Thursday, July 19, 2018

White Sox option Charlie Tilson to Triple-A Charlotte

The White Sox on Wednesday optioned outfielder Charlie Tilson to Triple-A Charlotte.

Tilson was hitting .264/.331/.292 with 11 RBIs in 41 games with the Sox since being called up May 24. The batting average and on-base percentage are respectable, but Tilson only has two extra-base hits, resulting in that ghastly low slugging percentage.

The Sox will add an outfielder to the 25-man roster before Friday's game against the Seattle Mariners, and it's likely that one of Avisail Garcia or Nicky Delmonico will be returning from the disabled list.

Garcia has been out of action since July 8 with a strained right hamstring. The injury was not believed to be serious, and reports indicate he has been taking batting practice during the All-Star break. That said, Garcia will need to prove he can run the bases before being activated. Both of his hamstring injuries this season were suffered while running down the first-base line trying to beat out a ground ball.

Garcia was hitting .282/.297/.542 with nine home runs and 17 RBIs in 35 games at the time of his injury.

Delmonico has not played in the majors since May 18, when he broke a bone in his hand when he was struck by a pitch. He has been on a rehab assignment at Triple-A Charlotte, during which he has hit .400/.500/.600 with four doubles and two RBIs in five games.

As a corner outfielder, Delmonico needs to hit for more power if he's going to stick. At the time of his injury, his slash line was .224/.333/.302 with only one home run and seven RBIs in 37 games.

Monday, July 16, 2018

White Sox (somehow) six games ahead of Royals at All-Star break

Leury Garcia
The first half of the season has been a disaster for the White Sox. They are 33-62, on pace for 106 losses, which would tie the club record set in 1970.

That's no small statement, because the Sox have been around since 1901, and they've only had three 100-loss seasons over those 117 years. We're looking at historic ineptness this summer.

Despite all that, the Sox somehow are not in last place at the All-Star break. In fact, they are six games ahead of the Kansas City Royals (27-68) in the AL Central, after winning two out of three games against the Royals over the weekend at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Here's a look back at the weekend that was:

Friday, July 13
White Sox 9, Royals 6: This game had all the elements of a matchup between two teams that are a combined 70 games below .500. There was no shortage of poor pitching and sloppy defense.

The good part for the Sox: home runs by Jose Abreu, Leury Garcia and Omar Narvaez as part of a 14-hit attack. And James Shields (4-10) pitched into the seventh inning without allowing an earned run, although another error by Yoan Moncada in the second cost Shields two runs.

The Sox took a 7-2 lead into the seventh before Shields ran out of gas, and five relief pitchers were needed to cover the final seven outs. The Royals crawled within 7-6 with two outs in the eighth, and they had two men on base when Jorge Bonifacio flied to the warning track in center field for the third out.

Fortunately, Narvaez delivered a two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth to provide some breathing room, which Joakim Soria ultimately did not need. The Sox reliever earned his 14th save by retiring the side in order, with two strikeouts, in the ninth.

Saturday, July 14
Royals 5, White Sox 0: The Sox went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position and left nine men on base against Kansas City starter Danny Duffy (5-8) and two relievers. Duffy walked three and allowed four hits over seven shutout innings, and all of the Sox hits were singles.

Give Reynaldo Lopez (4-7) some credit. At least he went 7.2 innings, but he was victimized by two home runs -- one by Bonifacio in the first and the other by the final hitter he faced, Salvador Perez in the eighth.

It was a bad, boring game and one you can just flush away. Lopez forgot to throw a shutout, and the Sox bats were silent.

Sunday, June 15
White Sox 10, Royals 1: Sox bats were anything but silent in the final game of the series. Moncada had a big afternoon, 3 for 4 with three runs scored, and he finished a triple short of the cycle. Daniel Palka opened the scoring in the first inning with a two-run homer and also finished 3 for 4 with three runs scored. Garcia also had a three-hit game.

The support was plenty for Lucas Giolito (6-8), who allowed only two hits over 6.1 innings of shutout ball. He struck out eight and walked three.

For Giolito, the key inning was the first. He walked two and gave up a single to Perez, but Bonifacio was thrown out at the plate by 20 feet on that single, handing Giolito the second out of an inning in which he was struggling to find the plate. The Sox right-hander then struck out Lucas Duda to end the inning without giving up a run, despite throwing 30-plus pitches.

After that, Giolito settled in and dominated the middle innings, while the Sox bludgeoned a ragtag collection of Kansas City relievers.

It was a bad first half, but at least it ended with a lopsided win. That gives everyone something positive to take with them for the four days off over the All-Star break.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Signs of a bad offense: Low OPS

So, I was looking at the White Sox hitting statistics, and with recent slumps by Jose Abreu, Matt Davidson and Daniel Palka -- and Avisail Garcia's return to the disabled list -- the Sox don't have a single hitter with an OPS at or above .800.

Here's what we're looking at for OPS on the current Sox roster:

Davidson: .776
Abreu: .746
Omar Narvaez: .740
Tim Anderson: .723
Yolmer Sanchez: .723
Palka: .711
Yoan Moncada: .710
Kevan Smith: .692
Leury Garcia: .678
Charlie Tilson: .640
Ryan LaMarre: .634
Adam Engel: .591


Well, the Kansas City Royals (26-66) are coming into Chicago this weekend. Maybe that will be the cure for what ails Davidson and other Sox hitters. We shall see.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Carlos Rodon's ace-like stuff on display in win over Cardinals

Carlos Rodon
Carlos Rodon has been one of the most frustrating White Sox players over the past couple of seasons because he could be a star -- if he would just stop getting hurt.

Shoulder problems limited Rodon to 12 starts in 2017, and after undergoing surgery, he didn't return to the Sox rotation until June of this season -- he's made seven starts so far in 2018.

That said, Rodon (2-3) provided perhaps the best performance we've seen from any Sox pitcher this season Wednesday night. He pitched 7.1 innings of shutout ball, allowing only three hits and two walks while striking out seven in a 4-0 win over the St. Louis Cardinals.

The victory ended a six-game losing streak for the Sox (31-61).

Rodon worked at a brisk pace and threw 66 of his 104 pitches for strikes. He kept Cardinals hitters off-balance by using all of his pitches -- 56 fastballs, 23 changeups, 25 sliders.

In short, it was an ace-like performance. Rodon acted as the stopper and showed a glimpse of what he could become -- if he could just stay on the mound for a full season.

Because Rodon has been a member of the Sox for four years, sometimes we forget he's still only 25 years old. He should just be reaching his peak years, and if he consistently could put it all together, it could be a huge shot in the arm for the Sox's struggling rebuild.

Gonzalez out for the season

No surprise here: Veteran right-hander Miguel Gonzalez is done for 2018 after doctors performed a labral repair and debridement on his pitching shoulder Wednesday.

Gonzalez made only three starts for the Sox this year and lost them all, with a 12.41 ERA to boot. Thank goodness that was only a one-year contract.

The 34-year-old's recovery time is expected to be 9 to 12 months. He's certainly thrown his last pitch for the Sox, and he might not pitch again in the major leagues.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

White Sox designate Bruce Rondon for assignment, call up Jeanmar Gomez

Bruce Rondon
The White Sox were losing, 4-2, to the St. Louis Cardinals in the sixth inning Tuesday when starting pitcher Dylan Covey left the mound.

The Sox ended up losing, 14-2. It wasn't all Bruce Rondon's fault, but a lot of it was.

Rondon threw 14 pitches, only two of them for strikes. He walked three batters, and three runs scored on his watch -- one on a bases-loaded walk and two on pitches that went all the way to the screen. It was all part of a seven-run inning for the Cardinals that put the game out of reach.

The final line for Rondon: 0.1 innings, 0 hits, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 Ks, 3 BBs.

It's hard to give up three runs without giving up a single hit, but Rondon managed to do it, after teammate Hector Santiago gave up a grand slam to Dexter Fowler and allowed all of the runners who were Rondon's responsibility to score.

As a result of this mess, Rondon was designated for assignment Wednesday, and right-hander Jeanmar Gomez's contract was purchased from Triple-A Charlotte, according to the Sox's Twitter account.

This move was overdue.

In his past 12 games, Rondon has allowed 19 runs, 18 hits and 15 walks in 7.2 innings. His season ERA is up to 8.49. This sort of incompetence cannot be tolerated even in a rebuilding year.

When Rondon steps on the mound, the game slows to a crawl and strikes thrown become a rarity. He can't even get enough people out to move games along in a losing cause. Remember this game on June 30? The Sox were trailing 6-4 in the eighth inning, but they ended up losing 13-4 after Rondon was charged with five earned runs in a third of an inning.

Frankly, Rondon should have been designated for assignment after that game, but we're talking about the Sox, who are historically slow to address problems. They gave Rondon five more appearances to try to right the ship, but now he's left them no choice but to try someone else.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

White Sox clain Ryan LaMarre off waivers; Avisail Garcia back to the disabled list

Ryan LaMarre
The White Sox on Monday claimed outfielder Ryan LaMarre off waivers from the Minnesota Twins.

I took this move as an ominous sign, after Avisail Garcia left Sunday's 2-1 loss to the Houston Astros with right hamstring tightness.

Sure enough, Garcia was placed on the 10-day disabled list Tuesday. It is the second time this season the hamstring problem has sent him to the sidelines.

It's too bad, too, because Garcia was in the midst of one of the most torrid stretches of his career. He was hitting .333 with a 1.130 OPS in 72 plate appearances since returning to the lineup June 22.

The move is retroactive to Sunday, and with off-days Monday and Thursday and the four-day All-Star break coming up next week, it's possible Garcia only will miss five games. But, since this is the second time this injury has popped up this season, I wouldn't be optimistic about Garcia returning after the minimum 10 days.

Enter LaMarre, 29, who was hitting .263 with five doubles and eight RBIs in 43 games with the Twins this season. He was added to the 25-man roster and immediately activated. He isn't much of a hitter -- a .206 career average in 72 big-league games -- but he can competently handle any of the three outfield positions.

I'm sure the hope is LaMarre can be a better stopgap outfielder than Trayce Thompson was during Garcia's previous DL stint. It's not a high bar to clear, given that Thompson batted .116 in 48 games with the Sox.

The Sox (30-60) are on a five-game losing streak after losing eight out of 10 on a road trip to Texas, Cincinnati and Houston. They open a five-game homestand leading into the All-Star break Tuesday night. The St. Louis Cardinals are in town for a two-game set Tuesday and Wednesday. The Kansas City Royals are here Friday to Sunday for a three-game series.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Jose Abreu elected to start All-Star Game despite horrible slump

Jose Abreu
First baseman Jose Abreu will become the first White Sox position player to start for the American League All-Star team since Frank Thomas in 1996.

(The Sox have had three pitchers -- Esteban Loaiza, Mark Buehrle and Chris Sale -- start the midsummer classic in years since.)

I would be more excited for Abreu if he weren't in the midst of the worst slump of his normally consistent and admirable career. In fact, if we were having this conversation about Abreu on June 1, I would have wholeheartedly endorsed his candidacy to be the starting American League first baseman.

Through May, Abreu had posted a slash line of .298/.360/.522 with nine home runs and 19 doubles. Those figures basically are right on par with his career totals of .296/.353/.515.

However, you can't ignore his subpar June and horrible start to July.

Abreu is hitting only .175/.232/.289 over his past 30 games with just two home runs. At one point in time, he was on pace to set a new club record for doubles in a season, but as I type here July 9, Abreu has been stuck on 27 doubles since June 20. Over that same span, he only has two extra-base hits -- a home run on June 27 and a triple on July 1.

This prolonged slump has dragged his season slash line down to a very un-Abreu-like .259/.315/.448.

There have been a couple years in the past where perhaps Abreu should have gotten an All-Star start but did not, so maybe this is a bit of a makeup call, or a reward for career achievement.

And there's no question Abreu is benefiting from a weak crop of AL first basemen this year. Future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera is out for the year. Eric Hosmer signed with the San Diego Padres last offseason and doesn't play in the American League anymore.

Who among AL first basemen really deserves the honor? Oakland's Matt Olson? Toronto's Justin Smoak? Both those men have good power numbers, but they are both .240 hitters. Boston's Mitch Moreland? I guess he's having a decent year, but does anyone really think he's a better player than Abreu?

I wouldn't say that any of these people are slam-dunk All-Stars, but somebody had to be chosen. Turns out Abreu got elected the starter, and Moreland was chosen as a reserve.

Hopefully, Abreu will find his swing sometime in the next week's worth of games. It would be nice to see him have a good showing July 17 in Washington.