has outperformed his brother.

Schuerholz says the new GM will have the ultimate decision on manager Fredi Gonzalez, who survived Monday’s bloodletting, and there is a high probability that when the Braves convene next spring in Florida, Gonzalez will remain as manager.

Asked whether he would endorse Gonzalez to the new GM, Hall of Fame manager Bobby Cox said, “Yes, absolutely.”

Cox was fierce in his support.

“Fredi’s done a remarkable job since he’s taken over,” Cox said. “For me, since 2011, I think he’s been outstanding. Last year, he had a difficult time winning 96 games with the things that were taking place.”


3. Let’s Get a Move On

Anybody who’s been to a baseball game lately knows that…zzzzzz.

Sorry, dozed off there. Allow me to start again:

Anybody who’s watched a baseball game on television lately knows that…zzzzzz.

OK, let me put this another way: The top priority of incoming commissioner Rob Manfred must be to reconnect with the younger generation. That covers a lot of ground, and one key tenet is tackling the (snail’s) pace of game.

Baseball announced Monday that Bud Selig recently conducted a conference call with a new pace-of-game committee, which will be chaired by Braves president Schuerholz and also includes Manfred, Mets GM Sandy Alderson, Red Sox co-owner Tom Werner and team partner Michael Gordon, players’ union boss Tony Clark and MLB executive VP Joe Torre.

The average MLB game this year is running a whopping three hours and 13 minutes. Here are a few things the committee should be discussing:

• Enforce a rule already on the books, that pitchers have a maximum of 12 seconds to throw the ball after they receive it. Not to pick on one guy in particular, because many are guilty, but Giants reliever Jean Machi on Sunday took 41 seconds to deliver one pitch in San Diego, and 35 seconds to deliver another.

 Once hitters step into the batter’s box, they should stay there. No stepping out after every pitch to adjust batting gloves, helmets or to look for ma in the stands.

 Kill walkup songs. Just do away with them. Look, I’m into music as much as anybody, but all the walkup songs do is cause the batter to move more slowly into the box. Get in there and get to work.

 Streamline the new instant replay system. This one is obvious. Managers sloooowly walking out to an umpire while waiting to get word from a coach as to whether they should challenge a call is wasting more time than your Aunt Hattie on the telephone. This one has got to be seriously tweaked.

 Plate umpires need to call the entire strike zone, both north to south and east to west. Small strike zones drag things out. Call a big zone, it moves the game along and it encourages hitters to swing, rather than pick over every pitch as if sorting through peaches looking for the ripest.


4. Matt Kemp Rising

Maybe we were all wrong about Matt Kemp. Perhaps all he needed following major shoulder and ankle surgeries was, duh, time, sweet time to work off the rust and recalibrate his timing.

Following his four-hit, four-RBI day Sunday, Kemp entered this week leading all NL regulars after the All-Star break in slugging percentage (.594), was second in home runs (15) and fourth in OPS (.964). He ranked second to teammate Adrian Gonzalez (52) with 49 RBI. The talk of how to squeeze four outfielders into three spots has dissipated. Kemp not only has earned the right to play every day—the Dodgers need him. Especially with Hanley Ramirez in and out of the lineup and Yasiel Puig’s inconsistency this year.

And don’t underestimate the fact that since getting yanked out of center field because he was becoming a liability, Kemp has found a comfort level in right field that he did not in left. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly initially moved him to left before settling on right, the position Kemp grew up playing. Through Monday, Kemp had played 44 games in left this season for the Dodgers, 41 games in center and 54 in right.


5. Big Week for Pirates

As the Pirates and Giants jockey for NL wild-card position—so long, Brewers—logic tells you that home-field advantage in next week’s Wild Card Game will be invaluable to the Pirates.

Their 51-30 home record is tied with St. Louis for the NL’s best. And baseball fever is fully back at PNC Park, where the Pirates set a record this season with more than 2.4 million in attendance.

Now for the twist: Oddly, a Giants-Pirates Wild Card Game in Pittsburgh might also be best for…San Francisco?

The Giants have not played particularly well at home this year. They are 42-35 at AT&T Park only because they’ve won 12 of their past 15 games there. Until a 6-1 homestand last month against Colorado and Milwaukee, the Giants were stumbling badly at home in one of many odd turns to their year.

Overall, coming into this week, the Giants ranked eighth among NL teams in runs scored at home (303), eighth in home batting average (.257) and 11th in slugging percentage at home (.381).


6. Nationals Treasure: Should He or Shouldn’t He?

The biggest question as Stephen Strasburg prepares to participate in the first postseason of his career is whether he should start Game 1 next week for the Nationals.

During a wide-ranging discussion on MLB Network Radio last week, I said I’d go with Jordan Zimmermann. A very well-reasoned caller made a case for Doug Fister.

Now, indications are that manager Matt Williams may choose Strasburg. So, please allow me to do what managers who are preparing for the postseason all over are doing: re-evaluate and study daily. And the more I do, the more I’m thinking Strasburg.

For one thing, the man who would be the Nats’ ace has pitched as if he is in his most recent outings. Over his past five starts, Strasburg has produced a 1.35 ERA with 33 strikeouts and just two walks. For another, the Nats will open the Division Series at home, and Strasburg, for whatever reason, has been much more comfortable there this season.

In 17 home games at Nationals Park, Strasburg is 8-3 with a 2.70 ERA and a 1.055 WHIP.

In 16 road games, the right-hander is 5-8 with a 3.82 ERA and a 1.232 WHIP.

If the Nationals are going to go as far as they hope, Strasburg is going to have to win on the road in October. But given his current run and his home credentials, as well as the fact that the Nationals have treated him as an ace all along, he’s earned Game 1.


7. Jerome Williams, Athletics Killer

If Oakland misses the playoffs by a game, you can blame veteran right-hander Jerome Williams, who over the weekend became the first pitcher in history to beat a team three times in a season while pitching for three different clubs.

Working for the Phillies, Williams beat the A’s on Saturday.

Working for the Rangers, Williams beat the A’s on July 25.

Working for the Astros, Williams beat the A’s on April 26.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only one pitcher since 1900 has even had a chance to beat the same club three times in a season for three different teams: Willis Hudlin, who beat the Philadelphia Athletics (yes, the A’s again) pitching for Cleveland and the Washington Senators in 1940. He faced them again later that season while pitching for the St. Louis Browns, but, alas, the Browns lost.


8. Award-Winning Short

Have you seen Gatorade’s spot on Derek Jeter’s farewell? If you haven’t, you absolutely should. It is terrific:


9. This Guy Once Ate Vicks VapoRub

Bumped into the inimitable, legendary Kevin Mitchell at the park the other day. Mitch always was a favorite. He was fun to watch, always had a smile and often some crazy story that made you wonder if he really was a native of, say, Pluto. Like the Vicks story. He used to say when he had a cold he would eat a bit of the stuff.

Anyway, Mitch looks pretty good. No heavier than when he was playing. Still rocking the gold front tooth. But he’s due for right hip replacement surgery within the next couple of weeks, which will temporarily sideline him from his work as a hitting instructor for kids from seven or eight years old all the way up through college age at the Brick Yard in San Diego.

He asked whether I thought the Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton or the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw would win the NL MVP award. You can guess who he’s rooting for.

“I’m a hitter,” said Mitchell, who added that he doesn’t attend many MLB games anymore, but he made it a point to come to Petco Park earlier this season to see Stanton.

“Unbelievable,” Mitchell said. “Love him. I’ve never seen the kid play. Only on TV. I wanted to see how big he is. He makes the game seem easy.”


“These kids are unbelievably big.”

About that time, Padres broadcaster Mark Grant, who once was traded for Mitchell, came over to say hello and asked Mitchell if he remembered the time he came to the park all depressed because he had lost his snake.

“Yes,” Mitchell said. “He was gone for two-and-a-half months.”

Two-and-a-half months? Turned out, the snake was hiding in Mitchell’s house all that time. Then one day, just as quickly as the snake disappeared, he reappeared.

“Came out hungry,” Mitchell said.


9a. Rock ‘n’ Roll Lyric of the Week

Ah, you slumping Athletics, Brewers and Braves…

“Now you’re lookin’ at a man that’s gettin’ kinda mad

“I had a lot of luck but it’s all been bad

“No matter how I struggle and strive

“I’ll never get out of this world a-live

“My fishin’ pole’s broke, the creek is full of sand

“My woman run away with another man

“No matter how I struggle and strive

“I’ll never get out of this world alive

“Ev’rything’s agin’ me and it’s got me down

“If I jumped in the river I would prob’ly drown

“No matter how I struggle and strive

“I’ll never get out of this world alive

—Steve Earle, “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive”


Scott Miller covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report. He has over two decades of experience covering MLB, including 14 years as a national baseball columnist at CBSSports.com.

Follow Scott on Twitter and talk baseball @ScottMillerBbl.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

What’s Next for Paul Konerko After White Sox Sign Jose Abreu?

Paul Konerko‘s days with the Chicago White Sox seem to be over after the team signed international free-agent first baseman Jose Abreu to a six-year, $68 million deal.

In addition to Abreu, the White Sox also have Adam Dunn under contract, creating a logjam at first base and DH.

With the signing, what does that mean for Konerko since he’s a free agent? If he decides to continue playing, does that mean he’s going to have to find a new team? And if so, what teams would likely be interested in him?


White Sox Interest Still There

Even with the Abreu signing, Chicago still has interest in re-signing Konerko, according to Dan Padilla of ESPN Chicago:

General manager Rick Hahn insisted the White Sox remain interested in talking to Konerko about a one-year deal. Konerko said before the season ended that if he does come back it would only be for one more season and then he would slip into retirement. 

The biggest obstacle to bringing back Konerko wouldn’t seem to be financial as much as it would seem to be too many versions of the same type of player.

With two first base/DH-type players already on the roster, it must be asked: Why are the White Sox still interested? Could it be the fact that Konerko has been in Chicago for 15 years?

They could use Konerko and Dunn in a platoon-type role. Konerko could face the lefties, while Dunn gets the righties.

But let’s look at how each has compared against righties and lefties over the last three years:

The numbers clearly show that outside of home runs that Konerko has been superior, but Dunn is still under contract for one more year.

Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that Dunn could walk away from the game this offseason as well. If that happens, then there’s no question Chicago would bring Konerko back. That would be the scenario that would make the decision easiest for Konerko.

The White Sox currently have $56.9 million committed to next year’s team, according to Baseball Prospectus. This past season, the payroll was at $118.9 million.

If they wanted to, the White Sox could swing a deal to re-sign Konerko and give him one final season in Chicago, even if it was in a platoon role. But what if that doesn’t happen and Konerko still wants to play?


Teams that Could Have Interest in Konerko

The Los Angeles Angels would be a team that could be considered in the running for Konerko should he pursue free agency.

With the Angels currently looking for starting pitcher, ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeted this out:

If Trumbo were the one to be traded, then there would be a hole that Konerko could fill. He could even switch between first base and DH with Albert Pujols so that neither player has to play the field as much.

The Boston Red Sox may be another option since Mike Napoli was only signed to a one-year contract last offseason. Napoli could find bigger dollars going somewhere else, thus opening up a hole for Konerko. And it’s not like it would take much to entice Konerko. Boston could point to the fact that it has a club that is built for another World Series run next year, giving Konerko one more opportunity to be labeled a champion.

The New York Yankees would be another viable option considering Travis Hafner is leaving as a free agent this offseason as well. The Yankees are another team that has the talent in place, and the dollars to bring in the talent they don’t have.

Other teams could be considered. However, being that Konerko will be 38 next year, it’s hard to see him going to an NL team where he would have to play every day. A team that has the DH as an option would be what’s best for Konerko.



There’s no way Konerko will go somewhere else for one final year. Sure, he’d like to win another title, but he wants to do that with the White Sox.

Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune reports Konerko would prefer to stay with the White Sox:

Should Konerko return in 2014, it would be his last season. If he decides to play, he would prefer it be with the Sox.

The only place he would consider being a part-time player is in Chicago. Playing elsewhere next year would be tough but would be considered if he really wanted to play and couldn’t reach a deal with the Sox.

After 15 years, it’s hard to imagine him being able to put on another uniform.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Chicago White Sox: 9 Reasons Why Paul Konerko Is Hall of Fame Material

Paul Konerko, long time team captain and first baseman of the Chicago White Sox, is worthy of the MLB Hall of Fame.  If he is elected, he will join some rare company in White Sox franchise history. 

Konerko is, without question, the face of the White Sox in every way and has been since the soon-to-be-enshrined Frank Thomas left town. 

It goes without saying that if Konerko, a 2005 World Series champion and six-time All-Star selection for the White Sox, did get elected, it would not be on the first ballot. 

In fact, his best chance is probably going to be the Veterans Committee, which will take a while.

Making the case for Konerko’s HOF worthiness is not all that difficult as there are nine very distinct reasons why Konerko deserves the honor.


Begin Slideshow

No More Time for Mediocrity: Time for White Sox to Start the Rebuilding Process

During Kenny Williams’ 12 year tenure as the general manager of the Chicago White Sox, his teams year in and year out have constantly found ways to overachieve, and then more often than not, have found ways to disappoint their fans as their season came to an end.

The 2012 season was no different.

The White Sox came into the season with very little expectations. Heading into the season with a “retooled” roster, not one expert giving them even a slight chance to compete with the stacked and loaded Detroit Tigers. Yet again, the White Sox managed to prove the experts wrong. They held the lead in the division throughout the majority of the season, rarely allowing the Tigers to enjoy that first place feeling.

That is, until the final two weeks of the regular season came along, and all the experts proved to be right.

The White Sox found a way to cough up the division, going 4-11 in their final 15 games, two of those wins coming in the final three games when they didn’t even matter anymore.

The White Sox finished their season with 85 wins and 77 losses, numbers that don’t look bad on paper, but won’t leave any fan satisfied with their team, as that amount of wins will very seldom lead a team to the playoffs, which is the ultimate of any team heading into the regular season.

If there is one lesson that should be taken out of this, it’s that mediocrity never leads to success or positive feedback.

What do I mean by this?

Simple, I’m tired of watching my favorite team constantly be good enough to complete, but very rarely be good enough to succeed.

Sure, they did had a magical run in 2005 when they won the World Series after winning 11 of their 12 playoff games. However, I’m tired of living in 2005, and those type of runs only happen once every 100 years, as proven by the White Sox, who hadn’t won a World Series in 88 years prior to the 2005 season.

Up until the end of the 2011 season, I was really happy about the fact that Williams would do anything to ensure that he puts a winning team on the field. His boss was willing to spend money to put a winner on the field, therefore, that is exactly what he did.

Some years his strategy worked out, and other times it didn’t. However, upon the end of the 2011 season, the White Sox were stuck in unfamiliar territory.

For the first time throughout his tenure, Williams was asked to trim the team’s payroll instead of increasing it. The team had just suffered their second losing season in three years, not reaching the playoffs once in that three year span.

Furthermore, ticket sales had dropped for the fifth straight years, and owner Jerry Reinsdorf couldn’t afford to keep spending money on his roster if the fans weren’t spending money to watch his team play.

Many fans believed the White Sox were heading into a rebuilding process, especially after trading away Carlos Quentin, Sergio Santos and Jason Frasor for a handful of minor leaguers and not signing any key free agents, not to mention letting Mark Buehrle and Juan Pierre sign with other teams.

Some, including me, felt more trades were coming. After all, I feel if a team is going to rebuild, there is no point of stalling the process.

My gut was telling me that at least some combination of Paul Konerko, A.J. Pierzynski, Matt Thornton, Jesse Crain, Gavin Floyd and John Danks would not be in a White Sox uniform heading into the 2012 season.

Instead, the winter months came and went, and no transaction were occurring, leaving many fans wondering exactly in what direction were the White Sox heading in.

Williams claimed the team was “retooling”, but I don’t think any fan bought that. In my eyes, he was leading the team into mediocrity, which, in my opinion, is the absolute worst position a team can be in.

There is obviously no better position to be in than competing for a championship.

The second best direction a team can be in is completely rebuilding from scratch, as that type of team is at least giving their young talent a chance to develop, giving that organization hope that the team can be competing for a championship sometime in the distant future.

In addition, a team that is rebuilding will most likely finish with awful records for a few seasons, giving them higher picks when the draft rolls around.

The absolutely worst position a team can be stuck in is mediocrity.

The reason I say this is because this type of team has a very, very small chance of competing for a championship and is not giving many opportunities for their younger talent to develop, not to mention the fact that their draft picks will not be nearly as high as they’d like them to be.

After experimenting with “retooling” the roster, there is no more time for games to be played by Williams.

It’s time to do exactly what the crosstown rivals Chicago Cubs did during this previous season: start from scratch and attempt to set up the roster with all the young talent that is available via trade, free agency or the minor league system.

Will this be a long process?

It most likely will be. After all, the White Sox minor league system, in terms of talent and potential, is considered if not the worst minor league system in all of baseball, then definitely one of the worst.

When it comes to the White Sox organization, however, it seems like they are out of options.

Despite winning 85 games and leading their division throughout a majority of this previous season, the White Sox total attendance dropped under two million for the first time since the 2004 season. 

Sure, it can be blamed on the tough economical times, but I truly do feel that all hope had been sucked out of all White Sox fans before the season even began, and most fans were never able to regain that hope.

There even seemed to be more hope on the other side of town, despite the fact that Cub fans knew there team was going to be awful, if not the worst in the league.

The reason why this was the case was because Cubs fans at least had the opportunity to gaze into the future, and hope that all the young talent they have on their roster will potentially turn the organization into a perennial contender sooner rather than later.

Although the White Sox may not have a surplus of young talent on their roster and in their minor league system, the talent that is there really did provide the some hope for the team’s future.

Nate Jones (2.39 ERA in 71.2 innings), Addison Reed (29 saves) and Donnie Veal (19 strikeouts in 13 innings) all did their parts to show that the bullpen can be in good hands over the next 5-10 years.

Chris Sale (17 wins and 3.05 ERA) and Jose Quintana (3.76 ERA) showed the organization that experience is not a necessity for a player to be considered very good.

On the offensive side of the ball, Dayan Viciedo (25 home runs and 78 RBIs) proved that the White Sox will have some power in the future, regardless of whether they are rebuilding or not.

What’s more important is the way some of the veterans on this roster performed throughout the previous season.

Adam Dunn (41 home runs and 96 RBIs), Alex Rios (.304 batting average, 37 doubles, 25 home runs, 91 RBIs and 23 stolen bases), Konerko (.298 batting average, .371 on-base percentage, 26 home runs and 75 RBI’s)  and Crain (2.44 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 48 innings) all showed that they can still play at a very high level.

Why is that part more important?

Because these are the players that can and should be used as trade bait throughout this offseason in an effort to acquire younger talent.

Their trade value is probably at its highest right now, as the chances that they improve on those numbers this upcoming season is highly unlikely.

They may not get as much talent as they’d like in return for these players, but they’ll at least get something.

Sure, they can wait until the trade deadline when a team will most likely be in need of one of these players, but that would be a huge risk due to the fact that these players are aging and may not repeat their production during the 2013 season.

The players the White Sox could wait till midseason to use as trade leverage include Alexei Ramirez, Gordon Beckham, Thornton and Danks. All these players had decent seasons in 2012, but have the potential to have better seasons in 2013, which would raise their trade value.

A few other players who can be used as trade chips during the offseason can be any of the impending free agents the White Sox have on their roster, which includes a list of Jake Peavy, Pierzynski, Floyd, Kevin Youkilis, Brett Myers and Francisco Liriano.

The White Sox have claimed that they want many of these players back on the roster for the 2013 season, and if a majority of them repeat what they did this previous season, many teams will be calling the White Sox organization about their availability.

The bottom line is that the White Sox can’t afford to waste time developing the young talent that they do have if they continue to bring back their veteran players and continue to rot in mediocrity. Sale, Viciedo and Reed will not be young forever, and the time to fill out the roster with young talent around them is now.

This may lead to a stretch of painful years for the White Sox organization and their fans, but keeping the veterans and bringing back other ones will only lead to a longer stretch of disappointment.

Williams, Reinsdorf and the rest of the organization need to stop being stubborn, and realize this now. I said this last year and I mean it even more this year.

Whether Williams is the right man for the job is a debate for another day! 

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Chicago White Sox: Paul Konerko and Hector Santiago Return to the 25-Man Roster

The Chicago White Sox made two impact moves with their 25-man roster Friday prior to the 4-2 defeat at the hands of the Kansas City Royals.

Paul Konerko, 36, was activated from the seven-day disabled list (concussion) and Hector Santiago was promoted from Triple-A Charlotte. In the corresponding moves, the White Sox placed infielder Orlando Hudson (bruised toe) and left-handed reliever Leyson Septimo (inflamed left biceps) on the 15-day DL.

The importance of Konerko’s return cannot be overstated. His return Friday night was highlighted by a solo home run to left that tied the score against the Royals. More important than his offensive production, Konerko’s presence dramatically alters the flow and feel of the batting order.

While the regulars responded very well to manager Robin Ventura’s shuffled batting order and bench players like Dewayne Wise and Tyler Flowers practically came out of their shoes in Toronto, having Konerko batting fourth is how this team was structured from the beginning.

For as much as Konerko’s return shifts the balance in the lineup, the return of Santiago makes the bullpen substantially better.

Santiago, 24, responded well to being optioned to Charlotte. While the Sox were stretching him out a bit with three starts, he struck out 13 in 14.2 scoreless innings and worked on refining his screwball. The strikeout pitch appears to be back. 

Santiago told the Chicago Tribune’s Mark Gonzales on Friday that he hoped his screwball was “as sharp as it was in spring training.” That’s good news because Santiago’s screwball was the main reason why he made the big club out of spring training, as it is nearly impossible to hit when he stays on top of it.

According to Ventura, Santiago will be used in the bullpen exclusively . Ventura told Gonzales that while the Sox plan on sticking with a five-man rotation for the foreseeable future, Philip Humber, not Santiago, would get the call as a spot starter.

The futures of Septimo and Hudson remain in the balance. 

Septimo is out of options and would have to clear waivers if he were sent down to the minors, but the Sox need strikes out of the bullpen. Septimo walked six in nine innings prior to the DL stint. 

The meltdowns in Boston and Toronto typified his erratic pitching and four pitch walks do not sit well with Ventura and pitching coach Don Cooper. While nothing has been said publicly by the White Sox, do not be surprised to see Septimo optioned when he comes off of the DL.

Hudson’s spot on the active roster may also be in jeopardy. The White Sox seem intent on keeping 13 pitchers on the roster and with Ray Olmedo’s ability to play three infield positions, Hudson may be expendable.



Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Chicago White Sox: Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko Need to Catch Second Wind

The Chicago White Sox have pitching needs that should be addressed before the trade deadline. However, perhaps the larger concern lies in the heart of the batting order.

Chicago’s 4-2 loss to the Detroit Tigers Friday night cast the drought of the White Sox third and fourth hitters into full display. Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko both went 0-for-4 for the evening. Dunn left two runners on base. Konerko was robbed of extra bases by Quintin Berry to end the game.

No matter how you slice it, the two are scuffling right now.

It’s been feast or famine for Dunn over the last few weeks. Since June 1, he has 25 hits in 41 games. Twelve of those went over the wall. Dunn put together an impressive series against the Royals last weekend, homering in all three games. Since then, his bat has been pretty silent.

Dunn has just one hit in his last 19 at-bats. Chicago has lost four of their last five and have seen their lead over the Tigers shrink to a half game.

Konerko has had his own struggles, which compounds the effects of Dunn’s slumping. Konerko is hitting .245 since the beginning of June. More problematic is the almost complete lack of power in his bat.

Konerko has just six extra base hits since June 1. Through 15 games in July, he has one double, no home runs and four runs batted in. Konerko’s July slugging percentage is .268.

Back in May, this combination was among baseball’s most potent duos. At this point, Dunn is having problems making contact and Konerko has no bite at the plate.

The players who precede and follow Dunn and Konerko have kept the White Sox afloat offensively. Kevin Youkilis and Alex Rios are hitting a combined .342 this month. Youkilis has 15 July RBI and Rios has knocked in 11 runs. Compare that to the 11 RBI combined from Dunn and Konerko in July.

As we near the end of July and the real start of the division race, Chicago is in need of a second wind from the heart of the lineup. Konerko is a .305 hitter in August over his long career. August and September have been Dunn’s least productive months.

Should we expect the huge spring numbers Dunn and Konerko put up in the first two months? That pace may be hard to replicate. However, the White Sox need a little bounce back from the two veteran sluggers to stay in the thick of the AL Central.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Chicago White Sox: The One Reason the Sox Will Win the Division This Year

Forget for just a moment that the Chicago White Sox hit .271 as a team and went 18-8 in the month of May.

Forget that the Sox had 39 dingers and scored 156 runs for the month for an average of 5.38 runs per game.

Forget for a moment that Paul Konerko hit .379, Dayan Viciedo hit .351, Alejandro De Aza hit .313 in May.

Forget for a moment that the Sox are the only AL Central team with more runs scored than runs allowed.

Finally, forget that Adam Dunn has 17 home runs and 38 RBI while Gordon Beckham seems like the fit the Sox have been looking for in the two-hole all year.

The White Sox are not going to win the AL Central based upon their hitting, even if this pace keeps up for the rest of the year. The White Sox are going to win the Central because of their pitching.

Entering play on Saturday, the White Sox have, far and away, the best pitching in the AL Central and some of the best in the American League. Let’s take a look at how the Sox stack up against the rest of the Central and the American League:

  • 1st with a 3.86 team ERA (6th in AL)
  • 1st with 31 quality starts (2nd in AL)
  • 1st in strikeouts (5th in AL)
  • 1st in batting average against (T-1st AL)
  • 1st in WHIP with an amazing 1.191 (1st in AL)

Pretty phenomenal numbers considering how bad Gavin Floyd, Philip Humber and John Danks have been at times. Every other team in the Central has a team ERA of 4.20 or higher. The Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers sport team ERAs over 4.25.

The AL can hit, it is as simple as that, and the teams with the best pitching win division titles nowadays. Take Detroit last year as an example. The Tigers were in second place well into June last year and won the division by 15 games over the Indians.

Why, you ask?  Was it their hitting? No, it was not; the Tigers pulled away thanks to their pitching staff. Justin Verlander was outstanding all year en route to an AL MVP and the Cy Young award, while Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello produced as expected in the second half of the season. The shrewd pickup of Doug Fister, who went 8-1, put Detroit over the top.

In addition to the the success of the starters, the Tigers trotted out five relievers with over 30 appearances who had WHIPs of 1.50 or lower. 

The Sox are, right now, in exactly the same position Detroit was in last year, with two exceptions.

First, the Sox already have two pitchers in Jake Peavy and Chris Sale having top-of-the-league type years.

Second, and most importantly, the White Sox have seven, that’s right seven, relievers on pace for more than 30 appearances who currently have WHIPs below 1.50. Outstanding stuff. Three solid lefties (yes, Will Ohman is actually a solid lefty) compliment right-handers Jessie Crain and rookie phenom Nate Jones, while Addison Reed has established himself as a fearless closer.

With my daughter’s favorite White Sox pitcher, Zach Stewart, pitching long relief (his 4.08 ERA is lower than Danks, Humber and Floyd’s), the Sox are in great shape from a pitching perspective.

The one move that permanently solidifies the White Sox as having the best pitching staff in the Central is releasing the bag-of-bats we all know as Kosuke Fukudome and keeping lefty call-up Hector Santiago on the roster. The Sox are stocked!

The adage thrown around baseball is that if you want to win the division, you have to beat the division.  In order to win in this year’s AL Central, the formidable lineups of both Detroit and Cleveland have to be offset, and the White Sox have just the men for the job. 

Enjoy the offensive production while it lasts, but team pitching is going to win the Central for the Sox this year.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Chicago White Sox: A Look at Each Position Player’s Start to 2012

The Chicago White Sox are finally back to .500 after their sweep of the Chicago Cubs this past weekend. Jake Peavy’s fifth win of the season on Sunday marked the fourth win in a row for the Sox, and now, they are scheduled to play the Minnesota Twins at home starting Tuesday, May 22.

While the White Sox are looking similar to the way they started last year in the sense that their pitching is good but their offense is struggling to catch up (with some blown saves sprinkled in here and there), there are plenty of positives to look at so far. Many of those positives are in the starting rotation, but this article is going to look at the Sox position players, or basically their lineup. 

Their lineup, from top to bottom, is very inconsistent, featuring many nice surprises, but also many huge disappointments (so far). I’m going to go through each hitter on the White Sox and list some pros, cons and what we can expect from them going forward (which includes predictions). 

Begin Slideshow

MLB: Paul Konerko and Carlos Quentin Bright Spots in Chicago White Sox Slump

The offense mustered by the Chicago White Sox in their 9-3 loss to Detroit is typical of the team’s misfortunes of late.  With the loss to the Tigers in the first game of a weekend series, the White Sox have lost eight of their last nine games.

Apart from their 9-2 win Thursday over the Rays, runs have been hard to come by for Chicago.  The Sox are averaging two runs a game in their last eight defeats.  Friday night’s offensive production came solely via the long ball, courtesy of Carlos Quentin and Paul Konerko.

That’s appropriate in that the two sluggers have paced the Chicago attack all season.

Konerko, who until last season was a notorious slow starter in April, is hitting .329 with five homers and 16 RBI.  He shares the lead in that category with Quentin, who is hitting .320.  The two dingers he hit in Friday’s game now give him the team lead with six on the year.

For Konerko, a solid start is validation of the three-year contract he signed last winter.  It’s also a sign that the veteran first baseman still has pop in his bat after a career-season in 2010.

The bat work by Quentin and Konerko are highlighted further when compared to the rest of the White Sox lineup.

Free-agent acquisition Adam Dunn has struggled out of the gate.  The new DH has had an appendectomy that saw him miss six games.  He’s been dropped a few spots in the lineup and has an anemic .163 batting average thus far in 2011.

Alex Rios isn’t hitting the ball, for power or otherwise.  Gordon Beckham is treating us to a reprise of his poor start last season, hitting .213.  Brent Morel is hitting .208.

The fact that Quentin and Konerko are one-two in runs scored for the White Sox is a disturbing stat.  The table setters aren’t getting it done.  Ozzie Guillen is now starting to shuffle the lineup to get something going on the base paths.

Beckham, like last year, is being moved toward the bottom of the order.  Omar Vizquel is going to get more at-bats in the two spot, and Mark Teahen may have the chance for more plate appearances if Morel continues to flirt with the Mendoza line.

It’s a tough spot for the Chicago manager.  Last season, Rios and Konerko were the hot bats while everyone else slumped.  Now Konerko and Quentin, who himself was hitting in the .150 range at this time last season, are the bright spots in a lineup that is misfiring to say the least.

The White Sox ran hot and cold for most of last season, so this shouldn’t come as a complete shock.  It’s frustrating to watch a team with four regulars, including two high-priced veterans, hitting a combined .188.

I expected Morel to struggle at the plate, but with so many guys slumping, Guillen can’t afford to give his rookie third baseman the slack he requires.

Equally frustrating is the feeling that the White Sox just have to ride out this stretch and make it up later in the season.  The question then becomes this: Just how much ground will Chicago have to make up this season when the bats finally wake up?

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

MLB: Big League Positional Surprises

Every year in baseball, surprising or not, we’re witnesses to unorthodox outbreaks during the first few weeks of America’s pastime.

Quick hitting, hot pitching and all-around great play make-up these specific breakout performances from some of the least expected players.

In 2011, amidst slow and unexpected starts from top-notch players like Albert Pujols, Dan Uggla, Hanley Ramirez, Chris Carpenter and Phil Hughes, other positional hitters and pitchers have stepped their game up and earned the recognition.

Realizing that we’ve only seen a short sample of the 2011 baseball season, expectations should be in-check. 

However, due to the blazing starts that some of these players have accumulated, it’s hard not to pay tribute and point out the not so obvious.

With that said, here are the positional players who have out performed the “elite” through the first two weeks of baseball and earned the title, “I can do anything better than you.”

Begin Slideshow

Copyright © 1996-2010 Kuzul. All rights reserved.
iDream theme by Templates Next | Powered by WordPress