Showing posts with label Daniel Webb. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Daniel Webb. Show all posts

Friday, November 4, 2016

White Sox decline option on Matt Albers, among other roster moves


So long, Matt Albers. We'll always have this photo of me with your jersey at SoxFest.

The first day after the conclusion of the World Series often brings a flurry of minor roster moves around the league, and the White Sox made a handful on Thursday.

Most notably, they declined a $3 million option on Albers for the 2017 season, instead exercising a $250,000 buyout.

Albers, 33, went 2-6 with a 6.31 ERA in 58 appearances this year. He was unscored upon in April, but was absolutely terrible for the rest of the season. Now, he's a free agent, and it wouldn't surprise me if he's spent his last day in the big leagues.

The Sox also reinstated third baseman Matt Davidson (broken foot) and relief pitcher Jake Petricka (hip surgery) from the 60-day disabled list. Outfielder J.B. Shuck was outrighted to Triple-A Charlotte, and relief pitcher Daniel Webb was given his release.

Somewhat strangely, the whitesox.com article on the moves indicates the Sox's 40-man roster now sits at 37 players. By my count, the Sox added two players to the roster (Davidson and Petricka), while subtracting three (Albers, Shuck and Webb).

That should mean the roster is at 39 players ... hmmmm ...

Worth noting: The Sox have a five-day window to negotiate exclusively with potential free agents Alex Avila and Justin Morneau. Perhaps the team has already decided they have no interest in talking to those two players, and their names will be officially subtracted from the 40-man roster when they become free agents in five days. That would take the roster count down to 37.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Carlos Rodon's disappointing first half ends with a dud; Alex Avila heads back to DL; Chris Sale an All-Star

Carlos Rodon
Carlos Rodon is far from the worst player on the White Sox, but he might be the most disappointing.

Many people, including me, thought the young left-hander was poised for a breakout season after a strong finish to his rookie campaign in 2015. Instead, the first half of this year has represented a step backward.

Rodon was shelled in a 9-0 loss to the New York Yankees on Tuesday night at U.S. Cellular Field. He lasted only five innings, giving up a season-high six runs (five earned) on a season-high 12 hits. He struck out just three and walked two. The only inning in which he did not allow a run was the first, and he was fortunate to escape a bases-loaded situation in that inning.

Right now, Rodon is consistently behind in counts. He cannot throw either of his offspeed pitches for strikes consistently. Opposing hitters know the fastball is the only pitch Rodon can get over the plate, and they are feasting on it.

Rodon is going to continue to struggle until he can establish either his slider or his changeup as a pitch that hitters have to honor. In the meantime, his record is 2-7. He hasn't won since May 22. His ERA is up to 4.50, and the Sox are just 5-11 in the 16 games he has started.

Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka silenced the Sox bats Tuesday, so Rodon would have had to have been awful good to have a chance to win this game. However, it's hard for a pitcher to claim non-support when he fails to pitch into the seventh inning and fails to keep his team within striking distance of the opposition.

Avila headed back to disabled list

Sox catcher Alex Avila left Tuesday's game after the fifth inning with a right hamstring strain. Reports after the game indicated Avila is headed back to the 15-day disabled list. This is the same injury that caused Avila to be disabled in late April and into early May.

Avila will have plenty of company on the disabled list, as he joins teammates Austin Jackson, Justin Morneau, Zach Putnam, Jake Petricka, Daniel Webb and Matt Davidson on an increasingly crowded shelf.

The Sox will have to dip into their minor leagues for another catcher before Wednesday's series finale against the Yankees. Kevan Smith (back injury) remains on the DL at Triple-A Charlotte (sensing a theme here?), and the only other catcher on the 40-man roster is recently acquired Alfredo Gonzalez, who is currently in Birmingham and has never played about Double-A.

Omar Narvaez, who was in big league camp during spring training, has been getting the majority of the playing time recently at Charlotte and is another possibility.

Sale headed to All-Star Game

On a brighter note, Sox ace Chris Sale was chosen to represent the American League in the All-Star Game for the fifth consecutive season.

Sale leads the league with 14 wins against just two losses in his 17 starts. He also leads the league in innings pitched (120) and WHIP (0.98) and ranks third with a 2.93 ERA.

It would be surprising if Sale does not get the nod to start the game, although American League manager Ned Yost has not yet announced his decision.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Report: White Sox 1B/DH Adam LaRoche 'stepping away from baseball'

Adam LaRoche
White Sox 1B/DH Adam LaRoche is stepping away from baseball, according to a Chicago Tribune report.

The 36-year-old apparently intends to retire, but teammates reportedly asked him to reconsider during a lengthy team meeting Tuesday morning.

LaRoche said he would take a couple days to ponder his future, but it sounds like his career is over.

"I’m confident I am stepping away from baseball," LaRoche said in the Tribune report. "Out of respect for my manager, my GM, these guys and my teammates have asked me for an hour (to reconsider). I’ve tried to convince them I am convinced, but I will do them that, and give it a day or two, and then come back in and finish the story."

LaRoche had a career-worst season for the Sox in 2015. He batted just .207 with a .634 OPS, 12 home runs and 44 RBIs in 127 games. He has been sidelined for much of this spring by a back injury.

It would be surprising to see LaRoche walk away, as he is owed $13 million this season. The Sox will be off the hook for that if he retires.

From a baseball perspective, it's too bad that he didn't arrive at this decision two months ago. The Sox would have had $13 million more to spend in free agency in the offseason.

From a personal perspective, hopefully there isn't a health issue or a family problem that has caused LaRoche to make this abrupt decision. It didn't work out for him with the White Sox, but there should be no ill will directed toward him.

White Sox make four roster moves

The Sox made four roster moves Tuesday.

Pitchers Brandon Brennan and Daniel Webb were optioned to Triple-A Charlotte. Pitcher Jordan Guerrero was assigned to minor-league camp. Infielder Mike Olt was given his release.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

White Sox make additions to 2016 SoxFest roster

Jose Contreras
With the holiday season over, it's time to look ahead to SoxFest 2016, which believe it or not is just a little more than two weeks away.

The event is scheduled for Jan. 29 to 31 at Hilton Chicago.

The White Sox on Monday announced outfielders Melky Cabrera and Avisail Garcia; pitchers Dan Jennings, Erik Johnson, Nate Jones, Zach Putnam and Daniel Webb; and catcher Dioner Navarro have been added to list of current players expected to attend.

World Series hero Jose Contreras highlights the list of former players slated to appear. Other 2005 team members include Carl Everett and Willie Harris. Chet Lemon, who was an All-Star outfielder for the Sox in 1978 and 1979, will be in attendance, as will former pitcher Kirk McCaskill, who is best known for being on the mound when the Sox clinched the 1993 AL West Division championship.

Overall, the list of ex-players slated to attend the event is pretty good. It includes Carlton Fisk, Harold Baines, Bo Jackson and Ron Kittle.

Other current players who previously committed to appear include first baseman Jose Abreu, catcher Alex Avila, pitcher John Danks, third baseman Todd Frazier, infielder Tyler Saladino and pitcher Chris Sale.

If Twitter is any indication, center fielder Adam Eaton also will be on hand.

You can monitor any additional updates to the list of attendees by visiting whitesox.com/SoxFest.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

White Sox trim roster by seven; at least two jobs in bullpen still open

The White Sox are down to 44 players in camp after trimming their roster by seven on Tuesday.

Infielder Leury Garcia, first baseman Andy Wilkins and pitcher Onelki Garcia were optioned to Triple-A Charlotte. Pitching prospect Francellis Montas was optioned to Double-A Birmingham. Pitchers Logan Kensing, Nolan Sanburn and Joe Savery were assigned to minor league camp.

The most prominent player on the list, of course, is Garcia, who was on the White Sox's 25-man roster for the entirety of the 2014 campaign. He posted a horrific slash line of .166/.192/.207, prompting the Sox to sign Emilio Bonifacio and bring back Gordon Beckham over the offseason to ensure Garcia's utility services would not be essential this year.

Of the players remaining in camp, 25 are pitchers. The Sox are still carrying four catchers, nine infielders and six outfielders, as well.

What part of the roster remains unsettled at this point? You'd have to say its the bullpen, where at least two and possibly three jobs are open.

We know closer David Robertson is on the team. Jake Petricka, Zach Duke and Dan Jennings also are assured of spots.

I'm pretty sure Zach Putnam is on the team. He was the Sox's best reliever last year, going 5-3 with a 1.98 ERA in 49 appearances. Based upon that performance, you assume he'll get the benefit of the doubt despite a poor spring. But, Putnam has a 15.43 ERA and has allowed four home runs in 4.2 IP this March. That's bad enough to give anybody pause.

For the sake of argument, let's assume Putnam is on the club, and five of the seven bullpen spots are filled.

That leaves Matt Albers, Maikel Cleto, Javy Guerra and Daniel Webb competing for two jobs.

Cleto strengthened his case Tuesday with two scoreless innings in a 7-6 loss to the Colorado Rockies. Albers took a step back, allowing three runs on four hits in two-thirds of an inning. The runs were unearned, thanks to some sloppy defense from Melky Cabrera in left field, but Albers has now been scored upon in each of his last two outings after beginning the spring with four consecutive scoreless appearances.

It's worth noting Webb is the only one of these pitchers with an option remaining, so he and his 7.56 ERA remain squarely on the bubble. Guerra continues to lead this group of four with a 2.45 ERA to this point in the spring.

Here's a look at the numbers for each of these four relievers:

Guerra: 7.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 Ks, 3 BBs, 2.45 ERA
Cleto: 7.1 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 9 Ks, 4 BBs, 4.91 ERA
Albers: 6.1 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 2 ER, 8 Ks, 3 BBs, 2.84 ERA
Webb: 8.1 IP, 11 H, 7 ER, 7 ER, 5 Ks, 7 BBs, 7.56 ERA

I'm expecting the Sox to keep Guerra. It might go right down to the last day between Cleto and Albers.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

White Sox manager Robin Ventura considers carrying 13 pitchers

The offseason and the start of spring training has been jovial and full of optimism for the White Sox and their fans, but here's the first thing I've heard in a while that makes my stomach a little queasy: Manager Robin Ventura is considering carrying 13 pitchers when the team comes north to start the season.

“You could take the other route where you bring an extra pitcher,” Ventura told ESPN's Doug Padilla. “With the versatility we have, we have some options on how we are going to go early in the year, with some days off and probably have some rainouts and things like that, but you want to be protected all the way around. Right now, we are pretty open to it.” 

I shudder.

You can see how this idea of roster construction got hatched. Assuming either Micah Johnson or Carlos Sanchez wins the starting second base job, the Sox will have two versatile players on their bench. Gordon Beckham can play three positions. Emilio Bonifacio can play six positions. With Bonifacio's ability to play the outfield and Beckham's ability to cover the infield positions, you can make a case that the Sox don't need a true fourth outfielder to take up the 25th spot on the roster. I understand the philosophy; I just disagree with it.

Ventura actually brought up the biggest reason for my disagreement: You have days off early in the season. In fact, the Sox have three scheduled off days before the season is even two weeks old. In addition, the weather stinks in April. It will be a huge upset if all the early-season games are played as scheduled in the upper Midwest. Is there going to be enough work for 13 pitchers? I don't think so. I don't see the Sox being in any danger of overworking their pitchers early in the season, even if they were to carry only 11 guys.

Moreover, the Sox have a solid top three in the rotation this year. Chris Sale, Jeff Samardzija and Jose Quintana are expected to get the game into the seventh or eighth inning more times than not. We already know new closer David Robertson has the last three outs in the ninth. If things go according to plan, that means most days you need middle relief to cover about 3-6 outs a day. Do you really need seven relief pitchers who are not named Robertson to cover those 3-6 middle-inning outs? Not in my world.

One of the things I like about the Bonifacio addition is his ability to come off the bench, pinch run and steal a bag in a key situation. But when you have only two other position players on your bench, you have to be cautious about using a guy in a specialized role like that. Under this "13 pitchers" scenario, Bonifacio would be the only backup outfielder on the roster, so if the manager uses him situationally, he leaves himself with no other outfield option if a game goes extra innings, and he leaves himself with no protection in the event a player gets injured. For me, that's an uncomfortable scenario.

I just don't see a lot of benefit to this, especially when the "13th pitcher" would likely be one of Daniel Webb, Maikel Cleto and Eric Surkamp. Those guys were members of the hated and despised 2014 White Sox bullpen. Don't we want to see less of them, not more?

Friday, August 8, 2014

Putting some numbers to the White Sox' bullpen dumpster fire

It's hard to believe right now, but things were looking up on the South Side of Chicago as recently as a week ago. The White Sox had just taken two out of three from the first-place Detroit Tigers. They had won six out of eight games and were threatening to reach the .500 mark for the first time since the second week of June.

Alas, Chicago's bullpen is still terrible. Every time the Sox have threatened to go on a winning streak, the relief corps has done something horrible to prevent that from happening.

In a season full of bullpen blowups, this week has taken the cake. The Sox have dropped five of their last six games, and they've been outscored by a ghastly 59-18 margin during that stretch. We all know the primary culprit is a bullpen that cannot get anybody out, but in case you were wondering just how bad it has gotten, let's put some numbers to the horror show.

Here are the August statistics for the eight relief pitchers the Sox have used so far this month. All numbers are through Aug. 7:

Jake Petricka: 3.38 ERA (1 ER in 2.2 IP), 1.500 WHIP
Maikel Cleto: 9.00 ERA (3 ER in 3 IP), 1.000 WHIP
Daniel Webb: 9.82 ERA (4 ER in 3.2 IP), 2.455 WHIP
Javy Guerra: 10.13 ERA (3 ER, 2.2 IP), 2.250 WHIP
Eric Surkamp: 13.50 ERA (4 ER, 2.2 IP), 3.000 WHIP
Taylor Thompson: 27.00 ERA (3 ER, 1 IP), 4.000 WHIP
Andre Rienzo: 34.71 ERA (9 ER, 2.1 IP), 6.429 WHIP
Ronald Belisario: 189.00 ERA (7 ER, .1 IP), 18.000 WHIP

You add all that up, and the bullpen has a collective 16.69 ERA for the month.

I've often been critical of Sox manager Robin Ventura for leaving his starting pitchers in too long. A couple times this week, I've thought to myself, "Ventura is leaving this guy in too long." But then I catch myself and realize he has nobody in bullpen who can make a key pitch, so it's hard to blame the manager for staying with a tiring or struggling starter at this stage of the game.

I don't think Petricka is throwing his best right now, but he's the only guy among this group pitching like a major leaguer. Everyone else in the bullpen is committing arson every single time they step on the mound. Fans should remember that if they are tempted to call for Ventura's head during this stretch of bad ball. A manager who has no options is going to come off looking like an idiot no matter what he does.

Right now, the only thing Ventura can do is pray his starter goes eight innings, and bring in Petricka for the ninth. Anything other than that seems like it won't end well for the White Sox.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Doubleheader loss highlights White Sox' pitching holes, questionable management

From 2009 to 2012, there were many times I heard White Sox fans wish for the front office to "blow up" the team's veteran core and start a rebuilding process. My response to those comments was often along the lines of "Be careful what you wish for."

Rebuilding is a hard and oftentimes frustrating process, and Sox fans are learning that this season. It's difficult, because even in a year where you know your team is not going to make the playoffs, you'd like to at least have hope that your team can win the next game on its schedule. But during a rebuilding year, that hope is not always present. There are certain days where you just know your team has little or no chance at victory.

For me, Tuesday was one of those days. The White Sox were scheduled to take on the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in a doubleheader at U.S. Cellular Field. Normally, a fan gets excited about 18 innings of baseball in a day, but one look at the pitching matchups for this twinbill was enough to make a Sox fan hold his head in despair.

The Angels, who currently lead the wild card standings in the American League, were throwing their top two pitchers -- Garrett Richards and Jered Weaver. The Sox were countering with their No. 4 and No. 5 starters, two guys who are lucky to be in the big leagues in Hector Noesi and Scott Carroll.

It was impossible to escape the nagging feeling that the Sox were destined to absorb a pounding in this doubleheader. And, indeed, both Noesi and Carroll pitched poorly. The Angels swept the twinbill by 8-4 and 7-5 scores.

Noesi was handed a 3-0 lead in the first inning after Jose Abreu connected for his 26th home run of the season, but he couldn't hold it. In fact, Noesi embarrassed himself and the team by walking seven men in 5-plus innings. He allowed five earned runs. Meanwhile, Richards settled in and gave his team eight quality innings, and the Sox never had much of a prayer -- despite the promising start.

The good news for the Sox was they only had to use two relief pitchers -- Ronald Belisario and Daniel Webb -- to eat up the last four innings of the game. Given the circumstances, it could have been worse, and the Sox' bullpen was still in relatively good shape going into the nightcap.

As expected, Carroll struggled in Game 2. He gave up three runs in the second inning to put the Sox in an early hole, and by the sixth inning, the Angels were out to a seemingly comfortable 6-2 lead. However, the Sox fought back with three runs in the bottom half of that inning. Dayan Viciedo's two-run homer cut the deficit to 6-5. The Sox had the potential tying run on third base and the potential go-ahead run on first before the Angels escaped the inning.

Weaver had entered Tuesday's contest with an 8-2 record and a lifetime 1.70 ERA against Chicago. On this day, the Sox touched him up for five runs over 5.2 innings. That's good offensive production against a quality, top-of-the-rotation pitcher.

Going into the seventh inning, the Sox trailed by just one run, and I figured they would take Carroll out of the game. None of their three best relievers -- Jake Petricka, Javy Guerra or Zach Putnam -- had pitched in Game 1. All were rested and ready.

Alas, Carroll was inexplicably allowed to start the seventh inning. No, his pitch count wasn't high. He hadn't reached 80 pitches yet. But, he hadn't been effective, and the top of the Los Angeles batting order was due up.

Naturally, Carroll walked Kole Calhoun and Mike Trout back-to-back to start the inning. Finally, Petricka was summoned from the bullpen. He allowed one inherited runner to score before extricating the Sox from a bases-loaded mess, and the damage was done. The Angels had scored an insurance run, and the good vibes from the three-run rally the Sox had the previous inning were snuffed. Los Angeles had little difficulty closing out the win from there.

You see, it's hard enough to win when you only have three legitimate major league starting pitchers on your roster. The Sox came into Tuesday on a three-game winning streak, because Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and John Danks had all won their most recent starts against the Toronto Blue Jays over the weekend.

But when Noesi, or Carroll, or Andre Rienzo take the mound, this team is asking way too much of its offense. You can't expect to be consistently competitive when you send bums like these to the mound.

The problem is made even worse when the manager and the pitching coach continually push their luck, trying to coax one more inning out of a struggling starting pitcher who hasn't earned the right to be out there. Would the Sox have won Game 2 had Carroll been pulled after six innings? Probably not, but it doesn't take a genius to see they would have had a better chance had Petricka been allowed to start his own inning in the seventh.

That's what being a manager is all about -- giving your team the best chance to win. Robin Ventura and Don Cooper should have been happy Carroll got through six innings, given the subpar stuff he was featuring. Instead, they got greedy and asked him to try to get through seven. It wasn't happening, and as a fan, bad management only adds to the frustration of having to watch a pitching staff full of gaping holes.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Ronald Belisario's cold streak coincides with his promotion to closer

Remember back on June 12 when the White Sox were only 2.5 games out of the AL Central lead? Some were talking about this team potentially making a surprise run at the division title. Yeah, that was fun while it lasted. Since then, the bottom has fallen out.

The South Siders have now dropped nine out of 11 and have fallen a season-worst seven games (35-42) below .500. They trail the Detroit Tigers by 7.5 games in the division, and they have lost five consecutive games after Monday's 6-4 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.

This latest defeat should not have happened. Ace Chris Sale was in line for the win after allowing just two runs over six innings. He pitched out of a pair of bases-loaded jams to give the Sox a chance at victory. Jose Abreu hit his 22nd home run of the season and drove in three runs, and things were looking good with the Sox up 4-2 in the eighth inning.

Then, the wheels came off. The Orioles got a solo home run from catcher Caleb Joseph off Zach Putnam to tighten the score to 4-3 heading to the ninth. Sox "closer" Ronald Belisario then presided over a spectacular meltdown.

After jumping ahead of Steve Pearce 1-2 in the count, Belisario served up a fat pitch that Pearce hit for a leadoff single. Adam Jones was next hit by a pitch to move the tying run into scoring position and put the winning run on base with nobody out. After Nelson Cruz struck out, Belisario hung a 3-2 slider to Chris Davis, who hit a three-run home run to lift the Orioles to a come-from-behind win.

It's pretty hard to miss the fact that Belisario has been awful since being named closer following an injury to Matt Lindstrom on May 20. Since that date, Belisario has appeared in 13 games, going 7 for 10 in save opportunities. He's allowed 11 earned runs in 11 innings pitched during that stretch. That's easy math: a brutal 9.00 ERA.

Thing is, you can't fault Sox manager Robin Ventura for going to Belisario, because he was the hot hand at the time of Lindstrom's injury. Prior to May 20. Belisario had gone 12 consecutive appearances without surrendering an earned run.

But as soon as he was named closer, Belisario's effectiveness disappeared. Coincidence? I don't believe so. I think Belisario is one of those guys who is just more comfortable pitching the seventh or eighth inning. That's what he's done for most of his career, and he doesn't seem able to handle the responsibility of pitching in the ninth inning.

The closing situation has not gone well for the Sox this year. Lindstrom and Nate Jones, the two top candidates for the job coming into the season, are both on the disabled list. Daniel Webb was mentioned as a potential candidate by pitching coach Don Cooper in the spring, but he has been too wild (25 walks in 35.1 IP) to be trusted in any high-leverage situation - let alone closing.

Belisario is essentially the Sox' fourth option as a closer. It looks like they'll have to find a fifth option, because Belisario is not getting it done.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Max Scherzer outduels Chris Sale in marquee pitching matchup

There aren't many hitters in the American League who routinely get the best of White Sox ace Chris Sale. Detroit Tigers 1B/DH Victor Martinez can count himself among the few.

Martinez hit a solo home run off Sale in the top of the fifth inning Thursday night at U.S. Cellular Field, and that proved to be the game-winning hit as the Tigers avoided a sweep with a 4-0 win over Chicago.

Martinez is now 13 for 25 (.520) with two home runs in his career against Sale.

The much-anticipated pitching matchup between Sale and reigning Cy Young award winner Max Scherzer did not disappoint.

As we've noted, Justin Verlander is no longer the Detroit ace. Scherzer is, and he delivered the first complete-game shutout of his career (179 starts) on Thursday. The right-hander limited the Sox to just three hits, while striking out eight and walking three. Only twice did Chicago have two baserunners in the same inning. The Sox' best scoring chance came in the fourth when they had runners at second and third with two outs after Conor Gillaspie reached on an error and Alexei Ramirez doubled. However, Scherzer (8-2) retired Dayan Viciedo on a flyout to avoid any damage.

Sale (5-1) once again pitched extremely well. He simply got outpitched in suffering his first loss of the season. He allowed only one run on five hits over seven innings. He struck out 10 hitters (all swinging) and walked none.

Unfortunately for the Sox, Sale had thrown 116 pitches through seven innings and had to be removed from the game. The Tigers scored two runs in the eighth off reliever Jake Petricka and another run in the ninth off Daniel Webb.

But on this night, all Scherzer needed was one run, and the Sox missed a chance to get out the brooms against Detroit for the first time since 2008.

Yes, you read that right. The last time the Sox swept a three-game series against Detroit: April 4-6, 2008. Six years is a long time to go without a sweep against a team you play 18 times every year.

Suffice to say it will be easier for the Sox to beat Detroit once Martinez and his .327 lifetime average against Chicago retire. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Chris Sale dominates Yankees in return from disabled list

Under normal circumstances, you get excited when a pitcher from your hometown team is throwing a perfect game or a no-hitter.

That wasn't the case for me Thursday night as I watched Chris Sale retire the first 17 men he faced, including nine strikeouts, in his return from the disabled list against the New York Yankees.

Sale was on a strict pitch count, although Sox manager Robin Ventura refused to say what it was. But you knew Sale was approaching that predetermined figure when Sox reliever Zach Putnam was warming up in the bullpen with the Yankees batting in the top of the sixth inning and nobody on base.

I knew if Sale made it through six innings without allowing a baserunner, Ventura would remove him from the game and then we'd have the meatheads lighting up the phone lines and rioting in the streets, screaming about a missed opportunity at a perfect game. The meatheads wouldn't understand that Sale hadn't pitched a game in over a month, and it's incumbent on the Sox to be careful with their ace -- who is still without question the most valuable player the team has in its organization. No way you're going to leave a pitcher who is just back from the DL out there for 100-plus pitches in pursuit of a no-hitter. No way.

I wanted to avoid listening to that moronic debate, so I was actually relieved when New York left fielder Zoilo Almonte singled sharply to center field with two outs in the sixth inning, ending Sale's run at perfection. The Sox lefty finished off the inning with a strikeout of Jacoby Ellsbury, and that cleared the way for Ventura to go to the bullpen without any controversy about pulling a pitcher who had a perfect game going.

Putnam, Daniel Webb and Ronald Belisario combined to cover the final nine outs. The Sox beat the Yankees, 3-2, and Sale improved his season record to 4-0.

Sale's final line: Six innings pitched, 10 strikeouts, no runs, one hit, no walks, 86 pitches, 54 of them for strikes. Sale threw first-pitch strike to 13 of the 19 men he faced. He had command of all of his pitches, and New York had little chance to score while he was on the mound. Aside from Almonte's single, there was maybe one other ball hit hard against Sale the whole night.

Best of all, Sale left the mound healthy and feeling good, which is the most important thing for the Sox moving forward.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Wins coming easy for Daniel Webb, not so much for Jeff Samardzija

Quick, name the pitcher who leads the White Sox staff in wins ...

It's a tie between relief pitcher Daniel Webb and disabled ace Chris Sale, who hasn't pitched since April 17. Both pitchers are 3-0.

Webb picked up his third win of the season Monday in the Sox's 3-1 victory over the Cubs at Wrigley Field. I make note of this only because I've rarely seen a pitcher do so little work in earning three wins. Webb has recorded a combined total of five outs in those three games. On two occasions, he's picked up a victory after pitching to and retiring just one hitter.

A summary of Webb's three wins:

April 15 vs. Boston -- Webb enters in the top of the ninth inning with the score tied, 1-1, runners on first and second and two outs. He throws one pitch and retires Boston's Mike Carp on a tapper back to the mound. The Sox score an unearned run in the bottom of the ninth and prevail, 2-1. For Webb, one pitch, one win.

May 4 at Cleveland -- Webb comes on with the Sox trailing 3-1 in the bottom of the eighth. He gets two outs quickly, then walks a guy and gives up a single before getting out of the inning with no runs allowed. The Sox score three in the ninth on a home run by Dayan Viciedo. The Sox win, 4-3, and Webb is 2-0.

May 5 at Cubs -- Webb enters in the bottom of the 11th inning with the score tied, 1-1. There are runners on first and second with two outs. He falls behind in the count, 3-0, to Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro before rallying to strike out the free swinging Castro on a high-and-tight fastball. The Sox score two in the 12th, and Webb is rewarded with yet another win for recording a grand total of one out.

Contrast this with Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija, who started Monday's game and went nine innings while allowing just an unearned run in the first inning. Samardzija has been one of the best pitchers in the National League through the first month of the season, and he was masterful against the Sox.

What does he have to show for it? An 0-3 record, despite a 1.62 ERA and despite giving up three runs or less in each of his first seven starts.

Quite a few members of the Chicago media are wondering when poor Samardzija is finally going to be rewarded with a few wins for his fine pitching. My guess is Samardzija will start winning once the Cubs trade him to a contender this July.

If you're Samardzija, there isn't much you can do when you've got a struggling team behind you, other than just keep pitching and hope for a change in luck. It's just humorous that a guy like Webb can have three wins for doing so little, while Samardzija can't catch a break despite being far and away the Cubs' best player to this point in the season.

Friday, May 2, 2014

White Sox can't be disappointed with their April performance

I know a 14-15 record isn't the stuff that championship dreams are made of, but if you're a realistic White Sox fan, you have to be pleased with the way the team has hung in there through the first month of the season.

The Sox spent most of April playing against playoff teams from last season (Boston, Detroit, Cleveland, Tampa Bay), plus a couple other teams that contended in the American League in 2013 (Kansas City, Texas). They endured injuries to key players such as Chris Sale, Avisail Garcia and Nate Jones, yet they stayed afloat against that difficult schedule.

Surprisingly, the South Siders enter May leading the American League in runs scored (154) and hits (275). They are second in the league in batting average (.269), slugging percentage (.431) and OPS (.764). They rank third in doubles (58), triples (6) and  home runs (32). And perhaps the greatest surprise of them all is the Sox managed to get all 16 of their scheduled April home games in without a single postponement.

As the calendar turns to May, here's a look back at the month that was:

The Great News

1. Jose Abreu looks like the real deal: a .270/.336/.617 slash line with 10 home runs, 8 doubles and 32 RBIs. As we've mentioned before, he won't produce like that every month, but there is plenty of reason to believe Abreu is a legitimate middle-of-the-order hitter.

2. Adam Eaton has played like the center fielder and leadoff hitter the Sox have been seeking for several years. Eaton has posted a .364 OBP with 20 runs scored in his first 24 games, and he's saved his pitchers some headaches with some outstanding plays in the outfield.

3. Tyler Flowers, for a change, isn't playing like a stiff. No way he hits .354 all year, but I'd be happy with .254. Flowers has changed his approach. In the past, most of the few hits he had went for extra bases. This year, not so. He's got 29 hits, 26 of which are singles. Last year, Flowers did not collect his 26th single of the season until July 25. Flowers looks to content to just try to get on base and turn the lineup over. Works for me.

The Good News

1. Alexei Ramirez is a different player than he was in 2013. We've talked previously about his hitting (.351/.375/.535). This was by far the best offensive April of his career. But perhaps more importantly, Ramirez has started playing good defense again. He committed only one error in April, after piling up 22 errors last year.

2. Dayan Viciedo has stepped up offensively to fill the void left by Garcia's absence. His slash is .348/.410/.528 with a team-best 11 doubles. Can you remember the last time Viciedo drew 10 walks in a month? That's probably never happened. A more patient approach at the plate has paid dividends. We stop short of putting Viciedo's performance in the "great" category because he's been a butcher in right field. It's fortunate the Sox have Eaton to patrol center field, because the corner outfield spots are weak points for the Sox defensively.

3. Adam Dunn is playing well enough that the Sox might be able to get out from underneath his contract with a midseason trade. Dunn is slashing .269/.402/.513 with five home runs and four doubles. Keep that up for another couple months and some team might want Dunn's bat for the stretch drive.

The Bad News

1.Sale is on the disabled list. The ace went 3-0 with a 2.30 ERA in four starts before being sidelined with a flexor strain in his pitching arm. I'm still not happy with the Sox for allowing Sale to throw 127 pitches on a cold night April 17 against Boston. He hasn't been on the mound since. It goes without saying the Sox can't hang in the race if Sale isn't healthy.

2. Garcia has lost a full year of development due to the torn labrum in his left shoulder. Garcia is a big part of the Sox's rebuilding plan. This was to be the 22-year-old's first full year in the big leagues, but now he faces a lengthy rehab process. It's uncertain what kind of player he will be when he returns. This is the sort of injury that can rob a hitter of some power. It's a concern, no question.

3. The bullpen remains unsettled a month into the season. Matt Lindstrom has been up and down as a closer, and I wouldn't expect him to remain in that role the whole season. The Sox would probably like a younger pitcher, such as Daniel Webb, to step up and grab that role, but it hasn't happened yet. Jones' DL stint isn't helping matters. Left-handed relief has been a weakness, as Donnie Veal was designated for assignment and veteran Scott Downs has struggled. After a rough start, Ronald Belisario has settled down and allowed only one unearned run over his last five outings covering eight innings.

The Ugly News

1. The Sox gambled that Felipe Paulino was healthy enough to be a serviceable veteran arm in their rotation. The gamble is looking like a fail right now as Paulino got lit up for 23 earned runs on 35 hits in 18.1 innings over four starts. Paulino is now on the disabled list with a swollen 11.29 ERA.

2. Walks. The Sox have issued 130 of them, more than any other team in the American League. I hate walks. They are my biggest pet peeve in baseball. There is no defense for the walk. Sure, if you throw the ball over the plate, the batter might hit it hard, but at least you give the defense a chance to make a play. Walks are just a free 90 feet, and they breathe life into the opposition's offense. The Sox have to throw more strikes and get ahead of more hitters.

3. Alejandro De Aza. He hit three home runs the first three games of the season, but that's about the lone bright spot. The .185/.255/.359 slash represents one of the worst months the left fielder has had since joining the Sox. With any luck, he'll heat up with the weather. His bat has been a sore spot.

So, what will May hold? Well, the Sox have 10 games in the next 16 days against the Cubs (9-17), the Diamondbacks (9-22) and the Astros (9-19). Those are three of the four worst teams in baseball entering Friday's play. If the Sox can win six or seven of those 10 games, they can stay in the AL Central race at least until June. If the Sox lose to those teams, well, that obviously would be a disappointment.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Opening Day 2014 at U.S. Cellular Field

White Sox left fielder Alejandro De Aza is on pace for 324 home runs and 486 RBIs this season.

OK, so that isn't going to happen, but credit De Aza for coming up with a big performance on Opening Day -- two home runs and three RBIs in the Sox' 5-3 victory over the Minnesota Twins.

It was De Aza's first multihomer game of his career. He became just the fourth Sox player to hit two home runs in a game on Opening Day. The others are Minnie Minoso, Sammy Sosa and Jim Thome.

As you can see from the picture, the weather cooperated on Monday. It was windy day on the South Side, but the temperatures were in the 60s. In fact, it was the warmest day in the Chicago area since last November. After the winter we've had, I had no complaints.

Here are a few other first impressions from yesterday's game:

1. The Sox played errorless defense. I don't know if that's going to last, but it was nice to see. I'll bet the Sox coughed up 15 to 20 games on poor defense alone in 2013. They were sloppy at times during spring training as well, so defense ranks as my No. 1 concern coming into the season. On Monday, all the routine plays were handled behind ace left-hander Chris Sale. If the Sox could just be adequate defensively, they might add five to 10 games to their win total on that alone.

2. Jose Abreu hits the ball hard. Really hard. He crushed the first pitch he saw in the big leagues for a double to right field. Minnesota outfielder Oswaldo Arcia didn't have time to react before the ball was over his head. Abreu went 2-for-4 with an RBI in his first game, and he hit the ball right on the screws three times. We'll see how Abreu reacts as pitchers adjust to him, but it was a good start for the Cuban slugger.

3. I think Adam Eaton is going to become a fan favorite on the South Side. He went 2-for-4 with a run scored in his first game, but perhaps his most impressive at-bat was one in which he made an out. He saw 11 pitches from Minnesota reliever Anthony Swarzak in the seventh inning. He fouled off several good pitches before grounding out to first base. Eaton looks like he's going to be a tough out, and just in general, he seems like he's going to be a pain to opposing teams. Sox fans like guys like that.

4. There are two types of pitchers who start on Opening Day. There are aces, and then there are guys who pitch on Opening Day because somebody has to. Sale is an ace. Minnesota's Ricky Nolasco started because, well, somebody had to start for the Twins. The difference in quality between those two guys is pretty obvious to anyone who watched this game. No surprise that Sale got the win and Nolasco the loss.

5. Sox manager Robin Ventura has selected veteran Matt Lindstrom to be his closer. Lindstrom picked up the save Monday, retiring three of the four batters he faced with one strikeout. I'm probably in the minority on this one, but I like Lindstrom over Nate Jones in the ninth inning. Will Lindstrom be a dominant closer? Hell no. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if Daniel Webb takes his job before the year is over. But for me, Jones walks too many batters to be a closer. His command was spotty at best during the spring. Lindstrom will get beat at times, but I think he's less likely to give games away with walks than Jones. I'm fine with giving Lindstrom a shot.

161 games to go, but for one day, the Sox and their fans can feel good about this performance. The Sox have won each of their last seven home openers, and Monday's effort was a solid one from top to bottom.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Random White Sox thoughts for this week

Unfortunately, there haven't been too many spring training games on TV yet, so it's hard to get a good feel for how players have looked so far.

But, in looking over the box scores from this week, the White Sox player who has stood out the most has been center fielder Adam Eaton.

We said earlier this week that spring training numbers mean nothing, and they don't. But it's worth noting Eaton has played well thus far, reaching base in 10 of his first 14 plate appearances. He's 6 for 10 and has also drawn two walks and been hit by a pitch twice in five spring games.

Barring injury, Eaton will be leading off and playing center field when the Sox open March 31. Both the leadoff spot and center field have been a revolving door for the Sox over the past several seasons, so it would be huge if Eaton plays well enough to lock down those two roles.

De Aza on the block?

There's been some talk this spring about the Sox possibly trading second baseman Gordon Beckham. I doubt that will happen. If there's a trade to be made before the team breaks camp, it might involve outfielder Alejandro De Aza.

De Aza has been the Sox' leadoff hitter and center fielder the past couple years, but he's going to be supplanted by Eaton. The question is whether the Sox want to hold on to De Aza and platoon him in left field with Dayan Viciedo, or ship him elsewhere.

Rumor has it the Twins might be interested in De Aza, who will make $4.25 million this season and has a movable contract. The Sox would probably rather not pay De Aza that money to be a part-time player, especially when Jordan Danks can serve as a fourth outfielder for cheaper.

Some of this depends on how much the Sox still believe in Viciedo, who has been a disappointment both with the bat and in the field. However, Viciedo is still only 24, so there may be some untapped upside. De Aza, on the other hand, is what he is -- an league average 29-year-old outfielder.

For a rebuilding team like the Sox, it makes more sense to hang on to the younger guy with upside and see what happens.

Bad fundamentals

The White Sox beat the Cincinnati Reds 4-3 in a spring game Friday, but there was a brutal defensive play that drew the ire of manager Robin Ventura and his staff.

Catcher Tyler Flowers was charged with an error when he threw to second base to try to cut down a steal attempt by Cincinnati's Brayan Pena. Neither Beckham nor shortstop Alexei Ramirez covered the bag. The ball sailed into center field, and Pena easily advanced to third.

This is the kind of garbage we saw way too much of last season. Poor defense was huge factor in the Sox' 99-loss disaster in 2013. Ventura says he addressed this mistake immediately. Good, because these kind of errors are inexcusable for veteran players.

It's about time

Reports indicate reliever Ronald Belisario has finally cleared up his visa problems and is scheduled to report to Sox camp. It's about time, now that Opening Day is just over three weeks away.

The Sox bullpen depth could be tested early in the season. Both Nate Jones (glute) and Matt Lindstrom (oblique) have yet to pitch in a spring game due to nagging injuries, and obviously, Belisario hasn't been around. In addition, reliever Daniel Webb has been away from the team due to a death in the family.

The battle for the closer's job has yet to materialize, because the none of the players involved in the competition have been on the mound.

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.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Who will the White Sox recall Sept. 1?

It's the last week of August, and no doubt baseball fans around the country are wondering just who will be recalled from the minors to play for their favorite teams when the rosters expand Sept. 1.

I don't expect the White Sox to go crazy and call up 10 players or anything like that. The majority of their major-league ready prospects (Avisail Garcia, Josh Phegley, Andre Rienzo, Jake Petricka and Leury Garcia) are already on the 25-man roster.

But, the Sox do have three holes on their 40-man roster.  They could create a fourth spot later this week if they transfer relief pitcher Brian Omogrosso from the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL. That means we will see at least four players recalled, and maybe as many as seven. Here are some guys that Southpaw (pictured) might be cheering for by the time the next homestand rolls around:

1. Erik Johnson, RHP: The 23-year-old is a combined 11-3 with a 2.07 ERA in 23 starts at Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte. He is 3-1 with a 1.79 ERA in nine starts since his promotion to Charlotte. The Sox will keep a careful watch on Johnson because he has thrown a career-high 135 innings this season. But he is a candidate for the 2014 starting rotation, so the team is going to want him to get his feet wet at the big-league level this year.

2. Daniel Webb, RHP: A 24-year-old potential closer, Webb hasn't allowed an earned run at Charlotte in over a month. He has struck out 36 batters in 24.1 innings since his promotion to Triple-A. Walks remain an issue -- he has 17 of them in those same 24.1 innings. But, Webb could be a bullpen piece for the Sox as soon as next season if he can refine his control just a little bit more.

3. Charlie Leesman, LHP: He's already on the 40-man roster, having started one game for the Sox earlier this month. At age 26, he's probably not considered a prospect anymore, but he might be handy as the 11th or 12th man on a pitching staff in the future. Look for Leesman to get a start or two in September as the Sox seek to lighten the workload of some of the young pitchers who have been in the big-league rotation all season.

4. Marcus Semien, IF: Here's a guy who really wasn't on the radar this year until he tore up Double-A to the tune of a .290 average, 21 doubles, 15 home runs and 20 stolen bases. I hesitate to put him on this list because he's struggled a bit since his promotion to Charlotte (.238, 8 doubles, 4 home runs, 1 stolen base), but he can play all over the infield and the Sox are looking for a third baseman for next year. They might call Semien up to see how he reacts in September. I suspect this is a player who will need to start 2014 in Triple-A, however.

Those are the four guys who we haven't seen much of yet that we might be getting a look at in September. The Sox will almost certainly recall another catcher, Hector Gimenez if he is healthy, or Bryan Anderson. Blake Tekotte, Deunte Heath, Brent Morel and Simon Castro are other players we saw earlier this year that could potentially get a recall, although I'm sure Sox fans won't be all that excited to see them again.