Showing posts with label Addison Reed. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Addison Reed. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Some numbers behind Robin Ventura's pitching mismanagement

Robin Ventura
The gripes are all too familiar. We made them routinely for all the years Robin Ventura was managing the White Sox.

He left his starting pitchers in too long, and once he did go to the bullpen, he misused his relievers. He'd use the same reliever three, four days in a row, sometimes even five days out of six. (Remember Addison Reed in August 2013?) He'd used five relievers to get three outs in the seventh or eighth inning, and he was a slave to "handedness"  -- always needing to bring in a left-handed pitcher every time the opponent sent a left-handed batter to the plate.

With that in mind, an article that appeared on South Side Sox this morning interested me, because it pulled out some notes on the Sox from the 2017 Bill James Handbook. These numbers were cited in the article, and they confirmed what we suspected about Ventura all along:

  • The White Sox were one of three teams to use three different relievers 20 times on consecutive days. Those three relievers, not surprisingly, were David Robertson, Nate Jones and Dan Jennings. I complained about the overuse of Robertson and Jones at different points during the season. The Sox would have been the only team with four such relievers had they not traded Zach Duke midseason. The left-hander had 17 appearances on zero days' rest with the Sox, plus nine more such appearances once he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals. Is it any surprise Duke had Tommy John surgery and miss the 2017 season? 
  • Ventura led the American League by using relievers on consecutive days 128 times, and no other manager was even close. James also noted that Ventura led the league in "slow hooks" for the fourth consecutive year and "long outings" for a second.
Indeed, it's not an accident that Ventura presided over four straight losing seasons. We all know the front office shares in the blame, but the manager exacerbated the problems by not properly handling the pitching staff. Should we be stunned the Sox bullpen had injury problems this year? Of course not. Should we be stunned that some pitchers, most notably Robertson and Matt Albers, got worse the second half of the year? Of course not.

The question is whether anything will change in 2017, with bench coach Rick Renteria now elevated to manager, and Don Cooper still entrenched as the Sox pitching coach. These are the same guys who were Ventura's top lieutenants in 2016. Are they smart enough to see that this was a problem?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Tuesday thoughts: Matt Davidson, Brad Penny, David Robertson

I was on board with the move last offseason when White Sox GM Rick Hahn traded closer Addison Reed to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for third base prospect Matt Davidson.

In theory, it's a trade I'd still endorse today. Closers have a short shelf life, and while Reed is a solid relief pitcher, he is not All-Star caliber. It's not a bad baseball move to trade a player like that for someone you believe will at some point play every day in your infield.

That said, it's hard not to be discouraged about what we've seen since Davidson joined the White Sox organization. 2014 was a terrible year for him. His slash line at Triple-A Charlotte was .199/.283/.362. His 20 home runs and 55 RBIs hardly made up for the 164 strikeouts in 539 plate appearances.

You'd like to believe it was just a poor season -- it can happen to any player -- and that Davidson will bounce back this year. Maybe he will, but it's been an ugly spring for him so far. He's 1-for-12 with four strikeouts in the Cactus League, and he committed errors on back-to-back plays Monday that opened the door for the Diamondbacks to score four unearned runs in their 6-2 win over the White Sox.

Davidson continues to struggle both with the bat and with the glove. He turns 24 next week, so you can still say he counts as a prospect, but it will be hard for the Sox to keep him in their plans if he doesn't show anything this year.

Penny getting a long look

Quick quiz: Name the pitcher who has logged the most Cactus League innings for the White Sox this spring.

It's not Jeff Samardzija or Jose Quintana. It's veteran right-hander Brad Penny, who is in camp on a minor-league deal.

Penny has worked 7.2 innings thus far. His results have been mixed. He's allowed three runs on 11 hits, and opponents are hitting a robust .355 against him. But, he has struck out six men, and he's only walked one. Unlike some other pitchers who are trying to make the roster (Daniel Webb, cough, cough), Penny is throwing strikes.

He's been a starter for most of his career, and there is obviously no room for him in the White Sox rotation. But team brass is giving him a long look this spring, perhaps considering whether he can be the 12th man on the pitching staff -- the guy who works in long relief or makes a spot start when needed.

Because of service time rules, five days before opening day, the Sox have to either add Penny to the major league roster, cut him, or give him a $100,000 bonus for staying on the minor league roster.

Every team needs a staff saver. Could Penny be that guy? He hasn't pitched himself out of contention yet.

Robertson working on command issues

Speaking of closers, David Robertson hasn't been sharp in his first few spring outings. He allowed two runs in 2.2 innings pitched, while walking three and striking out just one.

Cause for alarm? No.

I watched Robertson work an inning Sunday against the Los Angeles Angels, and by my unofficial count, he threw nothing but fastballs and cutters during his 23-pitch outing. Robertson has a put-away breaking ball in his arsenal, but he didn't use it even once -- despite facing both Mike Trout and Albert Pujols in that inning.

Robertson walked two, but got out of trouble when Pujols grounded into a double play.

It was clear from watching the outing that Robertson doesn't have command of his fastball yet, so that's what he was focusing on when he stepped on the mound Sunday -- results be damned.

That's why it doesn't make sense to put too much stock in spring training numbers. Guys might be working on specific things, and they may not be doing things the same way they would in a regular-season game.

It's an important thing to remember as a fan, even though it is sometimes hard not to draw grand conclusions from what you're seeing in spring ball.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Checking in with former White Sox pitchers ... are any of them missed?

We know the White Sox had a respectable pitching staff in 2013, despite a miserable 63-99 record. The team numbers (3.98 ERA, 1.329 WHIP, 4.13 FIP), while not championship-caliber, were not terrible either.

We also know those numbers are down across the board here in 2014, even though the Sox (20-22) are still hanging around .500 going into this weekend's series against the Houston Astros. So far this season, Sox pitchers have posted a 4.74 ERA. The WHIP sits at 1.476, with a 4.44 FIP.

The Sox have dealt with a couple of key pitching injuries this year. Ace Chris Sale has been limited to four starts, and reliever Nate Jones has appeared in just two games. Both pitchers remain on the disabled list. Other pitchers have underperformed severely. Rookie Erik Johnson couldn't find the strike zone and earned himself a demotion back to Charlotte. Free-agent signee Felipe Paulino was a disaster in the rotation and eventually ended up on the disabled list.

In addition, several pieces of the 2013 pitching staff are no longer here for various reasons. Some were traded as salary dumps. Some were traded for young position players to get the rebuilding process started. Another left via free agency.

The Sox pitching staff is weaker this year because of a combination of factors, one of which is the fact that some guys who helped the team in the past are now elsewhere. But as I look at the list of pitchers who were here last year but are gone now, I can't say I miss any of them all that much.

Here's a closer look at those six pitchers and how they're doing now. All statistics are entering Friday's games:

Jake Peavy (Boston)

South Side departure: The veteran was traded last July in a three-team deal that netted the Sox right fielder Avisail Garcia.

Current numbers: 1-1, 3.94 ERA, 1.458 WHIP in eight starts

Is he missed?: People have noted Peavy is the only player still healthy who was involved in last July's deal. Garcia is on the DL for the Sox, and Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias also is on the shelf. But, while Peavy's ERA is decent, I expect it to go up if he continues pitching the way he has. He's walked 27 men in 48 innings this year. His WHIP is well above his career norm of 1.184. The soon-to-be 33-year-old is on the back side of his career. I think the Sox traded him at the right time. Even with Garcia sidelined with a serious shoulder injury, he's far more likely to help the Sox over the next five or six years than an aging pitcher like Peavy.

Gavin Floyd (Atlanta)

South Side departure: An elbow injury limited the veteran to just five starts in 2013. He signed a free-agent deal with the Braves over the offseason.

Current numbers: 0-1, 2.70 ERA in two starts

Is he missed?: Floyd has made it back from Tommy John surgery and recently joined the Atlanta rotation. I've heard some people argue the Sox should have brought Floyd back on an incentive-laden deal, and that he would look good at the back of the rotation right now. That's probably true, but can you imagine what people would have said if the Sox had re-signed Floyd in December or January? The fans would have been howling about the team wasting resources on an injured player.

Hector Santiago (L.A. Angels)

South Side departure: The left-hander was traded over the offseason as part of a three-team deal that netted the Sox center fielder Adam Eaton.

Current numbers: 0-6, 5.09 ERA in eight appearances (seven starts)

Is he missed?: The Sox did a good job of selling high on Santiago, who made 23 starts and posted a respectable 3.56 ERA in 2013. But, Santiago is nothing more than a No. 4 or No. 5 starter, and he lacks the command to be a consistent pitcher. The Sox recognized he was unlikely to duplicate his success and flipped him for Eaton, who is the center fielder and leadoff hitter of the present and future. While there are injury concerns with Eaton, I don't think anyone would argue his upside is far greater than Santiago's. That's especially true since Santiago was recently removed from the Angels' rotation for ineffectiveness.

Addison Reed (Arizona)

South Side departure: The closer was dealt to the Diamonbacks straight up for third base prospect Matt Davidson.

Current numbers: 1-3, 5.03 ERA, 1.271 WHIP, 11 for 13 in save opportunities

Is he missed?:  As long as Davidson continues to struggle in Triple-A, people are going to continue to criticize the decision to trade Reed. That's especially true because Matt Lindstrom has been hit-or-miss as a closer for the Sox this season. However, it's fair to say Reed has had Arizona fans reaching for the antacid as well this year. Look at that high ERA and WHIP. It's not what you want from a closer. I like Reed, and I'm not going to try to convince anyone that he's not a decent bullpen guy. He is. However, he was never dominant and shouldn't have been considered an untouchable by any means. It is way too early to give up on the 22-year-old Davidson, and it's still way too early to judge that trade.

Matt Thornton (N.Y. Yankees)

South Side departure: His salary was dumped last July in a trade with Boston. The Sox acquired outfielder Brandon Jacobs from the Red Sox. Jacobs was later sent to the Diamondbacks as a throw-in as part of the Eaton/Santiago trade. Thornton signed with the Yankees over the offseason.

Current numbers: 0-1, 5.40 ERA, 16 games, 6.2 IP, 1.800 WHIP

Is he missed?: Thornton is nothing more than a situational left-hander these days. His K rate is about half of what it was during his White Sox heyday from 2008-2010. He's 37 years old. He's got a lot of mileage on his arm. By this time next year, he'll probably be out of baseball. He's had a nice career as a relief pitcher, but it's all but over now.

Jesse Crain (Houston)

South Side departure: He was traded (while on the disabled list) last July as part of a conditional deal with the Tampa Bay Rays. He never threw a pitch with Tampa Bay and signed with Houston as a free agent over the offseason.

Current numbers: None. He hasn't thrown a pitch since June 29, 2013, when he was still with the White Sox.

Is he missed?: Crain had an 0.74 ERA in 38 appearances at the time the Sox put him on the disabled list last year. He was always good when healthy, but you can't say you miss a guy who hasn't been on a big-league mound in nearly a year.

As a Sox fan, are there any of these guys you would take back if you could? Reed would help, but I think I'd rather have Davidson in the organization, all things considered. Even though the pitching is generally weaker this year, the Sox have made more good moves than bad over the past 12 months.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

White Sox infielders, get ready to catch some grounders

We've talked previously on this blog about how White Sox GM Rick Hahn has been targeting groundball specialists to restock his pitching staff.

Here's a good article from Yahoo Sports that discusses his strategy.

The article notes that newly acquired relief pitcher Ronald Belisario has a 60.8 percent groundball rate for his career. That means six out of every 10 balls put in play against Belisario are hit on the ground.

Just in case you were wondering, the league average in 2013 was 44.5 percent. It would be an understatement to say Belisario is an extreme groundball pitcher. Here's how the other pitchers Hahn has acquired this offseason stack up in this category:

Scott Downs: 58.0 percent
Mitchell Boggs: 52.6 percent
Felipe Paulino: 45.6 percent

So, all four of Hahn's major pitching acquisitions this offseason produce groundballs at a higher rate than league average. For the record, traded closer Addison Reed's groundball rate was the worst on the team in 2013 and well below league average at 33 percent.

Yeah, we can see a trend here. Hahn wants pitchers who keep the ball on the ground at hitter-friendly U.S. Cellular Field. That means the White Sox infielders had better improve their defense this season.

One of the most disappointing aspects of the 2013 campaign was the poor defense the White Sox played. They had the lowest fielding percentage in the league (.980) and had the second-most errors (121). They allowed 80 unearned runs to score, and that no doubt played a role in their pathetic 24-36 record in one-run games.

By way of comparison, the 2012 Sox committed the fewest errors in the league (70) and had the highest fielding percentage (.988). They allowed only 30 unearned runs to score the entire season. Not coincidentally, the Sox won 22 more games in 2012 than they did in 2013.

What was baffling about the 2013 defensive slump was that presumably good fielders were major contributors to the malaise. Shortstop Alexei Ramirez saw his error total jump from 12 to 22. Second baseman Gordon Beckham committed 12 errors in 103 games after committing just 7 miscues in 149 games the previous season.

There's been a lot of talk about whether Beckham and Ramirez will produce enough offense from the middle infield positions. Personally, I'm more concerned about whether they'll bounce back defensively. For Hahn's plan with the pitching staff to work, they better.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Sports Illustrated gives White Sox, Royals high marks for offseason moves

It isn't too often the White Sox earn praise from the national media, so I found it interesting Sports Illustrated gave GM Rick Hahn an A- for his offseason moves.

The Kansas City Royals were the only other American League club to earn an A- from the publication.

This offseason, the Sox signed free agent first baseman Jose Abreu, acquired center fielder Adam Eaton from the Arizona Diamondbacks in a three-team trade that sent pitcher Hector Santiago to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and picked up third baseman Matt Davidson from the Diamondbacks in exchange for closer Addison Reed.

The Sox also added free agent pitcher Felipe Paulino and fortified their bullpen by signing veterans Ronald Belisario, Scott Downs and Mitchell Boggs.

"Chicago still has questions about how much offense it will get at catcher and in the middle infield, but there’s no doubting that general manager Rick Hahn has had a very good winter," wrote Joe Lemire of SI.

The Royals drew praise for fixing their two major positional weaknesses -- right field and second base. Right fielder Norichika Aoki was acquired in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers, and veteran Omar Infante was signed to address the issue at second base.

Kansas City signed left-handed pitcher Jason Vargas to take the spot in the rotation vacated by free agent Ervin Santana and also retained starting pitcher Bruce Chen. The Royals also picked up former Twins third baseman Danny Valencia, who could form a platoon with Mike Moustakas, who has had his troubles hitting left-handed pitching in the past.

"Coming off their first winning season since 2003, the Royals effectively targeted their needs," Lemire said.  

On the National League side, the Cubs received a C after a mostly quiet offseason in terms of roster moves. The North Siders added starting pitcher Jason Hammel, relievers Wesley Wright and Jose Veras and backup catcher George Kottaras. They also acquired outfielder Justin Ruggiano from the Miami Marlins in exchange for outfielder Brian Bogusevic.

The main offseason news for the Cubs was the hiring of manager Rick Renteria, whom they hope will do a better job of mentoring young players than the fired Dale Sveum.

SI's Cliff Corcoran wrote Renteria's hiring is "a move [the Cubs] hope will prove to be their most significant of the offseason."

Who won the offseason in the National League? SI says it was the St. Louis Cardinals, the defending league champions.

The Cardinals earned an A+ after remaking their infield. St. Louis signed free agent shortstop Jhonny Peralta and traded third baseman David Freese in order to move Matt Carpenter from second base over to the hot corner. They also added veteran Mark Ellis, who gives them insurance in the event Kolten Wong fails to earn the second base job. They also upgraded their outfield defense with the addition of Peter Bourjos, who was acquired from the Angels in the Freese deal.

"Thanks to their strong farm system, the Cardinals were able to have a practically perfect offseason," Corcoran wrote.  

Friday, January 31, 2014

White Sox bullpen roles still to be determined

Nate Jones
I don't expect the White Sox to make a big playoff push in 2014, but I've still been telling friends that I'm excited for the season. There has been quite a bit of roster turnover in the last 6 to 8 months, and even if the Sox don't do a lot of winning, I'm looking forward to seeing how GM Rick Hahn's offseason moves work out.

The changes go well beyond the everyday lineup. Another area of the Sox roster that enters spring training with a new look is the bullpen. Going into 2013, Addison Reed was the incumbent closer, and veterans Matt Thornton and Jesse Crain were entrenched as the primary setup men. All three of those players have since been traded -- Thornton and Crain left as part of midseason deals last summer, and Reed was moved during the offseason.

Holdovers Nate Jones and Matt Lindstrom will again be a part of the Sox bullpen in 2014. The team also has added free-agent relievers Ronald Belisario and Scott Downs. We can't say with certainty which seven pitchers will make up the Sox bullpen on Opening Day, but barring injury, we can expect those four guys to be there. The question is, who will pitch in what role?

I've been asked my opinion on the closer situation a few times now. The general feeling is Jones and Lindstrom will compete for the job in spring, and I've been saying I think Lindstrom should get the nod. First off, the 33-year-old veteran has been in that role before. He saved 23 games for the Houston Astros in 2010. Secondly, Lindstrom is more of a groundball pitcher than a big strikeout guy. Lindstrom had only 46 strikeouts in 60.2 IP last year.

Why does that matter? Well, in general I'd rather have a groundball pitcher like Lindstrom start his own inning when he enters the game. If Lindstrom comes in with runners on second and third with one out in the seventh inning, he's probably not going to get you that strikeout you need to get out of the inning with no runs scored. In fact, there's a better chance he'll induce a grounder that leaks through the infield for a two-run single.

In those kind of situations, I prefer bringing a strikeout pitcher out of the bullpen. For the White Sox, that guy is Jones, who had 89 strikeouts in 78 innings pitched in 2013. When you need that big punchout with a runner on third and less than two outs, Jones is the best bet the Sox have.

So, if you agree with this line of thinking, you want Jones to "pitch in traffic" when the situation calls for it in the seventh and eighth innings. Then, you go with Lindstrom in the ninth to start his own inning.

At least I thought this logic was good, until I looked at the numbers.

Unfortunately, Jones has not pitched well with runners in scoring position in his career. Opposing hitters have put up a robust .311/.382/.494 slash line against Jones in those situations. So, even though he's a strikeout pitcher, maybe he's not so adept at getting that big K when you really need one. These numbers suggest Jones is actually better off starting his own inning.

Opposing hitters put up a .286/.340/.352 slash line against Lindstrom with RISP last year, which was not too far off from his career norm of .264/.350/.365. All in all, Lindstrom is an OK option for entering the game with men on base. Being a groundball pitcher, he is capable of inducing a key double play from time to time.

Belisario, another groundball pitcher, has the best track record of the group with RISP. Opponents have posted a .235/.363/.324 slash line against Belisario in those situations. The high OBP is indicative of Belisario's propensity to walk batters, but the .324 slugging percentage shows he's pretty good at keeping the ball not only in the park, but in the infield as well. Even though he doesn't strike out a lot of guys (49Ks in 68 IP in 2013), he's a reasonable option as far as cleaning up someone else's mess. He'll certainly have a seventh or eighth-inning role with the Sox this season.

Downs, in case you were wondering, has given up a .255/.363/.362 slash line with RISP in his career. As the only left-hander among this group of four, I'm sure we'll see him in the seventh and eighth innings against select left-handed hitters.

So, the closer question remains, Lindstrom or Jones? Numbers aside, I'm still leaning toward Lindstrom for the ninth. If for no other reason, if he racks up 15 to 20 saves by the All-Star break, maybe Hahn will have a better chance of flipping him for a reasonable prospect in July.

Right now, here's my educated guess on what the Sox 12-man pitching staff will look like:
SP: Chris Sale
SP: Jose Quintana
SP: John Danks
SP: Felipe Paulino
SP: Erik Johnson
RP: Matt Lindstrom
RP: Nate Jones
RP: Ronald Belisario
RP: Scott Downs
RP: Daniel Webb
RP: Jake Petricka
RP: Eric Surkamp

Here are a few other names in the mix for a roster spot:
SP: Andre Rienzo
RP: Donnie Veal
SP: Charlie Leesman

I figure Webb, Petricka, Surkamp, Rienzo, Veal and Leesman are competing for three open spots. Now you know which three I'm expecting to win the jobs. We'll see if I'm right in about two months.

In the meantime, who do you think should be the White Sox closer this year? 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

How will the White Sox solve their logjam at third base?

Just over two weeks from now, pitchers and catchers will report to White Sox camp. So, it isn't too early to talk about some of the storylines we'll be following during spring training.

First and foremost in my mind will be the situation at third base, where the Sox all of a sudden have quite a logjam. Jeff Keppinger and Conor Gillaspie got the overwhelming majority of the starts at the position last year, and both are still on the 40-man roster. The Sox also acquired 22-year-old Matt Davidson from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for closer Addison Reed in an offseason trade.

There's no question the Sox hope Davidson is the long-term answer at the position. New hitting coach Todd Steverson has been working with Davidson on hitting the ball to all fields. The Sox seem ready to accept that Davidson will strike out quite a bit, but the belief is his extra-base power will translate against major league pitching.

That said, it's an open question whether Davidson will be the starting third baseman when the Sox open the season March 31 against the Minnesota Twins. I'll be interested to see how he hits in spring. My guess is Davidson will need to have a good March in order to make the 25-man roster, because there isn't room enough for all three of Keppinger, Gillaspie and Davidson.

Of the three, Davidson is the only one you're going to send back to the minors for more seasoning. Certainly, he is not going to sit on the bench at the big-league level.

Ideally, the Sox would trade Keppinger (pictured), but that could be a tall order now because the veteran is coming off a career-worst .253/.283/.317 season. He also has two years and $8.5 million remaining on his contract. The same reasons White Sox fans want him gone are the same reasons another team might not be willing to take him.

There are a couple things to like about Gillaspie: First, he's a left-handed hitter, and second, he has a short swing, which makes it a little easier to stay sharp if he's asked to fill a part-time role. Gillaspie showed improvement defensively last season, and I think the Sox were happy about that.

Still, Gillaspie is the odd man out if Davidson proves he's ready to handle the position full time and Keppinger's contract proves to be unmovable.

The ideal scenario is Davidson wins the everyday job, Keppinger gets traded and Gillaspie fills a bench role. But finding a way to unload Keppinger is the key.

Another distinct possibility is Davidson goes back the minors, the Sox play Keppinger at third base every day in hopes of rebuilding his trade value, and Gillaspie fills a bench role. Under that scenario, you pray Keppinger plays well enough that he can be moved midseason, and then Davidson comes up to take the full-time job at third base in July.

This logjam could be solved in multiple ways. We'll see how the Sox handle it.

Friday, December 20, 2013

White Sox set to add relief pitcher Scott Downs

You didn't really think the White Sox would go into the season with Donnie Veal as their primary left-handed reliever, did you?

Certainly not. You knew the Sox would fill that role via free agency, and it appears well-traveled veteran Scott Downs is their guy.

Reports indicate the Sox and Downs have agreed on a one-year contract worth $4 million.

Downs will be slated to earn $3.75 million in 2014. The contract includes a $4.25 million club option for 2015 with a $250,000 buyout.

I've heard a couple people suggest that perhaps Downs will be replacing Addison Reed as the Sox closer. That will not be happening. Downs will be the guy they bring in to face a tough left-handed hitter in the seventh or eighth inning. A quick look at Downs' career splits will show you he is more effective against lefties than righties:

vs. LHP: .219/.287/.318, 2.95 K/BB ratio, .271 BABIP
vs. RHP: .272/.342/.420, 1.77 K/BB ratio, .307 BABIP

Those look like the numbers of a lefty specialist.

Downs is 37 years old and will be 38 by the time the season begins. But, he doesn't seem to have lost his effectiveness. He split time between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves last year, going 4-4 with a 2.49 ERA in 68 appearances.

His hits allowed were a little high last year (45 in 43.1 IP), but he only gave up one home run all season. This is a pitcher with a track record of keeping the ball in the yard, and that's not a bad thing for a guy who is signing up to be a late-inning reliever at U.S. Cellular Field.

This is a reasonable signing by Sox GM Rick Hahn. Downs fills a need, and there's always the possibility he could be traded for a prospect midseason if the team is out of the race.

Monday, December 16, 2013

White Sox trade Addison Reed to Arizona for Matt Davidson

The White Sox rebuilding efforts continued Monday as the team traded closer Addison Reed to the Arizona Diamondbacks for third baseman Matt Davidson.

Davidson, 22, appeared in 31 games at the big-league level last year. He spent most of the season at Triple-A Reno, where his numbers were good. He posted a .280/.350/.481 slash line with 17 home runs and 74 RBIs. He was a Pacific Coast League midseason All-Star and was named MVP of the Futures Game in New York after hitting a go-ahead, two-run home run for the United States.

One question mark with Davidson is his defense. His fielding percentage sits at just .925 during his minor league career. That's not particularly good, but Sox fans might remember that Robin Ventura wasn't exactly Gold Glove material when he first came to the major leagues. As a 21-year-old third baseman in Double A, Ventura's fielding percentage was .930, not much better than Davidson's. Through hard work, Ventura became an elite defensive player. While I would never forecast that for Davidson, he will have an opportunity to improve his craft defensively if he listens to his new manager.

I like this move by White Sox manager Rick Hahn, who continues to add major league ready youngsters to his roster. Davidson has a chance to open the season as the everyday third baseman. If he does, he'll join Adam Eaton, Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia in a lineup that is getting younger and more athletic with each passing week. For my money, this is how you rebuild a team.

Sure, losing Reed hurts. He had 40 saves on a bad team in 2013. He's only 24 years old, so he still has some upside. He will help an Arizona team that is trying to position itself to win next year. The Sox, in contrast, are not likely to contend in 2014, so it doesn't matter much who their closer is. Maybe Nate Jones wins that job, or perhaps Daniel Webb takes the next step in his development and earns the position.

Either way, if you're the White Sox right now, a potential everyday third baseman is a much bigger priority than a closer. That's why Hahn made this swap. I agree with the reasoning.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Here's part of the reason the Indians own the White Sox

The White Sox were one out away from finally beating the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday night. Alas, it was not meant to be.

Jason Giambi got a hanging slider from Sox closer Addison Reed and knocked it out of the park for a two-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, erasing a 4-3 deficit and lifting the Indians to a 5-4 victory.

It was a familiar feeling for the Sox, who have been walked off six times in Cleveland this season. Chicago is just 2-16 against the Indians and has dropped the last 13 meetings between the two clubs.

Why? Well, there are multiple reasons, of course. But one thing I've noticed throughout the year is that the Indians own Reed. They also own Sox ace left-hander Chris Sale. I have the numbers to back it up.

This season, Reed has appeared in seven games against Cleveland. He is 0-2 with 12.15 ERA. He is just 2 for 5 in save opportunities against the Indians. Against all other clubs, Reed is 5-2 with a 2.97 ERA in 51 appearances. Against teams not named Cleveland, he has converted 37 of 42 save chances. Nearly one-third of the earned runs Reed has allowed this season (9 of 30) have been against the Indians.

The story is much the same for Sale. He's made four starts against Cleveland and lost 'em all. He's 0-4 with a 8.61 ERA. Nearly one-third of the earned runs Sale has allowed this season (22 of 69) have been against the Indians. Sale has started 25 games against clubs not named Cleveland and has gone 11-9 with a 2.16 ERA in those appearances.

The White Sox best starting pitcher can't slow the Tribe; neither can their best reliever. That plays a major role in going 2-16 against an particular opponent.

The Indians are likely to make the American League playoffs as a wild-card team, and they have the Sox to thank. Against teams that are not from Chicago, the Indians have a pedestrian 71-68 record. They become 87-70 only when you add in their mastery of the White Sox.

In case you are wondering, Cleveland is a combined 12-27 against the four other likely AL playoff teams (Detroit, Boston, Tampa Bay, Oakland). Unfortunately for the Indians, they will not be facing the White Sox in the playoffs.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Ryan Braun and a few other random Friday thoughts

Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun finally admitted Thursday that he used performance-enhancing drugs during his 2011 MVP season.

Apologies from disgraced athletes are nothing new, and I can't say I have anything to offer on the matter that hasn't already been written dozens of times before.

But you know who owes me an apology? The idiot Brewers fans who sat behind me at U.S. Cellular Field on June 23, 2012. Not that Braun could hear me, but I yelled insults at him and booed him the entire game as the White Sox defeated Milwaukee, 8-6, that night.

These Brewers fans seemed offended by my conduct, and on multiple occasions made snide remarks toward me and claimed that Braun "was right" for appealing his positive drug test after the 2011 season. Ha ha, whatever.

I guess some fans will defend the indefensible when it comes to players on their own teams. I think we all should be smarter than that. No matter which team is your favorite, understand that at some point you have cheered for a player that was using performance-enhancing drugs. That's just the sad reality we live in as baseball fans.

Six straight saves for Addison Reed

They say you can't win 'em all. Well, you can't lose 'em all either, and over 162 games, even struggling teams will have a winning streak at some point.

That where the White Sox are right now. They aren't very good, but they have won six games in a row after defeating the Kansas City Royals 4-3 in 12 innings Thursday night.

In an unusual twist, closer Addison Reed has earned a save in each of those six victories. The Sox did have an off day on Monday, so Reed has not pitched six consecutive days. Still, it's fairly remarkable to pitch six out of seven days and be effective every time.

The last closer to save six consecutive games for his team? Eric Gagne of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2003.

Reed has been a bright spot in a dismal season for the Sox. He has 34 saves and five wins, meaning he has played a role in 75 percent of the Sox' 52 victories this year. He'd get my vote for team MVP.

Mike Olt is playing really bad

Coming into the 2013 season, third baseman Mike Olt was the second-ranked prospect in the Texas Rangers system. I don't think he'll be rated so highly going into 2014.

Olt has hit just .185 at Triple-A this year, and the Rangers gave up on him, sending him to the Cubs in the Matt Garza deal. The Cubs could use some help at third base -- journeyman Donnie Murphy has been getting playing time at that position recently.

I think when the Cubs acquired Olt, they had designs on calling him up in September for a late-season look at the hot corner. Doesn't look like that would be wise.

Olt has played 28 games at Triple-A Iowa since joining the Cubs organization. He has gone 12-for-99 with two home runs and four RBIs. That would be a .121 batting average, to go along with a .194 on-base percentage and .222 slugging percentage.